Written by Francis Manapul
Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy and Hi-Fi
Letters by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman -there’s a reason they’re known as the Trinity. These three characters are the anchors that hold the DC Universe in place. As great as each of them is on their own, though, they’re always better together, and part four of the “Better Together” story arc continues to show us why.
Following suit with the previous two issues, Trinity #4 once again transports DC’s big three to a fabrication of their past, courtesy of Poison Ivy. This time, it’s Wonder Woman’s subconscious that’s being manipulated, as she, Batman, and Superman make landfall on the shores of Themyscira.
Writer Francis Manapul does a superb job giving Diana a voice that’s remarkably consistent with current continuity by mirroring the thematic implications of the search for Themyscira from the Wonder Woman solo series. Despite the trio realizing the picturesque island they see before them is a mysterious fabrication, Diana can’t help but feel conflicted about her homecoming (“Now, all I want is for this to be real. Though I know it is not,” says Diana).
Given the formula Manapul used for Clark and Bruce, it comes as no surprise that shortly after the start of the issue, we’re introduced to a young Diana, who calls for a cease-fire when her fellow Amazons attack the supposed trespassers. Predictability aside, Manapul’s execution adds a fresh twist to this recurring plot device as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are forced to prove their worth in a series of challenges orchestrated by Queen Hippolyta.
Having just witnessed Wonder Woman go through these games in the “Year One” arc of her solo series (which is referenced in her inner monologue), it’s fun to see the inclusion of Batman and Superman this time around. Manapul’s decision to show Clark and Bruce actually experience the harsh trials Diana was forced to go through is an ideal and smart way to help re-establish and strengthen the bond between three of DC’s cornerstones.
While it’s clear that this is a very Wonder Woman-centric story, what does feel a bit off is the lack of dialogue from Batman and Superman. Even in the issues where Clark and Bruce were the focal points, every character still managed to make their voice heard. Here, the balance feels more skewed in comparison. Still, Manapul is able to capture the tone of Batman and Superman, particularly in the latter half of the issue, where we see a Clark that’s thankful he got to see his father one last time, and a Bruce that’s overtly critical of the situation at hand.
With so much of Manapul’s legwork going into the story itself, the artistic reins for Trinity #4 can be found in the hands of Emanuela Lupacchino. Lupacchino is no stranger to DC’s high-profile female characters, and her style lends itself beautifully to this story that features Diana and the Amazons so prominently. Her rendition of Wonder Woman perfectly captures the beauty and power of the Amazon Princess, who we see standing at the bow of the boat, guiding the way as Batman and Superman row towards the shores of Themyscira.
There is a question of consistency, though, particularly in regards to the younger Diana. When she first removes her helmet, she doesn’t look to be too much younger than Wonder Woman, with the top of her head nearly meeting the chin of her counterpart. After the games, though, when she’s alongside Hippolyta, she more closely resembles a child, standing several feet shorter than the true Amazon Princess.
This can be easily forgiven, though, as Lupacchino delivers outstanding and consistent visuals throughout the rest of the issue. As Clark and Bruce discuss their own journeys into their respective childhoods, the rock formations in the water resembling Pa Kent, as well as Thomas and Martha Wayne, serves as a nice representation of subtle sequential art that enhances the overall narrative. Everything is easy to follow as well thanks to simple, yet effective panel layouts that guide you effortlessly through the story.
Lupacchino’s clean linework is further elevated by Ray McCarthy’s inks, which are both delicate and bold in all the right places. The wrinkles in the fabric of Hippolyta and young Diana’s tunics are given stunning depth and dimension, while the bodies of water we see are left relatively untouched, allowing Hi-Fi’s color art to bring them to life.
The bright, glowing hues embody the atmosphere of Themyscira, with an abundant array of blues and whites evoking the feeling of ancient Greece. From a continuity standpoint, though, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the inside of Batman’s cape, which is typically purple, is rendered in black throughout the issue, which one would expect editorial would have caught.
As the issue comes to a close, we’re left with the official reveal of the true mastermind behind Poison Ivy’s scheme. Those familiar with “For the Man Who has Everything” likely won’t be surprised, but regardless, the conclusion sets solid expectations for what’s to come as the “Better Together” arc begins to wrap up. While this isn’t greatest issue of Trinity to date, it’s certainly an excellent, worthwhile and essential read for anyone who’s a fan of Batman, Superman, and especially Wonder Woman.