Piecing Together DC's Mysterious FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Issue

<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/Newsarama/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>Typically, Free Comic Book Day releases are designed to be straight-forward reads appealing to as wide of an audience as possible. DC took a different tactic with their <b>The New 52</b> FCBD issue from writer Geoff Johns and artists Jim Lee, Gene Ha, Ivan Reis and Kenneth Rocafort; promoting their relaunched line with a comic aimed squarely at hardcore fans. <p>Containing a plethora of clues and hints towards the future while wrapped in plenty of mystery, the book suggests several things for the future of the DC Universe, specifically an event starting next year titled "Trinity War." Here are 10 things that we noticed, and what they might mean in comic books to come. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>

WHY VIBE?

Among all the excitement about new concepts teased in the issue, one character in the gatefold spread by Jim Lee got a rather <i>different</i> reaction from fans: Vibe. <p>The prevailing online opinion about Vibe showing up: "Out of all the characters they could bring back to the New 52, why him?" After all, Newsarama even <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/worst-justice-league-members-120215.html">recently gave Vibe the No. 1 spot in a list of "The 10 Worst Justice League Members of All Time."</a> <p>But our guess is that Johns has big plans for the character, either within his <i>Justice League</i> title or something else he's writing. Why? Check out this line from his interview last week with <a href=http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/story/2012-05-05/DC-Comics-Free-Comic-Book-Day-issue/54730640/1><i>USA Today</i></a>: <i>"I can't remember the last time someone requested to see [Vibe]," Johns said, laughing. "That's the whole point, though. I like new challenges."</i> <p>The use of the first person "I" by Johns means fans can expect the writer himself to be handling Vibe's introduction to The New 52. And the last couple times we saw Johns use the word "challenge" to describe his attraction to a character was when he took on <i>Booster Gold</i> and <i>Aquaman</i>. Considering the positive revival those characters experienced under his pen, readers probably shouldn't scoff at Vibe. (<i>Vaneta Rogers</i>.)

CONVERGING STORIES

DC's FCBD issue teed things up in several different comics, and not just ones you'd expect, like the Geoff Johns-written <i>Justice League</i>. <p>We also get a glimpse of James Robinson and Nicola Scott's new <i>Earth 2</i> for a page, broadcasted in The Red Room and described as "a signal from another universe." <p>In The Black Room scene, Talia al Ghul recently revealed as the mastermind behind Leviathan gets mentioned (specifically, her "recruitment activities") just before the second volume of <i>Batman Incorporated</i> launches. <p>It's surely no coincidence that both of those books are part of the "Second Wave" of The New 52, debuting this month and likely hints at further interconnectivity to come within The New 52. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

CONFIRMED: THAT <I>IS</I> BLACK ADAM

The battle scene depicted on the Jim Lee gatefold included a character that looks a lot like he's wearing <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/shazam-revealed-dc-comics-120305.html">the new Shazam costume that DC revealed</a>. But the costume is black. Readers have been asking: Is that the New 52 version of Black Adam? <p>According to our sources inside DC, the answer is <i>yes</i>. That <i>is</i> Black Adam. <p>We're told that it may not be his final costume or his final look for The New 52 (we'd like the pointy ears and hair, please!), but the character's presence in the issue does represent Black Adam's debut. And it implies his involvement in Trinity War. <p>Whether you love or hate the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank <i>Curse of Shazam!</i> story so far, you've got to love the thought of Johns writing Black Adam again, after the success he had with the character in <i>52</i>. <p>Of course, this is a <i>new</i> version of Black Adam, so he may be very different. But the fact that he's fighting alongside <i>heroes</i> implies the character will probably be back to his old habit of crossing the hero/villain line. (<i>Vaneta Rogers</i>.)

