Justice League #23 Review – Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

JLALet me begin by saying that as an event, Trinity War has ultimately failed. Stories should have a definitive beginning, middle, and end. A universe-wide event like this one,  especially with the way it has been marketed, should be a stand-alone story.

However, Trinity War as part of a much larger story, lacks any semblance of an ending,  as it leads directly into Forever Evil #1, failing the basic idea of a story to begin with. What is left is a fun set up to something both exciting and interesting, but ultimately doesn’t deliver on what an event should be.

So, don’t expect a conclusion coming from Justice League #23. While it answers the question of what Pandora’s Box is – and what the overall goal of pitting the heroes against each other was – it leaves the issue with many large cliffhangers. They include the fate of an injured hero, and Shazam’s apparent transformation last issue, feeling like it belongs in the middle of an event rather than an epic finale it was poised to be. It appears that Trinity War, and Forever Evil were always intended to work together as one series, so why not market them as such? Instead it feels the series was more interested in what was to come, rather than the story it was meant to tell.

Speaking of marketing, hyping up the series as a story behind the Trinity of Sin, and how the heroes rally behind them, also proved to be the event’s downfall. With Phantom Stranger left behind much earlier in the story arc, the Question and Pandora also feel underused, getting little panel time between them. They both merely act as a guide, which could have easily been left to other characters like Madame Xanadu anyway. It seems less interested in the characters whose books feature “Trinity of Sin” in the title, than it does the actual war between the forced “trinity” of three Justice Leagues.

That said, what does happen in this issue is mighty fun. More hero on hero action is always a plus in my book, and this issue delivers by the bucket load. Ivan Reis is drawing at the top of his game, with his panels packed to the brim with brilliant fight scenes, and gorgeous detail. There does feel like there is a few too many splash pages, filling up a lot of space, but thanks to the 28 page issue – and of course the artwork – it doesn’t feel too cheap.

Outside of the action, Johns manages to fill it up with a few surprises too. The reveal of the traitor, which initially felt a bit hammy, eventually makes sense in context of the big reveal of the new villains at the end of the issue, which opens with a surprisingly funny panel. It’s good that the heroes battling each other wasn’t played out Civil War style, and instead plays with reader expectations.

As a quick aside, It’s also nice to see that Constantine is getting more space to shine in the greater scheme of things, with a particularly amusing reason why he isn’t affected by Pandora’s box tying nicely into his character. I’m liking his inclusion into these team-ups and how he reacts to working with others. Maybe the scoundrel has a heart of gold after all?

While this event does fail in the execution, what it has set up has made me more excited than anything else that DC has done since the launch of the New 52. The new villains look incredible, and the Forever Evil series sounds like its going to shake things up in a big way. It’s just a shame that DC bungled the marketing of a story that would have been better suited as a prelude, rather than a main event.


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