I don’t know how many issues this new title will run, but as it’s an event tie-in, I’m guessing we’re in limited series territory. Going by this first issue, that’s just as well, as there seems to be no point to Pandora beyond inciting said crossover, Trinity of Sin, which runs through the next two issues of the three main Justice League books.
Pandora, you may remember, helped merge three universes to form the current DC Universe in the Flashpoint event. She next appeared in the background of all the DC New 52 books’ debut issues. Last year’s Free Comic Book Day comic from DC revealed her as one of the Trinity of Sin, supposedly the three biggest sinners in history. Her story? She opened the box containing the Seven Deadly Sins, unleashing them on the world. Judged alongside the men who become the Phantom Stranger and the Question, she’s scarred, and condemned to wander the world for ever, seeing the troubles she let loose.
This issue shows that fateful day, 10,000 years ago, when a young woman gathering herbs to help her sick child came across the container for the Seven Deadly Sins, and they escaped into the world. But it wasn’t a box – or jar, as in the myth – but a metal skull. And she’s not presented as a woman who couldn’t contain her curiosity, just a person who picked up a fabulous curio that appeared in front of her, as anyone would do.
So her being summoned and sentenced by some cosmic court was unfair to say the least – the wizards should have been putting their energies into capturing the evils, not shooting the messenger.
After the opening, which sees Pandora’s people become the first victims of the Sins, we follow her through history, as she goes from passive observer of Man’s downfall to hunter of her self-proclaimed children. She uses her ‘Three Million Days’- the story’s title – to learn from wizards, warriors and wise men, but has no success. One day, though, she’s told of a way to imprison the evils once more …
There’s a nice rhythm to Ray Fawkes’ script, and I found myself sympathising with Pandora from the off – she’s a tragic figure, one who finds the strength to not just accept her situation, but fight back. DC’s immortal villain, Vandal Savage, encounters Pandora through the years, and he’s on refreshingly friendly form. And I like that the herb for which Pandora searches is sage, likely a nod to Vic Sage, aka the Question (at least, in previous DC continuities, he may turn out to have another name these days).
What I don’t like is that by the end of this book Pandora is equipped with hi-tech pistols to blast her enemies – I have a hard time with heroic figures who go out there with all guns blazing. It’s not as if she isn’t an all-fighting, all-spellcasting self-made woman by this time.
The art is by various hands: Xander Cannon lays out 12 pages for penciller Daniel Sampere and inker Vicente Sifuentes, while Patrick Zircher produces full art for the other eight. It’s good superhero work, with several noteworthy images, not least our first look at the Sins – memorable for the designs, as well as the unnecesssary grisliness of proceedings. The most effective page is quieter in tone, showing Pandora saying goodbye to the life she’s known. Both are the work of Cannon and co, but Zircher deserves extra praise for a stonkingly effective Crusades sequence, his rough lines suiting the frenetic action (click to enlarge image).
The design of the Sins are weirdly anachronistic – tops hats and bowlers, thousands of years ago? – but I like ’em anyway. And Pandora rocks comics’ traditional Purple Robes of Mystery.
Hi-Fi’s colours are a joy as they reflect the sweep of history, Dezi Sienty’s lettering choices are well-thought-out and, odd colour-fade at the bottom apart, Ryan Sook’s cover is trade paperback-ready.
So no problems with the craft of the issue, but overall the book slides into the realms of ho-hum; the end promises an interesting conflict next time, but I just can’t get excited about the Seven Deadly Sins. They work fine in whimsical Captain Marvel tales of decades past, but – as last week’s Justice League #21 showed – are a poor fit for the super-serious New 52 universe, which feels like a place whose inhabitants should own their faults, not be able to blame them onto cartoonish personifications.
I should pass on future issues. What will keep me reading is the question of whether Pandora’s Flashpoint role will come up again. Dang curiosity!