The Darkseid War has been the best thing to happen to DC Comics since the New 52 reboot. This is the first time in years that I have actually been excited to pick up a DC comics book. Geoff Johns has been white-hot on this story. It has been enjoyable to see Johns seem rejuvenated and returning to his form that I knew and loved prior to Blackest Night. Hopefully, Justice League #47 will be another strong read. Of course, we know that we are definitely in store for a gorgeous looking issue as Jason Fabok returns to the art duties. Nothing against Francis Manapul at all, but Fabok brings the style of art worthy of the gravitas of The Darkseid War. Let’s hit this review.
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Jason Fabok
Colors: Brad Anderson
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in Gotham. We see Batman in his Mobius Chair inside of the Ace Chemical factory. We see Hal Jordan appearing next to Batman. Hal is in a green La-Z-Boy chair that his ring made.
Batman says that he is never leaving the chair. Hal says that he had not even mentioned that, yet. Hal says that he thought Batman said that the chair could not tell him the future. Batman replies that he can read Hal’s mind.
Hal says that when he freed Oa from the Parademons that he had to fuse his power ring with a Mother Box. That he was mainlining power that rivaled the Emotional Spectrum. Hal says that he barely had the willpower to separate himself from the Mother Box. Hal says that Batman needs to ditch the Mobius Chair before it causes any permanent damage.
Batman replies that the Mobius Chair has helped him stop more crime in one night than he could have done in a month. Batman says that he now has the knowledge to save Gotham.
Hal asks why Batman is sitting in an old chemical factory. Batman replies that this is where the Joker was–before Batman can finish the Mobius Chair alerts him to Superman’s presence on Earth.
We cut to Superman attacking Wonder Woman. Diana thinks how Darkseid’s death has led to an emptiness that the universe is desperate to fill. That is why her Justice League teammates have all inherited part of Darkseid’s powers and become gods.
Superman says that he wants to see how strong Wonder Woman is. Superman demands that Wonder Woman fight him. Wonder Woman uses her lasso and ties it around Superman. Wonder Woman says that Superman needs “My help. My patience. My love.” (Gross.) Superman responds “No. I don’t.”
We then hop over to Belle Reve Prison. Mister Miracle easily bypasses all of the security measures. Big Barda then distracts the guards so that Mister Miracle, Cyborg and Power Ring can slip into the prison.
Mister Miracle breaks into Ultraman’s prison. We see that Ultraman is all emaciated and weak. Ultraman says that even though he does not have his powers he can still sense that the Anti-Monitor is on this Earth. That the Anti-Monitor wants to kill every last one of us.
We slide over to “elsewhere” were Grail and her mother are talking. Grail says that the war is not over. That the Anti-Life has a secret that Grail will soon share with the world. Grail says that she is doing this all for her mother. Grail then says that she needs the first man to step foot on Themyscira: Steve Trevor.
We hop back to Belle Reve Prison where Power Ring (Jessica) and Cyborg are about the break into Superwoman’s prison. The power ring tells Jessica that she is pathetic and that the ring has had enough of this. That the time for pretending, hiding and waiting is over. That their plan goes into action now.
The ring takes over Jessica’s body. The ring tells Cyborg that Jessica Cruz is gone. That Volthoom is in charge now. That it is time the Crime Syndicate was reunited.
We zip back to Superman still ensnared by Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. Wonder Woman says that Superman cannot break her lasso. That the lasso was not designed for interrogation. It was designed to help people see themselves for who they are. It is to help. (Random and rather needless retcon.)
Wonder Woman asks “Who are you?” Superman replies “Superman.” Wonder Woman asks “Who are you?” Superman replies “I’m Clark Kent.”
Suddenly, Batman and Green Lantern appear on the scene. Wonder Woman frees Superman from her lasso and says that everyone is okay. Batman replies “For the moment.” Batman says that Superman recharged himself in the solar pits. That Superman may have his mental capabilities back but it is temporary. That the energy is breaking down his cellular structure. Batman says that Superman is dying.
We shift back to Belle Reve Prison. Big Barda busts into Ultraman’s prison and tells Mister Miracle that there was a green explosion down the hall.
We cut to Superwoman’s cell. Power Ring tells Superwoman that it is time to leave. Superwoman tells Power Ring to be quiet. We then see that Superwoman is pregnant. Superwoman begins singing a lullaby to her baby.
Cyborg then enters and attempts to override the ring’s control over Jessica. Cyborg’s attempt fails as the ring begins to shut down Cyborg.
Superwoman continues to sing a lullaby to her baby. We cut to Batman saying that the Justice League needs to regroup. Batman says that the creator of the Mobius Chair …the Anti-Monitor…Mobius is back. And he wants the Chair. We see Mobius blast forth from his cocoon.
