DC’s Darkseid War will be an epic but character-based tale

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With DC’s Convergence over (THANK F***), it’s time to kick back and enjoy those other storylines that were put on hold while the comic book publisher moved offices. Particularly the upcoming Darkseid War, which sees the biggest threat in the DC Universe return to once again take on the Justice League. But Darkseid ain’t the only returning face here, as the previously underused New Gods will also be making a splash in the pages of that comic. A comic which will be both epic and personal in scope.

Speaking to CBR, Justice League writer Geoff Johns explained how he was pulling out all the stops for the return of Darkseid alongside artist Jason Fabok, as the New God goes to war with the Justice League, the Anti-Monitor and anyone else who gets in his way. “Jay and I, we really put everything we had into [“Justice League #41], and we had the time to do it because of the two-month break. We didn’t stop working,” Johns said.

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When I first talked to Jay and he came on the book, we knew we were going to get to “Darkseid War.” We knew we wanted to make it the very best thing we could. It’s a big story, and it’s taken a lot of time. It took us a long time to get this issue done, and the storyline’s a lot more complicated than some other storylines. It’s nice to have the time to do it, with 40 pages and two to three months of work for us to be able to do that.

We’re just trying to make it an event book every month, in a monthly book. We want it to feel character-driven — character-driven is the No. 1 thing. For us, this storyline is very character-driven — there are a lot of characters in this. Obviously, Diana is far and away the main character. Mister Miracle’s a very big character in it. The rest of the Justice League will have a lot to do, and a lot of things happen. They have their own stories in this.

I’m really proud of the issue, and Jay’s really proud of the issue. We hope people like it. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback so far, and we’re glad for that. We did try and pull out all the stops for it.

Like other big event comics that Johns has penned, Darkseid War won’t just rely on massive battles and mammoth splash pages of action. There’s a personal layering on top of that story as well, an idea that he has used in the past to anchor such events. “I always try and keep it character-based. It’s very important for me to do that,” Johns explained.

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“Sinestro Corps War” is all about Hal Jordan overcoming his own fear. “Blackest Night” focused on a core group of DC characters. It was a very personal story for them — Hal, Flash, Mera and the Atom were the central characters in that, and some of the other Lanterns and Sinestro. But ultimately, it was a Hal Jordan and Barry Allen story about life and death, and that experience, losing loved ones, and facing loved ones, and having regrets and fears and pain and loss — how do you move forward from that? That became very character-driven.

The thing that worked really well about “Blackest Night” is that even with the Black Lanterns, they all access those characters’ memories. They face their loved ones that they lost, or villains that they had fought, or rivals, whatever. So when I approach “Darkseid War,” I do want to make it personal and character-driven. And you’ve got to slow down and take the time for those character moments. One of my favorite moments is when Shazam just quietly says, “I’ve never seen a dead body before.” You’ve got to take the time for those moments, and you’ve got to let what’s happening to the characters land on them. So it is a balancing act. I was really happy we got 40 pages for this issue, but when you only have 20 pages, you can’t get a lot done — real estate is the most valuable thing in comic book writing.

Every time I tell an event, I want to make it very personal. “Forever Evil” was a Lex Luthor story. You could have called that “Lex Luthor” #1-#7, because it was a Lex Luthor story. There were other characters with arcs in it. I thought Bizarro and Lex had a really great arc. Sinestro had great moments. Black Adam had some good moments. Captain Cold had some good moments. But it was a Lex Luthor story. With “Darkseid War,” it’s a very conscious choice to make sure that every time we’re doing anything, the characters are all behaving like people, and having an experience and a journey, and that ultimately this event — as big and loud as it will be — is still about the characters.

And expect the New Gods to also have a moment to shine in the spotlight, as everyone from Mister Miracle to Darkseid himself populate the pages. “There are all these characters, that have massive backstories behind them. It actually makes me want to write a New Gods book. It’s a giant universe of characters that I suddenly am gravitating towards,” Johns said.

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We have this whole story with Kalibak coming up — I love Kalibak. He is the untrainable, brute of a son, and he’s a really fun character to write, because he doesn’t strategize. Steppenwolf will say, “We’re going to talk about this battle plan,” and Kalibak just smashes it aside, and says, “Throw me in, coach.” He’s just such a great character, and such a fun character to play with.

Darkseid, too. We’ve got some scenes in issue #41 I think were really effective. Darkseid doesn’t run, he doesn’t shout. He doesn’t need to do that. He makes observations that he’s curious about. The first thing he asks Mister Miracle — “What’s up with the costume?” “Why are you wearing yellow and green and red?” While we’re introducing new characters, it’s also taking a new look at some of these older characters. We haven’t really spent a lot of time [recently] with Mister Miracle or Kanto. There are going to be some major New Gods, like Desaad and Darkseid, but then there are some obscure Fourth World characters that are coming in. It’s a great world to be in, and I’m really having a lot of fun with it.

The Darkseid War kicks off in the pages of Justice League soon. In case you haven’t been following the clues laid out in those books, here’s the official synopsis from DC Comics:

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When the Justice League investigate a series of unexplained murders on Earth, it leads them to the frontlines of a war unlike any the DC Universe has ever seen – a battle between the two most powerful villains in existence: Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor! Meet Darkseid’s daughter – a mysterious force of evil with a bizarre connection to the Justice League! Plus: The horrible secret of Superwoman’s baby! The ultimate temptation of Batman! Lex Luthor vs. Superman – no holds barred! New villains! New allies! And so much more in the DC Event that has been building since JUSTICE LEAGUE #1!

It’s also not a Convergence book. That alone has me sold.

Last Updated: June 9, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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