JUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW – The Distant Drums of Trinity War

Justice league 19 coverJUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Gary Frank
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

As I expected, after last month’s recruitment session this JUSTICE LEAGUE serves to utter the quiet murmurs that will crescendo into a cacophony of chaos in coming months.

Longtime fans won’t experience much shock or awe at the Gatefold WTF moment of BATMAN taking down SUPERMAN with a hunk of homegrown Kryponite, what is shocking is that once you get inside the opening pages BATMAN isn’t the one wielding the green death. We don’t know who it is actually, all we know is a clandestine figure with open access to all Bat-Cave systems knew exactly where to find Batman’s cache of JUSTICE LEAGUE busting weaponry. If I was BATMAN I probably would have mislabeled the suitcases in such an event (i.e. put the Kryponite inside the case labeled for the Flash), but I also understand that page counts are sparse these days and a page of the nefarious burglar opening suitcases doesn’t make for the most exciting moments in comics.

Now, what was truly WTF worthy is the second story in this book where SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN enter the global political theater. In a moment sure to enrage FOXIans and other right wingers, Supes and Wondie decide to enter the sovereign nation of Kahndaq to end a hostage situation after the US was specifically told to stay out.  That’s not the part that will piss off disciples of Limbaugh though, it’s the duo’s rationale for this raid.

Khandaq has stood as “that” ethereal Arab nation for a longtime at DC – sometimes it’s been Iraq, other times Afghanistan – not geographically, but politically. After the raid, Supes and WW have a moment of introspection where they justify events by saying all of the unwanted occupations and bombing of innocents haven’t changed a damn thing over the years. That’s a pretty bold statement by Johns and even bolder is how this changes the tide of comics. The last time SUPERMAN thumbed his nose at the American way in ACTION 900 there was a comic outcry. Now with the two biggest heavy-hitters singing a similar tune someone will need to step as the antagonist to this choice. Dangerous ground; is quipped by Batman who was spying on the couple, this is how villains get started.

What’s interesting is that Bats approaches the two with a velvet glove instead of the aforementioned hunk of Kryponite and whatever the hell he has tucked away to subdue WONDER WOMAN. He also brings up the fact that their hidden relationship is anything but. This was a great character moment as Bats shows genuine concern for their well-being versus simply being an information stream control freak. Despite the pleasantries, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will hear the Trinity Wars’ battle drums off in the distance. Months ago we all thought this upcoming schism would be caused simply by forbidden love; this moment just upped the stakes to a battle of ideologies for all comic characters.

The rest of the issue follows a similar set-up cadence, but with less gravitas and more fun. With some league members investigating the bat-cave to find out who walked away with the Kryptonite, Firestorm and Lady Atom are left alone in the watch tower. That is of course after Atomette finishes her dungeon raid in World of Warcraft. Great little character moment made greater for those of us who truly wish we could shrink ourselves and actually step inside Azeroth. As an MMO player though, I will wish her ill will for blinking out half-way through the raid – unacceptable whether late for an appointment or not. She gets payback though, as Despero crashes the down the doors of the satellite on the last page.

Reis delivers great pencil work, especially during the rising tension behind the trinity. Pain and anger adorn Wonder Woman’s face in every panel. Reis also does a great job of portraying Superman with a hanged lasso whipped expression on his face. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there.

The SHAZAM back-up continues to deliver on all fronts. Again, I truly hope there’s a plan here to meld the JUSTICE LEAGUE and SHAZAM threads, I would hate to think this gold has festered at the back of the bus for so many months with no good reason.

JUSTICE LEAGUE has had an awakening creatively since “Throne of Atlantis,” and while the past issues have been a respite action wise, it’s clear this is simply the walk before some great running in the near future.

8 thoughts on “JUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW – The Distant Drums of Trinity War

  1. Phil Norfleet

    As a right winger myself, I’m not sure why something like Supes & Wondy’s actions would be perceived as pissing us off. If anything, I tend to believe that we bend and bow and scrape too often to tyrants and dictators, so depending on the nature of the hostage crisis, I’d probably cheer that they acted when the US govt couldn’t (or, sadly, more likely, *wouldn’t*.)

