Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
While there’s no clean break between Acts Two and Three like there was between Acts One and Two, there’s definitely a shift in the series’ focus. The two stories in this issue catch up with characters who got moved to Act Two’s background; and they lay the groundwork for a couple of Act Three’s subplots.
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“God War” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: The Trinitarians remember their schism.
— Naturally, “the citadel of the gods” recalls both the Hall of Justice and the lunar JLA Watchtower, set in a mountainside like the original Secret Sanctuary. It also reminds me that the Earth-2 Superman located his version of the Fortress of Solitude not in the Arctic or Antarctic, but in a distant mountain range. This Fortress was first seen in Superman vol. 1 #17 (July-August 1942).
— As we’ve discussed previously, Atmahn’s rampage parallels the ultraviolent period in Batman’s career after Jason Todd’s death (ca. the spring of 1989).
— If we’re supposed to match Dinanna’s assault with a similar point in Wonder Woman’s life, I suppose it’s the Amazons’ attack on the United States, chronicled in (you guessed it) the Amazons Attack miniseries (June-November 2007). There, the Amazons were mad at the U.S. for imprisoning Wonder Woman after Max’s death, whereas here Dinanna’s … fighting the people who are trying to imprison her? (Maybe they’ve been emboldened by Kellel’s death and “descent” into regular-human life.)
— “The children we have rescued from starvation and death”: Even if his foster parents don’t have analogues on the Genesis Planet, Kellel probably still remembers that he was adopted, and would want to return the favor. Of course, Clark and Lois recently looked after a Kryptonian boy who took the Earth name of “Chris Kent” (see ’ “Last Son” storyline, as well as various issues of Superman).
— This world’s descent into chaos, while its gods are otherwise occupied, parallels the buildup to Infinite Crisis, when bad things slipped by the Trinitarians while they were similarly distracted.
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— In the opening pages of Infinite Crisis #1 (December 2005), the Trinitarians argued in the ruins of the Justice League Watchtower, not in a leveled city; but the thrust of this scene is similar.
— Again, while this argument doesn’t quite track the InfC scene, these are different times.
— However, I do wonder about the “acolytes and servants” who “tend” Atmahn’s caverns. It suggests that Atmahn had a bigger network of associates than Rabat alone. Of course, it could refer simply to priests and other followers, but I hadn’t gotten that impression from the texts.
— “None go there anymore to learn the ways of peace from you”: in the InfC #1 scene, Superman reminds Wonder Woman that the footage of Max Lord’s death has been playing continuously.
— “I am the goddess of the world entire”: This whole sequence brings into focus the ways the Trinitarians see themselves (including their perceptions of each other) in relation to their adopted world. In order to judge its people, Atmahn must remove himself from them; and sit almost in opposition to them (or at least not allow himself to let sympathy sway his judgments). Naturally this puts him at odds with Kellel, who seeks to bring himself closer to the people by becoming one of them. However, Dinanna can take neither position. Since she is “made of the world,” she can’t remove herself from it or its people; but she may see becoming one of them as a luxury she can’t afford.
— “You kill while I love”: Furthermore, by executing the Gray Lord, Dinanna has poisoned her relationship with her people, perhaps irreparably.
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“Fellow Prisoners” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Scott McDaniel, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Dissent stirs in the villains’ ranks.
— “Remaking … reality to suit their tastes”: Doesn’t look all that different to me, but as always, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
— Notice that the Dreambound are disposing of a faceless Global Police Agency agent in panels 2 and 3. The Justice Society might not be a serious threat, but the Dark Arcana must still deal, if only perfunctorily, with the cops.
— Ironic that here, the Tattooed Man/SCII is eager to be part of the evil forces taking over the world. In Final Crisis: Submit (December 2008), under different circumstances, he was a reluctant superhero.
— “Jerkface”: … and nicer, too.
— I have to ask: do the demons do their cooking in … wait for it … Hell’s Kitchen?
— “Server demons”: okay, maybe they’re just the waitstaff.
— Actually, might these “demons” be some of the people transformed by Morgaine’s magic, like in Tel Aviv?
— I noticed when re-reading Act Two that in issue #18, when the Atom is mentioned in connection with Sue Dibny’s murder, his newcast headshot shows a JSI-style gray-tone uniform. I presume he’s gone back to the traditional blue-and-reds because he’s officially a fugitive.
— “I pack quite a punch”: remember, the Atom can control both his size and his weight, so he can beef up to 180 pounds even while he’s small.
— “Fraunhofer lines”: apparently, they’re used more for astronomy. Therefore, near as I can figure, the Atom is using the lines to gauge the wavelengths of TVM’s attacks and avoid them accordingly.
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— And so S.P.H.E.R.E. and the Dreambound join the growing list of “villains” (well, Konvikt and Enigma) at least partially dissatisfied with Morgaine’s plans.
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Overall I enjoyed this issue, although I’m not sure why we’re learning about the God War now that the gods have apparently made up. I suppose it will explain why they have withdrawn from everyday contact with the Blue People, and therefore why it’s been so hard for their old friends to contact them.
With regard to the Dreambound, I’m not really surprised that they’d see their status reduced once Morgaine started recruiting high-powered supervillains. From there it’s a short ride to repentance. We’ve seen in the past couple of issues that S.P.H.E.R.E. had already pretty much turned against Morgaine, and as I said it looks like Enigma and probably Konvikt are on their way as well.
Accordingly, we are starting to see the various subplots wrap up, which is eminently appropriate for the beginning of the last act. Although the broad strokes of these conclusions seem obvious, they’re just pieces of the bigger picture; and of course the real appeal of Trinity lies in what it has to say about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
Finally, because I know I have been teasing it, I hope to have a post on Act Two ready to go this weekend. Last weekend was a busy one for me personally, and on top of that I figured many readers (including myself) would rather watch the Super Bowl than dig deep into the past seventeen issues. (No offense, Trinity crew, but it will always be hard to argue against the Super Bowl….)
See you in a couple of days!