52 weeks. 52 different writers. 2 trade paperbacks or hardcovers a week. Each week I’ll take a look at a different writer and read two different collected editions from within that person’s repertoire to help in the examination of their work. Kurt Busiek is this weeks writer as we take a look at the work he’s done with the biggest heroes within the DCU.
Kurt Busiek has had a storied career, having defining runs on books like Avengers, Astro City, Marvels, and so many more that it’d justify a single article to itself just to talk about them all. Back in 2008, Busiek was tasked with the monumental task of crafting a year long weekly series, Trinity, starring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman for DC Comics. The series was a rousing success and adapted a unique style of storytelling, splitting the book into two halves, replying heavily on the back-up story to help push the narrative for the series.
Trinity Volume 1
Trinity follows Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as they deal with an arcane threat against the DC Universe. The three heroes all gather in Keystone City to touch base with each other following a peculiar dream that they all shared. When several strange things begin to occur across the planet Earth, the sense of connectivity between the three heroes only grows stronger as they try to root out the cause of this most recent disturbance. Their search sends them to seemingly every corner of the Earth as they discover a mystical attack is being launched against them. But how does a tarot card reader, Despero, Hawkman and several other random characters factor into these unknown plans against the Trinity?
Trinity Volume 1 collects the first seventeen issues of the weekly series from 2008 that stars DC’s holy trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The story is told in a unique format for modern comics as each issue is divided into two separate parts, a twelve page story that follows the exploits of the Trinity followed by a ten page story that checks in with other parts of the DC Universe. Kurt Busiek crafts a large scale story that stretches out across the entire tapestry of the DC Universe, drawing in characters from street level vigilantism, to cosmic scale superheroes and even the magically inclined.
When talking about Trinity overall I feel as though it is easiest to talk about the bad before you get to the good, simply because the bad is a glaring part of the book stretches from the start to finish. Although it adapts a unique style of storytelling for comics, relying heavily on using “back up stories” (something that many modern comics lack), the narrative struggles to get off the ground every issue due to having a limited number of pages to tell a story. With the first twelve pages of every issue being about the Trinity, you’re bound to get excited because that’s where the meat of the story lies. The unfortunate truth though, is by the time you get to that twelfth page and start to feel invested, you’re cutoff and transitioned into the ten page back up story in the back half of every issue. The balancing act isn’t kind as the back-up stories don’t actually get interesting until about half way through the book. It’s a true disadvantage to use the last ten pages of the book to talk about characters within the DC Universe that you can’t really invest in.
Now when you examine the two different sets of story per issue on their own, they actually hold up much better. One can only wonder why DC didn’t just combine much of the Trinity into a much more seamless story and only cutaway to the back up stories when necessary for this collected format. The main Trinity story functions well enough on it’s own, keeping you informed plenty well enough along the way. Busiek does a fine job of investing us into the story of the bond between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman over the seventeen issues we spend with them. The further you get into the tale, the more tightly bound they become due to the arcane nature of the attacks against them. You get to watch their personalities dissolve and actually switch amongst each other as Superman begins to take on characteristics of both Wonder Woman and Batman, and so on. It’s fun to see these personality shifts as it shakes up the conventional knowledge you have of these characters as you try to decipher which personality traits someone like Batman is taking on from other characters.
The back-up stories can easily be broken down into three separate stories, with two of them actually connecting together more tightly than the third of the bunch does. You follow Tarot for the first half of the book, the exploits of characters like Nightwing, Robin and Oracle in the second half, while in the last story you follow Hawkman, Gangbuster and the collective DC Universe. The Tarot and Hawkman stories actually serve as parts one and two to each other when you look at them closely while the vigilante section largely functions in its own playground and finds its own way to connect to the remainder of the story. The Tarot story is the weakest of the three as you’re introduced to a character that you can hardly feel an emotional connection to. When you get to the adventures of Nightwing and company you can’t help but pay attention due to the characters’ dynamic natures and general history in relation to the rest of the DC Universe. It’s like an immediate shot into the arm by Busiek who makes these characters fun to following along with.
Speaking of characters, the cast for this book is HUGE. Busiek seemingly uses every single heroic character from DC’s history in this volume. Not all of them have speaking lines but they are certainly there. Although your core cast consists of the Trinity, other characters like Hawkman, Tarot, Green Lantern, and Gangbuster have fairly significant roles to be played. Even beyond these characters, the Justice League from this time period factored in fairly regularly into the story, serving as solid back up for the group of heroes. In terms of villains, your primary three who are lashing out against the Trinity, Morgan Le Fey, Enigma, and Despero, are all uniquely motivated in their goals and have a few shocking secrets that only make reading this volume more interesting.
Collects: Trinity #1-17
Best Character: Enigma
Best Line Of Dialogue/Caption: “Maybe it doesn’t like concrete?” – Robin
Best Scene/Moment: Earth 3 invasion – Issue 12
Best Issue: Issue 16. Issue 16 is the winner because it largely concludes the first act of this massive, 52 issue story. You watch as the Trinity finally comes to blows with their mysterious foes and tries to thwart their plan that would unhinge the entire DC Universe. It’s thickly plotted, action packed and tons of fun to watch unfold.
Why You Should Read It: Kurt Busiek plays with some different concepts and tries to take modern storytelling in a new direction with Trinity. The result isn’t always award winning but ultimately you’re left with a story you can’t help but invest yourself into because of how massive in scope it really is. You’re exposed to so many different areas of the DC Universe that it’s hard to walk away without feeling attached to one character and what happens to them.