Justice League Dark
Textless cover of Justice League Dark #9 (July 2012), art by Ryan Sook
Group publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceJustice League Dark #1 (September 2011)
Created byPeter Milligan
In-story information
Base(s)House of Mystery (2011–2015)
Hall of Justice
Member(s)See below
Justice League Dark
Cover of Justice League Dark #1 (September 2011),
art by Ryan Sook
Series publication information
ScheduleMonthly
FormatOngoing series
GenreSuperhero
Publication date(Volume 1)
September 2011 – March 2015
(Volume 2)
July 2018 – December 2020
Number of issuesVolume 1:
40 (plus a #0 issue, a Futures End one-shot, and two Annuals)
Volume 2:
29 (plus one Annual)
Main character(s)John Constantine
Zatanna
the Swamp Thing
See below
Creative team
Writer(s)Volume 1:
Peter Milligan (#1–8), Jeff Lemire (#9–23, #0, Annual #1), Ray Fawkes (#15–21), J. M. DeMatteis (#24–40, Annual #2, Futures End #1) Dan DiDio (#23.1–23.2), Ann Nocenti (#23.1)
Volume 2:
James Tynion IV
Artist(s)Volume 1:
Mikel Janín
Penciller(s)Volume 2:
Alvaro Martinez
Inker(s)Volume 2:
Raul Fernandez
Colorist(s)Volume 2:
Brad Anderson
Creator(s)Peter Milligan
Mikel Janín

Justice League Dark, or JLD, is a superhero team appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The team would make their debut appearance in Justice League Dark #1 (September 2011). The Justice League Dark team features some of the more supernatural characters in the DC Universe, handling mystical threats and situations deemed outside the scope of the traditional Justice League. Similarly to the Justice League title, the team features well-known characters such as John Constantine, Zatanna, Doctor Fate, and Wonder Woman while also bringing exposure to lesser-known supernatural characters.

Justice League Dark has been adapted twice, appearing in the animated movies Justice League Dark and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.

Publication history

Justice League Dark was announced on May 31, 2011, as a First Wave title of The New 52.[1] The title and team was created by Peter Milligan, with art by Mikel Janín. The title launched on September 28, 2011.[2] The title brought several of DC Comics' occult and offbeat characters, something which had been a trait of sister imprint Vertigo, back into the main DC Universe following Vertigo's editorial change to publish purely new, creator-owned content.[3][4]

The Search for Swamp Thing, a three part miniseries released between June and August 2011 which led up to The New 52 relaunch, and followed the events of the Brightest Day maxiseries, follows Constantine's search for the resurrected Alec Holland as the new Swamp Thing, involving the cooperation of Batman, Zatanna and Superman.[5] In addition, the Flashpoint: Secret Seven miniseries, written by Milligan as part of the "Flashpoint" crossover story line, included the Enchantress and Shade, the Changing Man and introduced the character Mindwarp in the lead-up to the start of the series.[6]

Peter Milligan stated in an interview that he got the job for the book from his work on the 2011 Flashpoint: Secret Seven miniseries, and that he hoped to write something "emotionally dark" set in the DC Universe, comparing his characters to detectives, who struggle to cope with the things they see and have to do.[7] The initial anticipation for this title has been good, with critics celebrating the fact that DC are willing to bring back some of the darker elements which had moved over to Vertigo in the 1990s.[8]

The opening story line involves the Enchantress' defeat of the Justice League, leading to the necessity of a more supernatural team to assist in these events, and detailing how they have come together.[9] There is also a minor crossover story with I...Vampire.[10] From issue #9, Sweet Tooth and Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire became the principal writer on the series.[11] In his first story arc, Justice League Dark took residence in their new base, at the House of Mystery, and have started to show their links with the wider DC Universe, dealing with Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S.[12][13]

In August 2013, it was announced that J. M. DeMatteis would take over as series writer from Lemire in November 2013, after a solo issue by Ray Fawkes in October.[14] The series ended publication in March 2015.[15][16]

New Justice (2018-2021)

In March 2018, a new volume of Justice League Dark was announced. Spinning out of the "Justice League: No Justice" story line, the title debuted in July 2018, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson.[17][18] The team features Zatanna, the Swamp Thing, the Man-Bat, and Detective Chimp, and is led by Wonder Woman.[17] Additional magical characters from the DC Universe appeared in the series, like John Constantine and Doctor Fate, although initially not as members of the League.[18][19]

Infinite Frontier (2021-2023)

