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Comic Book / Justice League Dark

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Not the shiny-happy Justice League

Justice League Dark is a comic featuring a group within the Justice League that focuses on the magical and supernatural aspects of the DCU.

The original run launched as an ongoing series in the New 52, with the initial cast featuring Zatanna, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, John Constantinenote , Shade, the Changing Man and a new character called Mindwarp, who was introduced in Flashpoint: Secret Seven by Peter Millgan (with Secret Seven acting as a precusor to Justice League Dark). The team's roster fluctuated regularly over the course of the series, drawing on DCU characters with a connection to the supernatural.

It came to an end in 2015 after 44 issues and two annuals... but as the team's members would be the first to tell you, some things don't stay dead for good.

In 2018, a new series (Justice League Dark (2018)) was announced as part of the "New Justice" DCU imprint spinning out of Justice League: No Justice, with Wonder Woman heading a team including Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Detective Chimp, and Man-Bat, their first storyline involving the group dealing with the aftermath of the Dark Multiverse Invasion and them trying to stave off the Death of Magic.

As part of the DC Infinite Frontier relaunch, the 2018 series was cancelled and Justice League Dark was made a backup feature in the main Justice League book.

An animated film, Justice League Dark, was released in 2017, with Constantine actor Matt Ryan reprising his role as John Constantine. For this outing, Constantine's team-mates included Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Black Orchid and Jason Blood.

In addition to the animated film, there have been numerous attempts at adapting Justice League Dark to live-action, most notably by Guillermo del Toro. His version, titled Dark Universe, was confirmed to exist as a screenplay in late 2014, and reportedly featured a lineup consisting of Constantine, Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon, Deadman, Spectre, and Zatanna. Del Toro's film wouldn't have connected to the DC Extended Universe (nor the 2014 NBC series Constantine) though he expressed interest in modifying his script to accommodate them and even having Constantine's Matt Ryan reprise his title role. By June 2015, it was reported that del Toro had left the project, which would still be developed without him as director. In August 2016, Doug Liman was then attached to direct, with del Toro producing, but in May 2017 it was reported that he stepped down to focus on his adaptation of the novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. In January 2020, it was reported that J. J. Abrams was developing Justice League Dark projects as part of his new production deal with WarnerMedia, which would possibly involve films and television series focusing on various characters. In April 2020, it was announced that a series would be broadcast on HBO Max at some point in the future but was ultimately scrapped by February 2023.

Tropes featured in Justice League Dark include:

     The 2011 Series  
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Pretty much every member of the team would on first glance appear to be more at home causing terror wherever they went, but they only save that for the real bad guys. Hell, it's in the name.
  • Deconstruction: The Will They or Won't They?, Opposites Attract, and Working with the Ex dynamics between John and Zatanna are brutally slaughtered. John's attachment is a borderline obsession that no one really approves of. Zatanna is upset and angry whenever John shows up, and never starts to like or even respect him again no matter how many times he saves her life. In issue #30, Zatanna kicks John out of the House of Mysteries and the JLD. John has matured enough to realize that she, and everyone else, would be better off without him.
  • Fantastic Drug: Magic is sometimes used as an analog to drug abuse, in that most of the magic users are unstable. But the line is blurred with Xanadu, who is dependent on normal drugs in order to cope with her visions of the future.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The team appears to have softened into this. In the Horror City Arc, John doesn't even need Zatanna to get everyone else to find the stolen House of Mystery, though he does need Frankenstein to talk Swamp Thing around.
  • Intimate Healing: Averted. While much has been made of tantra as sex magic, the only instance of it being used has John and Zatanna sit across from each other in bathrobes, with only their hands touching. Which is not far off from actual tantra meditation, except for how it heals injuries.
  • The Lost Lenore: Kathy George, whom Shade keeps trying to recreate.
  • Must Be Invited: Exaggerated. When John invites people — including Andrew Bennett from I, Vampire — into the House of Mystery, he can call them back later whether they want to or not. They usually don't.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Enchantress's madness? Madame Xanadu's fault.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The relationship between Deadman and Dove (of Hawk and Dove) was established when Deadman attempted to possess a human body in order to have physical intimacy with Dove. She was noticeably perturbed.
  • Put on a Bus: Shade and Mindwarp in Peter Milligan's final issue.
    • Zatanna is conspicuously not called to the team in the Horror City arc.
  • Psycho for Hire: When Mindwarp is being recruited, it is established that even the other morally gray characters consider him a psychotic madman.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Emphasized and acknowledged by Xanadu. She states that all the others are dangerous to themselves and others, but are the only people around to save the world from mystic threats.
  • Shoot the Dog: John sacrifices the innocent June Moone in order to stop Enchantress. Deadman calls him out on this.
  • Shout-Out: Dove encounters John Constantine eating beans out of a can at her kitchen table. Much like how another bird-themed hero encounters a trenchcoated antihero.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: John fell in love with Zatanna when she was with Nick (and though they were all a happy threesome for a while, they eventually shut Nick out). Then, John's actions led to Giovanni Zatara's death, and Zatanna left John, wanting nothing more to do with him. Shortly after Zatanna finally deals with that and becomes more civil, Xanadu prophesies that John will kill Zatanna. John doesn't take it well.
  • Supernatural Team: Every member of Justice League Dark is in some way supernatural, either being magic users, involved with the magical community or some other part of the DC Universe divorced from scientific explanation.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the beginning, none of the group really likes or trusts any of the other members, except for Zatanna. Even John looked out for Zatanna.

     The 2018 Series  

     The 2021 Series  
  • Adaptational Villainy: Ram V's run sees a rare villainous depiction of the famed Arthurian Wizard, Merlin.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: Merlin uses a spell to make Borges' Library of Babel real, so he can enter it and retrieve a copy of his spellbook. Anything written ends up there, and any alterations to a book in it creates a copy without it to be stored.
  • You Are in Command Now: With Wonder Woman's disappearance following Dark Nights: Death Metal, Zatanna gets promoted to the leader of the team.