Another Free Comic Book Day has come and gone, but for DC Comics fans, its a day that marked the beginning of a whole host of new questions and mysteries thanks to the publisher’s special “DC Comics: The New 52” #1 Free Comic Book Day Issue. Written by Geoff Johns with a roster of A-list artists including Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Gene Ha, Kenneth Rocafort, Scott Williams and Joe Prado, the issue boasts secrets and Easter Eggs only the most sharp-eyed DC fan might pick up upon, but also new mysteries to explore as the DC Universe continues to expand during 2012.
The issue opens with a mysterious group of eight god-like character with Shazam-like trappings (depicted by Joe Prado) — likely the “Circle of Eternity” the Phantom Stranger referred to in “Justice League” #6. Although Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s “Shazam” backups in “Justice League” have yet to introduce this mysterious council, their presence and actions in DC’s Free Comic Book Day issue suggest the former Captain Marvel’s role in the New 52 will be far, far larger and integral than before the relaunch.
Johns quickly introduces three individuals dubbed the Trinity of Sin: two men and one woman, much like the trinity of the DC Universe Heroes; Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. We meet each of the Trinity of Sin in turn and while some are familiar characters, their origins are anything but.
First (and perhaps most intriguing) is the man who looks to become the Phantom Stranger. Although the Stranger has appeared in the New 52 already (“Justice League” #6), this is the first clear look readers have had at him as a human. One of the God council throws pieces of silver — shades of Judas Iscariot — at the human after he begs for forgiveness, forcing his turn into the supernatural entity.
The next human is more of a mystery — or perhaps, a “question?” It’s clear this man is The Question of the New 52, but who was he before he was cursed to become the faceless man? This is a stark departure from the character’s original street-level origin and implies readers may not see Renee Montoya in the role she took on following “52.”
The third, and perhaps most currently familiar figure following the debut of the New 52, is Pandora. While many may have assumed she was a brand new character who simply shared the name of the character from Greek myth, this issue strongly indicates that the two are actually one and the same. Indeed, Johns goes out of his way to call Pandora by name and references the original Greek myth, whereas the other two cursed humans were not named at all.
After a quick jump to STAR Labs to look in on Cyborg’s dad, the reader gets a great tidbit from artist Kenneth Rocafort. Clearly, STAR has the capabilities of looking in on other worlds. Is Earth 2 the only one? What impact could the potential to view Earth 2 have on Huntress and Power Girl over in “Worlds’ Finest?” In fact, there’s a figure who looks stunningly like Kevin Maguire’s designs for Earth 2 Supergirl in the corner of the screen, and Superman, Batman and Wonder woman, who we now know are deceased on Earth 2, are shown in action on the first screen. Is this recorded footage, or does STAR Labs have the ability to see through time as well as across dimensions. At first glance, this page seems like a simple introduction to the other-dimensional Earth, but the possibilities — for readers as well as Power Girl and Huntress — are numerous and intriguing.
Perhaps the most revealing sequence comes at the end of the issue as readers jump to Justice League government liaison Steve Trevor, who receives a copy of “Justice League: Gods Among Men.” As recently as C2E2 2012, Johns has stated the next big villain in “Justice League” is the book’s author. But although the tease is interesting, nothing compares to the veritable smorgasbord of Easter Eggs contained in the Black Room.
Although much of the storeroom is colored in earth tones, some items stand out with very different and deliberate coloring — try to search and find these items in the Black Room:
- Etrigan’s armor from “Demon Knights”
- The Haunted Tank
- A Kirby-esque headdress reminiscent of Big Barda
- Psycho Pirate’s mask
- A dragon or dinosaur skeleton
In addition to these familiar items, there are a number of less-recognizable, but no less intriguing, artifacts including a mysterious bell-looking object with “DO NOT RING” on the case, two swords mounted in a case and a boat hanging on the right hand side of the room — could it possibly be the Viking Prince’s ship?
However, perhaps the most drool-worthy image in the entire issue comes from Jim Lee — and it certainly has a lot to say.
Who is this team that the Justice League currently faces? Why are they even fighting? The roster contains some very recognizable costumes and power sets; an alternate Green Lantern, the presence of the Atom (consider that Ray Palmer, currently a scientist employed by SHADE, has not yet donned the costume), a character who wears the colors and costume design of Black Adam, Vibe and the Element Woman from “Flashpoint.” Wonder Woman appears to be fighting Aquaman and Mera, Green Arrow is shooting Cyborg, Deadman is attempting to possess the darkly-garbed Shazam — this image most definitely brings up far more questions than it answers, but the tease is certainly intriguing.
Those are the major secrets and teases we found — but what about you? Sound off in the CBR Forums or shoot us an email and let us know your theories on what’s in store for the DCU based on the Free Comic Book Day issue!
Senior Editor Stephen Gerding contributed to this article.