Monday, June 16, 2008

Trinity #1

Trinity #1
by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Art Thibert; Fabian Nicieza, Busiek, Scott McDaniel, and Andy Owens
DC Comics, 2008

Garrett Martin: Going to the comic book store is awesome. It's so awesome that I and several thousand other folks do it every Wednesday. It's even more awesome when the latest issue of a comic you've really been enjoying is going to be on the stands. That doesn't happen every week, though. Also the superhero audience is growing ever older, and our memories aren't what they used to be. I don't remember a damn thing about Last Defenders #4, and I just read that two nights ago; I'll probably forget the book even exists by the time #5 comes out. DC Comics, in one of its few recent good moves, tackled these issues head on back in 2006, when they started up the year-long weekly series 52. The weekly format guaranteed there'd be at least one new book every week, while also taking it easy on the deteriorating memories of the company's aging fanbase. 52 was good for the most part, and a big financial success, so DC immediaty went back to the weekly well with the recently ended Countdown. Countdown was pretty astoundingly awful, but still sold okay; we'll never speak of it again. So it's no surprise that DC would rush into a third weekly year-long comic called Trinity.

There are some big differences from those first two, though. Instead of a writing staff and rotating artists creating an 18-page lead story, Trinity will feature a weekly 12-page continuing lead from Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, with back-ups from Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, and a number of artists. Trinity also focuses on lesser known characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, instead of 52's collection of hugely popular franchise tentpoles like Booster Gold and Adam Strange. It also promises to be some straight-forward superhero action, since Final Crisis will be shouldering all the world-shattering developments and what-not. In all, the prospects are rather inticing for fans of adequately told old-school superheroics. At least, they were, until the first issue landed with a thud two weeks ago.

Both halves of Trinity #1 fail. The lead story runs for a few boring, awkward pages before ending abruptly. I feared pacing would be an issue (12 pages is a weird length for a superhero story, shorter than most lead stories but longer than most back-ups or anthology tales), and it certainly is with this first issue. And the back-up is just flat-out awful, with mind-numbingly ponderous dialogue and unattractive art. Now, it's only the first issue, and #2 is slightly better, and it's nowhere near as bad as the first issue of DC's last weekly series, but still, this isn't a good start.

But wait, what did you think?

Hillary Brown: I couldn't figure out whether I thought it was awesome or unbelievably dumb that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman met at the Keystone pier for beignets, and I'm still torn, despite being tipped a little bit toward awesome by the experience of reading DC #845, which contains page after page of Batman typing in a chat room while he eats a sandwich. Yes, a sandwich.

Anyway, I think there's some potential in the first 12 pages, which remind me a little of the end of Kingdom Come as far as the things these three share and bond over, but the art isn't particularly special, just more competent than the back-up (new word for me), which is borderline incoherent and only not the worst thing I read this week due to coincidence. These two stories are connected? What is the point of splitting the book in two this way? It's jarring, and it allows for almost no story to develop. As-is, it reads like so: beignets, boots, cameo by the Flash, brief hint of menace in space, then shift to ridiculousness with Arthurian witch, contemporary technology, and a bunch of terribly rendered looks into the future that make very little sense. Bluck. I'd say the back-up almost destroyed any interest I have in reading this book.

GM: That opening was full of unintentional hilarity and amazement. Whenever they try to show Bruce Wayne acting like a normal guy I think of my dad on sales calls saying things like "hey, man!" and "how ya doing, buddy?" Yeah, okay, that scene is supposed to be kinda funny, but not necessarily in the way that it is. And although Bagley's art is perfectly acceptable, and always coherent, it's still rarely attractive or exciting, and so did nothing to make that lead less boring or goofy.

And yes, that back-up, geez. It's pretty clear these stiffs'll be the villains of the series, roughly corresponding to each member of the "trinity". They introduce some big tough alien bruiser in the second issue who I figured would fill out the Superman slot if they hadn't already hinted at Despero in #1. I don't have a problem with the backups structurally; it's actually a smart way to provide background on the main story without disrupting the latter's creative team. But the backup in #1 is embarrassingly awful in almost every aspect, full of awful dialogue from colorless characters, all rendered poorly by an artist who should know better. And like I say above, it'll be hard to fit a satisfying story into only twelve pages, so the backups might continue to drag down the lead story even if they become good.

Trinity #2 is slightly better, but only because the backup is merely boring and not horrible. The lead remains servicable but dull, but still ends abruptly. I'll give it another couple of weeks (even Countdown got four issues out of me), but it's not looking good for Trinity.

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