The second volume ran regularly for 29 issues from July 2018 to February 2021.[20][21] The team would continue to appear as a back-up feature in the mainline Justice League series from issue #59 in May 2021 to issue #71 in March 2022 with guest appearances throughout issues #72 to 74.[22][23][24][25]

Dawn of DC (2023-)

In the Knight Terrors story arc of 2023, the team members find themselves falling victim to the spells of Insomnia, becoming trapped by him within his Knightmare Realm. Remaining awake through the chaos, Zatanna and Robotman team up to defend the unconscious Wonder Woman and Detective Chimp against Insomnia's Sleepless Knights, and the Sleeping Queen.[26][27]

The third volume of the Justice Society of America included supporting appearances from the Justice League Dark, with Deadman and Madame Xanadu returning to the team. The series also introduces a predecessor to the Justice League Dark known as the 'Justice Society Dark', consisting of Zatara and the escape artist Thaddeus Brown.[28]

Fictional overview

Members

Volume 1

Early in the run, Peter Milligan stated that he was, "ruling no-one out" for future appearances, amid speculation that both the Ragman and the Spectre may feature in future comics.[29] However, writer Jeff Lemire did not include either during the series, having added Black Orchid and Frankenstein, among others, to the team.[12][30]

All members joined in issue #1 unless otherwise noted.[9]

Volume 2/back-up feature in Justice League (vol. 4)

A different line-up was announced for DC Rebirth and Infinite Frontier:[17]

Justice League Dark (2018 - 2022) series
Character Real name Joined in Notes
Wonder Woman Diana of Themyscira Justice League Dark (2018) #1 Founded a new iteration of the Justice League Dark in issue #1 of Justice League Dark (2018). Designated team leader until her supposed death during the Dark Nights: Death Metal event.
Zatanna Zatanna Zatara Justice League Dark (2018) #2 Founding member of the first iteration of the team. Joins in issue #2. Promoted to team leader after the events of Justice League (2018) #60
Detective Chimp Bobo T. Chimpanzee Justice League Dark (2018) #1 Recruited by Wonder Woman to join the team at the Oblivion Bar in issue #1.[20] While he was not a member of the original Justice League Dark team, Bobo was a founding member of its spiritual predecessor, the Shadowpact.[42]
Man-Bat Kirk Langstrom Justice League Dark (2018) #1 Recruited by Wonder Woman to join the team prior to the events of issue #1.
Swamp Thing Alec Holland Justice League Dark (2018) #2 The Swamp Thing joined the team after joining Zatanna in locating the team and battling the Otherkind in issue #2.[43] The Swamp Thing's body was seemly destroyed at the hands of the Floronic Man in issue #15.[44] The Swamp Thing rejoined the team after having his body restored thanks to a plan hatched by Constantine in issue #23. This resulted in the Swamp Thing possessing the memories and knowledge of the prior Swamp Things.[45]
Doctor Fate Kent Nelson Justice League Dark (2018) #13 Joins the team in issue #13 in an advisory capacity, but does not operate within the team as Doctor Fate due to the events of the Justice League Dark: Lords of Order story line. Nelson later leaves the team in issue #24.[46]
Khalid Nassour Justice League Dark (2018) #13 Joins the team in issue #13 in as an adviser and initially does not operate under the Doctor Fate moniker.[47] Eventually acts as a full-time member and Doctor Fate in issue #18.[48]
Constantine John Constantine Justice League Dark (2018) #2 Original founding member and team leader. On-and-off member of the team as a consultant, acting when the need arises.[49]
Animal Man Buddy Baker Justice League Dark (2018) #20 Buddy Baker has the ability to temporarily use the abilities of animals (such as a bird's flight or the proportionate strength of an ant). Buddy is also the guardian of the Red, which is the life force of all living animals. First appeared in Strange Adventures #180 (September 1965). Buddy joins the team in a battle against plant-human zombies in Los Angeles in Issue #20. Buddy helps the team defeat Anton Arcane of the Rot and restore the balance of the life forces through a gathering of the Parliament of Life in issue #23. Buddy also seemingly leaves the team after this issue.
Justice League Dark back-up feature
Ragman Rory Regan Justice League #61 (2018) Joins the team in issue #61 of Justice League.
Eternal Knight Elnara Roshtu Justice League #69 (2018) Recruited by Doctor Fate to help the team in issue #69 of Justice League to help stop Merlin. New character created from the series. Debuted in issue #59.
Randhir Singh Justice League Dark 2021 Annual #1 (2021) Joins the team to help keep magic safe.
Dark Crisis event
Swamp Thing Levi Kamei Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (2022) Joins the team to fight against the Great Darkness.
Dawn of DC
Deadman Boston Brand Justice Society of America #2 (2023) Rejoined the League sometime prior to their team up with the JSA to battle Per Degaton.
Madame Xanadu Nimue Induwu Justice Society of America #4 (2023) Recruited by Deadman and Detective Chimp to fight Per Degaton.

