|“Trinity” #34 on sale now|
“You stink of Khufu, society man!” – Vandal Savage
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.
After using a recording device in the presence of the luddite Pilgrims, Lois Lane was accused of heresy. For this, the Companions were expelled from the pilgrimage. As the heroes began their trek alone, they were approached by a Harbor child, who told them of the Machinists (who dress a lot like Lex Luthor) and their opposition to the god Kellel. The boy also finished the story of the Gray Lord, the story of Maxwell Lord and his death at the hands of Wonder Woman. Interceptor, eager to hear more of Kellel, listened in on the Pilgrims as the hidden Machinists set lay in ambush.
After winning a siege in Tel Aviv, Morgaine and her minions departed, but chaos magic took hold in her wake. People were transformed into monsters; gorgons and other creatures from myth and legend. As Enigma and SPHERE watched as one family struggled through the madness: a father was forced to gun down his own young daughter while she transformed into a monster, only to then be transformed himself. The tale shook Enigma to the core, and he began to wonder if he had allied himself with the wrong people.
The lead feature begins in the North Atlantic, where the Justice Arcana and the Dark Arcana battle it out for control of the region. The tide turns against the heroes when Brainiac and Lord Khyber kill Black Orchid and seriously wound Geo-Force. With these two members of the Justice Arcana out of action, Carter Hall is forced to replace them with Nightshade and Sandmaster. Elsewhen, we rejoin the Pilgrims and their story of Kellel. The tale relates Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday, but implies that Kellel wanted to die. This revelation is too much for Lois Lane, who now remembers her husband.
Meanwhile, the Justice Society links together members in an effort to shut down more of the Troika’s henchmen. Led by Hawkman, heroes including Hawkgirl, Plastic Man, Firestorm and Gangbuster struggle to defeat Dr. Light, Punch and Jewelee, Catman, Catwoman and others, led by Vandal Savage. The heroes make a desperate play, killing Dr. Light in an attempt to shut down the city’s transformation, only to learn he was an unimportant player and that Vandal is the key to the Troika’s victory. Disheartened, the Society flees the ravaged city, but Gangbuster reminds everyone of the most important fact: many of the civilians were saved by the intervention of the heroes.
Brian Eason: I’m sure the Arcana are meant to be balanced in power, but up against Braniac and Lord Khyber, I’m not sure how the good guys survived at all.
Justin Eger: Even with Space Ranger and Tomorrow Woman on their side, the heroes were pretty well outclassed. It’s a wonder only Black Orchid was killed.
BE: Depending on which version of Black Orchid this is, I am surprised she was the one to go. The original was pretty tough.
JE: Agreed, but she’s never been much more than a second-tier character — barely.
BE: The Justice Arcana is fighting a war of attrition here and not doing well.
JE: It seems that for every fight they win, the villains trump them elsewhere.
BE:Â A stalemate?
JE: Looks that way, if not a complete loss for the heroes.
BE:Â I’m going to go ahead and say it: because the Troika is complete and the Trinity is missing.
JE: Indeed, though we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Konvikt has been absent for some time.
BE: Carter Hall is waiting for something that will turn the tide.
JE: And what an appropriate time to shift over to the story of Kellel, as told by the aliens.
BE: Waiting on the Trinity, you mean?
JE: That’s what I’m implying, yes. I don’t see any salvation beyond the timely arrival of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
BE: But, wait, doesn’t Despero have a different Trinity at his disposal?
JE: You mean the Crime Syndicate of Amerika?
BE: I do indeed.Â
JE: I’d certainly say that qualifies as another Trinity, and a possibility when his invasion force arrives.
|The Monster of Destruction attacks Kellel|
BE: Kellel’s battle against the monster, Doomsday, is told, but with a different interpretation.
JE: I found that interesting. Kellel brought Doomsday upon himself. Your thoughts?
BE: I was as shocked by this as Lois was. But it dovetails nicely with the fall of Ahtman and Dinanna. Each reacted to a situation and brought themselves down. A fall from grace, if you will.Â
JE: Perhaps it’s how, for these people, the loss of these powerful beings is rationalized. After all, there seems to be nothing more powerful than the Trinity in these stories.
