(a) Mikel Janin
It’s came as no surprise to me that Justice League Dark #22 is the best chapter of “Trinity War” yet. What is surprising is just how well Jeff Lemire captures the essence of this Justice League crossover and presents it in a way that makes sense. Both Justice League #22 and Justice League of America #6 were good about creating a mood for the crossover, but nothing much else. Sure, some pieces on the metaphorical board get moved around, but it’s early in the game so the big plays can come across as rushed. Justice League Dark #22, on the other hand, finds Lemire adding the final piece to this “Trinity War” soup by bringing in the JLD in a more direct role.
I want to start off by saying how much I enjoyed Mikel Janin’s artwork. This isn’t to talk bad about either Doug Mahnke or Ivan Reis, but I’ve been a huge fan of Janin’s work the entire run of Justice League Dark, and this issue has some of the finest pages he’s done to date. The facial expressions, the consistent looks, the compelling backgrounds; it all adds up to the best looking issue of “Trinity War” yet, hands down.
Confusion and misinformation were prevalent themes in the first two chapter of “Trinity War”, but Justice League Dark #22 is more about sifting through those perplexities to find a clear direction for the event as it moves into it’s second act. Obviously, the Justice League Dark get roped into the conflict this issue, but their involvement is less about egos and more about preemptively stopping the end of the world. John Constantine is very well informed, and it seems that he even knows more than the Greek gods about where exactly Pandora’s box originated. So of course, Constantine has his own agenda. Add to that the Phantom Stranger and the Question stoking the fires of distrust and paranoia between these teams and you’ve got the perfect set-up for the downfall of superheroes.
The major change that takes place in Justice League Dark #22 is the blurring of the lines between the three Justice Leagues through deception. The Phantom Stranger and the Question each have their own plans for how things will play out. They each want something, but we don’t yet know what either desire is. It’s because of them that members of each team start questioning their values and morals when faced with the tough decision of having to stand against one’s teammate. In the The New 52 #1, the Free Comic Book Day 2012 issue from DC, the final splash page depicted a massive brawl between the members of all three Justice Leagues. The curious part was how allies were seemingly fighting against one another. Now we know why. Now we know that outside forces are shifting the tides of this war in ways we still can’t completely comprehend.
Justice League Dark #22 is the best chapter of “Trinity War” yet. It closes out the first act of the event with a grace and elegance not seen in the first two chapters, and the artwork alone makes this issue worth the buy. Every issue of “Trinity War” introduces new ideas that complicate the situation further, but JLD #22 is the first instance where these new concepts felt organic and made sense during the first read-through. I couldn’t recommend this issue more highly.