And this week’s winner is…
Wait, for real? I…huh. Okay, you weirdoes, spoilers ahead for…
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: V Ken Marion
Cover: Danny Miki, Tony S. Daniel
I mean, it’s not a bad comic, but you had some other choices that seemed more compelling, like an anniversary issue of Thor, the second issue of the Wonder Woman/Conan mini, and a comic by Brubaker and Phillips, fer chrissakes.
Sure, I get it; a comic featuring the big three should be good, right? Big, exciting action! High stakes! A problem only the Trinity can face.
However, that “should” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, work that it’s not doing in the actual comic.
Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with it – well, there are a couple of things, which I’ll get to – but it’s just not especially interesting.
This is technically part three of a multi-part storyline, but this little sub-storyline is part of a larger, overarching storyline that’s been going on for quite a bit longer, and it began with the witch Circe assembling a trinity of her own to serve as a counterpoint to the Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman), for the purposes of revealing the secrets of the Pandora Pits, ancient, mystical whatchmacallits that something-something.
Her Dark Trinity consisted of herself, Lex Luthor, and R’as al Ghul, and together they were meant to take down the Trinity and do…something. Lex, who fancies himself a hero, had no interest in Circe’s evil scheme, and so what remained was a duo. Circe improvised and brought in another trinity in the form of Red Hood and the Outlaws, consisting of Red Hood, Artemis, and Bizarro.
The Red Hood is Jason Todd, who is a former Robin, Artemis* is an Amazon from a different tribe than Diana’s, and Bizzaro am Bizarro. Circe fed them to the pit, and they came back out possessed by demons and launched an attack on the Trinity.
The Trinity managed to capture the demon-possessed Red Hood, and called in a trinity of their own that is more well-versed in magic: John Constantine, Zatanna, and Deadman.
Somewhere along the line, Constantine and Zatanna got caught by Circe, and Deadman, who is a ghost who can possess people, ended up getting possessed himself, and went on to possess Superman, passing on his own possession to the Last Son of Krypton. (Remember, kids – when you get possessed, you’re not just being possessed by the spirit that’s possessing you, you’re also being possessed by every spirit that they were possessed by.)
Which is where this issue picks up, after a brief introduction letting us know that millennia ago, Circe lost her soul, and she’s spent the intervening time trying to get it back, opening portals to various Hells in search of it.
Anyway, in Gotham, Batman and Wonder Woman find themselves facing off against a demon-possessed Superman and Bizarro. Wonder Woman decides that since the magic trio let them down, it’s up to Batman to figure out what the hell is going on, and so he heads back to the Batcave with the Red Hood in tow to try to solve this mystery while Diana draws a literal line in the sand and tells Superman and Bizarro that they will not cross it.
Back at the pits, Circe dunks Zatanna like an Oreo, and in the Batmobile, Jason proves to be the ultimate passenger from Hell, using his own insight – skewed as it may be – into Batman’s personality to try to sway Batman over to the dark side, arguing that what really drives Batman is a desire to hurt people, telling him that he’s a killer at heart.
After finding that they’re tripping over each other in their fight with Wonder Woman, Superdemon sends Bizarro to retrieve the Bat. Shortly thereafter, the demon-possessed Zatanna shows up and sucks Deadman out of Superman, and sucks the demon out of Deadman, and says “Enoyreve otni eht stip!” sucking them all into the Pandora Pits. (Okay, she really says “Emoc htiw em,” but I wanted to break up the whole “sucking” chain of thought before I started making the obvious jokes, and the “emoc” bit would not have helped with my effort to keep from working blue.)
At the Batcave, Batman produces a syringe and informs Red Hood that he’s going to kill him, just as Bizarro shows up. Batman busts out some kind of ray gun, and announces that
Did Jason’s “Areyouakilleryet?Areyouakilleryet?Areyouakilleryet?” finally get to Batman and make him decide to turn his moral compass around and go back there? Maybe!
(But probably not; it’s more likely Batman managed to solve the magical mystery, and this is all just part of that.)
Meanwhile, R’as, the remaining non-Circe member of the Dark Trinity has had enough of Circe’s lies and of just hanging around doing nothing and being forgotten about (kind of like Artemis, whom I honestly have no recollection of what happened to) and confronts her.
So it’s into the pit with him, too, and Circe announces that she will sacrifice the whole world to regain her soul, as the Pandora Pits, once opened, will lead her to it. What does it profit a witch if she loses the whole world but gains her soul? Well, her soul, presumably.
