Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DC COMICS -- THE NEW 52 FCBD SPECIAL EDITION #1

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciller: Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Kenneth Rocafort, Gene Ha
Inker: Scott Williams, Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair, Rod Reis, Blond, Art Lyon
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Dan DiDio & Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

The origin of Pandora revealed!  Cyber attack on the Red Room!  Learn the secrets of the Black Room!  And what is…the Trinity War?

Notes

Page 1:  Art for pages 1-4 is by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. 

First appearance of the Circle of Eternity.  They were first mentioned by Pandora in Justice League #6. 

“You have been summoned to the Rock of Eternity to stand before us for judgment.”  The Rock of Eternity first appeared, albeit in devastated form, in Justice League #7.  This is its first chronological appearance. 


The Circle of Eternity seems to be a multicultural melting pot of magical characters, whose members seem to represent a spectrum of races and mythologies.  From left to right, I identify Middle Eastern/Mesopotamian, Celtic, Chinese (possibly?), African, Egyptian, Japanese and Native American.

Note that each member of the Circle is adorned in some way with a lightning bolt, presumably as a mark of the power of Shazam.  

And I am not sure if this is intentional or not, but some of these guys seem to resemble previous DC Universe characters.  The Egyptian, Japanese and Native American mystics remind me of Isis, Samurai and Black Bison respectively, and the young woman in the black robe with pigtails looks a little like Black Alice. 

And here we get to meet the unfortunately-named Trinity of Sin.  They were first mentioned in Justice League #6.  We’ll learn more about them in a few moments.

Page 2:  This poor, greedy soul is the man who will one day be known as the Phantom Stranger.  He first appeared in Justice League #6.  This is his earliest chronological appearance to date. 

Are we to infer that the African member of the Circle of Eternity is the same "wizard" hanging out in the Rock of Eternity, waiting to find the right person to wield the power of Shazam as seen in Justice League #7?

The wizards form a chain to bind the Phantom Stranger using some coins.  It would seem that these are thirty pieces of silver and that the man now known as the Phantom Stranger was once Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus before the Last Supper.

Page 3:  First appearance of the Question.  First historical appearance in Blue Beetle (fourth Charlton series) #1.  Real name and abilities unknown.

So, given this guy's comments about rising to power, I'd guess that he was some sort of tyrannical dictator.

“You will forever question your identity and forever search for answers you will never find.”  I would like to be able to connect this concept with the idea of Objectivism, a philosophy created by Ayn Rand.  Steve Ditko, the creator of the Question, was an Objectivist, and these ideas permeated Ditko’s stories for years.

However, reading about Objectivism seems to give me a splitting headache.  I tried reading Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s novel that contains her most extensive statement about Objectivism, and was bored to tears.  So if you want to know more, you’re just gonna have to research it yourself…

Page 4Pandora first appeared in Flashpoint #5.  This is her earliest chronological appearance to date. 

This confirms that Pandora is the Pandora of myth, who opened a box and unleashed evil upon mankind.

Page 5:  Art for pages 5-6 is by Kenneth Rocafort. 
 
The Red Room was first seen in Justice League #3.

As described here, it is “the world’s largest covert research facility for housing extraterrestrial, unidentified and classified technology recovered from across the globe.” 

 Amazo’s body was sent to the Red Room after the Justice League defeated him in Justice League #8.

Working in the Red Room today are Silas Stone, Cyborg’s father, and Sarah Charles.

The suit of armor hanging suspended in mid-air resembles one that was worn by a holographic Atlantean in Aquaman #5. 



"That machine"?  Great way to talk about your son, Silas.  No wonder he never wants to visit you...

“If the things we’re working on existed ten years ago…Victor’s mother would still be alive.”  Another reference to the mysterious death of Mrs. Stone. 

Is that T.O. Morrow hanging out in the Red Room with Silas and Sarah?  It sure does look like him.  I guess he hasn't gone crazy and evil yet...
  
Page 6:  It seems that whatever the Monitor Machine is, it can receive signals from parallel universes, in this case Earth-2.  What connection it has, if any, to the Monitor or the race of Monitors that existed in the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe remains to be seen. 


