The Trinity Sessions: Kurt Busiek on Trinity #1
BEST SHOTS EXTRA: Trinity #1
Regular readers know that we’ve been following the gestation of the Trinity series with a series of running chats with the creators. We’ve spoken to Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, and Fabian Nicieza previously, and we’ll be talking to Art Thibert soon. On the occasion of the release of the first issue, we caught up with Kurt Busiek to talk about, among other things, his characterization of the Big Three, Flash family matters, and what’s appealing to him and others about those particular villains.
Newsarama: Trinity #1 is out now. How far into the overall series are you personally at this point? Does the actual release make a difference in any way right now (provoke adjustments; make you reconsider any elements, etc.?).
Kurt Busiek: I'm working on #15 at the moment, which isn't quite as far as I'd hoped to be at this point, but it's got us in solid schedule shape.
The actual release -- well, I haven't seen a copy yet, but knowing it's out and seeing people react to it gives me a sense that the clock's ticking, and the treadmill's rolling, and we'd better keep moving, and moving fast. We haven't had to reconsider anything yet, but then, there's only one issue out so far, and I haven't even seen it yet.
NRAMA: Let's focus a bit on your character work in the first issue. You establish, fairly rapidly, the fundamental differences between the characters. How crucial is that to the process?
KB: It's pretty crucial to this story, at least. It's a series that focuses on who the Trinity are, to themselves, to each other and to the world, so we'd better start off by showing the readers who they are, and what's distinctive about them, right? Even if it's only to set the foundation, the audience needs to know where we're coming form.
NRAMA: The handling of identities is even referenced in the chapter title, "Boys and Their Games"; Diana seems a bit amused at Bruce and Clark. Is that because she has ostensibly less to lose with a compromised identity?
KB: No, it's because their behavior's odd, from her perspective, but they're friends of hers, so she's not going to lecture them about it or anything. She's just amused by how much they change when they switch identities, when she doesn't change her attitude or approach much at all. She does understand why they do it, but that doesn't mean she can't find it funny. She knows them well as Superman and Batman, but seeing them as Clark and Bruce is something she's not as familiar with, particularly not out in public like this.
NRAMA: In terms of the dreams, as each member of the trio recounted their perceptions, I immediately thought, "Satan!" Were you shooting for that kind of reaction (in essence, it's sensible on a symbolic level for a "trinity" to battle The Big Evil), or were counting on the readers to take away their own interpretation?
KB: Satan? That's one I hadn't considered, to be honest. I thought Wonder Woman's description sounded like Prometheus, or Loki when he's chained up under the dripping fans of the Midgard Serpent, but I hadn't thought of Satan, so I guess I can't say I intended that reaction. It's cool, though.
And I wasn't so much expecting the reader to draw a conclusion, but to look at it as hints, as three different views of a mystery.
NRAMA: Let's turn for a moment from the three to the first guest-stars: Wally and the kids. It seems to me that you got them exactly right in terms of attitude and interplay. What's your perception of Wally and his family, and is he the best super-hero dad in the DCU?
KB: Glad you liked them. I like Wally -- it always feels right to me to play him as kind of a motormouth, his mind always three or four steps ahead of whatever he's saying, and the words just tumbling out. He feels like a young, enthusiastic guy -- not a kid, but not as experienced or settled as Bruce, Clark and Diana. So he's a lot of fun to write, there's lots of energy there. The kids are fun, too, but then, I have kids myself, so it's easy to project that kind of attitude onto a very fledgling superhero.
As for "best superhero dad" -- you say something like that, and I think of someone fairly sobersided, like Reed Richards or Dr. Benton Quest. Maybe that's just my sense of what a media dad is, from my generation. I think of Wally as someone younger than that archetype, very much winging it, not sure how to be a parent or whether he's doing it right, but with a fair amount of confidence and -- after all, he's the Flash -- an expectation that if he makes any mistakes, he can course-correct and fix it, whatever it is. A kind of seat-of-the-pants dad, much like he's a kind of seat-of-the-pants hero. He's not articulate about it, but he's goodhearted and considerate, and that means a lot.
