Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Justice League #41 - The Darkseid War pt 1


Just as I was becoming cynical about comics, this one issue turns me completely around.

After my last comic book rant about Convergence and Secret Wars, Justice League #41 is a breath of fresh air.  Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok have knocked it out of the park.

This story has been building since the beginning of the DC New 52.  You can feel how this story has all been a part of an overall plan.  Unlike the current Secret Wars, Johns very simply and cannily maps out the road that came before so that we can see how all the parts have converged into this moment.

For those who are unfamiliar, allow me to do a basic recap:  When the New 52 rebooted it began with Justice League.  The heroes first came together to repel an invasion by Darkseid, who has been invading universe after universe in the multiverese, with this Justice League being the only one who repelled him.  Over a year ago, the Crime Syndicate invaded our Earth from an alternate Earth that had also been invaded an annihilated.  But instead of Darkseid, it was destroyed by the great villain of The Crisis on Infinite Earths: the Anti-Monitor.  And now it is all building to a head as Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor come to war on each other on our Earth.

That is a very complicated history, but Johns remembers to also keep it simple.  For example, Mr. Miracle is central to the workings of the story.  But instead of assuming that everyone is completely familiar with the character and moving on, Johns introduces him in a straightforward way so that we immediately attach to him.  His story is also filled with wonderful little character moments.  When the League is investigating a crime scene, Johns reminds us that SHAZAM is still just a boy when he says sadly, "I've never seen a dead body."

One of the hallmarks of a Geoff Johns epic is to make the stakes look impossibly high.  This is so important because if we don't feel a sense of danger for our main characters, then all the tension is removed.  This is no easy feat considering that these are all franchise-level characters and they have god-like power.

But this first issue of The Darkseid War hits you like a punch to the face.  Johns doesn't hold back at all.  He starts by slowly ratcheting up the tension.  And when it breaks, he goes full throttle.  The villain who arrives to cause mayhem (I will not say who) not only dispatches so many members of the league easily, they appear to be cunning as well.  When this villain appears, they look at Batman and say (I'm paraphrasing): "You are the human.  Yet you are still the most dangerous to me.  I hurt you first!"

Seeing as how Batman was one of the few heroes to fight all the way through Forever Evil, I love the fact that Johns ups the power and perceptiveness of the villains.

Fabok has done some amazing work here.  I was impressed with Ivan Reis work on the book, but Fabok is dynamic and beautiful.  His pages overflow with dynamic energy and he knows how to create just the right amount of tension with expression and body language.

Unlike so many other event books, I have never been disappointed by a Geoff Johns epic.  Pick up this issue, as well as the 2 prologue issue before.  You won't regret it.

5 out of 5 stars.

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