Justice League #22 Review
Writter:Â Geoff Johns
Art by:Â Ivan Reis,Â Joe Prado, Rod Reis
War does not wait on a doorstep; nor does it huff and puff to blow it down; it comes crashing right through. Trinity War is an event that has been slowly developing ever since Flashpoint. When the Justice League first formed, they worried many governments. In response, the Justice League of America was formed to protect the country from a team of superheroes should they ever use their powers for more than just saving the world. While the forces of good were gathering, they weren’t the only ones. A league of super villains came together. They seek to kill the Justice League and search for Pandora’s box to help them do it. Meanwhile, young Billy Baston just finished his confrontation with Black Adam and decides to spread his ashes in his home land of Kahndaq. Without realizing the tense political relationship the country has with the world – especially Americans and superheroes– he becomes the spark that ignites war among the Justice Leagues. The threads of love, betrayal, mystery, secrets, and revelations all begin to unravel.
It would be remiss to mention that Pandora, the woman who single-handedly created the New 52 universe, is at the heart of this story. She made appearances in the backgrounds off all #1 issues of the relaunch. This didn’t go unnoticed by The Question in his search for the “Evil behind the evil”. Which is the mission that Pandora has placed herself. She searches for someone with the strongest of hearts to open her box and reseal evil inside. Superman is the one she believes this to be, but discovers that even the man of steel is more human than she thought. By coming out of hiding, she has also revealed herself to the Secret Society.
The consequences of Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship is finally felt. The primary event that created the circumstances leading to the inevitable Justice League/Justice League of America confrontation can be traced directly to Justice League #19. Wonder Woman’s and Superman’s interference in Kahndaq put the country on high alert against any outsiders entering, especially superheroes. Fearing catastrophic consequences of Shazam entering the country, the Justice League goes to pull him out. This gives Amanda Waller the opportunity she has been waiting for and sends the JLA to bring them out. The personal beliefs and doubts of every member of the team are heavily voiced. Regardless of what happens, should readers really expect these two super powered teams to fight to the death?
Of all the pieces that make up this story, all are made even better by the writing of Geoff Johns. He has crafted something truly epic and exciting. Going into the story, readers knew that all three Justice League teams, Pandora and the Secret Society would be players. Upon reading, it is revealed that The Phantom and The Question also play a part. The real surprise is the unnamed villains, the “evil behind the evil”. Madame Xanadu may have discovered who they are, but was possibly killed by Plastique, a member of the Secret Society. These mysterious villains could be the real “Trinity” and not the Justice Leagues, Trinity of Sin or Secret Society. Johns orchestrates all these characters and their complicated plot lines into a cohesive, thrilling adventure. This man’s love for the entirety of the DC universe is evident in his writing. Each characterÂ acts and sounds as they should. Shazam’s reaction to punching Superman will make even a non-comic reader smile.
The trio of artists –Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis– took an already phenomenal book by Johns and made it not only the best looking book at DC, but a shining example of what all DC books should look like. There isn’t a single bad panel anywhere to be found. This book has to be read to fully understand the magnitude of that statement. Over thirteen different locations appear in this book, each with its own defining features. Thanks to the artists, each looks unique, exciting and beautiful. Kahndaq especially stands out as the most stunning. The dry, natural colors of the desert country is the perfect setting for the confrontation between the Justice Leagues. The colors of the heroes costumes and their powers are vibrant; giving readers the feeling that they are witnessing an epic battle between mythic Gods. By far, the best looking pages in the book are page 21 with the Justice League looking down on Shazam and the following two-page spread.
Now that Trinity War has finally arrived and readers impatiently await the next 5 parts, there are a few predictions that can be made about what’s going to happen. First, the big, shocking reveal came at the end when Superman supposedly killed Doctor Light. But, it’s confirmed by two other characters that Superman didn’t really kill him. So either he was manipulated by some outside force or it’s not really Superman. It’s possible this was one of the Secret Society’s robots and the real Superman is being held captive somewhere. However, this explanation may be too convenient. Second, the Trinity that Madame Xanadu may have been referring to could be the villains on the cover of Justice League #23.4. So far, only one has been revealed: the leader of the Secret Society. Finally, it’s incredibly unlikely that this event will end in the permanent deaths of the Justice League. Pandora previously mentioned that the box can be opened by either the purest of hearts or the evilest of hearts. If open by the former, it could seal away all evil and if by the evilest, it could seal away all the good. If the leader of the Secret Society turns out to be the evilest and gets his hands on the box, would it trap the Justice League inside? That may be the future that Madame Xanadu saw and why Batman was talking about “escaping” in that vision.
Johns, I. Reis, Prado and R. Reis delivered a beautiful, thrilling adventure that seamlessly bridges multiple plots and series. The amount of consistency between all the initial groundwork layed and what has appeared in the final story is astounding. Everything from Pandora’s appearances in New 52 launch issues to Shazam’s story have all played into this story. If there is one event comic book readers should be reading this summer, it’s Trinity War. Next week, the story continues in Justice League of America. After the death of Doctor Light, it’s all out war and readers must not miss what happens next.
Review Score: 7 (of 7)