NRAMA: Do you have a rough estimate of "when" this story is taking place? Since so many goings-on at DC right now roll back into Final Crisis and such, is there a notion of where "Trinity" fits in that regard?
KB: My standard answer is that when you're trying to figure out when two comics stories are taking place with respect to one another, the best time to do it is once they're both over, and you have all the facts in front of you. If nothing else, it cuts down on the "Character X is still alive in Project Y, so he must survive Crossover Z, and therefore nothing in it can possibly be important!" syndrome.
So to put it simply: Trinity happens either before, after, or in and around the other big events of the DC Universe, but it won't tie in to them so it's not all that important to know it while you're reading any one issue. It stands beside them, rather than getting tangled up with them. We are taking care of things, continuity-wise, though, and when it's all over, you'll be able to figure it out, if you really want to.
NRAMA: In a previous interview, I believe I asked you to heap praise on Bagley. Having now seen what Bagley and Thibert did with the first story in the first issue, how excited were you by those pages?
KB: Hey, keep in mind I've seen a dozen more issues already. And as exciting as it was to see #1 -- I thought Mark really captured the characters well, particularly Bruce Wayne's abruptly-changing moods and Wally West's casual breeziness -- I know that as time goes on, both Mark and Art get more comfortable with the characters and with the collaboration, and it gets even better. The latest pages are really astounding.
NRAMA: You're also plotting with Fabian the "second stories" that he's scripting. Originally, it seemed that those would be "back-ups", but that's actually a parallel narrative. When did that idea come into play?
KB: The only reason they're called "back-ups" is because they're in the back. People assumed a lot from the term, but to my mind, a back-up in any story that runs after the lead story. In this case, the back-ups (or second chapters, or whatever) are part of the main story -- they're just the part where we focus on stuff being done by other characters than the Trinity. That's been the case in Fabian's and my mind from very early on, but it does seem to be taking others by surprise -- even our editors were surprised by how much the back-chapters connected to the lead as we went along.
NRAMA: You have two fairly novel picks as opposite numbers with Morgaine Le Fey and Enigma. What appeals to you and Fabian about Morgaine in particular, and is Enigma a character that readers already know?
KB: I like Morgaine because she's got that freaky Kirby-designed mask. That, and she's ideal for our story -- she's mystic, she's legendary, she's a woman of the past (rather than, say, a man of tomorrow) and she's extremely ambitious and powerful. But I'll admit, I probably wouldn't have remembered her and wanted to write her all these years if not for that freaky-ass mask.
As for Enigma, he's been seen before, but you'll be learning a lot more about him in Trinity that anyone ever knew from his previous appearances. Which were not under the name "Enigma," as it happens.
NRAMA: This goes to involvement by other characters: if Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are on a case, what stops it from being a JLA matter? Granted, the other Leaguers didn't have the dreams, but what makes the Three say, "We'll take it" instead of saying, "Well, it's our dream, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to have GL and Flash at our backs"?
KB: They will call in the JLA as needed -- the League is around in #3-7, and then they come back in #10 for another while. So the Trinity will call them in when they think it's appropriate. But the League is a league -- a loose alliance of individuals -- and not a always-together team that takes on any menace. All of these guys have solo adventures, and they have team-up adventures -- Superman and Batman, in particular, team up fairly often without anyone asking "Why don't they call in the League?" So adding Wonder Woman to that doesn't mean they have to make it a JLA case.
It's their case, and they'll deal with it as it unfolds. But when they want GL and Flash at they're backs, GL and Flash will be there. So will a lot of other characters, in the League and outside it, as well.
NRAMA: Can you give us a bit of set-up going forward?
KB: Wouldn't you rather find out by reading it?
Okay, okay. In upcoming weeks, you'll see the arrival of Konvikt on Earth, you'll meet Tarot and find out why she's important, you'll see more visionary dreams (well, at least one more), learn some cosmic DC history, get a big smackdown in a small New England town, a bizarre injury to one of the Trinity, the JLA's werewolf files, roles to play for Hawkman and Gangbuster, and more.
Thanks again to Kurt Busiek. Trinity #2 arrives in stores Wednesday.