Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity 1-3
Superhero comics are a mixed bag for me. There is such a fine line between fine works and pap rubbish. Rubbish that is exactly what the non-comic reading public thinks when they imagine what comics are. Comic artists and writers have been working hard to move soups from the corny and childish golden age into comics that have more to say to the adult reader. Yet soups by definition have to be kind of corny and childish, and no amount of modernisation can really remove that without drastically changing them.
This leads to some of the best soup comics being post modern re-imagings of what superheros are. The most famous example of this is Watchmen, which for all its greatness is at its core a distorted mirror of typical superhero comics. Still with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman the writers do not have the luxury of changing them in some kind of re-imagining, unless the alternative setting is the point of the book. No alteration to the costumes and setting, or whatever to try and bring these large characters into some kind of believable reality from the often naive and simplistic origins they were birthed from so long ago while retaining their classic shape is allowed.
So it is that Superhero comics can often be so terrible that you wonder why you even read comics. For every stack I read, only a few stir me. For only a few are able to walk this line of classic cartoonish revelry in the childish absurdity of what Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are yet still be able to use them to paint a book with deeper meanings and interesting interactions that can engross an older mind.
Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is what I would consider to be right on that line. This is a great example of a book that is true to the nature of what a soup comic is, without apology for its ridiculousness yet still, without compromising that true nature is able to bring a more adult narrative to us.
Much of this is done by focusing the text on interactions between the characters. The narrative switches from a narrator to internal dialogues split among the three main characters. This is done in a way that allows us to really see past the actions. Superman may be catching a plane on fire in the panels but he is thinking about something more. This "something more" is what makes this comic stand out among its peers. We feel so much more connected to them and understanding of their feelings. This allows interplay between the characters to really shine. There is some fantastic back and forth dialogue that is sure to raise a smile, dialogue set up and put into perspective through these internal narratives.
Even so, it dose not skimp on the core of what a soup comic is. In our hearts we all want Superman to be super, Batman to be sneakily one step ahead and Wonder Woman to be awe inspiring. This comic delivers all that, and again much of this is though the narration as each character becomes aware of the greatness of the others as they get to know each other. Seeing Joe Blog being impressed by Wonder Woman has no meaning, but Superman being impressed?
There are some problems in this one though. One is just a simple typography thing. In more recent comics that have adopted this idea the internal narration use colour coded boxes, Say Yellow for Wonder Woman, Black for Batman and Blue for Superman, in this book unfortunately there is no such visual distinction. Sometimes you need to re-read a bit to work out who is thinking what if the context is not clear or if it is the 4th voice, the narrator.
The other thing is that as a Wonder Woman fan I felt while she did some cool stuff, she is a little under utilised in this story. I am trying hard to keep as much as possible a surprise, but I felt that much of the series could have been done with out her. She isn't exactly shoe horned in, but I left with a slight feeling that I wished she had a more epic moment than she got, moments on par with the men. These two things are small grips though.
The art is off the chain awesome. I think it is telling that they went for a more cartoonish style. It fits perfectly the clash of styles between the story, the superheros and the words. I miss the "art" in comics. Why is it suddenly so that everything needs to be digital painted into some kind of sudo-photo-real look. This comic has stylisation in the art that I found incredibly charming.
There are some adult concepts of rape that I felt a little out of place in such a classically fun book that while are completely justifiable in the story would make this one a comic I wouldn't show my 10 year old just yet. Still, the story is in fact very good. It splits between the three characters giving each there time to shine as well as showing us how a super-villain behaves, in all his "bbwaahaha I will destroy the world and rule the ashes" way. Yet, like how the heroes are handled, it works and it is fun. Your not sitting there going "this is stupid". You are going "this is awesome" the total re-donk-culous idiocy of it completely escapes you as you accept reality as a given allowing you to focus on the tale itself.
* Highly Recommended *