By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
"How can we tolerate this? On any Earth?" -Superman
Welcome to 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 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.
PreviouslyAn explosion ripped through the mall in Washington DC as Wonder Woman and Agent Etta Candy were shopping. As the pair attempted to help the victims, a thief named Swashbuckler interrupted to steal a kiss from Etta along with her DMA badge. At the Wayne estate, Batman fought Morgaine Le Fey's Howlers as they tried to brand him as they had Wonder Woman. The DMA uncovered a mystery as thousands of people began to disappear around the globe. Superman appeared at Wayne Manor to help Batman clean up the Howlers. Wonder Woman discovered that the missing persons were the result of the Anti-Justice League, the Crime Syndicate. We closed the lead feature as Swashbuckler surrendered Etta's DMA badge to Morgaine Le Fey.
As members of Batman's extended family worked to track down information on the Gotham Underground and the museum thefts, Nightwing was confronted by Swashbuckler, who attempted to steal the hero's mask. Meanwhile, a second theft was perpetrated, this being Commissioner Gordon's pipe. As Robin confronted the Penguin to try and get more information, he was directed to Arkham Asylum, where Swashbuckler and an accomplice had stolen the Joker's laughter.
Trinity #10 The lead feature is brought to us by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Art Thibert. The feature begins with Lois Lane covering mysterious happenings at the Metropolis STAR labs. Within the genetics lab, a new threat has appeared, Sun-Chained-In-Ink, who is the transformed Tattooed Man, agent of the Troika. Meanwhile, our heroes and rest of the Justice League discuss the nature of the Crime Syndicate and speculate on a means to rescue the missing citizens of our Earth. Returning to Lois Lane at STAR labs, the intrepid reporter finds a security guard that may have seen something, but her high-tech notepad has been stolen by a mysterious glowing hand. The Justice League assaults the Crime Syndicate homeworld, which is listed as Anti-Matter Earth (more on that below) and comes face to face with their evil counterparts as the lead story ends on a cliffhanger.
In the back, Fabian Nicieza, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens return to Nightwing and Robin as the alternate dynamic duo confronts another of the troika's transformed powerhouses, a female inhabitant of Gorilla City named Primat, who holds off a small army of police until the heroes arrive. While battling the gorilla, the heroes trade quips and try to get some information from the villain, only to have her teleport away with a piece of DCU history: a chunk of ground from Crime Alley, where Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered and Batman was born. As Primat returns to the Troika, a visit to paranormal investigator Jason Blood by Nightwing and robin reveals that some very serious magic is in the works, and one that requires items of "friend, foe and foundation." We close with a view of the troika's nearly complete spell, which features Commissioner Gordon's pipe, the Joker's laughter, the pavement of Crime alley, Lois Lane's notepad, a vial of Lex Luthor's blood, and Etta Candy's nametag, all stolen by the Troika's henchmen between this issue and last.
Brian Eason: Great issue, lots of threads tied together. Tattooed Man, empowered by Despero's Cosmic Egg is now Sun-Chained-In-Ink. Frankly, that sounds like a Grant Morrison character from "52." Perhaps one of the Chinese heroes he introduced.
Justin Eger: I agree, but I have to comment on the just brilliant design of the character. It's so unique.
BE: To be frank, it took me a moment to realize who he was. This is the way you revamp a tired concept. Great look.
JE: I thought so. I'm very fond of using tattoos as a base for powers, but this really twists the concept in an interesting manner.
BE: The League refers to the Crime Syndicate's homeworld as "Anti-Matter Earth." That would explain why they are called the Crime Syndicate and not the Crime Society. I believe that these are the villains of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "JLA: Earth 2" (2000) and not the characters from the new (or even old) Earth-3.
JE: I agree. As we're not seeing anyone but the major players in the CSA, it stands to reason that this is not the version introduced back in "Countdown."
BE: That means that it is likely that Trinity is not in the standard DCU continuity. This furthers my argument that Enigma is, in fact, Quizmaster from Busiek's "JLA Secret Files 2004."
JE: Care to elaborate?
BE: Because that story was set on the Anti-Matter Earth and not the post-"52" Earth-3. Furthermore, Anti-Matter Earth is diametrically opposed to our Earth. Thus, if our Riddler has now gone straight, then his Anti-Matter version would have to become a villain.
JE: Excellent deduction, Holmes. I concur.
BE: Lois's notepad is swiped, the mysterious hand appears to be that of Swashbuckler, but it's hard to tell with the color altered.
JE: Whoever it was, we know where it's going, which we'll get to in a minute.
BE: I am now convinced we are in the Busiek Universe. The destruction of the Anti-Matter Earth that is described? It appears in the "Syndicate Rules" story arc in "JLA" # 107 - 114 (2004) by Kurt.
JE: That was actually the very next point I was going to make. Well done.
BE: Should we be happy or sad that Jimmy Olsen is a prisoner of the Syndicate?
JE: You know my feelings on the subject, and so should our old friends who stuck with us through "Countdown." What concerned me more was that Superman got so angry when confronted with the CSA.
BE: This series has been about examining the title characters and I am not surprised that we are seeing them show more of their emotions. This is a world of injustice and Superman has to hate that. Righteous anger.
JE: And an angry god-like being is nothing to shake a stick at. As we said, we got to see where Lois' notepad ended up, along with a few other items: Morgaine's castle.
BE: As we speculated last week, she seems to be collecting things associated with the people close to the Trinity. And we are about to see what it all means
JE: The items stolen last issue were joined by a hunk of stone from Crime Alley.
BE: As birthplace of the Batman or place his parents died. There may be no specific distinction, but death is powerful as is birth.
JE: To touch upon another sort of trinity, you have birth, life and death. All three can really be linked to that one spot. Death led to birth and a continued life as Batman for Bruce. And how about that thief? Primat the She-Gorilla. There's a character that feels like it should belong to Grant Morrison.
BE: She is very unique, and while the name is very familiar, I have no recollection of this character.
JE: I like the look, though. As with Sun-Chained-in-Ink, it's taking a regular concept in the DCU (in this case the inhabitants of Gorilla City) and throwing it on its ear. I believe that I mentioned several issues ago that I would love to see Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens take on Etrigan the Demon. How close we got this issue by meeting up with Jason Blood.
BE: And what did you think?
JE: I was very pleased. It's nice to know that people haven't forgotten where Jason Blood makes his home. And, well, I'm hoping that the cameo by Blood leads to a cameo by Etrigan and some serious rhyming. Wish come true. And how about that spell? A trinity of trinities: items from friend, foe and foundation for all our heroes.
BE: Bad for the heroes, good for the readers. This is very clever stuff, it makes me wish the next issue was out. That's the trick to making a great story, make the audience want more.
JE: Which is really the whole point of writing and producing comics as entertainment. As a reader, if I can end an issue and say "Aw, man, I have to wait?!" someone is doing a good job. These two teams are doing a very, very good job.