Mongul is the mastermind! The once-lord of Warworld at last revealed himself, and with the Trinity’s defenses down, he possessed Superman’s real-world body, intent on making mayhem for the people of Earth. But the experiences of our heroes have had unexpected consequences, and Mongul may have left open a vulnerability. Can Clark, Diana, and Bruce exploit it? Answers, and the conclusion of “Better Together”, are in this week’s Trinity #3. SPOILERS FOLLOW
Endings are hard
I have enjoyed this arc immensely, so much so that it has softened the blow of a terrible string of stories in Justice League. Manapul has demonstrated a capability for plotting and writing that I did not previously know he possessed. I therefore look on Trinity #6 with a bit of disappointment.
From a high level, I can find a lot of things to love here. The undercurrent of hope that has driven much of Rebirth in general, and this book in particular, remains in full-force; and Manapul’s belief in the power of unmuddied heroism continues to inspire me, even in spite of my present complaints. Most of all, the transformative effect that the Trinity has on White Mercy (and, by extension, Ivy) offers a redemptive—rather than fatalistic—look at evil.
But when you get into the weeds, Manapul’s aim exceeds his reach, and much of this concluding chapter snags on shaky characterization, trite sentiment, and overarching problems with pace.
For starters, Bruce struggles with trusting White Mercy—an understandable scenario. And yet his persistent resistance in the face of Mercy’s compliance feels like a step too far—he comes off as more of a caricature of Batman than the real thing. I think that Bruce’s instincts and the evidence in front of him would have turned him sooner, and he wouldn’t have required Wonder Woman’s intervention.
The last to leave the dream world, Diana receives the key to exodus from Mercy. But what’s the key? Follow your heart. Maybe my worldview interprets that line differently than yours, but it stinks of naïveté; it’s a syrupy generalization, usually offered in place of a legitimately helpful answer. And within the context of a Black Mercy-induced dream world, it’s also terrible advice. As far as I understand it, the Black Mercy thrives on presenting precisely what your heart desires. If Diana truly follows her heart, how can she walk past Steve Trevor? Manapul attempts to make a distinction between following the heart and trusting one’s eyes; but that distinction is a muddy one in this scenario, where what you see flows directly from your most heart-felt desires.
Not the best visuals we’ve seen
Emanuela Lupacchino returns this month, and while she does a decent job on the whole, her performance does not compare favorably with her work on the fourth installment. She lacks consistency with faces and anatomy, and she can, on occasion, pose characters in weird ways; in an issue where she has less opportunity to render imaginative establishing shots, these deficiencies look more pronounced.
I like Hi-Fi’s colors quite a bit, particularly when he emulates the palette of earlier issues in several flashback panels. The warm yellows and oranges in the dream world look great, as well. The real-world is less visually interesting, but the color remains cleanly applied, which I appreciate.
Steve Wands does—as always—a superb job with the letters, but I wanted to point out a scenario that I found particularly distracting—and it’s not even Steve’s fault. At one point, Superman takes a blow in the real world (a very humorous moment when you get into the specifics) that has a corresponding effect in the dream. In the panel depicting this latter impact, Lupacchino and Manapul create a bit of confusion. The first thing we see is Clark hitting the ground after the blow, but when Diana begins speaking—in the same panel—she does not address this unexpected turn. Not until the end of two balloons (one of which contains a decent bit of text) do we get her reaction, and by that point, it seems inappropriately delayed.
Could have been better…but still better together
As things draw to a close, the conclusion comes far too quickly. The struggle to subdue a possessed Superman ends in a rush, and with a predictable methodology; and the echo back to Lois’s voiceover from Trinity #1 likewise feels like it arrives before its time.
So with all of that, yes—I’m a bit disappointed in this final installment. “Better Together” has been an excellent arc, and I wanted a conclusion worthy of the story so far. Sadly, we don’t get one, but this does not erase the outstanding job done by Manapul and his team of collaborators up to this point. A sour end does not diminish my excitement for what’s to come.
- You want to see how “Better Together” wraps up.
- You’re curious about White Mercy and would like some of your questions answered.
- You like seeing Mongul get what’s coming to him—sort of.
The worst of “Better Together”, Trinity #6 trips over its own feet throughout its sprint to a conclusion. I like where Manapul aims, but ultimately have trouble following him there. Regardless, this remains worth the investment to see how it wraps up, and I have high hopes for whatever this book takes on in the future.