Mr. Johns, you've done it again.
So much potential wasted. Instead of following through and developing these ideas to a full, rich, satisfying conclusion, we get this, a storyline whose sole purpose was only to set up the Next Big Thing. Disgraceful. I know we've discussed this before, and it's not the first time the New 52 has done this (notably we have the Third Army setup for the First Lantern over in the Green Lantern slice of the universe), but this is a very annoying example of this practice, more so by the very intriguing ideas and potentials so wholly wasted herein. I'm not saying The Other Guys never do this (Legion Quest, as you recall, solely existed to set up the Age of Apocalypse, but since it led into it so intelligently, and the Age of Apocalypse was so fantastic, we can forgive that example, at least).
The premise itself is good enough, though one would think the DCU had tired of Parallel Universes, since every 12 years or so it attempts to wipe them out. Wasn't that the whole point of this New 52, anyway? Simplify, simplify, right? Make a fresh start so a new generation of readers can climb aboard and see how wonderful teenage superheroes are and how worthless and stupid adults are? Even so, the notion of an alternate dimension version of these characters trying to get in from the beginning of the Relaunch gave us a bit of hope the Decision Makers had a Grand Plan. Perhaps coherency and cohesion would win the day after all. But then Infinity War Lite (or Diet Infinity War, if you prefer) showed up instead. Ah, well.
Perhaps the most frustrating abandoned element of the event is Pandora herself. It's one thing to tell us Pandora's Box was a science bomb from a parallel universe to help Bad People get into our universe, and that its creation of the Seven Deadly Sins was ancillary and almost accidental to its purpose. We can take the discontinuity with the Shazam Universe, since we are led to believe there it is all about Magic, and the 7 (who are referred to as "brothers" and "sisters," though only one of them is female) are products of magic and containable by magic and destroyed by magic. Fine. We get it. It's science, not magic. You don't want the supernatural to exist (an odd thing for Comic Book Makers to desire).
But Pandora herself becomes symbolic of the entire event: she instigates it, it's basically her story, and suddenly she is abandoned and forgotten, her entire punishment and life casually dismissed by Evil Alfred and here comes the Next Big Thing. Just when she finally learns something about herself, realizes she may be just as sinful as the sins themselves (or, perhaps, she is responsible for their existence, the Box is not - which would be fine and more consistent, but it's too ambiguous, and not because I'm a bad reader but because it was written shoddily), she gains the ability to finally end the sins and destroys Envy (if memory serves) .... and then it just stops! She smiles (wickedly) for the first time in millennia and ... nothing. It's over. Has Envy been eradicated from the world? Who knows. Will Pandora destroy the other Sins? Can't be bothered to tell you, says the Creative Team. The Next Big Thing has arrived before we had time to wrap up what we were currently doing. I wonder if Mr. Johns forgets to close the refrigerator door when he is making dinner, once he gets distracted by Dessert, the Next Big Thing. Or maybe the New 52 Universe takes place on the Island from Lost.
We could potentially forgive the embarrassing name of the Next Big Thing as the "Crime Syndicate." (Seriously, Crime Syndicate was the best name we could come up with?) We could more easily excuse the disregard of the Trinity "War" (the "war" lasts for, what, three pages in part 2 or something?) solely existing as a setup for Forever Evil if they had at least drawn it to a meaningful conclusion first. But no. Pandora is forgotten and unresolved. The Question is abandoned, his role in the "Trinity of Sin" almost wholly ignored. The Phantom Stranger is killed off for no good reason (since apparently angels are vindictive jerkwads who don't like it when people try to revive innocent people who were accidentally murdered). Does Dr. Light get to live again? Guess not. And, oh, yeah, the whole "people make up their own Heaven" thing? Utter shash. We still get it, team: you don't like the supernatural and you want everything to be explained by science. Perhaps that's why Constantine and Shazam spend most of the story doing nothing important and most of the Justice League Dark likewise disappears for most of the event. (But why are angels so easily upset if everyone is allowed to create their own Heaven? Another unresolved idea.) Oh, well.
Disappointing and disrespectful treatment of the characters, ideas, storylines, and audience. Other than all that, this was good.