Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok pull us back into their Multiverse spanning epic with Justice League #44. A battle of mammoth proportions wages between two of the most powerful entities in the universe with Earth serving as the battleground. Right smack in the middle of  the two evil armies is none other than the Justice League, Earth’s last resistance against enevitable doom. Unfortunately, they’re outnumbered and outclassed in this battle, and missing a few of their top members. Chaos unravels within this installment of the Darkseid War.

I had been waiting for this issue, anticipating the actual showdown between Darkseid and Anti-Monitor. Johns and Fabok deliver on bringing the fight within these pages, but it wasn’t the all out war that I imagined. After a few convenient plot devices were setup, writer Geoff Johns had a few more tricks up his sleeve to add more twists and turns to this cosmic sprawling tale.

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A constant theme throughout this entire event has been the stories of gods. With Diana’s commentary is usually accompanied by an allegory of the gods. It’s a very useful tool and helps serve the story by adding a deeper layer to the mythos. In this issue, she speaks of the Greek god, Gelos. The divine personification of laughter, Gelos haunted the battlefield, laughing and jeering at those who lost their lives. During this sequence, Joker was shown. He’s not in the story at all (except that moment when Bruce asked the Möbius Chair for Joker’s identity), but it’s still nice to see the Clown Prince of Crime haunt the pages of DC’s titles. Joker’s panels transition to Batman, the very rude and pompous Bat-God and his trusty sidek…er, uh team member, Green Lantern. Batman is taking them on a quest for some answers, but with his vague answers and unnecessary jabs at GL, there’s no telling what else the Dark Knight turned deity is up to. They arrive on the Crime Syndicate’s world to find the planet decimated by none other than the Anti-Monitor. The destruction of a world is enough reason for Hal to return back to Diana and the League to offer assistance, but Bruce is determined to find the “forbidden” information. I’ll talk more about that info further down, as it is revealed towards the end and literally packs a punch.

Justice League with front row seats to the fight of the century
Justice League with front row seats to the fight of the century

The heart of the story lies on the battlefield where the majority of the characters have convened. Looking back through the issue, there was more fighting than I initially thought. I just imagined that it was unnecessary because Darkseid and Anti-Monitor weren’t paying attention to anyone else. However, the fighting did begin to spread amongst the rest of the crowd like a plague. Grail continued her relentless onslaught on anything that she went up against, taking on her massive sized brother, Kalibak. Grail even finds time to duel with Wonder Woman with her mother Myrina Black watching undetected in the background. At this point, the reasons for everyone fighting seem to be irrelevant as there is so much going on. As Diana and Grail clash swords, Grail declares that this is the true destiny of the Amazons: to bring the destruction of Darkseid. That’s actually not a bad mission to have, but with the world possibly being in peril, the stakes are too high. Darkseid is not one to lay down and lose and calls down some assistance from his avatar of death, the Black Racer. Caught off guard, Anti-Monitor reels back from the vicious attacks. Before Darkseid can claim victory, the tides turn, giving Anti-Monitor the upper hand. The destruction of Darkseid would most likely be voted as the number one desired outcome for the majority of the people out there fighting, but would be the results if such a thing actually occurred?

Spoiler
During the fight, Anti-Monitor begins losing after the appearance of the Black Racer, a smart move by Darkseid. That is until Anti-Monitor mirrors that same move. Flash is transformed in an instant by Anti-Monitor into a destructive force. His appearance and utilization made him sort of a mechanized version of Black Flash. He pretty much became the same as Blck Racer, an omen of death. That information that Bruce and Hal stumbled across? Anti-Monitor was originally Möbius, but was transformed into his current state by Darkseid’s most coveted desire: the anti-life equation! Anti-Monitor is bound to it, and it ultimately brings Darkseid to his apparent demise. A victory that would be celebrated if it were the Justice League to accomplish it, but it’s going to be interesting to see what his death means to the victor and the bystanders.
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Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson make reading this title such a pleasure. As if you weren’t already entertained (or angered depending on you feel about the portrayal of some of your favorite characters) by the pages of the story, the panels stay looking crisp as ever. Fabok’s character designs are amazing and all moments of movement look so fluid and clear. I’ve yet to be disappointed on that front.

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been following this title/arc
  • You’re interested in Batman as the Bat-God
  • You want to see a major showdown
  • You enjoy Fabok’s stellar pencils

Overall:

I’ve loved this arc before it even started. I was excited after the Amazo Virus arc, and the excitement carried over into this arc. The art has been nothing short of stunning, and the plot has been quite engaging. This issue finally brought the fight I had been so desperately longing to see. Frankly, the fight felt like purchasing an expensive pay per view fight, only to see the bout end early. There was still a knockout, and it was highly entertaining, but it left me wanting more (not a bad thing). Luckily, more is exactly what we’re going to get. A series of one-shots are spinning out of the pages of this title which should be interesting. As you can see, I didn’t mention anything about Superman and Lex Luthor. Nothing really appealing came out of their story this go around and that was a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, this issue brought more ups and downs to an amazing story, and the conclusion is sure to shake up the world that Johns and Fabok have forged within their pages. I’m just a little biased as I wanted some more from Batman and Superman’s narratives, respectively. Maybe next issue, Darkseid willing. (Too soon?)

SCORE: 8 / 10