This issue, when Diana says, ‘What a song and dance. Will you get to the point?’ I couldn’t help but feel the same way. Trinity #21 shares most of the flaws of the preceding issues and adds more by perplexingly juxtaposing two timelines.
On the opening page, we flash back to the end of issue #19 when the heroes of Skartaris were congratulating the Trinity on their triumph. We join three separate conversations at a halfway point so we have no idea what the characters are talking about. We do find out later as we revisit each of these conversations but for an opening page, it sure is a dumb idea. There’s no promise that we’ll find out later what the heroes are discussing so it just comes across as purposefully oblique. I can only assume that Robinson is trying to fill pages any way he can.
The next time we jump back in time, there’s an awfully clumsy exchange between the Trinity in which they inform one another that they were remembering the end of their last adventure. It’s totally unnecessary; we’re familiar with the language of comics and know that flashbacks happen sometimes. There doesn’t need to be an excuse.
Later on, Batman, in the past timeline, says ‘Look. There.’ and in the next panel we see Superman in the present saying, ‘Look! There!’ It scrambles the reader’s brain because the environments they’re standing in aren’t very different so when a reveal comes at the end of the issue, you can’t be sure which timeline it’s happening in until you’ve re-read it a couple of times. Plus, the device is forced because when we return to the past, we discover that Batman wasn’t looking at anything interesting at all.
As if the chronology of this issue weren’t confounding enough, Batman also refers to dealing with the Monster Men as part of ‘an early case.’ If he’s talking about ‘The Giants of Hugo Strange’ (1940) then I’m pretty sure that’s not canon anymore. If he’s talking about ‘Night of the Monster Men’ (2016) then that doesn’t qualify as an early case.
As one door closes, another opens. While Robinson may not be firing on all cylinders in terms of structure, he has made improvements to his work on the characters’ voices. Clark is upbeat and friendly, Bruce is terse and suspicious, and Travis and Tara speak in a formal voice appropriate to their fantasy realm. After fighting Steve (who was transformed into an ogre in issue #20), Diana comes down with a bad case of telling-not-showing, informing us that Deimos is toying with them, but Robinson lands it alright by imbuing her speech with the determination we’ve come to associate with the Amazon princess.
- A bit of belated intrigue is added when it’s revealed that the Morgans have lied to the Trinity again as they’ve somehow managed to follow them to a mysterious portal between Papua, New Guinea and Skartaris. Batman blames Superman but it’s never explained why he thinks the man of steel is responsible.
- What is Deimos’ motivation for the capture and torture of our heroes? If this doesn’t get explained in the final issue, I’ll be annoyed.
As with the last issue of Trinity, the fluctuation between two artists leads to some inconsistent face work but there are also inconsistencies within individual panels; Zircher draws a dramatic splash of Wonder Woman fighting Steve complete with impact lines and flying debris but the overall picture is diminished by Diana’s gaze being focussed elsewhere, while Kirkham paints an atmospheric sky over Skartaris but the army marching under it look like a scratchy pencil draft.
Elsewhere, both artists are on better form. The initial fight with the ogres flows organically and spotlights each of the Trinity’s strengths. The eventual arrival of Deimos is improved by Kirkham’s Mephistophelean rendering of his long face, pupil-less eyes and large, arch eyebrows.
- You like to be confused.
- You want to see the Trinity vs Some Ogres, a fight which is mercifully not just a montage this time.
- You’re a fan of Skartaris’ court of scantily-clad warriors.
Well, yes it will be the end of Trinity.
Overall: The messy penultimate issue of the series highlights the absence of an actual story by paying frequent, inconsequential, bewildering visits to the past.