Last month saw the end of Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger (which was also the last book from the New 52 Third Wave). I’ve been following a lot of comic books lately and unfortunately Phantom Stranger wasn’t one of them.
However, its real final issue, the Futures End one-shot is here and I promised myself I wouldn’t miss it. Is it good?
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger: Futures End #1 (DC Comics)
The time has come: The Phantom Stranger has only one silver coin left and he plans to use it to board the ferry that’ll take him across the River of Time. On this boat he’ll face his final judgment for all his sins in front of a new Council of Eternity. Will he be finally forgiven for his terrible deeds of the past?
With this guy on your jury, I think you are pretty much screwed.
Even if it’s a “What If?” story like the rest of the Futures End tie-ins, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger: Future’s End #1 was an extremely satisfying and fulfilling read. There’s a very simple setup and locale (one room for most of the time and just a bunch of people talking/narrating) — but that’s exactly what makes the story so good. The tight focus makes for plenty of engaging drama, especially watching as all of the Council members appear for the first time, wondering exactly what they have in store for the Phantom Stranger. It may not be as exciting or energetic as other Futures End tie-ins this week, but it is possibly one of the best in terms of how different and mature it is.
The writing itself by Dan Didio and J.M. DeMatteis is very strong. It’s a bit slow going for the first half of the book as the comic builds up the new Council and the Stranger just constantly self-monologues, but it does definitely pick up as the story progresses and we get a few curveballs tossed into it. The characterization is excellent and every character really has a presence about them, bolstered by the Stranger’s descriptions of each. Speaking of which, the Phantom Stranger is fantastically written here and feels really fleshed out. You can really sense how he has changed since the beginning of the series. The dialogue and narration are pretty good, though it can be a tad over dramatic.
Head down this dark and mysterious hallway. This is clearly not a setup.
The last thing to note with the writing and story is the ending; it’s what truly made the comic so wonderful in my opinion. Without spoiling it, there is a lot of power and genuine emotion present in the ending. The characters are moving, the conclusion that is reached is resonant and the narration really seals it, delivering one of the most heartwarming yet bittersweet endings I’ve read in comics in a while. It admittedly got to me a bit and really helped with the experience of reading the comic looking back on it. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be satisfied with this finale.
The artwork is brought to us by Phil Winslade and he does a pretty good job all things considered. The whole comic basically is set in one place (aboard a ferry) and takes place in two areas, in the Council room and on the deck of the ferry, so there’s not much room to get creative with the scenery or location. However, the characters are still drawn fantastically, the small bits of flashback we get are pretty memorable looking, and there is some great imagery to the book. It’s definitely helped along with some very nice and moody coloring by Guy Major. Fine looking book overall.
…the Devil was actually rather busy and couldn’t fit this meeting into his schedule.
Is It Good?
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger: Futures End #1 is a great send-off and final issue for this series. Even if its not the official ending to this character, it might as well be all things considered. The story is simple but engaging, the writing is solid, the ending is fantastic and the artwork fits the comic very well. J.M. DeMatteis and Dan Didio really brought it home with this book and I look forward to seeing where this character’s future lies in his next book, Trinity of Sin.