Review: Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #13

There were two main points to this issue; wrapping up the last few lingering plot threads, and setting us up for Forever Evil: Blight. They pulled off another great read, and the series continues to amaze. There will be Spoilers…

We pick up where the last issue ended, with the Stranger lamenting inside his old house. He verbally spars with the Sin Eater, but then then his foe leaves with Non.

The Stranger uses his mind trick to convince the neighbors that the Starks moved away. One is unaffected…Zauriel. The angel speaks with him, and then takes the Stranger to the graves of his family. The Stranger asks if Zauriel brought their bodies there and give them a proper burial.

No. Believe it or not… it was him.

The Stranger is appalled that the Sin Eater did it, but Zauriel, as an angel, sees things with mercy and compassion, apparently. They continue moving, with the Stranger asking Zauriel why he’s really come. My least favorite thing in this issue comes here. They mention the eclipse again, and just like in the last issue, it feels like nothing more than an ad for Forever Evil. Please, you don’t need to mention it every time. It disrupts the flow of the issue, and we still get a hint at Forever Evil later. So please, just don’t.

Anyway, Zauriel reminds the Stranger of the little ball of light that Doctor Light gave him when he attempted to bring back the dead man from Heaven in issue #11. They drop the energy sphere over Doctor Light’s house, and it gives his wife and children hope and happiness. It’s a touching scene, although it also serves the practical purpose of finishing that story thread.

Zauriel tells the Stranger that if he’s needed, the Stranger can cast a thought his way and the angel will come. The Stranger is grateful for, albeit slightly confused by, the aid. As Zauriel leaves, the Stranger decides to finish another task long in the waiting. He goes, of course, to visit…

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The Question.

Side note: I did not like the way the Question was drawn this issue. His trench coat, pants, and fedora all seemed far too light/white, whereas he’s been drawn with a much darker gray outfit until now.

They fight, with the Question showing off an impressive magical ability to disperse himself. As they battle, they go back and forth on how they view the other as evil.

“When will you admit that I’m nothing like you…or that witch, Pandora? When will you tell me why my fate has been shackled to yours for centuriesWhen will you tell me WHO I AM?

I love that quote. It gives us a great look at the Question. This entire battle gives us a great insight into the character, in a way we haven’t really been given yet in the New 52.

They grapple with the Spear of Destiny, and it brings them to Jerusalem, where the Question turns people against the Stranger. The Stranger lashes out with his powers, and then the two are alone again on the Mount of Olives. The Stranger beats the Question repeatedly with his fists alone, but the Question has a final card to play. He, using what is apparently his incredibly persuasive voice (which is a concept they’ve been slowly introducing, it seems) very nearly talks the Stranger into killing himself with the Spear.

But wait! Zauriel returns, in a final flash of Doctor Light’s energy sphere. The Question escapes, but the angel has the Spear of Destiny to take back with him. Zauriel and the Stranger stand together in the following silence. The Stranger accepts that he may not always get the answers, and that he has some different future ahead of him. All is well, and that finally wraps up the plot threads up to this point. Great issue guys.

Then the Stranger is taken, somehow, and he disappears from Zauriel’s side. He appears, shackled with Pandora and the Question, back where it all began. John Constantine has brought them back to the Rock of Eternity. He’s there with Nightmare Nurse and Swamp Thing, which references back to Justice League Dark #24, which I intend to review soon. (I do apologize, I’ve gotten very behind and still have Forever Evil, Justice League, JLA, and several other issues to get reviews out for.) And, of course, Constantine’s looking to enlist them.

I touched on how I didn’t like the Question’s look this issue, and I’m very strongly against it, but otherwise the art is quite good. Blanco has been killing it with his art, and he continues to please. The Stranger and Zauriel are consistent throughout the issue, and they are consistently great.

Overall, this was another issue that lives up to the current quality of the series. It’s gotten so much better since the beginning, but the past run starting with issue #9 has been fantastic. I actually felt better about last issue’s use of the Sin Eater and Non after this issue, so that’s a great plus. The scenes between the Stranger and Zauriel are excellent, and the angel seems to be a great supporting character. With Chris and Thirteen (although absent from this issue) the supporting cast is growing, but each character is standing well on their own. The Question was interesting this issue, although some of the powers he showed seemed new and unexplained. Just as odd, is how he escaped the Crime Syndicate, although we may learn that in time.

