Judging by the cover, this looks like a big but predictable Justice League vs. Despero fight, right? Well, there’s way more going on here than you might suspect. In fact, it’s vital reading for fans of Justice League and Justice League of America (a very important read for that crowd) and a giant leap toward the much anticipated Trinity War event.

This is going to be a tough book to review, because there are so many surprises in it so I’ll likely keep things short. Geoff Johns brings back the idea of there being a traitor in the Justice League’s midst, a surprise cameo by a much loved character

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Martian Manhunter, who continues to be the biggest bad ass in the DC Universe
, there’s more to the Tower of Babel-ish preparations in the Batcave than meets the eye, and there are a few other moments that I won’t even hint at because I think that I drove the point home well enough– it’s a must-buy. Hell, the Justice League story alone makes this comic a must-buy and then there’s the Shazam backup, which is a real shocker as well!

Plain and simple: it’s a book that’s going to give fans A LOT to talk about. It’s an issue that stirs up all kinds of debate and fan theories and most importantly it’s going to get you a little more excited for Trinity War, which is actually starting to feel real. I know I have gotten tired of waiting for this thing to happen, what with it being hyped for well over a year.

The only thing that disrupted my complete enjoyment of this issue would have to be the artwork. There’s a guy doing layouts, three guys doing pencils, three guys doing inks, and two handling the colors. It’s amazing it looks as good as it does with that many cooks in the kitchen, but still, a few of the transitions are noticeable and the quality overall feels a bit rushed with the line work being overly dense. I simply find the heavy lines and frequent cross-hatching to be unappealing.

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I would’ve also liked to have seen another panel in which we see Superman bring the Watch Tower down to earth. I had originally thought that he was going to push it back into space rather than yank it through the atmosphere and drop it by the bay. The shot of him ripping the door open to reveal a lighthouse in the background confused me for a second.
Also, I know that Despero has been drawn without pants in the past but, personally, I’d like to see the guy get some trousers or a pair of briefs or something. The way the artists have to overly shadow his nether region or position other characters or objects in front of his crotch to avoid a look at alien penis gets a little distracting. But maybe that’s just me. Ol’ Andrew the Batman Review Guy’s always on the lookout for alien genitalia, ain’t he? But back to my point, the artwork is just passable for me and with such important material at hand, it would’ve been nice to have had a consistent look with sharper lines and greater detail.

As for the Shazam backup, the artwork by Gary Frank is as lovely as usual and he even got to draw more of Kahndaq with some neat flying carpets and everything! The story is, as always, very captivating only it felt even shorter this time… or maybe it was even more of a page turner than usual and I blew through the thing even faster. It’s good and it definitely has some surprising elements. It’s a whole book of surprises!

Issue #20 picks up where we left off last time only it takes the time to better develop the new recruits Element Woman (who I think I actually might like), Firestorm, and the Atom while pushing the story ever closer to Trinity War. It’s a fast paced issue with a lot of twists and turns and more than enough action to satisfy everybody. Add that with the Shazam backup and you have a winning combination that’s worth your $3.99. Had the Justice League portion featured artwork that I could label anything higher than “passable” this would’ve been a 10/10.

SCORE: 9/10