Justice League Dark #22 is a Perfect Example of Conflict Between Superheroes

Justice League Dark 22
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s been done tons of times before in superhero comics and films. The heroes have some misunderstandings and punch each other around until someone sees reason. Then, they team up, become some iteration of “Superfriends”, and pound the supervillain that’s been either manipulating them or attacking them into a pulp thus saving the day and/or the planet. This formula might eventually happen in “Trinity War”, but for now, the event continues to be a wild ride. All three Justice Leagues collide in this issue, which has its fair share of fisticuffs ably drawn by Mikel Janin, but most of the conflict stems from interpersonal relationships. Many of these characters have histories with each other, and these old wounds are re-opened in Justice League Dark #22.

In contrast with last issue in which it seemed that only Wonder Woman and the Question were doing anything, Justice League Dark #22 is full of characters moving around, fighting, and building alliances. They all have different possible solutions to why Superman killed Dr. Light and different methods in implementing these solutions. By the end of the issue, the teams that were Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark have completely different rosters. But it’s not change for change’s sake. These characters have logical and complex reasons for choosing sides. Wonder Woman is motivated by her love for Superman to take out whoever manipulated him, but as the daughter of an Olympian god, she understands the real power of Pandora’s Box and wants to investigate it as well. The Question is enigmatic as always, but thinks he knows who caused Superman to kill Dr. Light and actual starts to play a real role in the event. Even relatively minor characters, like Firestorm, Frankenstein, and Green Arrow, have fleshed out reasons for picking sides. Jeff Lemire shows that he has done his homework on all the players of “Trinity War” and builds tension from character acting like themselves, not stupidly or out of character.

The Justice League Dark characters especially shine in this book. Jeff Lemire has a real handle on John Constantine’s voice and amoral nature. His conversation with Shazam might be one of the highlights of the book and a reason to pick up Constantine #5. Constantine’s snark works well with 3148767-jl_dark_22_1280

Wonder Woman’s noble nature, and the scenes they share are entertaining and also move the plot.  The Phantom Stranger is also appropriately ominous and formal though he does seem a bit more heroic in Justice League Dark than in his own book. Lemire isn’t caught up in the epicness of his story and has time for little character moments and squabbles, like when Green Arrow harangues Amanda Waller for not wanting to put him on the Justice League of America. These moments make the book memorable and make the conflict between the heroes more organic.

Even if Lemire’s script was a complete cliche-ridden mess, Mikel Janin would be this book’s saving grace. Janin has been on Justice League Dark since issue 1 and is one of DC Comics’ rising stars. He has a George Perez-like knack for drawing lots of different characters in a unique way. Janin also uses different panel layouts to highlight characters or add depth to the plot. For example, when Phantom Stranger, Question, and Pandora appear in the book, there is some kind of smoke behind them. This shows the mysterious nature of these characters and their motives which probably won’t be known for certain until the conclusion of “Trinity War”. However, Janin’s greatest strength are his detailed battle scenes. His splash pages aren’t pinups, but well-choreographed tapestries of action and conflict. The reader can see each hero in action clearly denoted by the combination of Janin’s pencils and ink. Jeromy Cox’s colors add power and atmosphere to Janin’s art. His touch can be seen any time Wonder Woman uses her lasso or any kind of energy is used, like Zatanna’s magic or Superman’s heat vision.

Justice League Dark #22 is a strong, beautiful chapter in the “Trinity War” event. Lemire manages to get all the members of the three Justice Leagues on the board at the same time and then gleefully throws the pieces around focusing on these very powerful people and their problems. These interpersonal problem will probably be the downfall of the heroes, but for now, “Trinity War” continues towork like a well oiled event machine as heroes feud, plot twists happen, and The Outsider and Secret Society continue to lurk in the background and make occasional appearances.

 




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