Trinity #35

Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Penciled by Mark Bagley and Mike Norton
Inked by Art Thibert and Walden Wong
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I actually feel a little bad for Trinity, DC Comics’s current year-long weekly series. When 52 started, it had come right off of Infinite Crisis and had the hook of being an epilogue (of sorts) for that series to grab readers. The follow up of Countdown ended up leading into the big Final Crisis event, even down to having a name-change halfway through to Countdown to Final Crisis. But Trinity? In many ways it’s just existing in a void, entirely on its own, and so I think it’s easy to forget. That’s a shame, too, because as the title hits the two-thirds mark, I think Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley, and the rest of the creative team are really hitting their marks.

The new world where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman never existed becomes more and more of a war zone with each passing minute; Morgaine le Fey and Enigma continue to try and seize control of different portions of the world using their Dark Arcana, even as the Justice Society International tries to counter with their own version of the Arcana. Even as our heroes lose, though, those connected to the original trinity of super-heroes discover the myths of the gods that have passed down through the world, and learn unsettling truths about the most revered member of the missing heroes.

It’s funny, I’m pretty sure that many other comics have tried to map characters into the Major Arcana of tarot in the past; after all, there was even an entire Vertigo Tarot set created by Rachel Pollack and Dave McKean many years ago. This is in some ways one of the most effective usages of that idea, though, with multiple iterations of each archetype—both good and evil—that can be swapped in for one another with great ease. I think that’s in no small part because Busiek and Nicieza certainly understand the idea of a tarot deck here, and how there are no concrete answers within its different symbols. So, to have heroes and villains alike stepping in for each card really works the more you think about it, and some of the characters being dug up to fill these slots have been a hysterical cavalcade of Who’s Who in the DC Universe.

At the same time, the other story involving the characters strongly connected to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman has been proving interesting with the latest installments; up until now, it’s been nothing that we haven’t really seen before. Busiek’s take on Superman, though, is just a reminder to me on how much I’d enjoyed his Superman run. The idea of Superman-as-outsider is certainly well told, but Busiek’s story about a slightly different take on the original Superman/Doomsday fight is certainly well worth taking notice of. I remember Busiek saying that he wanted to delve into the trinity of icons here, and with this latest issue he’s definitely coming through on that promise.

Bagley’s pencils, as always, are consistent and strong. I like his takes on the classic DC characters, both in their own world as well as this new, different universe. With all of them, there’s more than enough recognizable about each character to make you understand exactly who they are, but at the same time we’re getting Bagley’s own take on them as well, and it’s an attractive end result. Of the three rotating artists for the other stories, I have to say that I’ve enjoyed Mike Norton’s pencils the most. It certainly helps that his style is the closest to Bagley’s, with a smooth, nicely rendered set of characters. He’s also able to handle the really big scenes well, from a massive Morgaine le Fey stomping across a city like Godzilla, to Enigma’s spread of all the different Dark Arcana characters. He’s even able to bring a little tenderness to Enigma’s origin story, and that’s exactly what the proverbial doctor ordered.

I’ll admit that about two months in, I was worried that Trinity was moving a little slow for my own tastes. I’m glad I stuck it out, though. Not only is everything moving much more briskly and interestingly (people who love alternate universe stories must be in heaven, here), but I’m also impressed with how much better the "main" and "back-up" stories are now integrated together; with issues like Trinity #35, we jump from the first to the second and back to the first in the blink of an eye, and the transitions are seamless. Trinity is a fun little surprise waiting for you ever week. I wish it was getting more attention, because at this point it certainly deserves it.

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