Current Reviews

subheader

Sunday Slugfest: Trinity #1

Posted: Sunday, June 8, 2008
By: Keith Dallas

Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza
Mark Bagley, Scott McDaniel (p), Art Thibert, Andy Owens (i)
DC Comics
Erik David Norris: 5 Bullets
Christopher Power: 2 Bullets
Kevin Powers: 4 Bullets
Caryn A. Tate: 4 Bullets
Dave Wallace: 3.5 Bullets




Erik David Norris: 5 Bullets

I want to preface my review by saying the internet is one of the biggest crutches to the comic book. A source of instant, up-to-date news is offset by the fact that books are constantly spoiled in excessive detail before they even hit the shelves. I also didn't start reading comics until five years ago, by which time the interweb was well underway. Therefore, it is impossible for me to fathom a time when every comic reader rushed to the store to pick up his favorite books, without any knowledge of its contents, pouring over the pages, letting the comic whisk them away in a state of wonderment and euphoria. In a sense I actually resent them because I wish that was the case for me, but being in the field I'm in, and so dependent on the internet, a lot of stories are spoiled for me before I even get my hands on them.

I had to get that out because what I'm about to say about the first issue of Trinity shows how strong a comic this issue truly is. Before this issue hit, preview pages hit the internet like a tidal wave. First in the form of a standard preview, then Newsarama got hold of an "exclusive" preview and by the time that ran, pretty much the entirety of the main narrative in Trinity #1 had been online a week before the issue came out in hardcopy. The first preview even showed the final page of the main story! Of course I peeked at both because I was excited about the project as a fan, but I really shouldn't have. However, Trinity #1 was released this past Wednesday and guess what? The comic is as solid a purchase as you can get with superhero first issues.

The past DC weekly comics never quite let you get your money's worth with each installment. Plot thread here, tease there, but never anything concrete to make a single issue worth the hefty price tag. And that was when they were $2.50. Then comes Countdown and the price goes up 50 cents and the quality of the product down 100%. However, Trinity #1 at $3 is a jam packed book. You will feel like you got your money's worth even if you were like me and checking out the previews online right when they dropped. Therefore, it's a double whammy: a superhero comic that delivers its weight, and a weekly one at that.

Well, I'm three paragraphs into my review and I haven't even touched upon the contents of the issue, so let's get to it. Kurt Busiek knows these characters, all of them. That is as blunt as I put it. It’s so obvious when you read the book's opening; the "Trinity" meeting at a pier for a bite and to play catch-up. Bruce orders his meal with pinpoint precision, Clark meanders around the topic in a "whichever is easiest" fashion, and Diana straddles the fine line between Bruce and Clark, specific but carefree. Even the conversation about "dreams" or "premonitions" our heroes have ring true to their personality. Everything Busiek writes involving our three leads is gold. Then Wally "The Flash" West shows up, and it brings a smile to my fanboy face. I could picture Michael Rosenbaum's voice from the Justice League cartoon with every speech bubble. It was ecstasy. Busiek also gives us some nice epic teases about where the series is headed and how the Trinity has cosmic ties to each other, besides just being DC's most recognizable characters.

The art is also fantastic for this first issue. Mark Bagley is probably the fastest artist in the industry, a true work horse. While not the prettiest art, it is well polished with tons of details, churned out at an alarming rate. He is the only artist capable of tackling this series, and I am pumped DC snagged him when they did.

So the series starts off with a bang, and I'm breathless but wait, there's more! Trinity is one upping both Countdown and 52 by including "backup" material that is actually a parallel running plot, with heavy ties to the main narrative. Written by Fabian Nicieza with Kurt Busiek, the backup stories will tie directly with the forwarding plot of the Trinity while eclipsing the entire DCU. Issue one focuses on Morgaine Le Fey, Enigma (though heavily eluded to be the Riddler) and a soon to be third member of the squad making up the anti-Trinity as they seek ultimate power, a staple of the super-villain. This "backup" is in every way just as engaging as the main narrative and really helps enhance the overall story Trinity is trying to tell.

