By Brian K. Eason and Justin Eger
"This is me lightened up." -- Batman
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.
In Lord Despero's throne room, Morgaine LeFey attacked the Tyrant of Kalanor's soldiers. Meanwhile, Enigma and Despero discussed why he was approached by the two villains. Enigma explained the power and function of the Trinity and that the Troika plans to take that power for their own.Â Despero showed Le Fey and Enigma the Cosmic Egg that contains the villainous Oan, Krona. Elsewhere, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were involved in their own personal affairs when Batman was set upon by Morgaine's Howlers who had plans to mark the Dark Knight as they had previously done to the Amazon Princess.
The Troika also took front and center for the rest of the story, as they planned their next moves from the safety of Morgaine's castle. Combining the magical predictions of Tarot with the awesome creation powers locked within the Cosmic Egg, the Troika summoned three new players to the game: a tattooed man, a deranged psychotic and an ape resident of Gorilla City.
Our lead feature is brought to us by the creative team of Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, and Art Thibert, as always. We start the issue with Wonder Woman and Agent Etta Candy at the mall, which has just exploded, injuring innocents. As Wonder Woman clears the debris, Etta looks for the criminals responsible. The friends are interrupted by a thief calling himself Swashbuckler, who steals a kiss from Etta and perhaps more. Wonder Woman observes that his actions are senseless if he is the bomber. Back at stately Wayne Manor, Batman battles Morgaine Le Fey's Howlers as the wolf creatures continue to try and mark him with their mistress's brand. At DMA (Department of Metahuman Affairs) headquarters, Sarge Steel informer Diana Prince and Nemesis that throughout the world, thousands of people are disappearing without a trace. Superman shows up to aid Batman against the Howlers and Le Fey's agents fail in their attempt to brand him. Wonder Woman alerts her male companions that the cause of the mass disappearances in the evil counterparts of the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3. And the feature closes with Swashbuckler turning over Etta's DMA badge to, what appears to be, Morgaine Le Fey. I knew he stole more than a kiss.
Our back-up feature sees the return of Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens to handle the artwork chores over the writing of Fabian Nicieza. The story tarts off with Oracle running a coordinated effort between Nightwing, Robin, Huntress and even Commissioner Gordon as she seeks a link between the thefts perpetrated by the Gotham Underground and the dreams of the Trinity. As the team searches, Nightwing has a run-in with Swashbucker, who attempts to steal the heroes mask. Nightwing issues a self-destruct code, foiling the theft, but Swashbuckler turns the tables on the hero, finding and removing a tracer Nightwing placed on the villain. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Robin investigates any connections the Penguin might have to the thefts, only to get summoned to Arkham Asylum, where Swashbuckler and an unknown accomplice have stolen the Joker's laughter.
Brian Eason: This book moves at an amazing pace, action and story are at a breakneck speed this issue. This surprises me because there are 43 issues left to go and we've had a lot of story already.
Justin Eger: There's very little in the way of 'stopping to smell the roses' or any excess verbiage. The creative team is on point every issue, and they get right down to it. I love it.
BE: I keep my ear to the ground and talk to a lot of fans and I am happy to say that interest in this series is growing and principally due to the writing, which remains as dynamic as the art.
JE: It's a book that deserves a strong audience, and rewards one, as well.
BE: Something sketchy about this Swashbuckler character. He doesn't seem the sort to blow up buildings.
JE: The Swashbuckler seems very flashy and flamboyant, but also very precise. He seems to me to be above something as tacky as a bomb, though he does have a talent for misdirection.
BE: He also strikes me as a perfect Green Arrow villain. They are both the roguish sorts, so I can only hope that Busiek is thinking the same.
JE: Perhaps it's a suggestion that the new writer of "Green Arrow / Black Canary," Andrew Christberg, can take to heart.
BE: Morgaine continues to underestimate Batman, it is obvious that these Howlers are no match for him.
JE: Indeed, though I have to carry over a thought from our previous topic of discussion: Morgaine's use of Swashbuckler seems to be in direct contrast to her standard M.O. She's using a fairly low-powered, highly trained operative to deal with Wonder Woman. Odd that she'd switch tactics.
BE: But it worked and she is the opposite number for Wonder Woman. Remember, Diana was branded by a Howler using stealth, Le Fey may see that as Wonder Woman's weakness.
