At last, “Trinity War” begins… with a BANG! This issue bounces around a bit, but it’s cohesive. In what appears to be a flashback, Madame Xanadu, who narrates most of this story, is visited by a woman who has been having mysterious and ominous dreams, but when Xanadu tries to help her by consulting her magical tarot cards, she instead sees visions of the two Justice Leagues’ upcoming war.
Following Black Adam’s apparent death in the last issue, which was inspired by Superman and Wonder Woman’s invasion of Kahndaq, Billy Batson resolves to spread Adam’s ashes across that nation’s deserts.
Wonder Woman tries to get Superman to agree that Despero should be killed. (Oh you KNOW I got more to say about that!) They are approached by Pandora who thinks that Superman is the purest soul on the planet and the only one who can help her with her magical box from which the Seven Deadly Sins escaped. (Guess she didn’t see Man of Steel.)
Doctor Light is struggling to adjust to his new powers, while Amanda Waller decides he needs to join the Justice League of America in order to battle Firestorm. It appears this take on Arthur Light is married to the pre-New 52’s other Doctor Light Kimiyo Hoshi, so here’s hoping she’ll eventually take on the mantle as I was a big fan of that character. Arthur is hesitant to battle Firestorm however, when he discovers that the Nuclear Man is really just two teenage boys merged into one. “The last thing I want to do is hurt kids,” he says in a wry reference to his former incarnation.
Superman is unable to handle Pandora’s Box so she vanishes and the Couple of Steel races to Kahndaq to rendezvous with the rest of the JL team to halt Shazam. The Man of Steel and the Big Red Cheese slug it out for the first time in the New 52, but their battle is cut short as first the JL and then the JLA arrives. The JLA members are all unsure about battling their fellow heroes, but they are under orders.
We get brief check-ins with the Trinity of Sin including, I believe the longest look at The Question yet. (Yay! It’s the conspiracy nut version!)
By the issue’s end, one character is dead and the teams are at each other’s throats… the War has begun!
Let me get my rant out of the way. Geoff Johns doesn’t have a #^@!ing clue what Wonder Woman is about. I was already annoyed when she led Superman to invade the sovereign nation of Kahndaq in issue #19. I let it slide. Their “romance” has just been dreadful and clunky. And here, he turns her into a blood-thirsty killer, boasting about why she doesn’t have a lengthy rogue’s gallery unlike her male peers. This is the same Wonder Woman who was devastated to learn that her Amazon sisters went to sea to essentially rape and kill male seamen to procreate only to trade their male offspring for weapons from Hephaestus. This Wonder Woman contradicts the one that is appearing in the concurrent Wonder Woman comic whose sole motivation is love, once more proving there is no real sense in trying to find cohesion in the New 52.
I realize this is a new continuity, but in the old, Wonder Woman actually visited her foes in prison to read to them and reason with them, so they might learn the error of their ways… and did so repeatedly even when a foe proved a “tough nut to crack”. Paradise Island even had a “Reform Island” off its shores, dedicated to that purpose and they were successful in many cases, most famously with the Baroness Paula Von Gunther who went from Nazi villainess to the Amazon’s Chief Scientist.
On to the rest of the issue, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous! Ivan Reis and company are phenomenal on a bad day and here they just crank everything up to eleven. Simply gorgeous in the proper big-budget, super hero slugfest/pop corn movie manner.
The writing is brisk and there are a lot of nice HUGE action beats, which are paced nicely, like a solid action movie. Unfortunately, like that kind of movie, the big action moves quickly, seemingly to gloss over some rather pedestrian dialogue and a few contrived plot elements. Overall, though I’d say it’s good. It’s well better than average, but it could have been greater if just a bit of care was employed to punch up the “phoned in” parts. The worst, other than the Wonder Woman thing, was the end, when the heroes simply explode into battle. The reasoning just did not work at all. It just felt like an excuse to throw these two factions against one another.
So while this is a fun big time crossover, it was plagued by a few too many weak points that could have been avoided. Johns may be stretched too thin on his various other projects and his executive status at DC. This storyline has been hyped for months. It’s good, but it should have been the best comic of the New 52 so far and sadly it wasn’t. It’s worth a read, though and like I said, the art is brilliant!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #22
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Oclair Albert
Cover by Reis, Prado & Rod Reis