‘Three Million Days’
Written by Ray Fawkes
Layouts by Zander Cannon (Pages 1-7 and 16-20)
Penciles by Daniel Sampere (Pages 1-7 and 16-20)
Inks by Vincent Cifuentes (Pages 1-7 and 16-20)
Art by Patrick Zircher (*Pages 8-15)
Colours by Hi-Fi
Letters by Dezi Sienty
Cover by Ryan Sook
Published by DC
This is, as colleagues of mine have already pointed out, an entire issue of exposition. Seriously, the entire thing is a flashback all the way back to Pandora discovering the Box, opening it and unleashing the seven deadly sins on the world. We see her condemned by the Council of Wizards, alongside The Phantom Stranger and The Spectre, struggle to cope with what happened and start to discover the truth. It’s a nice idea, and there’s a lot going on here.
But it’s all exposition. There’s almost no tension to the piece as Pandora narrates her incredibly long life story and, worse, there’s a lot of repetition here. She unleashes the sins, tries and largely fails to get humanity to turn from them and ultimately works out a way to fight them. It’s all context, and, couched inside that constant narration it feels less like a story and more like a lecture. Only in the last few pages, where Pandora works out how to fight back, does it show any signs of actual bite. The final pages close the circle in an intriguing, ambiguous way that looks set to power the rest of the series. The only problem is just how long you have to wait for that to occur. This reads like a 0 issue, a prologue far more than a first issue and whilst Fawkes has a good ear for foreboding dialogue and a sense of history, the slow pacing here damages the book and saps almost all its momentum. Also, fans wanting to know more about Pandora’s connection to the original DCU are going to remain, at least for this issue, disappointed.
That isn’t to say there’s nothing to enjoy here, because there is. Fawkes’ take on Pandora is strong, sympathetic and tragic and she’s an interesting character to spend time with. His ideas involving her contemporary weaponry and the way her eternal life has eroded and altered her view of killing are also really interesting and look set to power the rest of the book. There’s good stuff here, and that extends to the art, especially Hi-Fi’s colours and Sienty’s versatile, work horse lettering. Whilst I’m unclear whether there’s a narrative reason for Patrick Zircher’s section in the middle of the book, his Tom Mandrake-esque style brings a welcome weight to proceedings. Wrapped around it, Cannon, Sampere and Cifuentes’ work does an excellent job of showing Pandora as a fragile, human character instead of the unkillable monolith she could so easily have been. The only mis-step is the design of the sins. Initially a group of fairly standard DC monsters they evolve a jarringly modern dress sense that throws off a lot of the spectacle they need to be a credible threat. I’d be interested to know if this was an editorially mandated decision or one that the creative team came to themselves. Either way it’s an unsuccessful gamble, at least for me.
This is a lumpy, awkward opening issue that’s difficult to like. There’s minimal progression, near total tell and almost no show and precious little urgency. That being said, the stage is now set, the creative team are all turning in good work, the central idea’s solid and Pandora’s an interesting character overdue her time in the spotlight. Her story has huge potential but it hasn’t been fulfilled by this book, yet. Stick with it, and, hopefully, your patience will be rewarded.