Justice League 22 - Trinity War PART 1 - Strap on your boots boys, this is WAR!..and there will be casualties!
Cover Art: 3.5/5 These big epic adventures typically start with a double cover, such as this has with the artist Ivan Reis trying to create this epic battle scene by including EVERY single character in the story line within the frame. This works sometimes, like when Jim Lee relaunched X-Men back in the early 90's, but Ivan Reis is no Jim Lee. Even without the major event, this issue's (22) cover is still not my favorite in the series. The best covers are still 4,2,3,1, all drawn by Jim Lee. With such a huge event and this being so well hyped, and sales expectations probably through the roof, maybe Jim Lee should have drawn the major cover, if not the trinity war event.
Story Arc: 5/5Geoff Johns is just a magnificent story teller. He manages to get so many characters in this story, so many different events going on, deception, SPOILER, a death of a hero/character, and intertwine them together in such a way that is seamless. We also get one heck of a long read (almost 35 pages), which in my opinion, is what we are all looking for.
Our story starts out with a young girl, quite upset, searching for answers from someone connected to the mystical world. The young girl stumbles into a shop, almost drawn there by a force, and we are introduced to Madame Xanadu. This interaction with the young girl, whom we find out later is actually, SPOILER, PLASTIQUE, and Madame Xanadu is woven strategically throughout the book. Madame Xanadu is actually reading cards for Plastique and predicting the impending war by pulling each character involved. Plastique was sent, probably by The Outsider, to see if Madame Xanadu's powers of sight were in fact true. SPOILER - Xanadu is apparently destroyed, along with her shop, by Plastique by the end of the book.
There are a lot of moving parts to this book and a lot of work that we see being done behind the scenes. An important interaction occurs when Superman and Wonder Woman are approached by a young, but tired looking Pandora. Pandora's box is an ominous looking skull with red eyes and a third eye in the middle of the forehead. Pandora believes Superman the only one capable of reopening the box to allow the 7 deadly sins to be re-trapped in the box and thus saving humanity from evil and itself. When Superman is forcefully handed the magical skull, he is overtaken by it! Superman and his costume turn a deathly shade of grey/black, he develops a third eye and becomes crazy violent, but apparently weaker than his true self as Pandora realizes that Superman is more human than she thought. Pandora then fires three shots from dual pistols at Superman, one hitting him in the shoulder causing him to drop the magical skull, and reverting him back to his normal self. Wonder Woman is there to snap him back to reality. Pandora and the skull disappear. This interaction is crucial to the story because of what Pandora seemed to place into Superman, some sort of trigger that blocks his morality and allows him to actually kill!
We also see what Colonel Steve Trevor has been up to. He has secretly recruited Heroes that have skill-sets and power-sets that directly correlate to the Justice League. In a screen he has his group of heroes, the Justice League of America, matched up with the JL. He has Martian Manhunter to battle Superman, Dr. Light to battle Firestorm, etc. We find, that not all participants of the JLA are so eager to battle the JL. We see this in Dr. Light. Dr. Light is a scientist trying to rid himself of his powers and not a warrior ready for battle. We also see this in ,SPOILER, Atom or Rhonda Pineda, who is a double agent for Colonel Trevor, placed specifically on the JL team to take out Element Woman. We see in this issue that Rhonda is not so sure that she wants to go through with this plan as she is unsure of herself and why the JL needs to be brought down, as she looks up to them as Heroes.
We next see young Billy Batson deciding to take a journey back to Kahndaq, a place that Americans are forbidden to go, and also the place Black Atom was from. Billy, holding the ashes of Black Atom, decides it is only right to take the ashes back to Black Atom's birth place and spread them there to allow him some peace in death. This move by Billy to go to Kahndaq is the catalyst to the start of this Trinity War and the first location of the first battle. Because Superman & Wonder Woman had recently gone to Kahndaq, breaking the rules by doing so, young impetuous Billy feels he can do the same. When he gets to Kahndaq, while he is trying to find some words prior to spreading the ashes of Black Atom, he is fired upon by the local military, and the urn carrying Black Atoms ashes are destroyed. Billy's whole trip there seemed for not and now he is pissed. As he is about to do some damage to the Kahndaq military, SHAZAM is knocked pretty good by an interfering Superman and Wonder Woman. Shazam, still with the mind of a young boy, is amazed he can take a lick from Superman and keep on ticking. They exchange blows until Superman gives him an actual punch that sends Shazam into the earth. Great little scuffle between these heavy hitters. The actions of Shazam heading into Kahndaq piqued the interest of the JL, and this is just the opportunity Colonel Trevor was looking for. Because the JL crossed the line into Kahndaq, Colonel Trevor felt this was his time to challenge the JL and there intentions and stated his team, the JLA, were going to bring the JL out of Kahndaq, by force if necessary. The JL and JLA are doing a "pre-game" dance, stating, "we are the heroes, we got this", and the JLA state, "no, WE are the heroes, get out of here now". Unfortunately, in a lot of battles, the first shot is unintentional, or an accident. That is the case here. Because of Superman's nature of absorbing the yellow suns rays like a battery, Superman is a walking beacon of light. Dr. Lights powers are to drain all light into himself. Superman's body is just too much for Dr. Light to handle and he sets off a "light blast" that inadvertently hits Wonder Woman square. SPOILER. This blast probably had no real affect on Wonder Woman, but as soon as she is hit, Superman flies off the deep end. Superman grabs Dr. Light so quickly no one can do anything. Superman's eyes glow red with rage, while Dr. Light pleads to Superman, begging his forgiveness, explaining he didn't mean it, he was sorry, and then Superman, with a powerful blast from his heat vision, blasts a hole right through Dr. Lights head, killing him instantly. As soon as Superman drops the body, he seems to stumble and say he didn't mean to kill Dr. Light. We now see the effect Pandora and that magical skull has had on Superman. Everyone is hyped up and the battle begins. Little Atom, Rhonda Pineda, screams for everyone to stop, but she is so small no one can hear her. We see a HUGE looking Martian Manhunter, angered going to blows with a prepared but confused Superman. Other 1on1 battles are occurring in background while Atom covers her little head running for cover. The last page we see The Outsider, smiling as if his plan is coming to fruition.
Story Art: 4/5
Ivan Reis does a good enough job telling this story through his art. There are a couple of excellent splash pages of Superman and the start of the battle between the JL and JLA. This is no Jim Lee art, but overall the facial expressions, especially on Shazam, are very well done. Reis is not my favorite artist but he does a very good job in depicting each character, creating tone and camera angles, so I am not hating at all. I just wish Jim Lee was drawing this epic adventure.
Verdict: 4/5 This is a must get book for anyone who likes the JL, Superman, Batman, or epic battles. The cover art and Jim Lee not drawing this book is the only reason I don't rate it 5/5. The writing and the story is phenomenally done and I cant wait for the next installment. Trinity War: the Deathcard.