Monday, April 18, 2016

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

 Geoff Johns' "New 52" JUSTICE LEAGUE epic finally comes to fruition.....or at least comes about 1/3rd of the way to fruition.

 DC and Geoff Johns have been cockteasing fans with Darkseid and The New Gods ever since they rebooted their universe years ago. For all that they've been held back, it almost feels like Jack Kirby's signature DC creations are the very heart of the "New 52" universe. And now, finally, we get to it..."The Darkseid War".

 JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOLUME 7: THE DARKSEID WAR, PART 1 starts off with a big pet peeve of mine: I hate it when an ongoing epic that is already packed with characters reaches its conclusion, and the creators feel the need to introduce even MORE characters. Seriously, the DC Universe is CRAWLING with Jack Kirby Fourth World characters, so.....let's introduce a new one! And her mother!

 We kick things off by witnessing the birth of Wonder Woman on Paradise Island. And as she's being born, another pregnant amazon is also delivering her little bundle of joy on the other side of the island. This amazon has been impregnated by Darkseid himself, and the baby is named Grail. (This segment bothered me a great deal, and I'll say more about that later.) Grail and her mother leave Paradise Island, and lay low for a few decades, until the story needs them.

 While it was built up as a story where Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips invade Earth, that was all really just a swerve to keep us from anticipating the re-introduction of The Anti-Monitor. (Yawn.) CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS must have been THE comic that shaped Geoff Johns life, because every epic that he writes calls back to that story. Darkseid wants to come back to Earth to get some payback on The Justice League for the beating they handed him back in their first story arc, and Grail is working with The Anti-Monitor, who is the one being in creation that can kill Darkseid. (Supposedly.) This whole book is set-up, as we watch the two big guys being drawn together for the inevitable fistfight. (The book ends on a cliffhanger, and there are two more books coming before we see the conclusion of the arc....Pure DC. CROSSOVERS, CROSSOVERS, CROSSOVERS!!!)

 The book has the usual Geoff Johns portents of doom, with characters having visions of a blasted-out future, very reminiscent of the flash-forward that Batman has in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. It wasn't hard to read this book and imagine that this arc will be the blueprint for the entire DC cinematic universe. Johns also needlessly teases Batman discovering the true identity of The Joker, which is not revealed here, but appears to be someone that Batman knows. I can't wait, in a dreading sort of way, to see how this plays out. Whoever it is, the identity will doubtlessly be retconned out of existence when DC does their "Rebirth" reboot in a few months, rendering all of this pointless, and allowing Johns to retell CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS yet again.

 One huge thing that stuck in my craw was the opening scene of Princess Diana being born. Johns is clearly following Brian Azzarello's storyline from his "New 52" WONDER WOMAN series, so.....why does Wonder Woman never say, at any point in all of this, "Hey, I know one of these New Gods! His name is Orion! Let me give him a call and see if he can give us a hand!" I've read complaints about this book not meshing with New Gods continuity already established in EARTH 2, but I dropped that book after Volume 4, so I don't know if that's true or not, but the lack of Orion really bothered me.

 This was a decent enough book, but fatigue is really setting in at this point. Johns is a good writer, and the art, by Jason Fabok, is outstanding. (My comic OCD still bristles at the fact that DC decided to make reboot-Darkseid 15 feet tall, though. Ugh. Needless and ridiculous.) The takeaway from this, and from almost all of the "New 52" books that I've read (Especially Johns' JUSTICE LEAGUE) is that you can never read a complete story....there's always a cliffhanger, and they always lead to the next crossover. DC would have been better served by reigning in Johns' sprawl and releasing the whole story arc as one volume. As it stands, this collection is almost pure set-up. I'm curious to see how this story finishes, so I'll be back for the conclusion, but I'm really running out of patience at this point.

  JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOLUME 7: THE DARKSEID WAR, PART 1 collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #'s 40-44 and DC SNEAK PEEK: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, including all covers and variants, and features a sketch gallery with character and costume designs.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.