Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.
With Convergence over, DC Comics started publishing some of their new titles this week along with the return of many of their ongoing series. I picked up Justice League #41, the latest issue of what is essentially DC’s summer blockbuster movie-style comic that I’ve been following since the line relaunch back in 2011. The book has been written by Geoff Johns since the first issue, with the art team tending to change every couple of arcs. As of the last few issues Jason Fabok has been the artist, with colours by Brad Anderson and letters from Rob Leigh.
This issue marked the first part of ‘The Darkseid War’, the latest arc in Justice League (that I’m hoping won’t cross over into other titles, like ‘Trinity War’ did). The story opens with two of Darkseid’s furies, Kanto and Lashina, breaking into the home of Myrina Black and murdering her in cold blood before realising that she wasn’t the woman they were looking for. Their use of a boom tube draws the Justice League to investigate the crime scene, and they start to realise that multiple Myrina Blacks have been killed already, as Kanto and Lashina try to track down their true target. Meanwhile, Mister Miracle breaks into Darkseid’s throne room on Apokolips, trying to ascertain what his adoptive father is planning. Stunned by what he sees, he narrowly escapes Darkseid and heads to Earth to enlist the help of the Justice League, the only group in recent memory who have succeeded in beating Darkseid back from their world.
The league continues to investigate the Myrina Black murders, before a mysterious woman appears – another Amazon (named Grail, but I think that was in the FCBD teaser) She effortlessly despatches a large portion of the team on her own, and uses some of their own abilities to draw the Anti-Monitor to Earth. Mister Miracle appears at the same time in front of the Myrina Black that everyone has been looking for. It seems she and Grail plan on waging war with Darkseid, with our world as the battleground.
If that sounds like I threw around a lot of random and dense DC lore, don’t worry about it. Basically two of the biggest threats in DC history are about to fight each other and wreck the Earth in the process, assuming the Justice League can’t stop it. While this story has been set up by more than a year of lead up from Johns in this series, I would argue that it remains very self contained if you were just jumping on now. Narration is provided mostly by Mister Miracle while sneaks into Apokolips, and Wonder Woman who ponders the motivations of her team mates and herself. This is a welcome addition to the story, as we haven’t had much from her perspective thus far in the main Justice League title, and Johns seems to have a very strong handle on her character. The moment she states that of the two youngest of the team “The youth doesn’t often show in Victor. It does in Shazam” at the crime scene, just as he looks down grimly and says “I’ve never seen a dead body before” is brilliantly written, and is a touching few panels. The story set up, while potentially huge, is intriguing, flooding the reader with different threads without confusion, leading into the main thrust of the plot as all the various elements came together.
Jason Fabok’s art really is very enjoyable, and out of the issues he’s done for Justice League I think this is the strongest. The scenes on Apokolips hold a sense of oppressive grandeur, full of a caustic feeling as Mister Miracle sneaks into the molten surroundings (with a pretty cool costume redesign). The fight between Grail and the league looks gorgeous, and as she tears through the team the action looks fantastic, while the splash of her arrival is genuinely awe inspiring. I often find that artists who show their strength largely in action sometimes suffer when it comes to facial work, but Fabok doesn’t seem to have any problem of the sort. Anderson’s colours are a great complement to the art, and while the colour work in the big fight looks great I think it really shines during the Apokolips scenes.
I’ve included this photo to illustrate two things. The top is said brilliant art. The bottom is a Twix advert that rather than taking up a whole page, split up two pages at once, totally taking me out of the story and the art. I don’t know what a Nick Lachey is. I don’t even like peanut butter. I definitely don’t think this sort of thing should become a habit, as the normal adverts are obtrusive enough. Splitting up the actual pages of content is idiotic. There has been considerable disquiet about this already, as it apparently extends to multiple books. Hopefully this is a one off based on the advert’s actual content, rather than a sign of things to come.
The Darkseid War looks like it is going to be huge and bombastic, a little dark and ruthless but hopefully a bit of fun along the way. Johns continues to write Justice League like a big action film, and Fabok does a great job of bringing that to life. If you haven’t been following up until now, or dropped off the book before, consider checking this out. You won’t be much more in the dark than long time readers are, and the writing is strong enough to not need prior knowledge either. The issue is a bit pricey, but as it is 40 pages you do get your money’s worth. Pick this up at your LCS or digitally.
Score: 8.5 Mother Boxes out of 10