It was an event that had been in the making since the very launch of the New 52. In September 2011, every #1 debut issue of DC’s relaunch featured a Where’s Waldo-esque appearance by a cloaked woman who we would later learn to be none other than the Pandora of Greek myth. Little was known other than she was important to the future of the all-new DC Universe so several months of fan-speculation passed. Then came Free Comic Book Day in May of 2012 and the release of a special New 52 #1 one-shot that revealed the mysterious Pandora was not alone, but part of a “Trinity of Sin” comprised of herself, The Phantom Stranger, and, to everyone’s surprise, The Question, who was getting a mystical re-imagining that didn’t sit too well with fans of the character who inspired Watchmen‘s Rorschach. Perhaps even more surprising was that the comic ended with a flash forward to 1-year later in the New 52 when the Justice League, Justice League Dark, and an all-new superhero team that had not yet gotten its own series, were battling over Pandora’s Box, a 3-eyed skull of solid gold.
Gradually, Geoff Johns’ Justice League series built toward the coming of Trinity War, but not to the same degree as a new title called Justice League of America (our 3rd super hero squad from the flash forward), which was also written by Johns. The Justice League of America comic centered on A.R.G.U.S (DC’s S.H.I.E.L.D equivalent) forming its own team of meta-humans who could bring down the A-list Justice League in the event that they one day ever turned evil. Of course, since the Justice League is not evil just yet, the JLA focused their efforts on investigating a Secret Society of Supervillains led by an unnamed figure with a strange connection to Pandora’s Box.
That should bring you up-to-date, but I would recommend to those who plan on buying this despite my halfhearted recommendation to read Justice League, Vol. 4: The Grid (skipping issues #22 & #23), Shazam, Vol. 1 (it touches upon the 7 Deadly Sins–although it doesn’t make sense when you really think about how they are introduced there and how they are introduced again here– and explains what happened to lead Shazam to this point in his life), and Justice League of America, Vol. 1: The World’s Most Dangerous (skipping issues #6 & #7).
Justice League: Trinity War is an attractive hardcover that features a dust jacket with the Free Comic Book Day NEW 52 #1 cover and includes the following issues within: NEW 52 #1 (including the erroneously drawn male Atom in a flash forward), JUSTICE LEAGUE #22-23, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #6-7, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #22-23, CONSTANTINE #5, TRINITY OF SIN: PANDORA #1-3 and TRINITY OF SIN: PHANTOM STRANGER #11 all in proper reading order. You can read full, detailed reviews for each individual chapter and my thoughts on Trinity War as it unfolded at the following link HERE. And since I really went in-depth with those articles, I’ll keep this brief and to the point:
- You can skip the Constantine, Pandora, and Phantom Stranger issues. It’s great that they were included, it really is. You’re getting bang for your buck and completionists will appreciate having every tie-in from the event. However, those issues aren’t all that important, especially looking back from where I am now (6-issues deep in Forever Evil) those tie-in chapters really don’t matter. Pandora herself really doesn’t matter. Of all the non-Justice League titles collected in this edition, The New 52 #1 Free Comic Book Day Special is the only one of importance and it’s the first thing you’ll see when you open the book. I recommend that if you find the Pandora, Constantine, or Phantom Stranger issues to be a slog– skip ’em!
- Trinity War was essentially a bait and switch. Despite 2 years worth of hype, in the end it turns out that Trinity War drags a bit and is really just a prologue to the even bigger (and much better– at least so far) event called Forever Evil. If you don’t know what Forever Evil is DO NOT Google it before reading Trinity War (if you plan on reading it). Quite simply, if you know the premise for Forever Evil already and fully understand it then you don’t need to read Trinity War.
- Although it could have been paced better, Trinity War is still a milestone moment for the New 52 because it’s the first time characters from so many diverse books interacted with each other. The DC Universe never felt like one cohesive world until Trinity War came along to bond these larger than life characters together against a common enemy.
- The artwork during the core-story (JLA, Justice League, JLDark) is spellbinding. You really can’t do much better for high-octane superhero vs. superhero action, which the book has plenty of, than pages from Ivan Reis, Mikel Janin, and Doug Mahnke, some of the best artists in DC’s stable. Readers who love to see their favorite DC characters duke it out across vibrant splash pages and 2-page spreads will be utterly thrilled by Trinity War‘s exciting conclusion.
- Anyone knee-deep in Forever Evil reading this will have a lot of “Oh yeah, whatever happened to that/him/her” moments while reading Trinity War. Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and The Question lost all relevance once Forever Evil began and nobody even remembers the whole “Seven evil spirits are the source of all misery in the world and we have to stop them” bit, which was ludicrous.
There is a variant cover gallery, but nothing else.
Value: Sale Price
It’s an okay prologue, but I think you could just read Justice League #22 and #23 and get more than enough story to fill you in on how Forever Evil begins. If you have your heart set on owning the whole saga then I would suggest waiting to pick this collection up for a discounted price as I just don’t think it’s worth $30 bucks. The re-read value isn’t there, I was only able to get through about half of it before growing weary and couldn’t bring myself to re-read the Pandora issues at all. After half a year’s worth of Forever Evil about 90% of Trinity War turned out to not really matter all that much (at least not to the greater DC universe, those who follow Justice League Dark might find greater value in the tie-ins).
DC did a fine job of collecting all the chapters of Trinity War in this edition, but it still doesn’t stand entirely on its own. Readers will still need to be familiar with recent events from Justice League, Vol. 4: The Grid and maybe a little bit of Justice League of America, Vol. 1: World’s Most Dangerous and Shazam, Vol. 1 to fully be prepared for what Trinity War has in store. And what does Trinity War have in store? A rather overly elaborate prologue to Forever Evil. And I honestly feel like issues #22 and #23 of Justice League were the only really important parts as far as Forever Evil setup goes. Despite 2 years worth of buildup regarding “The Trinity of Sin” those characters lost all importance as soon as Forever Evil began. One of the most amazing things about reading through Trinity War today is seeing how many characters and subplots were discarded soon after it was over. Trinity War has some good moments here and there (especially if you’re in it for the action) and the artwork during the core story is sublime, but it’s definitely just a means of getting us to Forever Evil.