The Trinity Sessions:Kurt Busiek on Trinity #9

Blog@: Trinity #9 Annotations

There’s action all over the place in this one as the Trinity, the JLA, the extended Batman family and others get in on the action. What does Kurt Busiek have to say?

Newsarama: Even though we’ve had plenty of DCU citizens dropping by in the first few issues, this one really seems to capture the scope with a panorama of activity. What are the challenges of navigating a canvas with the potential size of the DCU?

Kurt Busiek: I haven't really run into any. I love using a big canvas, and getting to go all over the place. Since we're not getting tangled up in other series' plots, we don't have to do a whole lot of coordinating with other books, though we do try to get the details right. But mainly, it's fun -- this is a book about the Trinity and their place in the DCU, so we kind of need to show a lot of the DCU. And that suits me just fine.

It's also very helpful to be working with Fabian, because what I may not remember about a setting, he likely knows, and vice versa. That's not to say we won't screw up every now and then -- we said Diana Prince worked for the DEO in one issue, and nobody caught it until the book came out and Gail Simone let us know it should have been the DMA -- but as long as we don't do it too often, I think we'll be forgiven.

At least, I hope so!

NRAMA: What’s the inspiration for Swashbuckler (beyond, perhaps, Errol Flynn)?

KB: Swashbuckler's got a very specific inspiration, but it would be no fun to just lay it out there so nobody gets to figure it out. He's one of the Dreambound, though, and once all four of them have come on stage, I'm sure someone'll figure out what I was dreaming when I came up with them -- and that I must have had anchovies before bedtime or something, to be dreaming of that particular source. But even then, people won't know all of Swashbuckler's secrets...

I will throw in praise for Scott McDaniel, who designed the Dreambound. He did a great job on all four of them, and I couldn't be happier with how they look.

NRAMA: Loved the spare utility belt in the tree. It does seem sensible that the area around Wayne Manor would be studded with gear, does it not?

KB: I would figure it's not just the Wayne Manor area, but all over Gotham. That Batman , he believes in exhaustive prep work...

NRAMA: Thus far, you’ve spent more time with the supporting casts of Batman and Wonder Woman than Superman . Does that grow out of the demands of the story, or is there a conscious effort on your part to hold off on Superman’s cast since you recently finished a run on that title?

KB: I'm not sure I agree with the premise. We saw Lois in two issues so far -- fielding a call from Gangbuster (another character from the Super-books) and with Superman in Morocco -- and we've seen Etta in two issues as well, and Alfred in two. We've seen Nightwing a couple of times, and the Bat-gang got a backup this time, but that's directly related to the fact that it's Gotham villains who are pulling off the museum heists, so it makes sense to call in heroes used to dealing with them. As such, you'll be seeing more of the Bat-family in the back-chapters for the near future.

So we saw the DMA cast briefly this issue, but we'll be seeing Lois again next issue...and she's not the only Super-supporting character we'll see, either.

I guess, then, what I have to respond is that there's no conscious effort on my part to keep the Superman cast out of the book. We're using them as the story accommodates them, and we'll be seeing Supergirl and others in time. Bags just recently drew a chapter with a Superman cast member who hasn't been seen since Crisis, even!

NRAMA: We also see with Batman’s faulty memory that the Trinity may be experiencing some “power” difficulties. How does the simple act of forgetting something affect a guy like Batman?

KB: It probably frustrates him enormously. His edge, in his particular never-ending battle, is all about keeping his body and mind at their peak, so if they're not working right, for any reason, it puts him at a disadvantage and makes him want to get to the bottom of whatever it is, right away.

NRAMA: For those late to the DC party, and for those that may not have caught your run on JLA, can you fill them in on the Crime Syndicate?

KB: I promise any readers that we'll give them what they need to know to understand the story -- and for those interested in the references and connections we don't get into because they're just extra fun stuff, like DVD extras, Tom Bondurant's doing a great job annotating the series in Newsarama's Blog@ section.

Here's what he says about the Syndicate:

"The Crime Syndicate of America, the JLA’s counterpart group on the evil parallel world of Earth-3, was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky and first appeared in Justice League of America vol. 1 #29 (August 1964). This incarnation is based on the evil Earth of the Anti-Matter Universe and first appeared in JLA: Earth 2 (2000), which was written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Members pictured include Power Ring, Ultraman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Superwoman. However, the current Power Ring is the third we’ve seen, and first appeared in JLA #107 (December 2004), written by Mr. Busiek and pencilled by Ron Garney."

