Book of Doom: Trinity #1
When I first heard about Trinity, I asked Doom DeLuise if he’d be willing to let me take over reviews of DC’s weekly series.
“Feel free to do the weekly reviews,” he said. “Just promise you’ll be objectively analyzing them instead of leaning toward blowing a fanboy spooge all over the blog.
That’s a gross sentence.
But, yeah, man, knock yourself out; just don’t go easy on it since it’s got two guys you love working on it. If it sucks, say so.”
Well, after reading the first issue, I don’t think that’ll be a problem. While I enjoyed the main story tremendously, the back-up story was just plain awful. And if I have to suffer through 10 pages of trash every week along with the twelve pages of good stuff, this might not end up being a much better experience that Countdown was.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that I really like Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley. Buseik’s one of my favorite writers ever, Bagley’s one of my favorite artists, and when they worked together on Thunderbolts they were one of my favorite creative teams.
I didn’t have any problems with the main story. While it was for the most part just a set-up for the premise of the series, there was one moment I really enjoyed. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all meet together in their secret identities, but WW clarifies that she’s there in her “private identity.” That’s an important distinction for the characters. It’s been said that Batman masquerades as Bruce Wayne while Clark Kent masqueardes as Superman. Having a third character there that’s the same person whether or not she’s in costume is an dynamic that I find pretty interesting.
I also liked the inclusion of the Flash family in the story. I hope the rest of the characters in the DC Universe are treated as the supporting cast in this series, with people showing up whenever it makes sense geographically or from a storyline standpoint.
I’m not sure the “mysterious dreams” storyline will be able to support this for a full year, though. Hopefully this is going to take an unexpected turn somewhere in the middle where the dream thing is resolved and something new begins. Sort of like what happens in every Legend of Zelda game.
I realize there’s a lot of hope in there, but if I’m going to last 52 issues this thing had better be at least readable.
Speaking of readable, the back up story was not. The art was really ugly, which I found odd considering I enjoyed Scott McDaniel’s work on Nightwing and The Irredeemable Ant-Man (unless that was someone else). And the dialogue wasn’t that great, which is odd considering I loved Fabian Nicienza’s work on Cable & Deadpool.
Worse yet was the cast. The mirror opposites of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are Enigma, Despero and Morgaine Le Fey? I’m all for switching up the Luthor/Joker/Cheetah trio, but there had to have been a better choice.
I think this is the first appearance of Enigma, and you can’t just throw a character out there and say “this guy’s as good as Batman” and have readers believe it. I could have easily accepted Ra’s al Ghul (he did just break out of Arkham) or Deathstroke as a guy who could outfight Batman, or maybe even the “reformed” Riddler as someone who could outwit him, but not some guy I’ve never heard of in a stupid half-helmet thing.
I can accept Despero as Superman’s opposite, even if he hasn’t been treated seriously in a very long time. A big scary-looking alien’s always a good opponent for Superman. Maybe Mongul would have been a better choice if he wasn’t involved with the Green Lanterns right now, or Subjekt-17, a creation from Busiek’s Superman run. At least Despero’s an established villain, though.
Morgaine Le Fey may be the worst. Not only is her costume atrocious, but she’s not even a DC-created character. Characters from established mythologies have rarely been able to make a name for themselves in comics. Marvel scored big with Thor (and Hercules, to a lesser extent), but there haven’t been a whole lot of others, especially from Arthurian legend. Marvel’s Morgan La Fey sucks too. There had to be someone else with mystical powers they could have used. Who says it needs to be a woman? What’s Felix Faust up to since he screwed over Black Adam? Faust even has Isis now to do his dirty work, and Wonder Woman vs. Isis is a fight I would have liked to see.
This first back-up story didn’t leave me with a lot of hope that the subsequent stories will be any better. The “same story from the villains perspective” thing could work, but these back-ups have got to start looking and sounding a hell of a lot better for me to care.
Here’s Doom DeLuise’s take:
“As far as openers go, this is pretty bad. I’ve had it up to here with the “Big Three” meeting at some stupid restaurant or cosmic crossroads to talk about the superhero business. It’s just so boring at this point. We’ve seen this so many times before.
I suppose I just have a problem with this superhero super group, immediately, on the surface. I don’t buy Wonder Woman as a power player, because she’s the boringest woman ever, and I don’t even know what her powers are. Also, it’s incredibly hard to make me care about Superman. As an idea, he sucks. In a good story, he can work well (look at the recent Action Comics run where he went to the 31st century–totally decent), but in most stories, he’s nothing more than a prop in a goofy suit.
