Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE INCARNATE #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League Incarnate #5: In this shocking conclusion, Justice League Incarnate must face their worst threat yet: each other! With half the team under the control of the forces of darkness, what chance do they have of stopping Darkseid from achieving his ultimate victory? No matter who wins, everyone loses because the real crisis has yet to come…
Justice League Incarnate #5 begins with a flashback to a pivotal event in Darkseid’s past: the death of his first wife Suli, the only person Darkseid ever loved. Her death hardened his heart. We see Darkseid’s mother Heggra admonishing her son to remember who he is. This cuts to Darkseid’s current fight against the Empty Hand, in which he declares, “I am Darkseid!”.
This is contrasted with the issue’s conclusion, which shows Darkseid, captive of the Great Darkness and struggling to keep his autonomous will. Intriguingly, the Great Darkness repeats Heggra’s admonition as he loses himself to the Great Darkness’ control: “Remember who you are”. I find it interesting that he is being this, rather than to forget himself. This seems to imply that there is a deep underlying connection between Darkseid and the Great Darkness that is being restored.
The final panel shows us the Great Darkness’ “Dark Army” that has been referred to in the solicitations for the upcoming Justice League #75. We are told that the League will fall in battle with them, and it has been implied that this will cause the death of many of the League. Williamson and Culver are clearly putting us on notice that this will be a very major event.
This is also borne out in the makeup of the Dark Army. While they are in shadow, it’s not difficult to recognize them: Darkseid, Eclipso, Neron, Nekron, the Empty Hand, Ares, the Upside-Down Man, and the Empty Hand. Each one of these could be the antagonist of a major crossover event on their own – and many of them have been. All of them together would amount to a seemingly unsurmountable threat for the heroes of the DCU to face.
Four members of Justice League Incarnate finally reach Earth Flash.1 in an attempt to rescue Barry Allen. They find him, but discover that Barry doesn’t want to be saved from this idyllic life Pariah has set up for him. Pariah shows up, offering to make each of them as happy as Barry. However, Doctor Multiverse whisks them away, recognizing Pariah for the threat that he is. She describes him as being “like the voice of the Great Darkness. Vastly more powerful than Darkseid or the Empty Hand”.
This prompts President Superman to decide that they need to go to Earth-0 and enlist the aid of Barry’s Justice League. As the issue’s concluding text tells us, this story is “To be continued in Justice League #75! Death of the Justice League!” and presumably in Dark Crisis after that.
I really like the approach that DC has taken with the build up to Dark Crisis. Instead of a constant stream of major crossover events, they have kept the buildup contained in Infinite Crisis and Justice League Incarnate. While some major events with far-reaching implications have happened in these titles, they have been self-contained. They haven’t required that you buy and read the majority of DC’s titles to get the full story.
I love seeing how much Barry’s ideal world reflects the Silver Age. We see him in his classic Silver/Bronze Age costume rather than the New 52 redesign. And he is mowing his yard with a push mower, while 1950s style car sits in the driveway. This is quite appropriate, as Barry’s introduction as the Flash is generally accepted as the start of the Silver Age. Although some argue that Martian Manhunter’s first appearance is the era’s true beginning.
It was also strange to see Grail and the forces of Apokolips immediately declare Orion as their leader in the absence of Darkseid, although they quickly change their chant to “Orion is!”. It will be interesting to see how Orion will cope with being the new ruler of Apokolips, but that’s assuming that Darkseid doesn’t return to reclaim his throne after the events of Dark Crisis.
While I like that Infinite Crisis and Justice League Incarnate have been self-contained series, I have to wonder if it is essential for readers to have read them to know what’s going on in Justice League #75 and Dark Crisis. Will readers who have skipped these series know what’s going on in those series. However, that’s a potential problem for those books to deal with, not a problem that’s inherent in this title. In any case, it might be best for readers to catch up with these two series before reading further, just in case.
Ultimately, Justice League Incarnate, like Infinite Crisis before it, is meant to set up DC’s major crossover event, Dark Crisis. And it has admirably served this purpose. I am stoked to see what Williamson has planned next in Justice League‘s final issue and for Dark Crisis after that.