By Brian Eason & Justin Eger
"I feel that there's something, something deep in our history, our spirits... that's somehow missing." — Alfred Pennyworth
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 were introduced to the new world order, one without the influences of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Throughout the world, the Justice Society International rules over metahuman activity with a firm hand, while some heroes, like the Flash, have lost their moral focus and do their best to look out for number one. And watching over it all is reporter Lois Lane, running a sensationalist news program that digs up all the dirt around the world.
Our back-up featured followed the lifeÃ‚Â of Charlie "Bigger" Melvins, denizen of Gotham City. We learned that Green Arrow (and family) are the sworn protectors of Gotham in this reality, and that Oliver Queen's Queen Industries is a major player in the city. The class division is very wide, and while Arrow and company keep the wealthy feeling safe and secure, Ragman and Tatters protect the city's dark underbelly. Throughout it all, Charlie continues to envision a giant Bat as the guardian of Gotham. Charlie remembers the Trinity because in real world, he should have died.
We catch up with Tarot and Gangbuster, who are on the run in the aftermath of the war at Castle Branek. Though Gangbuster doesn’t remember much of how the two got into this predicament, Tarot remembers that it has something to do with the Trinity. Upon meeting with an adventurer calling himself Freddie Pennyworth, Tarot reveals both her own past and Freddie’s forgotten history far across the globe. Freddie, meanwhile, reveals his mission in life: seeking out fragments of something lost to the world, relics linked to the original Trinity. Deciding to take on a role of leadership, Tarot and Gangbuster take their leave of the adventuring Mr. Pennyworth, who seems to remember more about his previously-unknown life than even he expected.
As with last week's back-up feature, this week we follow the life of another citizen of the Trinityless DCU. Desiree is a tour guide at Washington's Space and Air museum, and she is also an artist, drawing pictures of a woman who doesn't exist in this reality -- Wonder Woman. As Desiree goes about her morning, she passes by places that stir memories of the Amazon Princess. The arrival of the displaced hero Firestorm sparks memories of the Justice League of America, and a realization that the world is not as it should be.
Justin Eger: Looks like our prediction a few weeks ago came true.
Brian Eason: And which of our many predictions would that be? Go ahead, you know you want to.
JE: Well, I do believe that we said not long ago that, in the absence of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, we'd likely see the characters from our back-up features take center stage. And they have.
BE: They have indeed, and with the usual style that Kurt Busiek brings.
JE: Tarot and Gangbuster are on the run in Eastern Europe.
BE: It looks like even in a world where they've won, the Troika wants Tarot under their control.
JE: Morgaine's furry minions have been doggedly pursuing them across the countryside.
BE: Saw some gargoyles in that mix as well. Seems that Tarot is still the key to the Troika's plan.
JE: As they cross the continent, they get some unexpected help: Alfred Pennyworth.
BE: This made me so happy. I am a ridiculously huge Alfred fan.
JE: I'm not ashamed to say that I am, as well. He's always been a rock solid character, and the tales of Alfred's years before Wayne Manor are often some of the best tales in the Bat-universe. This world's Alfred is quite the adventurer. Former spy, now an archeologist that's traveled the world looking for symbols of a very particular old myth.
BE: Not a particular stretch. Alfred was quite an adventurer before his father passed away and he took service with the Wayne family. Heck, pre-Crisis, Alfred was a commando behind enemy lines in WWII.
JE: And he pulled more than a few raids to rescue some victims of the concentration camps. This time around, he's got a similar if less specific pedigree. Gotta say, I like this version of Alfred -- or Freddie, as the case may be.
BE: Seems a little more care-free. He'd have to be though, wouldn't he? He never lost the Waynes (a loss often overlooked in view of young Bruce’s grief), he never had to raise Bruce, he never lost Jason Todd, and he never had to be batman to the Batman.
JE: But in that same light, he also seems a bit restless. He's been all over the world, and yet has very little to show for it. Without being a mentor to Bruce, as well as to Dick, Tim and even Jason, he's almost aimless.
BE: As though his adventuring is an attempt to find his higher calling? I agree.
JE: Now that she's not on the run, Tarot has enough time to catch her breath and get her bearings.
BE: And living on the road with Alfred looks like a pretty sweet deal. He's a regular Indiana Jones. But it's not all fun and games, we get a look at Tarot's origins -- all great heroes have to have some sort of tragedy.
JE: I'll say. Losing her father after seeing his fate in the cards seems quite the sucker punch for a young girl. Though it seems to have also given her a good reason to put her powers to use. Tapping back into her powers, Tarot provides her new friend with quite the reading.
BE: A man tasked with raising the Batman and the young men who would be Robin. Hell of a responsibility and a hell of revelation.
JE: Imagine being told that everything you know is wrong. I bet we'll be seeing more of this down the line, though I doubt everyone will take to the news as well as Alfred did.
BE: And Tarot learns a bit about herself as well.
JE: She also takes a leadership role, setting a course on her own destiny.
BE: And I really like this part. This is what makes a hero: the choice to make a difference.
JE: She's growing up and taking responsibility. Hell of a weight. And then, as Jose and Tarot leave the encampment, we get the biggest bit of news yet: Alfred remembers.
BE: Proving again that this spell of the Troika's may not be as powerful as they believe when faced with the need for a Trinity.
JE: Or at least a more established Trinity. Even with the rewrite of the universe, symbols of our heroes have still bled through.
BE: Mike Norton and John Floyd on the back-up art. Nice stuff, very clean.
JE: It was appropriate to have this style of artwork on this particular feature, considering that Wonder Woman was the central subject matter. Norton's style seems to owe some to George Perez, who did a lot to revitalize Wonder Woman as an icon in the 1980s.
BE: And we get another look at another everyman and their view of the world.
JE: This is a very nice tactic on the part of Fabian and Kurt. We're so used to such large, grand scenes hen looking at Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, that noticing the little ways they changed the world is a nice perspective.
BE: The symbolism with Desiree is not lost on me. She is an artist and she is pregnant, symbolizing woman as creator. She has an abusive husband, something that is addressed regularly in Wonder Woman comics. This is the perfect archetype to serve as our guide. Beautifully done.
JE: She serves the same way that Bigger served last week: someone who is very representative of one of the icons. I expect we'll also see a point-of-view story featuring Superman, as well.
BE: That's certainly likely to be the case, and then maybe we'll get a closer look at the heroes that have filled the void left by the Trinity. Desiree runs into Julia Kapatelis. Care to stretch your memory on that one?
JE: Speaking of the George Perez issues of "Wonder Woman," there we go. It took me a little while to fully remember, but Julia was a strong supporting character from his run on the book and beyond. A hearty "well done" to the writers for blowing the dust off of her.
BE: Hopefully we'll see more on this. Julia was quite the expert on Amazon lore. And after that, our errant Firestorm shows up.
JE: Looking for help, it seems, but fully aware that the world is very, very wrong.
BE: Desiree remembers the League and it's like more of the Troika's spell vanishes.
JE: Bingo. As you said, it looks like the magic used by the Troika isn't quite up to snuff.
BE: Desiree's husband destroys her art and we close with an image of Julia's business card.
JE: Hopefully memories can't be destroyed in a similar fashion. The world is going to need more people like Desiree.