As I mentioned before, I did not like the Forever Evil nod at all. The mention of the eclipse twice in two issues was too much for me, and I’d rather they just keep the series focused on itself. I am, however, excited for Forever Evil: Blight, the crossover between this series, JLD, Pandora and Constantine over the next few months. It should be great, but once it’s over I really hope we can have a nice long run of the series working alone. These things must be balanced, after all.

All things said and done, I liked this issue, and the quality of the past run has kept up. I’m giving this a strong 8/10, loosing a little on small qualms, but nothing major.

We’ve wrapped up the past and are now looking to the future in Phantom Stranger. I’m ready, how about you?

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Review: Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #12

After the events of Trinity War, what has happened to the Phantom Stranger? He was erased from existence by Zauriel at the end of last issue, two months ago. It was a longer wait than usual, but at the end of the day it was worth it. This post will contain some Spoilers

There is nothing. White space. No consciousness. In his last moments, the Stranger was happy to be erased. However, the dog/voice/God has more in mind. He brings the Stranger back, appearing together in Philip Stark’s house. Even the dog/voice/God isn’t so sure why the Stranger was ready to sacrifice everything for Doctor Light, and Batman and Superman, but he rewards the Stranger by taking two of his coins. That seems like a nice reward. Oh, and then he tells the Stranger that the reclamation of two souls is what will ultimately lead him closer to his redemption.

Meanwhile, Chris is having a bad day. Chris? Remember him? He’s the babysitter who was killed by the Sin Eater, and then brought back from heaven by the Stranger. He hasn’t had a terribly huge personality until this issue. More on that later.

Anyway, Chris’ family realizes he’s different, though they don’t know why. They’re scared of him, subconsciously at any rate. He goes to his room, and then walks through the wall and ends up with the Stranger at his house. Chris talks about the weird stuff that has been happening, and even the Stranger notices how he’s different. The Stranger doesn’t much care, and least not yet, at heads off to visit someone.

Who? Dr. 13, the man who murdered him back in issue 7. Thirteen’s already killed himself out of grief and shame, but Chris, who uses his strange new powers to follow the Stranger, heals the good Doctor.

PhantomStranger#13_1 PhantomStranger#13_2

The Stranger knows that it was the Question manipulating Thirteen, and so he forgives him. The three, using Chris’ warping powers, travel to Thirteen’s nice penthouse, because he’s apparently really rich. Family money sure is nice.

Chris, having family problems, asks if he can stay, which Thirteen is thrilled to allow, as just a small part of repaying his life-save. But, of course, the Stranger leaves. He wonders if Thirteen and Chris are the two souls that are intertwined with his redemption. After all, they are all three men who died and came back, in a manner of speaking.

He returns to his (Philip Stark’s) house…..but the Sin Eater, and the dog Non, having set it on fire. The Stranger mourns in the burning house…..

I’m excited for next month’s issue, with the Question. Also, the news regarding the Stranger’s appearance in, and the series’ crossing over with, Forever Evil: Blight. It should be really exciting!

Anyway, the art in this issue is as great as it has been lately. These past issues have had some great artwork, and the current creative team is killing it.

Overall, this was actually a pretty good issue for jumping on if you haven’t been following the series, and if you haven’t, I cannot stress how highly I suggest you jump on. This is one of the best, small and unknown series DC has right now. We finally saw the plot lines from several months ago, even from the issues near the start of the series, connect with the more recent events. It seems like Chris and Dr. 13, if not necessarily during Forever Evil: Blight, will become more interesting supporting characters. Thirteen’s been good so far, and he wasn’t a disappointment this issue. Chris wasn’t really anything yet. Sure he was killed, and that upped the stakes for the Stranger’s search for his family. It was also a very saddening moment when the Stranger couldn’t bring his family back, made happier when he saved Chris, but he still wasn’t really a character. In this issue, we finally saw what he was like, and it was promising. He seems like he could have some great potential, especially with his mysterious powers post-resurrection.

The point is, things are really looking good for the series. As I’ve said, you should really start reading this series if you’re not. I love what they’re doing, and the direction the series is heading. The Forever Evil: Blight crossover looks interesting, and if you’re reading Forever Evil, it might be a good time to pick up Phantom Stranger if you haven’t already.

