Darkseid War has been the best thing to happen over at DC since Flashpoint ushered in the dark new era of the New 52. Geoff Johns has experienced a revival as he has kicked his writing into a gear that we have not seen since before Blackest Night. Johns is hot. I mean white-hot. And as a result, Darkseid War has been a massively brilliant read. Johns has been treating us to the wonderful combination of the classic Justice League characters plus the goodness that is Kirby’s Fourth World. That’s always a good thing. I am more than confident that Justice League #46 is going to be another strong read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapul
Colors: Francis Manapul
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Wonder Woman telling the tale of Ino who raised Zeus’ bastard son. When Hera found out she flew into a jealous rage and made Ino’s husband go insane and kill himself. Then she made Ino go insane and boil the son to death. Then Hera made Ino sane again. Wracked with grief, Ino carried the child’s body to a cliff and threw herself and the child over the edge and into the sea. Zeus felt pity for Ino and transformed Ino and the boy into Gods of the Sea. Later Ino, as a god, helped guide Odysseus on his adventure. Wonder Woman says that sometimes gods are made rather than born. Wonder Woman says that New Gods have been born and a new Odyssey is about to begin.
We see that Batman is the God of Knowledge. Superman is the God of Strength. Flash is the God of Death, Green Lantern is the God of Light, Shazam is the God of Gods (So, Shazam is the Triple H of these Justice League New Gods?) and Lex Luthor is the God of Apokolips, We see Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Mister Miracle, Power Ring and Steve Trevor locking horns with Kalibak, Kanto, Lashina and some other lackey of Darkseid. Kalibak screams “Where is the Anti-Monitor?!” and attacks Wonder Woman. The villains get the upper hand on the good guys. Kanto starts beating up Mister Miracle when suddenly Big Barda teleports onto the scene. Big Barda gets the hot tag and proceeds to enter the ring and clean house on all of the heels.
Big Barda takes out Kanto. Steve Trevor asks Mister Miracle who Big Barda is. Mister Miracle replies “That’s my wife.” (Best line of the issue!) Big Barda then plows through Kalibak and the other lackey of Darkseid. Mister Miracle says that Big Barda was supposed to stay out of this. That they cannot be seen together. That if word gets to Granny and the Furies then they will be in trouble. Big Barda replies that it is their honeymoon and she was determined to spend it with him. Big Barda and Mister Miracle then engage in some serious tonsil hockey. Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor nervously stand near each other and look in opposite directions as Mister Miracle and Big Barda make out. (Awkward!!) Big Barda then says “Let them (Granny and the Furies) try to do something about it.”
The bad guys regroup. Lashina says that Granny and the Furies will never forgive Barda for betraying them. Barda says that Darkseid is dead. That their feud does not need to continue. That if Granny and the Furies leave Barda and Mister Miracle alone then they will in turn leave Granny and the Furies alone. Kalibak screams that he does not care about the Justice Leaguers. That they must find the Anti-Monitor in order to get revenge for Darkseid.
We slide over to the Rock of Eternity. We see Metron sneaking around. A spirit appears in one of the mirrors. The spirit says that Metron has traded the safety of the universe for his own soul. That if Mobius returns to his chair– but it interrupted by Metron smashing the mirror and silencing the spirit.
We hop over to an unknown location where the Anti-Monitor is in an energy cocoon and is being reborn. Grail and her mother, Myrina Black, are standing outside of the energy cocoon. Grail says that this is not over just yet.
We cut back to the remaining members of the Justice League. Wonder Woman says that the surviving members of the Crime Syndicate should have knowledge about how to fight the Anti-Monitor. That the Crime Syndicate might know why the Anti-Monitor is on their Earth. This is because they fought the Anti-Monitor when he attacked their world. Steve Trevor says that Ultraman and Superwoman are both locked up in Belle Reve and are being held in Level 0 which means no one gets access to them. So, they are going to have to break into Belle Reve in order to talk to the two villains. Mister Miracle says that he can get into any place. Period.
