The New 52 was a polarizing era filled that revamped all of DC’s properties. Some of those experiments worked, others were...less successful. Regardless, it served as an influx of new writers and energy that the DC Universe needed at the time. Nowadays, DC is not only through with the New 52 era but, as Doomsday Clock wraps up, almost finished with the Rebirth era as well.
Keeping that in mind, now is as good a time as ever to revisit Justice League: Darkseid War. The last major story arc in Geoff Johns’ Justice League comic, the Darkseid War lead directly into DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the one-shot which catapulted the DC Universe into its next era. It featured a ton of crazy moments and cemented itself as the best thing about the New 52. Let’s take a look.
Darkseid’s mostly known for...well, himself. Most people aren’t aware that he has one son in Kalibak, let alone another child in Grayven. Darkseid War went a long way towards changing all of that, not only introducing Darkseid’s daughter but making Grail the centerpiece of the storyline.
She isn’t just introduced, but Grail is actually the primary antagonist, moving around Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor like mere pieces on a chessboard. They even made her tie into Wonder Woman’s origins by revealing she’s also from the island of Themyscira, as part of a failed gambit to destroy Darkseid. Grail is awesome and hopefully, she returns sooner rather than later.
9 LUTHOR & CAPTAIN COLD
In the aftermath of Forever Evil, some long-time villains were added to the Justice League roster in the form of Lex Luthor and Leonard Snart, A.K.A. Captain Cold. Though Snart doesn’t do much other than have some comedic lines, Lex is far more important. He gets transported to Apokolips alongside Superman and, after a battle goes poorly, is left there.
He gains a portion of Darkseid’s power and is the main person capable of fighting the Anti-Monitor at the end. As we look towards the Justice/Doom War, it’s possible that his experience here was the genesis of Lex eventually returning to his usual methods.
8 DARKSEID VS. THE ANTI-MONITOR
This feels like an idea that should have happened already. Geoff’s run with the Justice League has its ups and downs, but this final fight between two of the biggest threats the DC Universe has ever known was incredible. It felt like this epic showdown that even a group of incredible superheroes like the Justice League was powerless to interfere.
Plus it tied back into how Geoff’s run began, with Darkseid coming to Earth to try and enslave the population.
7 APOTHEOSIS OF THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
One of the most frustrating parts of the New 52 was a sense of unoriginality. It was like watching all your favorite songs get remixed. The lyrics aren’t quite the same, there’s an extra verse or two, and the arrangement has been changed; however, at the end of the day, it is still the same song.
Upgrading Superman, Lex, Batman, Shazam, and even Green Lantern into gods? Well, that felt new, and it gives the team a much-needed power up at a time where two forces capable of reducing entire planets to rubble were colliding. It even felt vaguely anime, with our heroes getting a much more even round two after narrowly surviving against Darkseid in the first arc. The League even blows the Crime Syndicate out of the water, to the point they didn’t even feel threatening.
6 REUNITING BARDA AND SCOTT FREE
A major aspect emphasized in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 was the idea that pieces of history had been stolen from the universe. This led to lost friendships and relationships, which felt as if the “heart” of the universe had vanished.
Along those lines, there hadn’t been very much for our favorite New God couple in the New 52 timeline until this crossover saw them both standing together. Though the story had quite the bittersweet ending, with Barda abandoning Scott so the Furies could keep her husband safe, it was still nice to see them again.
5 JESSICA'S GREEN LANTERN ORIGIN
Jessica Cruz started out as the unwilling owner of the Power Ring from Earth-3. Despite the ring’s evil nature, Cruz did everything she could to accomplish great things with it. Ultimately, being a hero wielding a hero’s weapon wasn’t going to work out.
So instead, Cruz proves her bravery and releases herself from Volthoom’s Power Ring by flying in front of the Black Racer and allowing it to “kill” her. But rather than Jessica dying, Volthoom’s Ring is destroyed and she is rewarded for her bravery with a Green Lantern ring.
4 BATMAN MEETS JOE CHILL
One of Darkseid War's most notable moments is when Batman attains Metron’s Mobius Chair. Granting himself the ability to know the answer to any question in the universe, the first question Batman asks could only be one thing: “Who killed my parents?”
In a Darkseid War tie-in, Batman gets to visit Joe Chill, hearing the exact reasoning behind why he’d caused a young child so much pain. Though Bruce would spend the following week refusing to eat or sleep in order to help Gotham with the powers of a god, this moment showed he was still all too human on the inside.
3 SHAZAM BEATS UP DARKSEID'S DAD
One of the funnier Darkseid War side stories centered around Shazam. His powers were suddenly changed after the Anti-Monitor killed Darkseid, giving the kid access to the powers of multiple gods. We get a one-shot showing him owning the powers of stronger, but more obscure gods, completely changing his powerset.
Shazam's goal is to defeat a new, terrible threat who seeks to use all of Shazam’s new power to escape the Source Wall. This not only fails but fails spectacularly, as Billy embarrasses a being revealed to be Darkseid’s dad. It doesn’t help fighting Darkseid, but it’s still a great moment and a feather in Billy’s cap.
2 HAL JORDAN MEETS HIMSELF
During Hal Jordan’s Darkseid War tie-in, he visited the Planet Oa, which was overcome by a million different Parademons. With Darkseid dead, they attacked Oa, merging a Mother Box with the Central Power Battery. Every Green Lantern refuses to become the “god” of the Mother Box, resulting in their lives being taken.
However, Hal’s rebel spirit allows him to tame this power, becoming a god in his own right. Though he ultimately gives up the power after saving the Corps, he also goes back in time to speak to himself at his darkest moment: During his father’s funeral. He inspires himself to keep pushing...and plants the seed to eventually give up his godlike power.
1 IT LEADS TO REBIRTH
In the end, Justice League #50 does a great job of closing the door on Geoff Johns’ run with the team. It sees the League's members establishing a sense of comradery largely absent during the New 52. Lastly, the heroes send Darkseid packing with more finality than they had in a long time.
As the flagship book finally came to a close, readers felt like they were saying goodbye to the New 52 as well. It also introduces the mystery of Dr. Manhattan as the being responsible for DC’s constant alteration, which opens the door directly into the Rebirth era.