Anyway, I give this a very strong 8/10. The throw away comment about the moon being moved seemed like it was just so they could officially label this issue as Forever Evil. It messed with the flow a little too much for me. Also, with so much of the focus of this issue on Thirteen’s murder of the Stranger and the Question’s responsibility, it seemed like adding the Sin Eater and Non was a little too much, and just to remind us that they’re still around. Not a huge complaint, but it felt a little unnecessary.

So, until next month, are you excited? That is the Question…

Review: Villains Month

Hey there! Sorry for the long delay in reviews, but here’s a quick little recap of the issues I read from Villains Month, and what I thought of them. Don’t worry, a review of Forever Evil #1 and #2 are coming! Some Spoilers will follow…

Batman 23.1 The Joker #1

Honestly, this issue was just awful. I absolutely hated it. It follows the Joker as he raises a gorilla to be his partner-in-crime. With the popularity of the Joker, DC had a real chance to showcase the best the New 52 has to offer, instead we got a poorly written story that has little to no relevance to anything else. I give it, 2/10, and it’s really close to a 1. Even if you’re a big fan of the Joker, I wouldn’t bother reading it.

Batman and Robin #23.2 Two-Face #1

On the contrary, Two-Face #1 was fantastic. It went far beyond my expectations. We receive a brilliant tale of Two-Face during the chaos of Forever Evil. He flips his coin, the ultimate master, and decides whether to save Gotham or make it burn. The duality of Two-Face is mastered here, and it becomes a real treat to see him in action. After this issue I truly hope to see more on him in Forever Evil, perhaps putting his allegiance to the Crime Syndicate or Luthor up to a coin toss. I give this, 9/10.

Batman #23.2 The Riddler #1

The Riddler issue was exactly what I hoped for, nothing more or less than a perfect character study in the Riddler. It wasn’t a perfect comic, but it didn’t need to be. It gave us the Riddler we wanted. Unlike Two-Face, he doesn’t really get involved in the events Forever Evil, instead using it as a time to get a little revenge, show off his impressive intellect, and then sit around and wait for Batman to inevitably come back. His riddles were fun and thought provoking, and his ultimate choice to wait things out was great. I give this, 8/10.

Batman and Robin #23.2 The Court of Owls #1

This comic was a little less than I’d hoped for, but about what I expected it would be. It did do a good job of weaving the history of the Court into their reaction to the events of Forever Evil. It was a really good one-shot issue until the final page, which read way too much like an ad for Talon than I wanted to see. It left me with an unhappy ending, which a comic should never do. That said, it was still fun, and worth the read for anyone following Talon, and for anyone who really enjoyed the original Court of Owls arc in Batman. I give it, 6/10.

Aquaman #23.1 Black Manta #1

Despite how much I enjoyed Two-Face, when this came out I believed it couldn’t be surpassed in Villains Month. I was pleasantly surprised later when it was, but that doesn’t diminish the masterpiece of this issue. A true tie-in to Forever Evil, we see how Black Manta reacts physically, mentally, and emotionally to the current events. He uses his incredible skills, wins Aquaman’s trident, and decides to turn his wrath upon the Crime Syndicate at the end. I am truly excited to see him in Forever Evil, and I have no doubt he will be a force not to underestimate, as he fights the Syndicate, hopefully allied with Luthor. An absolutely incredible issue, I give this a strong 9/10.

Justice League of America #7.2 Killer Frost #1

Yes, this issue was mostly an origin, but I still enjoyed it. Killer Frost looks to be an interesting character, who’s more concerned with becoming human again than being a villain. Her reactions at the end to the loss of Firestorm and her only chance at becoming human really set things up for an interesting plot line in Forever Evil. I believe she will be showing up in Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S., and I am far more excited to see her after reading this issue than I was before. A solid, if not perfect issue, I give it, 7/10.

Aquaman #23.2 Ocean Master #1

While not quite as good as Black Manta, Ocean Master was an enjoyable read. We see him making his way, by physical force if necessary, back to the ocean. And Ocean Master is not afraid to use physical force, although he can hardly be considered a villain. Ocean Master is the leader of a foreign nation, who is using this as a chance to return there. He’s not so different from Aquaman after all though. A woman asks him for help saving her eight year old son, but he refuses. After reaching the water, he does decide that “eight is too young” and heads back to help her. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in Forever Evil, although with Black Manta being a key player I don’t really expect it. That said, I’m content with this issue, and will just keep on waiting until he returns in Justice League or Aquaman. I give this, 8/10.