Villains

Characters
Character Real name Notes Notable storylines
Nick Necro Nicholas Edgar Nolan Evil sorcerer who is obssessed with obtaining the Books of Magic at all costs. Former love interest of John Consantine and Zatanna. Justice League Dark: The Books of Magic and The Death of Magic
Faust Felix Faust Evil sorcerer whose plans involve increasing his own magical power. Justice League Dark: The Books of Magic and The Death of Magic
Upside-Down Man None Leader of the Otherkind that preys on magical creatures and dark counterpart of Hecate. Considered one of the most powerful magical beings in existence. Justice League Dark: A Costly Trick of Magic
Eclipso Kaala Previous Spirit of Vengeance and predecessor of the Spectre. Considered one of the most powerful entities in existence. The Flash: Eclipsed
Merlin Myrdin Wyld One of history's renowned wizards in the Arthurian legends. Turned evil due to the machinations of the spirit of Yuga Khan, Darkseid's father. Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness
Mister E Unknown Blind, mentally unstable magical vigilante and serial killer who targets what he considers evil. Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness
Sapphire Knight Ahri'ahn Atlantean demigod and Lord of Order who is considered one of Atlantis's most benevolent rulers and mages. Considered an enemy of Doctor Fate and the Justice League Dark due to insanity or mind control. While Merlin employed him under mind control, he called him the Sapphire Knight. Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness
Teams
Team name Brief description Notable storylines
Injustice League Dark A villainous group that antagonizes the Justice League Dark, acting as their evil counterpart similarly to the Legion of Doom and Injustice League group for the Justice League. Justice League Dark: The Witching War
Lords of Order A group of magical beings that represent order in the universe. While traditionally portrayed as a force of good or neutral, a group of Lords of Order were pitted against the team. Justice League Dark: Lords of Order
Otherkind A race of magical beings from the Other Place, a dimension in which claims to be the source of all dark magic. The dimension is considered a piece of the Great Darkness alongside others (i.e., Darkworld). The Otherkind prey on magical beings, absorbing their magic for nourishment. They are led by the Upside-Down Man. Justice League Dark: The Last Age of Magic

Collected issues

New 52 (2011-2016)

DC Rebirth (2016-2017)

New Justice (2018-2021)

Other versions

Futures End

From a possible future; the roster consists of Zatanna, Etrigan the Demon, Cassandra Craft, the Black Orchid, the Nightmare Nurse, Madame Xanadu, Frankenstein, John Constantine, Amethyst, Blue Devil, Deadman, and Andrew Bennett.

DC Comics Bombshells

Several former Suicide Squad members formed a new team. This roster consists of Zatanna, John Constantine, Raven, the Enchantress, Killer Croc, and the Ravager.

Flashpoint timeline

Prior to Justice League Dark from The New 52, there was a similar version of the team called the Secret Seven in the Flashpoint timeline. The team consists of Shade, the Changing Man; Abra Kadabra, Amethyst, the Enchantress, Mindwarp, Raven, Zatanna, the Black Orchid, Klarion the Witch Boy, Miss X, Simon Magus, Stiletto, and Trigon.

Sorcerer Kings

A story line in Superman/Batman shows a possible future version of the Justice League that consists of some supernatural members. The team includes a future Batman, the Scream Queen, Traci 13, Klarion the Witch Boy and Teekel; Stanley and His Monster; Aquaman, and Etrigan the Demon.

Earth 13

Introduced in The Multiversity, a Justice League team from Earth 13 known as the League of Shadows (no relation to the League of Assassins offshoot) is similar to Justice League Dark. The team consists of Etrigan the Demon, Annataz, Deadman, the Enchantress, Fate, the Hellblazer, the Ragman, the Swamp-Man, and the Witchboy.

Countdown to Adventure

On Earth-33, the League of Shamans is a similar team to Justice League Dark. The team consists of Bat-Mage, Super-Mage, Green Lantern, the Black Bird, Terra, Lady Flash, the Shade, and Kara Zor-El.

