Two years after their highly promoted introduction in 2012's Free Comic Book Day issue, the trio known as the Trinity of Sin are getting their own team comic in October.
The Question, Pandora and The Phantom Stranger, DC's three "sinners" who were sentenced to wander the earth for eternity, will be struggling with their own redemption and identity while trying to save humanity — and uniting as a team to do it, even though they hate each other.
Written by J.M. DeMatteis with art by Yvel Guichet, the comic picks up the stories of Pandora and Phantom Stranger after their solo series end in August (both will have Futures End tie-in one-shots in September, in addition). However, DeMatteis told Newsarama that readers do not have to read the solo series to understand the events of Trinity of Sin.
With the comic's new #1 issue, DeMatteis will unite the three unwilling teammates to battle a cosmic threat that intends to utilize the "sin" of the Trinity to bring about a "Dark Age."
But the comic will also explore each of the individual characters in the Trinity — all of which are still surrounded by some mystery in the New 52.
Although The Question has made a few appearances in other titles, the Trinity of Sin comic will be his first ongoing appearance. Although clues to his true identity were given in his initial FCBD appearance, his background is still unknown.
Pandora is also somewhat enigmatic because she's still credited with the creation of the New 52 universe — effectively causing the reboot of the DCU in 2011 — and her role in that event hasn't been explored or explained significantly since (although Pandora writer Ray Fawkes did indicate some questions would be answered as her series ends next month).
The third member of the "Trinity," Phantom Stranger, starred in a solo series that was launched by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio in 2012, but was later taken over by DeMatteis. After the series ends in August, DeMatteis will get to continue the Stranger's story in Trinity of Sin, while uniting him with the other members of the Trinity.
We should also note that DeMatteis told Newsarama that his first storyline in Trinity of Sin will finish up in March, which is the same month that several other DC series and stories will be wrapping up, prompting recent speculation that DC is planning an event in April coinciding with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Newsarama talked exclusively to DeMatteis to find out more about Trinity of Sin and the roles that the Question, Stranger and Pandora will play in the coming months.
Newsarama: Marc, before you start this new series in October with the Trinity of Sin, two of them have solo series that wrap up this summer. Do the Phantom Stranger and Pandora titles lead into this new series?
J.M. DeMatteis: Not in any direct way. Both the Stranger and Pandora get to wrap up with stories that will, I think, satisfy fans of those books. Trinity of Sin will follow them pretty directly in continuity, but you can pick up Trinity without having read the other books.
In fact, we’re hoping that people that haven’t followed the Stranger and Pandora in their own series will do just that.
Newsarama: I think one of the most notable parts of the announcement is that The Question will be included. We haven't seen a lot of the Question. Will this series delve more into his story?
J.M. DeMatteis: Absolutely. Both the Phantom Stranger and Pandora have had the benefits of their own series and their characters have been explored in depth. The Question remains…a question. Of course that’s part of the fun of the character: even he doesn’t know who he is.
Nrama: That said, what are you getting to explore with the character in this series?
DeMatteis: I’ve had the opportunity to write the Question several times in Phantom Stranger, and what I find most fascinating about him is the fact that he’s certain that he’s been railroaded — that he, in fact, is not evil, that the true evil lies with Pandora and the Stranger. He hates the fact that he’s been lumped in with the Trinity, that he’s viewed as some kind of monster.
At the same time, the Question’s past is a blank: He has absolutely no idea who he truly is, so he might, in fact, be the greatest sinner of them all. And the very idea of that terrifies him.
The fact that Pandora and the Stranger have their memories intact also galls the Question. Why has his mind been wiped clean while they get to remember?
There are so many fascinating layers to the character, so much to explore, and we’ll be doing just that in the new series.
Nrama: Let's talk about Pandora. We spoke to Ray Fawkes about some of the larger questions concerning this character's creation of the New 52 universe. But with your new Trinity of Sin title, do you tie into that part of her history?
DeMatteis: Not in this first arc. Maybe down the line.
Nrama: Then how would you describe Pandora as a character, and what parts of her character are you exploring?
DeMatteis: Pandora went through a major transformation during the Forever Evil: Blight storyline and Ray Fawkes did a wonderful job of evolving that aspect of the character in the Pandora monthly. Pandora has rejected the role that humanity has projected onto her — mother of sin — and embraced a role as an agent of Light in the world.