Batman #23.4 Bane #1

I was pretty excited for Bane, but I really hoped it wouldn’t be an origin story. It wasn’t (!) and although it didn’t quite reach what I’d hoped for, it was a very good read, especially for those that are fans of the character. We see Bane not caring to work with, or against, the Crime Syndicate, instead focusing only on Gotham. With Batman gone, he wants to take the city as a whole, instead of dividing it up as Scarecrow, Ivy, and others are doing. He sets off to make his vision a reality, with just enough of his origin and history (e.g. breaking Batman) sprinkled in to keep it interesting. It did feel a little too much like an ad for Forever Evil: Arkham War, but I didn’t mind too much, as that does tie-in to Bane’s reactions to the events. I give it, 7/10.

Justice League #23.4 Secret Society #1

This was, to me, the best issue of Villains Month. The worst thing about this issue was the name, because this is not about the Secret Society. It is about Owlman and Alfred of Earth 3. If you accept that it is really Owlman #1 or The Outsider #1, then it becomes a fantastic tale. We see Owlman and Alfred going against the Joker of Earth 3, a man who’s not as crazy as he might seem, but certainly no hero either. Talon, the Dick Grayson of their world, was killed by the Joker, and Owlman doesn’t react too well. We see why The Outsider looks the way he does and laughs the way he does, and we start to understand what makes Owlman, Owlman. We don’t get the full story, but we get enough for now. Plus, we see that Owlman wants to take our Nightwing and turn him to their side, in the present.

This issue gave me hope for Owlman, that he just might be as good as or better than the great Owlman of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. More than Two-Face or Black Manta, this issue really made me excited for the rest of Forever Evil. I give it a strong 9/10, and it’s very close to a 10. A couple of scenes have some confusing dialogue and artwork, and with a few other small nitpicks it doesn’t quite make a 10, but it is very good and worth the read.

 

So there you go. Did I miss any great issues? What were you favorites? And keep an eye out for Forever Evil.

Review: Justice League #23

The finale to Trinity War is here! This issue certainly has it’s fair share of problems, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. On the contrary, this was quite a strong end to Trinity War, explaining much of what needed to be explained. The fact is, it does tie-in to Forever Evil, but we already knew that would happen, honestly, and it was handled very well for the most part. This post, of course, will contain Spoilers…

The issue starts with the tale of The Outsider. During the Darkseid attack, of issues 1-6 way back in the beginning, the barriers between universes were weak. He, along with a woman, escaped into this Earth. He studied, learning how everything was different, and slowly recruited the League’s enemies into the Secret Society. He planted a mole in the JL, and waited for the confrontation between the Leagues to happen. It did, and he tricked the world into believing Supes killed Dr. Light.

Flash to, Superman’s group arriving at the Temple. They’ve traced Batman here, and are presumably coming to support him. J’onn’s telepathy is being blocked, which means at least The Outsider is here. Diana’s team shows up too, and they all head on in.

Meanwhile, Vibe’s got a killer headache, meaning something from a different universe is around. Bad stuff. Madame X is explaining about Pandora’s box being a doorway…..

Hold on here. Yes, that’s right, the reveal of The Outsider announcing it was a doorway is never mentioned. He was, apparently, just whispering that to himself in the shadows, or something weird. That bothered me.

Anyway, Johnny boy thinks all the capes should leave, they can’t handle that little dark voice in their heads. The box, however, has other plans. The heroes begin fighting, and the Supes/Diana parties join in. The more the merrier, right? Constantine is, as before, fine, and I got the impression Batman was too. I’d like to think so, as he’s very used to that dark voice whispering to him to do evil. Y’know, why not kill the Joker? Exactly.

Firestorm blasts Johnny, Frankenstein does cool stuff. Steve Trevor decides he doesn’t really care what happens to Superman, after all, he took Diana away. Bats gets the box, which leads to a really nice moment between him and Baz. Why? Because it’s almost exactly the preview from the Free Comic Book Day issue of 2012. Sure, there are some tweaks they’ve made since then, but who can blame them? The fact that they get it in so smoothly here is really impressive. Of course, this leads to…

JL_fights

JLs_Fighting

See the similarity though? (In case you can’t tell, the first is from the Free Comic Book Day issue, while the second is from JL #23). Obviously this one has more characters, and such. It’s a very well done scene, with one glaring problem…

“What?” you may ask.

