Comicscape: Trinity War Finale (Mania.com)
Date: Thursday, August 29, 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: DC's big summer event- Trinity War comes to a close, was the ride worth it?
If you've been reading Comicscape and The Pull List this summer, then you know I've been digging DC's Trinity War. Thanks to a sharply focused story, the crossover was contained to the three Justice League titles (Justice League, Justice League America and Justice League Dark), one spin-off book- Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and two tie-in issues- Constantine and The Phantom Stranger. Overall that's eleven books, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it's positively streamlined compared to the 30 to 40 books a big summer shakeup can usually pull in. As is par for the course- the tie-in books are really not essential. The first issue of Trinity of Sin: Pandora gives us some helpful back story, but the next two issues really start to dwindle in interest. The Constantine issue could have been a memorable tale (he tries to dupe a naive Shazam out of his powers), but it doesn't have the punch required to make that story stick. The most interesting of the lot is The Phantom Stranger #11, where trying to bring someone back from the dead gets very real, and just when you think they will undo one of Trinity War's most controversial ideas, something interesting comes swooping in. Of course, the meat of the story is presented in two issues of each Justice League title, which also means pretty much every character in the New 52 is involved. If I had to level one complaint at the crossover, it would be the constant bouncing around of the various teams and characters. It seems every few pages some group of heroes is running off to find someone or something somewhere, and a second team ends up following them. Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire must have had a ball trying to remember who went where, why and with whom. Not to mention a few wonky ways characters figure out where they need to be, and how they get there. That's not nearly enough to rain on this spandex parade-- there are some very enjoyable face offs, and the whole vibe of the universe is thrown askew to great effect when Superman evaporates Dr. Light in cold blood. Oh, and there are secrets, big time secrets waiting for those who make it to the finish line.
Spoilers for Justice League #23 ahead!
For me, DC's big reveals almost always fall flat. Some character that no one has given two Shazams about in 50 years comes out of the woodwork, and the only people feeling the tingles are the ones with countless longboxes filled with bagged and boarded golden and silver age books taking up the majority of an abandoned missile silo. Ironically, the big reveal in this issue actually does hinge on characters that may not be instantly recognizable to every comic fan, but you can get the gist pretty easy, and the reason it works is thanks to how well the reveal is handled.
Everyone wants to get their hands on Pandora's box, you know the one- gold, shaped like a skull and has three eyes? Trouble is, much like the One Ring, or one of Voldemort's horcruxes, the box is corrupting everyone vying for its power, and it ends up being a hot potato for most of the issue, that is if a hot potato made you grow a third eye and act overtly evil. This is all a bit of brilliant misdirection, thanks to the millennia-spanning back story of Pandora, we're expecting some ancient evil to eventually spew forth from the box, but what ends up happening is far, far more interesting. During a lull in the fisticuffs, the issue of Superman's mysterious "poisoning" is revealed-- it's not the box that's effecting him, someone actually placed a sliver of kryptonite (stolen from Batman's ring) in his brain. How do we know? Because the Atom can shrink down and see it, and in a very Identity Crisis moment, reveals she put it there in the first place. Before anyone can process this betrayal, Cyborg's tech starts ripping off from his body, and transforms into a menacing looking robot named Grid. The box, almost forgotten at this point, is picked up by the dapper gentleman we've known as the Outsider, and as he explains to Pandora- the box is a doorway, but it's not magic, its science, and only someone from his word can activate it. And what world is that you ask? That would be Earth 3, the birthplace of pure evil, and this well dressed chap is actually the Alfred from Earth 3, and he just opened the door for his master and his pals- the Crime Syndicate, and if that doesn't mean anything to you, just know that they are the twisted version of the Justice League. Their Batman is Owlman, their Superman is Ultra Man, and the woman we knew as the Atom is actually their Atomica. We're not given too much time with this reveal, as the issue ends, teasing the next big event- Forever Evil.
Yeah, another crossover, but if it's even close to the quality of Trinity War I'm sold. A special mention needs to be given to artist Ivan Reis and his supporting artists- Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Eber Ferreira and Rod Reis. This issue is absolutely breathtaking, and features more splash pages and two-page spreads than should be humanly possible for a book with this scope and amount of characters. Trinity War has been a class act from the get go, it will have you flipping back to earlier New 52 issues to see the hints left in plain sight, and have you re-reading the story to watch it unfold all over again. Anyone waiting for the trade is in for a treat thanks to solid writing from Johns and Lemire, and that last issue home run by Ivan Reis and Co. Bring on Forever Evil.