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As Convergence gets underway there is one arc above all that interests me and plenty of others. This is nothing other than the latest arc of Johns’ now rather varied Justice League, an arc entitled “Darkseid War”. There was so much going against this arc from the outset, Johns hasn’t proven himself yet in this area, but a prologue is as good a place as any to really start.
Johns did nothing to curry favor with readers in terms of showing that he can write the “Fourth World” when his run first began. His Darkseid was noted as being rather terrible, and he was. Yet, in the lead up to this arc premiering, Johns has shown that he has gone back and done some research – and that’s really the least a writer can do. It says something when one has to actually point out and applaud when a writer goes that step, because it’s so uncommon now.
Well, it’s also worth mentioning because there are moments in this issue where it really does pay off. Johns is able to strike a great “Fourth World” core right off the bat. He introduces a rather surprisingly well-done Metron voice, and – best of all – utilizes the Pact in a rather interesting manner. The Pact, for those not in the know, is pretty much the origin story for the whole “Fourth World” and it’s so easy to get wrong, but Johns plays it with kid gloves and it comes out alright.
It’s easy enough to say that this whole segment of the issue is the best part – and I will. As a major “Fourth World” fan, and the awful treatment given to it during Earth 2 and the despicable Daniel Wilson, it’s just an great change of pace. Yet, the issue also fluctuates wildly. Johns has a very clear comfort zone when it comes to his writing and it is crossed wildly within these pages. Johns loves continuity and there is an amazing sequence that touches upon Johns’ admiration for the DCU as a whole entity – and it’s very well written.
The trouble begins immediately afterward – as we get into the second big aspect of the “Darkseid War” – the side that deals with the Anti-Monitor. One of the things that makes Johns such a fan-favorite writer is that he can write a great, two-dimensional, villain. He gives villains something to grasp onto, as displayed by his work on Sinestro and Black Adam. It’s usually a crowd pleaser, but Johns misses the mark almost completely when it comes to the Anti-Monitor.
Not to say that the Anti-Monitor should be some flat nothing of a character, but Johns goes way beyond the pale in trying to facilitate a new backstory and it comes off as incredibly forced. Incredibly forced as a 13-year-old’s fanfiction, actually. The art from Maguire, Lee, Kolins, Jiminez, and Jurgens is all really well done – and the art is just the best of what you could expect from them. I just hope the next installment is better for the Anti-Monitor.