In writing there’s a principle known as the Power of Three or Rule of Three: it affirms that in literature things are funnier, scarier, more exciting, effective, etc. when they are grouped in a triad. It might sound silly at first, but once you start thinking of examples it’s hard to argue otherwise: Three Little Pigs, Three Musketeers, there’s even three ghosts of Christmas! Imagine someone said to you “hey, do you want one scoop of ice cream or would you like three?” you’re probably not going to have to think very hard about your response. So, with that logic in mind, a comic that prominently features three characters from the DCU that I love most, by definition alone should be amazing – right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Though the title of the book is Trinity, you could easily have called this issue Superman #1.5. The scene opens on the Kent farm where young Jon Kent is still learning to control his burgeoning powers, a pre-New 52 Superman is finishing his patrol, and a now domesticated Lois Lane is preparing a dinner party for a couple of heroic guests (familiar, no?). Suffice it to say things get off to a bit of a rocky start: before Bruce and Diana can even cross the threshold, Jon nearly obliterates both them trying to use his x-ray vision. The dinner topic of conversation is no less precarious as Bruce is quick to remind Clark of how little he trusts him and that unchecked, he and Jon are two of the most dangerous beings on the entire planet. Tensions subside after the meal: Lois and Diana are left to talk alone while Clark and Bruce put Jon to bed. The strength of old ties helps to quell new rivalries/suspicions and a loose "friendship" is formed, albeit hesitantly. The resolve it fosters, however, is short-lived; a voice begins calling out to Clark, beckoning him forward towards the barn. Once inside, the triad of heroes discovers a relic straight from the pages of J.K. Rowling or C.S. Lewis: a literal mirror into Superman's past!
I feel very conflicted over this issue. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I actually enjoyed the writing for the most part. The narrative helped with the overall flow of the story, and Manapul does an unparalleled job of getting in touch with the human side of the characters, however at times this also becomes the book’s greatest flaw. Notice how in my above description I said Bruce, not Batman; Diana not Wonder Woman? That wasn’t by accident: Manapul focuses so much on the human relationship that we lose the super-human element almost entirely; we don’t even see Batman or Wonder Woman in uniform, save for one page. It’s a mending-the-fences type issue that reads at times like a bottle-neck episode of daytime t.v. I understand that Manapul has to build the story up and is walking a fine line between canon/non-canon continuity, occupying the space in between; I was just expecting more of a bang and less of a whimper. Oh, and Superman’s whole Mirror of Erised moment – no, not a fan.
The art is certainly good enough; it is Francis Manapul after all - duh. The layouts are impressive, but I would be lying if I said it was the best Manapul I’d ever seen. There’s just simply not the same amount of detail in his lines that fans of his past work are used to seeing. As a colourist, however, he leaves an entirely different impression; and it’s beautiful. A farm might not make for the most exciting of settings, but it does lend itself nicely to some breathtaking sunsets and scenery. Manapul’s ability to showcase beauty through something as inconsequential as light escaping through a farm house door is what makes him the talented artist he is, and it also helps to pick the reader up in those moments when the script falters.
Even as I write this review, I’m still asking myself how I felt about Trinity as a whole. It was slow paced, but there was definite substance and character depth well beyond the scope of what you normally see in superhero comics. On the other hand, it IS a superhero comic! Would it have hurt to see the Justice League’s most famous members do something, anything that was even kind of cool in their first issue?! I think we all would have been O.K. with that; I definitely would have been. I’ll keep reading on not because of what Trinity is but rather because of what I think/hope it will become; I just hope I’m right.
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Trinity #1 Writer/Artist/Colourist: Francis Manapul Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital