In Justice League #0, readers were not only introduced to the revamped "Shazam" character, but they were also given yet another glimpse at the mysterious concepts surrounding the hooded woman Pandora and the "Trinity of Sin" that appears to lie at the center of next year's "Trinity War" event.
Written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank and back-up art by Ethan Van Sciver, Justice League #0 also gave new clues to the magical world of the DCU that revolves around the Shazam character and the Rock of Eternity.
So what did we learn?
Pandora, who first appeared in last year's Flashpoint #5 and every #1 issue of the New 52, was once again seen with her skull-shaped "box."We know that the Council of Wizards sentenced Pandora because she opened the skull-shaped box and released what they had imprisoned within: "tragedy and torment and torture."
In Justice League #0, she wants to undo what she has done and "put back the evils that were within." But she's told that she "cannot imprison what has already been unleashed."
This story echoes the Greek myth of the first woman Pandora, who opened a similar box to unleash evil upon the world.
But here's the new part: We find out from a dying wizard that there's still great power within the box, and only the "strongest of heart or the darkest" can open the box. Pandora wants to know who can open it, but doesn't find out before the wizard disappears.
Pandora's appearance in Justice League #6 showed her wanting to get the Justice League to help her achieve some goal. And Phantom Stranger, already shown to be another of the Trinity of Sin, had opposed her in that issue.Could a fight between the "Trinity of Sin" for this "great power" within the box be the key to the Trinity War event? We know that Batman was carrying it in the Free Comic Book Day teaser. Are he and other Justice League members taking side in their fight for the power within the box?
And it's hard to forget that Pandora affected the creation of the New 52 universe last year. Could this "great power" within the box — combined with her vengeful heart — allow Pandora to undo the New 52 universe and put things back the way they were?
Black Adam vs. Shazam
In this issue, Johns sets up an impending battle between Black Adam and Shazam over the powers of magic.
According to the story, the Council of Wizards had once made Black Adam into their champion, but he murdered all of them but one. Black Adam and his magic were imprisoned, and the last surviving wizard sat alone in the Rock of Eternity, the "greatest magical fortress in all existence."
But as Justice League #0 begins, Black Adam escapes. The wizard, desperate for help and dying, casts a seeking spell and ends up finding Billy Batson, creating the hero Shazam.The issue is filled with hints about the magic within the Rock of Eternity, including what appears to be an enchanted mirror, a talking suit of armor and a green ring that is probably linked to the Green Lantern universe or, from the looks of it, the "Starheart" from pre-New 52.
The wizard says that Billy has the power of the living lightning and the strength of a demigod, which mirrors the pre-New 52 character. But this new Shazam also apparently has the power to cast spells, which is a great way to distinguish him from Superman.
Readers got a peek at the Seven Deadly Sins of Man, residing in the Rock of Eternity. The wizard warns Billy that Black Adam wants to "awaken" those Seven Deadly Sins and rule over magic, so we may get to see them unleashed during upcoming stories.
There's also an importance placed on "family" being magic in this new Shazam. "Family is what it can be... not what it should be. That is your secret spell... your ultimate power," the wizard tells Billy, perhaps foreshadowing what was once called the "Marvel family." Will Freddy by Shazam Jr.? And what will Mary be? There are other seats on the Council open, after all.Billy may have a lot of growing up to do as he takes his journey toward becoming a hero, but he'll have some good examples of heroism as he's going to be joining the Justice League, and Johns has indicated Billy will be friends with Cyborg.
But it's also made clear in this issue that the Council of Wizards who judged the "Trinity of Sin" is linked to Shazam and Black Adam. The Free Comic Book Day issue that showed a scene from "Trinity War" included Black Adam, so we knew he was part of the event. This issue further confirms that Shazam and Black Adam will be central characters in "Trinity War."
The issue brings us our first good look at The Question in the New 52, as he's shown at the very end of Justice League #0.
We already knew he was a prideful ruler of some kind, and he was one of the "Trinity of Sin" who were sentenced by the wizards, alongside Pandora and Phantom Stranger. The man who would become Question never had his true identity revealed in the issue, and even Phantom Stranger indicated in Phantom Stranger #0 that he doesn't know who he was.At the hands of the Council of Wizards, his face is erased and he's forced to forget his name. The wizards say he will forever "question" his identity and search for answers.
In Justice League #0, we see the results of him forever "questioning" his identity. He talks in short, seemingly disjointed phrases, much like the version of The Question who showed up in Justice League Unlimited(see our analysis of this similarity and the history of The Question for more).
While fans of the Rorschach-type mumbling by The Question will be thrilled, just about every fan of the character is letting out a sigh of relief because the supernatural origin shown in the Free Comic Book Day issue apparently does not mean the character is supernatural.
He's the same kind of street-level detective he's been portrayed as being before (but with a different origin and reason for the faceless mask).
Will The Question show up again in Justice League, or will he get his own ongoing series like Phantom Stranger?
His appearance in Justice League shows him saying something about "the man with the hat" (Phantom Stranger?) and "the girl with the guns" (Pandora?). He says "it's all connected." So he'll probably have a role in next year's "Trinity War."
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