Mera.” I would answer.

“Who?” you may ask.

Exactly.”

Mera hasn’t appeared at all in Trinity War. Then she’s in the picture. Why? She’s not. It’s J’onn. He follows up by using his green muscle arm on Aquaman. I, however, hate this. There’s no point. Unless you’ve followed the Aquaman series, you probably don’t know who Mera is. Yes, she was in Throne of Atlantis, but that is a big stretch. Honestly, this feels like there was a change in script here. At some point, Mera was supposed to appear, but when she was written out or whatever, they decided to leave her in the picture, but make it J’onn.

If that’s not what the writers intended, then they executed this very poorly. There are only a few big negatives I have for this issue, this is one of them.

Anyway, Deadman says he’s got “muscles” when attacking Shazam, The Question wonders if by opening the box he might learn who he is, Pandora thinks that would be bad. Fun stuff. Diana wants to destroy the box, and then Supes is there. But he’s sick. And he’s really crazed now.

“And after I die what will you do? Will you go back to Steve? Or will you go to Batman?

Jealous much Supes? The three of them fight, with Superman claiming he won’t stop until Batman is dead…..not good. Giving it a little thought here, it does appear like Diana might
not be under the sway of the box anymore. She, like Constantine and Batman, appears to be acting fairly logically, more so than she has at most other points so far in Trinity War.

She hits Superman. Hard. Really hard. The bad news: Superman is really hurting. The good news: the box has gone dormant for the moment. Now, Diana wonders why the box is hurting him, but not the rest of them.

Enter Firestorm, stage right.

He notices that, as he made some for Waller, there is a Kryptonite radioactive aura coming from Superman. Element Woman turns into oxygen, enters his bloodstream, then traces the dying cells to their source. What is it? It’s in his brain. How did a microscopic sliver of Kryptonite get in his brain? Good question. Cyborg asks the same thing.

“Oh, that’s an easy question to answer, Cyborg. I put it there. When we were going up against the JLA–I went into Superman’s brain with the sliver of Kryptonite I took from Batman’s ring. I hit a nerve…and triggered his heat vision. I know you thought I was part of the Justice League–and the JLA thinks I work for them, but the truth is I don’t work for any of you.”

Who? The Atom. She’s the spy. She’s come off as scared, shy, and wanting to help. In reality, that was all an act. She is vicious, calculating, and evil. To be honest, I didn’t think she was the spy. I wasn’t really sure who it was, but I didn’t think it was her. They handled it very well, and this was the second best surprise of the issue (of the three big surprises).

But wait….wow.

JL#23_Spy

JL#23_Cyborg

Grid_On-line

Wow. What just happened!? This was the best reveal of the issue. I totally did not see this coming, and it was shocking. I was amazed when I saw this happen. What does it mean for Cyborg? Well, Baz quickly encased his body in a protective energy shield, but Victor’s not in a good shape. He’s not dead, but he’s not nearly at his best, especially considering he removed his last lung during the Throne of Atlantis…..oops.

The Outsider steps out (for real this time, apparently) and despite Flash’s efforts, he starts to activate the box. Pandora doesn’t understand, but The Outsider does the heroes (and the readers) a favor by explaining. Pandora’s box isn’t magic at all, it’s science. It opens something very similar to a boom tube, to his universe, the birthplace of evil.

“All this time you were looking for who was behind this…as you say on your world…THE BUTLER DID IT.”

The portal opens. Someone comes through….Aquaman? With long hair? A hook?

What? 😉

He dies.

Catwoman voices what everyone is thinking, “Batman? Who is that? What the hell is going on?” But Bats is busy trying to keep Cyborg alive. And yet, Pandora realizes the box has been destroyed. Madame Xanadu speaks up.

“But evil hasn’t been imprisoned, Pandora. Only unleashed! The Trinity…it wasn’t about you…it was the number…the true number of evil. Three. EARTH THREE.

Yes. Though, the “Sea-King” didn’t make it…

Crime_Syndicate

The Crime Syndicate of Earth 3. “Atomica”, not really named the Atom, races to “Johnny Quick”. The Outsider, or “Alfred”, welcomes Thomas, or “Owlman”. “Power Ring” is concerned about whether it is safe, but “Deathstorm” claims the world is not dangerous to them.

