Comic Book History: DC’s Trinity War & Forever Evil

Two years into DC’s line wide reboot, the New 52, they launched their first line wide crossover, Trinity War. What was billed as a battle between the three Justice League teams (Prime, of America, and Dark), actually a red herring, setting up main story, Forever Evil, all penned by Geoff Johns. Was this another case of bait and switch, more concerned about the new status quo or did this tell a meaningful story?

Trinity War Cover

Trinity War Cover

Trinity War was centered around the three Justice League teams and the Trinity of Sin (Pandora, the Phantom Stranger, and the Question). Pandora (the red coated woman spied in every first issue of the New 52 initial books) was trying to open the box again to capture the seven deadly sins she freed a millennium ago. She first brought the box to Superman, causing him to become ill and lose control of his powers. Meanwhile, Shazam brought Black Adam’s body to the nation of Kahndaq, nearly causing an international incident.

The Justice League tried to intercept him, but Amanda Waller’s Justice League of America (a team designed to fight the original JL), tried to confront them. Superman lost control of his powers, killing JLA’s Doctor Light. Superman allowed himself to be taken into custody while Wonder Woman searched for Pandora, blaming her for what happened. JL Dark was trying to ascertain what happened, with Constantine attempting to secure the box. Eventually, Firestorm realizes Superman is emitting Kryptonite, with Element Woman finding it in his blood. Atom (JLA) reveals she put a sliver in his brain. The leader of the Secret Society orchestrating everything, only known as the Outsider, is revealed to be Alfred Pennyworth. He and Atom are from Earth-3. The box is actually a gateway to Earth-3, and can only be opened by someone from the world. He does so, bringing the Crime Syndicate to Earth Prime. They wipe out the Justice League.

Justice League #23 Finale - The Crime Syndicate

Justice League #23 Finale – The Crime Syndicate

The Crime Syndicate are essentially the evil Justice League, comprised of Ultraman (weakened by the sun), Superwoman (Lois Lane), Owlman, Johnny Quick, Power Ring, Deathstorm, Sea King (who died during the trip), and Atomica (previously Atom, lover of Johnny Quick). They brought with them a hooded, bound prisoner whose identity is unknown. Cyborg’s robot body rejects his organics, forcing him out. A sentient virus named Grid takes his place, commandeering the world’s systems.

Forever Evil centers on Lex Luthor as he creates the Injustice Society to battle the Crime Syndicate. The first issue kicked off in September 2013, which as become a yearly semi-event for DC. This year, called Villains Month, every title was replaced with a villains book, many of which sporting lenticular covers. They caused a crazy for a minute. The main story had countless tie-ins with books like (all starting with Forever Evil:) A.R.G.U.S, Arkham War, Rogues Rebellion, and mainline Justice League, JLA, and Suicide Squad books. Not to mention the 18 part (!) story, Forever Evil: Blight, where Constantine, Swamp Thing, Phantom Stranger, and others attempt to defeat Blight (manifestation of evil) and rescue the Justice League. There was a lot with little happening.

Forever Evil #1, Nightwing Unmasked

Forever Evil #1, Nightwing Unmasked

In the main book, the Syndicate, having dispatched all three JL teams,bringing down the JL satellite, making it their base, rally the villains to fight for them. They destroyed every prison, freeing the inmates and commanding them to wreak havoc. Ultraman blocks out the sun by moving the moon to cause an eclipse while Superwoman and Owlman capture Nightwing. The Syndicate unmasks him for the world to see, revealing his identity. Luthor mans up, donning his powersuit and releasing his Superman clone (subject B-zero, get it?) 5 years before it’s finished. Meanwhile, Batman and Catwoman, who survived the attack, take Cyborg’s human body to his father to repair him. Batman reveals the teams are alive, but trapped in Firestorm’s matrix. Batman returns to the cave, retrieving his weapons for combating his Justice League, hoping they work on the Syndicate.

Forever Evil #2, Lex Luthor and Bizarro

Forever Evil #2, Lex Luthor and Bizarro

In short order, Luthor and his creature (Bizarro), is teamed with Black Manta, Black Adam (with a broken jaw), and a de-powered Captain Cold. They cross paths with Batman and fight, briefly. Batman acquiesces to Luthor, realizing they want the same thing. They are attacked by Power Ring. Batman uses the Yellow Lantern ring he saved, but it’s power is drained. Sinestro, sensing his ring, arrives. He kills Power Ring, cutting off his arm, freeing him from his cursed ring. The ring flies off to find a new host.

Forever Evil #4, Batman Wearing a Yellow Ring

Forever Evil #4, Batman Wearing a Yellow Ring

Luthor and his team (now with Deathstroke), along with Batman, assault the satellite. Batman and Luthor find and rescue Nightwing while Black Manta and Cold find the hooded prisoner, freeing him. He is Alexander Luthor from Earth-3. He utters his magic word, Mazahs, and kills Johnny Quick, taking his power. Superwoman reveals that her baby, originally teased to be Owlman’s, is his. Alexander quickly dispatches the Syndicate and Injustice Society, killing Bizarro. Batman frees the Justice League from Firestorm with Wonder Woman’s lasso (I don’t know how). Luthor defeats Alexander uttering his magic word, as they have the same voice, turning Alexander human. Ultraman attacks Luthor, but Black Adam and Sinestro move the moon back in place, defeating Ultraman. Atomica crawls out, only for Luthor to step on her.

Forever Evil #6, Mazahs - Alexander Luthor

Forever Evil #6, Mazahs – Alexander Luthor

Ultraman and Superwoman were captured, with Owlman still loose. Luthor removed the Kryptonite from Superman’s brain, and begins work on creating another clone. He also deduces Batman’s identity. Finally, it was revealed that the monster that destroyed Earth-3 was the Anti-Monitor, who is consuming universes to attack Darkseid.

Forever Evil #7, The Anti-Monitor

Forever Evil #7, The Anti-Monitor

Forever Evil was a good event on its own. Trinity War however, was a complete let down. It didn’t offer any of the conflict it promised, scuttling many of its plot points once the Syndicate took center stage. I can appreciate that DC was trying to keep a secret in the internet age, but this felt like a disservice to fans. Forever Evil is descent for the first New 52 event, and isn’t overly concerned with a new status quo. If only there weren’t so many tie-ins.

Trinity War let you down? Enjoy the Syndicate’s revamp? Comment below!

Sometimes, I question myself. 

5 responses to “Comic Book History: DC’s Trinity War & Forever Evil

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