Future State

From a possible future; the team consists of John Constantine, Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Doctor Fate (Khalid Nassour), and Detective Chimp, the latter becoming the new host to Etrigan the Demon. They all work together to fight Merlin.

In other media

Television

Film

Animated

Main articles: Justice League Dark (film) and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

An animated Justice League Dark film was first announced in June 2016, as the next film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. During the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International, both John Constantine and the Swamp Thing were confirmed to appear.[57][58] Batman, Zatanna, Deadman, Etrigan the Demon, and the Black Orchid would also appear as members of the team.[59] Initially given a release window of Fall 2016, a sneak peek, with interviews by some of the creators, was provided as a bonus feature for the DVD and Blu-ray release of Batman: The Killing Joke. The film was digitally released on January 24, 2017, then on DVD and Blu-ray on February 7, 2017.[60] In the film, Batman and Constantine recruit Zatanna, Boston Brand / Deadman, Jason Blood / Etrigan the Demon, and Alec Holland / the Swamp Thing to fight against a supernatural threat later revealed to be conducted by Doctor Destiny.

At the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, a sequel titled Justice League Dark: Apokolips War was announced and has been released in 2020.[61] In the film, the remaining heroes and villains of Earth following Darkseid's successful conquest of Earth team up to finally end Darkseid's war.

Live action

Rumors in November 2012 suggested that Guillermo del Toro was working on a Justice League Dark film titled Heaven Sent. It would feature Deadman, the Spectre, the Swamp Thing, John Constantine, the Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, Zatara, Sargon the Sorcerer, and Etrigan the Demon.[62] Del Toro later confirmed in January 2013 that he was working on such a film, with the working title, Dark Universe, and was hiring a screenwriter. Del Toro revealed the Swamp Thing, Constantine, the Spectre, Deadman, Zatanna and Zatara were characters in the story.[63]

In March 2013, del Toro gave an update on the film at WonderCon 2013, while talking about his film Pacific Rim. He revealed that the story bible was complete and he hoped to start the screenplay soon. Production would begin after his next project, Crimson Peak. The film's story would center around John Constantine recruiting the Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon, Deadman, the Spectre, and Zatanna. The film would not be an origin story, with each character already established and elements of their backstory coming into play throughout the film.[64] Del Toro also revealed that the Floronic Man would be in the film.[65] In May 2013, del Toro revealed that his script featured Constantine, the Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, Deadman and Zatanna as the team, with others "in the mix". He also revealed that he was still waiting for the go-ahead from Warner Bros. Pictures.[66] Del Toro revealed in July 2013 that he hoped that the DC Extended Universe, which started with Man of Steel, would become as cohesive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he added that if there was any correlation to that universe and this film, he would honor it.[67]

In October 2013, del Toro stated he felt his film would be able to coexist with the television series Constantine and reiterated that the film was still active and in the writing process.[68] In July 2014, del Toro once again stated he was working on the film, and stated it would be independent from the universe established with Man of Steel, saying, "DC and Warners have been very clear that they are trying to keep [this film and Sandman] separate so when the time comes they can unite them, once they know they’re quantifiable." Del Toro also added that his Constantine would not adhere to the continuity established in the television series, but he would consider incorporating elements from it, and even think about casting the same actor (Matt Ryan).[69][70] In November 2014, del Toro confirmed that the script was complete and handed it in to Warner Bros. to be reviewed.[71] In December 2014, he hinted that the film would be part of the DC Extended Universe.[72]

In April 2015, del Toro said the script revision has been handed in and if there was availability in his schedule, he would direct it; if not, "somebody else will do it... [The film] needs to fall into the plan of the shared universe."[73] In June 2015, the film was confirmed to still be in development at Warner Bros., with some of their other Vertigo Comics film adaptions moving to New Line Cinema. The Hollywood Reporter stated that del Toro was no longer attached to the project.[74] In July 2016, Swamp Thing test footage was released directed by Joseph Kahn.[75] In August 2016, it was announced that Doug Liman would direct the film with del Toro and Scott Rudin producing and Michael Gilio writing, with the film being titled Dark Universe.[76][77] By May 2017, Liman left the film to focus on directing Chaos Walking.[78] At the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2017, the film's title was announced to be Justice League Dark.[79] In January 2020, Deadline reported that Warner Media and Bad Robot are working to create a Justice League Dark universe in film and TV. The initiative has stalled by 2023.

Video games

See also

References

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