It’s Trinity War tie-in time! Is it a good read on its own? Does it advance the Trinity War story? Is it worth your time and money?

Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11 is definitely the best of the tie-ins so far, it’s not a terrific read on its own because you absolutely do need to know what happened in Justice League Dark #22 and Justice League #22 in order to follow along, and as for advancing the story? Well… yes and no.

Yes, issue #11 of the Phantom Stranger’s continued adventures actually feels like an important piece to the puzzle. Constantine’s tie-in came close by showing what exactly Constantine wanted with Shazam, but all the other key players were absent from that comic. This one on the other hand features all the members of Batman’s crew who decided at the end of Justice League Dark to track down the spirit of Dr. Light in the afterlife and ask him if he knew anything they didn’t. It’s… it’s not the best plan! Basically Batman and his team are so desperate that they are tracking down the ghost of a man who was shot in the head to ask him “Do you remember anything else in particular happening in that split second before Superman melted you from the crown to the collarbone?” His answer is basically what you would expect. So while the central story here isn’t all that great, it does indeed show us what happened with 1/3 of the heroes who were embarking on their own journeys at the end of Trinity War Chapter 3 and I think that’s worth applauding. It’s a tie-in that actually ties in and doesn’t just borrow a character, name drop the event, and then go about its usual business in the hopes of picking up new readers.

But while we don’t gain all that much traction on the main Trinity War plot, something major does happen to The Phantom Stranger in this story so I think fans of this ongoing series get rewarded for putting up with a crossover for sure.

Spoiler
And hey, maybe Phantom Stranger getting blasted to oblivion will actually play a major part in the bigger Trinity War story! Who knows? I just doubt it because I think if it really was a vital piece of the story it would’ve been used in one of the real chapters instead of a tie-in.
And the thing that readers spilling over from Trinity War will most enjoy is the personal elements within this book. In their voyage to the afterlife, both Batman and Kitana witness their own personal heaven. Want to know what Batman’s idea of heaven is? This is apparently it. It’s heartwarming, but at the same time it doesn’t really fit Batman’s current mindset in his own ongoing comics. For more on that I’ll have to take you to spoiler country:
Spoiler
Bruce’s heaven is being a child again. His parents didn’t die and he’s basking in the warm glow of the Wayne Manor fireplace with his mom while his father reads some Charles Dickens. It’s a sweet moment for sure. However, during the trip to the afterlife and even when The Phantom Stranger brings up the idea of trying to bring Dr. Light back to life– Batman never once mentions Damian! I found it really odd that his idea of heaven wasn’t to see his son again and I also found it odd that Batman wouldn’t take this opportunity to seek out Damian’s soul and bring him back to the mortal plane as well.
Another problem with Batman was that I felt that his voice was wrong. There was one line that, while it was a good line, it wasn’t the right fit for Batman. Something like “That’s insane! …I like it!” That’s simply something I have a hard time imagining Batman saying. Another line that stood out was when The Phantom Stranger was explaining to the group– as they walked–how the afterlife works as Batman cut him off with something like “I don’t care about answers! I’m here for results!” But to me it felt like Stranger was telling Batman some really, really important info and Batman would’ve been all ears. Then again, maybe the New 52 Batman still hasn’t learned to mind his surroundings.

I thought Fernando Blanco did a fine job. The way Batman stroked the mirror when looking at the bound Superman was a little weird but overall the artwork had a nice, soft touch (much like the way Batman caressed that mirror) that lended itself well to the heavenly environment and he really brought the surroundings to life when the various heavens changed from character to character.

And if this was your first experience with the Phantom Stranger as a Batman fan then I would highly, HIGHLY recommend you check out the Batman: The Brave & the Bold episode “Chill of the Night.” This was one of the very few serious episodes of that serious and I think it could easily go toe-to-toe with some of the best episodes of B:TAS. In fact, it’s even written by Batman: The Animated Series‘ Paul Dini and features Kevin Conroy as the voice of The Phantom Stranger. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Overall

It’s a decent comic and the best tie-in so far with some really great scenes with Katana and Batman. Sure there were some out-of-character moments and writer J.M. DeMatteis didn’t acknowledge any of Batman’s current turmoil during the visit to the afterlife, but the pros of his writing in this issue I think far outweigh the cons. I think that this is a worthy tie-in and one that might actually earn The Phantom Stranger a number of new readers.

SCORE: 7/10