Sunday, December 1, 2013
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11
"A Foolish Man"
J.M. DeMatteis Writer
Fernando Blanco Artist
Brad Anderson Colorist
Travis Lanham Letterer
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Wil Moss Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Batman created by Bob Kane
Deadman created by Arnold Drake
Katana created by Mike W. Bar and Jim Aparo
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family
The cover is by Guillem March, and I really do not care for his style. It just feels … incomplete. The overall concept of this cover is good, though — it shows us all the major characters of this story entering the afterlife, so it gives you a good idea of what's going to happen inside, even if the presentation is a bit on the symbolic side. Normally, I'm upset when the cover artist doesn't draw the inside pages, but I prefer Fernando Blanco's style, so it all works out for me.
Now, the Flash is barely involved in this story, so I'll be rather brief in my recap. In our last Trinity War chapter, the Flash decided to stay on Batman's team with the Phantom Stranger, Steve Trevor, Catwoman, Vibe, Katana and Simon Baz. They're all hanging outside the House of Mystery, while Batman negotiates with the Phantom Stranger inside. Deadman went with Wonder Woman's team to Belle Reve, but when they couldn't find Pandora's box there, he decided he'd be of more help with Batman's team. Simon Baz and Katana practice sword fighting and Flash notices that every time he looks through the window, he sees a different room.
The Phantom Stranger is hesitant to take Batman to the afterlife to find Dr. Light, but he won't say why. Apparently the Phantom Stranger has been warned to not return to the afterlife on threat of being wiped out of existence. But after hearing Batman talk about how important Superman is, the Phantom Stranger relents, and takes Batman, Katana and Deadman to the afterlife.
In the afterlife, everybody is momentarily separated and taken to their own personal heaven. Katana is reunited with her dead husband, and Batman experiences a Christmas with his parents he never had. But Phantom Stranger is able to get them all back on track and lead them to Dr. Light. Unfortunately, Dr. Light has no memories of his death, so Phantom Stranger decides to bring him back to life to clear Superman's name. But as soon as he attempts this, the angel Zauriel appears, sends Batman, Katana and Deadman back, and punishes the Phantom Stranger.
Compelling story. This is the only Phantom Stranger issue I've read, but it was really interesting. Even though I'm not normally a fan of these supernatural-type stories, I enjoyed this concept of heaven and an all-inclusive religion. Basically everyone creates their own afterlife experience, and it was neat to see a quick glimpse of this. If I had more time and money, I'd read more Phantom Stranger.
Weak connection to previous issues. The Flash has been to the House of Mystery before. So why was he so surprised by its mystical properties? As easy as it was to have him say that line, they could have had someone like Vibe be amazed by the house and have the Flash kindly explain it to him. But even more importantly, in Justice League Dark #22, it was the Phantom Stranger who suggested to Batman that they needed to visit Dr. Light in the afterlife. But in this issue, it's implied that Batman came up with the idea, and he had to spend a lot of time twisting Phantom Stranger's arm to take him there. I suppose this did help provide an opportunity to recap the Trinity War just in case there was a single person out there who had only been reading The Phantom Stranger and not any of the Trinity War issues. But this scene could have been improved by making the Phantom Stranger willing to risk his own existence, but unwilling to risk taking anyone else there. I've offered two suggestions for simple changes that would have gone a long way in improving this issue, but as it stands, it ends up as just an average issue.
Final score: 5 out of 10
Next time: Trinity War continues in Justice League of America #7