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Comic Book / Trinity War

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Trinity War is a Bat Family Crossover between the Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark titles in the New 52. It is written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire. The event ran in six issues over the three titles in July and August 2013. It also has tie-ins from Constantine, The Phantom Stranger, and Trinity of Sin: Pandora.

The three Leagues enter into a combustible situation when a hero's death causes hostile sparks to fly among the three teams. The Trinity of Sin: Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question, play important roles for each of the three Justice League squads.

Trinity War provides examples of:

  • A House Divided: Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman have different ideas on how to figure out what really happened. Instead of arguing, they split up and are joined by any member of the JL, JLA, or JLD that agrees with one of them.
    • Wonder Woman wants to find Pandora and is joined by Aquaman, Stargirl, Black Orchid, Hawkman, Deadman (who later switches to Batman's group), Frankenstein, and Zatanna.
    • Batman is assisted by the Phantom Stranger to find Doctor Light's soul and is joined by Catwoman, Katana, the Flash, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Vibe, and Steve Trevor.
    • Superman is assisted by the Question to find Dr. Psycho and is joined by Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Element Woman, Firestorm, and the Atom.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Inverted in part 5, when Shazam gets a hold of Pandora's Box. His magic reacts to the Box's, spreading its corrupting capabilities to everyone around him.
  • Artifact of Doom: Pandora's Box, which contained the Seven Deadly Sins of Man and can imprison them again. It can only be opened by those with the strongest or darkest heart. Those that don't fit this criteria are either corrupted by it (in the case of Superman and the other heroes) or emotionally scarred (in the case of Vandal Savage, who has a breakdown and admits to having a certain degree of conscience). No one, not even the Greek gods, knows where it came from, until the finale reveals that it's a piece of technology from Earth 3, the birthplace of evil. Only someone from Earth 3 can open it and the Outsider is such a person.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Outsider successfully tricks the Leagues into delivering Pandora's Box to him, enabling him to summon the Crime Syndicate. This paves the way for Forever Evil (2013).
  • Body Horror: In the finale, Cyborg's cybernetic parts are taken over by the Grid, a sentient computer virus. His implants tear themselves away from what's left of his human body; leaving him dying and immobile.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: If Pandora's Box doesn't simply reject those not worthy of opening it, it will possess its holder; signified by a third eye on their forehead. The possessed become greedy and will fight to keep the Box for themselves. Superman was briefly possessed by it in part 1. The end of part 4 has Wonder Woman come under its thrall. In part 5, Shazam grabs it and uses his magic to spread the box's corruption to everyone present.
  • Broad Strokes: The opening of the finale reveals that the despite the New 52's changes to continuity, the basic stories of the League's Silver Age adventures are intact — save for their encounters with the Crime Syndicate.
  • The Butler Did It: Literally: the Secret Society's leader is the Earth-Three incarnation of Alfred Pennyworth. He invokes the trope word for word during The Reveal.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Amanda Waller asks Firestorm if he can make kryptonite in case they need to subdue Superman. He succeeds and later uses this knowledge to sense that Superman's illness is kryptonite poisoning when his condition gets worse.
  • The Chessmaster: The one behind the Trinity War is the Secret Society's leader, the Outsider. He had the Atom manipulate Superman into killing Doctor Light which causes the Justice League and the JLA to come to blows. He knew they would go after Pandora's Box and bring it to him. His plan has been going on for years and when he finally gets the box, he opens it and allows the Crime Syndicate to come to Prime Earth/Earth-0.
  • Chess Motif: While rummaging through the Justice League's Watchtower, the Atom finds a chess set with the League's members for pieces. The Superman piece has been replaced with a Martian Manhunter piece.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Pandora's Box has been taken to be a mystical artifact, even capable of hijacking mystical powers like Shazam's, by everyone including the Gods of Olympus, seemingly ex nihilo for centuries. It's revealed here that it's actually technology from Earth 3. It's been equated by The Outsider to Mother Box technology.
  • Cliffhanger: The finale ends with the Justice Leagues severely weakened with several members in critcal condition, and the Crime Syndicate coming to Earth-0 ready to take over, directly leading into Forever Evil (2013).
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: The Atom. She pretends to be a Justice League rookie in order to spy on the group for Amanda Waller, as we've known for some time; but she actually pretends to follow Waller's orders in order to spy on both the Justice League and the JLA for her true organization: the Crime Syndicate.
