Today, Taylor and Mikyzptlk are discussing Trinity of Sin: Pandora 2 originally released July 31st, 2013. This issue is part of the Trinity War crossover event. Click here for our complete Trinity War coverage.
Taylor: We like to think of our world as being made up of opposites. There is always a yin to a yang, there is always a cat to a dog. It’s a convenient way of looking at the world and it helps us make sense of a lot of what we see in our everyday lives. But as we grow older we come to realize that maybe the world isn’t so black and white. Maybe there isn’t an absolute good and maybe there isn’t an absolute evil. Despite this, we tend to think of comic book characters as falling in either the spectrum of evil or good. However, when Superman, supposedly a hero of pure heart, opened Pandora’s Box we realized that not even the best of our heroes is totally without a certain darkness in his heart. But if we flip the tables, is it possible we’ll find a super villain who is totally evil of heart? Pandora wants to find out and in the second issue of her stand alone series, we see that the Trinity War is becoming even more complicated than we thought.
Several parties have taken an interest in the spot where Pandora exposed Superman to her box. The Feds are on the case and have created an interdepartmental team to try and catch Pandora. They start by investigating the crater left by Superman’s exposure to the box, but they are not the only ones on the scene. The Secret Society, which remains appropriately mysterious at this point, has sent Giganta, Signalman and the one and only Vandal Savage to the same spot to investigate for obscure, but probably evil, purposes. While the Feds and the Secret Society miss each other at this point, Pandora is able to catch up to Vandal Savage and his crew. She figures that Savage is so evil he will be able to open the box, since only a person who is either 100% good or evil can open it. They fight for a bit and then Savage attempts to open the box only to realize that he isn’t evil enough to do so. This leaves Pandora wondering what to do next while being the most wanted person in the world by the Feds.
Supplemental titles sometimes aren’t that great, even if the title itself is good. Constantine 5 is perhaps a good example of that, but I’ve found the two Pandora issues to be different. Perhaps the reason these two issues stand out to me is that they do an excellent job of deepening the mythology and character of Pandora. In the first issue we get her life story, which does an excellent job of showing us her motivations and desires based on the terrible experience that has essentially been her entire life. While this second issue of Pandora moves the focus away from the titular character directly, she is still the understated constant of the issue. Pandora 1 makes it known what her desires are, but Pandora 2 shows us just to what lengths she will go to achieve them. Her decision to give the box to Vandal Savage is questionable since giving any great power to a man of undisputed evil never seems like a good idea. Yet Pandora is singly motivated to contain the evils of the world she let loose, no matter the cost. Of course this raises the question of what exactly would happen to a man like Savage if all the evils were contained again. Would he still be doing bad things if all the evil in the world has been bottled up?
This segues into the question of what exactly the forces of good and evil are in the Trinity War. We know for sure that the sins Pandora released from the box are evil, but aside from that, is anything absolute? Pandora sure thought so when she tried to give the box first to Superman and then to Vandal Savage, hoping one of them could open it. Yet, as with Superman, Savage is unable to open the box.
The reason for this is that despite his years upon years of being a total ass to everyone he meets, Savage still has a shred of decency in his heart. It’s an interesting crinkle to add to this character and it makes you wonder why exactly he is crying in the panel above. Is it because he wishes he was absolute evil so he could have opened the box or is it because he’s remembering the small amount of humanity that still exists in his heart? Whatever the case may be, Ray Fawkes is making a statement here. No one is truly evil and no one is truly good in the DC Universe, save maybe purely ethereal beings. This is a humanizing move for all involved in the Trinity War and it will be interesting to see how it affects latter events in the Trinity War.
In addition to this brain fodder, I also enjoyed the art of Daniel Sampere. Of particular interest to me is his rendering of the action sequences in this issue, which contain a certain kinetic aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye. The sequence where Giganta attempts to kill Pandora is fun but I found myself particularly drawn to the fight between Pandora and Savage. The absurdity of two immortals duking it out aside, the barbarity of their battle is arresting.
I’m not in any way a particular fan of gore or over-the-top violence in my comics, but the above panel gabbed my attention above all others. I appreciate that Sampere doesn’t shy away from showing the horrible effects a shot to the face has on Savage and it makes you realize that it’s easy to forget how violent some of the acts committed in comics books are. While Savage obviously shrugs this damage off, it was nice to see violence portrayed in a way that is actually horrifying instead of glorifying. Basically, my reaction was the same that Signalman is having in the panel and I think that’s an appropriate reaction we all should have to extreme violence.
So, Mikyzptlk, what did you think of this issue? Have you been enjoying the adventures of Pandora as much as I have or do they not do it for you? What do you think this Secret Society is all about? Do you think the introduction of yet more characters into the Trinity War is a bad idea?
Mikyzptlk: Well Taylor, I’d say I enjoyed this issue and have been digging Pandora’s solo adventures so far. She was designed to be a mysterious character since the inception of the New 52, so I think she’s always had this inherent layer of intrigue. It’s certainly nice to see that Ray Fawkes has been able to build upon that intrigue in his first two issues. As far as adding more characters into the mix, I say bring it. I’m not sure if this series is intended to continue on passed the events of this year’s main event, but the fact that it isn’t a mini series tells me it’s intended to go on for awhile at least. With that, I think it’s a good idea for Fawkes to come up with some supporting characters for Pandora. I’m not sure how much these characters are going to factor into Trinity War directly, if at all, but I think they’ll do a good job of linking Pandora to humanity.
It can be difficult to wrap your head around a character like Pandora. She’s immortal, has a great deal of otherworldly powers, and is on a mission with such high stakes that it may be hard to relate to. With that, it’s important to not only try to humanize that type of character, but to create a cast of supporting characters that can be easier to relate to. With issue 1, Fawkes did a great job of letting the audience in on the kind of person that Pandora was before this whole “box” business, which gave us a good idea of who she is desperately trying to be once again. At the end of the day, Pandora is simply a person who is trying to fix a mistake she’s made. Who can’t relate to that? Now, with issue 2, we are introduced to two characters who may be able to explore some questions I still have about Pandora.
“The Feds” that Taylor referred to earlier are Special Agents Kincaid and Chang, of S.H.A.D.E. and A.R.G.U.S. respectively. Now, we haven’t gotten too much out of these characters yet, other than the fact that they are highly trained and sharp-witted government operatives, but I’m hoping that will change. They’ve been forced to work together in order to bring Pandora in, so that will be fun to play with, but what I’m more interested in seeing is how Fawkes may be able to use these characters to explore Pandora a bit more. This is true for Marcus as well, introduced in issue 1 and, as far as I’ve seen, Pandora’s only ally.
Taylor, you expressed early how you believe that Fawkes is making a statement as to the ambiguities between the forces of good and evil. I couldn’t agree with you more about that, and that certainly extends to our main character as well. More than anything else, Pandora just wants things to go back to the way they were before she opened that damned box. The only problem is, as witnessed in this issue, she’s willing to go to any lengths to accomplish that goal.
Right now, it’s hard to say where Pandora falls on the hero/villain scale. While I certainly don’t think she ever intends to do anything “evil,” I also think she’s completely willing to do anything to accomplish her goals. That can mean very bad things for everyone involved. However, it may just be Fawkes’ intention to use the human characters to question Pandora’s motives, like Marcus is on the cusp of doing in the image above. Is Pandora a “hero” or a “villain,” or something else entirely? Fawkes has got me interested in finding out.
Also, kudos to Fawkes for creating such a diverse cast so far. I’m looking forward to seeing them all explored in the issues to come.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?