Bam, Thwack, Psychology!
In all of pop-culture, there are few names that pull the same historical and cultural heft as the three pillars of DC comic’s. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are synonymous with Americana and representing the best of what humanity has to offer. Independently, these names have carried their own titles for over 75 years, creating
decades of continuity and character development that have shaped the DC universe and had a lasting impact on the very real world which we inhabit. Together, however, the dynamic and influential trio of Bruce, Diana, and Clark have the potential to call forth not only great and exciting drama, but the best part of the bonds of friendship and family. That is the focus of Trinity, the emotion and relationship between the big three. It goes beyond the squad cohesion found in stories of the Justice League, delving into more personal matters. Francis Manapul brings fans the post-Rebirth chapter of the Trinity in which continuities collide, literally seating a pre-crisis Superman at the table with a New 52 Wonder Woman and Batman who are trying to traverse a minefield of sentiments in regards facing a Clark Kent who looks like, but is not, the recently deceased Superman of their world.
Despite the connotation of the title, there is a fourth personality that is an essential
narrative element to the genetics of this book, and while Lois Lane may not grace the cover, she is undeniably a key ingredient to the design of this book. So much so, that she voices the opening narration, laying out the foundation of Trinity’s theme. The story opens to Lois’s inner monologue, the contemplative voice of a mother and wife, and while the subjects of her thoughts are a son and husband who can defy gravity and shoot lasers from their eyes, her concerns are recognizable as the most basic and simple components of human relationships and parenthood. Lois contemplates on ideas such as unsolicited advice, passive aggressive parental competition, and the psychological walls that are established by adults to hide the fact that quite frankly, adults have no idea what the hell they are doing, and end up passing these same character flaws down from one generation to the next, this last trope being a key building block to the character of all three of Trinity’s main characters. What Manapul has given his audience is an analyzation of insecurity, and it’s in this consideration that Lois Lane can stand in a room with Diana, Bruce, Clark, and Jon and be the most competent and powerful person in the room.
As Lois wraps up her inner TED talk, Wonder Woman and Batman ascend on the Kent family farm preparing themselves for what the most difficult and trying task of all time: a calm family dinner. Lois, unbeknownst to Clark, has planned a dinner to “break the ice” between the trio and dispatch a bevy of uncomfortable topics through dialogue. As the world’s finest converge on the dinner table, the conversation ranges from the unshared memories of the Kent’s lost universe to the acknowledgment that the mere visage of Clark opens up old wounds for Wonder Woman and flares up Batman’s paranoia. Meanwhile, a strange and apparently supernatural foliage is engulfing the barn, setting the hook for the happenings of issue two.
The Scribe & Style
While too soon to call, Trinity my very well be the chef-d’oeurve of Fancis Manapul’s creative career. Very few individuals in comics can balance the tasks of scripting, drawing, and coloring an entire issue without sacrificing quality in one of those areas, and Manapul juggles the responsibilities with expertise and grace, thanks in no small part to his tenure on New 52’s The Flash, along side Brian Buccellato. Readers have also seen Manapul’s talents applied to series like Dark Horse’s Witchblade, as well as numerous arcs in multiple DC titles such as Detective Comics, Adventure Comics, and the Legion of Superheros.
In the opening issue of this ongoing title, Manapul essentially puts on a talent show of how to comic. While there is very little action, the story never lags, never gets stale, and while it was yet again another DC recap book, Trinity covers all of its editorial bases in explaining the tensions between individuals born from different continuums. Where a lot of writers struggle with the continuity of one timeline, Francis Manapul strong-arms the history of two chronologies into a cohesive and sensible dinner conversation. He gives each time table its own unique visible flavor. His style for the meat of the book is a very Jim Lee inspired design. Heavy lines give definition to chisled jawlines and muscular physiques, while rounded edges and soft colors translate to femininity and adolescence in the case of Jon Kent. For New 52 flashbacks, the artist injects a dose of animation style cartooning so that the pages are defined by ghostly green hues, hard angles, and blocky builds. If Darwyn Cook had an artistic love-child with Brian Hitch, it would be the New 52 panels in Trinity. Last but certainly not least, Manapul proverbially blows this book out of the water with his pre-Crisis Rainbow Batman spread. Brilliant, bright colors cover pointillism infused artistry in an homage to the iconic Batman #182, which has become a fan favorite in recent years. In fact, Funko Pop recently announced a Rainbow Batman figurine.
In addition to artistic talent, the author flexes his literary muscles, giving easy to place dialogue and narratives that borderline on poetry such as Lois’s inner voice saying, “If we break down the walls, we won’t have to let the good in with the bad. The hard part is figuring out who is who.” In two sentences, Manapul embodies the tone of his story, the personality of Lois Lane, and delivers life advice to his audience. His words are engaging, entertaining, and relatable to readers of all ages in a way that doesn’t dismiss the contextual understanding of young people or feel “dumbed down” to older readers.
DC is producing some great stories coming out of Rebirth, but they are falling into the rut of redundancy. There are several titles that highlight the same information and character content of Trinity, however this book gives the informative reboot its own platform as a focal point and not just passing information. Readers who are struggling with timeline variances should with out question turn to Trinity for clarity and understanding. While it was more of the same, it was exquisitely produced more of the same. Francis Manapul fully embraces the title and all of its potential both inside the pages and outside, doing three jobs in three art styles fleshing out the three most definitive characters in DC’s stable of heroes. This book earned its place in your library. A+