BE: So, Kellel, a god, couldn’t die unless he wanted to die. That makes sense. It’s very messianic.Â
JE: And with Dinanna and Atmahn, their departures were done so by choice.
BE: And Lois is remembering.
JE: What she remembers happens to be quite a different version of the story being told.
BE: Not surprisingly, she disputes that Kellel brought on his own destruction.
JE: Knowing the real man intimately would give you that kind of knowledge, I imagine. But here’s a question for Lois: how well does she really know Clark?
BE: About as well as any wife knows her husband, which means there are some things she perceives through rose-colored glasses.Â
JE: Just because she doesn’t think he would find a way to get rid of himself doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be capable of doing it.
BE: I like that Kellel lived among the people in the guise of a humble scribe named Kenn.
JE: With a boss named Parr. That was priceless. I thought the image of Kenn joining in — but apart from his comrades — was nice as well.
BE: I was, frankly, waiting on a reference to Lois.
JE: Oddly, none of the personal relationships developed by the real Trinity translated to their “godhood.”
|Kellel awakes in the land of the dead|
BE: I also love that the Batcave is the underworld of the dead. I think Batman would like that image.
JE: I think that the underworld is actually below Atmahn’s caverns, but yes, Bruce would be appreciative of the comparison. You know, with such a scary place at hand, it’s a wonder Bruce never brought more people back to the cave just to terrify them.
BE: I just like the idea of Batman as Lord of the Underworld.
JE: Very mythic. I dig it.
BE: A little cliffhanger as Kellel resides in the land of the dead. He discovers he is not dead, and then we are interrupted by the Machinist attack. I hate when people interrupt like that. But the Machinists are stopped by the Companions.
|The companions arrive to fight the Machinists|
JE: And it looks like the rest of the group has recovered their memories. Interceptor and her heat vision make an impressive impression.
BE: And I imagine a change in her world view.
JE: We’ll have to see if she returns to the more lighthearted teenage girl we’re more familiar with, or if her military training will still take hold. Despite narration from Gangbuster, the second half of the story starts off with one hell of a fight.
BE: It is. It’s visceral and violent. Needless to say, I loved it.
JE: A fight between Hawkman and Vandal Savage? What else could it be?
BE: As ancient powerhouses go, these two are at the top.Â
JE: To continue with our earlier discussion of combat, who do you think is outclassed in the battle?
BE: I would have handed this to the heroes, but I think Hawkman is losing focus.Â
JE: The weight of leadership seems to be a hefty distraction.
BE: I think we hit on this earlier: this is not his fight. It’s the Trinity’s fight, and Carter is fighting a war of attrition.
JE: He’s hampered by his need to save the world and keep his people alive at the same time. To the Troika, their pawns are simply disposable as long as they get the job done. Hawkgirl comes up with a pretty solid suggestion to end the fight.
BE: Killing Dr. Light? Yes, and surprisingly bloodthirsty.
JE: Poor Doctor Light. He can’t catch a break, no matter what world he’s in.
BE: He’s a dirtbag. “Identity Crisis” erased any affection I had for this character.
JE: You’re not the only one. His death here, as well as in the early moments of “Final Crisis: Revelations,” were sights to enjoy. I have to feel for Gangbuster this week. He’s way out of his league.
BE: Well, as he says, he’s a guy with some gear and armor and the rest are pretty powerful.
JE: But as the issue wears on, he proves that all you need to be is willing.
BE: A common theme with street-level heroes. Batman comes to mind.Â
|A villainous victory…|
JE: And the Justice Arcana fails to hold down the fort thanks to a misinterpretation of the tarot cards.
BE: And as long as the Troika holds Tarot, I think that will remain the case.
JE: And though the good guys lost some ground, there are plenty of people safe from Morgaine’s chaos magic now.
BE: A victory despite the loss.
JE: At least to Gangbuster, who proves he’s the one person in the fight who had his head screwed on straight the whole time.
|…but that’s not what really matters|
BE: Because Gangbuster has a foot planted in our reality perhaps?
JE: Just so. I’d like to see more of Firestorm to see if that theory pans out.
BE: And John Stewart as well.Â