Pick of the Week

July 10, 2013 – Justice League #22

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 11.2%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Colors by Rod Reis
Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & Rod Reis

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

Geoff Johns, historically speaking, has a strong track record when kicking off big event stories. The Sinestro Corps War Special #1 and Blackest Night #1 remain two of the best event first issues of all-time. The latter saw Johns paired with Ivan Reis, one of the best pure superhero artists working today, and here they are again, kicking off another DC Comics event with Justice League #22, part one of “Trinity War,” and it’s one hell of a first issue.

I think that my favorite way for a big even story to begin is with a mounting sense of dread, and this issue has that in spades. With each turn of the page of Justice League #22 that feeling of dread increased as a series of dominoes fell and events spiraled out of control for our heroes. Kicking off from the end of Justice League #21, Shazam has defeated Black Adam and he wants go spread his vanquished foe’s ashes over the deserts of Kahndaq “because even ‘bad guys’ deserve to be buried.” An since Superman and Wonder Woman’s incursion into Kahndaq in a previous issue caused all manner of international incidents, Shazam’s appearance in Kahndaqian airspace causes the Kahndaq government’s military mobilizes, the Justice League heads off to confront this new superhero who is about to start a war (even though it is pretty much their fault that Kahndaq is so on edge), and Amanda Waller sends in her Justice League of America to get the Justice League out of Kahndaq.

They are a series of events leading to a cataclysmic confrontation the steps to which are laid methodically and wonderfully on each page. With each new scene and each new decision you could see the hole getting dug deeper for our heroes, and you could see, off in the distance, the inevitable conflagration in the desert.

But before we get to that wonderful punch that, I’m sure intentionally, echoed Kingdom Come, there were a few more elements to throw into the mix.

There’s the newest member of the Justice League of America, Dr. Light, who has some major reservations about being on Waller’s superhero black ops team (to go along with a fun variation on his powers where he tends to suck the light out of any room in which he enters), there’s the new Atom who has just joined Justice League but is secretly a mole for Waller. And then of course there are the magical heroes and villains, the third leg of this Justice trinity, the members of Justice League Dark. While they haven’t shown up in full force, they clearly will be a major player in how this story shakes out, as the entire story seems to hinge on the Trinity of Sin—Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question. And I haven’t yet mentioned the Secret Society and the mysterious man known only as The Outsider who seems to be masterminding this entire thing.

Reading the above one might come to the conclusion that the first chapter of “Trinity War” was a bloated, over-stuffed mess while in fact the opposite is true. This first issue is surprisingly lean and mean and it’s all the more impressive when you go back and look at all the pieces that Johns has to put into place and you realize that he does it all so effortlessly. The action rises as the tension builds and before you know it you find you’re turning the page to see what else Johns can throw into the mix before the tension bursts and someone gets punched.

Which leads us to Shazam socking Superman.

I really loved the Shazam storyline that ran (mostly) as the back-up story in Justice League. In contrast to most of the changes and “modernizations” that DC has made in The New 52, I loved the revamped Billy Batson and by the end of the story Geoff Johns and Gary Frank had created a really fun and interesting character. After that story wrapped up I was really looking forward to seeing him interact with other heroes in the DCU, and his first interaction couldn’t have been more perfect. Superman swoops in at super speed to stop Shazam from getting into a confrontation with the Kahndaqian army, and it all happens so fast that Shazam doesn’t see who attacked him. Lashing out in anger, as a teenager with superpowers would, Shazam turns and pops Superman one and knocks him clear across the desert. We watch on one brilliant page as Shaam’s emotions run from anger (“You shouldn’t have started [the fight]!) to surprise (“I just knocked down Superman.”) to elation (“I just knocked down Superman!”). It’s a wonderful bit of character work handled not only beautifully by Geoff Johns but captured perfectly by artist Ivan Reis who is so good on this page that you don’t need any of the word balloons to understand what Shazam is thinking.

I honestly can’t think of a better artist to draw a big event storyline than Ivan Reis. He draws some of the most dynamic and action packed superhero pages that are also full of wonderful emotion and character acting. His work is never stiff and his characters are always accessible. It is a real treat to see him get to draw just about every major player in the DC Universe in this issue and there are only more on the way.

The story of event comics over the last decade or so has been that they tend to get over ambitious and eventually collapse under the weight of their own bloat. DC seems to be taking the opposite tack here: “Trinity War” is a six part story that runs through Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark, with three tie-in issues which you can undoubtedly skip if you were so inclined. (I skipped the first one in Trinity of Sin: Pandora and don’t plan on reading any of the others.) Going lean and mean certainly has its risks—maybe six issues won’t be enough to tell a grand epic tale—but it also seems a welcome tonic; in the age of comic book events that seem to encompass most of a calendar year, “Trinity War” is set to last just two months.

Let’s hope that’s just enough time for this story to remain so much fun.

Conor Kilpatrick
Poor Dr. Light (Never thought I’d say THAT)


  1. perhaps the best issue yet, I fell like the series is only now taking itself seriously and allowing its storyline to bring the gravtias, as it should.

  2. In week with Batman, Daredevil & Hawkeye and after at least two of the host talked about falling out of love with Johns I was sincerely not expecting this to be PoTW at all.

    Never stop surprising me iFanboy.

  3. In the long run, if this event holds up (which is a 50/50 shot at this point with events) I’ll read it in trade. I just don’t feel like reading a event that I have no real interest in now. Especially if it’s crossing over with two other books I don’t plan on ever reading. Good review though.

