By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
We'll market a cologne after I bludgeon you! -- Hawkman
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.
Lois Lane was investigating something strange afoot at the Metropolis office of STAR Labs. Inside the facility, a transformed Tattooed Man, now known as Sun-Chained-In-Ink, made off with a vial of Lex Luthor's blood. Lois found a security guard that might be willing to disclose the secret goings-on within the facility, and the Troika agent known as Swashbuckler stole the reporter's high-tech notepad. Back with our titular heroes and the Justice League, they mounted a plan to recover the missing people from around the globe taken by the Crime Syndicate. As the lead feature came to a close, the Justice League arrived on Anti-Matter Earth, the home of the Crime Syndicate, where Jimmy Olsen was held as a hostage.
As members of Batman's extended family worked to track down information on the Gotham Underground and the museum thefts, Nightwing and Robin faced Primat the She-Gorilla, another of Morgaine's agents. As the villainess stole away with a piece of Crime Alley, Nightwing and Robin consulted Gotham's resident magic expert, Jason Blood, who informed the crime-fighting duo that whatever magic was being worked it was strong, taking its power from friend, foe and foundation of its foci. With the piece of Crime Alley, the trio of items was complete for Batman, while the Troika hunted the remainder of items related to Superman and Wonder Woman.
Our lead feature is brought to us our usual team of Busiek, Bagley and Thibert. We start off this issue with the agents of the Troika: The Trans-Volitional-Man (or TVM), Swashbuckler, Primat and Sun-Chained-In-Ink, as they recover mystic clay from the cave of the Greek monster Cottus on Paradise Island. Meanwhile, the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate face off on Anti-Matter Earth. As the Syndicate members withdraw, Superman reveals that the hostage, Jimmy Olsen, is, in fact, the Anti-Matter version of Olsen. We receive a quick overview of the horrors of Anti-Matter Earth and discover that the displaced citizens of New Earth are not alone, there are slaves from many alternate Earths and that each world has some version of the Trinity. As we close out the feature, Superman and Wonder Woman and Batman realize that the Trinity have begun to take on each others traits and that the amalgam of personalities are causing them to act in uncharacteristic ways. By way of example, the feature's final panel shows an enraged Superman in single combat against the Crime Syndicate.
The second feature, brought to us by Fabian Nicieza, Tom Derenick and Wayne Foucher, places us at the heart of a sting organized by the all-knowing Oracle, who has teamed The Outsiders with Hawkman and Gangbuster at a museum show organized by Hawkman in his civilian identity, Carter Hall. All seems to go according to plan, as the villains arrive, but not where the heroes were hoping. The Troika's henchmen have actually struck nearby, at the National Air and Space Museum, and while three of the villains fight with Hawkman and Gangbuster, TVM makes off with the real prize: a piece of the Space Plane that was the first recorded act of heroism by Superman.
As the villains try to make their escape, Gangbuster throws a stunned Hawkman's shield at the group, and they take it with them as they disappear. However, the shield was made of Nth Metal, which can be tracked by Hawkman. Thanks to Gangbuster's quick thinking, the heroes can now track the villains back to their lair.
Brian Eason: The Troika agents looking for mystic clay, sound familiar at all?
Justin Eger: Why, that would be the same mystic clay that Hippolyta used to create herself a daughter named Diana, wouldn't it?
BE: It would indeed. So, this is the origin piece of the Wonder Woman collection, just like the Crime Alley part with Batman.
JE: Leaving us with just the foe portion of the spell to be completed for the Amazon princess.
BE: So, Cheetah? That has to be number one on the rogues gallery
JE: I want to be looking for something more esoteric, like Red Panzer, but that's just me. I'd be putting Cheetah on notice.
BE: The face off between the Syndicate and the League was surprising and very well done. I was expecting the traditional slugfest.
JE: I never considered the CSA capable of such subtle manipulations. I'm happy to see new depths to old favorites.
BE: So, since you hate Jimmy Olsen, how do you feel about Anti-Matter Jimmy?
JE: Gotta love him! Should this be the Jimmy I remember from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Earth-2 book, he's a creepy little pervert and far more honest about it than our own Jimmy.
BE: I think those are the nicest things that can be said about Anti-Matter Jimmy. I was very happy with the scene of the interdimensional refugees comparing the Trinity from their homeworld heroes. That Apollo and Zealot from Wildstorm were mentioned was particularly nice.
