“I am become Death, the shatterer of world’s.”  That quote is more in keeping with the personality of Shiva, or failing him of J. Robert Oppenheimer, than of Barry Allen.  But it is the literal truth as Justice League #45 opens.  Barry has been merged with the Black Racer, the incarnation of Death, courtesy of the Anti-Monitor.  In truth, one might fairly see that as all in a day’s work for the Flash.  This is the man who rebooted the entire universe not so long ago, after all.  What’s unusual even for Barry is that his first act was to kill Darkseid.  Gods in this universe are not eternal.  They can die, and, as we see in this issue, they can be born.

The strange nature of this moment, the bizarre threshold on which the DC Universe is poised, is underlined by the change in art for this issue.  Gone is the naturalism of Jason Fabok.  The more impressionistic style of Francis Manapul lends a sense of the numinous and uncanny.  This is not a vision of heroes, or even of legends.  This is the pictorial language of myth.

That Flash has become the God of Death is one of the more unusual developments.  Batman, meanwhile, continues solidly in possession of the Mobius Chair.  However, sensing Darkseid’s death from Qward, where he and Hal Jordan have been investigating the origins of the Anti-Monitor, the Dark Knight decides he can now at last be the hero Gotham deserves. The God of Knowledge?  One would have expected a God of Justice, or even Vengeance.  Knowledge has always seemed instrumental to Batman, rather than the essence of his character.

The emergence of Superman as the God of Strength, on the other hand, is not surprising at all, especially considering his reaction to an exposure to the fire pits of Apokalips.  Luthor’s path is more twisting.  Abandoned by Superman, he falls into the hands of Apokaliptan outcasts who have a messianic legend that he attempts to subvert, despite the object of their faith being a vision if Clark rather than him.  The ritual that ensues enables his ascent as the new God of Apokalips.  As for Shazam, mysterious voices summon him to become the God of Gods.  And the Anti-Monitor, the author of all this divine revolution, retreats into a cocoon to become Mobius once again.




This is a very peculiar issue. It is, in essence, a background issue inserted in the middle of the story. With the one-shot tie-ins to DARKSEID WAR soon to appear, this will undoubtedly serve as the necessary springboard for those diversions. It gives us developments of cosmic significance that we know will not, and cannot, persist past the end of this arc. One suspects this is going to be yet another if those universe-shaking tales that ends up meaning nothing at all. But, if one approaches this as what it really is, an Elseworlds story of great originality, the plot that has been set in motion is probably the most fascinating that Johns has served up since FLASHPOINT. It is certainly the most enjoyable. Whether it is divine or not, we will have to see.