Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
You know, I’m a little ashamed to just be thinking of this now; but in a weird way, Trinity has pulled at least a little truth out of those “Batman will become a New God” rumors from a year or so ago. True, Batman hasn’t become a capital-N new god, but the god he’s become is certainly new to the rest of us….
Too much of a stretch? Yeah, probably.
Anyway, with this issue we start the last quarter of Trinity. It’s 75% over now, people! Give yourselves a hand (assuming you’ve been following all along)! While I was expecting certain developments to last a little longer than they have, I suppose there’s only twelve more issues to go and we need to start wrapping things up.
Naturally, any more and I’d have to say …
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“Returned” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Want to see the Trinity/Troika fight? Want to see it again?
— Here’s our old friend Krona, still transformed from the last time we saw him ‘waaay back in issue #24.
— Krona is totally tripping. “Have you ever looked at the coherent energy which manifests itself as your hands? I mean, really looked at the coherent energy which manifests itself as your hands?”
— Get more than a handful of Green Lanterns together, and it means trouble. At least one Green Lantern is assigned to each of the universe’s 3600 space sectors (these days, every sector is supposed to have at least two, a primary GL and a deputy). I count about 62 here.
— Somebody’s gonna have to help me out with all these Lanterns, because I’ve gone through the most recent Secret Files, the original Who’s Who, and more than a couple of websites, and I can’t identify every one.
— The speaker kinda looks like Chthos-Chthas Chthatis, created by Dave Gibbons, who first appeared in Green Lantern Corps vol. 2 #5 (December 2006).
— The big guy with the window on his brain is Validus, who’ll be more familiar about a thousand years from now as a member of the villainous Fatal Five. Validus was created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan and first appeared in Adventure Comics vol. 1 #352 (January 1967). Validus was also a Green Lantern (for the first time) in the alternate timeline of Justice League: The Nail #2 (September 1998), which was written and penciled by Alan Davis.
— The blob over Validus’ right shoulder (our left) looks like Eddore, who was created by Len Wein, Mike W. Barr, and Joe Staton, and first appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1 (May 1981). The Green Lantern Corps was modeled after the Lensmen, a group of intergalactic peacekeepers created by E.E. “Doc” Smith, and Eddore was named for a character in the Lensman series.
— Galius-Zed (big head, bottom center) was created by Len Wein and Joe Staton and first appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 (June 1981).
— The Xudarian (left edge, orange skin, pointed ear, fin) is probably either Tomar-Re or his son Tomar-Tu. Tomar-Re was created by John Broome and Gil Kane and first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 2 #6 (May-June 1961). Tomar-Tu was created by Gerard Jones and Pat Broderick and first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 3 #5 (October 1990).
— Salakk (bottom center, under the speaker’s legs) was created by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton and first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 2 #149 (February 1982).
— In the bottom right corner, the woman with the blue skin and yellow hair might be a miscolored Arisia (who normally has a Caucasian skin tone). Like Eddore, Arisia was created by Wein, Barr, and Staton for Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1. Arisia was similarly named for a planet in the Lensman series.
— The tentacled ball could be Brokk, who was created by Wein, Barr, and Staton for Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1.
— To the left of Brokk, that looks like a miscolored Ghr’ll, who was created by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 2 #151 (April 1982). If it’s Ghr’ll, he should be orange, not blue.
— The red-horned person just above the speaker could be Opto309v, who was created by Grant Morrison and Giuseppe Camuncoli and first appeared in 52 #41 (February 14, 2007).
— The lizard-looking fellow to (our) left of the speaker might be Isamot Kol, who was created by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, and Patrick Gleason, and who first appeared in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1 (November 2005).
— The pink blob (bottom right, next to “Arisia”) might be Gpaak, who was created by Chuck Dixon and Joe Staton and first appeared in Guy Gardner #11 (August 1993).
— The multi-armed person over Validus’ left shoulder (our right) might be Lashorr, who was created by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis and first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 4 #12 (July 2006).
— The pink-skinned fellow behind the blue-skinned one in the front row might be Okonoko, created by Kurt Busiek and Dave Gibbons and first appearing in Green Lantern vol. 2 #162 (March 1983). (I figure at least one Busiek-created Lantern is in this spread.)