The first image is of the heroes of Earth-2 – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Robin (in the Batwing) fighting against the Parademons, as seen in Earth-2 #1.  This image is slightly erroneous – Supergirl was not in Metropolis during the events of this issue; rather, she was flying over Papua New Guinea.  A slight nitpick, but a nitpick nonetheless. 

The second image is of Alan Scott receiving the power of the Green Lantern.  This should occur in either Earth-2 #2 or 3. 

“I shed…light upon…darkness!”  Presumably, this is Alan Scott’s new oath.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Scott Green Lantern oath was,

“And I shall shed my light over dark evil,
For the dark things cannot stand the light,
The light of the Green Lantern!”

The third and final image is of the Flash of Earth-2, Jay Garrick.  I presume that this event occurs in Earth-2 #1. 

Note that the image of the Apokolips War from Earth-2 #1 occurred “five years ago.”  And the debuts of the Green Lantern and the Flash of Earth-2 happen in the present.  So the Monitor Machine receives signals from other universe as well as other times?  And who or what is sending these images to the Machine?

Page 7:  Art for pages 7-10 by Gene Ha.

A.R.G.U.S. was first introduced in Justice League #7.  As the caption indicates, it is “a military agency created to combat super-human threats and support the world’s greatest super-heroes, specifically the Justice League.”  They really enjoy calling the Justice League “the world’s greatest super-heroes” in the New 52 DCU, don’t they?

Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are doing their best West Wing impression, bantering as they walk down a hallway.

“The Justice League took down Professor Ivo’s mad android, Etta.  They did their job.”  The “mad android” in questions is, of course, Amazo, whom the Justice League defeated, with some arguable assistance from Green Arrow, in Justice League #8.

Because this story must take place immediately before the events of Justice League #9 (for reasons I will explain shortly), the Justice League defeated Amazo about two weeks ago.  Presumably, there are rumbling about property damage and who will sue whom (as Etta indicates) which is why the two of them are still discussing the situation. 

“We’ve lost track of the super-human teens in Alaska…”  I am working off the assumption that these teens are the Ravagers, currently appearing in The Ravagers

“…we’re amassing information on Talia al Ghul’s recruitment activities…”  Talia al Ghul was recently revealed as Leviathan and will be appearing in Batman, Incorporated

Hey, way to plug two of the New 52’s Second Wave titles, Etta!

“…and you’re sister called.  She asked if you were still coming to dinner tonight.”  Steve does, in fact, go to his sister Trace Trevor’s home for dinner in Justice League #9, which is why this story immediately precedes it. 

"This" is a copy of David Graves' Justice League: Gods Among Men, published by Historic Publications and available at bookstores and e-book sellers everywhere, pick up your copy today!

Pages 8-9:

This is the first appearance of the Black Room.  It was first mentioned in Justice League #7.   “Overseen by A.R.G.U.S.,” it is “a vault containing the most dangerous supernatural artifacts.” 

So, confession time:  I’ve been doing these annotations for a few years now.  I’ve written about 52, Countdown, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and some other stuff in between.  I’ve identified random and obscure characters and Irish drinking songs in 52, members of multiple Lantern Corps in Blackest Night, and each any every random character in the massive two-page spreads of the entire DC Universe in the Infinite Crisis hardcover. 

Those were a piece of cake compared to this Black Room.

The main complication, for me, was that a lot of these items looked familiar, but I had no real clue as to what they were or where to look for reference.  Thus began days of web searching and message board browsing.  Much credit goes to posts at Bleeding Cool (www.bleedingcool.com) and Scans_Daily (http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/) for identifying some of the items in the Black Room. 

And so, without further ado…

Click on pic for a larger look at the Black Room.


