Review: Justice League of America #6
Part two of the DC Comics crossover event Trinity War has arrived in the form of Justice League of America #6. This issue furthers the fallout from part one’s huge moment involving Superman, and the results are a great mixture of mystery and character interactions.
First off, this issue becomes a powerful moment for the New 52 version of Superman. Ever since the New 52 started, Superman’s characterization has varied, going from Morrison’s Golden Age fighter style to Lobodell’s almost jerk with powers figure. Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire paint a classic Superman here, as he fights his hardest to control his surging powers and turn himself in before he can hurt anyone else. Readers can see Wonder Woman worry for him, explaining that even if he wasn’t responsible for killing Dr. Light, he will never forgive himself. It is important to see that two issues into Trinity War, we have a return of the classic moral compass, good person Superman that is what makes the character so important in the DC Universe.
Another strength of this issue is how many character interactions are packed into it. While this comic may be light on fighting and action after the skirmish between the JL and JLA in the first few pages, the rest of the issue showcases some truly great character moments. With Superman and Batman alone, readers are treated to another classic interaction between the two, as Superman languishes in his guilt and Batman remains the cold and realistic hero even with his friend’s obvious grief. Wonder Woman also gets to tell off Steve Trevor on his new team’s purpose, and goes off on an adventure to find the truth about what really happened. There are even some fun bits provided by Hawkman, with his lack of care for injuries, and Shazam, who isn’t a member of either league and doesn’t appear comfortable being around.
With Trinity War now two issues deep, what has made this series feel successful so far is that it has strayed from being an all out Justice League trio brawl and morphed into a compelling murder mystery storyline with noir influences. There is a real sense that serious and twisted machinations are taking place behind the scenes, and the reader isn’t privy to what is really going on yet just as the heroes are left in the dark.
Doug Mahnke pencils a superb issue, and his clean style is perfect for this type of issue. In the introductory full two-page spread, every character can be seen, even if the ones in the background have a smudged and simpler style than those in the foreground. Mahnke creates a beautifully drawn sequence where Superman smashes the ground, with effects all around him. A powerful part of this comic comes from a locked up Superman being broody, and Mahnke is able to show those emotions through lower face expressions even without the ability to have Superman’s eyes in view. Colorists Gabe Eltaeb and Nathan Eyring also must be mentioned for their effective use of colors on the heroes. Though the characters usually wear bright suits that can really shine, here Eltaeb and Eyring give different shades to each hero’s suit that gives off a muted palette overall, which is very effective for the darker tone of this book.
A few weaknesses in this issue show up on both the story and art. It is now the second issue of this crossover, and there is no reason yet given for what the Secret Society wants or what their objective is with Superman’s event. The Outsider is shown in the very beginning of the story as ready to reveal his master plan to his people, but then he never shows up again. Some plot lines are left to dangle for the future most likely, as Flash appears to be negatively affected by Vibe’s use of powers on him, and Director Waller asks Firestorm if he can manufacture Kryptonite. Neither situation is addressed again after being brought up. Also, a random panel showing a Superman figure with a note next to it shows up in the middle of the Justice Leagues brawl and there is no context or hint given as to where or who sent or received the figure and note. When it comes to art, there is a distracting scene in which a close up panel of Steve Trevor’s face gives him a large eyeball in his left eye, which makes him look weird by comparison when he is walking with Wonder Woman.
Justice League of America #6 is a strong issue that continues the mystery storyline that appears to be driving the Trinity War crossover. What looked at first like a DC Justice League fight has actually turned into a compelling mystery that only deepens with this past comic. Here is to hoping the rest of this event can keep up with the strength of the first two issues.
Justice League of America #6 gets a 4/5