"Vegetables. I told you he was a monster." - Enigma
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.
The Trinity returned -- sort of. Atmahn, Dinanna, and Kellel looked down on Alfred Pennyworth and the Companions from the Citadel of the Gods. As the Gods observed the humans that helped define them, we flashed back to the conflict between the three that lead to the God War. The Trinity, away fighting other wars, had left the forces of evil to overrun civilization. It took the destruction of a city to draw the Gods back, but rather than examine the true cause, they turned of each other and began to prepare for battle against each other.
In Morgaine's secret fortress, members of the Dreambound were sidelined in Le Fey's quest for world domination. However, as they waited for action, action found them in the form of a trapped Ray Palmer, The Atom. Palmer could not contact the Justice Society, thanks to Morgaine's magic, and he tried to gather the villains to his cause, only to be teleported him by Enigma's partner SPHERE, the technological marvel that is home to his daughter's personality. After seeing Palmer safely home, SPHERE joined Primat, Swashbuckler and TVM inside the fortress, stuck on the sidelines once more.
This week, our lead feature begins as the Trinity, in their godly forms, meet on the field of battle. Dinanna and Atmahn lead their own armies into the fray as Kellel, in his perfection as the Sun God, seems to require no one but himself. The Trinity meet in battle and their conflict ravaged the world. Lives were lost in the millions, even Kellel's wife and adopted children are not spared. As the battle rages, the surviving aliens fall upon each other, stealing and killing, their moral compass lost. Finally, Dinanna called a hold to the war, showing her fellow gods the destruction that they had wrought. Turning aside from their anger, the gods make peace and build the Citadel of the Gods, healing the world of the damage they had done. The feature closes as the Trinity resume their observation of the Companions, wondering what these memories are that stir within their divine bosoms.
Meanwhile, Morgaine Le Fey explains to Enigma her theories on the inner workings of her Major Arcana. Having seen better results with Sun-Chained-in-Ink over Dr. Light in the position of The Sun, Morgaine begins seeking out a replacement for other members of her villainous group, sacrificing Punch and Jewelee to track down a better representation of The Fool in the form of The Joker. As the Clown Prince of Crime manipulates a chaos rift's energies all on his own, Morgaine negotiates a team-up with Joker, who terrifies the rest of the villains on Morgaine's roster, and leads Enigma and Xor / Konvikt to wonder what they've done by making allies with Morgaine.
Brian Eason: A war of three armies, though it doesn't seem that Kellel needs one.
Justin Eger: That was going to be my first comment, as well. Everybody is getting some help except for him.
BE:Â It kind of goes without saying, but this is Superman we're talking about.
JE: True. He's never been the type to hide behind minions.
BE:Â It's interesting that Superman, as Kellel, has his face covered with a helmet and is not wearing his costume.
JE: Yes. It seems that he's abandoned his guise as a good natured protector as he prepares for war, though he is not without his symbol.
BE: The House of El is represented, the rest of the look is very spartan.
JE: No frills during wartime, my friend.
BE:Â While that is certainly true, I think his look also hearkened to the Spartans for Frank Miller's "300."
JE: A superpowered King Leonidas? I'll buy that.
BE:Â The Gods seem to all be consumed with a great deal of arrogance.
JE: Well, while I have no way of knowing for sure, ascendancy to godhood would certainly generate some feelings in that direction.
BE: Fair enough. And this isn't the first time that Wonder Woman has accused Batman of being arrogant.
JE: Though that's not something you often toss around when talking about Superman.
BE: But he certainly seems to have it here.
JE: Most definitely. Arrogance breeds when humanity is missing.
BE:Â Â And it keeps coming back to that. The Trinity has lost their touchstone with their humanity, the Companions.
JE: Only to rediscover them now, leading to the disturbing feelings related by Atmahn.
BE:Â Not surprisingly, the God War devastates the landscape.
JE: Also not surprisingly is the fact that the war rages on for so long.
BE:Â I am struck with the lack of reaction by the Trinity at the loss of their followers.
JE: Yes, that was very unlike the heroes we know. After losing almost everything, they simply move onward.
BE: And while I would attribute this to allegory if the Pilgrims were telling the tale, this comes from the mouths of the Gods themselves.
JE: Godhood seems to have stripped them of their humanity.
BE:Â And it is Dinanna, Goddess of Peace, that brings and end to the war.
JE: Considering that she's the one who started it (as seen last issue), that's only fitting.
BE: Here's an interesting tidbit, and I am sure Mark Bagley did it on purpose. You remember way back when you were writing your column on "52" and an arrogant writer (me) reminded you that Superman had once had the costumed identity called Nova back in "World's Finest Comics" #178 (September 1968)? Well, that symbol of the sun priest's staff? That's Nova's symbol.
JE: It is indeed. It's that very keen attention to detail that forced me to recruit you oh so long ago. And yes, there have been a lot of nice little touches throughout this series, little reminders that Kurt Busiek and Bagley have slipped in almost under the radar. Just like the priest dressed in hawk feathers to the far right of the sun priest.
BE: A reference to Hawkman, who has played such a large role in the story this far?
JE: That's my thinking, yes.
BE: The Trinity heal the world and build their citadel, which looks a lot like the JLA watchtower.
JE: Indeed. Where else could the gods reside?
BE: It appears that the presence of the Companions are stirring the memories of the Trinity.
JE: Such a revelation has taken the story in an interesting direction. When we began, I thought that the heroes simply inspired these tales, when in fact, they have lived them.
