Free Comic Book Day was last Saturday – you may have missed it in Avengers hysteria, but it happened, and in the midst of it, we got a big piece of the Pandora puzzle. Not the internet radio app, but the mystery woman who had a hand in creating the New 52 universe out of the Flashpoint world and the old DCU and the WildStorm universe. She was in the background of every #1 issue of the New 52, and she had some backstory revealed in Justice League #6, and now we've got a lot more on her, and a definitive origin for The Phantom Stranger for the first time ever…. not to mention a brand new/old version of The Question. This ain't Renee Montoya anymore.
This is our first look at The Trinity War, DC's big event that's not happening until next year, apparently. Hell of a lot of lead time, then. This FCBD The New 52 issue informs us that the war is not between the members of the Trinity – aka Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman – but rather "The Trinity of Sin," as they are so deemed by The Circle of Eternity, which looks as though it'll have plenty to do with wherever Geoff Johns is going with Shazam. Johns wrote this issue as well, with solid art from Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Kenneth Rocafort and Gene Ha.
The Trinity of Sin consists of Pandora, who is apparently the actual Pandora from the legend of Pandora's Box, who weeps before the Circle because she doesn't understand what she did wrong in opening the box and letting loose the "terrors of man." Regardless, she is banished to an eternity of loneliness for centuries. Her 'evil' is judged the same as the man who speaks angrily in defiance of the Circle's authority, promising to rise to power once again – only to be sentenced to "forever question your identity and forever search for answers you will never find." His face is wiped blank, he's cursed to forget his own name, and banished. He's The Question, and now he has some crazy magical eternal hoodoo about him instead of just being an oddball who looked at everything very differently than most people.
Then there's the man who would be sentenced to become The Phantom Stranger. In the past, this guy has always been enigmatic, with no set origin to maintain that enigma, but now… it appears he's Judas Iscariot. The actual Biblical Judas. "Pleaze, wizard! All of you," the black haired man begs. "Forgive me as he would!" Then it is deemed he's beyond forgiveness. "Your greed has forever darkened the world." And then what appear to be thirty pieces of silver fly from one of the council's hands and wrap around his neck like a chain, turning his hair white and sending him to his fate as well. Is Johns going to work actual Christian mythology into the history of Shazam and the DCnU? Is he really going to get Judeo-Christian on us in the midst of all these mystical deities? On one hand, it's very curious, and on the other hand, The Phantom Stranger is much less interesting as a character now.
Anyway, Pandora is in the present day, searching for that Box of hers again, and where she doesn't find it, science nerds (including Cyborg's father) somehow get a glimpse of the Earth 2 universe, which might mean we'll get a crossover down the line, and apparently she's a walking window to other dimensions or something. Then she finds it by swiping it out from under the nose of Steve Trevor, and she's planning to "deal" with it.
Cut to the near future, a strange new Green Lantern (the lighting on it is weird, but he looks to be a black man, and if the Justice League has never allowed other members, might this be John Stewart's introduction to the League?), and this:
Obviously, this massive splash page is meant to make us go 'what now?' There's Vibe on one side, and what is apparently Black Adam – but given how much of a dick Billy Batson is now, maybe that's really Shazam – and we've got Element Woman from Flashpoint on the scene, not to mention an Atom of some kind or another. Will it be Ray Palmer or Ryan Choi? And why's Deadman on the scene?
That's all this is meant to do – make us ask questions. So it's hard to really review this as a story. Instead, it just makes us go 'uh, ooookay.' And lament the new origins of The Question and The Phantom Stranger. These ain't the guys we knew. Maybe it'll be cool, but judging by Johns' New 52 work that isn't Aquaman, we're not betting on it.
However, it does gain points for being free.