By Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Rod Reis
Justice League #23 brings the “Trinity War” story arc that was jaw-droppingly teased back on New Comic Book Day in 2012 to a close. All three Justice Leagues assemble at the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens to try and put an end to the havoc being caused by Pandora’s Box. Due to the box’s ability to corrupt those who touch or come into close proximity of it, everyone feeds off their dark impulses/emotions and once again start to fight. After the dust settles, the story then goes into reveal mode and we discover why Superman lost control of his heat vision and why he sick; who is the Outsider and what are his motives; and perhaps most importantly, what Pandora’s box really is…
There is a lot of content to cover and loose ends to tie up in this issue and writer Geoff Johns does not disappoint. 23 opens with a quick recap of past events since Justice League #1, but woven within this recap is a parallel story that we were not privy to. Johns not only follows the concept of any comic could be someone’s first, but he also progresses the current story for the faithful reader. The first half of the issue shows us some the fears and darkness lurking within various Justice League members, which shows Geoff’s deep understanding of the characters and provides intriguing character elements that could come into play later. The second half of the story is where we are given the bulk of the information and answers to several mysteries seeded throughout “Trinity War” and prior story arcs. the second half is not overly convoluted and the reveals and surprises should leave with your jaw-dropped and satisfied…at the same time. You will more than likely be re-reading the entire Justice League run since the re-launch to see if you really did miss something that was hinted at.
The layout/composition and visuals matched the boldness and intensity of Geoff Johns’ writing. The recap pages that lead to a stunning two-page spanning splash page show fascinating layout work. The panels bleed into the next page, conveying that the parallel events are indeed connected. This also gives a visual representation to the the character memory framing device Johns used to write the recap. A wonderful example of the melding form and content. Penciler Ivan Reis puts his talent on display with eight stellar full-page shots throughout the issue. Some may argue that is a little excessive, but this is the climactic battle between the Justice Leagues and the conclusion to a major crossover event…the story warrants the powerful, well-drawn imagery. Due to this issue being set at night, in a Greek temple, and is a cataclysmic event, it seems clear why three inkers (Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, and Eber Ferreira) were needed for one issue to flesh out the background and the character textures and expressions.
This was a potent issue to say the least and this reviewer can’t wait to see what the aftermath will be resulting from this arc. It will no doubt be compelling and great fodder for character development.