    Glad to see they don’t have the Bat being a complete and utter jerk for a change…

    1. robpatey Post author

      Hey Phil,
      I more meant there reasoning for going against the US and helping the situation. I remember for years, it was more the right that applauded the occupation of Iraq. I’ll admit though that very well could no longer be the case.

      1. Audrey

        I think it really depends. Superman and Wonder Woman’s rationale may make sense under that context. But the idea that we have the right to go into other countries and make their decisions for them and get involved in their affairs without permission is actually a pretty Liberal viewpoint. The majority of people who oppose what Superman/Wonder Woman did now are Liberals. I love America but we have an incredible arrogance that assumes we always know better.

          1. Audrey

            I probably wasn’t very clear. In general, I’d say Superman/Wonder Woman’s actions represent the Republican viewpoint. Or, the idea that we should use our power as a nation to interfere with other countries. That’s really the Conservative view. Some Liberals believe that too but, in general, the arrogance of “we must get involved” is a republican viewpoint. Is that what you were trying to say?

            Alot of the really shady things we do now as a government (drones anyone?) has come out of this viewpoint that it’s our obligation to step in and get involved even when we are asked not to.

            While, I understand Superman and Wonder Woman wanting to get involved their desire to get involved also represents an arrogance on both of their parts. It feels out of character to me particularly for Superman. So I guess we’ll see.

  2. Audrey

    Not really sure how I feel about this. I’m not personally a fan of the Superman/Wonder Woman dynamic and the sooner it’s over the more I’ll probably enjoy my comics again. I enjoy them as friends and teammates (in fact I love them as friends) but I still prefer the human, raw love between Lois Lane and Superman/Clark Kent.

    I’m back and forth on the political aspect. There are times when I think some of the overtly political messages in the books don’t ask the poignant questions that the author thinks they are asking.

    Greg Rucka wrote a great Superman story a few years back in his Ruin arc where there was supposed to be a military conflict in the Middle East. Superman hadn’t been told to stay out of it but he struggled with whether he should stay out of it. He knew that if he were to show his face there that it would be seen as taking a side. He knew he had immense power and he was very thoughtful and careful about how to wield it. Of course, the situation got more complicated when Lois made the choice to go overseas to cover the story. Lois put her life on the line to save a solider who had been wounded. She saved the solider but was shot by a sniper intent on bringing Superman to the scene. Superman is there to catch her before she hits the ground. He makes the choice to go in to get his wife and then he takes her to the military hospital where he begs the people there to save her. Of course, because he showed up there…there were consequences. There was no clear right or wrong and it read sincere.

    Personally, that kind of story rings alot more true for Superman. He was struggling with what to do. He wasn’t sure if he should get involved. When he decided to go in after Lois, he knew there would be consequences and he faced them. But it was a thoughtful conversation that didn’t seem to be pushing a political agenda but, instead, asking questions. It was an interesting tie to Clark’s human persona and Superman’s duty to the world order.

    Do I think Superman and Wonder Woman together might become corrupted by power? I don’t know. I do think that ironically despite the fact that they came together over feeling isolated and lonely they seem ::more:: isolated now to me than they even were before because being together has allowed both of them to continue to pull away from humanity and lose perspective. So we’ll see.

    I would caution you though to not assume that it’s just uber Conservatives that might take offense to this. There are plenty of Liberals who feel strongly that the United States often inserts itself in the lives and conflicts of other countries in ways that reflect our arrogance and meglomania. Today, it’s a hostage situation for Superman and Wonder Woman. But Americans have learned that it’s a very slippery slope and the result is usually arrogance.

  3. robpatey Post author

    Great comments Audrey, thanks for stopping by. To be clear, I’ve only really seen the imperialism Superman and WW (ok, Johns) rail against perpetrated by the Republican party. I also know a few Fox News zealots who have wanted to punch me in the face when I said the invasion of Iraq was a shell game for oil.


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