I said there’s nothing in particular wrong with this comic, but it’s just not that interesting, and is kind of a confused and confusing mess (see the bit above about not knowing/remembering what the hell happened to Artemis). Circe needed the Trinity, and had to have her own trinity in order to get them, except not really, and the whole thing was really about just opening a portal to get her soul, and it’s just a matter of dumping as many people as possible into the Pandora Pits. Or something?
The biggest problem, though, is with the series itself, and that’s not really the fault of this issue, or even this storyline, but rather, as with so many other things – and as I’ve mentioned in several other Spotlight entries – with the “Rebirth” event.
When the series started, it was a very different comic, one that spun out of the death of the “New 52” Superman, and the return of the pre-Flashpoint Superman. The focus of the early issues was on the struggle for these three people to connect, and to re-form the Trinity. For Superman, it was a struggle to feel at home on a world that was not the world he’d known for most of his life, and to acquaint himself with different versions of people that he had known and loved in his previous life. For Wonder Woman, there was the struggle to look into the face of her recently-deceased lover and know that he was not the man she had loved, and further, the face of a man who was married to, and had a son with, the woman who had caused “her” Superman so much trouble – the “New 52” Lois had revealed the “New 52” Superman’s secret identity to the world (she had a good reason; it’s a long story) – who also was not the person she had known, despite outward appearances.
As for Batman, well, he’s Batman, so forming a connection with and trusting anyone is always a struggle.
Once history got reconfigured – again – that (admittedly confusing) dynamic was erased and rewritten, and what we were left with were just generic adventures of the Trinity.
Which, like I said, should be good. And yet…
The other problems I have are with the comic are also not really inherent to the comic itself. One issue is that I hate Jason Todd and have no interest in Red Hood and the Outlaws.
The other is that I really don’t like John Constantine in the mainstream DC Universe. He feels like a pale imitation of the real Constantine.
These things may not, of course, be an issue for you.
The art for this is…fine. It very much seems to be in that “house style” I mentioned a while back, looking very much inspired by Jim Lee’s style, though Marion does bring a personal touch to it, particularly with the disturbing design for Superdemon.
As an art-related aside, I’m kind of annoyed to see that there was a variant cover for this issue done by the always-amazing Bill Sienkiewicz. I would have picked up that version, had I known, as it would have at least had that much going for it.
I’m something of a completist at heart, so it’s likely that I’ll finish out this storylyine, but after that…well, my pull list may end up becoming just a bit shorter.
I’m not sure how this part, in which I provide a brief recap for a comic that had previously won and is in the midst of a multi-part storyline but didn’t win this this time around, is going to work in the future. Do I continue providing bonus recaps all the way to the end? Just for one issue? Do I keep doing it at all?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but for now, we take a brief look at Wonder Woman/Conan #2.
While chained to each other, Wonder Woman and Conan are forced to fight each other in the arena. Conan knocks Wonder Woman out, but refuses to kill her, as he still believes her to be Yanna, the girl he knew in his youth. The slaver running the arena decides to sell them to a pirate to help man (and woman) his ship. After several weeks, an attempt by the crew to get rid of the woman who they believe is bad luck, though they won’t get rid of her until, you know, after, is interrupted by a Zingarian patrol ship that launches an attack on the pirates. Dragging Conan along via the chain connecting them, Diana – who has recovered the memory of her name – leaps out of the pirate ship and into the shark-infested waters. Just like the old expression.
A solid second issue, with some of the best art I’ve ever seen from Aaron Lopresti. Shoulda voted for this one, folks.
One thing that did make me groan, though, was the events leading up to Conan knocking Diana out. He said, “I don’t want to kill you. But neither do I want to die, Yanna.”
That last bit distracts DIANA for a moment, and at that point I kind of wanted to die (Yanna). I mean, I’ll give Gail a lot of leeway and artistic license, but either they’re speaking English in the Hyborian Age, thousands of years before English existed, or, by sheer coincidence, whatever language they are speaking has the exact same word for ceasing to live.
That’s it for this Spotlight Sunday. Thanks to everyone who voted, and be sure to come back for the next Weigh In Wednesday.
*For a time, in the pre-Flashpoint continuity, Artemis held the title of Wonder Woman. A version of Artemis also figures prominently in a story idea I’ve had kicking around in my head for a while. Of course, that story will likely go untold. That is, of course, unless you, dear reader, do your part to make me famous and help me garner enough of a fanbase that DC would be willing to hear my pitch…