“Justice League” #49 is the sort of comic that moves pieces into position for the big conclusion just around the corner. While there’s no denying Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok are doing just that here, it’s definitely worth noting that this is a comic that treats its characters more and more like pieces and less like interesting people.
“Justice League” #49 finds characters making decisions based on strategic moves and little else. While admittedly some of these characters are possessed by various godly influences, it’s little more than posturing and blasting one another on the whole. The cores of almost all of these characters are unrecognizable as anything but a collection of abilities and costumes, especially when characters use captives and newborns like weapons throughout the comic. Johns provides a cautionary tale about what happens when mortals gain the power of immortals, but — in doing so — he makes familiar faces no longer interesting. Fortunately, this arc is roaring towards its conclusion, because the cast’s transformation has succeeded a little too well in making readers yearn for them all to be free of what’s taking over them.
There’s a notable exception to the above, though, and that’s the very brief scene between Cyborg and Power Ring. This pairing not only makes sense — two characters who are chained to technology that threatens to subsume their humanity — but, unlike most of the characters here, we get to see their personalities and heroism. It certainly would have been nice to get a bit more of them on the center stage, as it’s the most interesting development in the entire comic.
Fabok’s art has a certain muddy sameness from one page to the next, and I think that’s because the background is continually either rubble or clouds of smoke. It ends up as difficult to distinguish one page from the next; we have panel after panel of headshots with the occasional body of one character blasting towards someone else. Individual panels look good, with Fabok’s very detailed inks creating some good reactions, but everything just blends together when seen back-to-back.
This issue promises a big conclusion in “Justice League” #50, and hopefully the payoff will be well worth it. Viewed on its own, “Justice League” #49 isn’t terribly compelling; this shift of characters into godhood is becoming just as wearying for the readers as it is for the cast of the book. There have been some fun and exciting installments of “Darkseid War” up until now, but this one is missing that same reach.