The unholy alliance lives on! After measuring moustaches back in Trinity #7, Ra’s al Ghûl and the witch Circe take their designs against our heroes to the next level. But an unstable ally of the League waits in the shadows, and things are about to get complicated for everyone involved.

Wrong story, wrong time

This story picks up a thread that we first encountered a few months ago in Trinity #7. I didn’t hate it then, and I am curious to see where it goes; but, DC could not have picked a worse time to release this. A new story arc just began two weeks ago, after two months off for series mastermind Francis Manapul. While you could argue that an annual should be considered in isolation from the rest of a title, I don’t think that works here. For one thing, we’re getting a continuation of an earlier tale. For another, this annual references current events and otherwise makes no attempts to distance itself from Trinity’s status quo. So—at least for me—it feels like a brand new story arc is getting an unwelcome, early intermission. Looking ahead on the calendar, DC could have slotted Trinity’s first annual for August. The solicit for that month’s issue promises another look at the story explored here, so Williams (who will also write Trinity #12) could have distributed his two books’ worth of story however he liked, and we wouldn’t be dealing with a momentum-crushing break one issue into a new arc.

To make matters much, much worse, Trinity Annual #1 just isn’t all that good. Williams has been one of my favorite writers at DC since his absolutely bonkers take on Martian Manhunter, and he has continued to impress me with his current run on Suicide Squad. But here, he’s at the bottom of his game, doing an especially poor job of writing the title characters, as well as bringing in Etrigan—perhaps the most difficult character in comics to write well, and one that bears at least half of the blame for sinking this issue. You can write the Demon as a capable poet, or you can have fun with his rhymes—or both!—but the dialogue here has poorly-developed rhythm, and it rarely approaches humor, so Etrigan reduces—as he often does—to a verbose annoyance. Williams tries to work out overarching themes of fate and the intertwined destinies of the various “trinities” (and other numerical subdivisions) discussed in the book, but I find the dialogue so distracting that it’s hard to spend any effort on processing the mythical and philosophical underpinnings.

Spoiler
One final note about the script: the three-on-three nature of this side story worked fine in #7, but the introduction of yet another trinity at the end stretches things a bit too far, I think. Red Hood and the Outlaws work so well in their own book because they are a bunch of rejects who have failed to live up to their pedigree. Something seems off about Circe finding them valuable. And frankly, the numerological fixation is almost as tiresome as a lot of those early Two-Face stories.

Great layouts and the occasional bizarre finish

Guillem March provides the layouts and line work for Trinity Annual #1, and his excellence in the former forfeits a measure of its glory to his occasional struggles with the latter. Most of this book looks quite good, due in no small part to the action-packed breakdowns and Tomeu Morey’s sensibilities. Morey wisely and subtly adjusts his technique for different artists, using less luster when working with March than he does with frequent partner Tony Daniel. On a number of pages, March turns in some very bizarre posture and faces, but it happens seldom enough that my overall impression of the visuals is a good one. I would probably enjoy them even more if I liked the writing.

Recommended if…

  • You enjoyed the dark and moody Trinity #7, and want to see where that story is going next.
  • You like Etrigan, even when there doesn’t seem to have been much effort given to crafting his lines.
  • You don’t mind spending an extra buck on a book if it’s full of exciting pages from March and Morey.

Overall

I don’t hate Trinity Annual #1, but I don’t like it all that much either. It comes at a poor time in the series schedule, and the usually-reliable Rob Williams fails to make this book’s intrusion worthwhile. Lots of great pages from Guillem March and Tomeu Morey may be enough to justify the cover price for some of you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up feeling let down.

SCORE:  5.5/10