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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
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Subj: Justice League #43 - To War.
Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 at 03:16:02 pm EDT (Viewed 645 times)
Reply Subj: Justice League 43. Thoughts?
Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 07:28:26 pm EDT (Viewed 26 times)

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Issue left me cold as did the first couple issues of Darkseid War. Fabook art is only thing causing me to buy.

Just a sterile (and short) read that leaves me wondering where's the beef.

Despite superb Jason Fabok art Justice League #43 remains a book that can best be described as "offers much, but delivers worryingly little". There is the sense here that the promise will not match the eventual pay-off. Not that Justice League #43 is lacking in incident, it most certainly is not! But there exists a lack of transparency in the plotting of the issue that is surely leaving some readers behind in terms of what it is they are reading about herewithin. A baffling array of strange characters lumber from out of the dark, say their lines, and dissapear back into obscurity... do any of them amount to anything? The New God Metron may or may not be orchestrating events for his own ends - should we care? Darkseid's mysterious daughter it seems has some sketchy links with the Amazons and Wonder Woman, but why should we care about this either? And what is it that this imminent 'War' is about? Why Now?
As a storyline it is high on incident certainly, but overheavy on atmosphere, and absent a human aspect to make any of it even matter beyond the curiosity value of seeing a Darkseid/Anti-Monitor clash play out...

As we open to the first pages the tone of the book is set immediately as dark and threatening, in a dungeon we meet the brutal beast that is the Son of Darkseid, Kalibak. Jason Fabok's fine lines and Brad Anderson's heavily shaded colouring bring to life a brute who belongs here in a dungeon, and yet as Steppenwolf steps forward to requisition him for Darkseid's latest campaign there is the sense that even this master strategist and war leader might just fear the power and violence that Kalibak brings with him. Uncontrollable savagery harnessed for war.
Low lit interiors and darkness is something that Geoff Johns has adopted as his principal requirement since the 2011 relaunch, whether it be Forever Evil or the oceangoing shenanigans of Throne of Atlantis Johns is most forceful in his scripts about the requisite atmosphere of the piece and the necessity of moody brooding low lighting. Fittingly for The Darkseid War the action appears to be taking place either on the darkworld of Apokolips or at sundown in a wildwest style face-off between The Anti-Monitor and Darkseid as they stare the other down across the opposing street ends. This formula is an element becoming rather too predictable in Johns' work at this stage, but then darkness and misery is not unique to just him, it is something of a mandate across the publishers line as well.
The events of this latest issue in fact flow well, as the League are face to face with the Metron-transformed Batman and all the knowledge he now accesses Lex Luthor and Superman have found themselves stranded on Apokolips after a failed attempt by Luthor's sister to assasinate him, and in the best sequences of the story it is here where the two's relationship is made fine use of as they are forced to run for their lives after Darkseid releases his fodder to hunt and kill then, the weakening Superman then becomes wholly dependent on the suited Luthor for rescue and guidance. Luthor's ego, his sheer willpower, is ironically the one best asset the two now have, as stranded on the most dangerous planet in the multiverse and beyond it is ruthlessness and guile that will be the key to their survival, not chivalry and kind words. Without the Sun Superman's powers have begun to fade, and so time is not on their side. What use a powerless Superman on Apokolips? Ans so this is Luthor's situation to command, as a man of undoubted genius and head of a massive commercial company Luthor's natural intuitive ability to take control of any situation is understandable, the drama therefore comes in who will have the strength of character, and the will, to stand up to this bully of a man. All too often this apsect of the Luthor/Superman dynamic has been diluted in recent years, especially so since the 2011 revamp delivered a Superman who visibly preferes muscle over intelligence... the question at hand in Geoff Johns' Justice League then is will he assert himself and use his own aiir of authority to check the ambitions of Luthor? As yet no firm indication of this has yet been shown.

With Mister Miracle arriving to confer with the new God-Batman and Justice League Jason Fabok sets a neat visual trend with the boom tube effect, one which is repeated throughout the issue. As Miracle steps forth from the light and immediately assesses the scene before him the role of the dethroned Metron is brought into question, manipulative and amoral has he been engineering everything that has occured? That it is Wonder Woman who is the first to sense Scot Free's sincerity is a neat touch from Geoff Johns, but with his news that Darkseid is on his way new urgency grips the Batman and he declares he must set off into the Multiverse to find answers to who the Anti-Monitor is and how this might offer the clues to his defeat. Green Lantern offers to accompany him.

On Apokolips the fleeing Superman ad Luthor find themselves caught in a dead end, in a subtle gesture from Jason Fabok the wall behind them has the silhouette of Darksid and accompanying slogan, caught in the shadow of Darkseid all that is left is a simple question - "Do you trust me?" Asks Luthor. And what choice does a near powerless Superman have at this point, pursuers racing towards them. With all the hordes of Apokolips after them Luthors suit powers them through the toxic air and towards a Firepit, this then is Luthors strategy, to drop Superman into the pit and let its solar powered properties recharge him.
I have to say this particular scene reads most oddly to me, far too convenient. Why should the Firepits of Apokolips emit the same energies of a Yellow Star? Especially when Earth-2 has again and again made it very clear the energies of the Firepits have proved unfathomable, beyond anyones ability to analyse or duplicate. It is the laziest of plot conveniences from Geoff Johns, but also another indication, among several, that he has read none of Earth-2 and is quite happy to ignore any of the developments that have occured therein. This is a dissapointing element and can make reading his work here occasionally awkward.
As Darkseid arrives on Earth to confront the Anti-monitor Superman is unwillingly dropped into the Firepit, and emerges... different! Evil. And out for Luthors blood. To Be Continued...

Plot breakdown now done this is, again, a book of mixed value. On the one hand it looks fabulous, Jason Fabok adds a level of value to the series that has long been one of Geoff Johns' strengths over the years - that he can call upon the best artists to furnish his every script.
The benefit of this is that even when the script in question might be flawed or lacking the art will do the heavy lifting in seeing that script through to print. Here in Justice League #43 the story sets ups the players very well, next issue will move to major action, but for now we see the book begin with Batman as a new God of Knowledge and bookend it with Superman transformed into a God of evil. Light and dark. The technique is a neat way of counterpointing the underlying themes of the story, light versus darkness as Superman is tainted by the evil of Apokolips, Dark becoming light as Batman is raised by the illuminating knowledge that the Moebius chair brings with it. Can both deal with the weight of their transformation and hold on to their essential humanity...?

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