DC’s Trinity War: Who is Pandora?

Pandora has been around since the creation of the new DC Universe and is central to the upcoming Trinity War story. But what do we really know about her?

Fans have been patiently waiting for the Trinity War, seemingly, since right after Flashpoint. DC has teased the event since the first issues of the New 52. There has been a great deal of speculation to what this event could be. Who were the Trinity? Was it the familiar Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, or was it a new Trinity, or, perhaps, something more biblical? One thing was for sure, whatever this event was, it would involve Pandora, the enigmatic hooded woman that appeared in all of DC’s new first issues. With the Trinity War kicking off in July’s Justice League #22, and Pandora soon to star in her own series written by up-and-coming writer Ray Fawkes, it’s time to take a look at what we know about Pandora, and see if we can figure out who she might be and what her presence means to the DC Universe.

At the end of Flashpoint, when the DC Universe changed, Pandora was there. It has been hinted that Pandora, along with the Phantom Stranger, is aware of the old DC Universe, and that she had a hand in changing everything. At Flashpoint’s conclusion (and doesn’t that seem like six million years ago instead of just 21 months?), as Barry Allen attempted to correct the timeline he saw three distinct realities that fans would recognize as the DC Universe, the Wildstorm Universe, and the Vertigo Universe. This is where Pandora first appeared. She informed Barry that these universes were separated in order to weaken them so they could not properly defend themselves from some future evil, and that they must be merged in order to survive. This was the end of the classic DC Universe. Barry may have performed the act, but it was Pandora who instigated the shift.

Barry awoke in a new reality. Most of the familiar characters were there, some dramatically different, but none had any memory of what came before. In the 52 first issues that followed, Pandora popped up in each. Observing her handiwork perhaps? She appeared in some unexpected and intriguing places, in the pages of Batgirl, when the villain, The Mirror, is pushing a victim through a hospital window, readers see Pandora’s reflection in the glass. In Supergirl, when Kara is being overwhelmed by her super-hearing, Pandora can be seen observing the suffering hero. She appears on the streets of Gotham in Batman and she even appears in the old west to observe Jonah Hex. Her 52 appearances opened the door to many questions. Did Pandora, the woman who instigated the creation of the new DC, remember what existed before Barry Allen changed everything? Was she recruiting or simply observing the heroes of the universe she was responsible for creating?

Pandora never admits she remembers her cajoling Barry Allen into changing reality, but in the pages of DC’s Free Comic Book Day book, DC: The New 52 #1, the Phantom Stranger accused Pandora of cursing the universe by changing it so dramatically. This is the first time readers became aware of the bond between the Stranger and Pandora. The Stranger revealed that he and Pandora are cursed to observe the universe: the universe they were responsible for. This was also the first time readers began to understand Pandora’s true nature. She dismissed Stranger’s warnings about a group called the Circle of Eternity, and shoots him in the chest. Pandora knows full well that this would not kill the immortal Stranger, but fans were left with the idea that this enigmatic woman had a streak of cruelty to her, as it seemed she just did it to cause the Stranger pain. As the Stranger writhed on the ground, Pandora swore she would imprison something called “The Strange,” and that the Justice League will help her whether they like it or not.

Ad – content continues below

Readers now knew that Pandora was a member of the Trinity of Sin, immortal beings cursed with immortality that spend eternity in isolation, charged with observing unfolding events in this newly merged universe. Readers now also knew that the other members of the Trinity were the Phantom Stanger and the Question. Unlike her two trenchcoated counterparts, Pandora has rejected her role, and has broken her curse of forced shame.

DC has made it clear that this is the mythical Pandora, and like the Phantom Stranger, who is actually the biblical Judas, her shame stems from her sins. While connections to the Bible are part of her character, there seems to be connections to some old DC continuity as well. Perhaps these can clue readers in on other aspects of Pandora’s motivations and past. Her facial markings appear very similar to the Wildstorm character, Zealot. Do these markings make Pandora part of the Wildstorm universe, or do they just simply mean that she was designed by Jim Lee and he likes to draw them?  While searching for her legendary box in the government warehouse dubbed the A.R.G.U.S. Black Room, she is confronted by the Wizard, the seemingly omnipotent being that granted powers to Shazam. The Wizard, who was weakened by the arrival of Black Adam in the pages of Justice League, warns her that the box can only be opened by the darkest heart. Is Pandora related to Shazam or the Wizard? Did she release the Seven Deadly Plagues of Man who have been troubling Shazam in the pages of Justice League? Troubled by the Wizard’s warning, Pandora seeks out the Phantom Stranger for answers. He refuses to help her (you shot him, hon! What do you expect, a cupcake?) Stanger, of course, refuses, but Pandora follows him to the mystic city of Nanda Parbat where the Stranger meets with John Constantine to discuss a coming war among heroes.

It can only be assumed this war would be the coming Trinity War, which we now know will be a war pitting the Justice League, the government led tem of Justice League America, and the mystic enforcers and protectors led by John Constantine, the Justice League Dark, against each other. Will each of the Trinity of Sin pick a squad, winner take reality? Or is the Trinity the trinity of universes that make up the new DC? Pandora seems to be an amalgamation of the three universes, she dresses like a DC hero, she looks like a Wildstorm hero, and her magical powers and biblical origins suggest a Vertigo character.

Most importantly, does Pandora remember what came before? Does she remember that the universes were once separate before she manipulated Barry Allen into changing everything? Can there be a possible return to the old DC, even briefly, perhaps to bring some beloved characters from that universe into the newly created one? We know very little about Pandora’s motivations or limitations. She has never appeared in James Robinson’s Earth 2, which seems to suggest that her powers are confined to the regular DC Earth.

From reading Phantom Stranger in his own (surprisingly good) title, we know that his motivations are pure and that he is honestly trying to atone for his past sins. Pandora’s motivations do not seem so pure, so the verdict is still out whether she will play the role of reality’s protector or destroyer in the coming Trinity War. It will be very interesting to see which League sides with her, if, indeed, each member of the Trinity of Sin will be using their own League to help them in the coming conflict.

Looking back into the annals of the DC Universe, the name Pandora doesn’t come up frequently. Perhaps a bit of esoteric trivia can give us a clue to Pandora’s identity? In a 1981 issue of Comic Book Reader, the publication features a character named Pandora Pann that DC would soon feature as a backup feature in Saga of the Swamp Thing. Pandora Pann was an archeology assistant who inadvertently opened Pandora’s box and swore to spend the rest of her life putting back the evil she released. Pandora Pann never was to appear in Swamp Thing, or any comic, as Len Wein instead decided to write Arion: Lord of Atlantis, and never got around to penning Pann’s adventures. Could the brain trust of the DC Universe be tapping into some of Wein’s old ideas? Wein has been very influential in the Swamp Thing revival. Could Pandora be this piece of forgotten trivia? Probably not, but if she is, remember where you read about Pandora Pann first!

Ad – content continues below

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!