  1. The Coatlicue statue, identified with the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, the stars and Huitzilopochtli, the god of sun and war.  The statue was discovered in the main plaza of Mexico City on August 13, 1790.  It is currently located in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City…or so they say. 
  2. King Edward’s Chair, sometime called St. Edward’s Chair or the Coronation Chair, a throne upon which the British monarch sits during a coronation.  It was commissioned in 1296 by King Edward I to contain the coronation stone of Scotland (also known as the Stone of Scone) which he had captured from the Scots.  The Stone was returned to Scotland in 1996, and the Chair remains in Westminster Abbey; as we can see, neither of these statements is true.  
  3. The Spear of Destiny, also known as the Spear of Longinus, is the lance that pierced Jesus’ side as he hung on the cross as mentioned in the Gospel of John.  Longinus, a Roman soldier, poked Jesus in the side to make sure he was dead, and out came blood (symbolizing his humanity) and water (symbolizing his divinity).  Legend has it that one who wields it can rule the world; those who have claimed possession of it include Herod the Great, Charlemagne, Napoleon and Adolph Hitler.  The current whereabouts of the Spear are unknown.  In the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, the Spear of Destiny was used by Adolph Hitler to create a Sphere of Influence around Europe that prevented superhumans from intervening in World War II, lest they fall under Hitler’s sway.  It first appeared in Weird War Tales #50. 
  4. The Black Diamond of Eclipso, also known as the Heart of Darkness.  It originally housed Eclipso’s spirit until it was found in the Congo and carved into one-thousand smaller shards, thus weakening the binding spell and allowing the vengeance demon to possess anyone who becomes angry while holding one of the shards.  Since that looks like a really big diamond, either the shards have been fused back together into one big diamond or it was never carved up in the New 52 DCU.  It first appeared in House of Secrets #61.
  5. The Terracotta Army, or the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.  They were buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC to protect him in his afterlife and ensure that he had people to rule over.  They were discovered in 1974 and are located in the Mausoleum of the First Qin Empoeror, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  6. This seems to be the skeletal remains of a dragon, probably one of the ones that appeared in Demon Knights #1-7. 
  7. Simply because this crate is marked “FRAGILE,” I am guessing that it contains the controversial Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story.  Don’t know what I am talking about?  Turn on TBS anytime of Christmas Eve and watch it.  Then you’ll get it.
  8. This is the Green Bell of Uthool, which is an artifact created by Rath of the Demons Three.  Rath and his brother, Abnegazar and Ghast, each created an artifact through which others could summon the demons to Earth.  Supposedly, if one releases incense from the Red Jar of Calythos and spins the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath while the Green Bell of Uthool is rung, a series of events is set in motion that frees the Demons Three in one hundred years; however, for that century, the one who freed them possesses their power.  This is why the case reads, “DO NOT RING.”  It first appeared in Justice League of America (first series) #10. 
  9. The armor of Etrigan the Demon from the Demon Knights series. 
  10. The Chandelier of Bones in the Sedlec Ossuary located in the Czech Republic.  The Ossuary was built around 1400 and contains the skeletons of between 40,00 and 70,00 people.  The chandelier itself contains at least one of every bone in the human body and hangs in the center of the nave. 
  11. The symbols over the door resemble those on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States.  “Annuit cœptis” signifies that Providence has “approved of (our) undertakings.”  There is a pyramid, with an eye at the top of the triangle.  The triangle itself has thirteen layers, and thirteen stars surround it, thirteen being the number of original states in the United States.  The main difference here is the Roman numeral inscribed over the door, MDCCLXXV, or 1775.  While MDCCLXXVI (or 1776) as inscribed on the Great Seal refers to the year in which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the American colonies, 1775 probably refers to the year in which the American Revolution began.  I am thinking that these symbols are the “mystical spell” sealing up the Black Room to which Trevor refers on Page 10. 
  12. I’m guessing that this is the Haunted Tank, which was guarded by the ghost of 19th century Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart.  It first appeared in G.I. Combat #84, and was second only to Sgt. Rock as DC Comics’ longest running war series.  Note that the Haunted Tank was an M3 Stuart, an American light tank of World War II, named for General J.E.B. Stuart himself.  The tank depicted here, however, looks more like an M4 Sherman medium tank. 
  13. I am working off the assumption that this is the Viking Prince’s boat, mainly because I have no idea what else it could be.  Jon Haraldson, known as Viking Prince, first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #1 and was an adventurer in 10th century Scandinavia.  He also had a boat.
  14. Hidden in that case is a Red Lantern power battery used by members of the Red Lantern Corps.  They first appeared in Green Lantern (fourth series) #25 and currently appeared in Red Lanterns.
  15. Consensus seems to be that this is a Giant As, a bronze or copper coin used during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire.  This one bears Julius Cæsar’s portrait, as indicated by the words “CAESAR” on the edge of the coin.  I imagine that this is a parallel to Batman’s giant penny in the Batcave; did this one belong to the Legionary, the Batman of Italy?
  16. This is the Medusa Mask, which allows the wearer to project emotions onto others.  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, it was used by Roger Hayden, the Psycho-Pirate, to embark upon a life of crime and getting his head handed to him by the JSA and JLA.  Both the Medusa Mask and Hayden first appeared in Showcase #56.

