T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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This week, Trinity #1 became the latest debut release to emerge from DC Comics’ Rebirth relaunch. The title teams the post-Crisis Superman with the New 52 Batman and Wonder Woman in a fresh series bearing the same name as the pre-Flashpoint Kurt Busiek limited run. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to review the initial adventure of the Action Ace, the Amazing Amazon, and the Caped Crusader.
Review: Trinity #1
The first installment of the opening Better Together story arc is a chapter entitled Family Dinner. With the exception of Steve Wands’s lettering, the entire issue was the handiwork of Francis Manapul. Was the writer/artist’s singular vision sufficient to bridge the gaps between superheroes from different universes?
Trinity #1 Synopsis:
Batman and Wonder Woman — the latter bearing a wild boar — descend upon rural Hamilton County, upstate from Metropolis. The duo arrives at the family farmhouse where Lois Smith (formerly Lane) is preparing dinner, and they are greeted at the door by the surprised Jonathan Smith (formerly White). Upon his return home, Clark Smith (formerly Kent) is even more stunned by the presence of these unexpected guests.
Lois reveals that, without informing her husband, she invited Princess Diana and Bruce Wayne to share a meal at their table. At first, the conversation is awkward: Clark shares memories of a different Batman, Bruce recalls a relationship with a different Superman, and Lois is wary of a Wonder Woman who was romantically intertwined with her world’s Man of Steel. Over the course of the evening, they become more comfortable with one another… just in time for the three heroes to make a potentially Earth-shattering discovery in the barn!
Trinity #1 Analysis:
DC wisely has allowed Rebirth to unfold slowly for Superman, easing the older Man of Steel into the current continuity over the course of nearly a year since the start of Superman: Lois and Clark’s limited run. Now that the familiar pre-New 52 Lois and Clark have become entrenched once more as the Lois and Clark, the time was right to begin building the bonds between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Manapul deftly handled this delicate task in Trinity #1.
The author’s first choice was his best one. In sharp contrast to Superwoman #1 — which left fans disheartened when the series’ ostensible star was viewed only through the eyes of her skeptical and unsympathetic partner — Trinity #1 gave Lois Lane the agency to be the story’s driving force and the voice to explain her motivations. As the ace reporter with an eye for detail and a nose for the truth, and as the extraordinary mortal who keeps the Last Son of Krypton tethered to his essential humanity, Lois was the ideal narrator for, and catalyst of, Family Dinner.
How did Manapul, as a man, manage so effectively and convincingly to write from the point of view of a woman? He did what Lois, as a journalist, would have told him to do; he asked one:
Super thankful to all of you for checking out trinity, but I'm most thankful for @Rachelpeabody she was huge support and the voice of Lois.
— Francis Manapul (@FrancisManapul) September 21, 2016
Lois grounds the story in something resembling reality, serving as a stand-in for the audience by providing the perspective of a person without powers attempting to approach these icons as individuals. Her insights help us to see how Jonathan Kent’s understandable fears taught his son to remain emotionally on guard, and her efforts to encourage her husband to be more open and trusting with his colleagues pave the way for exchanges that are poignant, humorous, and illuminating.
Bruce, whose functional forthrightness stops just short of surliness, is not amused when Clark undertakes to break the ice by recounting the Silver Age Rainbow Batman story from Detective Comics #241 in the presence of the New 52 Darknight Detective of Trinity #1. Wayne responds by highlighting a distinction between the successive Supermen of his acquaintance: Ma and Pa Kent were still living when the Man of Steel of John Byrne’s post-Crisis reboot first donned the cape, but the Bruce and Clark who emerged after Flashpoint both were orphans. Consequently, Batman opines, “we understood each other.”
Manapul similarly deconstructs the disparities dividing this Lois from this Diana, emphasizing the differences distinguishing them through the use of concrete examples, before reconstructing their relationship by finding fresh common threads to unite them. Lois beautifully sums up the transformation that begins in Trinity #1 at the issue’s end, observing: “Sons grow up to be fathers. From strangers to brothers. Rivals to sisters.” Except perhaps for occasional necessary concessions to space constraints, the words and thoughts of all the characters flow easily and believably.
As both author and artist of Better Together — Part One, Manapul is able to match the graphics and the script exactly, opening with the image of seeds being sown in sunlight and closing with a view through a glass, darkly. Each member of the titular trinity makes his or her entrance by way of a double-page spread with the layout arranged in the shape of each hero’s iconic emblem, signaling that our focus ultimately is not on the idiosyncrasies of individual incarnations, but on the timeless defining attributes that remain constant across every era.
The cover of Trinity #1 is curious — Wonder Woman’s upraised sword reflects an oddly arrayed assortment of villains from the trio’s respective rogues galleries, and each hero has only one eye visible — but the internal artwork is hallmarked by an understated elegance. On a Wednesday on which DC Comics decided to take it down a notch (especially where Superman was concerned), Family Dinner moved along effortlessly at a steady pace, delving deeply and expertly enough into the nuances of characterization that the comparative lack of action was a feature rather than a bug.
Trinity #1 had a scant 20 pages to do justice to the two most significant female characters and the two most significant male characters in the history of the DC Universe, yet — in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that he was pulling double duty — Manapul succeeded in walking the tightrope gracefully. In the end, he did what Rebirth has done best, fusing the traditional with the modern to forge the alloy that forms the firm foundation for the future.
Did Family Dinner leave you ready for dessert or ready to desert?
Share your thoughts on Trinity #1 in the comments and join in the ComiConversation!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Francis Manapul delivers an elegant character study that bridges the gaps between universes in an effective, plausible, and moving way.