Wonder Woman says that Big Barda, Mister Miracle, Cyborg and Power Ring will go to Belle Reve. That team of heroes then teleport away from the scene. That leaves just Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Wonder Woman says that she is going to find the rest of the Justice League members and the location of the Anti-Monitor. Steve says that Wonder Woman looks worried. Wonder Woman replies that an Amazon started this whole war. That the Justice League has been split apart. Wonder Woman says that she does not worry very often and she never gets cold. (That explains her awesome outfit! Yeah, baby!) But, right now, she is both.
Steve says that wherever Wondy is going that he is going with her. Diana says that it will be dangerous. Steve replies “When isn’t it for us?” Steve asks if this is why Diana chose Superman. Steve says that Mister Miracle and his wife, Big Barda, have heightened abilities and work together in the battlefield. Wonder Woman replies that she does not love Superman. (Please. End this idiotic Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, already.) Steve says that if this is the end then he wants Diana to know that he will always…but before Steve can finish he is interrupted by Super Douchebag. Superman says “I heard my name. Am I interrupting?” Superman grabs Steve by his neck.
We cut to Batman on his Mobius chair in the Batcave staring at the Joker on the Batcomputer screens. We cut back to Wonder Woman locking horns with Superman. We zip over to the Justice Leaguers arriving at Belle Reve. We cut to Hal Jordan flying through Gotham heading toward the Bat Signal. We cut to Lex Luthor as the new God of Apokolips and flanked with Parademons.
We cut to Grail and Myrina Black outside of Anti-Monitor’s energy cocoon. Grail says that she sacrificed everything to the darkness for this moment. Grail tells her mother that they will try to stop them. Grail says that it is too late for the Justice Leaguers to stop them. Grail said that it is too late, though. We see an energy ball coming out of Anti-Monitor’s cocoon of energy. Grail says that Mobius has separated from “it.” Grail says that the most powerful force in the universe is now theirs. That the Anti-Life equation is theirs. We see the small energy ball landing in Grail’s hand. Grail says that her father’s ultimate weapon is now theirs. Myrina Black asks why Grail was after the Anti-Life equation all this time. Grail replies “Because death is too good for Darkseid.” We see the words “Grail: Goddess of the Anti-Life.” End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #46 was another enjoyable read. Johns continues to it on a clinic on how to write a big event styled comic book. And make no mistake, The Darkseid War has the scope and feel of a big event. That is something that is hard to pull off with a story arc that takes place over just one tile and involves just one team of heroes.
What continues to impress me is Johns’ fantastic attention to detail. Johns is displaying some serious writing chops with respect to his mastery over the technical aspects of writing. Plenty of comic book writers have nice imaginations or can draft up snappy dialogue. But, many of them, from a purely technical standpoint, are weak writers who lack the basic fundamentals that enable writers to produce truly well crafted stories. That is not the case with Johns.
The structure for Justice League #46 is intelligently crafted. I love Johns’ continued use of Greek mythology to serve as the framework for this story. This gives the Darkseid War a consistent narrative theme that plays out from beginning to end. The theme of comic books being modern-day mythology and super heroes being “new” gods plays in perfectly with the classic Kirby aspects of the Fourth World characters. The connection between Greek mythology and modern super hero comic books is the connective tissue that binds the story together and adds greater depth and texture to the story.
Justice League #46 is strongly plotted. Which is no surprise. Johns has always possessed excellent vision and impressive plotting skills. Johns remains focused and continues to manage multiple complex plot lines that comprise this story. Watching Johns manage so many intricate and detailed plot lines at one time is like watching the internals of a meticulously crafted watch. The various plot lines slide into place like cogs and springs so that the larger story may unfold in a logical and pleasant fashion. There are so many layers to the Darkseid War. There is so much depth to the plot lines. There is a lot for the reader to digest in Justice League #46 which makes this an issue that warrants multiple reads.