Phew.  I’m tired.  Gonna go take a nap.

“Where’s Dr. Mist?”  In the pre-Flashpoint DCU, Dr. Mist was a mystic who led both the Global Guardians and the Leyman.  In the New 52 DCU, he apparently works for the government, overseeing the Black Room and dealing with mystical threats. 

“Mist still hasn’t reported back from South America.”  See Justice League Dark #9 for more details. 

“Maybe whoever broke in here and stole the Orb of Ra came back.”  Good assumption...but wrong.  David Graves (writer of Justice League: Gods Among Men, published by Historic Publications and available at bookstores and e-book sellers everywhere, pick up your copy today!) stole the Orb of Ra from the Black Room in Justice League #7.  What he intends to do with it remain to be seen.


See that crate upon which Pandora's Box sits?  It houses the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  9906753 was the identifying number on the crate that held the Ark in Hanger 51 after it was retrieved by the United States government following its discovery by Indiana Jones in 1936.


And, for those of you who don’t know, the O.S.S. was the Office of Strategic Services, a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II.  It was a precursor to the C.I.A. 


What are these Seven Spells of Shazam?  Any connection to the fact that there were seven mystics that were members of the Circle of Eternity?


So that skull with the three eyes is apparently the box which Pandora opened to unleash the terrors of man.  So why does it look a whole lot like classic Justice League villain Despero?  And why does that same symbol appear on a cuff link belonging to a mysterious “super-villain” in Justice League #6? 

Page 10:  

How and when did Trevor recover Pandora's Box?  Was it during his time with Team 7?  And were they the "friends" who died?

“There’s been a cyber attack on the Red Room.”  Since a cyber attack doesn’t seem like Pandora’s style, who is behind that threat?  Some new technological ménage on the horizon?

“I want a lockdown on the other rooms!  Especially the Circus!”  And what, I ask, is the Circus?  If the Red Room houses dangerous technology, and the Black Room stores dangerous supernatural artifacts, then does the Circus imprison malevolent creatures?

“We need Dr. Mist. Get Black Orchid in here, Etta.  And find me John Constantine.”  Once again, head on over to Justice League Dark #9 for more. 

As a side note, I hope that the coming months feature more connections between the various Justice League titles.  Given that Justice League #1-6 were set in the past and detailed the group’s origin, it wasn’t all that tied into the present-day DCU.  With any luck, we will now see how all of these groups co-exist and operate with one another. 

Page 11:  “It’s just a matter of time before this all comes crashing down.”  Does this mean that Trevor isn’t telling the Justice League everything?  Is A.R.G.U.S. involved with stuff that the world’s greatest heroes won’t be too happy about?

Is there any significance to the "King City" graffiti that appears in the alley?


Does “Churchland & Marian” refer to Marian Churchland, an artist who won The Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Eisner Awards ceremony in 2010?  It would seem like a nice gesture; artist Gene Ha won the same award back in 1994. 

Page 12:  Art for pages 12-16 by Jim Lee. 

“Even if it means the end of the Justice League.”  Pandora seems determined to have the Justice League aid her.  In Justice League #6, she said that the League would help her, “Whether they like it or not.”

First appearance of Green Lantern V.  Real known unrevealed.  Wields a Green Lantern power ring that generates solid light constructs, allows the user to fly and is only limited by the user’s willpower. 

It has been speculated that this new Green Lantern will debut in Superman Annual #1.

Also, in case you were wondering, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner are Green Lanterns I-IV respectively. 

Gee, is this why you're the world's greatest detective, Batman?  Because you deduced that this wasn't Hal Jordan?  What tipped you off, hmmm?  It's the different costume, isn't it?  That's what clued me in too...

