It’s more of the same from this week’s Trinity with plenty of mindless spectacle and no attention paid to story or character. The awful ‘No Home For You Here’ arc may be over but our heroes are not yet rid of the twin blights of Deimos and James Robinson. Based on issue #20, it seems that the series’ final arc, ‘The Search for Steve Trevor’ (confusingly known as ‘Man Down’ in DC solicitations, which also erroneously state that Pat Zircher is on art for this issue) is likely to send Trinity out with a whimper instead of a bang.
As the title suggests, the Trinity’s mission is to track down Steve after Deimos kidnapped him at the end of issue #19 (we still don’t know why he wants to draw the ire of the world’s greatest heroes). If you were hoping for more of a plot than that, you’re out of luck because there are no subplots, characters working through personal demons or philosophical themes to dissect. However, Robinson still has to give the heroes something to do so he constructs a convoluted salvo in which the heroes loiter in various places telling us things we don’t need to know. Diana thanks Clark for his help, which she already did in the last arc, and describes her location, which we can see because we’re reading a comic book. When the dialogue isn’t robotic like this, it gets so cheesy and out-of-character, I could gag (mercifully, the unreserved, convivial narration I hated so much in the last arc is absent, though). If the dialogue were read out to me, the only character I would identify would be Batman because he’s bossy and even then I’d be confused because he cracks jokes. Superman has the worst speech of all this issue; during the inevitable, pointless battle, he boasts about how unstoppable he is and later on he laughs to himself about something he mentioned back in issue #17. Unless Robinson is planning to turn this into a major plot point, it seems like the most random call-back ever.
A few more matters that drew my attention:
• What’s your weakness, Batman? Mecha-Apes? The only weakness that’s exploited is Superman’s and this turns out to be a disappointment as well because it’s not even real kryptonite and therefore poses no actual threat!
• No explanation is offered for how Blue Strike have put an enormous satellite into orbit that no-one on Earth has spotted. At least tell us it uses little cameras and screens to replicate the ridiculous technology in Die Another Day, or that it has a shell that hides the satellite’s reciprocity with electromagnetic waves.
• In the latest issue of Titans, it was revealed that The Brain had come up with an algorithm to hide his powers from the Justice League. In Trinity #20, we discover that Blue Strike have also made themselves virtually undetectable – Cyborg and Batman need to get to work on improving the Watchtower! This is the problem with our heroes being so technologically powerful in modern comics- loopholes have to be invented to get around them because otherwise finding anything or anyone would be boringly easy.
• On the final page, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are attacked by three monsters, one of which is a transformed Steve Trevor. Given that we’ve seen each of the heroes tackling greater odds earlier in the issue, this doesn’t feel like much of a cliff-hanger (and a quick call to Zatanna or Constantine would fix Steve).
• According to Diamond Comic Distributors’ reports of sales made to North American comic shops, Trinity #1 was the 7th biggest seller in September 2016. It’s common for #1’s to perform well so it probably wasn’t a surprise for DC that the rest of the first arc placed in the 30’s. After that, the series has dropped steadily in the rankings and hit a low point of 93rd in January 2018. No wonder the series has been cancelled.
Jack Herbert and Tyler Kirkham share the art this issue, which makes for a mixed bag. Robinson’s script offers the opportunity to draw some very varied backgrounds and these all look pretty handsome, partly thanks to Eltaeb’s colours which help the eye to differentiate between the locations and give the Sahara desert a bit of texture. I like how Steve glows under a brightly shining moon and the decision not to ink the Earth in the space scenes is a wise one as it looks blurrier than Superman and the satellite, which creates a sense of distance. Batman’s early scenes take place in Dallas, which we’re reminded of by the occasional glimpse of Reunion Tower, but in every other respect these scenes could have been taking place in any other city.
The faces of the world’s finest in this issue are very inconsistent. At times, Batman looks very cool and Michael Keaton-esque while at others he has a chin shaped like a bum or is in such complete darkness you can’t make out any details. Meanwhile, Superman’s face swings distractingly from looking old and Kuberty, to pubescent, to large with features squashed into only a small part of the face.
In the action scenes, I was impressed with the use of the foreshortening technique and must admit that the Anubis Transformer had a sweet design but Batman vaulting and landing with an onion-skin effect of showing his progression makes for a cluttered panel, especially as the ghosting versions of Bruce are overlapping. Half of a page is given over to an inconsequential explosion and it’s hard to keep track of how the heroes are faring in their individual fights because they’re interspersed and, in Batman’s case, don’t really flow.
• You actually enjoyed the last arc and can’t wait to see what happens next.
• You like very simple storylines.
• You’re sticking with Trinity to the bitter end.
Overall: Even writing a DC series in it’s death throes is a privilege but it’s clear that Robinson doesn’t know or care all that much about these characters. The story is mostly logical but lacks any kind of hook to interest the reader and it just feels like going through the motions each fortnight. ‘The Search for Steve Trevor’ arc is following the template of it’s predecessor so far and justifying the series’ imminent cancellation.