JE: Similarly, a tactic of brute force was attempted on Batman, and though it failed it makes sense to attempt using one hero's strength as another's weakness.
BE: But she fails against Batman and is two for two against Wonder Woman, possibly because she underestimates Batman. Expect Enigma to do better. I am glad that Busiek has such a good handle on what a jerk Nemesis can be, when Nemesis mentions that the missing are "just people."
JE: I thought it interesting to hear him say that, considering he's an operative with no superhuman powers.
BE: But he is a colossal jerk. That may his power.
JE: I don't remember Tresser being such a jerk in his early appearances. Determined, driven maybe, but not so callous.
BE: No, but he really didn't have much of a personality either, so this is a step to correct that. Is it just me or was Batman annoyed that Superman thought he needed help?
JE: Just a touch, and rightly so, in my opinion. After all, you can handle something quietly, or you can have a flying man draw lots of attention to it. Considering that the fight was on the Wayne Manor grounds, I bet Bruce was hoping for something a little less flashy.
BE: I am thrilled that Superman and Wonder Woman both call Batman out on the fact that he is suppose to "lighten up."
JE: That was a nice touch, as was his reply (and our quote of the week).
BE: And our next set of foes? The Crime Syndicate. I thought they were the Crime Society now.
JE: That was the impression that our tour of worlds in "Countdown to Final Crisis" left me with, as well. Perhaps we're moving on from the reestablished continuity, or looking in on yet another version of the team.
BE: I do believe I mentioned that I thought that Enigma could be the Quizmaster from Earth-3. This seems to point in that direction.
BE: Why would Morgaine want Etta's DMA badge?
JE: Access to the DMA is the first thought, but for herself or another operative? And what does the DMA have that the Troika would need?
BE: That remains to be seen, but at the current storytelling speed, I think we'll find out soon.
JE: The back-up story has a lot of Gotham in it. Nightwing, Robin, Jim Gordon, Huntress and even my favorite computer mastermind, Oracle.
BE: Batman family all the way around. I love how close-knit they are portrayed. Very good stuff here.
JE: I enjoy the links between members of the Gotham superhero club. Following the "One Year Later" jump, it seemed that we got a return to a unified Bat-family, and we're better for it. I commented last week that I wanted to see Scott McDaniel have a chance to cut loose and do some action scenes, I believe. Ask, and you shall receive.
BE: And you can see that he is doing what he does so well, urban heroes. It is so good to see Nightwing drawn by Scott McDaniel again.
JE: I hate to pigeonhole McDaniel's art, because I love every character he works on, but I have to agree. Nightwing made his career, and I have a feeling he enjoys coming back to Dick Grayson once in a while. You can see it in the art, I think. I have a Nightwing quick-sketch done by McDaniel, and there's a really pleasant familiarity in each line as he draws the character. I'm glad to see put to such effective use here. We also see another appearance by Swashbuckler, which lends credence to our discussion of his use of flamboyance over firebombs.
BE: Roguish, charming, and humorous -- not exactly a bomb tossing maniac.
JE: Precisely. Hell, I'd say he's completely sane, and would venture that he does the supervillain thing more for fun than for anything else. So we're looking at the work of the Gotham Underground as a puzzle. Certainly points towards your Quizmaster theory.
BE: It certainly does and if I'm right, then it just shows the brilliance of the plotting on this series, tying all corners of the DCU continuity together.
JE: We've got a brilliant team, so I have faith we're heading in the right direction. But what does Nightwing's mask have to do with anything else we've seen stolen, including Etta's keycard? And then stealing the Joker's laugh?
BE: Previously the Troika was collecting tokens representing the four suits of the tarot (swords, cups, wands and pentacles). Could these be things close to the Trinity, things belonging to their sidekicks and enemies?
JE: Possibly. There's also a link that just occurred to me: identity. Each of the items stolen is a representation of person the items were taken from. Dick Grayson has always been more comfortable as Nightwing than as Dick Grayson, while Etta is strongly tied to her job (which is easily gleaned from just those first few pages this issue). And then the Joker. What is the Joker without is laugh?
BE: Icons and symbols? That could definitely be where we are headed. I expect we'll find out next week. The last page had me laughing at Joker's pain.
JE: I was amused, but more disturbed by the image. After all, it's both funny and terrifying to think that the Joker can be reduced to tears by anything.
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