This Article Contains Major Spoilers for "Justice League" #23
Of all of the twists, revelations and bombshells dropped in today's "Justice League" #23, the final chapter in Geoff Johns' long-simmering "Trinity War" storyline, the part perhaps catching most readers' eyes is Ivan Reis and Joe Prado's interpretation of Jim Lee's teaser for the event. Looking back on the fold-out fight scene from DC Comics' 2012 Free Comic Book Day offering, it becomes clear that Johns has had a plan from the beginning to introduce Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate into the New 52. At the time of the FCBD issue's release, there were a number of unknowns appearing in the teaser: Simon Baz hadn't debuted as the new Green Lantern, and several characters hadn't yet appeared in the New 52, as members of a Justice League or, in some cases -- Atom, Element Woman and Shazam! -- at all. In fact, readers had no clue that the Justice League of America, which included Green Arrow and introduced Vibe, would even be a part of the New 52, and many fans assumed JL Dark was a League in name only, not genuinely tied to DC's flagship team franchise.
While some details in the FCBD image certainly became clearer over the course of 2012 and into 2013 as the "Trinity War" storyline unfolded, nothing gave it more clarity than "Justice League" #23, which contained Reis and Prado's take on Lee's four-page spread. Although the structure of the image remains the same, with Superman smashing Green Lantern with a pillar as the main focus, there's far more going on here than originally teased. In many ways, this two-page spread is the true climax of "Trinity War," which is what makes the original image even more intriguing in retrospect, DC gave away nearly nothing by releasing the scene, but looking at it in context, it's filled with more information than we realized about the most game-changing event to date of the New 52, which shouldn't be a surprise given Johns' propensity for planting seeds in his stories far in advance of them taking root and blossoming.
Now, we know that even more characters were included in the battle than originally teased (and that Mera was actually Martian Manhunter in disguise), but what readers couldn't predict from the original image was the total betrayal on the part of the new Atom, who lodged a sliver of Kryptonite in Superman's brain, resulting in his physical deterioration and causing him to involuntarily kill Doctor Light. Even Pandora's Box ended up not being the focus of the issue's conclusion, becoming instead a MacGuffin that served as a means to the big revelation of the Crime Syndicate and launch of next month's "Forever Evil," the New 52's first line-wide crossover event.
Take a look at both versions of the scene below, and sound off in our forums about whether or not you saw the big reveal coming since FCBD!
Senior Editor Stephen Gerding contributed to this article