As you can probably tell, I loved Trinity #1. Taking the experiences of their first two weekly series, DC seems to be pumping the best they have to offer into this title to make it a hit as well as wash the bad taste of Countdown out of fans' mouths. We have some of the best writers, artists, and characters in this book, and so far, it's a slam dunk. While for some, committing to a weekly serial is a hard step to take, I beg you to try Trinity #1. With a weekly shipping schedule you have to take into account that the plot might be a slightly slower boil compared to a story shipping monthly for a sixth issue arc, but what Trinity has working for it is that it's the best of the best character wise, and is insanely accessible for casual fans of the DC Universe. Highest recommendation!




Christopher Power: 2 Bullets

Boy, did I really want to like this book. I wanted a fun story of the Trinity of DC Comics, maybe even dare hope for something as great as Alan Moore's “For The Man Who Has Everything.” The fact that Kurt Busiek was writing it made me even more excited, as I, in general, enjoy his work greatly. However, while this book is not particularly bad, it is boring. Very little captured my interest, and when I came to the second story, I actually walked away from the book for 3 days not really caring what happened. That tends to be a bad sign when reading a comic book that is only twenty-some-odd pages long.

The start of the book seemed promising: the cosmic cloud shouting “Let me out” left me curious and wanting more. Unfortunately, it is revealed that it is a shared dream between Clark, Diana and Bruce, and the book has them meet in Keystone City to have coffee and chat about the dreams. Being in Keystone seems to only have been done so that Flash and his kids could make an appearance, and more importantly for a bad pun in the second half of the book. Their excuse was that the Flash could not be reached by phone, and every other hero had been asked if they were having a similar dream. This was ludicrous. First, Bruce goes over that he reached “almost everyone else,” who in the DCU is a pretty big list of people; second, he even states later in the book that he could have used the JLA communicator, but used the phone instead. Now, if I thought that there was something sinister going on that could be affecting my friends, I probably would have used the communication devices that we set up for just such an occasion, but that is just me.

Add to this the fact that the three greatest heroes on New Earth do nothing but talk for three pages, come to no decisions and fly off on their own promising to stay in touch. Boy, do I wish I had that kind of schedule where I could just book off in the middle of the day to have an afternoon of coffee and chat about my dreams, only to come to no discernable conclusions. There was not only no real motivation for these heroes to get together (does Batman call Superman every time he has a bad dream?), but there was no resolution of any kind. When things finally started getting interesting, the book abruptly ends with a building falling on Superman.

We are then treated to 15 pages of Morgaine Le Fey and some other guy who knows a lot about science and magic but nothing about the English language (S.P.H.E.R.E. is an acronym, not an anagram), talking about many disconnected subjects, and mostly introducing some of Morgan's history to the reader. You know, when I was a kid, when a villain showed up, I pretty much accepted they were a bad guy when someone told me so. I did not need a long drawn out introduction about the castle she meditates in, details about her magic power, what century she was born in, and many other facts. I did, and still do, need some kind of direction as to what the characters are aiming for in the story. In this story, that seems to be absent. There are many visions, that seem disconnected, and it leaves the reader somewhat lost. From these visions, it was decided that the villains absolutely need Despero of all people to complete their plans (whatever they are).

I normally do not rant like this in my reviews, but while this book was very nice to look at, with Mark Bagley turning in fantastic art, in particular Diana of the DEO, I was left frustrated and irritated.

I wanted to like this book, and I will try the second chapter, but this entry just felt unfinished on its own. Perhaps a trade paperback will make this chapter feel more complete.




Kevin Powers: 4 Bullets

DC's latest weekly endeavor, Trinity, finally took off with Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley at the helm. Following the success of 52 and the disappointment of Countdown, it only makes sense that DC attempt to give the weekly series idea another go-round. Interestingly enough, both 52 and Countdown were meant to tell stories of the DC Universe not involving Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Trinity is exactly the opposite and will focus only on the "Big Three" and their relationship to one another. The series is billed as "changing the relationship of the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman forever." Personally, I don't really think the relationship needs to be changed or altered, but I'm all for its exploration and a weekly series starring three of comics' most recognizable figures.

