Justice League Dark #22: House of Cards
The Justice League Dark delve deeply into the world of the supernatural. With the advent of Trinity War, one of their team is missing, and Wonder Woman is demanding they answer her questions about the mysterious Pandora.
As the characters interact, within most of the speech bubbles are paragraphs overflowing with text. It’s like the characters prepared essay length statements, and are reading them out to each other. It contributes to difficult reading.
Inside the House of Mystery, the cast of Trinity War assembles. The colours are effective here, with such a variety of super hero costumes, and there are some clever panel arrangements. One in particular has Wonder Woman and Batman facing each other. Their faces in profile frame up the page.
The point of view shifts around across the next few panels, and the impression that there is space in the room works well.
The only missing element is detailed backgrounds.
The House of Mystery has no detail etched out other than a dusty chandelier, which is a shame considering this is a Justice League Dark comic book.
Firestorm is supposed to be a character associated with science fiction and chemistry. He is manufacturing kryptonite to combat Superman following Superman’s attack on Doctor Light.
Minerals, compounds, and chemicals have been produced synthetically in laboratories since the Victorian era. It’s a shame that Firestorm has no laboratory – nothing to make him appear credible. He is sitting a table with coloured rocks. That’s it.
Constantine knows about Shazam’s identity without any explanation. Madame Xanadu knows who Billy is, and an brief explanation of Constantine finding out through similar channels, would have fit in well here. Constantine does not trust anyone, however, so it is consistent that Constantine would share nothing. It’s clear from his interaction with Zatanna that this man has burnt all his bridges.
Themes, Ethics, Values.
Trust is a key ethic here. The Justice League of America falls to pieces without it. Similarly, the Justice League Dark fragments – Constantine has given no reason for anyone to place their trust in him. Green Arrow comments that Amanda Waller has shut him out time and time again. There’s no reason for him to listen to her arguments.
Waller could have guessed that team fragmentation was a possibility: A cursory search of applied psychology research indicates that trust is a common characteristic of charismatic leaders, and that when a leader is untrustworthy, individuals will divert energy to protecting themselves rather than working toward a larger goal.
Considering that Justice League Dark is a supernatural themed comic, there are significantly more scientific and science fiction concepts here: geology, chemistry, telepathy, mechanics, and laser beams. There are generally more mechanical devices on display than magical artefacts – Zatanna casts a single spell to teleport Wonder Woman’s team to safety.
A bit more on Justice League Dark #22
The Flash can run faster than the speed of sound – and faster than the speed of light if he has to – so the fact that he couldn’t stop Zatanna before she can say her spell is inconsistent. If there was an explanation in an earlier issue of Justice League Dark, it wasn’t in this issue.
There is a sense that the Justice League Dark, and all the intricacies of their magical work, has been forced out by this Trinity War segment, and the massive cast of characters.
Trinity War plot lines are woven together here – four parties are now moving against whatever person has manipulated and poisoned Superman:
- Wonder Woman and her team are after Pandora.
- Superman himself has teamed with The Question to track down a super villain with telepathic abilities – he could be responsible for forcing Superman’s attack on Doctor Light.
- Batman and Phantom Stranger have yet to make a move.
- Constantine has told Shazam to trust him, but has no doubt started his tricks, lies, and blackmail. It’s unclear where they are going.
A good issue for advancing the Trinity War plot, but not as strong as the opening title. Inconsistencies block and erode the strengths of a supernatural themed comic, converting it into a stepping stone for a larger story arc.