As Peter Milligan prepares to depart "Justice League Dark," he's first tackling a crossover with "I, Vampire" for March and April 2012. Based on this first installment, it's entertaining enough that it might actually get some "Justice League Dark" readers to take a look at the lower-selling "I, Vampire."
Milligan picks up right where "Justice League Dark" #6 left off; the "team" is still not coming together despite Madame Xanadu's best efforts, still together only because of her forcing them to travel to Gotham to try and stop the rise of the vampires after the death of Andrew Bennett in "I, Vampire." Considering that none of the characters were present for the events of the first six issues of "I, Vampire," Milligan handles this crossover in just the right manner. His characters are slightly befuddled and confused on what's going on, piecing the facts together along with the reader. It's the best way to ease non-"I, Vampire" readers into the story and it makes for a good flow.
The mix of characters in "Justice League Dark" also work well together, something that hopefully incoming writer Jeff Lemire will be able to continue. There are a lot of big personalities involved in this series and their interplay is half of the fun. From Deadman's incredulous taking in of John Constantine's "holy water" to Madame Xanadu's admitting that her actions are going to place her on the outs with the other characters, that give-and-take is the heart of "Justice League Dark," even more so than the magic or out-of-this-world elements.
Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere step in for Mikel Janin this month and their art is nice enough that I want to see a lot more of it down the line. Their art reminds me a lot of old school Vertigo painted pages, like Paul Johnson on "Mercy," thanks in part to Wijaya's colors over both artists' pages. These are great character portraits, but unlike some painted-style comic art, it doesn't have the stiffness that can come with the territory. Wijaya is especially good with the backgrounds; that opening two-page cityscape of Gotham City is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the cloud of vampire bats swooping down on the heroes on the next page works well too. I love regular artist Janin's work on "Justice League Dark" and I'm welcoming his return, but if he ever needs another break, let's hope that DC asks Wijaya and/or Sampere to help out again. All it takes is a drawing like Sampere showing Shade with all the faces of madness surrounding him to remind me how good each of these artists are. (Sampere should also talk with Wijaya about being his regular colorist if she isn't already, because their styles mesh perfectly.)
It's sad to see Milligan leaving "Justice League Dark" so soon, but right now it looks like he's leaving on a strong note. DC Comics should use "Justice League Dark" #7 as a template on how to handle a crossover between two titles; this is not only a fun issue, but a great example of how to make a crossover work well.