The Trinity Sessions - Busiek on issue #6
Preview: Trinity #6
Welcome back, Trinitors! Trinitites? Trinidad and Tobago? Uh, whatever. At any rate, Kurt Busiek’s back to talk about Trinity #6. We’ve got pausing, we’ve got reflecting, and we’ve got Hawkman leg-breaking. Let’s go.
Newsarama: This issue actually opens with Rita. Should we interpret this as a note of her increasing importance?
Kurt Busiek: That's one way of looking at it, I guess. But she's always been important -- you're just seeing her story come into more direct contact with the Trinity, at present.
I don't think of the lead chapters as "the important chapters" and the back-chapters as "unimportant," though -- they're all part of the story, and there'll be important stuff introduced in both halves of the book, and important developments in both. Things will flow from the back to the front or the front to the back as needed -- we've even got an issue we're working on now where it may work out that none of the Trinity are in the lead chapter (though their situation will be very important to it, even in absentia), while the back-chapter centers on Batman.
It's all a balancing game, and I think it probably works out that the stuff we want to lead with, to set the tone, goes up front, while other events simmer and bubble in the back. But they're no less important for all that.
NRAMA: Wonder Woman spells out the iconic nature of the Trinity. Do any of the three of them spend a lot of time pondering their own significance when it's not germane to a case?
KB: Probably not, I'd say, which is why they spend some time analyzing it out here. Wonder Woman hasn't spelled it all out -- she's just thrown out a bunch of possibilities. Superman's interested in the ideas and what they mean, and Batman -- well, Batman's probably long had well-worked-out thoughts about how the three of them relate to the world and to each other, but they're more pragmatic than metaphysical.
Beyond that -- I can see Superman realizing how important he is in the eyes of the world, but not spending a lot of time pondering it or focusing on it. He's got things to do, and he doesn't do it to be important -- he's important because he does it. Lois probably has spent a great deal of time pondering it, though.
Wonder Woman, who is supposed to play a symbolic role in the world as well as a physical one, has probably spent more time thinking about it than the others, which is part of why she takes point here. But that doesn't mean she's thought it all through.
NRAMA: Diana also notes that Batman "walls himself off". While it's easy to see how some people have the perception, here's a guy that has a large group of allies and followers (Nightwing, Robin, Alfred, etc.). How do we reconcile his loner nature with his paternal/collaborative nature?
KB: Diana doesn't say he's a loner. She says his focus is so thoroughly on the mission that there's not enough left over for long-term romantic relationships, which is not the same thing. And the relationships you name, while they're all close relationships, aren't romantic one, and are very, very tied-in to his mission. Batman's closest ties are to his life as Batman, and he's integrated them into his life as Bruce, some better than others. People who don't have a role to play in his life as Batman get shunted off to the side, and tend to fall out of his life on an ongoing basis. Clark, meanwhile -- most of his close ties stem from his life as Clark, with the ties that are primarily about the mission usually in second place. And Wonder Woman has had problems in the past with ties at all -- her ties to Donna and Cassie are not as close as Bruce's to Dick and Tim (perhaps because Donna set the pattern back in the Silver Age by becoming a character at all in Teen Titans; before that, Wonder Girl was actually Diana at a younger age), her friendships have seemed close but temporary (again, perhaps because Wonder Woman writers tend to shuffle out the old supporting cast and shuffle in a new one), and even in the League, most of the membership (not Bruce and Clark, but the others) often seem in awe of her, rather than seeming like close friends.
But all that's getting farther afield from the question. I don't think there's a conflict between the idea that he walls himself off emotionally and the fact that he's built a large familial network around himself. It's not as if virtually every member of that extended network hasn't pointed out that Bruce walls himself off emotionally -- some of them pointing it out many, many times over the years.
Bruce surrounds himself with people who are included in his mission, but walls himself off from even them -- that doesn't mean he doesn't have emotional ties, but that he seems to work hard at pretending he doesn't. Sometimes he's got to be kicked in the head to get him to admit it.
I think reconciling that is an interesting struggle for Bruce, but we as the audience don't have to resolve it -- we can see it. His romantic relationships (even the most passionate, like Talia and Selina) tend to founder and fail over the mission, because the mission comes first, and his surrogate family gets cranky with him often about his resistance to opening up. When he does open up -- usually to Tim or Dick -- it's treated as a rare event.
NRAMA: Rita's visions of the Trinity are very interesting (and well-rendered by Bagley and Thibert). We have to note that Bruce is a blank slate in his own vision. Is that owed to the long-held notion that Batman is the "real guy" while Bruce is the "mask"?
KB: No, it's that Rita doesn't know he's Bruce, so her image of him out of costume is faceless. You'll note that in the Superman page, Clark, Lois and Jimmy are faceless too. She knows certain attributes of them as people, but doesn't know who they really are.
NRAMA: I like that Diana also acknowledges that she's had attractions to both Superman and Batman. Speaking hypothetically, would Diana and Clark make a good match? Diana and Bruce?
KB: It's an interesting question, one that's occupied comics fans for generations. Personally, I tend to be in the camp that thinks Superman/Wonder Woman works better than Batman/Wonder Woman, but I can see why the Bruce-Diana fans like their chosen pairing.
