By Kevin M. Brettauer
Spoilers for the first four parts of “Trinity War” follow. If you’re not up to date on the "Justice League" family of titles, back away slowly, and then run for the exit.
Closing out the first chapter of the New 52 and leading directly into the new DC Universe’s first major event, "Forever Evil," the "Justice League" crossover “Trinity War” has, over the course of its first four chapters, thrown New Earth off its axis.
Wanting to tell “a fun adventure story” with mystery elements (such as the real cause behind the death of Doctor Light in "Justice League" #22, seemingly at the hands of Superman), Justice League and Justice League of America writer Geoff Johns and Justice League Dark writer Jeff Lemire began plotting out what Johns calls “the end of the first wave of Justice League” some time ago.
Johns and Lemire (the latter an artist himself, having written and drawn the recently-concluded Vertigo series "Sweet Tooth," as well as a host of graphic novels and the new mini-series "Trillium") are quick to praise the artists on the crossover, among them Mikel Janin, Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke.
At the end of "Justice League" #22, the first installment of the six-part arc, Superman, after coming into contact with Pandora’s Box, seemingly murders Doctor Light, the newest member of the government-backed Justice League of America. When asked why Doctor Light was chosen to be a casualty of “Trinity War”, Johns admits that when breaking the story, the duo wanted the first attack on the combined Leagues to be a “subversive” one. Noting that Superman is a hero that everyone in the DCU respects, having him appear to murder someone – another superhero, no less – is an attack on Superman and his League in a very “fundamental way”. Through the early issues of Justice League of America, Johns built up the new Doctor Light as “a family man” who is “trying to do the right thing” (a far cry from the villainous rapist version of the character from the prior DCU) so that his eventual death could resonate appropriately with readers.
Over the course of the final two chapters ("Justice League Dark" #23 is released on August 21st, with "Justice League" #23 concluding the arc on the 28th), Lemire notes that Pandora’s Box will alter the magical landscape of the DC Universe. The Canadian scribe also lets slip that John Constantine will come into possession of the Box, which, of course, can corrupt anyone. Lemire, of course, is quick to mention that the white-collar warlock’s “superpower is that he’s incorruptible because he’s already corrupted.”
Though Matt Kindt will be taking over for Johns on "Justice League of America" following the crossover, and J.M. DeMatteis taking Lemire’s place at the helm of "Justice League Dark," neither writer could go into detail about future Justice League plans at press time (although Johns is staying on to write the Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman original flavor Justice League team).
In discussing "Forever Evil," Johns points out that the event is structured in such a way that the titles that tie directly into it (such as "Teen Titans" and "Suicide Squad") will clearly be taking place during the event, and every other ongoing will be telling stories that take place immediately beforehand and will then “catch up” following the conclusion of the story. "Forever Evil," of course, is Johns’ upcoming mega-event with artist David Finch that burns down the heroic forest of the DC Universe, with the Leagues seemingly dead, leaving Lex Luthor and a cadre of criminals to take on the new Crime Syndicate of Earth-3. The Secret Society, the architects of Trinity War, will still be lurking about, and their leader, the Outsider, will be the central focus of "Justice League" #23.4: The Secret Society in September.
With the gripping present of the Justice League and the scintillating future of a world without them, it has never been more exciting to be a fan of the DC Universe.
"Justice League Dark" #23 hits shelves on August 21st. "Justice League" #23 arrives on August 28th. "Forever Evil" #1 (of 7) arrives on September 4th, with "Justice League" #23.4: The Secret Society on sale on September 25th as part of Villains Month.