Atomica explains that Grid is a sentient computer virus from this earth, who has agreed to work with them. (Note: He’s probably the one who turned off A.R.G.U.S. security a couple issues ago.) “Superwoman” points out that their prisoner is probably their biggest concern, but as to who it is? Someone from Earth 3…I have my theories, and I’m sure other people do too. I won’t say who I think it might be now, that’s more relevant to Forever Evil next month, I’m guessing.

And so the issue ends. Superman is dying, Cyborg is dying, and the Crime Syndicate charges the disorganized leagues.

So, the art in this issue? Pretty stellar. There are no complaints about the art from me. I love the designs they have for the Crime Syndicate and Grid. I showed several panels above, and in particular the spread of Superman attacking Green Lantern is very good. Another little scene I liked was during The Outsider’s exposition at the beginning, when it shows the Justice League fighting with J’onn. I love the little bits we get of them together. I love how they act, but also how they look, when lined up with the Martian Manhunter.

Overall, this issue? I liked it, quite a bit. Obviously, it’s not a perfect book-end to Trinity War, but it explains the mystery of Pandora’s box, and why Superman killed Dr. Light. Those were the two big things in Trinity War. Basically, you can’t look at Trinity War as you would look at Forever Evil. Forever Evil is an event. It should, and probably will, have a fairly defined beginning and end. Trinity War is just a crossover arc. As a finale to that, this issue was strong. I had a couple of issues, like The Outsider thing from last issue, and Mera….but there were some great parts too, especially the reveal of the Atom and Grid. I give this a strong 8/10.

If you didn’t get the appearance of the Crime Syndicate spoiled for you by the DC press releases (which I thought was a really poor choice), was it surprising? Until next time, I thought this was a successful finish, and beginning. I’m certainly looking forward to Forever Evil, how about you?

Review: Justice League Dark #23

The penultimate chapter of Trinity War is here! Not only is it action-packed, but we finally start to get answers and push forward in the story. Also, more characters get screen-time, which is awesome. You’d better believe this post is going to have Spoilers, because a lot of great things happened.

The issue starts with a captive Madame Xanadu catching up the audience on what’s happened (A.R.G.U.S. headquarters bombed, Phantom Stranger gone, Constantine beaten by Shazam, fighting over Pandora’s box).

Then we start at a run. Wonder Woman is fighting with the box, against Hawkman, Aquaman, Stargirl, Zatanna, Frankenstein, and Pandora…with Lex Luthor kinda just around. When suddenly….Shazam comes down (minor problem here, his head looks way too small in the panel where he first appears, but looks fine from then on). He beats on Wonder Woman and takes the box….Shazam!

JLD#23_Shazam JLD#23_Shazam2

At the House of Mystery, Deadman felt that one.

“I mean I could feel everyone… Zatanna, Constantine, even some guy with a gold helmet I’d never seen before. …And that new guy, Shazam. Him most of all. I sensed him at the heart of it all.”

Batman asks about Xanadu, and Deadman thinks he’s found her. So following the advice of the Phantom Stranger, they head off.

Back at A.R.G.U.S. headquarters, the heroes of Superman’s group push out of the rubble. Dr. Light did explode, according to Cyborg, and it was Element Woman who surrounded them all in hard metal, protecting them. Nice touch. Green Arrow gets some more nice moments here, just added to my new desire for him to join the regular JL once this is all done. He confronts Waller, and though she claims she had nothing to do with Dr. Light’s death, he keeps her at arrow point while J’onn stays with Supes and Element Woman, Atom, Firestorm, and Cyborg start search and rescue.

During the middle of this, Firestorm did mention that he’d made Kryptonite for Waller. I’m pretty sure this is going to come into play.

Back to Diana’s group. Luthor’s snide remarks are perfectly in character, and speaking of characters….Frankenstein finally steps up and does stuff. Easily taking out Shazam and getting the box. Of course he’s not actually strong enough to withstand the box, so the fighting continues. The others are feeling the power now, corrupted without even holding it.

