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By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
“He is a man, Enigma. Dressed in silk and leather, armed with… tricks and toys.” — Morgaine le Fey
Welcome to Week Three of TRINGENUITY, CBR’s ongoing commentary of DC Comics’ weekly superhero series, “Trinity.” The title is divided into two 15-page features; the first focuses on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the second feature depicts 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 places in the DC Universe.
The Justice League of America, responding to John Stewart’s distress call, encountered the alien criminal called Konvikt and his sidekick, Graak. Konvikt went toe-to-toe with the League and the National Guard and seemed impervious to all attacks. The Trinity of heroes arrived to give assistance as Enigma and Morgaine Le Fey watched. The lead story ended with a shock as Konvikt flattened Superman.
In the back-up feature, we returned to California to look in on the young woman named Tarot, a fortune-teller with what could be the potential to change the world. Unfortunately, her powers got her into some trouble with a local gang, though she was aided by both a mysterious guardian and her friend Jose, who used to be a hero named Gangbuster.
The team of Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Art Thibert craft our lead feature as usual. The action starts with Wonder Woman locked in combat with Konvikt. Superman slowly recovers and takes the fight to the alien villain. It seems that Konvikt’s attack on the Man of Steel took more out of him than he realized, as Superman is nearly felled again by an energy blast from the diminutive Graak. The League focuses on assisting the wounded and evacuating people from the area, as once again Le Fey and Enigma observe them. While Superman and Wonder Woman battle Konvikt, Batman has other plans. The Dark Knight tracked Konvikt’s trail to an escape pod and entered the vessel. Unknown to our hero, Graak waits within to ambush the Batman.
Returning to last week’s back-up feature with Fabian Nicieza, Mike Norton and Gerry Ordway, Tarot begins a fortune-telling session for herself as she readies for bed, learning that she is destined to do something that will change the world. A heavy proposition, and one she feels she should sleep on before pondering it any further. However, her dreams, as illustrated by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, are plagued with even more confusing images. Through them we learn that Despero, last predicted to be a part of the Anti-Trinity with Enigma and Morgaine, has all but conquered a world ruled by another magenta-colored alien dictator, Kanjar Ro. Crushing his final opposition, Despero lays claim to the world, as well as the interstellar gate that Ro had access to. As he prepares to leave this world for parts unknown, the monster turns to look at his audience, realizing that someone, somewhere, is watching him. Tarot then startles awake, answering a phone call from Jose, who is contemplating a return to his costumed identity of Gangbuster. Meanwhile, two mysterious men behind the gang that attacked Tarot hire some outside help… super-powered help.
Brian Eason: Beautifully illustrated lead feature again. Gorgeous stuff. It seems like Bagley and Thibert are really in harmony in the art department.
Justin Eger: It’s well-handled. There’s a lot going on, but it’s almost always clear where the focus is. Very clean artwork.
BE: “Focus” is exactly the right word for the skill they bring to the table.
BE: After Superman wakes up, he seems a bit irritated that Wonder Woman is fighting Konvikt instead of helping the wounded. I think someone’s pride got hurt.
JE: Just a touch. But really, when was the last time Superman got laid out with one punch? There hasn’t been a mismatch like that since Bruce brought down Guy Gardner back in “Justice League International” (available now in hardcover collected edition).
BE: I love the part where Batman tries to help the civilians and scares them off. I love when a writer reminds the fans that Batman is scary. Wonder Woman is doing the same thing, but the crowd loves her.
JE: I felt a little bad for Bruce there, but you could tell that’s the effect he was really looking for. And he was right. You really shouldn’t hide under a fuel tank.
BE: And that’s a safety tip for you kids at home!
JE: “And knowing is half the battle… Trin-i-ty!”
BE: In a nice moment, Le Fey and Enigma lay out the roles of our titular heroes: Superman as savior, Wonder Woman as inspiration and Batman as the brains of the outfit.
