Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday Comics: Justice League #22 - Trinity War Begins

The Trinity War is a story that has been building since before the DC reboot 2 years ago.  At the end of Flashpoint, a mysterious cloaked woman altered the timeline which gave DC a reason to begin all of their books over at issue #1.  We knew this mysterious woman was important because she appeared (often hidden) in every single one of the 52 new first issues (in fact, finding her was like a geeky Where's Waldo activity).

What we have learned is that she is one of the so-called Trinity of Sin.  She and two other great sinners were brought to the Rock of Eternity and judged by a council of wizards, one of whom was the ancient Shazam.  It was revealed there that she was Pandora, and because she opened the forbidden box, the 7 deadly sins entered the world.  Another brought was Judas, who was condemned to wander as a (Phantom) Stranger until he has done one amazingly heroic deed for every piece of silver he took.  The third man is never revealed, though he is the supposedly the worst sinner of all.  His memory and face are removed from him and he becomes the Question.

How does this play into this Justice League story?

Pandora believes that someone with the purest heart can open the box and bring re-capture the sins.  So she seeks out the one superhero she believes capable of such goodness.

Meanwhile, the events at the end of Johns' Shazam story arc find our new hero heading to the fictional nation of Khandaq.  The big 7 Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and Cyborg) go to intervene.  But the US government formed Justice League of America (Steve Trevor, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Catwoman, Green Arrow, Katana, Vibe, Dr. Light, and Stargirl) are sent to intercept the other league to prevent and international incident.  It is on the way that the members of the JLA are informed of their true purpose: each one was recruited specifically to take out a member of the big 7 league.  Not everyone is happy about this.

The confrontation that goes down is shocking and spectacular.  This issue is a lot of build up, but in a good way.  We begin to see strains in Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship, recalling Batman's forbodeing words to Superman from 2 issues previous: "She has no kryptonite."  I also like the hints at the larger thematic question of where does evil come from: outside us or inside us?

One of the things I really like about this issue is how tragic it seems.  No one wants to fight.  Everyone wants to back away.  And yet because of rash choice and accidents, the match is lit and the powder keg goes off.  I am completely invested in the characters on both sides and I'm watching in horror as they go after each other.  It is wasteful and sad, and therein lies the drama.  Johns brilliantly shows you how neither side is in the wrong, making the fight all the more tragic.

Ivan Reis' art is fantastic.  He gets better every time I read him.  There is something particularly about the way he draws Superman's costume that jumps out at me as tangible and dynamic.

This is a great opening issue: there is action, mystery, and someone dies.  Johns teased in a video that one of the members of one of the Justice Leagues was going to go to far and kill someone.  I thought I had it figured out before I began reading.

I didn't.  Oh boy, I didn't.

And there is still a lot more to be revealed.  The 3rd Justice League has yet to jump in.  This would be Justice League Dark (John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Frankenstein, and Zatanna), who deal with the supernatural underworld.  I cannot wait to see what new dimension they bring.  Also, I think the end of the issue reveals the identity of the mystery man who was been plaguing the JLA for the past few issues.  And if it is who I think it is, I'm very excited, since I thought he was completely erased from the new continuity.

Unlike Marvel's big events, Johns' DC arcs tend to have very exciting and satisfying conclusions.  I can't wait to see where this all goes.

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