Trinity #1 - The Annotated Edition

Wonder Woman in Trinity

Welcome to the first set of Trinity annotations!

Before we get started, I have to point out that this is the third DC Comics series to use the Trinity name. The first, DC Universe: Trinity, was a 1993 miniseries which crossed over into Green Lantern, The Darkstars, and L.E.G.I.O.N. It aimed to settle the jurisdictions of those cosmic police forces. The second was a 2003 miniseries by Matt Wagner (more properly called Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity); and it told the story of the Trinitarians’ first team-up.

Anyway, without further ado…

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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1

LEAD STORY

“Boys And Their Games…”; written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.

In Brief: A disembodied entity rages through space, screaming Let Me Out! Our eponymous trio meets for breakfast to discuss their dreams of same, and learn that they may be the only ones having these dreams. Back in their own hometowns, they are each attacked in different ways.

Page 1

– Like last month’s DC Universe #0, Trinity begins in the distant reaches of Outer Space.

Pages 2-3

– Also like DCU #0, Trinity #1 features a disembodied spirit. However, there the similarites appear to end.

– Speaking of disembodied cosmic entities who tend to bellow, this sequence reminded me of the opening of JLA/Avengers, also written by Kurt Busiek.

Page 4

– This issue’s primary location is Keystone City, first seen in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). It is the home of the original Flash, Jay Garrick, and the current Flash, Wally West. Most recently, writer Geoff Johns located Keystone in Kansas, across the Missouri River from Central City, Missouri. Thus, the palm trees at the edge of the pier are probably not indigenous. Keystone is an important site in the history of DC’s Multiverse, but that’s not an immediate concern for this story.

– I believe this is the first appearance of “Cheynie” and the Keystone Coffee Pier.

– “Gotham” is, of course, Gotham City, one of DC’s fictional cities inspired by New York City; and the home of skillionaire Bruce “Batman” Wayne. Just as Keystone is Jay Garrick’s home, so Gotham was the home of Jay’s peer and colleague, Alan “Green Lantern” Scott. Gotham is located on the East Coast of the United States, probably close to DC’s version of New York. Batman’s home was identified as New York early on (cf. Detective Comics #30, August 1939), so Gotham City was first named in Batman #4 (Winter 1940).

– “The Daily Planet,” a great metropolitan newspaper, is the employer of Clark “Superman” Kent.

– “Metropolis” is DC’s other New York-inspired city, also located somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. The “Metropolis Monarchs” are one of two Major League Baseball franchises located in the city of Metropolis (the other being the Metropolis Meteors). Metropolis was first named in Action Comics #16, September 1939.

– If “Boys And Their Games…” is a reference to anything other than page 5, I don’t recognize it.

Page 5

– And here are two of our three protagonists, in civilian garb. Bruce “Batman” Wayne was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). Clark “Superman” Kent was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938).

– “Lois” refers to Lois Lane, also created by Siegel and Shuster for Action #1, and also a reporter for the Daily Planet. She is married to Clark. The two were engaged in Superman vol. 2 #50 (December 1990); Lois learned Clark’s secret in Action Comics #662 (February 1991); and they were married in Superman: The Wedding Album (December 1996).

– “Bumpy over the Alleghenies” seems to confirm that Metropolis is northeast of Keystone, and that Keystone is in the Midwest. Naturally, Clark would not have needed an aircraft to fly to Keystone.

– As others have pointed out, Bruce and Clark’s ordering styles offer clues to their personalities: Bruce as the control freak, and Clark more mild-mannered.

Page 6

– Now the trinity is complete. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston and first appeared in All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941). The current version of the character first appeared in Wonder Woman vol. 2 #1 (February 1987). Her given name is, simply, Diana, and she is a princess — the daughter of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons of Themyscira. However, since Wonder Woman vol. 3 #1 (August 2006), she has acquired the “private” identity of Diana Prince, special agent for the federal Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO). Like Superman, her glasses are purely part of her disguise. She wears white in homage to her early-1970s “secret agent” period, when she renounced her powers and Amazon heritage and became an Emma Peel-esque character.

– “Practically transforming yourselves” is perhaps ironic, since both Batman and Superman merely change clothes in order to fight evil. As Clark notes on page 7, Diana loses her powers when out of costume — excuse me, “ceremonial battle armor.” This development, also new with Wonder Woman vol. 3, is an homage to the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter.

Page 7

Transformation appears to be the theme of the issue: each Trinitarian sees the Cosmic Extraterrestrial Intelligence differently, just as Morgaine Le Fay and Enigma will see the Trinity in different forms in the backup.