JE: About time, too. Batman has really been stuck in second-fiddle position because of the overwhelming superiority of Konvikt. Now, at least we get to see why he’s the guy the League needs the most.
BE: They don’t call him the World’s Greatest Detective for nothing. Konvikt is evolving as they fight him, his hair is turning into plate armor and he is getting stronger. This is one bad, bad monster.
JE: Konvict reminds me of Doomsday, the monster who killed Superman in “The Death of Superman,” (also available now in hardcover collected edition) in that respect, only cooler. It’s an ugly fight, and I can’t wait for the revelation that’s its all one big misunderstanding because of Graak.
BE: And in the midst of all of this, a furry blue hand with a red ball touches Wonder Woman’s shoulder and brands her with what appears to be an Omega. Thoughts?
JE: I was going to ask you the same question. Another baddie from the ship Batman found, perhaps?
BE: The Omega would indicate Darkseid, but since the “Death of the New Gods” and the fact that Darkseid is now in the body of a human (as we have seen in all the Club Dark Side stories weaving through recent DCU comics, particularly “Final Crisis”), I can’t even speculate who this might be.
JE: Me either. They’ve stumped us, for now at least. Should we implore our readers to toss out a few ideas?
BE: Batman heads to Konvikt’s escape pod and Graak is waiting on him and looking very scary.
JE: Perhaps we’ve been underestimating the little guy here. He might be a lot more troublesome than we thought.
BE: With the energy blast he used on Superman, I think we can assume that’s true. There must have been a good reason that Graak was a prisoner along with Konvikt.
JE: In the back-up feature, we start off with a shift from reality to dream sequence, and a serious shift in art tones. Norton and Ordway jumps to McDaniel and Owens, then right back.
BE: I like that the dream sequences and prophetic visions have all been done with different artists. The effect is jarring and leaves no doubt that you are being transported.
JE: Tarot’s personal reading gives us a touch of things to come, specifically a reference to transformation on a pretty big level sometime in the future.
BE: And continues to make this character all the more appealing as she serves as an able guide to the larger story that we only get glimpses of. Well done.
JE: Thoughts on the “Worldsoul?”
BE: From Tarot’s description, she seems to be tapping into the consciousness of all of humankind, the soul of the world itself.
JE: I was considering that this might be a glimpse of our new age of magic once again (that’s my dead horse this month). Then it’s into the dreamstate, or so it might appear. What we’ve actually got is a vision of another world, where Despero is crushing the hell out of everything.
BE: That’s kind of his thing. Since Mongul is wrapped up in the “Blackest Night” storyline running through “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps” and Doomsday is nowhere to be seen, Despero is a perfect candidate for big, bad alien villain. Despero was a skinny, alien, would-be conqueror. He used his hypnotic third eye to control people’s minds. After being defeated by the League in 1961’s “Justie League of America” #1. Despero’s obsessive hatred of the JLA drove him to bathe in the Flame of Py’tar, a strange fire from his home world of Kalanor. The Flames of Py’tar granted his superhuman strength, speed and stamina to go with amazing array of mental powers.
JE: Kanjar Ro, who seems to be in charge, versus Despero? No match.
BE: Poor old Kanjar Ro. He’s an alien would-be conqueror that uses his brain and a bizarre assortment of technology to start wars and take an advantage over the planets after the war starts. Just to put it all in perspective, in his first appearance in “Justice League of America” #3 (February 1961), he used his “gamma gong” to enslave the League into fighting the rulers of three other planets. Later, he was the cause of the first Rann-Thanagar War. But toe-to-toe with Despero? He stands no chance.
JE: Looks like we might soon have the full reappearance of Gangbuster, but I could use a hand here: who are the three mercenaries that are going Tarot-hunting?
BE: I did some digging and I don’t recognize them, this may be the new villains that Nicieza promised us, the Dreambound.
JE: Again, any readers out there with a scoop?
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