Zatanna uses her magic to protect Stargirl, and then…

JLD#23_Zatanna

This doesn’t last forever, and while Pandora and Zatanna try to protect the box, Stargirl gives in too, and while defending herself from Frankenstein, Hawkman and Stargirl, Zatanna is hit by Diana (Pandora was too busy with Shazam). But wait…

JLD#23_MissMe

Johnny boy may not be the purest of heart, or the darkest, but the box doesn’t affect him the same way. The two of them escape in a flash, but they appear at the Temple of Hephaestus, not London. They feel someone near them…or perhaps underneath them. A bunker, with Madame X.

But they’re not alone. An absolutely beautiful page of Batman’s group arriving and joining them. A little conflict, but unlike the rest of the issue, they don’t fight and work together instead. That is the reason this issue works. The one group is fighting because of the box, but the others have moved on. They are all working for the same goal, and more importantly, they realize that now.

JLD#23_Doorway

But wait, that’s not all. The box isn’t a prison, it’s a…doorway?

“She’s right. It is a doorway…” the Outsider proclaims as he steps out of the shadows, “…AND NOW IT’S TIME TO OPEN IT.

Of course, if you’ve read the spoilers Geoff Johns released, you probably have a pretty good idea where this is going. If you haven’t, then don’t read it. Do yourself a favor and be surprised.

Anyway. This was a great issue. I can see why some people might feel like it is still just heroes fighting, but it’s far more subtle than that. It works because the heroes fought at first, but they aren’t now (as seen by Zatanna and John, not instantly attacking Batman, Deadman, etc., and vice versa). Diana and the rest are only fighting because of the box, which makes it all the more interesting.

The artwork was absolutely fantastic again. I went really heavy on the pages I put in this review, but that’s because it is amazing. You could practically put any panel from the issue as a showcase (save the first one with Shazam, which was off as I mentioned). From the changes when characters hold the box, to Batman and Deadman arriving for Xanadu, to Xanadu herself and Waller (both of whom are disheveled and beaten), to the determination of Zatanna, Pandora, and Green Arrow…I could go on. The art alone is well worth the price of the issue.

Luckily, it isn’t just the art alone. We finally followed the leads from last issue, and the story moved on. We know what the box is. We still don’t know why Superman killed Light, but you really get the feeling that we’re going to learn. Overall, this was fantastic. If I were to rank the strictly Trinity War issues so far from least to most favorite, it would be: JLA #6, JLA #7, JL #22, JLD #22, JLD #23. Yes, I’m giving this another 10/10. The story progressed well, it made sense, and it was intelligently executed. The art does nothing but add to the issue. Hats off to the creative team, they’ve worked another masterpiece.

Maybe you didn’t like this issue the way I did, and maybe you’ve got very different feelings about Trinity War so far. I’d love to hear your thoughts on both. Until next week, anyone know who that “guy with a gold helmet” was? I hope he’s fated to return. 🙂

Review: Constantine #6

Constantine #6 is a little more enjoyable than the Trinity War tie-in was, but if you’re expecting John to be battling hundreds of souls he’s wronged, don’t get too excited. While comic book covers aren’t meant to show exactly what happens in an issue, they are usually meant to give some idea. Constantine #6’s cover shows him with many souls, battling against those he wronged, but that doesn’t really happen. Flipping beyond that cover is still worth it, though, especially towards the end. This post will contain some Spoilers…

We pick up right where we left off. Constantine is in Lloyd’s bar, and he’s dying from his battle with the demon. Lloyd’s tried to contact Zatanna, but she’s busy (as we know from Trinity War). Over all of this, Constantine is explaining “Metamorphosis in Extremis” a concept where mages and magic users face life-threatening situations and the first time, second time, and so on the percentage of survivors drops. A lot. And Johnny boy’s on his third.

Meanwhile he’s fighting in spirit form with the spirit of Chris (his friend who died in issue #1). They fight, but Constantine’s winning, until Chris bring’s out his new “friends”.

Sargon the Sorceress and Mister E. go to Tannarak, during some ritual that calls on the power of the Archangels. They send Tannarak after Constantine, and he sends a large number of demon-like agents to The Joint (Llyod’s bar). This is the only interesting part of the issue. Llyod fights them off with his shotgun, but is outnumber, until Papa Midnite shows up and helps him defeat the rest.

While all that is happening, Chris’ spirit is taken away by Cold Flame Eliminators, and Constantine wonders why. He does then convince Midnite to save him, and John’s back in action. However, Tannarak found his residence, and now has all of his magical stuff.

That’s it.

