My DCU - Justice League Dark Redesigned Picture

Part twelve of my head canon DC Universe teams.

ORIGINS

The origins of Justice League Dark, known officially as the Sentinels of Magic, date back to the fall of Camelot. As Morgaine Le Fey led her evil hordes against King Arthur, a much more intimate battle was being waged inside the castle walls. Merlin discovered that the object of his affections, Morgaine's youngest sister Nimue, had fallen for one of Arthur's knights. Enraged, Merlin cursed the knight, turning him into the demon Etrigan and offered him to Morgaine as a soldier for her army. A heartbroken Nimue was visited by two wandering spirits - the Phantom Strange and the Spirit of Vengeance. Together they cast a powerful spell to disenchant Merlin and imprison Morgaine Le Fey. Their efforts were successful, but at the cost of much of Nimue's power.

Centuries later, Nimue, now known as the enigmatic Madame Xanadu, prophesied the return of her wretched older sister. She used her magicks to seek out four powerful champions to aid her in her mission to defeat her sister once and for all. Though extremely powerful as a unit, their lack of experience and chemistry led only to a temporary victory.

Still, this led to them being an officially sanctioned splinter group of the Justice League. Tasked with defeating any and all mystical threats, this band of magical misfits tackle everyone from Felix Faust to Klarion to the Queen of Fables.

ETRIGAN

The man known as Jason Blood was once a revered warrior in King Arthur's army. He was respected for his intelligence and compassion, but his passion led towards his being cursed by Merlin. After falling for the woman now known as Madame Xanadu, he was turned into a demon who knew only hate and violence. Thankfully, the Sentinels of Magic were able to restore him to his human form but enabled him to shift back into the demon whenever he recited a special incantation.

In the years following the fall of Camelot, Jason has travelled the world and aided those who needed him. He distanced himself greatly from his one-time love and became a lone wolf. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, he worked as a demon hunter and spent much of his time in the Ottoman Empire.

Following movements such as the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, Jason turned his pursuits towards the academic. For centuries now, he's been recognized as one of the most foremost thinkers and, under various names, has been hailed as a philosophical and scientific genius. Today he works as a professor at Oxford.

Design-wise, I knew I wanted Etrigan to look like a knight. It was an aesthetic I felt was really cool in Demon Knights, so I stayed true to that here. He vaguely looks like a Dark Knight class from the various Final Fantasy games, which was purposeful. In the end, he did kind of end up looking like Hordak. But I'm totally cool with that.

ZATANNA

Zatanna Zatara is an Italian-American who spent much of her childhood living peacefully in New Jersey. Raised solely by her father Giovanni Zatara, Zatanna was always fascinated by his past as a stage magician. This was something he kept secret and refused to speak about his past - especially about Zatanna's mother. Despite being a daddy's girl, Zatanna's rebellious streak overcame her obedience during her teenage years and she ran away from home in pursuit of the truth about her heritage.

With many of her father's spellbooks and artifacts in hand, Zatanna travelled around the world seeking knowledge and power. She soon discovered that she possessed natural mystical abilities and that she could perform spells by reciting words in reverse. By her eighteenth birthday, Zatanna had become a force to be reckoned with and felt satisfied enough to return home. However, she soon learned that her father had gone after her years ago and that he'd since gone missing. Consumed with guilt, she has since made it her mission to find her father and seek retribution for her mistakes.

I've done so many Zatanna designs over the years it's not funny. I typically flip-flop between the magician look and something superheroic. For this team, I opted for the former. It's a more stylized and modern take on the magician outfit, which is essentially biker meets steampunk. In my head canon, the hat and wand are her father's. The hat allows her to conjure objects, while the wand allows her to channel the four elements. Unlike the regular DC Universe, Zatanna isn't intended to be some all powerful sorceress whose only weakness is not being able to speak. Here, she must channel her energies through these objects in order to really get the spells right. This limits her to the conjuring of objects and elements.

MADAME XANADU

Nimue Inwudu is one of the Homo Magi, an immortal race of magical beings who settled onto the British Isles centuries ago. After the fall of Camelot, Nimue travelled eastward to China where she became a famed oracle for the emperors. Her reputation so preceded her that she came to be known as "Madame Xanadu" in the aristocratic circles in Europe. She later left the employ of the emperors in China to address the growing unrest in Europe.

Madame Xanadu foresaw the needless deaths and manipulations occurring in her homeland. King Henry VIII's gross misconduct and the deceptive antics of his advisors led her right back to England. Following the unjust death of Anne Boelyn, Madame Xanadu disguised herself in order to care for the young Princess Elizabeth. She used her prophetic abilities to thwart all attempts on Elizabeth's life and made it her mission to ensure that she would eventually inherit the throne. She helped guide her towards her ascension and was a pivotal, but secret, force during Queen Elizabeth I's reign.

