Friday, August 22, 2014

'Justice League: Trinity War' review

Aside from a handful of massive Batman storylines that successfully crossed over into several titles in the 1990s ("Knightfall," KnightsEnd" and most of the overly long "No Man's Land"), I have no use for DC Comics' mega stories. When I see the so-called "event" storylines being advertised, I roll my eyes and quickly think, "Well, I certainly won't be reading that."

Here's another disclaimer or two before I share my thoughts on the 2013 Justice League story, "Trinity War." The best comics stories -- whether they focus on a few characters or an ensemble and certainly despite any promised widespread ramifcations -- focus on characters. Because just as the US TV network and our parents told us, character counts.

And even though I'm a lifer when it comes to reading Marvel and DC, I grudgingly gotta admit Marvel's characters always have been superior to DC's because the writers' focus has been on the characters and their motives, weaknesses, desires, strengths, quirks, etc. (That's something my two best friends Mark Willis and David Hudson have tried to convince me of for years, so, guys, consider this a public admission you're right!)

No matter how ridiculous the concept is behind Marvel's crossover/event stories, theHouse of Ideas keeps its eye on the prize: Characters. That's where "Trinity War" goes off the rails. The focus is not on DC's characters, but on mystical mumb-jumbo in which the deity Pandora seeks a gold skull, essentially a magic box she opened a millenia ago that unleashed the seven deadly sins on thw world.

Pandora wants to undo what she did -- and in the process, Superman fires his heat vision and kills Doctor Light, a member of one of the three Justice Leagues in the New 52 continuity. (Why in the world are there three Justice Leagues? Ugh. ...) The Justice Leaguers know doggone well that Superman wouldn't call, so they figure there's something bigger afoot. Come to find out only the purest and darkest hearts can harness, much less handle, the skull's power and there's a Justice League traitor.

This would have been a great opportunity for the "Trinity War" writing team to explore just how pure Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Shazam are -- or even just what kind of darkness lies within their personalities. So what should have been an insightful character study on what makes someone essentially pure or evil or even what motivates Atomica (the female Atom) pull a fast one on the Justice League is something significantly less substantive.

Writer Geoff Johns & Co. really drop the storytelling ball. Not only does "Trinity War" fail to address such things, much less answer the Phantom Stranger's underlying question posed in the third issue ("who is the evil behind the evil?"), the writers don't reveal exactly why Atomica becomes a traitor. (There has to be something deeper than being in love with the evil Flash of Earth-3!) By the end of the story, the fate of the problematic skull isn't tackled either.

"Trinity War" simply doesn't answer the questions it raises. The more I read, the more I wondered why the heroes were acting the way they were. If the writers had focused on the motives and personalities of the characters and explored what the ramifications were for them personally, this had the potential to be much more interesting. In the end, "Trinity War" is confusing and disappointing.

But least the story ends with the big reveal of the Crime Syndicate, Earth-3's anti-Justice League. Grades -- Art: B+, Story: C



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