This issue of Justice League Dark is divided into three distinct stories. The third and last of which is the Year of the Villain crossover. It is, perhaps, the weakest of the three, if only because it is the shortest, and by its nature merely a set up.
But I loved all three stories, each in its own way.
The opening tale deals with Dr Fate, both the original, Kent Nelson, and the newest host, Khalid Nassour. The two men are with Wonder Woman, discussing what to do with the not entirely trustworthy Lord of Order, following his defeat in the previous issue. Neither man is now wearing the helmet, nor does either desire to. Much of the story is a flashback to the classic origin of Kent Nelson, but the story also references the Dr Fate tale from 1st Issue Special, in which he faced the mummy Khalis. That was the first Dr Fate story I read as a kid, and made me a fan for life. So as you can imagine I could barely contain my excitement at seeing the tale discussed here.
While the opening story looks back faithfully at old comic stories, the second one puts a dark new twist on a classic tale. John Constantine and Zatanna are at a bar, and Zee forces John to reveal the truth about his past encounters with her dead father, Zatara. This winds up delving into John’s own origin, revealing more about it than we had been told before, and also puts Zatara into a new light. While the first tale serves to prepare the reader for further developments with Nabu, the second one changes what we thought we knew about Constantine.
The third story has Luthor paying a visit to Circe, and prompting the creation of a team of villains to take on Justice League Dark.
So as the book begins its second year, a lot of groundwork gets laid in a relatively short time. It’s a bit like a promise, teasing the reader with where the book is going to go. And it’s a damn good tease.
I loved the first year of this series, it far exceeded my expectations. So I have little doubt the promise made my this issue will be excitingly fulfilled as the year goes on.