“Justice League Dark” #23 gives readers superheroes knocking the snot out of each other. (Unless that’s not what comic book readers actually want, in which case, the penultimate issue of “Trinity War” will come across as senseless chest-thumping and mindless matchups.) Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin manage to pack quite a bit of action, some fun scenes and gorgeous art into the story, which is exactly what everyone wants in their comic books.
The story is a set-up to the finale, therefore all three of the Justice League teams come together and give Janin the most prime opportunity one artist has ever had to stake a claim at the “Best Artist at DC” prize. Janin’s equally at ease drawing Green Arrow as he is Cyborg. As if the twenty-four characters between the three teams weren’t enough to prove his mettle, Janin also draws in Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Amethyst, Etrigan and Andrew Bennett as well as Flash, Hawkgirl and Doctor Fate (from “Earth 2”) for good measure. He rounds the issue out with Amanda Waller, Lex Luthor, Pandora, Shazam, the Phantom Stranger and the Outsider.
In short, Janin provides a quick visual “Who’s Who” of the DC Universe in twenty-four detail-packed, magnificently composed pages. Janin is capably joined by Jeromy Cox, whose resplendent colors add mystery and magic to the artwork, brightening up the landscape with the bold costumes of heroes of “Trinity War.” Rob Leigh’s lettering is fantastic, adding gravel to Frankenstein’s dialog while the sudsy lilt of Element Woman’s word balloons plays a nice contrast to the raspy tones of Pandora.
Lemire’s all-too-familiar scenario of heroes’ personalities getting twisted by a mystical artifact establishes the structure for the stunning artwork from Janin and provides enough of a plot to drive the story throughout “Justice League Dark” #23. Frankenstein has his brightest turn in the spotlight in this issue — understandable, considering Lemire’s excellent run on “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” That said, it’s surprising how drastically a grammatical error in a comic can derail the action and excitement. “I am the only one who’s heart is pure enough…” is the beginning of an exclamation bellowed by Frankenstein. Extra effort truly should be made for event comics, regardless of the actual scale of the event, and any error — no matter how small — takes readers out of the action.
That said, “Justice League Dark” #23 is a fun comic filled with comic book idioms. There are some fun, wink-and-nod pairings for longtime DC readers: Shazam and Stargirl square off in one panel and Zatanna throws a magical spell at Hawkman. These subtle choices make the comic that much richer an experience and strive to put the book back on track, giving readers a story filled with dynamic energy. The pacing of “Justice League Dark” #23 is smart and gives readers lots to chew on, but it also leaves what seems like a lot left to be resolved in the approaching final chapter of “Trinity War.”