Seriously, though, it almost sounds like a hint of admiration for Hal coming from Batman.  We did see the first glimpses of this with Batman’s pep talk to Green Lantern in Justice League #5.


Who did all this lying, and what did they lie about?  Come on, mystery Green Lantern stop being so gosh-darn mysterious...


Pages 13-16:  Whoa!  Four-page gatefold teasing the upcoming “Trinity War,” whatever it ends up being.  We have a whole lot of stuff going on here…

Click on the pic for a larger look at the Trinity War.

First appearance of Black Adam.  First historical appearance in The Marvel Family #1.  Real name Teth-Adam.  Possesses magically-bestowed superhuman stamina, speed, strength, wisdom, power and courage.  First mention of Black Adam in the New 52 DCU in Justice League #7. 

Deadman, real name Boston Brand.  First appeared in Hawk & Dove #1.  First historical appearance in Strange Adventures #205.  A ghost who can possess any sentient being. 

So it looks like Deadman is trying to take over Black Adam.  Not sure who Black Adam is attempting to tackle here. 

First appearance of Vibe.  First historical appearance in Justice League of America Annual #2.  Real name Paco Ramone.  Able to emit powerful vibratory shock waves. 

Wait..Vibe?  Vibe is back?  What the hell is Geoff Johns smoking these days?!?

All kidding aside, I never really liked Vibe; honestly, I don’t think anyone ever really liked Vibe.  But he wasn’t a bad character, just one built on a trend and a stereotype.  Despite all that, I felt bad when he was killed by Professor Ivo back in Justice League of America (first series) #258.  I didn’t cry and write angry letters to the editor and sit in my darkened room for a month, but I was mildly touched by his death scene. 

Anyway, Vibe is attacking the Flash, who has made a long run across a four-page gatefold spread look easy.  Ands it looks like Flash is trying to sneak up on Aquaman, who has caught Wonder Woman’s magic lasso in his hand and looks pissed.  Probably because someone knocked his wife down on the ground. 

Mera, real name Mera.  I like it when these are easy.  First appeared in Aquaman #1.  First historical appearance in Aquaman (first series) #11.  Able to increase the density of water and create structures with it. 

So Superman has gotten hold of a huge pillar and is smashing the new Green Lantern with it.  That will show this mystery guy not to mess with Superman’s pal Batman. 

First appearance of Element Woman.  First historical appearance in Flashpoint #1.  Real name Emily Sung.  Able to transmute her body into any elemental compound and form it to her will. 

Given that David Graves stole the Orb of Ra, the artifact that has a tendency to transform normal people into elemental metamorphs, I think that we will be meeting Element Woman in the pages of Justice League in the not-so-distant future. 

Element Woman is holding her own against Cyborg who, for some wacky reason, has an arrow sticking out of his head.  Go figure.  His right hand has also been taken off by the giant pillar that Superman is throwing around so casually. 

Hawkman, real name Carter Hall/Katar Hol.  First appeared in The Savage Hawkman #1.  First historical appearance in Flash Comics #1.  Possesses enhanced strength, armor and winged flight due to Nth metal.    

Hawkman looks like he wants to give a holy beat down to Green Arrow, which is not out of the question given their previous history together. 

First appearance of the Atom.  First historical appearance in Brave New World #1.  Real name Ryan Choi.  Able to shrink to microscopic size. 

So…does the Atom look like a woman to anyone else?

Back at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Jim Lee mentioned that Ryan Choi would be the new Atom and a member of the Justice League, which is why I assume that the Atom seen here is Choi.

However...keep in mind that the name “Ryan” isn’t exactly gender-specific.  So this Atom could still be Ryan Choi and be a woman as well. 

Regardless, “Ryan Choi” was first mentioned in Justice League #4 as the creator of a “White dwarf stabilizer” that was part of Cyborg’s programming.

Man or woman, it looks like the Atom has the unenviable task of chasing down Batman, who is escaping with Pandora’s Box.  Be careful, Atom, or else Superman will bash you with a stone pillar. 

So who is on who’s side?  And what are they fighting about?  Answer to come in the Trinity War…