BE: Which leads us to another set of questions: How did they get here, Where is "here," and what will it take to set things right? Add to that the story of Krona, the anti-Trinity, John Stewart, and Despero and there is a lot of story left to tell.
JE: Not to sound like a broken record, but I certainly can't wait to read it.
BE: Agreed. While this series looked like a gimmick, this story has turned into an epic. The two feature format has done nothing but broaden the scope of this endeavor.
JE: Absolutely. It's a format that has worked wonders for storytelling. So, with the revelation that Sun-Chained-in-Ink is a better recruit for a position in the arcana than Dr. Light, Morgaine has altered her plans.
BE: This seems to be her strength, the ability to adapt.
JE: And she's doing it much to the detriment of her followers, who are being sacrificed to find better fits in the arcana.
BE: Such as Punch and Jewelee.
JE: That's a rough situation, and I feel bad for Punch and Jewelee. I always liked their whimsical appraoch to crime.
BE: I have too and this shows the brutality of Morgaine.Â
JE: Exactly. There's no reward for good service in Morgaine's army.As Moragine's machine does its dirty business, we get a list of all the people who might suit better as The Fool: The Creeper, The Trickster, Mr. Nobody and Harley Quinn.
BE: Nice rundown, but it's not one of them, is it?
JE: No, despite the solid choices, there's a far more obvious (and more dangerous) character waiting in the wings.
BE: Yes, the Joker.
JE: Who just happens to be running his own chaos rift, all by himself.
BE: I think this has to be a case where the person most suited to their role, in this case Joker, has a greater impact over the forces influenced by the Arcana.Â
JE: Despite appearances to the contrary, I wonder if Joker realizes the extent of his power in this situation.
BE: I think in his madness he has always seen the world this way, so he may not understand his omnipotence.
JE: When it comes to recruiting Joker, Enigma has some apprehensions.
BE: How can he not? Enigma has studied our Earth and he knows what a horror the Joker can be. Joker is chaos and cannot be controlled.
JE: Or even slowed down. Throughout the backup feature, he manipulates chaos in a way few could ever even attempt to match.
BE: Very reminiscent of the "Emperor Joker" storyline in "Superman."
JE: It's like you're reading my mind. An all-powerful Joker is a sight to behold. It's around now that we also get to see the somewhat limited return of Graak and Xor / Konvikt.
BE: I think this is the start of your predicted ramp-up to a larger role.
JE: But what kind of role would that be? He's certainly in poor company.
BE:Â Xor and Enigma opposing Morgaine perhaps? If they are part of the Troika, their vision of the world could influence the Arcana as well.
JE: Precisely. We could see a minor arcana arise in opposition to Morgaine's Major Arcana. I can see Swashbuckler stepping in as a Knight of Swords and SPHERE standing in for Pentacles, just to start.
BE: I think you're onto something here.
JE: It's a possibility. The way the pieces are coming together, it would make sense. Enigma tries to explain just what the Joker is, but that tale is somewhat convoluted.Â
BE: Joker's origins have always been a mystery. In the origins presented here, a few are noteworthy. Red Robinson appears to refer to Joker's original identity, the Red Hood, and to Batman artist Jerry Robinson who takes credit for creating the Joker. Wilhelm Veidt references Conrad Veidt, who played the deformed nobleman, Gwynplaine, in the 1928 silent film "The Man Who Laughs." This film was cited as an inspiration for the Joker. Finally, Jack Napier refers to Joker's identity in the movie "Batman" (1989), played by Jack Nicholson.
JE: I might also add that the Veidt tale references Alan Moore's classic history of the Joker as presented in "The Killing Joke."
BE: It does indeed. The writing team keeps a good handle of the uncertain nature of Joker's origins.
JE: He's certainly an engima, pardon the pun.
BE: I forgive you.
JE: Even in his current state, the Joker is still linked in some way to Batman.
BE: The bat reference was a nice one.
JE: Very much so, and the little touches in the Joker's playground of horrors were priceless. Morgaine makes a very significant comment: all the villains fear what the Joker brings to the table.
JE: Maybe everyone else is smarter than Mrogaine gives them credit for. Messing with the Joker is playing with fire.
BE: Morgaine has achieved Godhood and doesn't see her own flaws. This just triggered something in my head. The Troika has achieved Godhood and so has the Trinity. Only the absence of the Trinity makes this fight one-sided. The Troika and the Trinity are the different sides of the same coin. I don't think that one side can achieve godhood without the same thing happening to the other.
JE: Whoa, that's impressive. We were running on the assumption that Morgaine and Enigma has simply achieved a place of power in their world, and their embodiment of that power was just a backlash from the magic, but you're right. They've become all powerful and, by rights, that means that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman had to become such, as well. Brilliant.
BE: I can see the Matrix.
JE: Take it easy there, Keanu. Looks like Xor is having the same sort of doubts that Enigma has been having these last few issues.
BE: Neither of these guys are villains. The real villain of the piece is Morgaine.
JE: Once again touching upon the likelihood that Enigma and Xor will switch sides. And while it may be nothing, might I direct you towards this week's cover? Do you see anything interesting in the stained glass that frames the image of Wonder Woman?
BE: I could never see the sailboat in those 3D pictures, so, tell me what you see.Â
JE: I've never been much of a sailboat guy, either, so I'm surprised this stood out to me: all the green glass is shaped like clown faces.
BE: Well spotted.Â
JE: Or an overactive imagination. Either way, it works for me.