Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok's "Justice League" #44 strings readers along with teases and hints early on but delivers a game-changing conclusion that may alter the DC Universe forever. Colored by Brad Anderson and lettered by Rob Leigh, the fourth chapter of "The Darkseid War" makes a dynamic shift in the course of the fight between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and not everyone survives.
In this issue, Johns teases out little bits, like "Darkseid is summoning him" and "Mobius was the first to find it," alluding to plot devices and people without guaranteeing the readers any payoff. In short, Johns ups the ante of this conflagration and guarantees nothing. Batman, infused with the Mobius chair's knowledge, continues to spout knowledge and veiled wisdom, while Wonder Woman narrates the battle as only a warrior can. These are inspired choices from Johns, who jams the story so full that only meticulous storytelling could make sense of the flow of the action.
That's where Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson come in. Anderson's colors go over-the-top and completely electrify the visuals, adding in super-bright reds, oranges, pinks and yellows with light strobes, halos and lens flares, while the framework underneath it all is rock solid. From having two separate panels of Green Lantern and Batman looking towards a shared gutter to using nine vertical panels in an unorthodox manner for the bigscreen action present in the final scene, Fabok has clearly thought each panel through as both an individual piece and part of the grander epic. Every panel is packed with detail and each character is branded with a distinct identity, visually divergent from one another. In his choices for each character, Fabok captures their essence, from Kalibak's hulking bestial nature to distinct but clearly Amazonian Wonder Woman and Myrina Black.
"The Darkseid War" has an epic feel to it and this chapter in "Justice League" #44 continues that trend, making this read like the latest installment of a DC Comics event. The cast is rather tight for an event comic, but that thinner group of characters gives Johns, Fabok, Anderson and Leigh ample opportunity to put each character under the microscope. Not every member of the League has equal panel time, but the ones that do are filled with drama and potential. The final image of "Justice League" #44 packs potential and holds the key for the next developments in "The Darkseid War," which promises to be explosive.