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Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman: Trinity #1

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003
By: Ray Tate



Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner, Dave Stewart(c)
Publisher: DC

Matt Wagner gives DC a second chance. The elseworlds series Trinity is so good that it is the point at which a new overall continuity could and should begin. In fact, the Justice League can be disbanded and never have been if DC replaced them with the Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman team presented in Trinity.

As stated, Trinity is an elseworlds series. However, the world represented in the book does not differ so strongly from the ideal earth patrolled by super-powered men and women of which we are familiar. The series mixes the continuities and styles from the Batman and Superman cartoon series, the Fleischer cartoons, the immediate post-Crisis universe and original ideas based upon observations made by Matt Wagner.

Some may balk at the classification of Trinity as an elseworlds. Just because it does not wear the brand does not mean that it is part and parcel of what DC calls continuity. Indeed, what little continuity the DCU had is shunted aside to present a story that works under its own steam in order to reintroduce the heroes older readers will recognize.

Mr. Wagner opens the book with a Man of Steel that is far from the guileless, impotent dupe Superman has become in his own books. Matt Wagner reminds readers that the Metropolis Clark Kent is a carefully crafted disguise that Superman uses to protect his identity. Mr. Wagner's Superman is both alien and human in a figurative sense. He is not from Kansas. He just happened to have been raised there.

Superman is a citizen of two worlds in Trinity. The scene in which he honors his Kryptonian heritage opens a door from the cartoon and adds a little something to the costume. The cloak he wears according to Trinity is an honorific of Krypton not an invention of Martha Kent. This tiny explanation satisfies more than what has been given in the past.

The way Mr. Wagner utilizes Superman's powers better sates the thirst for the fantastic. While not showing him to be omniscient or omnipotent, Mr. Wagner displays Superman's super-senses, strength speed and flight in a variety of intelligent ways. For instance, the way in which Superman must sift through the enormous amount of auditory data at once illustrates the awesome range of his super-hearing and its built in limitations.

Mr. Wagner has dealt with Batman before through the various altercations with Hunter Rose and his descendents as well as the memorable "Faces" from Legends of the Dark Knight. It is perhaps because of these past experiences that Mr. Wagner does not feel the need to remind readers of his skill with this character's characterization. Batman does not take the center stage for this chapter, but what we do see of him is promising indeed. Very much like the animated version of the character, Batman as portrayed by Mr. Wagner is the consummate detective and strategist. His relationship with Superman whom he refers to as "Clark" is friendly yet as edgy as their previous encounters from the animated series. They are not at each other's throats as they are in the comic books, nor are they bosom buddies.

When Wonder Woman steps onto the Daily Planet Building, any thoughts of continuity must be discarded. Mr. Wagner abandons nearly every iota of Wonder Woman continuity from the post-Crisis. Superman and she have not met. This is their first meeting. Legends which of course was previously retconned even if DC begs to differ never existed in the history of the Trinity timeline. The Byrne issue of Superman where the two heroes kiss and admit their feelings for each other never existed in this timeline. Likewise, the George Perez and the Byrne eras of Wonder Woman have been discarded in favor of a much more classic model of the Amazon who also without the naiveté George Perez imbued to her behaves with savvy and intelligence.

Matt Wagner's Wonder Woman has a much more substantial reason for leaving Paradise Island, and this time it is with her mother's and the rest of Themyscira's blessings. The meeting between she and Superman is presented in more sophisticated manner rather than libidinous. As the adventure progresses the two heroes learn about each other. Any assumptions each has about the other--hinted at in the narration--dispel for a more reasoned opinion. Best of all, Wonder Woman is a warrior. She is more apt to act than to orate.

The adventure, possibly given more freedom thanks to the events of September Eleventh, presents a more ruthless and less fantastic staple organization from the DC multiverse. The weapon this organization steals naturally involves Superman, and while you can argue that the weapon's effects are somewhat contrived to bring Wonder Woman into the World's Finest arena, the story benefits from the coincidence.

Matt Wagner does not only tell the story, he, along with Dave Stewart who provides the breathtaking colors, creates the artwork. For those not familiar with Mr. Wagner's artwork consider him as you would a Mike Mignola who prefers curves instead of angles and glory as well as gothic.

Mr. Wagner does some amazing work in Trinity. The settings are both symbolic and evocative. Metropolis stands around Superman like a golden city of tomorrow. The panels depicting Antarctica almost feel cold. The architecture and the environment give the book scope. This story is not taking place in the two dimensions confined by the borders of the comic book page. It occurs, as with the best movies, somewhere at some time. The heroes breathe. Their costumes and clothing wrinkles. Their feats of strength and majesty and sneakiness appear out of the ordinary because their world is a tactile, living thing that lends motion to the story rather than serve as a reminder for the static of the medium.



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