Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So exactly how long has DC been working on (and tinkering with) "Trinity War"...?

Here's a badly-scanned image of one of the four double-page splashes in today's Justice League #23, the climactic chapter of the "Trinity War" storyline:
Does the Ivan Reis-penciled image of Superman ramming a column into Green Lantern Simon Baz while Batman scampers about with Pandora's skull-shaped box and various Justice Leaguers all fight one another look familiar to you?

If so, then you've probably read DC's 2012 Free Comic Book Day offering DC Comics—The New 52 FCBD Edition, which included this four-page, gatefold image drawn by Jim Lee as part of Geoff Johns-written story:
(Or maybe you didn't, but remember seeing the image online at places like, oh, Robot 6 or ComicsAlliance, to randomly pick to comic book blogs I contribute to).

I think there's a couple of significant differences worth pointing out, aside from the fact that the Reis image from the mid-2013 JLA #23 is only two pages and includes about ten more heroes than the four-page, early 2012 image from Lee, some of which may hint at things that have changed about the story and the comic books it played out in during the year and a half or so since the two artists drew the two images.

1.) Lee didn't draw the one that appeared in JLA #23; I wonder if, in 2012, DC expected Lee to still be drawing Justice League by the time "Trinity War" reached its climax? Because he only lasted about two story arcs (the initial six-issue origin story and "Teh Villain's Journe"), with some fill-in issues between them.

2.) The sheer number of heroes involved has grown considerably; it looks like the original image reflected a fight between two rather than three Leagues (Deadman is the only member of Justice League Dark in the Lee image), and the Justice League of America line-up might have consisted of different characters at one point (Of the JLoA, Katana, Catwoman, Steve Trevor, Stargirl and Martian Manhunter are all missing).

3.) Mera is in the Lee image, but doesn't appear at all during "Trinity War" for about a two-panel cameo, including her appearance in the Reis image. That's not Mera in the Reis image, though; it's Martian Manhunter who apparently decided to take Mera's form to sneak up on and clobber Aquaman rather than just, you know, turning invisible. I assume the scene was written to explain Mera's presence in the Lee image.

When Justice League first launched, it seemed like Mera was one of the characters who were supposed to join the team shortly after the first arc: She appears on the cover of the first issue of the series, along with Deadman, a male version of The Atom that has yet to be introduced into The New 52, Element Woman, Hawkman and a female character identified in interviews as Will Eisner's Lady Luck, whom I don't think has ever appeared yet either.
Of those, only Element Woman actually joined this team. (Mera's the floating female head in the lower right corner; the one that's wearing a vaguely crustacean-looking tiara).

Of course that cover image, which was used on two of the eleven variant covers for Justice League #1, also featured an earlier version of Wonder Woman's redesigned costume that didn't actually make it into any of the comics either.

4.) The Jim Lee image features an obviously male version of The Atom, while The Atom who would join the Justice League and appear in the Reis version was female and had a fairly different costume, which allowed her long hair to flow out the back of the cowl.

5.) Captain Marvel/Shazam's costume in the Lee image—that is Cap and not Black Adam, despite the colors—is wearing a not final version of his redesigned costume. The one in the Lee image has the more traditional collar instead of the hood that he would ultimately end up with.

6.) Superman's looking awfully healthy in that Lee version, rather than as gray as he does in the Reis version. In fact, looked-at completely out of context, the Reis version looks like it could be depicting Bizarro in a backwards Bizarro costume.

7.) Released in May of 2012, the Lee image was the first appearance of both Green Lantern Simon Baz (who debuted in September 2012's Green Lantern #0) and the New 52 version of Vibe (Justice League of America's Vibe #1 launched in February of 2013).

Clearly Johns has been working on this storyline for quite a while, and had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen at the end, at least in so far as a few key elements of the action were written in one form or another quite a long time ago (Batman having the box, everyone fighting regardless of team affiliation, Deadman attempting to possess Shazam, Superman smashing the new Lantern with a column).

And just as clearly a lot has changed since Lee put pencil to paper to draw that gatefold image teasing "Trinity War."


Akilles said...

Lady Luck has appeared in The "New" 52.

garik16 said...

I'd disagree Johns or whomever had a constant idea of what was going to happen in Trinity War. Remember, they hyped up Trinity war over a year ago, while Forever Evil was announced only a few months ago. Moreover, they've been stressing the importance of Pandora et al since freaking Flashpoint and the first New 52 comics (putting Pandora in all of them).

I suspect they had a vague idea of a Trinity War featuring Pandora way way back with a lot of holes to fit in (ala the Onslaught Saga, where the writers started putting in clues without having any clue where they were going). Then they realized it wasn't going to work or they couldn't come up with a satisfactory hook for a story, so they created forever evil (which is a generic plotline that has been done quite a few times, such as with Marvel's universe a few years back).

The lack of the Justice League Dark and the other changes you note suggest this is clearly the case to me. Johns had an idea for there being a "Trinity" (not a new DC concept), that it would involve the superheroes fighting amonst each other, and that's probably about it. The whole thing reeks of a poorly planned out event, resulting in a 6 week prologue for ANOTHER generic event.

Caleb said...

Well, at the very least, Johns sure knew the mechanics of—and at least one splash image from—the climactic fight scene a few years back.