This is it, folks. The penultimate issue of “Trinity War”. We’ve got one week left of this crossover, and then the week after that, Villains Month happens, and it’s bringing “Forever Evil” with it. So as “Trinity War” approaches its climax, are we really ready for it to end? Well…
The nice thing about the Justice League Dark issues of “Trinity War” is that the Justice League Dark actually gets involved in the plot. This is a nice change from the Johns-driven issues. Yes, there are a lot of characters in this crossover, and not all of them can play some major role, but some of them barely get a single line of dialogue or anything to do (Catwoman’s biggest achievement in this so far has literally been seducing a house which, while neat, didn’t really contribute anything to the plot).
While the Justice League Dark members take control of the plot here, Jeff Lemire gives the other League members stuff to do. Continuing from Justice League of America #23, Wonder Woman has Pandora’s Box, and now her whole team is fighting over it. The box’s evil energies is bringing out the worst in them, with Wonder Woman acting like a superior goddess, Aquaman acting like a superior king, and Frankenstein acting like a hypocritical moral guardian.
It’s really cool actually, because it shows us that the box itself is a corrupting force, and we’re finally getting an understanding of just what it is. You also get heroes fighting each other, as advertised by the original announcement of the crossover, but it doesn’t last long, and the reason isn’t contrived.
Another one of the nicer touches is that Lemire brings Shazam back into the picture. When he gets his hands on the box, it has a ripple effect throughout all magic users everywhere, including Etrigan, Swamp Thing, and even Dr. Fate over on Earth 2. It’s little touches like this, moments that display that this event is having wider effects on the greater DC Universe, that make the crossover feel important. Obviously, a bigger game’s been at play, but so far “Trinity War” has been about how the events effect the characters, and not as much about how the events are effecting the world at large, so this is a breath of fresh air.
It’s nice to see Amethyst and Andrew Bennett again. I’d like to see characters like those two and Etrigan return in some capacity now that their books have been cancelled.
As mentioned earlier, this is the Justice League Dark’s book, and it really shows. Frankenstein and Zatanna both perform well in battle, and it’s nice to see Zatanna’s spells finally being useful in the book, going against the trend of her magic always failing or backfiring established in earlier arcs.
Constantine and Deadman both play roles to help move the plot of the issue along, and we finally get to see Madame Xanadu’s importance to the overall “Trinity War” plot. The only character who doesn’t get to do much is Black Orchid, and honestly, it doesn’t really seem like she has a place in this crossover aside from (presumably) Lemire wanting to bring her back.
There’s not a lot left to say about Janín’s art that hasn’t been said before, so just take a minute to admire how the corrupted version of Shazam looks like Black Adam. I thought that was a nice little narrative touch they used in the art.
I wonder… If Despero got his hands on the box, would he grow a fourth eye?
Without Ray Fawkes co-writing, this issue of Justice League Dark is, in a lot of ways, repeating how the “Books of Magic” story arc went down. A female member of the JLD is taken captive by the villain, Constantine fixes the main problem, and all the other members either don’t contribute anything or just get one moment to fix a smaller problem before it’s back to the glory of Constantine.
I choose to interpret this panel as symbolic of the worship Constantine gets in this series and not the logical follow up to all the jumping around and fighting the characters do.
Also, while Lemire did give Batman and Superman’s teams a presence in the book, it wasn’t much of one. Overall, Batman’s team in this crossover hasn’t really had anything to do aside from being a set-up for The Phantom Stranger #11, and Superman’s team hasn’t made a lot of progress either. Wonder Woman’s hunt for Pandora has probably been the most prevalent plot in the book, which is a shame because there are two other interesting stories going on here that just don’t get anywhere near as much attention.
That all said, these scenes are still good. It’s nice to see Amanda Waller in a position she can’t manipulate herself out of for once.
This book is better as an issue of Justice League Dark than part of “Trinity War,” though as a part of “Trinity War” it’s still good. It moves the plot along really well. We’re about to get all the answers we wanted, but they still need to save something for the last issue. And really, except for Superman’s team, this issue probably has the most progress that the heroes have made so far, which is interesting considering that a sizable portion of it is magically-induced infighting among the main cast.
Justice League Dark #23 is available now from physical and digital retailers for $3.99 USD.
As a final note, this was Jeff Lemire’s final issue of Justice League Dark. The man writes a lot of comics, both for DC and his own creator-owned work, and something had to give. Next month’s Creeper and Eclipso Villains Month issues will be written by Anne Nocenti and Dan Didio respectively, and Ray Fawkes will write issue #24, with J.M. DeMatteis taking over the series with issue #25.
While Jeff Lemire’s run on the series had some flaws, overall, it’s been a fantastic comic, and he’s really turned it around after Peter Milligan’s first eight issues of the series. Justice League Dark is one of the best books DC has right now, and while DeMatteis is an excellent replacement, who will surely put out work at least equal in quality to Lemire’s issues, it’s still sad to see him go. Thank you, Jeff Lemire, for all the fun magical adventures.