Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 by Ray Fawkes – Double Review [Shadowhawk/Bane of Kings]

Pandora 01

Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings review the first issue of the new Pandora series from DC, being released as part of its Trinity War crossover event.

“Quite a promising issue but has a few flaws within the context of an origin story and references to Greek mythology.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

“An interesting issue that will keep me around for #2 but does not deliver on all elements of its intriguing premise.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

Shadowhawk:

For someone who is supposed to have been present in every first and second wave New 52 launch title, Pandora hasn’t done anything significant for more than a year and a half. Actually, closing on two years now. She has shown up in some cameos for backups written here and there for Geoff Johns’ Justice League, and that’s really it. There have been a lot of hints about something big going down soon in the DCU, and we finally know what that is: Trinity War.

To slightly backtrack, I went back right now to check and I can’t seem to find her in either Aquaman #1 or Batman #1 although she does show up in Supergirl #1 and Superman #1. Its more a “blink and you miss it” thing. She showed up in last year’s FCBD offering from DC however, which I only found out about quite recently, just this past weekend itself. And now she is getting her own title, a Trinity of Sin title no less, which ties into what was shown in the FCBD issue: three of the greatest sinners of ancient times are summoned at the Rock of Eternity where reside the greatest mages of all time, and each of the sinners is punished in one way or another. Pandora is cursed with immortality and the knowledge of the consequences that her curiousity has unleashed. Another man is cursed to wandering the Earth, dipping in and out of time and becomes known as the Phantom Stranger. The third, who rejects the council’s judgement, is cursed to forget himself and his facial features are all magicked away, and he becomes The Question.

Quite exciting stuff.

Ray Fawkes’ first issue of the new series (hopefully an ongoing), is Pandora’s origin story and it takes us through the ages from when Pandora was a simple tribal woman in ancient Macedonia thousands of years ago, to her judgement at the Rock of Eternity, and then on through the ages until we get to the modern time. If you consider the issue in full within the context of all the other series DC currently has out right now, the instigator of the Trinity War event is the death of the last great wizard who passed judgement on Pandora. And this ties in to the Shazam backups by Geoff Johns in the Justice League books, which recently culminated in a full issue where Shazam went head-to-head with Black Adam itself.

Quite simply, Pandora has been around a long, long time and she has seen the worst that humanity has to offer, courtesy of the Seven Sins that she unleashed when she opened the mythical Pandora’s box which, in actuality, is a skull-faced item of unknown provenance. The first issue does a great job of showing how Pandora has stood up to her flaws, and how she has faced the consequences of her actions throughout all of history. It would be easy to say that she has had no other choice and this is something that she simply must, but it always comes to a choice. Pandora made hers a long time ago and now she’s attempting to finally set things right and follow the guidance of the last (and now dead) wizard of the Rock of Eternity.

As an origin story, this issue isn’t all that bad. It is quite interesting. The panels with the different scenes from Pandora’s long life, as she resists the Seven Sins and tries to combat their influence again and again, and her training later on in life when she finally understands that she needs a much more proactive approach in her dealings with the Seven Sins, they are all wonderful. Each panel is a snippet of her life and the sense of time, of thousands of years passing, flows really well.

At the time though, the story still leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, there are no references at all to Greek mythology in the issue, which is really odd given that the Pandora myth is quite central to it. Pandora is from a random Macedonian tribe and that’s it. As a fan of Greek mythology and as someone who even undertook a few courses on the subject in college, this was a real annoying element of the book. More so since this could have easily been used to tie-in with the Wonder Woman book, or just the character even, for obvious reasons. Given that Pandora unleashed the Seven Sins, the story was in fact a bit too Christian for me. That dissonance really should have been handled better.

Another thing is that given how much we’ve already seen of her character in various backups and other cameos, the origin story as presented by Fawkes doesn’t have the appropriate punch to it. The promise of the character is spread out a little too thinly unfortunately, and this hinders Pandora #1 from being a really great issue.

Finally, while I loved the whole “through the ages” approach to the story, which gave us a good context for how Pandora has spent her time on Earth after her judgement, I didn’t like the fact that the opening of the box itself got so little attention. It might as well have been a footnote for its actual relevance to the story. It happened and then we see her get cursed. There was just the effect and no cause. And that was a letdown.