I dig the Metron plot line. Metron is such an interesting character. His amoral approach makes him the ultimate wildcard in this game of cosmic gods vying for power.
I also like the plot line involving the Anti-Monitor. Having him begin to evolve back into Mobius presents the reader with some quality character progression. The Anti-Monitor is a character that has been a bit stale and static. It is cool to finally see something different being done with his character. Having Anti-Monitor experience some character growth and evolution will help him be cast in a different role that he normally is forced to play.
The plot line involving the Justice Leaguers having to go break into Belle Reve in order to talk to Ultraman and Superwoman should be enjoyable. This plot line should allow Mister Miracle the opportunity to showcase his abilities. Since I am a big Mister Miracle fan I am sure that I will enjoy this plot line. Also, this plot line will allow for some fun excitement in the next issue.
Johns ended Justice League #46 with a fantastic double hook ending with Superman attacking Steve Trevor and Grail becoming the Goddess of the Anti-Life. Both of these hook endings had me at the edge of my seat. I cannot wait to see what happens next. Personally, I am hoping that we get to see Wonder Woman giving Superman a serious beat down.
Justice League #46 is a well paced issue. This is certainly not a fast paced issue. But, this issue does not fall victim to Johns’ tendency to waste time with a decompressed story that keeps the story in neutral until the final scene where he then delivers a “shocking” hook ending. No, Johns keeps moving the Darkseid War in a steady and focused direction.
Johns provides enough action in this issue to keep it a lively read. Action fans will not be disappointed. The majority of the action in Justice League #46 comes in the form of Big Barda kicking ass. This was fantastic. I love Barda’s character and it was great to see her show off the fact that she is every bit the heavy hitter as Wonder Woman and Superman are.
Of course, this issue is not just about action and adventure. Johns delivers plenty of drama as well. The character work is excellent. The dialogue is well crafted. The characters are all well-developed and they have their own external voices. The chemistry between all of the characters is solid. It is particularly noticeable between Mister Miracle and Big Barda as well as between Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman.
Johns captures the loving relationship between Mister Miracle and Barda. He just nails it. The two are a great couple. The reader gets a strong sense of the couple’s passionate relationship. Johns also does a fantastic job with the scene between Steve and Wonder Woman. I love seeing Steve and Diana together. They make such a great combination. Johns really taps into what makes their relationship so compelling and unique compared to so many other super hero relationships that exist between two super powered characters. The fact that Steve is a regular human adds an interesting wrinkle to the relationship. I hope that we get to see Steve and Diana as a couple in the near future.
Francis Manapul delivers plenty of solid artwork. I dig Manapul’s artwork and he rarely disappoints. He is equally adept at dynamic fight scenes as he is with dialogue heavy scenes. Manapul draws excellent character facial expressions which help to infuse Johns’ story with plenty of emotion.
The Bad: My only criticism would be the selection of Francis Manapul as the artist for this story. Just because an artist is talented does not mean they are the right choice for every title. Each artist has their own style that is better suited for certain stories. Manapul’s artwork has shined on titles like Legion of Super Heroes and The Flash for a reason. Manapul’s style is perfect for titles that are youthful like the Legion and for titles that are more positive and fun like The Flash. Manapul’s artwork is more “cartoonish” and reminds me more of manga styled artwork which makes his artwork more lighthearted and upbeat. Johns’ story on Justice League is more of a grand epic tale that needs artwork that has more gravitas to it and more of a dramatic flair. That is why Jason Fabok’s artwork was a perfect match for the Darkseid War in the earlier issues.
Overall: Justice League #46 is another fantastic read. What Johns continues to deliver on this title is exactly what super hero comic books should be all about. Grand stories of action and adventure. Modern day mythology crammed full of the gods and heroes of our time. Darkseid War is fun. Pure and simple. Johns fully understands the original intent of mainstream super hero comics which seems to get lost on many writers these days. If you crave fun, excitement and pure escapism then you will want to pick up what Justice League #46 is putting down.