Trinity #s 1-52
Writers: Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Mark Bagley, Mike Norton, Scott McDaniel & Tom Derenick
Inks: Art Thibert, Jerry Ordway, Andy Owens, Ande Parks, John Stanisci, Wayne Faucher
Colors: Pete Pantazis & Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover artists: Various
Editor: Mike Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US per issue
Has it already been another year? Judging from the number on this week’s issue of Trinity, yes it has. As DC’s third weekly series of the century comes to a close, it’s natural to look back and evaluate this experiment. Was it a success? If one were to compare its sales figures to those of 52 from two years ago (or even to the figures of the much-maligned Countdown to Final Crisis), one would have to say it was a flop. But the fact of the matter is that DC move a couple of hundred thousand copies (or more) of Trinity every month. That’s a lot of comics being rung up at cash registers. Given that DC’s next weekly series, Wednesday Comics, is exploring a much different approach to weekly genre comics, it’s clear that the publisher it out to revitalize its weekly efforts. I have to admit, I can’t wait to see it, but I’ll also have a soft spot for this scattered saga.
I think what hindered Trinity to some degree was the fact that it was eclipsed by other super-hero events. Given the nature of the main plot, the inclusion of just about every active super-hero character in DC’s stable at the moment and the focus on the three biggest icons of the genre, to view Trinity as something other than an event book is a mistake. But it was an event book without the event-book push or buzz. Final Crisis and the buildup to Blackest Night garnered much more attention, as they were billed as being important. With Trinity’s apparent disconnect from the rest of DC continuity, it didn’t feel that way.
Trinity’s timing was off. If Final Crisis wasn’t going on, Trinity really could have been DC’s big book of 2008-2009. Hell, it was a much better Justice League of America comic than Justice League of America. Imagine, if instead of the editorially mismanaged storylines that we saw in JLA over the past year, we’d instead been presented with JLA as the event book, delivered weekly no less. It might have been a much bigger marketing success.
Of course, that’s not to say the storytelling in Trinity was flawless; far from it. Busiek and Nicieza’s plotting went off in weird tangents at times, heading down paths that were predictable and obviously pointless. The creators clearly had to pad out the book a lot, and that showed in a number of ways. Among them were the introduction and inclusion of characters that didn’t seem to fit (and not in the somewhat interesting fish-out-of-water way Gangbuster was presented). The Void Hound, for example, came from out of nowhere and just never really made much sense to me. Furthermore, it played a key role in the latter stages of the series that it really didn’t deserve.
Despite the inclusion of cosmic characters and circumstances, the plot actually had a simple and soothing message at its heart: everyone has to be true to one’s self and everyone has a role to play, a way s/he fits into the grand scheme of things. Busiek’s story boasts a surprisingly spiritual tone, and I rather enjoyed that about it. The confrontation between Krona and the Worldsoul toward the end of the series was an interesting. The conflict proves to be between perceptions of life as science and life as art. At the beginning, Busiek not only looked at how Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are important as icons and archetypes, but who they are as individuals. I wish the story had left more room for that sort of emphasis on characterization, because Busiek captures their voices so well in the opening chapters of this sprawling story.
More than anything else, Trinity cemented Mark Bagley’s already established reputation for fun, dynamic super-hero artwork produced in a timely manner. Today, the industry accepts the notion that its top artistic talents can’t possibly produced artwork for 12 standard issues per year. At best, we expect six comics’ worth of art per year from such names as Frank Quitely, Bryan Hitch or even the once-tireless George Perez. Bagley’s style is obviously much looser than those artists’, but he’s no hack either. He boasts a unique style and handles the choreography of action sequences incredibly well. The triptych approach to the cover art got old pretty quickly, and rarely did the covers reflect the subject matter inside. Instead, we were presented with a series of almost uninterrupted iconic but generic views of the three central heroes. Furthermore, the cover logo was quite lacking, with the plain-type masthead and the amalgam of symbols failing to really catch one’s eye.
This series introduced a number of new characters (and brought one back) that could potentially resurface in other DC titles, though whether or not that’ll happen anytime soon is doubtful. The Dreambound — Swashbuckler, Primat, Sun-Chained-in-Ink and Trans-Volitional Man — is an eclectic mix of superhumans who only have this story in common, but a couple of the characters are novel concepts. TVM is a nice bit of surreal fun, and Primat, the hopelessly romantic ape, is deliciously corny. Konvikt is painfully generic in tone. The one-part Hulk/one-part Klingon was never all that interesting, and furthermore, he never seemed terribly integral to the plot despite efforts to depict him as such.
Ultimately, Trinity is an old-fashioned kind of comic that lacked the kind of polish mature comics readers might be looking for today. There’s no denying that it’s accessible, full of color characters and cosmic weirdness, and action-packed to the point of excess. In other words, this is a just the kind of comic book that one should consider putting in the hands of a younger reader who’s new to comics. Busiek and company’s ambitious if scattered story certainly drives home the extensive nature of the world-building and myth-building that goes on in a shared super-hero continuity, and that’s the kind of crazy concept that hooked me and so many others on super-hero comics in decades gone by. 6/10