WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Justice League Odyssey #12 by Dan Abnett, Will Conrad, Rain Beredo and Andworld Designs, on sale now.
Justice League Odyssey has been quite a cosmic ride, taking Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael into the Ghost Sector, where they encountered prophecies, lost worlds and various alien species who saw them as the next generation of New Gods. Of course, it all came with a twist, as this zone was being explored by Darkseid, who wanted their help in collecting an array of relics so they could save the DC Universe from the destruction Perpetua and Lex Luthor are about to unleash.
As expected, though, Darkseid builds his sanctuary, Sepulkore, and rather than hold up his end of the bargain to include other worlds strewn across reality, Earth especially, he turns on the heroes and tries to convert them into his pawns. In the process, a reborn Darkseid decides to remove the one part of the equation he didn't plan for by murdering the Green Lantern Jessica Cruz.
Since the start of this book, fans knew Darkseid would betray the team; it wasn't a matter of if, but when. As he uses the relics to build Sepulkore and activate it, he reveals that, within this sector, his new reality will be protected by a unique barrier, no matter what happens outside. It's a panic room, according to Cyborg, and while Darkseid always planned to make them his minions, the heroes strike first by trying to co-opt Sepulkore for themselves.
However, the Lord of Apokolips planned for this, as he knew they'd want to use the technology to pull the rest of reality into his haven. So, he hardwires the war-world to turn Cyborg into his final form: a corrupted mech-like machine. He now belongs to Darkseid, and he's viewed as the code and base technology for this realm.
When Starfire attacks, she too is chided for trying to double-cross Darkseid, and as Sepulkore's tech syncs up, she's tossed into its Fire Pits as the Spark, the Fire of Creation. This realm was feeding her power and clouding her judgement with Darkseid's planted prophecies, and she's been charging up thinking she's a savior, not realizing the villain's been poisoning her mind. As a result, he takes over, turning her into his lackey of power to light Sepulkore's engine, leaving Azrael as the final piece.
He has his Order of Azrael on standby, but as they invade, again, Darkseid anticipates this and uses the realm's tech to turn them into Para-Angels, not Parademons. Azrael himself becomes the voice and faith of this new realm, corrupted and brainwashed to give Darkseid his own Trinity. As for the Lord himself, Sepulkore's energies swarm through him and he's reborn in his old garb, ridding himself of whatever Grail did to him when she killed and raised him as a baby after Darkseid War.
He makes it clear "Darkseid Is Again," confirming the original is back and fully-powered. To seal his return, he makes an emphatic statement through Jessica. He offers her a spot in his new world to be the willpower needed to serve him (see: slaves), but she rebuffs him, punching him with her ring, which is sadly out of power. Incensed, he pummels her, crushes her arm and ring and, to celebrate a new era, Darkseid uses his Omega Beams to turn Jess into ash.
It's a brutal end and one fans likely hope isn't permanent. She's become a key member of the Justice League and the Green Lantern Corps, especially to Hal Jordan and Simon Baz, so her loss will be felt greatly. Hopefully, her allies break out of their mind-controlled states soon and find some way of resurrecting her. But, as it stands, Darkseid's back with a bang and it's at the expense of a key Leaguer.
Justice League Odyssey #13 goes on sale Sep. 11.