THE ROOMS

There are a couple of different rooms featured in the Free Comic Book Day issue, namely "The Red Room" in Detroit, Michigan, and part of S.T.A.R. Labs and and "The Black Room," within the headquarters of A.R.G.U.S. in Washington D.C. <p>The Red Room we've seen before, but the FCBD issue shows that its "Monitor Machine" is capable, evidently, of receiving a signal from Earth 2. Who broadcasted it? And why? Also, what is DC planning if they're showing interaction between the main DC Earth and Earth 2 just days after The New 52 version of the latter was introduced? <p>The Black Room generates even more interest: In a panel spread across two pages, the room is shown to house numerous recognizable DC artifacts including the Spear of Destiny, the Black Diamond (both named in dialogue), the Psycho-Pirate's mask (a character with a long history in transcending altered realities), the Haunted Tank, Etrigan's armor, and, most importantly to this story, Pandora's Box. Newsasrama has confirmed that many items in the room hint towards Jeff Lemire's plans for <i>Justice League Dark</i> (Steve Trevor says "find me John Constantine," and the solicitation for issue #11 reads "the secrets of The Black Room revealed"), and signify a greater cohesion between that book and <i>Justice League</i> proper. <p>Steve Trevor mentions another room at A.R.G.U.S., the intriguingly named "Circus," which he notes is of special importance. We don't see that here, but feel free to speculate on what it could be until we do. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

JLA/SHAZAM CROSSOVER

Geoff Johns already <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/geoff-johns-curse-of-shazam-120126.html">revealed his plans to Newsarama a few months ago</a>: "What happens with Shazam in our back-ups eventually ties into <i>Justice League</i>. That's why it's in <i>Justice League</i>." <p>In the Free Comic Book Day issue, the evidence of the ties between the Justice League and the world of Shazam were abundantly clear. Not only is Black Adam fighting alongside other Justice League-associated heroes in the Trinity War spread, but the "Circle of Eternity" bears resemblance to concepts associated with the Shazam property's "Rock of Eternity." <p>So we can count on the <i>Shazam</i> concepts and characters to be a significant part of what's coming up in <i>Justice League</i> and the "Trinity War" event. (<i>Vaneta Rogers</i>.)

WHO IS THE GREEN LANTERN?

The appearance of an apparently new Green Lantern in the "near future" sequence at the end of the issue raises all manner of questions: Who is he? Why is his costume so different from other Green Lanterns? Why the mask? Oddly enough, some of the dialogue between the character and Batman may offer some clues or perhaps, some more mysteries to be unraveled. <p>The mask, obviously, is there to hide the identity of the character. The Green Lantern Corps is no stranger to the concept of masked crime fighters, but there's much more mask here than normal enough, perhaps, to suggest that whoever is under that mask is someone we know. But who? There may be a clue in the first thing that he says to Batman: "You're just a man. I'm not <em>afraid</em> of you, Batman. I'm the <em>Green Lantern</em>." Talking about himself in the third person? Downplaying Batman's abilities? Are we <em>sure</em> this isn't Hal Jordan, despite what Batman says to him? <p>Then again, maybe not; notice that this Green Lantern calls himself <em>the</em> Green Lantern, a definitive article that, for all his vanity, Hal never deploys. Does this mean that this new character is even more of an egomaniac than Hal, or that there's only one Green Lantern left on Earth (or at all?) by the time Trinity War is underway? If so, then what happened to everyone else? <p>And here's another question: What's going on with Superman and the column in that multiple-page spread, exactly? Is GL just being taken by surprise, or does his ring have a different weakness than the other Green Lantern rings (Could the column be wood...? It doesn't <em>look</em> like it, but that doesn't mean that it isn't, necessarily)? <p>The peek into the near future of the Green Lantern series throws up a lot of unknowns, and really only offers one concrete fact: The next few months of that series are likely to be filled with revelations and stories that we should all be paying attention to, if we want to know what's happening with Trinity War. (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)

PHANTOM STRANGER

The Phantom Stranger first showed up in <b>Justice League</b>, speaking to Pandora of a third sinner and their doomed existence wandering reality. Now, we've seen the Stranger sentenced to that reality. But just who is he? <p>Now, we don't know if DC Comics would <i>actually</i> go here or not, but it sure seems like Phantom Stranger may be Judas Iscariot, the Apostle of Jesus Christ who sold him out to officials, directly leading to his crucifixion. <p>During their interaction in <b>Justice League</b>, Pandora said "I know your true name. I'll tell the world who the Phantom Stranger really is. You'll have more enemies than I do." From that, we know he is someone who is nearly universally accepted as a <i>bad guy</i>. Then comes <b>The New 52 Special</b>. Here, the young man who would become Phantom Stranger is being sentenced. He says "Forgive me as he would!" The primary message of Jesus Christ is one of forgiveness. The wizard from the council throws pieces of silver at the man, saying his "greed" is his transgression. He is sentenced to wear these pieces of silver around his neck to be "a witness to what greed can do." <p>New American Standard Bible: Matthew 26:15, "and said, 'What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?' And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him." Now, the Bible also accounts that Judas hung himself out of the guilt, but this is magic and this is comics, there's nothing to say they couldn't be judging him post-hanging, or have a proxy hung instead. The question is, would DC actually go there? (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

