What happens when three of the Trinity’s biggest baddies get together for a catacomb bull session? ABOMINATIONS! With apologies to the excellent first arc of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Ra’s, Lex, and Circe form their own “Dark Trinity” and face their demons in one of the creepiest haunts around.
A stark—if temporary—change in tone
Francis Manapul takes this month off, and Cullen Bunn steps in to fill his shoes. Whereas Trinity’s first arc teemed with hope, this one-and-done walks deeper into darkness than any prior issue of the series. And honestly, as much as I loved Manapul’s tone in “Better Together”, I welcome this shift—so long as it doesn’t take over. Assuming that “The New Pandoras” will ripple into future stories, I look forward to seeing Manapul work with a worthy counterargument to the optimism of his heroes. I’m sure some of you like Mongul, but while he didn’t annoy me quite as much as I expected him to, I remain disappointed that he ended up being the mastermind behind our first adventure.
Bunn writes most of this issue very well, capturing the voice of Ra’s expertly. Lex feels off here and there, and I have no sufficient reference for Circe, but I at least enjoyed reading her dialogue and narration. It took me two reads to get here, but I also really like the integration of the Pandora myth into the narrative, and Circe’s suggestion that the three villains are in some sense children of the Curious One.
If I have a complaint, I would say that Circe’s discourse is dense enough to feel boring at first; and, after an engaging start to the story courtesy of Ra’s and Lex, this tedious path to clarity feels exaggerated. On the flip-side, things become clearer—and therefore easier to read—if you give the book another chance.
Decent, shared artwork
Clay Mann and Miguel Mendonca both contribute pencils to this issue, and for the most part, I like what we get. Mann has earned his place as one of my favorite artists on DC projects, and he (ironically) shines when illustrating dark places. The transition to Mendonca works pretty well at first, with a page depicting moments outside of the current narrative. But the rest of the book switches between artists without the switch in context, and Mendonca’s aesthetic resembles Mann’s enough—and Brad Anderson’s colors unify their pages enough—to make it feel like it’s one inconsistent artist rather than two good ones. And it’s not because one produces bad pages; in isolation, everything looks quite good, but, page-to-page, there’s a disruptive quality to the shifting finishes. That said, my second read made it easier to work through the disruptions, so their overall impact remains slight.
A simple, profound interlude
This sort of story could easily end up a meaningless throwaway, but I hope it doesn’t. I’ve been waiting for the return of evil Lex for quite some time now, and both Ra’s and Circe present their own formidable challenges as enemies of the Trinity. The idea of some ongoing alliance (in spite of each member privately insisting that this is temporary) intrigues me, and I would love to see it teased out.
- You’re a Mann-fan, or a Ra’s ‘n Roller. Or some other funny thing for Lex or Circe that I can’t think of.
- You feel like Trinity could use some variation in tone from time to time.
- The thought of a super-villain team up makes you giddier than Pandora at a cardboard factory.
Trinity #7 makes for a welcome tonal variation after “Better Together”. Bunn writes the villains (mostly) well, and I can only hope that Manapul plans to water the seeds planted here. Great artwork by Mann and Mendonca immerses us in a dark place (and a dark alliance), even if the two are similar enough to be confusing at times. All-in-all, this is a nice, thought-provoking read that gets better with repeat consideration.