So it has finally come to this. Ever since the last pages of FLASHPOINT in 2011, every #1 issue of the beginning of the DC New 52 having Pandora make "Where's Waldo?" appearances, a Free Comics Day 2012 comic teasing the event, Pandora herself being hyped up as important for the future of the DC Universe; JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR has been hyped for 2+ years. This is included namely by Geoff Johns' Justice League series which built toward the coming of Trinity War, but not to the same effect as his other superhero team called Justice League of America which was also written by Johns. The Justice League of America comic centered on A.R.G.U.S forming its own team of meta-humans who could bring down the Justice League in the event that they one day ever turned evil. Until that day comes, 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's pretty much the nutshell of what's happened to get to this point. And although the "war" part of this series and the hype isn't as good as it has started, TRINITY WAR still has its share of enjoyable reading.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR collects the following in proper reading order:
The New 52: Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 (Prelude)
Justice League #22
Justice League of America #6
Justice League Dark #22
Constantine #5 (tie-in)
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #2 (tie-in)
Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11 (tie-in)
Justice League of America #7
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #3
Justice League Dark #23
Justice League #23 (Conclusion)
I am going to try to summarize this event without going into too much detail as to not spoil anything, and it would take forever to describe every little detail.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR see's Pandora, an ageless woman who has finally found her box (Pandora's box) and wants to free her curse the curse of her sins by having someone of good heart and strength open the box, and wants Superman to open it. But Superman is busy with the Justice League have gotten through with their previous adventure (see Justice League Vol. 4: The Grid (The New 52) (Jla (Justice League of America) (Graphic Novels)) next month), and have gotten word Shazam is off in Europe to bury the ashes of Black Adam (because both character tore up a ton of stuff in Shazam's solo series and everyone is afraid of him now). So the JL head to Europe to ask Shazam questions of what happened. The Justice League of America (run by Amanda Waller) finally see this as an opportunity to show the world the JL is not got for anyone. And just like that, both groups are caught in the middle of taking over the situation with Shazam. And JLAmerica's newest member, Dr. Light, inadvertently hurts Wonder Woman and Superman goes into a rage and does the unthinkable: he kills Dr.Light. This sets off both teams into frenzy and so starts the Trinity War...or is it? Because both leagues don't want to really fight each other and everyone knows Superman would never kill anyone, friend or foe. Something is amiss here and every superhero knows it, and wants to find out why. And if magic was involved, maybe this had to do with Pandora and her Box? Some mystical outside force perhaps? So then who better to investigate this matter then Justice League Dark, and they too wrapped up in this conflict. So begins the Trinity War.
This series is surprising for a few matters. First of all, is the misleading nature of this event. All the promotional stuff of heroes fighting heroes and 2 years of buildup make it this was going to be nothing but a slugfest, making it appear like DC's own answer to various Marvel events Civil War and Avengers Vs. X-Men for examples. And although we do get our share of action, it's quite the opposite. This event is more of a murder mystery/thriller involving numerous fractions taking sides on how to act on what happened with Superman/Dr. Light. The "War" part is only the beginning and setup, while the rest of the event has characters scrambling left and right trying to make sense of what and why it all happened. So after the initial battle scrimmage of the JL/JLA teams, the event is about looking at the characters perspective of the event and yes, setting up for the next big event to come.
Most events are action-heavy and move very little story plot, whereas Trinity War does sort of the opposite. The key selling point is the characters reactions to the event itself as commentary, which Johns and Lemire handle the characters voices really well. Even before the fight of JL and JLA, characters were unsure if they could or want to take down their hero/counter part. During the brawl sequence, Johns has every character having doubts and questioning why they are fighting other heroes and this is all happening while their fighting! To the very idea that every hero in the world believes Superman would never openly kill someone, to even the characters finally sticking up to Amanda Waller and seeing her dream team of JLA is not the answers. This alone is remarkable because the characters retain their voice, they are conscious of their world and their actions, and it makes sense logically. It's not like Marvel's Civil War where best friends Captain America and Iron Man fought each other with little regard or emotion for one another through all the years they stood for, or make nothing but fighting because it's an event. This is a conscious-character driven event, where everyone really is on the same side, only different fractions are making various methods to solve them. For me, this is the best part of the event and it is something I feel more events, especially heroes fighting heroes (which I feel burnt out on in turn of comic events), should learn from.
Beyond the event itself, lets talk about this hardcover collection. For starters, it is incredible DC has the entire event including the tie-ins of New 52 Free Comic Day 2012, Constantine, Pandora, and Phantom Stranger. DC has done a remarkable job on their hardcover/$30 collections. Tons of issues in hardcover for a great price and Trinity War is no different.
And lastly, the art is top notch. Ivan Reids does Justice League, Doug Mahnke does JLA, and Mikel Janin does JLDark and all three have amazingly high quality art styles. It can be a little rough and confusing here and there, but the majority of the art is high quality stuff.
Now for the flaws. Although my Amazon score is 4 stars, I will rate this event around 3 ½ stars and here are some reasons.
Trinity War was essentially a bait and switch and misleading title. It's not really a "war" by any stretch of the means, but more of a conflicted event turned bad. So despite 2 years worth of hype, readers expecting full-on big fighting might be disappointed, not to mention Trinity War really is just a prologue to the even bigger event called Forever Evil. Yes, this event is a lead-in to another event. Marvel has been doing this to death in their camp for the past few years, but it is a bit saddening to see DC do it, especially under Geoff Johns who usually doesn't do such a tactic. It makes any "event" feel superficial and less impactful. And by the way, if you don't know what Forever Evil is DO NOT Google it before reading Trinity War. If you know the premise for Forever Evil already and fully understand it then you don't need to read Trinity War. So if you are bound to read Forever Evil when it comes out trades, you might want to read Trinity War first.
Secondly, even with the Free Comic Day issue, Trinity War is a rough jumping on point for casual readers. Johns has been slowly setting this event up since day 1 of the New 52 and having prior knowledge of everything to get to this point in Justice League, JLA, and even Shazam!'s solo series is sort of necessary. Johns still fills in previous plot lines here and there for casual readers to catch up, but it still isn't the same as having read everything to build up to this point. Not to mention fans still have to wait until April for Justice League vol.4, so that's a bit dumb for fans who have to wait to fill in the blanks.
Also, the tie-ins, as good as they are on their own terms except the Free Comics Day issue, I would argue you can skip them though. 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 (as someone who is reading Forever Evil currently) those tie-in chapters really don't matter. Pandora herself really doesn't matter. Nothing against them, as I think they do better in their own series (especially Phantom Stranger. Really enjoyable series). So I would recommend reading just the JL/JLA/JLD and Free Comic Day issues first, and then re-read the trade with the tie-ins. You'll notice the difference.
So JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR isn't what it advertised or hyped fans up to what we thought it would be, which could frustrate readers, as well as being a prologue event for the next event, which that too is getting annoying in the comic world. But seeing the first real big event in the New 52 is still pretty cool, having most of the cast and crew retain their personality and being self-conscious of their actions against other heroes is brilliant, the art is grade-A stuff, and the amount of content you're getting seeing as each of the Trinity War JL/JLA/JLD issues were $4 a piece. That is $24 alone for singles, so this is still a great deal. So I did enjoy it as a whole, but the twist in the event structure sort of hurt it for me. So again, I'm giving this a 3 ½ score out of 4, but I'll round up to 4 stars.
If you enjoyed this event, prepare for the villains to take over in the next true event, Forever Evil.