— Actually, Mr. Busiek wrote a story (penciled by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, inked by Joe Rubenstein) for Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3 (1987), in which a Green Lantern is worshiped by the people of his planet. The people question their faith when other GLs show up to prevent a planetary disaster. There, however, the GL knew he wasn’t a god. As we’ll see, the Trinitarians still need some convincing.
— If I missed anyone, this site looks to be as good a resource as you’ll find.
— Here’s the “trinity” of the Crime Syndicate (Superwoman, Ultraman, and Owlman), along with Despero and his fleet. All were last seen in these pages in issue #24.
— I like how the Troika and Trinity match up visually, especially the burning Konvikt and the radiant Superman.
— Not a lot for the Arcana teams to do now; but just to be complete, I spy Hawkgirl, Giganta, Luthor, Black Adam, Dr. Polaris, Gangbuster, Plastic Man, the Joker, the Cheetah, and Starfire.
— “Batman”: Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time … a long time. I presume that it, like the Trinitarians’ changed forms, is a product of their return to Earth. Surely they didn’t think of themselves as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman while they were the gods of the Genesis Planet?
— “They shouldn’t even have known”: Morgaine seems to confirm that only through the intervention of the League of Extraordinary BFFs did they remember their old selves.
— “Who’s got [you]?” is, as if I needed to tell you, one of the first things Lois (Margot Kidder) says to Superman (Christopher Reeve) in the movie Superman (1978).
— We started last issue with Hawkman, Barry Allen, Charity O’Dare, Jay Garrick/Flash, and Alan Scott/Green Lantern on this rooftop (or one like it). Hawkman, Flash, and GL did some fighting, so I suppose they’re back protecting Charity and Barry.
— This “fight” (if you can call it that) was weirdly funny to me. I like how the Trinitarians just shrug off these massive energy beams like someone’s just turned up the fan full blast.
— Dark Arcana members in panel 5 include Prometheus, Ra’s al Ghul, Khyber, the Floronic Man, Dr. Polaris, Deathstroke, the Joker, Sun-Chained-In-Ink, the Parasite, Catwoman, the Cheetah, the Scarecrow, Solomon Grundy, the Gentleman Ghost, the Royal Flush Gang, Giganta, Zoom, Cat-Man, and Vandal Savage.
— “A part of our power is still missing in this world”: we’ll see what that is on the next page.
— I loved this little bit with Hawkman asking the Trinitarians to “put [themselves] under Justice Society authority.” It seems so autocratic, bureaucratic, and brave, all at the same time.
— “Channeled symbolically through representations of the conceptual structure”: i.e., matching super-people to Tarot cards.
— Snapping his fingers in recognition of his idea? Superman’s a god, but he’s still Superman….
— Justice Arcana members (and others) include Ragman, Sand, Deadman, Tomorrow Woman, Cyborg, Hawkgirl, Starfire, Blue Beetle (?), Plastic Man, Raven, Hawkman (over Batman’s shoulder), Nightshade, Green Arrow, Flash (Wally West), Aquaman, and Luthor.
— If that is Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes), he was created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner. Jaime first appeared in Infinite Crisis #3 (February 2006) and first appeared as Blue Beetle III in issue #5 (April 2006).
— No annotations.
— Well, the regular timeline’s not completely restored, because the JSIers still have their monochromatic costumes. Here’s Power Girl, Tomorrow Woman, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, and Black Canary.
— “As it should be”: apparently the Trinitarians have gotten used to being worshiped.
— “Let us show these malefactors”: … and here’s the ugly side of that.
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“Patience, Mighty Krona” was 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 Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: The new adventures of Old Krona!
Page 13 (story page 1)
— This story, and especially these “creation” pages, put me in mind of J.M. DeMatteis’ meditations on creation in the Dr. Fate series from about twenty years ago (which I just re-read a couple of weeks ago). From that series I got a rather genial picture of creation, and the notion that everything worked out to a fairly good purpose. Here, Krona’s narration is appropriately macro- and micro-oriented, and very evocative of being “one with the cosmos.”
