The aspect of Darkside progressions like “Star Trek” with the Mirror Universe is to examine those traits that are considered essential to characters but how they can be skewed in the aspect of a changed world or universe. That is the structure of “Justice League Dark: Apokolips Wars”. The idea is based around the continuing narrative from a couple years back in “Flashpoint” where Barry broke open a dimensional rift. The aspect is Darkside using Superman’s power against him and then rendering him useless is another perception that was reflected but not brought to ultimate bear in the live action “Justice League”. In this progression of “Apokolips” there is a change of focus. In an interesting irony, watching the loss and decimation of the Justice League allows for the stakes to be much higher. While some context structures work, others seems too generic.
On the whole the use of the paradoxes as well as the concept of the parademons works quite well. The tech thematic of using the Earth’s core as a salve for energy in a way reflects a certain element of “The Matrix”. There is also an ode to the Chosen One as well as a nifty Dark Side reference in a way between father and son and their master. To give away too much plot takes away from its brutality but also relevance. The nice intermittent strategy though is using John Constantine as the catalyst in many ways. His aspect of a fully reluctant and failing hero works well, especially in the reasoning when Superman initially tries to recruit him. It pays off as the story goes along because there is a good reason for him to act the way he does. The Damian/Robin and his interaction with Raven is the most satisfying of the subplots, especially after so many years of seeing them permeated with “Teen Titan Go!”. The essence of their underlying relationship is one that should be explored especially with darkness within her. “Titans” does it to a point but it really needs a full movie star/cinematic structure, The story and the visuals don’t mince the darkness but yet still allows the artists to revel in mythology.
Whereas the destruction and damage to everyone physically and mentally is almost beyond repair (and it primarily is), the aspect based in a thematic “Matrix” mythology or at least the possibility of a “Total Recall” one is interesting. Between some of the cool visuals, and the fight sequences have their intensity, but it is the loss that we see integrated with all the different superheros, especially towards the end is what makes this installment worth watching. The voice cast is phenomenal as well with real life spouses Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell playing Superman and Lois Lane, Rosario Dawson playing Wonder Woman and Jason O’Mara playing Batman not to mention the original Constantine from the TV series Matt Ryan bringing his right brand of bollocks to the man of the dead. “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” continues the texture of comic darkness set in a web of redeemable archetypes. But in this new world of animation, the superheros can continue to be more flawed, but yet still seem so vast.
By Tim Wassberg