By: Geoff Johns (story), Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Eber Ferreira (inks), Rod Reis (colors)

Now that we’ve gotten to the conclusion of this storyline, I feel more confident in saying that Trinity War up till now has been deeply disappointing, even according to my cautious expectations.  Hyped and hinted at from the first year of the DC relaunch, it has devolved into little more than one of those loud, annoying, inter-hero squabbles that pop up way too often in comics these days, on top of merely being a prelude for a bigger storyline.

Does anyone else feel like they’ve been had?  To over-advertise something as a Big Event and then reduce it to basically a teaser leaves you wondering what you spent so much time (and money) on for the past two months.  Of course, this does explain why it’s felt like Trinity War has been spinning its wheels all this time: because it had to stall the car somehow until it could finally start moving toward its true direction.

What’s baffling is why Johns would purposely withhold all the action and secrets until the final issue, when there’s enough material here to go around.  Admittedly, we get a lot of good developments here, almost enough to make your dogged persistence through the first five issues worth it.  More frequently, however, you can’t help feeling like you could definitely have used some of these revelations a lot earlier.

Every twist is good for a certain amount of impact, but if you pile them all on top of each other, they get sort of overwhelming and you lost your appreciation for each one.  Since the Secret Society has turned out to be nothing but a distraction (and Dr. Light a shill) anyway, Johns should’ve introduced us to the true origins of the Outsider much sooner than now.  True, this might have been a dead giveaway for—spoiler alert—the coming of the Crime Syndicate, but on the other hand, it might have allowed time for the villains to actually do something before we cut out to a new storyline altogether.

Major flaws in execution aside, Johns does manage, as he usually does, to weave everything together in a nice little bundle.  Some of his choices even pull off the hat-trick of being both organic and brilliant, like returning the Outsider to his early origins and tying him to Earth-3’s Owlman.  Several mysteries are instantly cleared up in logical fashion: the baffling nature of Pandora’s Box to scientists, magicians, and gods alike, its corrupting influence, and the truth behind Superman’s illness* and supposed murder.  It does convince you that Johns had a master plan in place all along.

Mind you, some of the methods he uses to get here are questionable.  The discovery of the Atom as a triple-agent is particularly unconvincing, not so much because we’ve been set up to trust her intentions if not her actions, but because it doesn’t make much logistical sense.  Given her intimacy with Martian Manhunter, wouldn’t she have been discovered and the whole Earth-3 plot foiled by now?*  And I’m not sure I appreciate the Trinity of Sin getting sidelined in a storyline that was ostensibly about them, even if they were tangential for most of it.

The one reliable quality about Trinity War has been the strength of its art, and Reis’ work here follows that trend in spectacular fashion.  If you think the regal way he draws superheroes is superb, take a good look at what he can do with villains.  The Crime Syndicate look incredibly confident and comfortable in their slightly campy outfits, and immediately they convey a sense of arrogant entitlement, more like conquerors than rogues. Trinity War was intended to be a comic book summer blockbuster, and Reis has been crucial to fulfilling that goal.

On its own, it’s a worthy, action-packed issue to a Big Event storyline, but it also serves to remind us how dull that storyline has been up till now.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * But seriously, why Zatanna couldn’t have simply cast a spell looking for harmful substances in his

* Of course, at the rate of betrayal she’s been going, we could very well see her turn on her villainous comrades at some point.  Highly unlikely, though.  The fact that she nearly killed Superman won’t be easy to forgive, even if she does turn to the light in the end.

– Who do you suppose the Syndicate’s prisoner is?  Their version of Lex Luthor, maybe?