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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Tragedy of Triumph

by  in Comic News Comment
The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Tragedy of Triumph

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the strange, sad history of Triumph, who was at point in DC history a founding member of the Justice League.

Enjoy!

Triumph debuted during a three-issue tie-in crossover with Zero Hour in the three Justice League titles at the time (Justice League America, Justice League International and Justice League Task Force). The time anomalies caused by Zero Hour freed Triumph from limbo. You see, he was with the Justice League right before they formed. In what would have been the League’s first mission, however, Triumph ended up getting lost in time limbo for ten years. Now he is back along with the alien menace the League was formed to stop…

The problem is because Triumph and the aliens became lost in time, the League does not remember him…

Eventually it is all worked out and Triumph is ready to become a hero again. The problem is that while when he went INTO limbo he was on the same par with the rest of the League. It is now ten years later and he is still in his early 20s while they are all veteran heroes. So he instead ends up becoming a part of Martian Manhunter’s Justice League Task Force, a team of young heroes that J’onn hopes to help mold into the heroes of tomorrow.

Naturally, Triumph is irritated by this set-up and for the entirety of his time on the Justice League Task Force he is insolent and a pain in the ass. Ultimately, J’onn fires him.

Meanwhile, during Underworld Unleashed, Neron offered Triumph the same deal he offered lots of people. Light a candle and Neron will give you something you desire… but he’ll also get your soul! Triumph pockets the candle and debates what to do.

In the final issue of Justice League Task Force (#37. The J’onn team was in issues #0, 17-37), Triumph comes to the Justice League Christmas party to make amends..

J’onn accepts Triumph’s friendship but tells him he is still off of the team. Triumph freaks out and leaves in a huff. Later in the issue, as Triumph debates on whether he wants to light the candle and gain back the lost ten years of his life, his teammate Gypsy comes to him…

Triumph reflects on her commentary – he DID save her, after all. Perhaps his life DOES have meaning? So he goes back to J’onn and asks for forgiveness once again.

However, as Gypsy and Ray look at the tribute Triumph made to their fellow hero, Mystek (who had died recently), they find Triumph’s candle and light it…

Which cuts to…

Yep, it is the most depressing twist on It’s a Wonderful Life ever. Triumph gets his ten years back, which means he was never a member of the Justice League Task Force and, ya know what? NOTHING CHANGED. He really DIDN’T matter all that much. Gypsy would just have been saved by someone ELSE. An awesomely dark ending to the Justice League Task Force series by Christopher Priest. You certainly can’t ever claim that Priest is too sentimental in how he treats his characters. His books and runs frequently end on dark, dark notes. Here, he abandons and forsakes his own storyline. Bold.

So that was it for Triumph until Grant Morrison brought him back in JLA. However, Morrison then more or less abandoned and forsook the ending of Justice League Task Force, and just played Triumph up as the superhero who has all the bad luck…

Now with an evil Thunderbolt powering him, Triumph finds Gypsy and Ray and mind controls them into being his “new Justice League”…

Morrison does a strong job playing up with the notion of superhero “tiers” and how the ones in the lower tiers are jealous of the more popular heroes, with this all being given voice by the clearly insane Triumph (Christopher Priest later noted that he thought Triumph not having a soul after JLTF #37 played into his ability to turn evil like this)…

Superman, of course, doesn’t see things that way…

That’d be a more powerful moment if Morrison hadn’t started JLA with the lower-tier heroes being kicked out of the Justice League satellite to make room for the new JLA.

Triumph reflects on his foolishness before the Spectre then turns him into a human ice sculpture…

The Justice League keep him in their moon headquarters, giving him full credit as a Justice League founding member…

The JLA’s headquarters is later destroyed, however, and Triumph is killed in the process.

In Brave and the Bold #17-18, Marv Wolfman plays around with the idea of Triumph. Following Infinite Crisis, the Justice League was once again founded by the original seven instead of Green Lantern, Aquaman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Black Canary. So if that was changed, then how could Triumph have been a founding member?

So Wolfman gives Triumph a son, a son whose existence fluctuates in and out of reality as his father’s status changes…

Besides an appearance in the alternate reality that made up Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley’s Trinity, that’s pretty much it for Triumph. Maybe he can have a place in the New 52?

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