Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Justice League, Volume 7: The Darkseid War, Part 1 Review (Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok)

Y’all ready for this?

Bum bum bum buh-buh-buh-buh bum bum bum bah-bah-bah-bah – Darkseid vs The Anti-Monitor! 

Who? Why? Uh… because… 

Mobius, the Anti-Monitor, wants war with Darkseid because he says the New Gods are over while Darkseid wants to eat Superman’s soul – both of which make them sound like complete idiots. How that translates to the two fighting each other is anyone’s guess. There are a couple of new female characters: Grail, Darkseid’s daughter, who wants to kill her dad, probably for a reason, and Myrina Black, who’s important, also probably for a reason – that said, this is Geoff Johns so he might not bother with reasons! The Justice League get involved because Mobius and Darkseid have arbitrarily chosen Earth as their battleground. Yup, it’s a Geoff Johns comic alright: big, loud, stupid, largely incoherent and haphazardly plotted! 

The Darkseid War (Part 1 – groan) is basically Final Crisis for dummies. Johns wisely steers clear of calling this a Crisis though as DC have really overused the title in the last 10+ years but that’s what this is. Worlds colliding, Darkseid, Metron, the Anti-Life Equation, Death the Black Racer, Superman undergoes a transformation – superficially Johns ticks all the Grant Morrison boxes without any of his style or intelligence though it does feel as messy as Final Crisis! Also, if you’re unfamiliar with these characters (most will probably know Darkseid), Johns won’t help you out by explaining them so newer readers are going to be lost or are going to be googling every few pages – always a pleasant reading experience, having to frequently set the book down and go online! 

Johns does include some variations to the Final Crisis-seeming formula though and they were actually quite good. My favourite part of this book was the side-story where Superman and Lex get boomed over to Apokolips and have to work together to survive. Johns raises the stakes: Superman is depowered as no sun-rays make it through Apokolips’ atmosphere and Lex is shot – brilliant! There are some great twists and turns as the pair dodge parademons and try to figure out a way home. 

I also liked what happens to Batman in this one (the real Batman, Bruce Wayne, not the embarrassing robot-Batman Jim Gordon). It’s absolutely bonkers but it’s a fun temporary development for the character. I didn’t like that he got paired with Green Lantern though – Hal’s annoying chatter wasn’t needed, we could’ve just had Bruce’s calm inner monologue instead. But it’s a Justice League book so I guess Johns has to find stuff for the other characters to do. 

And that’s the thing about this one: it’s not a great Justice League comic. Superman and Batman have great storylines but the others are barely doing anything. Wonder Woman is relegated to the role of bored narrator, Shazam and Cyborg ineffectively fight whoever when they’re remembered at all, Flash hangs about until something happens to him at the end, and Aquaman is missing entirely! The new additional Green Lantern proves to be a hindrance rather than a benefit. 

I get that it’s tricky to juggle so many characters at once but this is the problem with two ridiculously over-powered characters like the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid as the big bads fighting amongst themselves: the others are basically bystanders. The Justice League are also in the same position as the reader, asking which side we’re meant to be rooting for and why - they end up just standing around watching. 

I liked the Superman and Batman sub-plots (though what they have to do with anything is anyone’s guess!) and Jason Fabok’s art looks suitably grand and shiny-looking but Darkseid War Part 1 was largely a baffling and boring read - another sound and fury example from DC. I’m not sure what the story is supposed to be or why we should care, all of which shows how poorly Geoff Johns has written this book.

Y’all ready for piss? It’s The Darkseid Bore! 

Justice League, Volume 7: The Darkseid War, Part 1

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