Review by Frank Plowright
On the conscience of unconventional magical dabbler John Constantine is that his curiosity was elemental in enabling the Crime Syndicate, villainous analogues of the Justice League, to traverse the dimensions from their own Earth to lay siege to the New 52 DC version. That plays out in Forever Evil, to which Blight is only very tenuously connected.
It opens with Constantine’s discovery of the accumulated small sins of everyone on Earth given form and permitting the flourishing of evil. This is Blight, which subconsciously attracted the Crime Syndicate. With the other members of Justice League Dark beyond Constantine’s ability to connect with, he requires new team-mates, so we have an alliance of Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Pandora, Phantom Stranger and the Question, later joined by others. There’s a lot of bad blood between them, and before we move to the main event there are several attempts at score settling. As this old standby is given no new twist it all feeds an impression of a lot of pages to fill lacking the plot to fill them.
Furthermore, as this was a crossover originally involving four distinct monthly titles an uneven quality is unavoidable, and Blight is still further slowed down by much soul searching and philosophical musings. These are intended as character insights, and might work as such were approximately the same downbeat tone not applied to the entire cast. Constantine is characterised consistently throughout, but the remainder are an interchangeable morass of anger and self-loathing.
The writing is shared between J.M. DeMatteis and Ray Fawkes, and between them they do deliver some nice ideas, but not very many. Fawkes’ chapter where the gathered crew confront God and his protectors has some merit, and Deadman’s host is a clever idea.
Aco, Fernando Blanco, Vicente Gifuentes, Mikel Janin, Staz Johnson, Beni Lobel, and Francis Portela are the illustrators, but there’s no consistency, with almost all lapsing in and out of form. Blanco never shines, Lobel has a sense of scale, and Aco produces a good Constantine chapter, but only Janin (featured sample) rises above merely competent for all his pages. His storytelling lacks the clutter characterising so much art in the collection, and every now and then he serves up images that draw the attention rather than just continuing the story.
There’s an abrupt shift of emphasis at the midway point, when the primary mission becomes to locate missing Justice League Dark members, especially Zatanna, who’s key to a bigger issue. This quest is the book’s better portion, but by the conclusion, despite spells and tricks, we’re squarely in superhero territory. It does provide a couple of surprise revelations, but only for those really enamoured of the featured cast.
Incorporating eighteen individual issues, this is a value for money collection even before discounting, but quantity is no guarantee of quality.