  • Due to the Dead: Shazam decides to spread Black Adam's ashes in Kahndaq because he feels that even bad guys deserve to be buried.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Those that are corrupted by Pandora's Box gain a Third Eye and sometimes a darker color scheme. When Shazam holds it, his red outfit is changed to black; like his evil counterpart Black Adam.
  • Eye Scream: In the Trinity of Sin: Pandora tie-in, Pandora takes down Giganta with an exploding machete to the eye. She also gives Vandal Savage a Moe Greene Special, but it doesn't slow him down and he eventually regenerates it.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: The title, Tarot Motifs, criminal conspiracy that is connected to or directly involves manipulating Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman and the inclusion of the Crime Syndicate are reminiscent of the Trinity story arc.
  • Foreshadowing: Trinity War was teased back in 2012 in a Free Comic Book Day issue. It has also been alluded to in several other comics.
    • The Atom's ability to enter the virtual world. She used it in order to infect Cyborg with a virus that gives the Secret Society access to his system.
    • Naturally the Tarot Motifs Madame Xanadu reveals establish character roles and plot points. Some don't come true until Forever Evil.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: To solve the mystery of Pandora's Box, Wonder Woman goes to the Justice League Dark for help.
  • Good Versus Good: The Justice League and the JLA know that they are all good guys and try to talk things out, but Doctor Light's death causes the two Leagues to fight each other. However, the fight is short-lived and they stop once Superman asks to turn himself in for what he did. As things turn out to be not what they seem, they work together to find out what's going on.
  • Hate Plague: In part 5 and the finale, the corrupting powers of Pandora's Box get amplified when Shazam grabs it and his magic reacts to it. It causes infighting between the Leagues; with everyone wanting the Box for themselves. After the Secret Society's leader opens the Box, everyone returns to normal, but are weak from fighting.
  • Hope Spot: In the Phantom Stranger tie-in, the Phantom Stranger takes Batman, Deadman, and Katana to heaven's basement to retrieve Doctor Light's soul so that they can clear Superman's name for allegedly killing him. When they find him, angels intervene and banish them back to Earth without Doctor Light. Except for the Phantom Stranger, who is sent to oblivion for disobeying their orders.
  • Implacable Woman: Pandora is a cursed, undead, immortal woman that has been around since hunter-gatherer times. In her tie-in issue, she is pummeled by Giganta and all her injuries quickly heal.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Shazam goes to Kahndaq to spread Black Adam's ashes, oblivious to the tense political situation regarding its ongoing military conflict and prohibition of American superhuman intervention. The Justice League go to get him out while the Justice League of America go there to get them out. Naturally the resulting standoff is a powder keg ignited by Superman's powers going haywire and killing Doctor Light. It's only stopped when Superman punches the ground and demands to be taken in.
  • Mirror Universe: The true purpose of Pandora's Box is to open a portal to Earth-3, the birthplace of evil. Once the Outsider activates it, evil counterparts of the Justice League arrive on the main universe and set out to conquer the planet.
  • The Mole: Part 3 reveals that the Secret Society of Super-Villains has a mole on one of the Justice Leagues which will ensure the Secret Society's victory. It turns out there were actually two: Atom, who is actually a member of Earth 3's Crime Syndicate; and Grid, a sentient computer virus that had been operating within Cyborg's system.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Superman says this after he kills Doctor Light with his heat vision. It's not his fault. The Atom placed a microscopic kryptonite shard in his brain; which triggered his heat vision when she struck a nerve. He is so distraught that he turns himself in to A.R.G.U.S..
  • Not What I Signed Up For: Most of the JLA does not want to fight the Justice League and thinks they should be supporting them.
  • Qurac: The nation of Kahndaq; which is against Americans traveling there. Shazam flies there to spread Black Adam's ashes and gets attacked by the Kahdaq army. Then the Justice League goes there to stop him and the JLA goes after them to escort them out before things escalate. Things don't go as planned.
  • Red Herring:
    • The Question gets a clue that Dr. Psycho may be behind Superman's manslaughter of Doctor Light. He and Superman's group track him down and have Martian Manhunter probe his mind, but it turns out he wasn't behind it.
    • The "trinity" of "Trinity War" doesn't refer to the three justice leagues, the Trinity of Sin, or even the Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman trinity. It refers to Earth-3, whose inhabitants had been manipulating the heroes in order to imvade and conquer the main universe.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: The Phantom Stranger takes Batman, Katana, and Deadman to heaven's basement to rescue the soul of Doctor Light. They fail, but Light gives them something for his family.
