JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARKSEID WAR SPECIAL
“The Darkness Within” (24 pages)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado; Oscar Jimenez; Paul Pelletier & Tony Kordos
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Covers by: Jason Fabok & Brad Anderson; Neal Adams; Kim Jung Gi
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
The cover is majorly misleading since Grail is not the only one on whom the spotlight falls. Jessica Cruz a.k.a. Power Ring gets a chance to shine!! Surprised? I sure was!
The two women are featured separately. Thus, I will summarize as such. Even though the framing sequence focuses on Jessica, I’ll begin with Darkseid’s daughter.
Grail recounts in great detail her origin as well as life’s purpose. Her mother spared her an assured assassination and traveled the globe as the ages passed, hiding her from the Amazons and from the wrath of Zeus. Like all good parents, Myrina only wanted to protect her daughter from harm and raise her right. Things went awry.
As an infant, Grail was already imprinted with evil. Half her genetic make-up is from her despotic father: the absolute tyrant of Apokolips. She inherited his most lethal weapon – the Omega beams. Grail did not discriminate in directing them — friend, foe, her own mother.
Daughter dearest’s lust for power quelled her female progenitor’s plans. To say she is obsessed with decimating the man who sired her is a vast understatement. The solution is to snatch the Anti-Monitor. Friction develops between Grail and Myrina. The wayward woman is ready to do in the Griffin since there’s no mutual kinship between them.
Mothers always know best. Grail was not entirely forthcoming with details of her plan. She knew that the Anti-Monitor was a wild card. He did his duty in snuffing out the Lord of Apokolips. Since he is the embodiment of the Anti-Life Equation, he must be thwarted. Grail figured this but let events unfold. She flatly states that revenge is her main agenda. Myrina expresses disappointment since the Amazons are above such a concept. Grail will take out Mobius, her father’s legacy, and her sorority.
Steve Trevor is the key to it all. Grail locks lips with him just as Myrina blurts her grave mistake: he was not the first man to set foot on Paradise Island. Steve has been transformed into a fiery figure. He is enraged at this development. Grail tells him he must wait for the outcome.
Jessica suppresses the fear within. She reverts back to normal status. Volthoom is no longer in her head but other voices beckon her. They are the First Lantern’s victims. She is shockingly reunited with Power Ring from Earth-3 who was killed by Sinestro. The cowardly ring-wielder tries to convince her to stay in the emerald dominion of Gotham City. If she departs, Volthoom returns and that is a fate the fraught-filled villain cannot bear. Jessica finally shakes off any remnants of dread. She darts in a different direction. Power Ring orders her capture.
Jessica’s flight is interrupted by a mass tremor. The Earth 3 analog informs her that is a result of the war between gods. When one strike is given, power is traded. He implores her to stay put since it’ll ensure her safety. He tries to guilt her. If she returns to the land of the living, others will die. This does not faze her. A new voice warns her of the mass pursuers. She inquires why the central battery would assist her. The source of light emanates from her teammate Cyborg!!!
Geoff Johns once again delves into characterization. I’m all for that. However, there are only two more parts left. It’s inevitable that issue #50 will be double-sized and be the payoff. However, when, if at all, will the New Gods be reintroduced?? Grail’s backstory sheds light on a woman torn between love and hate, innocence and atrocity, loyalty and vengeance. She acknowledges and appreciates her mother’s upbringing but cannot nor will not ignore her dark side [pun intended!] The fact that Myrina blurbs Grail’s misinterpretation of Steve Trevor’s importance had me jumping out of my seat. Curse you Mr. Johns for elevating my curiosity!! Had it not been for that one sentence, the plan would have gone without a hitch. Now I’m driving myself crazy processing Steve’s metamorphosis. Will he become a new breed of Apokoliptan??
Jessica Cruz will be co-starring with Simon Baz in GREEN LANTERNS [notice the plural form?] The fact that he created both characters highlights her importance as one of the latest adjuncts to the League. Coincidentally, Simon will join her and the others upon Rebirth. The point is this: it’s high time that Ms. Cruz finally break free of all loathing and doubt and live up to the codename Power Ring. She has stuck with the League since her induction despite her shortcomings. That in itself is commendable. This young woman has definitely got a grip!! I doubt that Victor is in the same realm as her although he was able to hack Volthoom’s ring before being bodysnatched by Grid. It could all be a ruse.
Far be it for me to question the use of multiple artists for such a short story. I don’t want to erroneously point out who penciled what pages even though Mssrs. Reis and Prado’s form is instantly recognizable. This is where I wade into uncharted waters. I have never espied Oscar Jimenez’s work. Is it safe to assume that he did pages 5-6, 16-18 and perhaps 21-22? Paul Pelletier’s pencils are easy to spot based on my AQUAMAN collection.
Mssrs. Reis and Prado maintain the hyperrealism. The deceased member of the Crime Syndicate eerily resembles Hal Jordan of Prime Earth. It is surprising how he musters up courage but selfish survival works wonders. Victor Stone in civvies instead of his Cyborg persona is a major red herring.
Myrina passes for Elvira on page five. The beehive is undeniably the same as the Mistress in the Dark’s.
Grail goes grunge as evidenced by the half-shaved head and the multiple tats. Her gauntness causes my heart to skip several beats, all badly!
Mr. Pelletier digs into the meat of the story with his clean pencils. From the escape to the child-rearing to the modern day, each segment is told in exquisite precision. His rendition of Darkseid is extremely ominous. The stone-faced visage burns in my brain, the stuff of nightmares.
EEK!! I don’t know how nor where to include Tony Kordos. A thousand apologies.
Alex Sinclair played ball with all five men. The colours differ somewhat with the assigned artists. He provides more earthly tones for Oscar Jimenez’s panels.
Rob Leigh is the ultimate scribe!! Without his handiwork, we would not be able to follow so easily and effortlessly. As usual, there’s at least one stylized BOOM in this chapter.
The black word balloons are almost indistinguishable. Were it not for the red border, it’d be a guessing game between Myrina and Grail. The bumpy green border for Power Ring’s speech is clever and creepy.
I’ve been in this current saga for the long haul. Words have been aplenty. It’s time for fists of fury, toppling of evildoers, and major victory!! I give this interlude 8 out of 10. PING! PING! I mean RING! RING!
Shout-out to my local comic shop for providing me with this red-hot book. Variant covers are also offered there:
Until next time, I’m thrilled to be a patron of:
Tags: Alex Sinclair, DC Comics, Geoff Johns, Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Justice League Darkseid War Special, Oscar Jimenez, Paul Pelletier, Rob Leigh, Tony Kordos