– Ever since the “meta-gene” was discovered ‘round about Invasion! #2 (February 1989), “metahuman” has been probably the preferred DC term for superhumans of any ethical stripe.

Page 8

– The fellow in the winged cowl is the Flash (Wally West), the Fastest Man Alive. Wally is the third man to assume the Flash name, having succeeded his uncle Barry Allen. Jay Garrick is still active, although he has gone through various periods of retirement. Like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Wally is a member of the Justice League of America. Wally first appeared as Barry’s sidekick Kid Flash in The Flash vol. 1 #110 (Dec. 1959-Jan. 1960), and declared himself the third Flash in Crisis On Infinite Earths #12 (March 1986). Wally is a contemporary of Dick Grayson, the first Robin, and therefore some 10-12 years younger than Batman and Superman.

– The girl in yellow and the boy in red are, respectively, Wally’s children Jai West and Iris West. Both can control their molecules, Jai to “bulk up” and Iris to pass through solid matter. However, both age in uncontrollable spurts. Jai and Iris (whose heroic personae were created by Mark Waid and Daniel Acuna) were born in The Flash vol. 2 #225 (October 2005), first appeared as toddlers in Justice League of America vol. 2 #10 (August 2007), and first appeared in costume in All Flash vol. 2 #1 (September 2007). Their mother, who has no superpowers, is Linda Park West, also mentioned by Wally on page 8.

– The monster is Clayface, a shape-shifting Batman villain. There have been seven Clayfaces, three of whom are dead or destroyed and three who don’t quite fit this issue’s description. Therefore, this looks like the fifth Clayface, Cassius Payne, the son of Clayface III (Preston Payne) and Clayface IV (Sondra Fuller). However, since Clayfaces can be created by various combinations of circumstance, it could also be someone entirely new. The look of Clayface is based on the character’s design from “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Page 9

– “The chalice” isn’t familiar to me.

Page 10

– No annotations.

Page 11

– “Iron Heights” is Keystone City’s ultra-high-security supervillain prison. It first appeared in the Flash: Iron Heights special (August 2001).

– “Combines Arena” is the home ice of the Keystone Combines, Keystone City’s hockey team. (I can never remember whether the Combines are supposed to be an NHL, AHL, or IHL franchise.)

– Bruce mentions “Jordan, Queen, Stewart, Lance, [and] Hall.” These are current and former Justice League members Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen, Dinah Laurel “Black Canary” Lance, Carter “Hawkman” Hall, and Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart. Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance were married in the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special (November 2007), but clearly Dinah has not taken Ollie’s last name.

– Diana’s “oracular” reference is understandable, since the Amazons’ home of Themyscira had its own oracle, Menalippe.

Page 12

– Superman is flying back to Metropolis, as shown by the globe atop the Daily Planet building.

– “JLA communicator“: Every Justice League member receives two items upon induction: a signal device for communications, and a “golden key” which permits entry into the League’s headquarters. See, e.g., Justice League of America vol. 1 #4 (April-May 1961).

– Batman flies the Batplane through Gotham City. This Batplane looks very similar to the Batwing designed by Anton Furst for Tim Burton’s first Batman movie (1989).

Page 13

– Diana is landing at what appears to be the Washington, DC embassy of her island home of Themyscira. Following the events of Infinite Crisis, and during the year chronicled in 52, the Amazons left this plane of existence and abandoned their embassies. After the end of that year, the Amazons returned in force, waging war against the United States for its government’s treatment of Wonder Woman. Therefore, it’s a little surprising to see a Themysciran embassy relatively intact, but the rest of Washington took a beating too….

Page 14

– No annotations.

Page 15

– “Great Krypton!” (referring, of course, to Superman’s long-lost home planet) fell out of fashion as a Super-epithet during the 1980s and 1990s, when Superman didn’t feel as connected to Kryptonian culture. However, the pendulum appears to have swung back.

* * *

SECOND STORY

“In The Morrows To Come”; plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Scott McDaniel, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brousseau; Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.

In Brief: Morgaine Le Fay and someone who’s probably not the Riddler use a series of visions to find the third member of their own Trinity.

Page 16/story page 1

Castle Branek is the setting for the first arc of Jack Kirby’s The Demon, and has hosted other Demon stories through the years. I’m unaware of the “fiery explosion of unknown origin” which destroyed it. There is apparently an actual castle Branek.

Page 17/2

Morgaine Le Fay is Jack Kirby’s version of the Arthurian character, and is therefore Arthur’s sister, Merlin’s nemesis, and Mordred’s mother. She first appeared in The Demon vol. 1 #1 (August-September 1972). Since Etrigan the Demon served Merlin, Etrigan and Morgaine don’t get along.