  • Rule of Three: Trinity war has a theme of threes. There are the three Justice Leagues. The Trinity of Sin play a major role. In part 3, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman note  follow different leads and are joined by any member of the three Leagues that agree with one of them. In the finale, the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 appear.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The death of JLA member Doctor Light is what sparks the Trinity War.
  • Superpower Meltdown: When Doctor Light gets too close to Superman, he absorbs so much solar energy from him that he can't contain it all and lets out a stray energy beam. It hit Wonder Woman, but leads to his death.
  • Tarot Motifs: Madame Xanadu forsees those involved in the Trinity War through tarot cards; though they are not your typical tarots.
    • Shazam is The Boy.
    • Superman is The Hero.
    • Wonder Woman is The Warrior.
    • Pandora is The Hostage.
    • Batman is The Detective.
    • Amanda Waller is The Politician.
    • Steve Trevor is The Soldier.
    • Martian Manhunter is The Alien.
    • The Question is The Unknown.
    • The Phantom Stranger is The Betrayer.
    • Firestorm is The Prison.
    • Cyborg is The Grid. Grid is a sentient computer virus that takes over Cyborg's cybernetic body in the finale.
    • The Atom is The Gameplayer. Takes on a new meaning. Not only is she playing on the Justice League while really being a spy for the JLA, she's also the mole for the Secret Society. She playing 2 teams at once.
    • Element Woman is The Freak.
    • The Flash is The Messenger.
    • Aquaman is The King.
    • Zatanna is The Magician.
    • Green Arrow is The Archer.
    • Catwoman is The Thief.
    • Stargirl is The Spirit.
    • Vibe is The Misfit.
    • Green Lantern Simon Baz is The Miracle Worker.
    • Hawkman is The Savage.
    • Katana is The Assassin.
    • Frankenstein is The Monster.
    • John Constantine is The Conman.
    • Doctor Light is The Sacrifice.
    • The Secret Society's leader is The Outsider.
  • Team Mercy vs. Team Murder: Discussed. Superman and Wonder Woman are discussing what to do with Despero (which they fought in the immediately previous arc):
    Wonder Woman: There's a reason I don't have a list of villains as long as Bruce's, Barry's or even yours. When I deal with them, I deal with them.
    Cypher: I trust you're not talking about killing them, Diana.
    Wonder Woman: Only if comes to that.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: In the Phantom Stranger tie-in, Batman's group goes to a place in Heaven called Heaven's Basement; which is filled with souls that feed on the emotions of the living. When they try to feed on the ghostly Deadman, it's like swallowing poison.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Lex Luthor is totally unfazed when Pandora appears out of nowhere. He even lampshades this by saying he's seen a man fly before.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Billy's attempt to return Black Adam's ashes to Khandaq ends up triggering the war of the Leagues and the arrival of the Crime Syndicate on our Earth.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Cyborg is this for the Secret Society. The Atom hacked into his system and infected it with a sentient virus known as the Grid, loyal to the Secret Society.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the Constantine tie-in, John Constantine tricks Shazam into turning back into Billy Baston so they can swap voices; with Billy getting Constantine's baritone and him getting Billy's tween voice. Then he uses Billy's voice to access Shazam's powers so he can fight a demon sent after him. Once Constantine defeats the demon, Billy sees an opening and gets his voice and powers back.
  • Wham Line: When Cyborg finds out who The Mole is.
    Cyborg: So you're a traitor?
    The Atom: Oh Vic, honey. So are you.
  • Wild Card:
    • Although he is on the Justice League registry for potential recruits, Shazam is not associated with any of the Justice Leagues.
    • Pandora, who started this by giving her box to Superman; thinking he can open it and re-imprison the Seven Deadly Sins. She runs off when the results weren't in her favor and Wonder Woman tracks her down.
    • Amanda Waller, though it's still not clear if she knows more than she's letting on about the Kahndaq incident.
  • Working Through the Cold: After Superman gets taken into A.R.G.U.S., he becomes mysteriously ill; with pale skin, coughing and veins showing. This doesn't make him any weaker nor does it keep him from getting involved. His illness gets worse and it's revealed that he was poisoned by a microscopic kryptonite shard placed in his brain by the Atom.