John Byrne’s “Triple Helix” #4 continues to unveil a new universe of characters from Byrne, beginning with the inhabitants of Polinax IV. A band of super-powered characters called the Conclave is battling a mess of plants and a giant humanoid mass. That fills up the first six pages of this issue before Byrne returns readers to Earth and the events surrounding Triple Helix and Trio, already in progress.
As this series matriculated out of Byrne’s efforts in the “Trio” series and continued that band of characters’ adventures, so too does it fail to reach a decisive conclusion. In between the scene on Polinax IV and the final page of “Triple Helix” #4, Byrne continues to match the costumed crusaders of the Byrneverse against mechanical terrors in a conflict that might seem familiar to some more seasoned readers of Byrne’s work. Rather than completely retread old ground, however, Byrne adds in a significant amount of unpredictability and oddity.
In mixing in those ingredients, Byrne stirs in subplots and teases out reveals that simply don’t conclude here. Unfortunately, this is the fourth of four issues, but closure eludes readers and seems to be absent on Byrne’s agenda for “Triple Helix” #4. That results in a comic that doesn’t conclude, but instead leaves readers with a wide open story, almost expecting something beyond the “KISS Kids” ad that faces the actual final page of this comic book only to be disappointed on a level similar to Ralph Parker after he cracks the code from his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring in “A Christmas Story.” What could have been a conclusion to a story simply ends with a limp closing.
“Triple Helix” #4, from page one, is nothing at all like what I expected after investing in the previous three issues. The six pages spent on Polinax IV could have afforded the grander tale of the Triple Helix and Trio teams more room to breathe, instead of constricting their tale into oddly compacted panels. I’m certain taken in the larger context of whatever Byrne has up next, this story will take a different shape and gain finer definition, but after closing the cover to “Triple Helix” #4, I found myself wondering what bait Byrne could possibly put on the hook to lure me back. I suppose we’ll all find out in a few months. Until then, I’m maybe going to give this another read to see if there’s more to it beyond the expected Byrne art and the unexpected disappointment I found in this comic.