Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
If last issue was “transitional,” the one-word description of this issue might well be “housekeeping.” Everything’s being put in order in advance of the big finish, but that finish keeps looking bigger all the time. As of last issue, we’ve got two divine trinities, a would-be god with an unstoppable hunting dog, an alien armada with its own set of supervillains, and a handful of Earthbound villains, all set to fight over ownership of our little planet.
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“An Old Pattern Repeating Itself” 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 Trinity continues resetting the world.
— There are 56 flags around the base of the Washington Monument, one for each state and territory. The two flags closest to the monument look like those of Puerto Rico and Missouri, but I can’t place the third one from the right, with the star. (I know, I know — altered timeline.)
— Black Adam was seen as Washington, D.C.’s local hero back in issue #23.
— “Flee … or be eaten”: if this timeline had been restored already, boy would that have been the wrong thing to say. In 52 #43 (February 28, 2007), Black Adam’s stepbrother Osiris was eaten by Sobek, one of the Four Horsemen of Apokolips.
— “Like it’s always been mine”: I’ll accept that, in order for the story to move forward, Cheetah has somehow gained Wonder Woman’s connection to Washington, just as the Joker has gained Batman’s bond with Gotham. However, if the Troika substituted themselves for the Trinity, wouldn’t Morgaine and Enigma have inherited those connections? Did Morgaine and the others abandon them in favor of Europe?
— “You have relocated often”: well, the modern Wonder Woman has. Historically, though, Wonder Woman (through her secret identity of Diana Prince) worked out of Washington pretty regularly. This changed with the 1986 revamp, when she settled originally in Boston in Wonder Woman vol. 2 #3 (April 1987). By issue #101 (September 1995), she had moved to Gateway City, but as of issue #195 (October 2003) she had relocated to the Themysciran embassy in New York City. Heretofore-unknown continuity tweaks aside, she’s only lived in Washington since the start of WW vol. 3 (August 2006).
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— I take it the Joker can exert such massive control over Gotham City for a couple of reasons: he is probably better-suited to channeling “chaospower,” and he has a much stronger connection to Gotham than Cheetah did to D.C.
— I think this is the first time in Trinity that we see Batman’s eyeballs through his “mask.”
— “You are corrupt”: really? For one thing, I’d expect Wonder Woman to make that sort of looking-into-one’s-soul determination; but for another, Luthor hasn’t always been invariably evil. In the Silver Age, Luthor’s intellect brought such benefits to an alien planet that they renamed it Lexor. Indeed, regardless of his original orientation, the thing which always seems to push him over the edge is the presence of Superman, doing just the sort of thing he does on this page. To Luthor, Superman is an affront to the dignity of ordinary Earthlings, so it doesn’t help when Superman actually is a god pronouncing judgment.
— “Do it!” I’m sure the Watchmen parallel is unintentional (and probably superficial); but like Rorschach, the Joker realizes he doesn’t fit into this new reality.
— “Jason”: probably not Jason “Robin II” Todd.
— According to the Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe, Jay “Flash” Garrick was the first super-powered costumed hero in the unaltered timeline’s Golden Age (and the most senior surviving Golden Ager after the deaths of the original Crimson Avenger and Sandman). Therefore, I suppose it’s appropriate that he makes this choice.
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“Weaving Fate” 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: Looking in on Hawkman, Gangbuster, Charity, and Tarot.
Page 13 (story page 1)
— Justice Society members include (from the top) Hawkman, Stargirl, Power Girl, a miscolored and unmasked Starman (?), Lightning, Cyclone, Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Jakeem Thunder and Thunderbolt, an unmasked Damage (?), Liberty Belle, Sandman, Mr. Terrific, Hourman, and Wildcat.
— Justice Leaguers include Red Tornado, Vixen, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), the Flash (Wally West), Red Arrow, Black Canary, Black Lightning, and Zatanna.
— Lightning, a/k/a Jennifer Pierce, is Black Lightning’s other daughter. She was created by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and first appeared in the alternate future of Kingdom Come #1 (July 1996). Later, she was incorporated into present-day continuity by Ross, Geoff Johns, and Dale Eaglesham beginning with Justice Society of America vol. 3 #12 (March 2008). Her electrical powers manifest themselves as spikes of energy.
— Jakeem Thunder, a/k/a Jakeem Johnny Williams, is the modern successor to Johnny Thunder. Johnny was created by John Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier and first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). By speaking the magic word “Cei-U” (or its homonym, the phrase “say you”), Johnny, and later Jakeem, could command the omnipotent Thunderbolt. Jakeem was created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar and first appeared in The Flash vol. 2 #134 (February 1998), which was penciled by Paul Ryan. Jakeem’s first significant appearance came a year later, in JLA #26 (February 1999), which was written by Morrison and penciled by Howard Porter.
— Starman, a/k/a Thom Kallor, a/k/a Danny Blaine, f/k/a Star Boy, was created by Otto Binder and George Papp and first appeared in Adventure Comics #282 (March 1961). Originally he was a member of the 30th Century’s Legion of Super-Heroes, but as of Justice Society of America vol. 3 #1 (February 2007) he had traveled back in time and joined the Justice Society.
