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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Trinity #7 was released last week, marking a changing of the guard in a very different issue for the series. Cullen Bunn took over the writing chores for The New Pandoras, a story in which Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman do not truly appear. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King offers his thoughts on this most unusual installment.
(Warning: Some spoilers follow!)
Trinity #7 Review:
In the Great Ruins lying 60 miles from the Kahndaqi border — far from Gotham City, Metropolis, or Themyscira — Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, and Circe have gathered for purposes that are not altogether clear, even to them. What inevitable evil will emerge from this sinister threesome’s unholy alliance?
Trinity #7 Synopsis:
Summoned separately by unknown forces, Ra’s al Ghul and Lex Luthor arrive at the Great Ruins. Both find the ancient tomb distasteful, yet they enter warily, if only to discover who brought them to that place. Within, they find Circe standing before what appear to be Lazarus Pits. The mythical sorceress explains, however, that they are Pandora Pits instead.
When the legendary Pandora opened the box that set evil loose in the world, some of the malevolent forces found humanity’s innocence horrifying and fled into the pits Circe has discovered. There, the pernicious power has percolated, waiting to be tamed and put to nefarious uses. The Pandora Pits put together a patchwork conflation of the three villains’ weaknesses, which takes a form combining elements of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Banding together, Ra’s, Lex, and Circe defeat the creature and gain control of the pits. When Luthor proposes to destroy the dangerous power source, Circe reveals a secret that suggests the choice might not belong to them.
Trinity #7 Analysis:
The graphics for The New Pandoras were the result of a collaborative effort: Clay Mann divided the pencilling duties with Miguel Mendonca, split the inking chores with Johnny Desjardins, and worked with Steve Downer to create the cover. Having so many hands on deck might have produced a mismatched mix of artistic styles, yet Trinity #7 has a consistent visual signature that does justice equally to three quite distinct and different villains. The overall effect of the artwork is augmented by the funereal yet luminous color palette used by Brad Anderson and the eye-guiding lettering with which Steve Wands leads the reader through the layout of the book.
Bunn capably conveys the tale in The New Pandoras through the eyes of its three lead characters, which makes for intriguing reading because they are the antagonists to the series’ titular protagonists. The audience goes in knowing Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, and Circe are the bad guys, but, of course, each of them sees his or her role as justifiable, and perhaps even noble. Ra’s al Ghul is convinced his condescension is completely warranted, while Luthor sees himself as wholly heroic and Circe views them both as beneath her yet regrettably necessary. Even as they join forces in a common cause, their overlapping narration boxes reveal that each of them feels demeaned by the need to associate with the other two. Trinity #7 ably obeys the writer’s dictum to show rather than tell; in an issue with no omniscient third-person exposition beyond the opening dateline, the narrators all lack the self-awareness to explain truths they do not understand that the reader does.
The Pandora Pits represent a creative variation on the Lazarus Pits long associated with Ra’s al Ghul, and the Frankenstein’s monster version of the Composite Superman that emerges from the bubbling cauldron of fermented wickedness is an effective plot device for forcing each villain to face his or her failures against the true heroes of Trinity #7, who are seen only briefly in flashbacks presented from the perspective of the offender. It’s tough to sustain an entire superhero comic in which the good guys all remain offstage while maintaining the conspiring scoundrels’ individual voices without allowing any of them to lapse into mustache-twirling parody, but Bunn manages to pull it off in The New Pandoras.
The over-the-shoulder cliffhanger reveal on the issue’s final page completes the set-up for the Action Ace, the Amazing Amazon, and the Caped Crusader to step into the spotlight in the story’s second act, but what makes the ending particularly riveting is not simply the implication that larger forces than Circe’s scheme brought this band of brigands together. Instead, the intrigue is amplified by the understated box at the bottom of the page promising that the ensuing issue will include “The Truth About Superman”. The Superman: Reborn story arc is nearing its ending yet spilling over into other series and tying into DC Universe-wide revelations, so that concluding confirmation in Trinity #7 — alluding to Mr. Oz’s upcoming appearance in the series — took a solid, if unconventional, story and established it as the initial stanza of what well may be another Rebirth triumph.
Keep the lid on the Pandora Pits, but join us in the comments to ComiConverse about this villainous edition of Trinity!
This clever comic book took an unconventional approach to the start of a story arc, and the result was an impressive success.