Saturday, November 30, 2013

Justice League Dark #22

"Trinity War Chapter Three: House of Cards"

Jeff Lemire Writer
Mikel Janin Artist
Jeromy Cox Colors
Carlos M. Mangual Letters
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

The cover is the third of the three-part image by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis. It doesn't work very well on its own, but it does help round out the other two covers. This is also the first cover of this storyline to feature the Flash, although I'm not sure why Frankenstein is grabbing him by throat. The two of them were just working very well together in Justice League Dark #21. I'm also not sure how Frankenstein was able to grab the Flash. Frankenstein isn't necessarily known for his speed.

Our story begins with Madame Xanadu, clairvoyant and mystic, blindfolded and imprisoned in an unknown location. She has a brief conversation with the Outsider, who is quite confident in his plans. At A.R.G.U.S. headquarters in Washington, D.C., Firestorm successfully creates some kryptonite at the request of Amanda Waller. Batman has asked Zatanna to assist with the autopsy of Dr. Light, but she doubts her magic will help them prove that Dr. Light triggered Superman's heat vision. Suddenly, they're all visited by the Phantom Stranger.

The Phantom Stranger tells them that Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark are hunting down Pandora's box, and if they find it, it'll be the death of them all. Batman quickly throws together a team to stop Wonder Woman. In the ARGUS sub-level holding cell, the Question frees the sick Superman and hands him a piece of paper that convinces him he needs to break out of ARGUS. In New York City, Wonder Woman successfully recruits the JLD, although John Constantine wanted to find Xanadu first. They all head to the House of Mystery, where they're met by Batman and his team.

Back at ARGUS, Cyborg tries to stop Superman, but he shows him the newspaper clipping stating that Dr. Psycho was in Kahndaq a day before their battle. Cyborg is surprised he didn't know this, but he and the other remaining heroes agree to help Superman find Dr. Psycho — despite Waller's protests.

In the House of Mystery, Wonder Woman uses her lasso of truth on the Phantom Stranger to prove he doesn't know what is to blame for Superman's condition. Wonder Woman opens up the call for more heroes to help her find Pandora's box. Constantine convinces Shazam to go away with him, and Hawkman, Aquaman, Stargirl and Zatanna side with Wonder Woman. Batman is left with the Flash, Vibe, Phantom Stranger, Steve Trevor, Katana, Catwoman and Simon Baz. At ARGUS, Superman, the Question, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg, Element Woman, Atom, Green Arrow and Firestorm fight their way past Waller and her agents.

So to recap: Wonder Woman's team is looking for Pandora; Superman's team is looking for Dr. Psycho; and Batman's team (at the suggestion of the Phantom Stranger) is going to visit Dr. Light in the afterlife. The issue ends with the Outsider telling Xanadu that he has a mole among the Justice League.

The Good:

The story. The mystery is building nicely with three potential suspects now (although Dr. Psycho is a fairly weak suspect). But the epic feel of the story continues. Just about everybody who's important in the DC Universe is involved, continuing to make this a must-read. And it is kind of fun splitting the teams up into three new teams. Unfortunately, it seems like the story just isn't long enough to thoroughly explore the dynamics of these new teams.

The Bad:

Mishandling of the Flash. I'm not really mad that Flash had nothing to do or say here — with so many characters involved that's bound to happen. But I am upset that there was absolutely no reference to him having teamed up with the Justice League Dark. The previous issue of this title tied up a three-part arc with the Flash and Swamp Thing helping the JLD fight Dr. Destiny. Now he's reunited with that team, but nobody acknowledges him. If you remember, the Flash actually had a great time with them and almost felt more at home with the JLD than the regular Justice League. So why did he side with Batman over his newfound friends?

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: The search for Doctor Light's soul begins in The Phantom Stranger #11

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