The art in this issue isn’t bad, at all. But there are no great panels. There aren’t any terrible panels either, but you’d hope for something a little more impressive.

All in all, this was an off issue. It wasn’t that good story wise, and it felt more like an extended attempt to fit the Trinity War tie-in into the main story. It works, but not incredibly. I did really enjoy the appearance of Papa Midnite again, but it did little to rectify the issue. Minimum story, not great art, I’m going to give it 6/10 and really hope this was just a one issue slip-up and that come October (Constantine has no Villain’s Month issue), it’ll be better.

 

Review: Justice League of America #7

So, the next issue of Trinity War is here! After a brief hiatus which brought us the amazing Phantom Stranger tie-in we are back in action. Sadly, it was not nearly as good as the previous Justice League Dark #22, and felt more like the slightly disappointing JLA #6. Fear not, it still has enjoyable moments. This post will contain some Spoilers. So…

This issue starts with an imprisoned Lex Luthor. His lawyers or something are explaining that they’re going to get him out of prison. Does he care? No. He’s busy reading the Daily Planet that talks about Superman killing Dr. Light. He doesn’t think for a moment that Supes did it though. No, he’s a bit jealous, but more curious. He fires all his staff there as they pester him in a beautiful Luthor moment, followed by his utter disregard of Pandora appearing out of no where.

“Whoever you are, if you’re counting on me to react with shock and awe that you’ve appeared out of thin air, prepare to be disappointed. I’ve seen a man fly.”

Pandora, having failed with Vandal Savage in Pandora #2, believes that Luthor may be the darkest of heart, with a chance to open the box. Can he?

We change to someone inside the A.R.G.U.S. morgue. She’s speaking with the Outsider (the leader of the Secret Society) and says that their “friend” has taken off the security. She does something to Dr. Light’s body, followed by “Plastique out”. We all know what that means.

Meanwhile, Dr. Psycho is about to make some prisoners, or “ugly people”, kill each other, or “do ugly things”. However, J’onn arrives with Firestorm, Arrow, Atom, Element Woman, Cyborg and the Question. Element Woman, Atom, and Firestorm work together to free the prisoners. Psycho attempts to call for extraction, but apparently he’s been abandoned. Supes shows up, and though Psycho gets the drop on him J’onn attacks his mind.

Outside the House of Mystery Baz is unable to force entry. Flash has a beautiful moment here where he slips out “Hal could do it.” This helps to show that Barry and Hal do have a strong past, and Hal hasn’t been forgotten. Vibe too is unable, but Catwoman manages to get inside by simply asking the House to unlock.

Inside, they use the mirror to locate the Phantom Stranger (see the Phantom Stranger #11 tie-in). He sends Batman, Deadman and Katana back to them, although he is unable to return, as we know.

J’onn learns that Psycho didn’t do anything. He was set up by the Secret Society. The Question suggests that the Society may still be behind it. The Atom confesses about spying, and why the JLA was formed. Green Arrow explains he didn’t know, while the Manhunter claims he had his reasons, but he did it to protect the Earth. Finally, Superman demands they return to Waller, to see if she might be behind it.

Pandora is about to give Luthor the box, but Wonder Woman and her team show up. (Several things happen on the last few pages, but I’ll go one group at a time.) Wonder Woman takes the box and attempts to open it, but it posses her, or something….bad. That’s the real end.

Meanwhile, the Stranger has told Batman to find Madame Xanadu.

Superman and his group return to A.R.G.U.S. but Dr. Light detonates at the command of the Outsider. (Thanks to Plastique).

And with those things done, that’s where we’re left. Diana possessed, Bats going to look for Madame X, and Superman in the midst of an explosion. One of the last pages is really nice.

JLA#7

The artwork in this issue is pretty good. There are several great panels, including the couple at the beginning with Luthor, and a lot of the last pages. Some of the middle parts with J’onn, Psycho and Supes vary in quality, but it’s never horrendous.

Overall, this isn’t a terrible issue, but it isn’t amazing either. Considering there are only two issues left, the plot really didn’t move forward enough. All that really happened was that all three teams have something to react to now, instead of all the dead ends. It wasn’t bad, so much as it wasn’t great or memorable. I give it 7/10, like last JLA. I’m still looking forward to the next JLD issue, especially because of how much I liked the last one.

So, who is the evil behind the evil? The plot may not have advanced far this issue, but the end is coming.