I'll only add a couple of bits:

First, the anti-matter Earth is an alternate Earth (in the anti-matter universe, also the home of Qward, an anti-matter planet that's been important in Green Lantern and DCU history over the years) is a world where moral values are reversed -- evil is good and good is evil. So the counterparts of the Justice League there are naturally bad guys. Their powers aren't quite the same as their positive-matter counterparts -- Ultraman is powered by anti-Kryptonite, for instance, and Johnny Quick injects himself with a speed-force drug -- but they're similar, at least. The five CSA members have encountered plenty of morally-reversed versions of DC heroes in their world, but they don't make friends often, so they've killed most of them and are usually at war with the rest.

In Countdown , they introduced a new version of the classic Earth-3, and it's got a large, expansive "Crime Society" on it -- but we don't have to worry about those guys, because we're not going there.

NRAMA: Oracle, Nightwing, and Robin are following up leads. Their dialogue under your hands is pretty fluid and comfortable. As their own trinity of sorts, how do you view Batman’s most successful protégés?

KB: Well, first, let me point out that their dialogue has largely been the work of patter-master Fabian Nicieza, since he and I co-plot the back-chapters and he scripts them. I do contribute to the dialogue in the back chapters here and there, particularly when there are strong links to the leads, but it's mostly Fabian's stage, and in particular the Bat-family dialogue in the back-chapters is almost entirely him.

So I'll agree with you -- it's extremely fluid and comfortable, and he's doing a great job of making them relaxed and casual with one another, while still consummate professionals. Frankly, when I write them in the leads, I try to capture the kind of flavor he's delivering in the back, because he's just great at that kind of thing, and has been since New Warriors. Plus, he's a nut for the whole Bat-family -- I think I'm pretty good at keeping up with the universe, but when it comes to these guys, he leaves me in the dust.

Beyond that, I'll say that I don't consider them a trinity -- a trinity implies balance, and a completeness, three things representing something larger, not just a collection of three people. They're all good characters, though, and it's fun to play with their similarities and differences -- Dick was raised by Batman, Tim is being raised by Batman and Babs came in from outside and had to prove herself to Batman, which gives each of them a different perspective on him, and that's gives us some texture. But mainly, it's fun to write characters who are all that good in very similar areas, and who have that long familiarity that makes them relaxed, confident and professional.

NRAMA: T.V.M . seems like a scary bastard. New character, or related in some way to someone or something we’ve seen before? And are you ready to say what T.V.M. means?

KB: T.V.M. has only a nodding acquaintance with reality. Things have a habit of changing around him, so what "T.V.M." stands for may not be terribly consistent. "Trans-Volitional Man" is what it stood for when we started, but even Swashbuckler's a little hazy about whether it's stayed that way. Probably safer just to call him "T.V.M."

As for where he comes from, he's one of the Dreambound, so you saw his origin in #8. All of the Dreambound get transformed in that issue. For more than that, well, I refer you back to answer #2.

NRAMA: It would seem that the theft of Joker’s laugh equates in a way to Batman’s memory loss. Solid lead, or tail-chasing?

KB: Would I tell you that sort of thing? Do I give stuff away?

Okay, okay. No, they're not connected, at least not very closely. T.V.M. stole the Joker's laugh for the same reason Swashbuckler stole Etta's security badge. Batman's issues are about something else.

NRAMA: Status check. At this point, how far in are you script-wise? Is there any one character that you’re having more fun with than you expected?

KB: We're solidly into the second act, but I'd rather leave the schedule to be something the editors, writers and artists sweat over, and keep public conversation to the show we're putting on -- the stories in the books, not the adventure of getting them done.

I'm still enjoying writing the leads, and it's quite a bit of fun to write Alfred. I will say that Firestorm came out of nowhere to claim a more important role, and it's been fun to write him. We'd intended for him to be just there as one of the League, but then he started asking John Stewart questions, and played a role I hadn't been expecting -- and as a result, he wound up with a larger role to play down the line.

I also like the Bonfire Girls, but they only appear for a panel, and you haven't seen them yet.


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