REVIEW: “Justice League Dark” #23

(DC Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

WRITTEN BY:  Jeff Lemire
ARTWORK BY:  Mikel Janin
COLOR ARTWORK BY:  Jeromy Cox

As Trinity War draws to a close the creative teams are really hitting their collective stride but none more so than Jeff Lemire. Lemire is on fire right now, everything he is writing is pure comic book gold from Animal Man to his Vertigo offering, Trillium, this guy is turning out some of the best books on the racks today and he doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Since taking over the full time writing duties on Justice League Dark, Lemire has developed these characters that are usually relegated to the C or D list, into full-fledged members of the DCU, fighting against and beside some of the biggest A- listers ever to don spandex. Now with Trinity War almost in the bag Lemire prepares us for Villains Month and the big Forever Evil event.

The story begins with Madame Xanadu gazing into the future. Mikel Janin’s artwork is flawless as he captures the intriguing images she sees. In this single issue Janin gets to draw just about every character the DCU has to offer and he does so with dynamic style and meticulous attention to anatomy and staging within each panel. The amount of detail he lavishes upon each page is staggering. The action then turns to The House of Mystery where Dead Man is joined by a contingent from the Justice League and the JLA including some of the big guns like Batman, Flash and Green Lantern Simon Baz. Dead Man has just experienced a major disturbance in the Magical Plains. He sensed all the magical beings especially strong were his feelings of Shazam but most importantly he believes he can locate Madame Xanadu.

This issue is truly action packed, the majority of the story is spent chronicling the fights between factions made up of members of the three teams. Lemire does an excellent job writing dialogue for characters who have very little history interacting. He gives them chemistry and makes them feel like they are comfortable relating to one another. The focus of all three teams is Pandora’s Box. This artifact is affecting different characters in very different ways but remains the motivating influence of the narrative. Characters that have limited or no experiences with magical items are having the hardest time dealing with events; tempers are flaring as these heroes fight one another for ownership of the box. Despite the ethereal and sometimes heavy material, Lemire manages to lighten the mood with witty quips and cleverly placed one-liners.

One of the highlights of this issue takes place amidst the ruins of the A.R.G.U.S. headquarters. During the fighting between more members of the three leagues, a very much weakened Superman reminds them what it means to be a hero. When Waller suggests that she is going to stop the fighting to look for survivors Superman steps up to rally the troops behind him and search the rubble for survivors. This is such a poignant moment because it shows that a true hero is not defined by the circumstance he rises to the circumstances and that’s exactly what The Man of Steel does here.

Jeff Lemire has crafted a fast paced, emotionally charged chapter of Trinity War with issue #23. It may not progress the story much but it is certainly a completely enjoyable read. Visually Mikel Janin creates magic with his work in this issue. His precision and attention to detail are exquisite. The clarity and expression employed by Janin is stunning, his work is top notch and perfectly suited to this book with its multiple fight scenes and kinetic action sequences. This is the perfect venue for an artist of his scale to shine. Justice League Dark is one of my favorite books, it boasts the most eclectic line-up of any team book maybe of all-time. This issue is a prime example of how much fun a well written comic book can be, it proves that an “event” book doesn’t have to be stuffy or self-indulgent. I give this book a rock solid 4.5 out of 5 for its fantastic art and fast paced, action laden and most of all, FUN story. So until next time, see you at the comic book store. By the way all of my reviews for Villains Month will come complete with lenticular 3D covers…. Yeah right!

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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