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This is moment that everything has supposedly been building toward. The one that has had numerous hints dropped through the main titles involved, such as Justice League, The Phantom Stranger, and of course Justice League of America. Something this highly waved around is no doubt going to stir discussion across the Internet, but did it live up to expectations?
The answer, as predictable as it is disappointing, is that it did not. This is meant to be the culmination of plot threads that have been seeded throughout Justice League, and so far it falls flat – even though Justice League is itself the primary title in this crossover event. The problems that have made Justice League even more vapid and pedantic in the last several issues in the course of the run up to "Trinity War" are only exacerbated here instead of being made full use of – and they very well could have. It’s not the depth of the ideas, but their execution, and simply "Trinity War" so far does not place itself far above other pointless “hero versus hero” stories.
The whole big set-piece of this event, the actual war so to speak, is solely predicated on characters acting in ways that have no bearing on their situation. Now, this is not a problem that has been uncommon in Johns’ main Justice League series – but it is one that is as glaring within this issue as it was at the beginning of the “New 52”. The main gambit that “hero versus hero” stories have to overcome is that they need t be at the very least believable in why the fight is even happening in the first place. Yet, like so many of thee stories, Justice League falls in to the same pitfall of having one side be completely unlikable and even deranged in their actions.
It’s a complete break in immersion and just continually begs the question of why the characters involved don’t just think for a second – because that’s all the time this affair would take to resolve. Perhaps this could have been a forgettable aspect if the story had felt like it was this culmination of the proclaimed “buildup” that has been going on – but it doesn’t quite fit that bill either. Yes there are a couple of panels and lines that were foreshadowed to occur before slipped into the issue, but it doesn’t feel like any of this has been earned.
The only buildup that seems to have mattered the least still remains the "Free Comic Book Day" issue of Justice League that came out two years ago – and if that’s all you need to understand this event, with it’s so called grandeur, then it’s a very superficial event. So, yes, one could counter this by claiming that these are all the machinations of the “Secret Society of Super-Villains” from behind the scenes, but they’re not. Their plans only resulted in one thing that, while big, was only made possible due to the aforementioned idiocy of every one else.
Of course even within this bland and dull start, there do shine through a few entertaining aspects. One of the only things related to both Justice League and "Trinity War" – Billy Batson – really gets his moments in the spotlight. As mentioned in a previous feature of mine, Billy Batson is still the innocent youngster and that gets some great scenes and emphasis. The art by Ivan Reis is still entirely suited to Johns’ bombastic and “popcorny” writing style – with fun, if simple, layouts and drafting. Yet it all feels wasted on something that isn’t as enticing as it should be.
The issue is bogged down by needless and overly stylized/expositional narration, unconvincing dialogue about the use of violence in doing super-heroics, and just set-up for future issues. That latter part gives me some small hope that this will pick up, and hopefully in next week’s Justice League of America – which is a title I enjoy in a rather base way. If not the only consolation that there is remains that this story will only last for two months, and hopefully lead into a vaguely more interesting “Forever Evil”.