ECCC EXCLUSIVE: Fawkes Opens "Trinity of Sin: Pandora"

Since the launch of DC Comics' "New 52," there's been a face lurking in the background, releasing all sorts of strange tidings into the newly-rebooted DCU. This summer, Pandora will finally step into the light.

Today at Emerald City Comic Con, DC announced a brand new series starring the mystery character who's had huge if hidden role in the new DCU. Titled "Trinity of Sin: Pandora," the comic is written by Ray Fawkes and drawn by Daniel Sampere. Launching in June, the book will serve as a compliment to ideas already growing in JM DeMatteis' "Phantom Stranger" comic which itself will be retitled "Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger" that month.

Created by DC CCO Geoff Johns and Co-Publisher Jim Lee, Pandora first appeared at the end of 2011's "Flashpoint" event where she played a key role in combining the various core worlds of the DC Multiverse into the New 52 continuity. From there, the character was worked into the background of every New 52 #1 before getting an origin story alongside Phantom Stranger and the Question as part of DC's New 52 Free Comic Book Day offering last year. The character has since proved a more proactive if still mysterious member of the DCU in the pages of "Phantom Stranger."

CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Fawkes -- best known for his work on Oni Press''' "One Soul" as well as the just-launched DC title "Constantine" -- who explained that Pandora's role in the multiverse is not yet done. Below, the writer tells how the high profile gig came his way, what he makes of the character's feelings over unleashing so much strangeness into the world and why "Trinity of Sin: Pandora" will feature the entire DC Universe.

CBR News: Ray, obviously this announcement is going to perk a lot of people's ears up just by the nature of who Pandora has been so far in the DCU. She was created with a purpose (however mysterious) by some of the DC executive team. What can you sat at this point about how the character was presented to you by Jim, Dan and Geoff? What drew you to this assignment and this character as a writer?

Cover for "Phantom Stranger" #2

Ray Fawkes: Pandora was presented to me with a certain set of parameters, yeah, but Jim, Dan, and Geoff were shockingly open to my interpretations of her, her purpose, and her m.o. when I pitched my vision of the series. This was not a case of top-down dictation by any stretch, and while I had to keep my eye on her intended purpose, I was encouraged to go all out in making Pandora into someone I would be excited to write about. So I did!

And how could that not draw me to the series? This incredibly mysterious, incredibly tragic character who I could stamp with my own brand of darkness, and poetry, and madness -- not to mention, there isn't a single character in the New 52 who hasn't shivered to feel her pass nearby. We can literally take her anywhere.

Pandora is mysterious in many ways but in the few times we've seen her in "Phantom Stranger" she hasn't been totally kept in the dark. I get the sense that she'll continue to grow in her defiance to the fate set before her. What do you view as her specific goals from issue #1 moving forward?

Her specific goals? To end the undying curse that she believes she never deserved, and to make everyone who ever had anything to do with saddling her with it pay, and pay, and pay. Her time of "tears, shame, and isolation" are over. Now it's time for violence and rage.

Of course, both this Pandora and the Pandora of myth are known for unleashing horrors upon the world and dealing with the consequences of that personally. How does the impact of her past transgressions define who she is now, and what odds would you lay on her unleashing some more trouble before you're done here?

Well, she's spent thousands of years crossing the globe, over and over again, hearing her name cursed for all the evils of the world. She carries this unfathomable guilt and this searing anger with her -- guilt because she may very well be responsible for all this suffering, and anger because she thinks she never had a chance to avoid unleashing it. She has reason to believe the game was fixed. So she's had all the time in the world to crawl through every kind of shame and pain and remorse you can imagine, and she's come out on the other side of it with a strong, pure sense of purpose. Is that going to lead to more trouble? Yeah, of course it is. But trouble for whom?

As for the feel of the series overall, the DCU is a place where a lot of different styles of comic can exist right next to each other. How would you describe the tone you're going for? Classic mystery horror in the vein of things like "Phantom Stranger" and "House of Secrets"? More action-oriented superhero fare? Something in between?

Neither? Both? "Trinity of Sin: Pandora" is an action/horror title. It's about a blistering quest for vengeance, no-holds barred, with blatant disregard for the costs incurred -- until it breaks, like a bloody wave. Then it's about something else entirely, and I'm not going to give that away just yet.

Your artist, Daniel Sampere, is going to be a new face to a lot of readers. At this point, what's your impression of his style and how it'll go along with the story you're setting out to tell?

I worked with Daniel on the two-issue BATGIRL fill-in I wrote -- issues 17 and 18 -- and he brought a real sense of energy and dynamic power to the page, and also drew a beautiful Batgirl. He delivered atmosphere and shadow and heat just magnificently in that title. I think he'll be just perfect for this book.

One of the biggest questions that'll be following you around as this book gets ready to debut is one of its broader connection to the DCU. Of course, Pandora was instrumental in the birth of the New 52 universe, which takes us into territory defined bystories like "Crisis On Infinite Earths" and the like. In a general sense, what's your take on those kinds of multiversal stories? What kinds of things can creators do with that setup that they couldn't otherwise?

I love multiversal stories, because all the normal barriers to sense and proportion come down. A writer can really go hog wild with a good multiverse, you know? And some of my favourite DC stories always had to do with crossing between parallel realities, crashing universes together, and casting one world as a twisted reflection of another. Just think of the thrill of books like Crisis on Infinite Earths, or the old yearly crossovers of the JLA & JSA. Not to mention Morrison & Quitely's elegant JLA: Earth 2, or the frankly staggering Final Crisis.

Since Pandora showed up in the first issue of every New 52 series, I think there'll be a fair bit of expectation that she wont' be going through this book all by her lonesome. Any thoughts on what kinds of hero guest spots are built into the DNA of this book?

Everybody. Everybody is going to be in this book.

Is there a difference in approach that comes with writing an "important" piece of continuity? This character and book seem to be on the path to lynchpin status for upcoming events at DC. Does that make it more of a challenge than something like "Constantine" where you get to work in your own playground to a certain extent?

No difference at all. I mean, in terms of my approach, I'm concentrating on the story of that character's unfolding adventure -- be it Pandora or John Constantine -- and while the outside edges of that adventure might be influenced by continuity, the focus is entirely on the star, and how he or she thinks, acts, and feels as events play out. Careful readers will note that the main character of a book may have an entirely different spin on continuity-wide events than everybody else, anyway -- resulting in two completely different depictions of the same occurrence. For me, a great example is the Swamp Thing back in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the crossover event, he's standing in a crowd on a satellite in, if I recall correctly, one panel. In his own book, we see that very same gathering, and its significance is recast entirely through his eyes, playing out as a series of pages anchoring an entire chapter of his story. Something like that may happen with Pandora, but in her book, everything is only important in how it relates to her and her quest.

This series won't be alone in the "Trinity of Sin" branding. DC's "Phantom Stranger" series will be picking up a similar distinction, and of course a trinity wouldn't be a trinity without its third member the Question lurking somewhere. What's it been like at this early stage seeing what JM DeMatteis is doing in his book, and how might all these threads grow together as the history of these three characters takes shape?

It's great! The thrill here is that different writers and artists are bringing their different sensibilities to these books, and that is reflected in the characters -- they are very distinct, and all the more fascinating for it. No doubt the threads will cross and tangle -- these three characters are a named Trinity, after all, whether they like it or not. But what the Phantom Stranger wants, and what Pandora wants, and the Question too, are nothing alike -- so the tensions of the Trinity are honestly too interesting not to explore.

"Trinity of Sin: Pandora" launches in June from DC Comics.

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