    This was a pretty tough week. East of West, Batman, and Chew were so great to read. But the shocker that made Daredevil POTW for me was Javier Rodriguez on pencils. Great job by him and the story was pretty fun too.

  4. Really liked JL #22. I haven’t bought any JL comics since Throne of Atlantis, so was kind of shocked to see how large the JL roster has gotten. This issue does a great job of catching new/lapsed readers up while still moving the plot along at a good pace. Very enjoyable.

    Sad to see Dr. Light die but… At least I didn’t have an emotional attachment to the character. I’m eager to see how this event unfolds.

  5. Seriously?

  6. I enjoyed this until the final page. The villain’s dialogue was very cheesy.

  7. Is this Outsider the same one from the Flashpoint mini?

    • I also am curious about this.

    • I’m assuming that it is, or at least, a non-Flashpoint version of him. It would make sense. After all it was never exactly clear why this brand new character warranted his own tie-in series when his role in the main story was pretty minimal. Also, given that DC already had Pandora ready at the relaunch, it’s reasonable to think The Outsider was created for Trinity War.

      Or, I could be completely wrong . . .

    • I thought it was intentially supposed to be the reveal of Outsider aka Alfred Pennyworth (likely from a paralel Earth). Weird that no one is catching this.

  8. Based on this, The Book of the Month pick, the review of the Lone Ranger and other comments I’ve heard on some of the ifanboy movie podcast I’ve come to realize that I have very different taste in entertainment then Conor. That’s cool, it makes for some interesting reading but I don’t really agree with almost any of his pov’s.

    • Im usually pretty in sync with Conner. But this review in no way interests me in this comic book or this event.

    • I’ve gone back and forth on Justice League. I ended up dropping it just because I don’t want to start buying JLD and JLA to follow the story. I think Connor may be most interested in Super Hero comics out of the three guys picking and while that’s cool and everything I tend to lean not so much away from Super Hero’s because it would be stupid to read comics if I did, but maybe more interested in other genre’s within comics and the correlating media. That’s just me though.

  9. JL is a consistently solid book. I’m happy to see it get it’s due. Great pick, Conor.

  10. Do I think JL #22 was the best comic this week? No, but it was pretty good. Reading some of the comments here about Conor’s pick makes me smile – we nerds get so bent when someone likes something we don’t. I’m guilty of doing the same thing from time to time.

    It also got me thinking, perhaps Conor picked Justice League #22 because it DID deserve to be POTW.

    Maybe Conor got done reading all his comics and actually thought Hawkeye #12 was the best one he read this week, but gave the POTW honor to Justice League instead because the book hasn’t been this good since the start up of the New 52? Yeah maybe JL #22 wasn’t Eisner Award winner material but it was a damn good issue and one that is sure to bring a lot of the fold back in after they dropped this title long ago. Geoff Johns is writing like this in a long time. Ivan Ries is drawing the hell out it. This comic has the feel of something Epic taking place in the DCU and hearkens the best of Event Comics (Crisis, Blackest Night).

    Shit, I’ve convinced myself to change my Pick! =)

    • It was the book that Conor enjoyed the most this week. Simple formula, which book do you enjoy the most this week. I loved JL, can’t wait to read Batman and Hawkeye (and a bunch of others).

  11. I’ve only read a couple of my books, so I can’t really comment on what deserves Pick of the Week. I did read this issue and found it intriguing. Definitely credit to Johns for letting events develop slowly over the last two years, laying the seeds bit by bit. There was a satisfying sense of pay off in reading this. Ivan Reis’ art was fabulous. How about some credit for Rod Reis as well, who’s coloring here and on Aquaman has been stellar.

    Am I curious to see what comes next? Yes. Will I buy it? Not sure. I’ll definitely pick up the last chapter in Justice League, but am not sure about the other two parts. I have been reading the other two series, but the price increase/drop in pages has me holding off. There’s just too much other good stuff competing for my limited budget at the moment . . .

    Oh, and I find it interesting that no one is saying anything about Xanadu . . .

  12. I do not envy you this week Connor. This has to be one of the hardest weeks to pick because I am only after way through my pull list and I already have 4 books on my PotW list.

  13. Actually, I think “bloated, over-stuffed mess” pretty much sums it up. Pretty art, and a few nice moments, particularly the Billy/Shazam scenes, but, holy cow, there sure were a lot of characters, most of whom I wasn’t sure which team they they were on (or care much). The whole Kandaq plot just felt *so* contrived to create a punch-fest, even more so than your typical super-hero cross-over, it was as if I see all the strings that Johns was pulling. Count me out on this “adventure-mystery event”.

  14. This gets POTW??? Wow. Was this the only book you picked up this week? I don’t even know what to say.

  15. My pick was Batman but Justice League was pretty close. In fact, now that I think about it, Superman was even pretty close. When was the last time DC had three great issues in the same week? It had to be pre-New 52 right?

    Great issue in a great week. Particularly great for superhero comics, which is nice to see.

    • I still need to read batman but I really loved JL and superman unchained.

      Superman unchained is the first time the character has actually felt like superman in the new 52 (for me anyway). Snyder writes an intelligent superman and he does it very well.

  16. Haha this is like Josh picking Scalped over Blackest Night – but in reverse!

    And no, I have no plan on reading the latest Geoff Johns event. Don’t be silly.

  17. Maybe someday I’ll read this in a trade.


  18. This was awesome, everything after and including throne of Atlantis has been great.

  19. Well I, for one, still enjoy the fun superhero spectacle that Geoff Johns has so well mastered. Not sure why there’s so much ill will towards the man.