It would seem that the three Justice League titles, Geoff Johns’ Justice League, Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America, and Jeff Parker’s Justice League United, are speaking with one voice and one opinion – gods and prophets are at best treacherous and at worst poisonous. Based on the evidence presented in these books since DC finished its Convergence publishing break, the appearance of a divinity, or the messenger of such, should be enough to send any intelligent superhero, never mind any ordinary mortal, screaming in the opposite direction.
Justice League #43 finds Superman and Luthor still trapped on Apokalips, and having quite a struggle, which is mildly amusing as Batman and his family managed just fine in Batman and Robin last year, including a hand-to-hand battle with Darkseid himself. In any case, the atmosphere of Apokalips blocks both Superman’s x-ray vision and his ability to absorb energy from sunlight, leaving him a mere mortal. Luthor decides to address this problem by hurling Clark into one of the planet’s fire pits, which he believes to be powered by concentrated solar energy. The flames certainly restore Superman’s power level, but also leave him possessed of a malignant intent to kill Luthor. Oops.
Meanwhile, Darkseid gathers together his lieutenants, including Kalibak, evidently recovered from the humiliation he suffered in Batman and Robin, and Steppenwolf, obviously having overcome the slight case of death inflicted on him in Earth 2: World’s End. They prepare to invade Earth to find Grail, Darkseid’s daughter, and defeat her ally, the Anti-Monitor. At this point, one can only remember the motto of the DC YOU, “story over continuity,” and take this as one of the more obvious, some would say egregious, examples.
In the Rock of Eternity, Batman remains in possession of Metron’s Mobius chair. Actually, as with Superman and the flames of Apokalips, the signs point to Batman no longer being the one in control. He keeps talking about “his” chair and its abilities in terms rather reminiscent of a character from Tolkien talking about a Ring of Power. Which is not to say that the Mobius Chair isn’t a very useful tool. It does, Batman says, know the answer to everything except how to stop the Anti-Monitor (and where Aquaman’s been the last few issues). That implies that it really did tell Batman the Joker’s true name, which would have obviated a great deal of the plot in the ENDGAME arc in Batman, but perhaps Bruce will lose the knowledge when he departs his new throne. He says the Mobius Chair has told him the key to defeating the Anti-Monitor is in the depths of the multiverse, and he must set off to find it, accompanied by Hal Jordan.
The arrival of Scot Free sets up a confrontation with the unseated Metron. That Mister Miracle does not trust the manipulative New God of Knowledge is scarcely surprising. And his accusation that Metron tricked Batman into taking the Mobius Chair is plausible. We know from previous issues that Metron has a history with the Anti-Monitor, and he tells us in this issue that he longs to be free, but from what he does not say.
Scot informs the Justice League that the best protection for Earth is to persuade the Anti-Monitor to leave before Darkseid arrives. Unfortunately, they are too late. They find Grail and the Anti-Monitor just before Darkseid.The DARKSEID WAR arc is, in many ways, Geoff Johns' great Wonder Woman story, and this issue is peppered with her commentary. Johns perhaps loses an opportunity here, since he seems to lose sight of the fact that Diana is not just an Amazon, but a god in her own right. Still, her wary, even weary and sour, observations about what happens when mortals mid with deities is, if not totally appropriate to character, certainly appropriate to the plot. As the issue closes on her musings about Scylla and Charybdis, as Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor close for battle with the Justice League between, she issues a thought that is one of the simplest but most haunting to come from Johns since FLASHPOINT, "Sometimes whatever you choose, you lose."