(Possible Spoilers Ahead)
Yesterday, part three of the DC Comics Trinity War came out with the release of Justice League Dark #22 . Yes, comic fans, the DC Universe event keeps exploring the deep philosophical issues we pointed out in Part One: Justice League # 22 and Part Two Justice League of America #6 If you need to catch up the story lines, feel free to click on the links. We’re going to dive right into the story.
The notion of sin, where it comes from and how we get rid of it brings the DC Universe to a breaking point. If you remember, this story is centered around Superman; why did he commit the evil act of murder and how he get corrupted? In other words, how did Superman sin? Did an outside force take him over, did evil corrupt him or is he a victim to outside forces? Batman, Wonder Woman, The Phantom Stranger and others all come up with different theories.
Jeff Lemire takes over the writing duties in this issue, but he keeps up Geoff John’s deep theological exploration. His story shows how the differences in perspective (or theologies, as this is a story of sin) split all three leagues (Justice, JLA and Justice League Dark: the magicians).
One strand of hero/theologians is represented by Wonder Woman. She, through her love of Clark, is trying to prove that Pandora’s Evil Sin Box corrupted Supes into killing JLA member, Dr. Light, the terrible event that triggered The Trinity War. When the gods of Greece can’t help her, she sought Justice League Dark, a group of magicians led by the anti-hero, John Constantine. They all agree Pandora’s box must have caused Superman to sin.
The next strand’s viewpoint evolves in this issue. At first, Batman, who believes men choose to be evil, and there must be a scientific explanation why Clark sinned, leads this group. However, he starts to change his point of view when The Phantom Stranger (Judas Iscariot) shows up and tells them something deeper and evil is happening. He informs Batman that Pandora’s box is an evil that no one can handle. They all agree Wonder Woman needs to be stopped.
As you might guess, all three leagues come together in a confrontation over Superman’s sin. Wonder Woman obsesses over finding a cure for Supes, but The Phantom Stranger tells her much more is a stake. Diana flies into a rage, ropes Judas and makes her tell him the truth. “What is eating Superman alive”, she asks. The Stranger tells her, “I don’t know”. The leagues crack into pieces again, different alliances form as sin destroys their unity.
Meanwhile, Supes is freed by The Question. Their goal is to find out what is destroying Superman. Mikel Jain, who does the artwork here, does a great job showing Superman slowly being eaten from the inside. We see him turning pale green color, bruised eyes and his veins turning a nasty color. As they battle their way out of a secret government instillation, we see Clark almost kill as he fights for control.
In the background of all this, Madame Xanadu (thought to be killed in Part One) alive and being held by a secret organization. They are the ones behind the attempt to destroy Supes, but we’re not told how or why. They’re after Pandora’s box and the unknown evil it contains.
I love how Johns is unfolding this story. I’ve seen other reviewers scratching their head on what is going on in this series. They need to do some more research. What we have is a full on theological debate going on in a comic book; Sin’s destruction, corrupting affects and how it affects the whole world. In Justice League Dark, we see the tension amped up, the lines blurring and no one near an answer.
Can’t wait for the next installment. Justice League Dark #22 is on store shelves now.