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By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
“Damn. He’s hot.” — Tarot
Welcome to TRINGENUITY, CBR’s ongoing commentary of DC Comics’ weekly superhero series, “Trinity.” The title is divided into two features; the first focuses on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the second feature portrays background or tangential events that relate to the ongoing lead storyline. “Trinity” is a weekly series that is promised to be epic in scale and help define the trio of heroes’ mythical place in the DC Universe.
The Trinity deciphered the clues left behind since the Troika first took action, and the JLA, JSA, Outsiders, Titan and Teen Titans waged an assault on Castle Branek, headquarters of the villains. Meanwhile, Gangbuster and Hawkman made their way past the armies of the Troika and into the Castle itself on a quest to rescue Tarot. Locked in a dreamstate, Tarot was providing visions for the Troika. Hawkman, bearing the blade of Mordred, son of Morgaine Le Fey, encountered the mystical guardians of the Arthurian witch.
Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Art Thibert launch us right into the thick of the battle, first giving us a touch of the combat going on outside with the DCU’s heroes combating the Troika’s henchmen, then leaping inside to see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman wrestling with Morgaine Le Fey, Despero and Enigma themselves. This tactic is the key to the Trinity’s plan, it seems, as the heroes, now linked mentally through the spell being worked on them, fight the villains farthest from their immediate opposites. Combined with the advanced sensory input and battle tactics available through their shared mindsets, the Trinity all but crushes the villains, also learning that Enigma is actually tied to the Anti-Matter Earth, until Despero makes an uncanny (and unlikely) acrobatic move to sneak up on Batman and brand the hero. With the final brand in place, the Troika declares victory!
This week’s backup feature is brought to us by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, and art chores go back to Mike Norton and Jerry Ordway. Within Castle Branek, Tarot is still locked in her dreamstate, but finally frees herself from her mystic bondage. The tarot cards that have been bound to her in the Dreaming begin to lay themselves out in patterns of their own making, reading the world and revealing it to be falling apart. Having defeated Le Fey’s guardian dragon, Hawkman and Gangbuster arrive just in time to save Tarot from execution at the hands of Morgaine’s minions and make their way past all manner of monsters. Tarot reveals what she has discovered and insists that she be taken to the Trinity if the world is to be saved. Battling his way through layers and layers of distorting energy fields, Hawkman is on the verge of reaching the Trinity, he fractures into his countless past lives just as Batman is branded and Castle Branek explodes.
Justin Eger: Can I just say that I really like good, solid beat-’em-up issues, just like we have right here?
Brian Eason: Front to back, solid combat and storyline. Another great issue.
JE: Aside from all the action outside, which is only touched upon, we’ve got one heck of a fight on the inside.
BE: Trinity versus Troika in a battle that the heroes shouldn’t be able to lose.
JE: Looks like the Troika’s plans backfired a little bit, eh?
BE: Up until the moment they succeeded, yeah.
JE: Well, we’ll get to that. Looks like Superman’s thoughts last week were on the money. Everybody opened up.
BE: They appear to be a gestalt, a merged set of sense and personalities. Very formidable.
JE: Very much so. For everyone who ever wanted to see, say, Superman with the analytical processing of Batman and the ruthlessness of Wonder Woman, this is the place.
BE: Not to mention the combined sensory input and processing skills.
JE: Alright, we won’t wait any longer. Care to take your bow?
BE: What? Oh, the whole “Enigma is Quizmaster, the Anti-Earth Riddler” thing? Hardly worth mentioning. Except that I did, on July 30th, 2008, in TRINGENUITY #8.
JE: And on several subsequent occasions. Well done. You get the Detective Hat for the month.
BE: Thank you.
JE: Superman brings up our own previously discussed point, though: Shouldn’t Enigma be a hero?
BE: I say no, because Anti-Earth is a reflection of New Earth and the Riddler of that world is now no longer a villain. He’s somewhere in that gray area. So, Enigma should be as well.
JE: I believe we also mentioned that before. Man, we’re good.
BE: And it all seems to be tied to Anti-Earth. What does that say about the way we think?
JE: Firestorm finds out that Krona is missing, but too late?
BE: Yeah, I actually think it is, as we see at the end of the lead feature.
JE: That was a pretty slick bit of footwork from Despero, there. Thoughts?
BE: Despero is no fool. Before he became big and brawny he was a mastermind and a tyrant of multiple worlds. Never underestimate this guy’s intellect. But you weren’t talking about his brains, were you?
JE: No, it was his acrobatics that caught me off guard. But is it actually Despero?
BE: Have someone else in mind?
JE: Not specifically. I initially thought that the Troika had swapped some skill sets, much like the Trinity had, but it could just as easily be Kanjar Ro, since he and Despero were in conflict way back at the beginning. The “Override” line is really sticking with me.
BE: And Batman seems to agree with you that it is not Despero.
JE: And now Batman is also branded.
BE: And it appears that defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory as the bad guys win.
JE: Which can only spell trouble, as we see in the back-up feature.
BE: Norton and Ordway back on the art for the backup feature. Nice stuff.
JE: Yeah, they pop up here and there, and they’re always a pleasure to watch.
BE: And we finally come back to Tarot’s connection to the World Soul.
JE: Yes, her powers have enabled her to see the future of the planet. Pretty neat.
BE: That’s a pretty daunting power set.
JE: Especially for someone so new.
BE: Now I remember why I like Gangbuster. Sub-machine gun rounds to the back of the monster. That’s a win.
JE: Sometimes, it’s not about being subtle. Sometimes, you just have to kick some butt. And I’ll save the “I told you so” on Gangbuster for another day.
BE: I can feel it coming. Hawkman’s intensity is getting great play here.
JE: Yeah, he’s the go-to guy when you need to get some anger and directness across. I love the scenes with him wrestling the dragon in the background, by the way.
BE: Subtle stuff, it had a cinematic quality, with dialogue in the foreground and action in the background.
JE: Exactly, as if to highlight that the big fight wasn’t really the most important struggle going on at that very moment.
BE: And as Hawkman fractures (and it is unclear what the real results are here) and we see him past lives, including Nighthawk, the masked cowboy.
JE: I love Nighthawk. Geoff Johns did a great story with him back in the early “Hawkman” days. A few other incarnations lurking back there, too, including what looks to be a Japanese noble and a knight from the dark ages.
BE: And, of course, Prince Khufu.
JE: Back where it all began. I always thought a Carter Hall “Hawkman” series would be well-served by using those past lives far more. Marvel handles a similar situation with “Immortal Iron Fist,” but the trick here is that it’s really all one guy.
BE: That’s a great observation. Nice comparison. As Gangbuster and Tarot ride to the rescue, the Trinity is defeated.
JE: I have to wonder as to whether or not the back-up feature will take on a larger role, with those heroes perhaps trying to stave off the collapse of the world as our trinity tries to reassert itself.
BE: Or the backup feature becomes the lead. Interesting thought.
JE: It’d be interesting to see it executed, but I have a feeling there’s far more to be done with the Troika.