However, taken together, Pandora’s arc becomes something quite different. And in that respect, I really enjoyed this issue. The ending gives me enough cause to come back for the second issue later this month (this is a double-ship title for this month) and I’m definitely in for the long haul if DC makes this an on-going title, which I really hope they do. It would be even better if they spin off The Question from Trinity War, since I think the timing is quite perfect for that title to debut within the New 52.

The art team on this issue brings together some of DC’s best and brightest: Daniel Sampere and Vicente Cifuentes along with Zander Cannon and Patrick Zircher who are new to me. Hi-Fi, credited as the colourist, is I believe artist Joey Hi-Fi who has delivered some really excellent book covers for Angry Robot Books of late. Taken as a whole, I never had any issues with the artwork in this issue. Some of the changes in Pandora’s face made for an odd reading, but that’s easily attributable to the change in pencillers. Just that small lack of consistency, that is all. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the issue at all. All in all, I really like the artwork here, especially the depiction of the Seven Sins, Wrath most of all.

And to add to everything, Ryan Sook’s cover for the issue is fan-frikkin-tastic.

As a complete package, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 is a fairly decent issue and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to jump on board for Trinity War. Given how central the entire meta-story Pandora is, and how central she is in the big artwork for the event, this is a must-read.

Rating: 8/10

Bane of Kings:

Art: Zander Cannon, Patrick Zircher, Daniel Sampere, Vicente Cifuentes | Colours: Hi-Fi

#1 – The mysterious woman connected to the creation of the New 52 gets her own series! Pandora is on an action-packed, blood-soaked mission to hunt down the horrors she inadvertently unleashed upon the world. Can she save the DCU—and redeem herself in the process? A prequel to the upcoming “Trinity War”!

I’m not a big fan of Ray Fawkes. I’ve read the first two issues of his Constantine for the New 52 and didn’t like it, so naturally, I was a bit unsure about whether I wanted to check out Trinity of Sin: Pandora or not. However, as the latest issues of The Movement and Daredevil: Dark Nights didn’t arrive at my LCS this week for some reason, I thought I’d give it a try. And I actually found myself to rather enjoy it, and it serves as a fairly decent prequel to Trinity War, even if there is little appearance from the any of the characters in the three Justice League teams despite what the cover art may suggest.

Basically, Pandora walks the Earth for 10,000 years searching for something, and what this issue does is give a brief overview of those 10,000 years. If you’ll remember, each of the first (and maybe second waves) of The New 52’s #1s featured a brief appearance of Pandora (apart from Earth 2, which is set in a parallel dimension), and I actually only spotted a few of them. However, it left readers asking the question – just who is Pandora? She looks set to play a pretty key part in Trinity War, and it’ll be very interesting to watch events unfold.

Whilst it probably would have been for the best if this character was kept within an aura of mystery – so that we don’t know that much about her (kind of like the Emperor of Mankind in the Horus Heresy – we don’t want to have all of his secrets revealed), but it presented an interesting look at what was to come. Although the art was decent, there was nothing too groundbreaking – and overall, I think it’s fairly solid first issue. Much better than Constantine #1, that much is for certain.

There are also a number of artists featured in this issue, and from past experiences – normally the more artists there are, the more uneven the tone looks. However, it’s a credit to Zander Cannon (Pages 1-7 / 16-20) & Patrick Zircher (8-15), that they’ve managed to make the book flow so smoothly that If I hadn’t already known that there were multiple artists on this book I would have said that this was created by only one. Hi-Fi also impresses with the colours for this book as well, adding to the overall enjoyment – because it’s quite obvious that you can’t have a good comic without good story and good artwork.

Despite being billed as a prelude to Trinity War, nothing much happens to set up  the actual event aside from the last couple of pages (if that), Fawkes spends much of the issue touching on the regret that Pandora has had to bring with her on her 1,000 year journey through the world – meaning that if you’re skipping or not following Trinity War, then I think it’s safe to say that you can skip this issue, but I’d advise picking this up if you’re either a completist or want to know what happens in the build-up to the event.

And there’s also a guest appearance by Vandal Savage, who featured in the fun Demon Knights series for the New 52 – a character that I don’t know all that much about, but it’s interesting to see his appearance here.

Rating: 3/5

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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