Friday, 15 May 2015

Justice League: Trinity War (The New 52) Review

Justice League: Trinity War (The New 52)

All the things that the book isn't named
for.
Writers: Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes

Artists: Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke and Mikel Janin

Collects: Justice League #22-23, Justice League Dark #22-23, Justice League of America #6-7, Pandora #1-3, Constantine #5, Phantom Stranger #11 and Free Comic Book Day Special 2012.

Background Information:

Since the beginning of the New 52, DC has been teasing an event centring on the character of Pandora. She's appeared in the background of every New 52 first issue in 2012 (in classic Where's Wally/Waldo style) and was the focus of DC's FCBD offering. Since then, the Justice League-titled books have been building up to something. The Justice League formed, the Justice League of America formed because they don't trust the Justice League and the Justice League dark formed because John Constantine is a cruel, petty-minded man.

Review:

I guess I was one of the lucky ones.

Is he talking about the DCCU?
Being a trade-waiter, a paperback waiter in particular, I got this story a lot later than everyone else. I got to read some of the reviews going around about it. In short, the response wasn't good. When I hear reviews that say something is the best or the worst of something, I go in with certain expectations. In the case of Trinity War, I expected to have cancer immediately after reading. I was expecting my IQ to drop several thousand, I expected to suddenly be in favour of capital punishment for comic writers. Then I read the book, and none of that happened, I actually found myself pleasantly surprised.

I had the opposite experience with The Avengers movie.

But let's get to the story; A run-in between the Justice League and the Justice League of America result in Superman unwittingly killing Dr. Light. This causes disruption throughout all three Justice Leagues and they each go out to look for the real reason someone like Superman could ever kill someone.

Okay, so let's get the bad stuff out of the way, because no doubt it's there. The book commits the unforgivable sin of being an event whose only purpose is to introduce the next event. It also suffers from making it completely unclear why it's called Trinity War; at first you think it's because of the Trinity of Sin... but it's not. Then you think it's because of DC's Justice League trinity... but it's not. Then you think it's because of the focus on DC's trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman... but it's not. When the answer finally comes, it feels like a last-minute thought at best, a betrayal at worst. It does hurt the story, and it hurts the story badly.

That said, the story itself feels solid otherwise. Kudos to Johns and team for, for the most part, keeping off making this DC's answer to Civil War. Only in the end do the hero teams fight each other. For the most part, this is a pretty finely-crafted mystery. Team politics find their way into the book continually, and no character here feels under-utilised.

Right... this is awkward...
This book also made me realise that I really want a DCU where the Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman lead their own Justice Leagues. Somehow, Batman working with Deadman and Katana works. Wonder Woman working with John Constantine works. Superman working with Steve Trevor works. I really wish that this became the new status quo for the New 52, because it made the teams feel fresher than they've ever been.

Good moments sprinkle this book as well. My favourite has to be the issue featuring Constantine and Shazam. It's simply funny seeing both characters switch powers momentarily, and fitting with the new Constantine's personality. Equally funny is Shazam's reaction to punching out Superman, there's this look of disbelieving pride that comes over his face when it happens, and I couldn't help but smile.

Is Trinity War perfect? Not by a longshot. But between a compelling mystery and a status quo that I can only blame for being short-lived, it gets a three and a half out of five Where's Wally/Waldo books.

*** 1/2

+ Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman leading their own teams.
+ Shazam switching powers with Constantine
+ Not DC's Civil War
- Exists solely to introduce another event.
- The reason for the title? Don't ask.

Alternate Option: Marvel's Civil War

If you're that desperate for a heroes vs heroes story, here's what you get.