Trinity: Volume 1 by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
So I have this problem when people lend me books. As you may have gathered, I read a lot. (I’ve got twelve library books on my desk at the moment, which I should probably get to…) But I usually want to get to something fresh off my reading list before something someone’s lent me, and I also want to make sure I take good care of their book. This usually means I take months to get to it. My friend Ellen lent me Trinity: Volume 1 sometime last semester, and I just got around to it. Thankfully, her only request was “before I graduate”, so I think I’ve satisfied that…
Trinity: Volume 1 collects the first seventeen issues of the Trinity limited series that ran from June of 2008 to May of 2009. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman meet to discuss a dream they’ve all had—a being trapped in the cosmos, screaming to be released. A mysterious man named Enigma manages to sneak up on Morgaine le Fay, offering her—and himself, of course—godhood. And Marguerita Covas, a young tarot card reader, is picking up signals that something is seriously wrong. As events fall into place, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman must confront not only the threat, but also the connection that links them—and the universe—together.
My friend Ellen pressed this into my hands on the promise that it explores Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman and their relationships to one another. (We’ve got this thing where we go to the comic book store while analyzing comics. It’s a lot of fun! Also: Charles Xavier is a bad, bad man.) And this it does. Trinity leans heavily on tarot as a motif; I’ve no idea whether or not it’s accurate, but it flows. A page that’s actually repeated (it’s a flash-forward the first time) is a page where Marguerita (who is nicknamed Tarot… because everybody needs a cool nickname!) finds her cards suddenly depicting Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman as Justice, Strength, and the Devil, respectively. Most of this volume covers the set-up to the rest of the series, although this volume actually ends with a pretty astounding climax and cliffhanger. (I think I will go onto the second volume, but probably in a library edition, so it doesn’t fall to the bottom of my list…) There is, of course, plenty of action—aliens to be smashed, worlds destroyed, alternate universe evil doppelgangers in bondage-esque uniforms (Superwoman, I’m looking at you, though I do approve of the Doc Martens!), you know, the usual. Perhaps I should gather my thoughts on superhero comics, because I say that lovingly and not dismissively. It’s just when you’re a comics fan, you definitely learn to roll with the increasingly ridiculous punches and enjoy them.
But the story actually does rest on the shoulders of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, by way of explaining why they’re the most important and why Superman is the most important of them all. I quite enjoyed the rationale for this, which is also the motivation of the villains, although Enigma’s ultimate identity should be pretty obvious by its reveal. (To be fair, it wasn’t for me, but I haven’t read any proper Batman in a while.) The bulk of the comic is about them interacting with each other. Later in this volume, their consciousnesses actually start bleeding into each other (to quote Jess Plummer, comics!) and it’s startling to see them alternately imitating and shutting off from each other. Why do Wonder Woman and Batman cede power to Superman? How do people see them? And how do their differing goals intersect? I’m used to digging for character development in comics and television, so to find a series that makes character development essential to the story is pretty delightful. I will note that a lot of this analysis is delivered point-blank as dialogue (which Marguerita is especially particularly good at), but I can buy Clark expositing at length while beating up his doppelganger, so there’s that.
Four artists worked on Trinity over the run of its first seventeen issues, so the art is… shall we say variable? We shall. Some issues are more traditional and splashy, others more stylized, and yet others a bit blocky. The paneling is so efficient and bland you don’t particularly notice it, although there’s a nice long panel of Wonder Woman looking over her wounded shoulder to contrast against Batman and Superman trying to tell her to go get medical attention. I was pleasantly surprised by how Busiek and company handled romantic relationships and women; while Wonder Woman is in a relationship and mentions her past attractions to both Batman and Superman, it’s not focused on, and I imagine the bleeding consciousnesses will help their relationships. And what we briefly see of Lois Lane is fantastic, as anything with Lois Lane should be. The writing also occasionally focuses on other heroes in order to highlight how others see them; I was particularly fond of seeing Nightwing (the original Robin) and the current Robin working together, as I haven’t seen a lot of that. Busiek makes the various mythos play nice with each other, culminating in a team-up that was surely a selling point in the pitch. (But it does make sense, so I’ll give them that.)
I haven’t mentioned the hopeless romantic lady gorilla in a steel corset yet, but I think you might want to head into that one blind.
Bottom line: Trinity: Volume 1 collects the first seventeen issues of Trinity, which focuses on Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, as well as their relationships to each other and the universe at large. It’s nice to see a story so focused on character, although the exposition can be a little bombastic. The art is nothing to write home about, however. Solid.
I borrowed this book from a friend.