The Vanier Report: Tales From A DC Pull List (Justice League #43 Review)

The Vanier Report: Week 28

So…it’s been a while. Many and profuse apologies to you all and especially to GothamRogue for my recent hiatus from this column. There’s really not much more to say about it than that, and of course that I’ve missed writing (and all of you, of course) terribly.

Let’s get back to it, then.

Justice League 43 large

Justice League #43
Written by: Geoff Johns
Pencils & Inks by: Jason Fabok
Colours by: Brad Anderson
Letters by: Rob Leigh

As a rule, I try to vary the comics that I make my Pick of the Week over at Modern Mythologies. This is partly for variety’s sake – knowing that I will be reviewing said comics here at The Speech Bubble – but usually it’s not much of a problem. Week to week and month to month, different comics overtake each other in terms of my anticipation of them for a number of reasons. But lately, thanks to “The Darkseid War” – the latest story arc from writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok – it is simply impossible for anything to overtake my excitement for each successive issue of Justice League.

In fact, this makes three weeks (out of three) in a row that I’ve written about the arc. So if you’d like to catch up on my particular perspective on the arc, you can check out my review of Justice League #41 HERE, and my thoughts on Justice League #42 HERE.

Thus far, Johns and Fabok’s epic story has begun plumbing the depths of the mythologies of many major characters, the three central of which are Wonder Woman, Darkseid (and by extension, the New Gods), and the Anti-Monitor. These explorations find their roots in the very fabric of the Multiverse, and the coming clash between the Dark God and the Anti-God threaten not only the Earth, but reality itself.

In Justice League #43, yet another layer is added as the members of the Justice League find themselves increasingly integral to these epic, multiversal happenings. From Batman’s ascension to godhood as keeper of the Mobius Chair, to Wonder Woman’s eerie connection to Darkseid’s daughter, it seems that the Justice League are being folded into to the cosmic realm one by one. And as Superman and Lex Luthor attempt to survive Apokolips, the Man of Steel appears to be next.

Batman Mobius Chair

Johns’ dizzyingly masterful script juggles a seemingly impossible number of characters and plot threads, but even three issues in there does not appear to be much risk of the wheels falling off. Each diversion or digression feeds directly back into the primary conflict, and each answer provided results in a new question or mystery to explore. In storytelling terms, Johns has created as near a perpetual-motion machine as humanly possible, and the best part of it all is how grounded in character it all remains. Even the heavy-hitters like Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor have secret motivations and histories that are begging to be revealed.

It’s easy to give Johns all the credit, but Jason Fabok is likely the best thing that has happened to Justice League. It is difficult to imagine another artist keeping pace with the dozens of disparate beats as deftly as Fabok. He is able to capture wonderful intimate moments between characters (Luthor’s shock at seeing Superman bleed, or Metron’s quiet promise of “soon I’ll be free”), but then explode outward into some of the most spectacular and gripping splash pages. There are three in the issue that absolutely blew me away: Kalibak’s reveal at the beginning; Darkseid’s arrival on Earth (complete with a leviathan, panel-shattering BOOM); and the magnificent two-page spread of the official start of the Darkseid War, as his forces approach those of the Anti-Monitor.

Anti-Monitor vs Darkseid

Justice League #43 is both visually breathtaking and mythologically fascinating. There are some truly dangerous and unprecedented developments occurring to members of the Justice League as they come too close to the sphere of the gods. They are being sucked in by the “gravity” of both the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid, and the ramifications of that are yet to be discovered. This is the real threat and stakes of “The Darkseid War”. As readers, I doubt many are truly concerned about the fate of the Earth itself, but as Diana muses on the imperfection and cruelty of the gods, the fate of the Justice League – and more importantly their humanity – is very much uncertain.

I believe I have said this somewhere before, possibly on my own site or possibly in a previous review, but I believe that “The Darkseid War” is the greatest and most expansive piece of writing from Geoff Johns since the “Sinestro Corps War”. It has many of the same hallmarks, including a focus on character, a battle of cosmic scale, and a complete reinvigoration of familiar mythologies. And with Jason Fabok’s standout visuals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become Johns’ magnum opus at the helm of the DC Universe.


Feature Written By: Reid Vanier

“Reid is a comic book fan masquerading as a theatre artist. His love of comics (specifically DC) was inherited by his father’s collections of Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Justice League of America. Reid is now the Editor and Lead Writer of Modern Mythologies.”

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