This issue is actually very well-written. There's a common catalyst that affects only the Trinity and will serve as the plot point to bring not only the three heroes together but the main villains as well. The Trinity experiences different variations of the same dream and only they share it. No one else is affected by the phenomenon, thus immediately allowing Kurt Busiek to highlight the importance of the three main characters. The dialogue he writes amongst the characters as they meet in Keystone is actually very well done and flows quite nicely from point to point. Even the involvement of Wally West works extremely well as the Trinity investigates whether or not anyone else had the dream. I love the scene with Wally and his kids in action, and not only does Busiek handle it very well, he does a great job bringing it to life. I'm putting in my vote for Bagley to take over art duties on The Flash when he is done with this series.

Anyways, the first story contained in this issue is brief, but it's smart and to the point. Busiek definitely doesn't waste time with any unnecessary moments or banter; he gets right into the plot and the mystery surrounding the dream. The series definitely hits the ground running and that's not a bad thing at all. There's an entire year to explore an already established relationship, so jumping right into the plot was a very wise move. The first half of this issue is definitely an interesting start to the series and is enough to warrant even the most adamant Countdown haters to at least check out the first few issues of the series as it gets underway.

The artwork in the first half of this issue is fantastic. Mark Bagley has a very distinct style and has definitely made his transition from Marvel to DC rather seamlessly. As I stated above, my favorite images in this book involved the Flash and his kids battling Clayface on the streets of Keystone City. Bagley really does an excellent job with the artwork and starts his tenure at DC off with a bang. Thus far, both Busiek and Bagley are off to a strong start with the plot directly involving the Trinity.

The second half of the book is a bit weaker in the sense that it doesn't flow as well as the first part, and it's not as fast-paced, but it does appear to be much more of a mystery. The second half of the story focuses on two characters that appear to be the antithesis of the Trinity. While I've never been too crazy about Morgaine Le Fey's involvement in the DC Universe, she serves her purpose well here. There's also no denying the intriguing mystery behind this new villain, Enigma. I am about ninety-nine percent sure that Enigma is actually the Riddler, but that does remain to be seen. While it seems obvious that Enigma may actually be the Riddler, it may also be an extremely clever ruse. I think it is the Riddler because the Riddler's real name is Edward Nigma (E. Nigma) and his iron staff is molded in the shape of a question mark. Busiek and Nicieza also write the character's dialogue in a fashion that almost seems as though he is talking in riddles. He is also extremely intelligent and the mask covering the damaged side of his face is also in the form of a question mark. If it is indeed the Riddler, it will be interesting to see how he got to this point. Perhaps it was his "heart's desire" and Libra may or may not have had something to do with it. Either way, it was a little difficult to follow the magical and mystical side of things, but the connection between the villains and the Trinity is fairly clear. However, I will admit I was a little confused by the whole "Elseworlds"-like dreams of reality that are presented to Le Fay and Enigma. Aside from that, it was a fairly good read, and I am intrigued as to where this is going.

I've always liked Scott McDaniel's artwork, but I felt his work on the Countdown: Arena series was a bit sloppy and uninspired. Here, he really seems to be back on his game. His style, like Bagley's, is very distinct, yet both artists' styles are very different, and they work together very nicely. The mesh of the artists' styles is shown as Bagley draws the dream sequences in the second half. I really can't complain about the artwork at all; two top notch artists with very distinct separate styles that work very well together really bring this issue to life.

Personally, I believe the entity behind the dreams is most certainly not Libra as some may believe. In fact, I think the entity is actually Krona. I may be wrong, but it would make sense. Basically, Krona was an Oan who had an insatiable hunger for the ultimate knowledge of the cosmos. The Guardians banished Krona to an energy prison dispersing his essence throughout the universe. Thus, it would make a bit of sense if Krona was indeed the being in the dream. That, however, remains to be seen.

It does help to have a basic knowledge of the DC Universe to completely understand this issue, but it is not essential like it is for something like Final Crisis. While this series is supposed to steer clear of the mainstream DC Universe, I really can't help but wonder how it's going to be able to do that. It definitely takes place in the present day DC Universe and the Trinity plays too big of a role, and this series is too high profile for it not to have a major impact on the mainstream universe. As it stands now, this first issue is a solid start to the series, and the mystery will definitely keep me around for a few issues to come. How this series will turn out remains to be seen, but right now I'm onboard.




