"Justice League Dark" #26, written by J.M. DeMatteis, with art by Mikel Janin, continues the Blight crossover and begins to point John Constantine's revised Justice League Dark team in the direction of finding the original team that is still missing in action and feared dead. The new team, which includes Swamp Thing and Night Nurse, is bookended by Pandora and Phantom Stranger, providing a natural set of titles for the crossover.
This issue, however, focuses more clearly on John Constantine's development of a plan and commitment to a cause. DeMatteis provides a lot of story in one issue, giving Constantine plenty to share with the reader, both through conversation with his compatriots and text boxes. The writer also provides a snappy recap through Constantine's dialog with Blight to describe the circumstances leading to this point for less familiar readers. After establishing what has happened, DeMatteis begins to focus on the secret of the disappearance of the Justice League Dark team. I'm not sure I completely see where twelve more installments of the Blight story are necessary or are going to prove worthwhile, but at the conclusion of "Justice League Dark" #26, DeMatteis has given the readers more than enough to look forward to and plenty of reason to follow this story into "Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger" # 15.
Janin provides the pencils and graytones for "Justice League Dark" #26, but his artwork is finished by a trio of assistants in the form of Vicente Cifuentes, Guillermo Ortego and Jordi Tarragona. With Jeromy Cox providing consistent color throughout the issue, Janin's work is able to hold its style throughout the issue. It seems as though there are more panels in this issue than I've become accustomed to with "Justice League Dark," but Janin packs detail and expression into every single one. I've said it before, but it bears repeating, especially since the work is so consistent and strong throughout: Mikel Janin is one of the best artists in the business right now and this book is privileged to have him.
Steve Wands' lettering is a mixed bag as far as success goes. His efforts to provide variety and diversity are appreciated, but the use of thought bubbles instead of telepathically-marked word balloons for psychic conversation is a bit of an odd choice. Additionally, the caption boxes are not as clearly marked as they could be, which may cause confusion as a Constantine-narrated scene seems to be from Swamp Thing's point of view by the end of the scene. On the plus side, Blight's word balloons are creepy and unsettling, but work magnificently for the character.
Wrapping up the first third of this eighteen-part crossover, "Justice League Dark" #26 has some nice, entertaining moments that showcase the imaginative collaboration of DeMatteis and Janin, such as the moss-backed whale form that Swamp Thing utilizes as the team's undersea transportation. Even in the heart of a crossover, "Justice League Dark" remains one of the most consistently enjoyable comics on my pull list as DeMatteis provides a template for future writers to use when constructing their own installments of widespread crossovers. This isn't the most memorable issue of this series, but it is an informative issue for both the Blight crossover and "Forever Evil."