Hot off the heels of DC Rebirth launching in 2016 to much acclaim, DC Comics set out to create a new team-up book as part of the company-wide rebranding that could capitalize on the popularity of several of its biggest characters. In addition to the always good sales of team books like Justice League and whatever the Superman/Batman team-up of the day is going by, Trinity was launched by the now established Francis Manapul, who had launched The Flash as part of DC’s New 52 and proved he could write and draw a book simultaneously. This short-lived series ran a mere 22 issues before Brian Michael Bendis was given the keys to the Superman books, but managed to churn out a few memorable stories that, admittedly, I’m just getting to right now but am enjoying very much.
The first trade of Trinity collects issues 1-6 of the book, which also makes up the first arc. The story begins with pre-Flashpoint Superman, Lois and Jon having New 52 Batman and Wonder Woman over to their house on the farm for dinner as a way of getting to know one another. Right away the book begins with a beautiful character story, in which all three main characters share what family and their closest friends mean to them. From there on it is revealed that some combination of Poison Ivy, Mongul and Black Mercies have infiltrated the Kent farm (or at least, their dreams?) and do everything in their power to destroy all three heroes. The explanation of how Poison Ivy followed Bruce Wayne to upstate New York is a stretch, but I’m willing to just go along with it because villains have to be introduced into the story somehow.
The action picks up for the next four or so issues, which is pretty standard superhero fare. Interspersed amidst all the action however, is exactly what makes stories like “For the Man Who Has Everything” so powerful- we get a glimpse into the heart of each character. While entranced by the Black Mercy plant, each hero experiences a variation on not only their worst nightmare but also a “road less traveled” of sorts, which gives them- and by extension, us- a taste of a different future and past. Although I found the story to be a bit hard to follow and convoluted (Mongul… somehow appears in dreams? Possessed by a little child? Still not sure about that one…), the story absolutely shines with all the wonderful character moments that Francis Manapul chooses to include here. We’ve all seen Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in plenty of action sequences before, but when Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Princess Diana are also involved in the story, it always makes a story that much more interesting, which more Justice League writers would do well to understand.
Kudos to Manapul for getting it.
In addition to having become a solid writer, it goes without saying that Manapul’s art is even better. I first became a fan of his on the new Barry Allen-led Flash series written by Geoff Johns post-“Blackest Night,” and found his clean, streamlined art worked perfectly for. I didn’t care so much for his New 52 Flash book, but then again, I wasn’t a fan of New 52 in general and it certainly was not the fault of his art. In Trinity, anyone can see that he has upped his game even more in order to work on the upper echelon of characters in DC’s stable. We see plenty of splash pages, which I’ve always loved, as well as crazy panel layouts shaped like logos or words, which are very cool. The best part about all of it is, it works absolutely perfectly with the story itself. The art serves the story, rather than vice-versa. I actually think it does it so well that this book can be a blueprint for artists trying to break into the business who want to learn how it’s done.
Even the fill-in artists, typical of all the biweekly Rebirth books, are wonderful for what’s being done here. Call me late to the party, but Clay Mann is a revelation. I’ve seen his work on a smattering of anthologies or team-up books (like with Tom King on their brilliant short story in Action Comics #1000), but his style is really starting to catch on for me. Emmanuela Lupacchino is also a solid fill-in for Francis Manapul, who obviously can’t draw and write 44 pages per month, and thanks to the quality of his backups, doesn’t have to. No issue is that different from another in terms of quality, something that can not be said of all fill-in artists. Clearly, DC took the publication of this book very seriously, in the hopes that it would be another fine addition to the Superman stable. In the end, I believe it was.
Ultimately, I found Trinity Vol.1 to be an enjoyable read, and look forward to Vol.2. The story suffered from some meandering and some poor explanation, but the character moments included in it are enough to keep me coming back. I think I’ve officially become a sucker for any story that features Superman and his family, even if it is a little exaggerated at times when juxtaposed with other heroes (more on that in the next review!). Looking forward to picking up the next installment.
Capeage Meter: 7 out of 10