Pages 14/2 and 15/3
— “I am” is, I suspect, an allusion to Exodus 3:13-14, from Moses’ introduction to the Lord on Mount Horeb:
And Moses said unto God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you,’ and they shall say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say unto them?”
And God said unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” And He said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.’”
So, you know, a little bit of hubris on Krona’s part, but apparently not much.
— “Like fingertips brushing against a new lover”: okay, that was a little clunky.
— “My brothers and sisters”: remember, the main-line universe which the DC superheroes inhabit is personified by Kismet, a female-appearing figure who first appeared in The Adventures Of Superman #494 (September 1992). (I’m repeating myself a little, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen this concept.) Kismet is something of an analogue for Marvel’s Eternity, and indeed the two hooked up in JLA/Avengers.
— The spiral of personified universes here is also reminiscent of the couple of scenes (in issues #16 and 22) where Hawkman remembers his past lives.
— “Fifty”: as far as we know, the DC Multiverse is made up of 52 parallel universes, not including the anti-matter universe where Qward and the Crime Syndicate’s Earth are located.
— “Let me out”: Krona’s perpetual lament, ever since issue #1.
— “I am you, as you are me”: you’d think I’d make a Beatles joke here, but that would be too easy. Instead, I’ll take Old Krona at his word, such that we’re seeing the Kronas in a timeless dimension where Old Krona is speaking from a perspective eons past Young Krona’s. That’s kind of cool, since it implies that Old Krona not only survives the end of Trinity in his present form, but that he’s moved past the “petulance” of his younger, trouble-making self.
— While I’ve enjoyed the story titles coming from dialogue and narration, it’s too bad this one couldn’t have been called “Krona Vs. Krona.”
— “A cosmic accident”: a couple of them, I would say. First, Krona was trapped in the Cosmic Egg at the end of JLA/Avengers, and then the egg was used in Morgaine’s ritual. Krona has just been caught up in these things, neither time really by choice.
— “Thrust into the gestating womb of a new universe”: again, the Cosmic Egg, from the end of JLA/Avengers.
— “Like all wombs, it became a prison!” Paging Dr. Freud….
— So, should we be wondering where Old Krona sent Young Krona? (Certainly not to Anthro’s cave.)
— “Worldminds”: Krona discovered in issue #20 that each planet has its own form of consciousness.
— “A planetary mind”: actually, if I understand correctly, it’s the old JLA villain the Construct, trapped in GL’s power ring, who is the planetary mind. The Construct, remember, was formed from Earth’s aggregate electronic transmissions. Of course, since he was formed in the mid-1970s out of analog broadcasts, he’ll have to upgrade to digital by June.
— I feel obligated to note the obvious, namely that John Stewart looks a lot more feral here than when we saw him last.
— No annotations.
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Well, in a way this was a typical issue of Trinity: movement on the big plot in the lead story; good character spotlight in the second story. I never thought I’d enjoy Krona arguing with himself as much as I did. Even though it was a little familiar, it presumably allowed Old Krona to displace his younger, more impetuous self. I take this to be a plot pivot, and obviously a change in characterization, but it was handled pretty well.
As for the first story, as mentioned above I thought the Troika vs. Trinity fight would go on longer than it did. However, under story logic it makes perfect sense: the Trinity is naturally attuned to the Earth’s mojo, so it can command the energy which was feeding the Troika. (The ultimate home-court advantage, as it were.) More importantly, though, it wraps up most (if not all) of the various Earth-based story threads, from the disappearance of the Trinity to the fight against Morgaine. Naturally, there’s more to do now that the Trinitarians are back, not just punishing the Troika and restoring the timeline but fighting Krona, Despero’s fleet, and the Crime Syndicate. Twelve issues to do all of that is probably about right.
Finally, for those of you interested in Trinity‘s place in the timeline, a little nugget appears in this week’s Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead? Thanks to Trinity‘s own Fabian Nicieza, Spoiler muses that Nocturna was “arrested in New Orleans last [she] saw.” I took this as a reference to Trinity #6, which actually took place in St. Roch, but I figure Steph’s memory is close enough.
Back next week!