Following Queen Elizabeth's death, Madame Xanadu spent much of the 17th and 18th centuries in France. However, upon foreseeing the events of the French Revolution, she fled back to England in fear of the great dangers that would befall the country. During the 19th century, Madame Xanadu sought to live apart from the aristocrats she'd spent centuries advising. Instead, she became a champion for the poor and became the protector of prostitutes during Jack the Ripper's killing spree.

In the 20th century, Madame Xanadu opened up a fortune telling parlour in London where she's used her unique gifts to help those in need. Obviously, she's since added superhero to her resume as the leader of the Sentinels of Magic (AKA Justice League Dark).

Gypsy woman! Since Xanadu was conceived to be a gypsy-esque character, I went full-tilt with it. She's essentially supposed to look like a steampunk gypsy. She's wearing a purple dress with an indigo sash, paired with a brown corset and boots. The strap on her thigh houses her tarot cards. In my head canon, Xanadu's primary abilities rely on her tarot cards (which she invented centuries ago). With them she can foresee the future and she can also conjure the various avatars during battle.

CONSTANTINE

A con man through and through, John Constantine is a warlock who uses his powers for personal gain like it's going out of style. For much of his adult life, he's travelled the globe amassing every magical artifact he can get his hands on. To most, it appears he's doing so to become the most powerful mage in the world and even admits to that being his motive. However, his true pursuit is to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands and specifically hides them in his House of Mystery.

His tenure with the Sentinels of Magic is merely a convenient alliance, as they've enabled him to continue his lifelong mission and gets him pretty close to some attractive superheroes he can con and bed.

With Constantine, my basic inspiration was to take his basic look from the New 52 and tweak it to make it more Victorian/Steampunk since that was the overall vibe I was going for with the team. The pouch houses some magical doodads, while the rest you can see is pretty standard. Shirt, vest, motorcycle pants, etc.

DEADMAN

Boston Barron spent much of his teenage years running with a gang known as Los Muertos in Los Angeles. This dangerous way of life eventually led to his early death at the age of 21. With so much of his potential squandered and a struggling family left behind, Boston's spirit was claimed by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. She chose him to be her champion and given him the opportunity to cleanse his soul by guiding spirits into the afterlife.

Boston has since become somewhat of an urban legend within the Latin American community, where his very presence is feared much like that of La Llorona.

This is probably the biggest OOC design I've done to date. In essence, I've purposely scrubbed away all of Boston Brand to create a more conceptual hero that I felt had more depth and culture to him. Deadman always looked kind of cheesy and his circus origins were too Robin-esque for my tastes. Here, I was inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead and conceptualized him with the mythologies surrounding that holiday. This meant changing his last name too. I dressed him all in black and designed his face to look like a sugar skull. He ended up kind of looking like a bad guy from a western, which was accidental. I still love the concept, but the execution artistically would look a whole lot cooler in real life.

RELATIONSHIPS

Here we go! The messiest group of all! You guys ready for some complicated love lives? Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood were lovers during King Arthur's reign, centuries later Madame Xanadu had a brief romantic tryst with Zatanna's father before she was born. Meanwhile, Jason Blood moved on and had quite a few rolls in the sack with Constantine. After this, Constantine and Zatanna became a casual item after she left her then-boyfriend Nick Necros. Now all these people have been tossed into a team together, which creates this awkward muddled mess where they all don't quite trust one another. Jason clearly has unfinished business with both Madame Xanadu and Constantine, though it seems he prefers the former. Constantine, meanwhile, appears to want to pursue some kind of polyamorous relationship involving Jason and Zatanna, though both are uninterested in such an arrangement.

For Zatanna, she's largely been concentrating on herself and finding her father. Part of this means looking into his past, which she has learned includes Madame Xanadu. She's aware that they maintained a relationship and is convinced that Xanadu is her mother. But Madame Xanadu says otherwise.

In all of this is Deadman. He's clearly the odd man out and is a little depressed by the bed-hopping antics of his teammates. However, he's also happy to avoid much of the drama as well. He's friendly with all of them, even Constantine, and often finds himself playing mediator.

SHOUT-OUTS

As with many of the other teams within my head canon, the Justice League Dark's roster was chosen by my watchers! I conducted a poll asking you all to pick your favourite supernatural heroes out of a list of 25 characters. Since I wanted to keep this team small and intimate, I used the top four most voted for characters plus a fifth of my choosing - Madame Xanadu! She was near the bottom, which was a disgusting travesty. That had to be rectified.
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