Justice League #22

Written By: Geoff Johns
Art By: Ivan Reis

Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis kick off Trinity War with Justice League #22, and manage to keep readers on edge with its foreboding narration and carefully sewn together plot threads. While this intro issue doesn’t have the same emotional through-line as Blackest Night #1, there are some moments that bring morality into question and layer the story with ethical depth.

To create the feeling that we’re on the heels of something major happening, Johns has Madame Xanadu narrate the issue as a psychic premonition. This choice works well for tying together the story’s various threads, until the character introduces the Justice League of America in an expository fashion, that comes off as forced.

Johns successfully ties major plot points from his books, including Shazam’s possession of Black Adam’s ashes, Batman losing his Kryptonite ring, Doctor Light joining the JLA and more. Johns uses each situation to showcase the various degrees of “good” in our heroes.

Particularly, there are hints at Shazam being the “righteous one” amongst the heroes, and the Atom learning an important lesson of staying truthful to her teammates. While the issue ending on a superhero battle may seem brutish, Johns adds in the supernatural element of characters like the Question and Phantom Stranger, both of whom bring promise of bringing a unique mystery element to the crossover.

Ivan Reis works with Johns’ script cohesively to add nice and layered story touches, such as the word “future” burning out on Madame Xanadu’s door. Reis draws focus to the important emotional character beats, such as Plastique crying and Billy declaring that even bad guys deserved to be buried, with powerful facial reactions. A striking image is the Justice League landing in Kahndaq with the sun shining behind them, portraying the stereotypically “good guy” image of superheroes to great effect.

Justice League #22 takes previously superficial plot points, like the JLA hunting for the JL, and masterfully makes the Trinity War conflict feel legitimate. Johns does so by weaving together various other threads and showcasing characters that show varying degrees of moral judgement, made powerful with Reis’ visuals.

Score: 9.0/10