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Saturday, May 12, 2012

FCBD 2012 - The New 52 #1

Today on Comics Weekend we're taking a look DC Comics Free Comic Book Day 2012 Edition -- The New 52 #1 -- given out gratis by comics retailers everywhere last Saturday. While the book also features previews of DC's "Second Wave" titles hitting this month, we're going to take a look at the issue's main feature, an untitled story with more Easter eggs, teasers, obscure references & hints at things to come than you can shake the Orb of Ra at!

Written by Aquaman's Geoff Johns, the 16-page story is drawn by DC's premier artists including Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Rod Reis (pages 1-4), Kenneth Rocafort & Blond (pages 5-6), Gene Ha & Art Lyons (pages 7-11) and Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair (pages 12-16 & cover)! That's a lot of talent to cram into a book we got for free! Obviously, the big buzz from the story has been the final-page teaser of "Coming in 2013 -- Trinity War!" but there is oh so much more packed into The New 52 #1 and the Aquaman Shrine is going to break it down for you -- just in case you missed anything, okay?

First off, we flashback a few hundred centuries and are introduced to the Circle of Eternity, a group of deities/wizards, some whose vestments have the familiar lightning-bolt logo of SHAZAM on them... Although not given the names of any of the seven, we can clearly see that they are an ethnically diverse group, perhaps each representing a region of the globe? With character designs by Gary Frank expertly executed by our friends Ivan Reis & Joe Prado, you can be assured that these crew will figure into future DCU stories in a major way in the coming months...
Next we meet the Trinity of Sin which is comprised of Pandora (she who appeared in all #1's of the New 52), the Phantom Stranger (who is given a definitive origin of biblical proportions by Johns) and the identity-less Question. The trio are handed punishments for their individual sins by the Circle who are definitely not in a forgiving mood. Its clear this is the threesome Trinity War refers to, not the more obvious choice of Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman, which thankfully is a much more original approach.

Forwarding to the present, we catch up with Pandora who is searching for something in the Red Room of S.T.A.R labs, a veritable bunker of technology & weapons amongst where we see at least two Atlantean "A" symbols. Its nice to see that Atlantis' mythology is being woven into the DCU at large, rather than being confined to the pages of Aquaman and this may be a hint that the US government knows more about the existence & location of Atlantis than they've let on...
We are also given a brief glimpse of Earth-2 through the agency's Monitor Machine, a nod to Crisis on Infinite Earths, and then its quickly off to...
...A.R.G.U.S headquarters's Black Room where Steve Trevor and the newly African-American Etta Candy are taking inventory of the agency's mystical artifacts collection. The colorist's choice for this widescreen panel makes identification difficult, but keen observers will see the Spear of Destiny, Black Diamond of Eclispo, Medusa Mask, Haunted Tank, a Red Lantern power battery, Etrigan's armor as well as other arcane objects -- one of which is literally Pandora's box.
While sparring with Pandora, Colonel Trevor informs of his plan to enlist the aid of a few very special operatives -- Doctor Mist, Black Orchid, & John Constantine! In true Geoff Johns style, choosing the ultra-obscure Dr. Mist (1st appearance Super Friends #12 circa 1978) is totally out of left field, but may have a huge payoff as a result, perhaps even relating back to the Circle of Eternity...? Black Orchid is another welcome return to the DCU (she appeared only as a vision in Flashpoint) and assures that the Trinity War will intersect with Constantine, Zatanna, & the Dark branch of the Justice League as well.

Pandora makes off with her "box" -- which looks like a metal skull with a 3rd eye & no mouth and we are left to wonder what exactly her plan could be...The action quickly future-forwards to 2013 where the box has come to be in the possession of Batman who is embroiled in battle with a Green Lantern, one who is not Hal Jordan! From the looks of him, you might think this GL could be John Stewart, but the last time we checked, Stewart did not have an Arabic tattoo on his forearm, which loosely translated means bravery or courage. Perhaps as close as Johns could get to "no fear"?
Turn the page and BOOM -- an astounding 4-page gate-fold of the Justice League going at it with one another like there's no tomorrow! Superman takes down the mysterious new GL! Hawkman and Green Arrow are battling like old times! Wonder Woman vs. Aquaman, Round Two!
Here we see the first post-Flashpoint appearance of Element Woman, a very dark version of Captain Mar - er, Shazam (or is it Black Adam?), the intro/return of the hero known as Vibe (but where's Firestorm?) and even more curious -- a new version of the Atom, who by looking at the anatomy, appears to be female! Both Lee & Johns have already stated that Ryan Choi would be this League's Atom so either Lee has really drawn the lad disproportionately or the Atom pictured here is someone else altogether...Jean Loring anyone?
Also piquing our curiosity is the representation of Mera, who at first glance appears to be battling Wonder Woman along with her husband, but if you follow the Flash's movement pattern closely, it appears as if he's the one who felled the Sea Queen with a high-speed left hook. Mera's uniform is drawn differently here by Lee, with a return to original sleeveless look, added gauntlets and hey, what's that in Mera's left hand?
We've never seen Mera use a weapon other than a trident and she's definitely wielding the golden piece in an offensive manner, leading us to wonder if its not one of the ancient Atlantean relics of power that the current Aquaman storyline is centered around? What do you guys think?

DC PR staff have assured fans that they won't have to wait until 2013 to see many of the plot-lines hinted at in The New 52 play out and that Trinity War is the resulting culmination & convergence of the ongoing Justice League titles of the New 52 over the next several months. To that end, the FCBD edition really packed a wallop and with Aquaman, Mera, & Atlantis all included, let's just say we can't wait to see what's coming next!


Anonymous said...


Designer Daddy said...

Does anyone know if this comic is available for sale anywhere? Or online?

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Even your dirty-dealing Firestorm comment can't ruin my Vibe high!

The Irredeemable Shag