JE: I forgot to mention this last week, where it was also done, but I really did enjoy it. All the assorted variations of the Batman mythos were particularly intriguing. Also have to mention that Red Tornado is an ample replacement for the Martian Manhunter on the cold, calculating dissection of a situation.
BE: This certainly makes the Trinity even that more iconic, the idea that they exist in every world.
JE: I'd like to see more of it. A quick compilation of heroes that fit the bill from throughout the multiverse would be a nice touch.
BE: I think we saw a lot of them during Countdown to Adventure and Countdown: Arena.
JE: True, but there were plenty of names that came up during this issue that were brand new. Maybe we're seeding for future stories.
BE: We see John Stewart about to be overcome with the metal armor again. It still looks like the Reach to me, so it could be a Blue Beetle reference.
JE: Just for the sake of argument, I'm going to stick with the OMAC virus. Still, its an intriguing mystery and I enjoy seeing it pop up now and again.
BE: The overview of Anti-Matter Earth was nice, with four panels that make it very clear that this is an evil world. I particularly like their version of Mt. Rushmore with Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin and Genghis Khan.
JE: It was a nice touch to drive the point home, as were the scenes of the populace just tearing each other apart.
BE: And the idea that the Anti-Matter versions of the Girl Scouts and the Campfire Girls having turf wars was inspired.
JE: That was probably my favorite part of the issue. It was so gloriously odd, that I thought I'd stepped into a Vertigo book.
BE: It did remind me of Morrison's Doom Patrol. The Trinity are merging personalities. Thoughts?
JE: This is what I had considered last issue, which just solidifies all the themes we've been playing with since this series started. I'm looking forward to seeing the more extreme effects take hold of Wonder Woman and Batman.
BE: A warlike Batman with Superman's empathy would push Batman right to the edge. His cool control and analysis are what keep him in check, and losing that would make him a berserker.
JE: And yet this could lead to a particularly interesting Wonder Woman, since she tends to be very stoic, but when she cuts loose, she's a living weapon. Keeping that in check might take some of the sting out of the Trinity.
BE: We close out with the lead with Superman taking on the Syndicate's own Trinity: Ultraman, Superwoman, and Owlman.
JE: And holding his own. But while this major fight is going down, any thoughts on what Jon's team seems to be doing with their secret mission?
BE: While Good is the aberration on this backward world, it does exist. I think John's team is looking for the good guys and that would lead us, if I am not mistaken, to the identity of Enigma.
JE: Hawkman, Gangbuster, Oracle and The Outsiders team up to track some thieves.
BE: Heck of a team. I think Nicieza needs to write a Hawkman series because he has a great grasp of the character.
JE: I'm pretty fond of the Jim Starlin take on the character for the more space opera moments, but you're right, Nicieza has a good grip on him, as with the other characters.
JE: Nicieza has a good grasp of the personalities in the Outsiders.
BE: He does, he has a perfect grasp of their voices. He's obviously done his research.
JE: Definitely a professional and a great addition to the DC Comics stable of writers.
BE: And that should have been obvious considering his work at Marvel. He was very good at pulling in characters from the past and getting their voice just right. This was very common in New Warriors where he brought back the Sphinx to bedevil Nova.
JE: Ah, there were some fondly-recalled issues. Maybe we'll see him elsewhere. Nicieza has been announced to take over on Robin, but perhaps he deserves a shot at Batman & The Outsiders next. I've always liked Rex Mason, Metamorpho, as an undercover operative, and it's used well here.
BE: And Metamorpho has been perfectly captured here. This is the personality of the Element Man I know and love from my childhood. He's a wise-cracker.
JE: It's that adventurer's personality, I would think. An inability to take anything seriously due to the gravity of the situations he's usually found in.
BE: He has very cinematic dialog, he sounds like a hard-boiled hero from a '50s or '60s action movie.
JE: The troika pulls out all the stops for this mission, which isn't what I first thought it might be.
BE: Yes, that was a bit of a twist. The villains have moved on to the origin related items in earnest. The space plane Superman saved on his first mission.
JE: I had been wondering what his foundation moment would be, and the Space Plane is a nice way to hearken back to a nearly-forgotten piece of the mythos.
JE: Seems that Gangbuster is a quick thinker, though at first I thought he was doing a bad Captain America impersonation.
BE: No, it was a good one and now that the Troika has some Nth metal, Hawkman can track them down.
JE: And the heroes can bring on the action in earnest. Looks like a rescue party for Tarot is on the way.