We zip back to Bell Reve Prison. We see Power Ring taking control of Cyborg. Superwoman then blasts Mister Miracle and Big Barda. Superwoman says that it is time for the heroes to die.
Suddenly, the wall to Superwoman’s prison explodes. A voice says “No, Superwoman. That will have to wait. We see Owlman standing there. Oilman says that has much as he hates to admit it that if they are to survive then the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate will need to work together. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League #47 is not as strong of a read as the previous issues of this story arc, but it still is a solid issue. Johns continues to roll out a well crafted issue crammed full of the small details that are simply beyond the level of attention that most comic book writers give to their stories. Johns seems to relish in the most intricate details and the smallest moments. While this can work against Johns in terms of his pacing it certainly works for him in his ability to deliver a story that feels rich and lush.
Johns continues to deliver both quality dialogue and strong character work. The relationship between the characters is as important to Johns as the big plot surprises and the action scenes. The finely written dialogue and well-rounded character work leads to some excellent chemistry between all of the characters in this story.
Each character has a well-defined and unique external voice. It is so impressive how at ease that Johns feels with the roster of characters in this story. The excellent dialogue and strong character work make the dialogue heavy scenes just as compelling and engrossing as the action scenes.
I enjoyed the scene with Batman and Hal at the Ace Chemical factory. This was spot on writing by Johns. I love how Johns effectively contrasts Batman’s intensity and taciturn manner with Hal’s far more jocular personality. I also dig the fact that even with the possession of the Mobius Chair and its nearly limitless knowledge that Batman finds himself compelling to return to the birthplace of his most unpredictable and complex adversary.
Johns also did a fine job with the character work in the Belle Reve Prison scenes. It is great to see Johns continue to shine a spotlight on Mister Miracle and Big Bard. I love that Mister Miracle got a chance to show of his skills when our heroes broke into the prison. This was a perfect opportunity to get Mister Miracle’s character over with the reader. No doubt that Mister Miracle came across pretty cool in this story.
Big Barda continues to be properly showcased as a legitimate powerhouse in the DCU. I dig that Johns is making sure to demonstrate that Big Barda is every bit the heavy hitter as Superman and Wonder Woman. You know, with all the niche titles that DC keeps flooding the market with over the past several years it would be great to see Mister Miracle and Big Barda get their own title.
Johns also delivers a properly chilling and creepy Superwoman. I love it. Superwoman comes across as unhinged and vicious. She is evil personified. This is exactly how this character should always be presented.
But, the best part is that Johns managed to not overplay his hand and go to over the top with Superwoman’s character. Johns shows restraint and uses a normally sweet and innocent children’s lullaby as an effective juxtaposition to Superwoman’s violent and evil nature to effectively get across how deranged Superwoman truly is.
Justice League #47 was another strongly plotted issue. There is no doubt, that Johns is a master of crafting and juggling multiple plot lines in such an impressive fashion. Johns rolls out several interesting plot twists in this issue. I like the plot wrinkle of Volthoom possessing Jessica. This immediately makes Power Ring a far more interesting character.
Honestly, Jessica is a complete dud of a character. She brings virtually nothing to the table. At this point, I just want to see Jessica’s character get killed off. So, having Volthoom possess Jessica’s body is probably the next best thing to seeing her get killed off. The fact is that Volthoom presents the reader with a far more interesting and compelling character with a much lively personality.
I also enjoyed that Johns went even further by having Volthoom proceed to possess Cyborg, as well. This was another neat plot wrinkle that helped to increase the intensity of the final scene in this issue.
Johns also teases a big plot twist with the Grail plot line involving the Anti-Life secret. The reader learns that in order to carry out her plan that Grail needs Steve Trevor. This was a cool surprise that the reader does not see coming. I like that Johns is making sure that Steve’s character has a pivotal role to play in the upcoming chapters of this story arc. Steve’s character can be easily overshadowed by the larger-than-life Justice Leaguers so giving him a special role is a smart idea.
In the final five pages, Johns rolls out three stunning plot twists that form a three-pronged hook ending. It is actually rather masterful the way that Johns played out the final 5 pages. We have the surprise plot reveal that Superwoman is pregnant. This is followed by the rebirth of Mobius and his desire to regain the Mobius Chair. And then we end with the shocking return of Owlman.
This was one hell of a way to end a comic book in an incredibly dramatic fashion. In fact, the final five pages were brilliantly structured. Johns employed numerous quick scene cuts to jump between Belle Reve, the scene with Batman, Hal, Wonder Woman and Superman and the scene with Mobius. It was highly effective in creating an incredible sense of rising tension in the story that gave it a riveting finish. The final five pages definitely pulsate with action and get the reader’s heart rate kicked up a notch or two.
