TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER VOL. 2: BREACH OF FAITH
Written by Dan DiDio, J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Gene Ha, Philip Tan, Fernando Blanco
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: March 5, 2014
The Phantom Stranger searches for his family and is dragged into the events of Trinity War in this second collection, written by Dan DiDio and J.M. DeMatteis.
In this volume DiDio and DeMatteis put the Stranger through the ringer, and literally through Hell, in an effort to save his family. The quest itself is rather straightforward, but the most interesting aspect (and the best written parts of the volume) deal with what Hell actually is, and the manifestation of the condition of Hell, for lack of a better term. DiDio and DeMatteis are exploring some intricate and very interesting thoughts on religion in this volume, some of which are fairly controversial. The examination of religion through the desperate Stranger’s eyes was very interesting to read, and the twists and turns of making deals with demons keeps this story moving at a brisk pace.
For readers who are not well versed in the world of Phantom Stranger, the story is quite easy to latch on to. DiDio and DeMatteis make the character quite relatable and, while not explicitly ever defining his power set, give him an aura of power that is evident in the characters around him. This ominous level of power, constantly lurking, creates an underlying tension that exists throughout the entire book, rippling beneath the surface of whatever is occurring in the story. But for a single issue in this collection, the Stranger is operating in his own corner of the DCU, which works very well. The final issue in the collection is a tie-in to the events of Trinity War, and while DiDio and DeMatteis do tie in a major event within this collection to the Trinity War, it does feel like an awkward issue in the collection. Sprawling events with several tie-ins always make for messy trade collections, and while that particular issue did feel weaker than the rest, I applaud DiDio and DeMatteis for doing their best to tie the event into the groundwork they had prepared in the series.
The writing, for the most part, is solid…as is the art. Gene Ha, Philip Tan and Fernando Blanco provide pencils for this collection, each handling a different act of the Stranger’s journey. Gene Ha’s work is solid, his Stranger a brooding, dark specter on the page. Philip Tan brings a fiery Hell to the page, but is definitely the weakest entry of the three. The sharp lines and style of Ha are lost in the Tan pages and much of the emotional storytelling is lost. His work isn’t poor, but with pages before by Gene Ha and after by Fernando Blanco, it is impossible to miss the quality difference. Speak of Blanco, when he takes the reigns of the book it starts to soar. His style is suited perfectly to the story DiDio and DeMatteis are writing, and his Stranger leaps off the page. The best storytelling of the collection, with the most impact and fluid readability occurs within Blanco’s issues, and I was glad he rounded out the collection. His work is extremely strong and finishes this volume off on a high note, artistically.
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2: Breach of Faith features a well told story of a character that is definitely off the beaten path in the DCU. DiDio and DeMatteis explore some interesting religious views and Fernando Blanco, in particular, delivers some fantastic art. Fans of Justice League Dark will appreciate the tone of the book, and anyone who read Phantom Stranger through Trinity War should definitely go back and pick up this volume.
The Verdict: 8.0/10