Justice League #46 “Darkseid War: After Death”
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors by Francis Manapul
After a month delay, we’re finally getting a new issue of Justice League. Thank God all of those one-shots fell in between issue 45 and 46, because I feel like I would have had a conniption had I gone a full two months without anything after the huge cliff hanger from the last issue! I mean, if you didn’t read the previous issue and go, “Whoa… $#!% just got real!” then I question your judgement in comics. I’m kidding… (No I’m not. I’m completely judging you right now. These are judging eyes of judgement.)
I mean, come on… Darkseid was killed… (Or as far as comics are concerned, he’s taking a vacation.)
This issue also follows a number of one-shots that were released featuring Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Shazam, The Flash, and Lex Luthor. I won’t go so far as to say they’re needed, but some of them are good reads, and they all focus on members of the League becoming new Gods. Details pertaining to Batman, Superman, and the Flash’s transition are covered in Justice League, so if you decided to pick-up those one-shots, as of right now, they don’t look like they’re critical to the story. The Green Lantern tie in doesn’t look like it’s needed at all, but it’s a damn good, read, so I would recommend it. As for the Shazam and Lex Luthor tie-in, I can’t confirm that they’ll be needed yet, but they might be the only two issues that connect some dots in the plot.
Considering all of this just happened in the previous issue, I wanted, maybe even expected, this issue to pick up where we left off with the same momentum that we left with. Turns out that isn’t quite the case. Most of this issue felt like a reminder. It was almost like one of those “Previously on _____” segments that comes on at the start of some television shows. I don’t mean that this issue is a blow by blow replay of everything that’s happened, the narrative just skims most of the plots that are currently taking place by giving us a glimpse into what each character is doing or facing at the moment. There is some plot progression though – albeit very little – with the introduction of Big Barda into the plot, and some nice moments between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Other than that, this issue is mostly set-up and reminders that are done well.
The Art: I’m a huge fan of Manapul’s art! It’s distinct, colorful, and incredibly good. He essentially leaves his “signature” on anything he touches, and that’s something any writer should be ecstatic to have! It’s one thing to have art that compliments a script, but art that elevates a script is more rare than I would like to admit. And what really makes Manapul’s art special for me, is his use of color, and the juxtaposition they create with the shading. He’s easily one of my favorite artists, and his work is often worth the price of the book alone!
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
Diana & Steve. With everything this book was trying to cover and refresh readers on, there wasn’t much time for depth, but Johns managed some great moments with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor – and then Manapul captured them as well, if not better, than they were possibly written. I don’t read Wonder Woman, so I have no idea what’s going on in that title. The last time I can recall these two sharing some page-time was all the way back in Forever Evil. Knowing that Wonder Woman and Superman are kind of an item, but watching Steve watch after Diana so tentatively during this whole ordeal was perfection. His actions screamed that he still cares for her, which eventually led to this:
How can you not root for this guy? Unfortunately Supes shows up with his new godliness, and has to interfere. I know it’s supposed to build tension, and I get Superman is a super douche with these new abilities, but I wish they would’ve just left the moment with this. There’s enough conflict going on around them at the moment, we don’t need Superman, Wonder Woman, and Steve fighting.
Miracle & Barda. If I’m being honest, Mr. Miracle’s arrival into the continuity didn’t really do anything for me. I was excited when I saw him, but he hasn’t made the impact I would’ve liked. Big Barda, on the other hand, comes in like a freight train! She freaking cleans house! Her arrival is pretty much gave this issue it’s entire momentum, and then rounded it off with some nice/ somewhat funny moments between her and her husband.
The Crime Syndicate. This issue teased that the Crime Syndicate (or at least its remaining members Ultraman, Superwoman, and Owlman) will be joining the fray in the near future. As stated in the issue, they fled their world because Anti-Monitor destroyed it. They have a history with him, and could potentially be the key in defeating him… if they can be trusted. You also have to keep in mind that Luthor has been hiding Owlman, and Superwoman was pregnant, so there’s bound to be some interesting development about those plots, as well as Anti-Monitor himself, waiting around the corner! As excited as I am though, I will admit that this page felt like it came out of nowhere in the plot for this issue.
The Justice League is fractured. At the moment, the League isn’t a cohesive unit, and they’re fighting someone that just killed Darkseid. Many of the League members are now new gods, and due to that, they’re not in their right mind. The only one who appears to have thwarted his new status to remain focused was Green Lantern. And then on the other end of the spectrum, Luthor – who wasn’t featured in this issue (unless that was him at the end with Grail… couldn’t tell) – is now a total x-factor/ wild card. They’re going to have to come together if they expect to win. And unfortunately, the League aren’t the only ones that are becoming new gods!
The Bad: The only negative thing that I can really say, is that I wanted more! There’s quite a bit of exposition, and I’m not sure it was actually needed. I know we had quite a bit of time between issues 45 and 46, and I know this is the beginning of “Chapter 2,” but I fully expected this book to pick up with the same momentum rather than play catch-up. Again, it’s not bad, just not what I wished for. Every other aspect of the book was good to great!
You should just read this arc. Trust me, it’s worth it! If you need more convincing, then:
- Manapul’s art.
- Diana & Steve
- Big Barda
- Johns’ is crushing this arc!
Overall: This issue is exposition and a refresher executed as well as it possibly could be executed. Though there isn’t much plot development, it’s still well written, entertaining, and has some nice character moments, all of it getting topped off with Manapul’s art. Johns’ Darkseid War is clearly one for the books! If you’re not reading Darkseid War, then I just have one question for you: “Why?”