THE QUESTION

Speaking of "The Question," we've seen that the mysterious "Third Sinner" teased in <b>Justice League</b> is revealed as The New 52's Question. Unfortunately, this raises far more questions than it answers. <p>If the three were sentenced prior to Pandora re-writing reality at the end of <i>Flashpoint</i>, does that mean this version of the Question technically existed pre-New 52? If so, what is his connection to Vic Sage, the original male Question? <p>This sinner appears to be a conqueror; he has several scars and wound marks all over his body and quite a bit of pride in his name. He even announces that he "will rise to power again," further strengthening the notion. Vic Sage was about anonymity, not fame and power and everyone knowing his name, further driving a wedge between him and this new/old Question. The blonde hair may be a tip. The historian and scholar Aelian wrote that Alexander The Great's hair "was yellow" in "Varia Historia" in the third century A.D., but Alexander, while a conqueror, wasn't known for his desire for the world to fear him. This one is the biggest mystery, a huge question mark. (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

PANDORA

Pandora, the woman who created The New 52. She rewrote reality, despite being damned to simply observe it. We see the most of Pandora in <b>The New 52 Special</b> that we've seen since month one of The New 52, when she appeared in the background of every first issue, but we still don't learn much about her. <p>She is, at least in a way, the Pandora of legend, insomuch as she opened a box that contained "the terrors of man." For this, she was sentenced to an eternity of loneliness, pain, isolation; all of this came to her because she opened a box, something she feels was not a sin, or wrong, or evil. <p>Pandora finds the box inside the Black Room, wanting it in order to remove her curse. That's the last we see of it before its on Batman's belt "in the near future." <p>In the Greek myth of Pandora's Box, she was given the container, opened it due to the influence of the gods pushing her curiosity, and was not punished for the deed. If this is simply the mythical Pandora with a new twist, then she would have virtually no ties to the DC Comics universe as a whole, aside from being sentenced by this council of SHAZAM. We do know now that her box is real, that she thinks she can undo her great sin, and that she still doesn't think she's actually done anything wrong. <p>It should be noted that she's not the first female in the DC family to have mystical guns. Both Crimson Avenger (Jill Carlyle) and Rose Tattoo (from WildStorm) had magic/vengeance associated pistols, but it seems unlikely either have a direct connection to Pandora. (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE CIVIL WAR

With apologies to Marvel for stealing that title, the battle on DC's FCBD gatefold spread looks a lot like "heroes fighting heroes" in some type of "civil war." It's possible they're fighting over Pandora's Box, which Batman is apparently carrying. But it's obvious that the heroes are on different "sides." <p>We're putting our money on there being several <i>different</i> Justice League teams involved in "Trinity War," which means new teams are forming now. Our evidence? In <i>Justice League #8</i>, the Johns/Lee team made it clear they don't want any new members in their group. But this image includes Green Arrow, who was recently hinted to be joining <i>another</i> team. This issue also includes Deadman, who's on the <i>Justice League Dark</i> team, which new writer Jeff Lemire says he's tying into the larger JL franchise. <p>And DC executives tellingly <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dc-execs-talk-before-watchmen-sales-trinity-war.html">side-stepped our questions last week</a> about hints of more Justice League teams. <p>During the events surrounding Marvel's <i>Civil War</i>, the <i>Avengers</i> comic book franchise expanded to include rogue teams, young teams and every other kind of team in between. Could this "war" between JLA factions be part of a similar expansion of the Justice League franchise, complete with a major event to introduce and define all these characters? It's looking that way and apparently, they're not going to get along. (<i>Vaneta Rogers</i>.)

Piecing Together DC's Mysterious FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Issue

Date: 09 May 2012 Time: 08:52 PM ET