This week's Justice League of America #6 switched tone a bit from last week's battle-focused first chapter of DC's summer event Trinity War.
Last week — when we spoke to DC editor Brian Cunningham in the first installment of Newsarama's Trinity War Weekly — the biggest focus was the shock of Superman killing Doctor Light.
But this week's issue switched gears quite a bit, as Trinity War showed several separate factions of the Justice Leagues investigating Doctor Light's killing: Batman looking into the "science" behind the death, Martian Manhunter searching Superman's brain (and Doctor Light's body), Wonder Woman searching for Pandora's box and enlisting the help of the Justice League Dark, and the Question going straight to a "cough-cough"-ing Superman to find some answers.
There were also tons of "murder mystery" clues in the issue to entice readers: Martian Manhunter seeing the Superman chess piece within the hero's thoughts, Vibe sensing of "something beyond" after the killing, Superman coughing constantly and appearing sick and Wonder Woman discovering yet another mystery about the origins of Pandora's box.
Justice League of America #6, which featured art by Doug Mahnke, also marked the first issue where Jeff Lemire co-wrote with Geoff Johns. The two will be working together throughout the six-issue crossover event. As Lemire told Newsarama earlier this week, Lemire began bringing the characters from his own Justice League Dark series into the story, as next week sees the story shift to that comic's #22.
In Part Two of our Trinity War Weekly series (click here for Week One, where we discuss the first issue's events), Newsarama talked to Cunningham about the latest developments in Trinity War.
Newsarama: Brian, the tone of the Trinity War story seems to have shifted somewhat, as the battle has ended and the focus is now on the murder mystery. Was that the intent and is that true of upcoming issues?
Cunningham: The heroes are in a bit of a quandary. They are trying to figure out if they are on the right side doing the right thing. Did Superman really kill Doctor Light? Was it an accident? Was he triggered to do so by Doctor Light himself? Did Pandora's Box plant something evil inside Superman? Or is there something else going on?
No one except Amanda Waller really wants to consider the possibility that Doctor Light's death wasn't an accident. And that makes Steve Trevor wonder if Waller doesn't know more about the incident than she's letting on.
Nrama: Jeff Lemire helped write this issue with Geoff. What was the approach to who wrote what?
Cunningham: That is something you'd have to ask Geoff and Jeff. I was not involved in that process. But it's a very seamless process where I can't even tell who wrote what. They just work very well together.
Nrama: There are tons of clues in this issue: the brief glimpse J'onn gets of the Superman chess piece, Vibe's sense of "something beyond," Superman's cough, Diana's discoveries about the box, and more I'm sure I'm missing. Are some of these red herrings?
Cunningham: Yes…and no. Saying which is which is spoiling half the fun.
Nrama: It's interesting to see different members of the leagues with different clues, but none of them really working together. What's up with that?
Cunningham: What's funny is that the teams the story started out with are definitely not what they evolve into as the story goes along. In JL DARK #22, we'll see even more permutations you'd never expect. That's what makes these crossovers a blast to work on.
Nrama: In the Trinity War Weekly for last week's issue, I asked about the possibility of DC selling Xanadu's superhero cards. Now I'm thinking the Superman chess piece might be a nifty bit of merchandise. What d'ya think?
Cunningham: Like the cards, this is on my wish list, too! But then again, this particular chess piece will probably be bagged and tagged as police evidence.
Nrama: OK, so we get to see the Justice League Dark show up in this issue. What is Wonder Woman thinking as she hunts them down?
Cunningham: She wants to help Superman, the man she loves. But doing so doesn't necessarily mean she's doing the right thing, either.
Nrama: Can you describe the Justice League Dark's role going forward? Do they help bring together all these clues? Or are they more like another solo cook in a kitchen crowded with them?
Cunningham: The Justice League Dark team definitely explores the mystical aspects of this story, of which there are plenty. From the Trinity of Sin to Pandora's Box, the Dark crew is placed squarely front and center.
Nrama: We get a great look at The Question and his motivation. Can you describe the character and what we'll see from him in the Trinity War story?
Cunningham: I'd rather not say. The Question's story will unfold in Trinity War and continue in Phantom Stranger.
Nrama: There's a not-so-subtle theme lying behind this issue — science vs. supernatural. Is that a one-issue thing? Or an ongoing theme in Trinity War? And how does it speak to the larger DCU, with leagues and heroes serving those two different "masters" — science/supernatural?
Cunningham: Definitely an ongoing theme. Particularly when you have two Leagues based mostly on science and one based entirely on magic. But as the Dark team might say, science is only magic that's explained. And then there is the Trinity of Sin, who also bring an element of mysticism to their roles in any story.
Nrama: OK, so we've got the Justice League version of the "Trinity" going in three directions: Batman doing his scientific analyses, Wonder Woman working with the JL Dark on the supernatural angle, and Superman running off with The Question. Is this the beginning of the division that brings about the "trinity" of Trinity War?
Cunningham: That would be telling. But it is fair to say that things coming in "threes" are prevalent throughout the entire story in many ways. When it's all over, we could probably have a contest to figure them all out. It's entirely possible that some are so subtle even I didn't get a few of them.
Nrama: OK, then we'll finish up with the same question as last week. What else would you like to tell fans about what's coming up in Trinity War next week?
Cunningham: Justice League Dark #22 will not only show what this team is capable of (same with issue #23!), but it will also show off the best art of Mikel Janín's career. All three series artists have been sharing art back and forth, and seeing art from Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke places a lot of unfair pressure on anyone. But Mikel rose to the occasion on issue #22 and hit it out of the park. It's the best looking issue of the series so far, and that is saying a lot.
Come back each week to Newsarama to for our Trinity War Week updates and complete coverage of the DC event.