By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
And what do you usually do, when I act like that?" -- Batman
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.
We began with the agents of the Troika as they recovered mystic clay fromÂ Paradise Island. The Crime Syndicate said they would kill their hostage, Jimmy Olsen, if the Justice League wouldn't agree to meet with the villains to bargain for the slaves from New Earth. As the Syndicate withdrew, Superman revealed that the Jimmy Olsen in question was the Anti-Matter version. The Trinity discovered that they were beginning to take on the characteristics of the others and that the line between their personalities was beginning to blur. The final panel displayed Superman, channeling Batman's anger, battling alone against the Crime Syndicate.
Meanwhile, in an effort to track down the Gotham Underground and solve the museum theft mystery, Hawkman, Gangbuster and The Outsiders worked with Oracle to run a sting operation. Laying bait with tarot-themed antiques, the heroes were surprised to see the villains had upped their game, moving on from the tarot artifacts to much more powerful items -- including a piece of the Space Plane that Superman saved in his very first outing. The heroes confronted the Troika's henchmen, who escaped, but not before taking a piece of Nth Metal with them, giving the good guys a way to track the baddies back to their lair.
Our lead feature this week is brought to us by our usual team of Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley and Art Thibert. We get straight to the action this issue as Superman flies to the Crime Syndicate's floating hall to confront them face to face. The villains are getting the better of our hero when the rest of the League comes to his rescue. Watching remotely, the Troika observes the battle and Morgaine Le Fey and Despero speculate that the Anti-Earth might be a better target for their conquest. Enigma bridles at the idea of conquering Anti-Earth, declaring that it remain "untouched." The personality overlap that plagues the Trinity continues as Superman, channeling Batman's anger, insists that they not resist the changes, but, instead, "use it." As we close, John Stewart's ongoing transformations come to a head as he appears to be covered with armor and weapons. The final panel shows a sinister and diabolic face of shadow.
At the behest of a concerned museum curator named Richard Grayson, The Riddler begins an investigation into the most recent activities of the Gotham Underground, which is detailed by Fabian Nicieza, Mike Norton and Karl Kesel in this week's back-up feature. The Riddler gathers clues as to who the mastermind behind the museum robberies is. Amazingly, all the information he gathers points to none other than himself. Being a professional, he informs his employer of the link, but then takes it upon himself to vanish until such a time that he can prove his innocence. Meanwhile, Morgaine's magic reveals that Enigma was apparently in two places at once, right around the time that Edward Nigma happened to be in Gotham.
Brian Eason: Just to mix it up, we've had two weeks of non-stop action. Good story this week, I encourage people that didn't want another weekly to please read this book. You'll love it.
Justin Eger: Very much so. I'm usually a nut for continuity, but the strength of this story overshadows any problems I might have had with it not being very firmly rooted in current DC activities. It really brings a lot of strengths with it.
BE: Continuity may be a trap in this case. Busiek works best in his own framework and this is like "Astro City" with the Justice League.
BE: I love the Syndicate Headquarters (or Hall of Tyranny). It's very sinister looking.
JE: Yeah, that was a pretty sweet design. Floating citadels are always good in my book.
BE: Lot of bodies laying around the HQ.
JE: Let's see, along with Metamorpho (or Transmutato) there are Anti-Matter versions of Steel, the Rocket Reds, Lex Luthor, Robotman, Captain Atom, the robot Hourman, Amazo, STRIPE, Brainiac and Citizen Steel, as well as Orion's power harness. A pair of concerns, though. One: That looks an awful lot like regular Bizarro back there above Ultraman (no "U" symbol like there was on the Steel duplicate).
BE: Yes indeed, saw that and I am sure that can only be a bit of art error.
JE: Two: Who is Ultraman resting his heels on?
BE: Looks like another version of Brainiac.
JE: Okay, that's what I thought as well.
BE: The idea of small groups of Leaguers going off on missions is as old as the League itself, but the team of Stewart, Firestorm and Red Tornado was a good one. That's a group you wouldn't normally see together.
JE: It was a very powerful team, and like you said, you wouldn't normally link them up, but they worked very well together.
BE: Le Fey and Despero would like to conquer Anti-Earth, but Enigma's against it. Could it be that Enigma is from Anti-Earth? You know I'm going to announce it from a rooftop when they reveal that he is Quizmaster. If he's not, we have to go back and edit all of the prior weeks.
JE: Dude, it is Quizmaster. You totally win this round, and I congratulate you one your victory, however presumptive it may be, as Busiek doesn't quite give it all away.
BE: I like Superman as a badass. If he can keep that part of Batman, I could live with that.
JE: This is something I've always wanted to see: Superman with the drive of Batman. Countless books have brought up Bruce's personal consideration of "What I could do with that power..." and now we see why he probably shouldn't have it.
BE: John Stewart's transformation doesn't look like the Reach from "Blue Beetle" to me anymore. Your OMAC guess may be closer to the mark.
JE: It might be closer, but I'm still wondering if there's something we missed, especially as it corresponds to the binary code John starts spouting.
BE: We'll just have to wait and see like everyone else.
JE: I suppose, but this is one story point I'd like to have the answer to.
BE: Do you recognize the evil shadow face in the last panel of the lead?
JE: Is it... Krona?
BE: No clue. Frankly, it looks like Ultron from "The Avengers." Any sharp eyed readers have an idea?
JE: The back-up feature also starts with a familiar face, as Edward Nygma takes center stage.
BE: And so well written. Nicieza has a great grasp of this character. I have a feeling that we're going to keep saying that every week.
JE: Poor Eddie: harassed by the same person that hired him.
BE: Riddler as a hard-luck-guy-going-straight is far more interesting as he ever was as another Gotham gimmick criminal.
JE: Even when he was the ringleader behind the "Hush" storyline, he's never been so interesting as he is now. As The Riddler gets closer to his answer, you also get more information supporting your Quizmaster theory.
BE: Two Riddlers walking the fine line between the light and the dark.
JE: Well, work with me on this: Our Riddler went straight, so it stands to reason that, since our world effects all the other Earths of the multiverse, the Anti-Matter version of the character would have also likely flipped sides.
BE: Exactly, but the Riddler still is a bit of the egomaniac and has the honor-among-thieves thing going on, so Quizmaster appears to have some of his honor left, as well.
JE: Two sides of the same coin, it seems, as even Morgaine begins to question Enigma's origins. And I can't believe I never pointed this out before, but I love how his mask is itself a question mark.
BE: I think this is the first time it has really been focused on. I believe that while it certainly has been suggestive of a question mark, a blatant head on picture was not done.
JE: I just wonder how Morgaine and Despero will react to the news that their partner was once a superhero.