Justice League #23.1 by Greg Pak (Comics Review)

Darkseid is one my all-time favourite supervillains in the DC Universe. My love for the character, or rather I should say my hate-love for the character began from the days of Superman: The Animated Series and continued through to the Justice League animated series. He’s just such a great villain. Which is why I didn’t really care much for how he was portrayed in Season 10 of Smallville, which I think, was a really bad portrayal. He is such an iconic villain and he got a… less-than-cameo.

And then came the first arc of the relaunched Justice League for the New 52 and we got to see some great action with the big bad himself. It was less than what I wanted, mainly because Geoff Johns told a very condensed story, but I was still delighted to see Darkseid in comics again. So when DC announced a Darkseid one-shot for Villain’s Month, I got all kinds of excited, until I saw that it was being written by Greg Pak, a writer I’ve barely been impressed by. His Silver Surfer: Devolution was so-so, but his first three issues of Batman/Superman have been rather boring.

I was really anxious going in, and it seems that Greg Pak justified all my fears with this origin story.

Justice League 23.1

I don’t really have a problem with seeing an origin story for Darkseid. In fact, I think it would be something rather exciting and intriguing as well. But of course, as is the case with origin stories, they need to be compelling and the reader needs to be made to invest in the character beyond just wanting to read it. And that’s not the case here.

Greg Pak aims for some Jack Kirby-esque story-telling with this issue, but he falls rather short of that kind of vision and scope. The initial presentation of Darkseid as Uxas, a mud-grubber on some random world, is kind of well-presented and there are all the seeds of a great story in making, but things head downhill very quick. We never really see any kind of compelling characterisation of Darkseid that makes us connect on some level with all the events that he goes through, which lead into his apotheosis as a god. It all happens far too quickly and without any kind of effort to engage the reader. Without any effort to make the reader care.

In short, the first half ends up being rather cliched. And we get to see the transformation of Uxas’ brother-in-law/brother Izaya into Highfather, but that too is just glossed over and there is no real confrontation between the two behemoths. And the dialogue is all around hopelessly cartoonish. I didn’t feel the kind of the dread that Darkseid inspires from his animated version or even some of the comics I’ve read before. I didn’t feel anything with regards to Highfather either.

Everything here is plot-driven and there is very little exploration of character.

The second half moves at an even faster pace than the first half and glosses on how Darkseid destroys Earth after Earth because of Superman, and what role Kaiyo the Chaos Bringer plays into these events. We saw Kaiyo in the first two issues of Pak’s Batman/Superman, one of the most random inclusions of a villain in a superhero story, with a story that has gone nowhere so far other than to completely mess up the Earth-1 and Earth-2 storylines. Which is exactly the problem with telling origin stories or prequel stories. The second half just ends up being worse than the first half.

And the ending certainly didn’t help matters any.

With the art, it was ok. Nothing great, nothing bad. The first half has a consistent style and feel, but the second half, once Darkseid goes on his rampage through the multiverse, is just scattered and confusing even at times. Just generally, the art fails to capture at all the feel of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, which is quite relevant here, given the character at focus. The art is in typical DC style from the last couple years since the launch of the New 52, and it doesn’t seek to do anything different, to go for the grandeur and epic-ness that is a hallmark of the Fourth World setting. Very disappointing.

In short, this was one of worse Villain’s Month issues, with nothing to recommend itself. Greg Pak has disappointed massively once again and I’m really hesitant about picking up Action Comics #23.2: Zod and Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday now. I’ve got no faith in Pak at this moment, even though I really like these two villains.

Rating: 2/10

More Justice League: #1-6,#7-12 ,#13-15,#22-23.

Posted on September 12, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

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