Both have advantages -- while Bruce's two strongest romances have foundered over the fact that at heart, Selina and Talia are "bad girls," and will inevitably be drawn into some sort of clash with the mission, Wonder Woman's clearly a hero, so it's unlikely they'd have much of a clash over that. And they both know what it's like to be called away to emergencies, so they wouldn't bitch at each other about that. But in the end, I think Wonder Woman would want more emotional availability than Bruce is willing to give, and I think Bruce's effectiveness in his mission depends on him being driven -- emotional satisfaction might take away his edge. I think Bruce is fated to be a workaholic, and any woman who'd make a long term bond with him would have to accept that. I don't think Diana would; for all she understands that the mission takes first place with him, she doesn't want to be in second.
Clark and Diana have that whole "two modern demigods" appeal going for them as a potential couple, but I think there'd be a problem in that for Clark, rooted in the ideas brought up here, that his circle of loved ones tends to come from his private life, not his public life. He craves -- and seeks out -- ties to humanity, to normal, everyday, "street-level" life. With Wonder Woman, he wouldn't need to do that, but I don't think he'd be easily able to abandon it, either. I think a Clark-Diana relationship might work well for Diana, but be troubling to Clark.
But you never know -- analyzing romances that haven't had a chance to be seriously tried is fraught with peril, so maybe those predictions are completely wrong. But the course of superhero life never did run smooth, so whatever happened, you can guarantee there'd be some sort of trouble. Whether they'd overcome it or not, who can say?
I will say that the question of those two relationships has not come up for the last time in TRINITY, though I doubt anyone would be able to guess ahead of time how we're going to deal with it.
NRAMA: The first story ends with Rita's abduction. From a writer's standpoint, how important to you is the idea of a cliffhanger? Is it more important in a story of this nature (that is, weekly)?
KB: I think cliffhangers can be a lot of fun, but of course whether you us them or not varies from story to story. I've written a lot of single-issue stories, and I think I'm pretty good at endings, so the more cliffhangers I write, the fewer endings I get to do.
But I think they serve a weekly book well, and so do Fabian, Mike Carlin and Dan Didio, all of whom talked a lot about cliffhangers while we were shaping the story. So we all like the idea for TRINITY, and I think you'll see a lot of cliffhangers as we go along. It seems to be something we're all on the same page on, rather than something we had to fight over.
NRAMA: The second story opens with Hawkman and Nocturna. First thing's first: what's your take on Hawkman, a character that has been through several iterations in recent years?
KB: As big a fan of Joe Kubert's artwork as I am, I never warmed to the Silver age Hawkman -- the idea of an alien police officer who studied human police tactics by using ancient weapons to fight crime just never added up for me. But I know many readers love that version. Even back then, I liked the Golden Age Hawkman, because the idea of a reincarnated Egyptian prince using ancient weapons hangs together much better, and the whole hawk-Horus connection works for me better than an alien planet with "hawk-police" on it.
So to my mind, Geoff John's revamp on Hawkman was about as good as it gets -- even before his run began, Karl Kesel had mentioned to me that he sees Hawkman as the mid-point between Superman and Conan, and I thought that was a really great idea. The nobility of a Superman combined with the raw edge of a sword-and-sorcery hero struck me as the perfect way to play Hawkman, and that's largely what Geoff did. The first 25 issues of that series were the best book DC had going, when it came out -- Rags Morales brought it to life beautifully, and Geoff found a great balance between superheroes, pulp-style adventure and mythic scope. And the serial doomed romance gave the book a great heart.
So that became "my" Hawkman, and I was delighted when we got to use him, though Fabian's done more character stuff with him than I have. But it all makes him a distinctive, memorable character with bags and bags of presence.
NRAMA: Ah, Nocturna. Fabian mentioned we'd be running into her in an interview we did a few months back. Have universe-shaking events affected her history at all, or does she still have the same significance to Batman and Jason Todd?
KB: Um...I don't know?
I'm sure that given the revamps of Jason's past, it means revamps for Nocturna's as well, but they don't really come up in TRINITY, so we don't have to worry about it. It would be interesting, though, for the modern-day Jason and Nocturna to connect, and to have a story that builds on whatever their past was, and brings things forward into an interesting dynamic in the present day.
Hey, Fabian's writing some ROBIN issues...maybe he can do something with that!
NRAMA: I like the grudging respect between Hawkman and Gangbuster here. Was it hard to find common ground for them, or did the Chay-ara angle present itself as an immediate opportunity?
KB: That came out of Fabian's conviction that Hawkman would see Gangbuster as useful, but a streetfighter, and not operating on the same level as the League, so he'd be brusque with him, not seeing him as a colleague, but as a cop, someone who cleans up the mess locally while Hawkman follows the adventure to the next level. That led to the idea that Gangbuster seeking Tarot would resonate with Hawkman's feelings for Chay-Ara, and change his perception. Which on the one hand is more fun and has more drama to it than Hawkman simply acting like Superman would and treating Jose as an equal right from the start -- and it has other possibilities, since Gangbuster and Tarot aren't in a romance, but Hawkman's misread it as one.
NRAMA: By this point, it seems that the first and second stories in each issue flow into one another pretty smoothly. Has that always been a goal, making each issue a "whole", despite the separation?
KB: In this issue, the back-chapter is a direct sequel to the lead chapter, but it won't always work that way. It is nice, though, that the two chapters can come together this strongly after three issues where they were following parallel but separate tracks. Next issue will work that way too, as the back-chapter spins out of stuff that's set up in the lead. But we will get back to sequences where, say, the lead chapters are dealing with the Justice League on the anti-matter Earth while the back-chapters deal with Nightwing, Oracle and company running investigations into things back home.
But it all comes back together and ties in -- it's all one story, in the end.