— Also visible on GL’s disk are Dr. Mid-Nite and Citizen Steel.
— “Sometimes I don’t know who I’m even supposed to be”: this may be a veiled reference to that Jim Starlin Hawkman Special from last summer whose “everything you know is wrong” approach caused a minor kerfluffle among Hawkman fans. Although I didn’t read it (well, not exactly), that Special struck me as the kind of thing you do when you’re getting ready to relaunch a character for the nth (get it?) time. However, it could just be an innocent complaint.
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— “A ring beacon”: I’m wrong again, apparently, about John sending out an energy twin.
— “[W]hat you stole”: Firestorm’s fragmented interpretation notwithstanding, let’s recap who’s covered in John’s message. Two threats are headed for Earth. First, there are Krona and the Void Hound, who want to talk to the Earth … talk it to death –! Second, there’s Despero’s fleet, which includes Kanjar Ro, and which is augmented by Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman. Despero wants his share of the creation energy he would have gotten had Kanjar not interfered — but he’s apparently made his peace with Kanjar after Kanjar hooked him up with the Crime Syndicators. Besides, his ex-partners in the Troika have already passed along that share to Konvikt.
— The question, though, is whether Despero has any beef with the Trinitarians. Their return to Earth doesn’t mean that they necessarily sucked any creation energy from the Troika. Instead, the Trinity simply seems better able to control the Earth than the Troika, thereby making it relatively easy for them to displace the Troika. Put another way, the Trinity and the Troika still look just as godlike as they were before the Trinity’s return. Therefore, I don’t see where Despero has any claim on the Trinity’s power … unless his reunion with the other Troiksters would fix the defects Kanjar’s presence brought to the ritual, and allow the original Troika to displace the Trinity.
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— Everyone seated at the League’s table is an active member except Zatanna. She’s been part of the League in recent issues, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning she’d come back full time. (That said, I don’t remember anyone making a big deal out of Geo-Force leaving.) The four characters standing are each former members, except for Gangbuster, who has never been a member.
— “John’s signal blinked out”: you know, there’s no reason Hal would have known about that squad of sixty-odd GLs who ran afoul of Despero and company; but given their fate, it shouldn’t be too hard for him to learn what interstellar armadas might be causing trouble and where. Besides, I’d think if Hal had asked about John, the Oan dispatcher might have mentioned that they’d just lost a bunch of GLs.
— “You’re not under League command”: Black Canary may be speaking informally, but as I understand it, there is something of a “once a Leaguer, always a Leaguer” mentality. There is the active League, whose members have been thoroughly vetted (usually by an intricate process involving a card table and some headshots), and there’s the reserves, consisting of everyone else who has ever been a Leaguer. Therefore, as the League’s current chair, BC can order around Green Arrow or Booster Gold without giving it another thought; but she has to be nice to Gangbuster.
— If Charity’s talking about the two Arcana teams, the Fool could be Plastic Man or the Joker, and the Hanged Man could be Deadman or the Gentleman Ghost.
— Likewise, the Hierophant could be either Luthor or Ra’s al Ghul, but in light of his confrontation with Superman I’m going with the former.
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— According to Tarotpedia, The Lovers “stands for love and romance, fulfillment and peace, and a harmonious meeting of opposites. However, […] the card is often interpreted as denoting choices and a need for guidance; it might indicate that you have to get your priorities straight and have to re-evaluate what you believe in, in order to move forward with renewed confidence.” I’m inclined to go with the less-romantic interpretation here, mostly because I think Jose and Rita work better as friends.
— (If I remember correctly, Solitaire also pulled the “Lovers” card in the film version of Live and Let Die, but that was because Bond had stacked the deck.)
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This time out, it was good to see Trinity catching up with the trio of Hawkman, Gangbuster, and (Charity filling in for) Tarot. They’re not quite a capital-T trinity (or troika), at least not for purposes of this story, because Gangbuster and Tarot have been paired up pretty much since Jose came into the story; and there’s no comparable coupling in either the Trinity or Troika.
Still, we’ve seen a lot of Gangbuster and Hawkman to go with Gangbuster/Tarot, and it makes me wonder whether we’ll see a significant Hawkman/Tarot scene in the final issues. Bringing together Hawkman’s memories of his past lives with Rita’s connection to the Worldsoul might be fascinating to watch. In light of the Trinity’s actions this issue, I don’t know that the timeline needs any more restoration — it looks like the world just woke up one day to find that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman had become gods — but with Hawkman, Tarot, the Construct-mind, and the Void Hound (not to mention Vandal Savage and probably someone else I’ve forgotten), Trinity is bringing together a lot of folks with deep connections to planetary history and/or consciousness.
Going into the home stretch, however, the big question seems to be how to de-power the Trinity and Troika. They’re currently fueled by creation energy, which Krona wants, but which neither trio will let him have. Maybe the solution will involve creating a new set of gods for the Genesis Planet. (Would they be the Third World, after Krona’s First and the Trinity’s Second?) Heck, maybe Krona just needs some rehabilitation and better people skills and he could go back to being their supreme deity.
Anyway, looks like it’s all getting ready to boil over in the next few issues — and the Crime Syndicate owes Kanjar and/or Despero a favor for letting them out of interdimensional prison.