She is, in many ways, the most stable, the most focused, the most compassionate member of the Trinity. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still dark and dangerous shadows lurking in her psyche. And that she doesn’t still carry tremendous guilt for, however inadvertently, unleashing the seven sins on the world.
Nrama: You said "not in the first arc." So how long is the first story arc of Trinity of Sin, and what’s the general premise?
DeMatteis: The first arc is six issues. Without getting into too much detail, the story has to do with the lone survivor of an antediluvian Dark Age who intends to literally bleed the sin out of the Trinity and use it to unleash a spell that will transform the world. The Trinity, of course, set out to stop him.
But these three aren’t a team: Their vast differences, their mutual antagonisms, get in the way—and they fail. Miserably. The world we know is wiped out of existence. The Dark Age rises again.
And things only get worse from there.
Nrama: Wow, that sounds pretty ominous. How important is this story to what’s coming for the greater DCU?
DeMatteis: I don’t think that way. My focus is on the story at hand. If it has ramifications beyond these six issues, fine. If not, that’s fine, too. I just want to tell as good a story as I can.
Nrama: In September, you're co-writing a Futures End tie-in about Phantom Stranger that seems to indicate he can eventually be forgiven (or rather, freed). Can you describe that issue, and do you really think that's a possibility for Phantom Stranger?
DeMatteis: It’s interesting because the Stranger is getting two separate send-offs. Our summer issues, which constitute the final arc of the official series (the story deals with the death of the angel Zauriel and the Stranger’s confrontation with the Presence) and Futures End, which gives us a glimpse of the Stranger’s life five years from now.
Dan DiDio — who launched the New 52 Stranger series and created his wonderful mythology — has come back to plot the Futures End story and I’m providing dialogue (which is how Dan and I worked when I first came on the book).
Both stories directly address the Stranger’s redemption and, in a way, one leads into the other.
The entire arc of the Phantom Stranger series has been, at its core, about redemption. In the course of my run, we’ve seen the Stranger evolve and grow to the point where — for perhaps the first time in his life — he’s more concerned with the welfare of others than he is with himself, so the question of his personal redemption suddenly matters less to him.
The paradox there is that his ability to see a world beyond himself actually brings him closer to redemption. So, by caring less about it, he’s increased his chances of finding it.
So yes — I absolutely think the Stranger can be redeemed. In fact, one of the things we explore in the final issues of the monthly is the idea that the biggest impediment to absolution is the fact that he doesn’t really believe he deserves it. It’s not God standing in the Stranger’s way, it’s his own belief system.
I also have to mention that Fernando Blanco does his best work ever on our final Phantom Stranger issues—I’m really going to miss working with him — and Phil Winslade is doing an amazing job with Futures End. This is the first time I’ve ever worked with Phil and I’ve been very impressed.
Nrama: Getting back to the new series, you've described the different journeys that the three characters will be experiencing. But for you as a writer, what is it about the story of the three of them together that interests you?
DeMatteis: With Trinity of Sin we’ve got three characters who are, essentially, loners — who, for the most part, don’t particularly like each other (and that’s putting it gently) — but they’ve got to come together for the greater good.
Each one of these characters alone is fascinating, but here we get to throw them together, using their interactions to illuminate them as individuals and as a group.
And of course we’re dealing with great themes: the nature of sin and evil, self-perception vs. world-perception, the search for redemption.
And all of it’s wrapped up in a juicy cosmic conflict with the fate of humanity on the line and a massively powerful, supremely nasty villain at the center of the action.
Nrama: I know it's fairly early in the process for the October-launching comic, but can you describe the visual style of the comic yet? Or what you expect readers to see from Yvel Guichet?
DeMatteis: In order to make a story like this work, an artist has to be able to do the small intimate moments and the huge action set-pieces. He has to be able to sell mood and mystery. Give us relatable human beings and unspeakable cosmic monstrosities. Yvel is able to do all of that. I’m delighted to be collaborating with him on this series.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you can tell us about Trinity of Sin?
DeMatteis: If you’re a fan of the Phantom Stranger and Pandora in their own books — or if you’ve been intrigued by the Question in his various DCU appearances — this new series will allow you to continue following the evolution of these three fascinating characters.
And if you know nothing at all about the Trinity of Sin, this is the perfect opportunity to jump aboard the train.