The triple hook ending makes the reader hungry for the next issue. There are so many interesting questions to be answered. What is a newly reborn Mobius going to do? What is the deal with Superwoman being pregnant? Who is the father? And where has Owlman been hiding and what is his plan? To be sure, the idea of the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate having to work together should provide for a rather interesting story.
Jason Fabok is amazing. Period. For my money, Fabok is the best artist at Marvel and DC. I cannot praise Fabok’s artwork enough. I love all of the gorgeous details that he packs into his panels. I dig how Fabok is able to give this story such a grand and epic scale. I cannot get enough of the dynamic action scenes that Fabok delivers. Fabok is able to deliver an issue that nearly leaps off the page at the reader.
I adore the incredible facial expressions that Fabok is able to give all of the characters. Fabok is able to infuse Johns’ story with so much incredible emotion and intensity. Fabok breathes so much life into all of the characters with his beautiful artwork.
And, right now, nobody at DC is drawing a better Wonder Woman than Fabok. And, Fabok continues to violate DC’s unwritten rule by placing Wonder Woman in heels. I love an artist who is a rebel and does things because they simply look cooler a certain way. And Fabok’s Wonder Woman certainly has a smoldering appeal of power and sexuality.
The Bad: Justice League #47 suffered from some terrible pacing. This issue is too decompressed. Johns reverts back to the bad old Geoff Johns habits with regard to pacing. This issue followed the formula of much of Johns’ work over the past five years.
We begin with a three page scene with Batman and Hal which simply rehashes storyline that we have already received. Then we get a four page scene between Wonder Woman and Superman that offers neither exciting action or any new storyline material. We get a three page scene at Belle Reve that continues to tread water. We then get the two page scene with Grail which introduces the plot wrinkle of Steve Trevor’s importance but largely feels like a rehash of past storyline material we have already read.
The first real plot progression comes 13 pages into the issue with the two page scene with Volthoom possessing Jessica. We then get a two page scene of Superman and Wonder Woman with Superman remembering who he is. Then the issue actually really gets going and offering any actual plot progression with the final five pages.
Justice League #47 has Johns reverting back to his bad habits of wasting time, re-hashing storylines and failing to deliver any meaningful plot progression for most of the issue and then delivering a compressed ending with multiple surprise plot hooks designed to make the reader forget that nothing has happened throughout the issue and to get them excited to come back for the next issue.
The plot twist that Superman is slowly dying from the energy that he absorbed from the solar pits of Apokolips was a dud. This is a stale story concept that comes across as a bit hackneyed. How many times have we seen this type of plot line?
Also, it does not help that this is complete false suspense since the reader knows that there is zero chance that Superman is really in danger of dying. This plot line adds nothing of value or creativity to the overall story. Johns would have been better served to not have even bothered with this plot line.
I completely understand what Johns is trying to do with the “fight” scene between Wonder Woman and Superman. It is obvious that Johns is trying to establish Wonder Woman as a more compassionate, loving and caring character than the more warrior-like character that she has been portrayed in the past. This is emphasized in the fact that Johns makes the odd retcon to Wonder Woman’s golden lasso.
It is no secret that Wonder Woman’s creator, William Marston, was a psychologist who was fascinated by lying and the truth. Marston is also the inventor of a systolic blood pressure test that was designed as an early lie detector.
Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso has always been more of a tool of justice and designed to compel people to admit the truth. The Golden Lasso was an interrogation tool. Now? Johns has the Golden Lasso take a more compassionate role as a tool of therapy and love by helping people see themselves for who they truly are.
This feels like an odd and unnecessary retcon that does nothing at all to add to Wonder Woman’s character. DC has forever struggled on how to handle Wonder Woman’s character. Wonder Woman has gone from a completely sexless character who embodies all the high concepts of ancient Greek culture concerning wisdom, nobility and perfection to being a character who is female but not in terms of modern sexuality but in terms of a matriarchal figure full of compassion and love.
Personally? I dig a Wonder Woman that is more like a female version of Marvel’s Hercules. Sexual, loves to fight and is a good person by has some character flaws. But, we all know that DC is not going to feel comfortable rolling out that version of Wonder Woman. Instead, Johns gives us another overly idealized version of the matriarchal Wonder Woman that makes her character nearly impossible for the reader to relate to in any meaningful manner.
The fight between Wonder Woman and Superman was anti-climactic. I would much rather have enjoyed watching Wonder Woman be overmatched by the supercharged Superman but still willing to knuckle up and try to lay a beat down on Superman.
Despite all of Johns’ great character work, the only two characters who have zero chemistry between the two of them would be Superman and Wonder Woman. This pairing was artificial and forced from the start and it has simply never worked.
Overall: To be sure, Justice League #47 suffers from pacing issues that made it not up to the same level as the previous issues in The Darkseid War story arc. But, this issue is still a solid read as Johns is still delivering a compelling and intriguing story. And Fabok’s artwork makes this issue an absolute treat.