Rich of Comic By Comic pegs “Enigma” (so named by Morgan on page 19/4, and “officially” on 28/14) as some version of Edward Nashton, a/k/a E. Nigma, a/k/a “The Riddler.”

Page 18/3

– In Arthurian legend, “Accolon” was Morgan le Fay’s lover.

Page 19/4

– “Sub-Plasmic Heuro-Elective Retribution Engine”: yeah, sounds sufficiently techno-magical. Too bad it doesn’t spell SHIELD. (That was one of the more clever parts of the Iron Man movie….)

Page 20/5

– “See anyone you recognize?” I know Morgaine fought Superman and the Demon in Action Comics #587 (April 1987), and battled Wonder Woman in a pre-Crisis story which may or may not be back in continuity. She probably fought Batman too at some point, since Batman and the Demon tended to cross paths; but I can’t remember or find any such story.

Page 21/6

– It may be worth noting that the dialogue of both trinities’ “Wonder Women” provides the titles for their respective stories.

Page 22/7

– This looks like Tarot, one of at least two new characters created by Kurt Busiek for this series.

– Some appropriate insights from Tarotpedia:

Strength can signify the courage it takes to conquer your fears and to hold your chin up in the face of hardship. This kind of strength isn’t necessarily forceful – it can just as well be the voice of tolerance and calm. Carole Sédillot writes in Ombres et Lumières du Tarot: “[F]rom this Arcanum emanates an inner force that allows the initiate to be the absolute master of his passions and his energies.”

[Justice] stands for fairness, impartiality, balance and legal issues. Justice serves as a reminder that every action has its consequences, and signifies responsibilities and difficult choices. You may find yourself trying to do the right thing, holding on to what you believe in or having to face the truth.

The Devil indicates any sort of addiction or obsession, something with which we can tend to get “carried away”, to the point of losing control over our actions. It signifies sexual desires, uncontrolled energy, running amok. The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot associates this card with the idea of the “wild ride” or “hoard”.

The Devil may also represent the ‘other’ appearing as one’s own ‘Shadow’ (Jung), i.e. repressed negative side, more readily perceived in others than ourselves. In relationships (or coupled with a court card), it may show unhealthy co-dependency, a situation better avoided.

Page 22/8

– No annotations.

Page 23/9

– The caped woman is Speedy II, a/k/a Mia Dearden. Mia was created by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester and first appeared in Green Arrow vol. 3 #2 (May 2001). Hester drew and Judd Winick wrote GA v. 3 #44 (January 2005), the issue where Mia became Speedy. The first Speedy, Roy Harper Jr., was Green Arrow’s longtime sidekick from More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941) to New Titans #99 (July 1993), and currently serves in the Justice League as Red Arrow.

– The bearded guy is, naturally, Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp for More Fun #73. Since Green Arrow and Speedy were described as Batman and Robin knock-offs for most of the Golden and Silver Ages, it’s perhaps only fitting that they’ve taken Batman and Robin’s places in this vision.

Ragman, a/k/a Rory Regan, was created by Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert and first appeared in Ragman #1 (August/September 1976). His costume is made up of the souls of the damned, from whom he can draw power. To the best of my knowledge he doesn’t have a boy sidekick in regular continuity. I would speculate that this Ragman and “Rag-Boy” are actually versions of Batman and Robin, but the presence of Lois as a Nancy Grace-style talk-show host suggests that the familiar Trinity has been taken entirely out of the picture.

Page 24/10

– Like Tarot, Konvikt also appears to have been created by Busiek for this series. (During his tenure as Superman writer, Busiek introduced the alien antagonist Subjekt-17, so perhaps my dream that the Crime Syndicate will adopt the more metal spelling of “Kryyme Syndiikaat” may yet come true. But I digress….)

– I presume Graak is, like Konvikt, new for this series. However, “Graak” is also the name of a “militaristic and aggressive Ewok.”

Page 25/11

– “A whirlpool” might be an allusion to the Hand of Creation spinning all reality into existence, as seen in Green Lantern vol. 2 #40 (October 1965), Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 (October 1985), etc.

Page 26/12

– No annotations.

Page 27/13

Despero, an alien tyrant from the planet Kalanor, was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky to fight the Justice League in Justice League of America vol. 1 #1 (October 1960). His current appearance dates back to JLofAv1 #251 (June 1986), which was written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Luke McDonnell. He possesses tremendous physical strength and formidable telepathic powers.

Page 28/14

– No annotations.

Page 29/15

– I’m guessing this is a better look at our friend from pages 2-3?

* * *

… And we’re done, at least for week #1! I’m looking forward to next week — how ’bout you?

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