Justice League: The Darkseid War Part 2 wraps one of DC’s more successful New 52 runs, while setting several characters up for the “Rebirth” era.
The action picks up from the events of Part 1, where, manipulated by Grail (daughter of Darkseid and a renegade Amazon), the Anti-Monitor killed Darkseid. In the upheaval that follows, several League members are imbued with godlike powers. The Anti-Monitor remains an extinction-level threat and the devious Grail comes into possession of the devastating Anti-Life Equation. The threat forces the League to ally with the Crime Syndicate to stop the Anti-Monitor, while Grail complicates matters even more. Mister Miracle, the forces of Apokolips, Steve Trevor and the Green Lantern Corps all factor into a massive final battle that wraps the saga while setting up numerous major stories for the future.
Writer Geoff Johns sticks the landing with The Darkseid War Part 2, continuing the winning streak that Justice League has enjoyed in its post-Forever Evil phase. Johns manages an excellent balance of large-scale cosmic action with thoughtful character explorations. Johns is juggling a lot here, but brings it all together very effectively. He crafts new status quos for several characters, devises an intriguing new history for the Anti-Monitor and develops Grail into a credible threat. Along the way, he choreographs some first rate action sequences, packs in plenty of twists and surprises and keeps a sense of vital energy flowing consistently.
Johns has a good feel for his cast and plays them off one another in canny fashion. He zeroes in on Wonder Woman as the plot’s focal point, a smart decision that pays off in all sorts of ways. Johns really nails the right balance in the “philosopher warrior” concept and positions Diana as the heart of the team. The Batman/Green Lantern dynamic is well used throughout and Johns finds creative ways to spotlight Superman, Jessica Cruz, Lex Luthor, Flash, Steve Trevor and Mister Miracle. For as crowded a story as Darkseid War can be, characters never feel short-changed. Even if playing small roles, each cast member matters and enhances the story.
Johns clearly had Rebirth on his mind as he built to the finale. The climax is a crucial springboard into that new era, with plot threads that have already spread across the DC line with major impact.
Artist Jason Fabok cements his place on the A-list with this arc. Working with colorist Brad Anderson, Fabok produces some absolutely stunning visuals. His design sense is strong, with character concepts and page layouts that are sharp and innovative. Fabok and Anderson nail the big screen ethos of the story, producing stunning images, including absolutely beautiful one- and two-page spreads packed with detail, energy and dynamics. But they’re just as effective with the quieter moments, infusing tension and drama into even the simplest scenes. Francis Manapul steps in on a couple of issues at the beginning of the arc and his soft focus, impressionistic style is an interesting and effective contrast to Fabok’s bolder line work. The Manapul chapters have a dreamy quality that constitute an appealing interlude before Fabok and Anderson unleashes their high impact visual pyrotechnics for the finale. Overall, it’s a masterful visual presentation.
Given how uneven the first two years of Justice League were in the New 52, the stunning course correction in the second half of the run is downright amazing. The creative team brings this era of Justice League to a strong crescendo, providing a satisfying conclusion that sets up the next phase of the franchise very effectively.