This summer’s massive DC crossover event, Trinity War, is still a ways off, but unsurprisingly a story which had its seeds planted two years ago isn’t waiting until an official start to kick off. Scrolling through solicits I noticed that this week’s issue of Justice League claimed to be part of the “Prologue to Trinity War,” and a quick search revealed that issues 19 & 20 were Parts 1 and 2 thereof. So of course I immediately read them.
Despite how impactful this event is allegedly going to be, it only affects one portion of the DCnU directly, the Justice League portion, comprised of the standard book, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark. Amusingly enough, with the exception of my endeavors to learn more about Pandora, I’ve not read any of these books. Coupled with my general dearth of knowledge of DC’s past and major players, this could either greatly enhance or detract from my enjoyment of the event and the usefulness of my observations for other people. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Justice League #19
Prologue to Trinity War, Chapter One: War Games; Shazam! Chapter 11
Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Gary Frank, Joe Prado
A mysterious figure attacks Jason Todd and Alfred while they are discussing Damian’s death in the batcave. Considering that, it’s pretty clearly not Batman, but the guy looks and dresses very similarly to the Dark Knight (with some nifty red goggles), shares his fingerprints and retinas, and knows his way around the batcave’s most intimate portions. He (or, possibly, she) has come to steal something with which to harm Superman, likely kryptonite-based (judging from the green glow coming from the case when it’s cracked open).
The remainder of the main story deals with two narrative threads: Atom & Firestorm meet up at the Watchtower, ostensibly for a Justice League recruitment meeting, only to find the station oddly empty (and later under attack). Diana and Clark, who can’t date like normal people, sneak off into Kahndaqi to liberate some hostages and end up on the news accused of being American spies breaching International agreements. Bruce is less than thrilled, and reveals that he knows they’ve been dating.
The backup is chapter 11 of 13 of Shazam’s background story, which of course means I was quite lost as to who all Billy’s friends were or what the Rock of Eternity they were trying to get to is. The lady in the mirror — Francesca — endeavors to explain to Billy the danger he faces in his dark opposite, Black Adam, but before she can properly do so he impulsively rushes off to confront him.
It’s hard to say which of these threads will play into the upcoming event; possibly all of them.
Justice League #20
Prologue to Trinity War, Chapter Two: Secrets; Shazam! Chapter 12
Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Gene Ha, Joe Prada
The issue begins with Emily “Element Woman” Sung, whom I adored in Flashpoint and am thrilled to see back in some capacity. It seems quite appropriate that her appearance begin with a ridiculous order at a fast food drive-thru, complete with The Atom’s narration speculating on the chicken/egg aspect of her mental instability. The Atom is the POV character for this issue, and for good reason: she has a pretty big secret which she is hiding from the Justice League, one which is creating great conflict for her and leads to a few conversations with herself which are reminiscent of the other new Justice League recruit, Firestorm (turns out he’s actually two people in one, a jock combined with a nerd).
The three characters’ mental states make great material for an attack from Despero — a powerful psychic — and later an appearance from everyone’s favorite terrifyingly-powered green guy, Martian Manhunter. The fight takes a major toll on the Watchtower, which is particularly interesting when one considers there isn’t much time between now and the coming war and lacking that eye in the sky is such a disadvantage that it’s hard to imagine taking it out wasn’t the intention.
Elsewhere the Justice League members discuss the break-in at the Batcave and Bruce shows Clark his secret JL-containment collection. It’s a striking scene which provided me with a new respect for Wonder Woman and the relationship between her and Superman (not the romance, though…I still hate that).
The backup, solicited as the penultimate part of Billy’s backstory, involves Black Adam showing Billy his past, who he is, and the lengths to which he is willing to go to destroy anyone he perceives to be oppressive. Billy’s friends arrive just in time to provide a diversion, resulting in a cliffhanger that leaves their lives and Shazam’s future in a precarious position.
The prologue to Trinity War continues in Justice League of America #5. I’ll admit, I’d sort of sworn off the book after seeing a solicit with a casket on the front cover. I’m not a fan of death in comics and I’m even less of a fan of death in an early issue of a comic. The setup also has me very worried, because I’ve come to actually like all of the characters I’ve met thus far and seeing any of them killed off would be a bit of a disappointment (especially Emily, because she’s sweet). Someone’s death is going to trigger Trinity War. I guess I’m just going to have to accept it may be someone I don’t want to see dead.