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Comicscape: Trinity War
By Joel Rickenbach
July 18, 2013
Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. This week we take a look at DC’s summer crossover- Trinity War.
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 (Prelude)
Justice League #22 (part 1)
Justice League of America #6 (part 2)
The Trinity War is in full swing, and fans of the summer comic book crossover can rejoice. Despite being a tale that affects most of DC’s prominent characters and teams, Trinity War doesn’t have the same gigantic feel of previous event books, and maybe that’s a good thing. The whole story is contained within the pages of Justice League, Justice League of America and Justice League Dark, with a few tie-in books to fill it out.
The main player of the arc is Pandora, an immortal being who help shape the New 52, and who has been searching for millennia to find a way to undo her greatest crime- unleashing the seven deadly sins upon the world. She comes to believe that Superman might be the key to defeating the sins, so she takes her box (a jeweled metal three-eyed skull) to find the Man of Steel. Once she does, she offers the box to Superman, who takes it, not knowing what exactly is going on. Once he touches it he becomes possessed, and grows a third burning eye. Wonder Woman and Pandora eventually wrestle the box away from him. Pandora vanishes with the box, distraught that her plan didn’t work. Superman, a bit shaken, seems to be back to his normal self.
Meanwhile, Billy Batson, aka Shazam, has decided to take Black Adam’s ashes to Kandaq. Even though Black Adam was essentially a villain, Billy believes he was misguided, and deserves a proper burial. Crossing the boarder into Kandaq, unannounced could be seen as an act of war, so Batman scrambles the Justice League to stop Billy. This is the opportunity Amanda Waller has been waiting for- a chance for her hand picked Justice League of America to show the Justice League who’s boss, and show the public who they can trust. The extra wrinkle here is that Amanda Waller picked the members of her JLA to be the perfect counter measures to the members of the Justice League, including the JLA’s newest member- Doctor Light, who was “recruited” to be the nullifier for Firestorm. Billy Batson isn’t exactly welcomed when he arrives in Kandaq, in fact, the Kandaqi army fires upon him. Superman gets to him before he can do anything rash, but unfortunately so does the JLA. The two teams argue, naturally, and like all good historical conflicts, a misunderstanding of aggression leads to battle. Dr. Light, not familiar with Superman or his power level, begins inadvertently absorbing his solar energy to the point where he can’t control it. He expels the pent up energy, which blasts Wonder Woman, Superman then retaliates in kind, however, we can see there’s something not quite right with Supes. To prove that point he vaporizes Dr. Light’s head, and leaves everyone’s jaws on the floor.
This is where Justice League of America #6 picks up. All hell breaks loose, super punches are thrown, and the JLA’s purpose as the perfect deterrent for the main Justice League team proves itself. Particularly in the case of Vibe taking out Flash, he really does a number on him that lasts long after the fight (side note: does anyone still buy that Catwoman is really the answer to Batman?) Speaking of the fight- it ends when Superman shakes the earth with his fists and screams “Lock me up!”I don’t know if Geoff Johns or Jeff Lemire are a fan of Monster Squad, but I couldn’t help but have the werewolf’s similar pleas rolling through my head. It’s an awesome moment and an incredible splash page by artist Doug Mahnke.
After everything calms down, the JLA take the Superman into custody, and a shift in the New 52 status quo is felt. The best bit in the book comes when Batman tries to get to the bottom of things while Superman is strapped to a power-dampening chair. The first thing Clark wants to know is who the person was that he killed, and if he had a family. Batman soberly replies that he did, a wife and two daughters. Diana shows up, not happy that Batman would put that kind of burden on Clark at the moment (Batman’s response: “He asked.”), and determined to exonerate her significant other from any wrongdoing. The question then becomes- was Superman under the influence of Pandora’s box, or was this all a misunderstanding due to Dr. Light’s accidental attack? Of course, we know the answer, but Batman will continue to be the detective, and Diana will hunt the supernatural. Her first stop is the mythological blacksmith, Hephaestus, who she believed forged the box, however, she was wrong- darker and older magics are responsible, ones that had even Zeus afraid. In case you thought there were not enough teams with the name “Justice League” in the mix, Wonder Woman’s next course of action is to enlist the help of Justice League Dark, and in that book is where the story will continue next week.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying Trinity War in its infancy. The prelude book, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 was a lot of gobbledygook to be honest- big, grand gestures of millennia spanning strife with very little character depth, or anything to really latch on to. Things picked up in Justice League #22 with the focus shifting to the now, and the many threads merging to set off the major conflict. Plus, Superman erased Dr. Light’s head, so there’s that. Both Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke put in some memorable pages, particularly Reis in general, and Manhke’s aforementioned splash page. There is a whole subplot involving the Phantom Stanger and the Question that I haven’t bothered getting into. It’s a bit too muddy at the moment to judge. The situation is a bit different, but it’s hard not to see some similarities with last summer’s Avengers vs X-Men. Both books pit hero against hero, and both have a character possessed by an all-powerful entity. I’m guessing the similarities will stop there, but it’s worth noting. If things keep the current pace, DC cpuld have a smaller, yet more satisfying crossover on its hands, and wouldn’t that be something…