At the heart of the current arc in Trinity is quite an exciting kernel of an idea; Earth’s three greatest heroes inserted into a fantasy milieu. Unfortunately, after reading Trinity #18, I’m convinced that ‘the Trinity in Skartaris’ made up the entirety of James Robinson’s pitch to DC. It’s never developed from idea to actual story.
Not much happened last month but I forgave that because it was the opening issue which had to set up the arc. This issue treads water by taking the form of a journey to the place where the actual story is (hopefully) unfolding. Many, many years ago in a creative writing class I was told to start a story by jumping into the action; not building up to it. When I tell an anecdote, I don’t tell the listener the minutiae of the day leading up to the interesting event; I skip straight to the point of the story.
That’s not to say that a linear journey can’t form the backbone of a tale. Look at The Lord of the Rings, or even last year’s Wonder Woman movie as a great example of this. In the latter, we begin in Themsycira, move to England, then to the front in Belgium, then German High Command and finally to the military base where the film’s finale plays out. But it’s not the journey itself that has people raving about such films; it’s the changes our hero goes through, the interesting characters we meet on the road, the humour and philosophy, the sense of loss, the relief of triumph, etc. None of the action would make an emotional impression on the viewer if boiled down to a montage. That’s where Trinity #18 goes wrong because it is just that: a summary of our heroes fighting different monsters (with a short break halfway in which Batman discovers a mystery which is instantly solved, giving us no reason to read on and find out more). It’s more like a grim holiday destination advertisement for Skartaris than a story.
Don’t any minions do anything for their own enjoyment?
As I mentioned above, it’s character and heart that makes us remember a story afterwards. Disappointingly, these qualities are not present in the issue either. The heroes’ speech and actions are all purely functional and pragmatic. We only hear their thoughts in their retrospective account of the story and whenever this happens we’re served up cliché words about heroism and, even worse, exhausting compliments for their comrades. If you read issues #17 and #18 back to back, you’ll probably feel a bit sick from all the back-slapping admiration. Plus, they’re supposed to be being interviewed individually but they keep answering one another.
(I did like that Superman says that ‘Batman knows horses’ though. It’s an image that reminds me of better times)
After a long journey (and inexplicably not aging in the place they found the wizened corpses but then aging suddenly when they land in Shamballah) the trio finally come face to face with Jennifer Morgan. In case you’re wondering why she is magical but her father isn’t, she was born in our world, but followed her father to Skartaris and learnt sorcery from a witch there in exchange for knowledge of our technology.
The main reason to pick up Trinity #18 is the artwork. Though the script may be bereft of any other worth, it’s a gift to Zircher, who makes the most of drawing mushroom forests and the siege of ̶G̶o̶n̶d̶o̶r̶ Shamballah complete with shining turrets, lumbering trolls and screeching dragons. Some of the faces look a little dead sometimes but generally the figures are consistently drawn. Background figures are occasionally a bit insubstantial but the monsters and the trinity are always imbued with bold use of shadow and crisp detail. There’s a great piece of layout where Superman is falling in a long panel down one side of the page while Wonder Woman, who is racing to rescue him, is shown listening for the nearby monster, dealing with the threat and jumping to save her friend on the other side of the page. Zircher also treats us to a whole menagerie of imaginative creatures, including this handsome beast:
- You’re up for a one-dimensional fantasy adventure.
- You like the odds stacked against the usually overpowered heroes.
- You’re thinking about a trip to Skartaris and want to see the sights before you get there.
Overall: If you’re planning on picking up issue #18, I’d advise just looking at the pictures and avoiding the captions. It’s a pretty book but really only amounts to a load of fights, most of which are glossed over (and don’t include Warlord, despite the claim made on the cover). Without any particular narrative or heart, it’s like being told about a great party instead of being in attendance yourself.