Caryn A. Tate: 4 Bullets

My hopes are definitely high for DC's latest weekly series, after reading the first installment. This is how it's done--great characterization, a lot of story packed into one issue, good flow, fantastic art. The first issue is usually the most telling in any series, but especially a weekly one, and it was with relief that I finished this one.

The first half of the issue ("Boys and Their Games") concerns the Big Three--Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman--meeting up for breakfast in Keystone to discuss a dream that all three of them had the night before. All three are convinced that it's much more than just a dream.

The second half of the issue ("In the Morrows to Come") is essentially the same story from the point of view of Morgaine Le Fey and another new villain called "Enigma." Le Fey and Enigma realize they have both had the same dream and search for the meaning.

In "Boys and Their Games," Mr. Busiek knows exactly how to establish the subtle differences in character between the Big Three while still maintaining the excitement in the story. I love the way he works the dialogue to make it interesting enough to hold our attention throughout most of the 11 pages. It's witty, funny, and he nails the individual characterization of each of the heroes within two to three pages. It's pretty amazing, and honestly it's something that I would love for more up and coming writers to study in an effort to hone their skills at showcasing characterization.

I love that Bruce is portrayed as intense but not a jerk; Clark is down to earth and pure; Diana is regal, powerful, and kind. This isn't rocket science; each character's depiction is basically simple, but that's exactly what locks and holds our attention throughout this 11 page tale.

Mr. Bagley's art is detailed and full of fun. He does a great job with the facial expressions and body language of all of the characters involved, and in the few action scenes in the first issue, it's obvious that he knows his way around great movement and action sequences. The colors complement the mood of the story amazingly well.

It's too bad that "In the Morrows to Come" wasn't nearly as good as "Boys and Their Games." I love Scott McDaniel's art--always have, ever since I first saw his work in Batman--and I had high hopes for this story because it was so great to see him on another high profile title. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed due to the excessive and somewhat boring dialogue throughout the story. There was a little bit of action at the beginning of it, and after that, it was exclusively dialogue. And let's face it, Morgaine Le Fey and a new guy called Enigma aren't interesting enough to most readers to be able to hold our attention with scene after scene of them only talking.

Thankfully, as I was reading this issue, I didn't know that "In the Morrows to Come" contained an equal number of pages as "Boys and Their Games," so to me it felt like a back up story; this made me feel that it wasn't such a big deal that I didn't enjoy it much at all (except for the art). Afterward, I realized each section was 11 pages long, and all I can say is that I hope each issue that follows utilizes the space of that second story arc a lot more efficiently, and that the story on that side picks up.

But for now, "Boys and Their Games" absolutely saved my overall opinion of this comic. If the series continues in this vein, this will be a fantastic weekly read that's well worth the money.




Dave Wallace: 3.5 Bullets

Trinity is the third weekly comic launched by DC in as many years, but it's the first one that I've decided to try. I'm not invested enough in the DC Universe to buy into big universe-spanning stories like 52 or Countdown, but this book takes a different tack, promising a straightforward, relatively self-contained tale involving DC's "Big Three" heroes that will also touch on various other characters and locales of the DCU. As such, I bought this issue hoping that it would be an accessible read that's unfettered by DC's wider continuity issues, and wondering whether the book would be good enough to convince me that it would be worth investing $2.99 a week to follow it. Whilst I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get into the story, I'm still not altogether convinced that it's going to be worth $12 a month.

If the entire book was as good as the opening 15 pages, I probably wouldn't hesitate to add Trinity to my list of regular purchases - at least for a while. Bagley and Busiek do a good job of introducing their core heroes and setting up the book's central plot, even managing to make time for a compelling action sequence involving the Flash. There's a strong emphasis on characterisation here, and it come through in both the writing and the artwork. Busiek ensures that all of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman's dialogue carries information about their characters, whether it's the way they order breakfast from a café (Bruce's rigid, detailed order is contrasted with Clark's casual demeanour and his consideration to put the waitress to as little trouble as possible, whereas Diana's kind but no-nonsense personality comes across in her ordering of a simple black coffee) or the way they interpret the portentous dream that opens the book (Clark sees a screaming face in a swirling starscape as an angry extraterrestrial intelligence; Diana sees it as a mystical, mythical deity; Bruce thinks it's a jailed criminal).

