The much-anticipated conclusion to "Trinity War" hits shelves and brings about a surprise or two -- beyond the hideously spoiled surprise that is all over the internet already: the Crime Syndicate is attacking the DC Universe. Geoff Johns will pick up on that in "Forever Evil" #1, but for now, in his collaboration with Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Eber Ferreira and Rod Reis, "Justice League" #23 is a loud final chapter to the crossover between Justice League books.
At least this issue looks pretty and gives most of the characters a panel or two and some bits of dialog to satisfy each and every one of their fans. Readers are also treated to more fights between their favorite characters, certain to spark comic shop debates for years to come. Of the issue's thirty-two pages, twelve are full-page splash pages or double-page spreads. That's great for big shots and critical moments and those full pages are filled with detailed characters and blossoms of debris, playing into the art team's abilities quite nicely. Having over one-third of the book devoted to big action scenes, however, leads to a lot of other pages and scenes being jammed into the remainder of "Justice League" #23.
The action in this issue is intense, initiated by a three page "secret origin" of sorts for the Outsider, all serves as a primer to the events to come in "Villains Month," introducing a new foe to the DC Universe while crippling the ranks of the Justice Leagues. Johns does push his team into the forefront, giving Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Cyborg larger slices of the action in "Justice League" #23. Johns reveals the identity of the traitor within the Leagues' ranks and even ups the ante by delivering two.
For all the hype leading up to "Trinity War," including a peek in DC's Free Comic Book Day offering in 2012, way too much is left hanging out to be completed elsewhere. That scene is echoed in "Justice League" #23 (you can check out the comparison of the big battle juxtaposed with the 2012 Free Comic Book Day image), and The Outsider's identity history is largely explained, certain to send readers back to "Justice League" #1 to double-check the continuity of it all. Readers learn more of Earth-3 in this one issue than they've seen of other characters since the relaunch.
All the same, "Justice League" #23 leaves me feeling slighted, as I would relish more of this story with the art team of Reis-Prado-Reis in place. Knowing that it switches over to David Finch in "Forever Evil" just feels like a bait-and-switch, especially since there are no true conclusions of any sort in this issue, just more shock-for-shock's sake moments and lots of new questions. I was hopeful DC's tactic of bleeding events one to the next would be over following the relaunch, but this issue proves -- without an inkling of doubt -- that that is simply not the case. At least the countdown to "Forever Evil" is a fun, large-scale, good-looking story, now that we've hit that slippery slope of endless events once again.