After Infinite Crisis, DC Comics decided to experiment with regular weekly and bi-weekly series, starting with 52 in 2006. 52 was not only critically acclaimed (and I’ll have to check it out of my library to see if it still holds up–I sold my copies years ago) but also was a huge seller, so they went for it again in 2007 with the much-derided Countdown to Final Crisis. I personally didn’t hate Countdown when it wasn’t trying to tie into the larger DCU of the time or contradicting series such as The Death of the New Gods (which didn’t make much sense and contradicted what was being set up for Final Crisis, and … well, DC was kind of a mess at that point). Its core story of Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and a few other characters as a new “Forgotten Heroes” or “Challengers of the Unknown” team was entertaining, but ultimately fell flat and by the time Trinity was announced, I was not going to be committing to another series.
By the time Trinity came out, I was nearly done with comics, and I would be after Final Crisis #2, for about a year and a half, until my peeking in at Teen Titans and listening to various podcasts got me sucked right back in. I’ve only ever gone back and filled in the “blanks” in my collection where the Titans books are concerned, and so I have no context for Trinity other than that I know that Kurt Busiek wrote it, Mark Bagley pencilled it, and I found about half the run in the bins at my LCS during Shortboxtober 2018.
I’d originally planned to buy the rest of the series and then read it all the way through, although I’ll admit that I thought Trinity was like Brightest Day and only ran for 26 issues instead of 52. Plus, I’m trying to read through what I have and at this point might as well–when I can’t go to the store to buy new back issues. So the task that Trinity has set in front of it is to not only entertain me, but to convince me to keep it and go find the other 30 or so issues.
The premise is that Morgan Le Fay and someone named Enigma have discovered some sort of important magical/cosmic role that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman play in the multiverse. Furthermore, they’ve discovered that they can steal that power in some way for themselves. Doing so will basically make them gods while it may either destroy or exile our heroes. They need a third person to form a Trinity of villainy, and find classic JLA villain Despero. And they also need the Cosmic Egg, which is the vessel inside which the Justice League and The Avengers trapped Krona at the end of JLA/Avengers, which Busiek also wrote.
What follows has proven to be one of those really great super hero stories that feels like it’s an extended Justice League of America adventure, or even a multi-part episode of Challenge of the Super Friends. The “Trinity” finds themselves more and more inextricably linked as the story goes on, the villains send them to the anti-matter universe at one point, all of which leads to a huge showdown at a castle that is the last known place where Merlin lived. From there, the villains seem to succeed, release Krona, and all of the sudden reality is completely changed so that the “Trinity” doesn’t exist. Plus, there’s a secondary story each issue that picks up on a thread from the main story and goes with it, sometimes bringing it back to the main story.
I whipped through these in two days and really enjoyed it. Busiek is taking advantage of the fact that he has 52 issues to write, and while there are points where the villains’ plan drags a little, when he gets to places such as the anti-matter universe and the new/alternate reality, he lets us live in those spaces for a little while, instead of maybe an issue or half an issue (which is what usually happens). Plus, since he’s not completely beholden to the DCU of 2008 (Final Crisis was in full swing by this point), he can take this in whatever direction he wants and play with whatever characters he wants. The backup stories, most of which are written by Fabian Nicieza (who wrote many of the X-books I read in the early 1990s), are also very solid and don’t feel like “padding.” Then again, he spends a significant amount of time with Gangbuster and we get to see Jerry Ordway’s art over Mike Norton’s layouts (and it looks like it’s mostly Ordway).
Speaking of Ordway, he’s one of the artistic highlights in the book. Bagley’s artwork is solid–I’ve always been a fan–although it can definitely get wonky in places and I wonder if he’s more suited to smaller casts. Yeah, I know not everyone is George Perez, but there are a few times when I was glad the story was so good. The backup story art vacillates between oustanding (Norton/Ordway) and solid. Scott McDaniel draws several of the stories and at times they’re excellent as well. And I find it interesting that Mike Norton–whose art I loved on The Waiting Place and Revival–only got to do breakdowns or rough pencils on these stories and not the full art chores.
I’m kind of kicking myself for not buying it when it came out in 2008, but I guess when you come out of Countdown feeling completely burned, you’re going to be hesitant about the investment of another weekly. But I think that this one will be easy to find on the cheap, or at least in trade, and I am really looking forward to the rest of it.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?