The world needs magic. You may not believe that it exists, but magic doesn’t care what you think. David Copperfield may not be a magician in your eyes except he was with a supermodel and has made millions of dollars. Arguably some have called him an illusionist, it’s still magic. Besides according to John Constantine in ‘Justice League Dark’ how else could you explain Copperfield’s success? The newest addition to the DC animated universe has finally gotten the right tone when it comes to magic – and they used a Brit to do it. Along for the ride are Zatanna, the demon Etrigan, Deadman and Batman. Yes the world’s greatest detective has joined this dark, supernatural team.
However, this is John Constantine’s show. He’s the Brit who knows what to do and how to get it done. Besides, he lives in a house that is constantly on the move and created a body to experience humanity. Essentially he’s complicated and that’s just what is needed in a world that’s filled with things that just can’t be explained.
Each member comes to this animation with their own mystical background. Jason Blood was bonded to Etrigan centuries ago. Deadman was murdered, but it’s the things that are not told which make this story interesting. There’s Zatanna’s animosity towards Constantine. Then there’s the way everyone reacts to him. It’s always with aggressive anger and a myriad of threats. All the menacing seem to be related to taking his soul in the worst way possible. These already well developed set of characters are in the midst of finding a way to save the world. The thing is that viewing this you get the sense that the world needs to be saved from them. Constantine indiscriminately uses his allies to meet his ends. From the time he first comes on the screen he’s manipulating Jason Blood and nearly loses his own life. At least he’s consistent. From the premature cancellation of the television series to his guest starring role on season four of ‘Arrow’ the character Constantine blurs the lines between morality and doing what is right. He may use you like a tool, but he will always apologize and warn you to stay away afterward. He could possibly even ask for your assistance while threatening your survival. It makes for great viewing. What’s more with magic as a backdrop anything is possible.
The story that drives this film is just as intriguing as the characters. Someone or thing is manipulating people into seeing monsters. What happens when a monster is seen in the DC universe is that no one goes running away, screaming. Instead they use any means to eradicate them. Which in this case becomes a matter for the Justice League. But they’re out of their depth. Using some ingenuity Constantine is tracked down and the fun begins. For lovers of the darker side, preferably the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics this is the best time for this animation to come out. These undervalued characters have long languished in obscurity. Yet they have a complexity that Superman or Green Lantern could never hope to have. John Constantine has had a destructive existence. While he may be sorry for costing someone their life, they’re still dead. And may even want to take their revenge on him in their afterlife. But more than anything these stories don’t have the restraints of say Batman. There’s no vow or rule to be kept. Constantine is allowed to kill, maim and curse anyone to do what he needs to. He’d rather use an incantation, but isn’t above using a gun if that’s what handy. In essence Constantine is necessary. In a world full of heroes, there needs to be a man who’s not afraid of the dark.