Characterisation is established visually, too, whether it's the way that the Trinity dress (both in terms of the style and the colouring of their civilian outfits) or their body language (Bruce sits with his arms folded, Clark approaches him casually with his hands in his pockets, and Diana strides purposefully forwards, her hand held up in a sign of peaceful greeting). Mark Bagley is so synonymous with Marvel comics that it took me a while to adjust to seeing his distinctive style applied to DC's iconic characters, but once I got over that initial shock, I was able to fully appreciate his artwork here. Bagley quickly establishes his own take on the characters, and they're distinctive enough that they don't feel familiar or reminiscent of any of his Ultimate Spider-Man character designs. There are also some smart colouring touches, such as the shadow over Bruce's face that takes the same shape as his Batman mask.

The issue's main action scene is solidly illustrated, too, with a real sense of speed and dynamism as the Flash takes on Clayface. Despite the chaotic speediness of the sequence, the storytelling is never less than crystal clear, with an economical approach that sees the Flash confront the villain, defeat him, and neatly gather up his shattered pieces in the space of a single page. I'm sure this scene will make fans of the Flash eager to see Bagley assigned to that title after he's finished with this one. As for the titular Trinity, we don't see a huge amount of them in-costume just yet - bar a couple of iconic images of Superman and Wonder Woman in flight (and a couple of headshots of his Batman) - but Bagley's artwork is already looking very promising, and at this point, it's probably the biggest draw of the book for me (no pun intended).

However, the second section of the book isn't quite as satisfying as the first. It's a companion story to the main piece that reveals that someone else is aware of the dreams that have been plaguing the Trinity, as the sorcerer Morgaine Le Fey is approached by "Enigma," a Riddler-esque techno-villain who plots with her to create a trinity of their own. There are some tantalising glimpses of possible future developments in the main story (all of which are illustrated by Bagley): we see the Big Three represented by tarot cards that signify aspects of their personality, and we catch a glimpse of a Gotham City that appears to be in search of replacements for Batman and Robin. However, it's not really enough to give readers a strong impression of where the story is going.

It's not that this part of the story doesn't have potential, but it doesn't grab me as much as Busiek's main story, with writing from Fabian Nicieza that doesn't feel as quite as snappy as the first section. That's possibly because he has the unenviable task of presenting a story that's mostly composed of vague hints and foreshadowing about the future of the book. However, he does a fairly good job of establishing the characters of his two villains, even if I'm not really convinced that they're going to be able to pose much of a threat to the book's heroes. (Also, the pedant in me can't resist mentioning Nicieza's apparent confusion between the words "anagram" and "acronym": if "Enigma" told someone who was really "anagram-impaired" about his S.P.H.E.R.E., they'd probably wind up thinking he had herpes.)

I also wasn't as taken by Scott McDaniel's artwork in this second section. I'm familiar with McDaniel's art from the Daredevil "Fall from Grace" storyline from years ago, and I wasn't a huge fan of it then. I can see how some people might enjoy his bold style, but it feels flat and detail-free to me, and suffers in comparison to Bagley's work, which I prefer.

Judging by this first issue, I think that I'd be more willing to commit to Trinity if it was a fortnightly title with full Bagley artwork, rather than a weekly book in which half of the pages are illustrated by the artist. However, DC seems to have got stuck in a weekly rut at this point. I guess that the frequency of the book is a selling point, and it probably makes them more money than a fortnightly title would. As such, it's going to be more difficult for me to decide whether to follow the book on a weekly basis, or wait for the eventual TPBs in the hope that they'll collate Bagley and Busiek's core story on its own.

The book sets up a decent enough mystery - albeit one that we're only getting the first inklings of here - and I enjoyed the characterisation of the leads, so I'll probably give it a couple more issues to win me over. However, for people on a tight budget who are still undecided about this title, I'm not sure that it would be easy to justify sacrificing four monthly titles just to follow this one weekly book on the strength of this opener.



What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!