What really, really torqued me off, though, was that the main feature attraction was only given half the issue. I tried reading the second half, but the art was so bad, and the first few lines were so stiff, that I just said fuck it and finished taking a crap in silence, staring at the wall.”
And Jim Doom:
“I really liked the premise of Trinity #1. I was reading it and thinking about what a great idea it was for this reason — DC tells us repeatedly that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the big three, the cornerstones of a DC Universe triangle, blah blah blah, but the last few years have been a glaring example of how untrue that is, as Wonder Women’s latest abuse at the hands of a Crisis and subsequent relaunch failed badly and the DC Universe didn’t seem to be any worse off, making it glaringly obvious how Wonder Woman truly isn’t on the same level as Batman and Superman in the eyes of DC editorial and creative.
But it does benefit DC on several levels if Wonder Woman is an equal with the other two, and so I was glad to see a story that seems to not only intend to elevate Wonder Woman to that level, but to do it fairly effortlessly. It was a simple gimmick for Kurt Busiek to use, but to have some other-wordly force single out Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman for its subconscious distress call immediately does the trick of establishing that these three are something special.
I didn’t really mind that the first issue was mostly talking, because there was an established sense of a looming threat lurking behind the calm. I was all ready to get hooked on a weekly series again.
Then I read the second half. Oh man, that was terrible. “Enigma” looked like he was straight out of some awful ’90s comic book, and he was written even worse. Oh hey, what do you know, Fabian Nicieza scripted it. I can’t claim to be surprised. Those awful attempts at Odd Couple humor between “Enigma” and Morgaine Le Fey were painfully, embarrassingly bad. So much time was spent and wasted on establishing the clashes between these two antagonists for humor’s sake that I don’t even remember what they decided on. But something like they saw themselves collaborating in the future, so they figured they should team up. I don’t know why “Enigma” was even there if he didn’t know he was supposed to team up with Le Fey until after seeing the future. I would go back and double check but I really hated the second half.
The idea of a bad trinity opposing the good trinity is interesting on paper, but not when one of them is a techno Phantom of the Opera wisecracker who will be written by Fabian Nicieza.
Mark Bagley’s art was pretty good. I’ve never been a fan but he was okay. At least he can offer readers a consistent look to the book, something the previous two weeklies couldn’t offer. Not that I’ll be buying this again. Have fun, Fin Fang Doom.”
Yeah, I’m not going to buy another issue of this series, either.
Thanks for taking this shit off my hands, Fin Fang!
I don’t think you can say that Superman as an idea “sucks.” He is the progenitor of the genre, he is the descendant of the gods of old.
I could buy that maybe he sucks in execution, but the basic idea is as old as they come – manlike gods and gods amongst men.
Ok. As an idea, he’s so good that he’s inherently uninteresting. He’s too good. Is that a better way of phrasing it?
I’d actually agree that Superman as an idea sucks. When your hero is essentially unbeatable, where’s the drama?
But a really good writer can turn a sucky idea into a good one. I personally think Superman works a LOT better as part of an ensemble than he does as the solo lead. So maybe it’ll work here.
The basic concept wasn’t unbeatable though, was he? He was far more fallible – or at least underpowered – when he originally showed up in the 1930’s. Years of reinterpretation have made him as powerful as he is.
Then again, I’m also of the opinion that any concept can be good given a writer with enough skill to make it interesting.
Er, that second comment seems a little antithetical to what I’m trying to say, and I guess it is. It’s not really meant to back up my other comment, more like a sort of agreement with Fing – even if the Superman concept was a bad one, it can be redeemed.
But it’s not a bad concept, in my opinion.
Isn’t that exactly what I originally said? Given a good writer and a good story, Superman can be awesome, but it rarely works out that way.
I really shouldn’t be so hard on Superman as a concept, though, considering that he’s really a necessary character to weigh everybody else against.
I guess I’ll say, “Fair enough,” Matt. Let’s agree to disagree.
Matt, I realize DD has conceded, but I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to try and refute a criticism of Superman in 2008 with how the character was handled in the 1930s.
Creators obviously understood the storyline weaknesses in a character without weaknesses, and therefore worked on creating those vulnerabilities. Problem is, pretty much all that’s been discovered to fill that role is Superman’s personal attachments and Kryptonite. Lazy writers, and I should say most writers, keep going back to those wells.
I agree that the recent 31st Century story was pretty cool, and I think a good portion of that was due to the fact Geoff Johns found a way to make Superman weak and threatened without relying on those same old vehicles of vulnerability.
Kurt Busiek also did that well by pitting Superman against Arion, a magical foe. Magic seems to be ignored as one of Superman’s weaknesses far too often.
That’s because magic is stupid, Fin.