Note: I started writing this post about a week ago, but then I got my tonsils taken out and kind of forgot it, sorry. Here it is now, posted as originally written although slightly dated.
This past weekend was a busy time for me. It was graduation time at my alma mater and several of my close friends graduated. My fiancée and I are less than a month away from our wedding (Aw Yeah!) and now that school is out she’s headed home to start getting everything ready for the big day. I also went and saw The Avengers with a big group of friends and I absolute loved it. Why can’t DC get their act together and pull off something like this. Well, they did get one thing right and that was their offering for Free Comic Book Day this year. If you aren’t familiar with FCBD, it is a day, usually the first Saturday in May, where comic book publishers release special free books to entice readers to visit their local comic shop. In recent years the bigger comic companies have used FCBD to tease upcoming storyline or events, such as DC’s Blackest Night #0 a few years back. This year they have outdone themselves with The New 52 #1, a full length story by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Gene Ha, and Kenneth Rocafort. It doesn’t get much better than that.
This issue functions much like an extra issue of the Justice League, but has implications for the DC universe as a whole. The two primary draws of this issue are the origins of the mysterious Pandora and the other members of the Trinity of Sin mentioned in the back up story in Justice League #6, as well as a teaser for what appears to be the first big event of the New 52, “The Trinity War”. The issue begins at an undisclosed point in the past at the Rock of Eternity. We see a council of seven wizards passing judgement on three prisoners, the “Trinity of Sin”. The first turns out to be the Phantom Stranger, last seen in Justice League #6, who now appears to have a definitive origin as Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver. Next we have a man who seems to be the New 52 incarnation of the Question, the Charlton comics character from which Rorschach was derived. This is drastic change of origin for the character, who has always existed as a kind of pulp detective character. Greg Rucka’s recent work on the Question dealt with the Question receiving the “Mark of Cain”, that being the biblical Cain from Genesis. Perhaps that will come into play with this new Question. Finally we come to Pandora, who actually is the Pandora from myth, box and all. The wizards pronounce her an evil girl and sentence her to an eternity of loneliness. Pretty harsh stuff. Ivan Reis handles the art in this section and is very consistent with his work over in Aquaman (which is a very good thing).
Next, the story jumps to the present, sometime soon after the events of Justice League #8. Pandora still narrates, but the story shifts to the Red Room, the lab in which Cyborg’s father works. We see some nice ties to current DC events like Amazo’s body from Justice League #8. In the Red Room, a large monitor turns on, showing images of the events taking place in issue #1 of Earth 2. I’m not sure if Johns intended this, but it is interesting that it is a “monitor” that reveals the existence of the multiverse to the Red Room scientists, considering the role of the advanced race known as the Monitors played in the old DC multiverse. Next, we shift over to the Justice League’s handler Steve Trevor. Here we get ties to books like Batman Incorporated and the Culling crossover currently going on between Teen Titans, Superboy, and Legion Lost. The sequence ends with Pandora breaking into a new room called the Black Room, which contains various supernatural artifacts. This is the first time we’ve heard mention of rooms other than the Red Room, and Trevor suggests the existence of more, including one called “The Circus” that is especially important. Pandora finds her titular box in the Black Room and escapes after a tussle with Trevor. Pandora’s story ends with an ominous proclamation of doom on the Justice League. These two segments were drawn by Kenneth Rocafort and Gene Ha, respectively, and both turn in great work. I especially appreciated Gene Ha’s work as it lent a sense of continuity from Justice League #7.
Finally, we jump to an undetermined amount of time into the future and see Batman, in possession of Pandora’s box, being chased by a new human Green Lantern. This segment ends with a jaw dropping fold out four page spread by Jim Lee depicting various DC characters locked in combat. The image portrays the current Justice League (sans Hal Jordan), current New 52 characters like Hawkman and Mera, and characters being reintroduced for the first time such as Black Adam, the Atom, and strangely enough, Vibe. All of this cultivates in the revelation of what appears to be the first big event of the New 52, “The Trinity War”. While my first inclination is to think of a big Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman fight, I think that there is probably more to it than that. I do think we’ll see a lot of big super hero fights, because Avengers vs. X-Men is proving that’s in right now. Justice League #8 hinted that Steve Trevor was putting together a second team involving Green Arrow. Could this end up being DC’s Civil War? I guess we’ll find out in 2013.
All in all, how can you go wrong with a completely original story by Geoff Johns, with art by Ivan Reis, Kenneth Rocafort, Gene Ha, and Jim Lee, for free? You cannot. To top it off, DC added in previews of the 6 second wave books. Although 4 of them have already been released, it was great to see the first pages of the new volume of Batman Incorporated, a book I’m really looking forward to. As a nice tie in to the current status quo of the New 52, a look into its secret past, and glimpse into the future, this book was exactly the kind of thing I would expect from a Big 2 company on FCBD.