The Darkseid War continues as the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid finally come face to face in this PING-tastic issue of Justice League. Using Earth as the setting for their destructive battle, the League along with Mister Miracle must act quickly to save reality. But when the gods are at war, what side do you choose? Which is the lesser of evils?

Justice League #43 illustrates that this war will not be a straightforward slugfest between two juggernauts. A war at this this large of a scale has too many players involved, some with their own agendas. Speaking from a non-Justice League point of view, I’d sit this one out. Our heroes however, do not have that luxury to choose not to engage in battle. Even after having their butts handed to them on a silver platter, the JL have to brush themselves off and return to the thick of things.

The Battlefront

The war takes place here on Earth, and this planet isn’t exactly an ideal place for a battle of this magnitude. Even the Justice League had to retreat to the Rock of Eternity to recoup and figure out a game plan to deal with the approaching danger. Towering over everyone else, Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor finally come face to face to exchange blows. The Justice League return to the fight just in time to see the armies of New Genesis and Apokolips flood the skies. Geoff Johns inserts a perfect allegory, comparing the war to a story of Odysseus passing through the straight of Messina. It fits perfectly with its use of gods and monsters. The conclusion of this war will not be pretty.

Apokolips

With an abundance of Mother Box usage in this issue, it’s ironic that the strongest member of the Justice League is stranded on another planet without access to one. Frenemies Superman and Lex Luthor find themselves in the slave camps of Apokolips where they learn that they need to rely on each other to make it out alive. The tables turn in their dynamic when Luthor makes the realization that there is no sun, rendering Superman powerless. Lex makes it clear to Superman that the loss of his powers makes him “powerless” and not human. Glad to see that Luthor won’t let impending doom get in the way of his distaste for Superman. It was interesting seeing Superman having to rely on the strength and wit of Lex Luthor, who I’m sure received an ample amount of ego boost from the predicament. Still, a powerless Superman is probably a better liability than what Luthor ends up with:

Spoiler
Needing assistance badly, Luthor drops Superman off into one of the many fiery pits on Apokolips. Superman is basically a battery for solar energy so all he needed was a recharge. Only problem is there are consequences to charging a battery incorrectly. Thus, Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok present to you Negative Superman (name pending), bringing me to my next category.

[caption id="attachment_22329" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Things went from bad to worse Things went from bad to worse[/caption]

The Wildcards

The Justice League may currently have their backs against the ropes, but they also might have a few wildcards up their sleeves. Superman is definitely a wildcard. The Man of Steel has gone toe to toe with the dark lord before, and with him absent from the battlefield, he’s yet to have an impact on the outcome of this war. If he’s able to return from Apokolips in time, he could shift the war into the League’s favor. Another obvious one is Batman (along with Green Lantern). Bruce was quick to jump onto Metron’s chair before it teleported away, flooding his brain with an insurmountable amount of knowledge. Hal has encountered Metron and the chair before, and he stuck with Batman to ensure things don’t get out of hand with the newly formed Bat-God. Hopefully, they can find what they need out in the cosmos of the Multiverse, but with the way Batman’s demeanor was, I see this going in a downward spiral fast. Lastly for the heroes, there’s Mister Miracle. Scott Free hasn’t done anything too spectacular yet in this story, but he does information that the team didn’t know. As well as being born on New Genesis, raised on Apokolips and escaping the slave camps, Scott could provide the insider’s edge that the League so desperately needs.

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The wildcards don’t necessarily only benefit the good guys in this war where a clear cut winner may not even be realized. Other characters threaten to shift this war according to their own agendas. Galactic observer, Metron was removed from his all knowing chair, but an interesting theory was brought up by Scot Free. What happens if he planned on being removed from the chair? The Anti-Monitor stated that he served on the chair before him. Maybe he’s grown tired of the role, or maybe he’s holding his cards close to his chest. Either way, I’m going with Hal Jordan’s advice…don’t trust this guy. Steppenwolf delivers the message to Kalibak, Darkseid’s son, that he has been summoned to war. Hoping that Kalibak will be a bit reserved in his methods, Steppenwolf asks Kalibak to stay in line, for Darkseid. However, the son of Apokolips’ ruler has plans of his own for his glory. Darkseid’s slave camp leader-slash-teleporting bounty hunter, Kanto could also alter the outcome of the war slightly. He and have a mission at hand, but Kanto seems obsessed with finding Mister Miracle, the only one to escape from his camps. His obsession could prove to be fatal. Last, but definitely not least, the two women who seek the destruction of Darkseid: Myrina Black the Amazon and her daughter with Darkseid, Grail. Myrina will stop at nothing to see his destruction, even at the cost of millions of lives. Grail, born to bring the downfall of Darkseid effortlessly ushered in the arrival of the Anti-Monitor with a thorough beat down on the Justice League. Her connection to Diana and her lineage with Darkseid probably makes her the wildcard of the wildcards.

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What can I say about Jason Fabok’s work that I haven’t already said? The guy is a superstar and he’s doing stellar work in this arc and on the title in general. His art is phenomenal and love the way Kalibak looks in this book (he looked like a dog in Batman & Robin’s ‘Hunt for Robin’. Here, he just beats a dog). Little small details also make the panels a beauty to view. When Batman describes his encounters with Darkseid and why he’s able to handle the chair, Cyborg discusses being linked to the alien technology found in Mother Boxes. You can see the connection to Apokolips right there in the panel. Fabok’s attention to detail is insane, and it must be a pleasure for him Johns to be on the same page when getting their vision across. The colors are as bright as ever throughout the different settings of the story, and look amazing when the two main oversized antagonists clash with their armies in tow. If nothing else, this book is just a pleasure to look at.

Recommended if:

  • You’re following the Darkseid War
  • You’ve been waiting for a single punch to be thrown between the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid
  • You want to see a change in Batman & Superman that doesn’t involve a new haircut or dying

Overall:

Geoff Johns is carefully placing his dominos in a large pattern that is sure to be spectacular when all the pieces fall. The question is, what will remain? Darkseid War is its own event, so any ramifications that result in this story, for the most part will be self contained. Nonetheless, the ramifications appear to be drastic with a few casualties most likely on the way. The physical action between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor has begun, but the rest of the war is just getting started. There’s a lot going on that is sure to turn the tides of battle. Only thing is, how can there be a true clean victory in a fight such as this? Things are sure to be shaken up, but it’s not a company wide event. The results of this war will most likely affect the characters on a personal level. Lives taken, relationships shaken, and the earth a quaking (sorry, I was reading Dr. Seuss earlier). This story will definitely be a great trade because I want all of the issues NOW!

SCORE: 8.5 / 10