In-Depth on Marvel's "Divided We Stand" and The Latest Hydra Cap Twists
This week’s issue struck me as similar to last week’s. The Trinity is still putting the Earth back together, the villains are still regrouping, and everyone else is trying to figure out what to do. The overall plot did advance a little, but that had more to do with gathering all the players than showing them in action.
Still, the problems I had with this issue seemed also to be the point of the issue itself … so without further ado:
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“Shiny Face Pitch A Fit” 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: The Trinity continues resetting the world — and good thing too, ’cause company’s coming.
— The Justice League doesn’t have a lunar headquarters anymore, but you’d think someone would be keeping an eye on any new structures up there.
— “The Earth’s animating spirit … brought very close to consciousness”: I take it this refers to the various upheavals caused by the Troika’s replacement of the Trinity. My understanding is that the Worldsoul (including Tarot’s connection to it) is something different, but it might still be related.
— No annotations.
— France fell to Morgaine and Enigma back in issue #23.
— “Hrh” sounds like a very Batman thing to say. I know the Trinitarians have been a lot closer since the end of the Godwar, but they’re not sharing each other’s thoughts again, are they?
— “Court”: Stargirl’s real name is Courtney Whitmore.
— “They’re just — leaving?” Ha! Hawkman so wants to be needed….
— Is this revitalization of Europe’s flora and fauna something unique to Wonder Woman, or can the others do similar things? Power-wise, the Trinitarians seem rather interchangeable in their divine forms. Since they’ve come back to Earth, we’ve seen them throw energy blasts around and restore people’s regular histories, but they’ve tended to act as a unit — not, say, the Sun-God, the Moon-God, and the Earth-Goddess.
— I’ve said it before, but Tattooed Man/Sun-Chained-In-Ink is a lot more nasty here than he was (or, more accurately, will be) in Final Crisis.
— “Things will be different”: last time I asked if Morgaine and company ignored the Trinitarians’ old haunts in favor of Europe, and this little speech seems to confirm that.
— “The old reality … reasserting itself”: SCII exploded in the old reality, but as we’ll see later, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s gone for good.
— “The power that fuels you can yet be your salvation”: as I also said last time, if the Trinitarians gave up their godhood, the creation energy would have to go somewhere; and why not to the Troika?
— “Kanjar Ro’s moment of vengeance”: is he looking for his share of the creation energy now? I’d think Despero would want him to get in line.
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“Talking To Sunshine And Shade” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Tom Derenick, inked by Wayne Faucher, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Lois and the other BFFs again confront the Trinity.
Page 13 (story page 1)
— “Where Were We”: if this is Lois’ account of her trip to the Genesis Planet, I’d hope it would be self-censored to protect the Trinity’s non-super, non-public loved ones. Otherwise I can see a Valerie Plame thing happening: I was on another planet with Supergirl, Troia, Nightwing, Neme– uh, an unidentified employee of the federal government, and Al– well, there’s really no good way to describe what he does. Anyway, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were gods there, but Superman got married and everything went to hell. Not that that would happen here, because it totally hasn’t. It hasn’t, right? I mean, not as far as my strictly professional journalistic investigation has revealed.
— “Daniel Reed” has no other Metropolis/Superman connection that I can see, but maybe I just don’t have that one issue of Lois Lane. However, GCD lists Dan/Daniel Reed as a penciller for various titles from various companies, including DC, Marvel, and Image.
— “Lane”: I thought Lois and Alfred were on a first-name basis?
— “For once the Batcave didn’t get trashed”: I imagine it ceased to exist, but that’s not the same thing.
— “Department of Extranormal Operations”: since I’ve been corrected already on this point, I presume we all remember that Nemesis and Diana Prince work for Sarge Steel in the Department of Metahuman Affairs. The DEO is a separate agency, headed by the skeletal Mr. Bones. The DMA’s relationship to the DEO is still unclear to me.
— No annotations.
— Of course, this isn’t the first time Lois has baited Superman. For example, The Man of Steel #2 (October 1986) showed her faking a car accident in order to score the first interview with him.
— No annotations.
— Wonder Woman’s invisible plane dates back to the character’s Golden Age origins, first appearing in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942). The current version isn’t Amazonian technology, coming instead from a grateful alien culture and given to Wonder Woman around WW vol. 2 #117 (January 1997). Originally it was a crystalline device capable of assuming any shape, but to make a long story short, as of issue #201 (April 2004) it was stuck in “plane mode.”
— In fact, this may be the first time we’ve seen Donna flying the invisible plane. I suppose Nightwing and Troia could have borrowed one of the Titans’ T-Jets, but it wouldn’t have had whatever sentimental value Diana might have attached to her own ride. If Donna hadn’t gotten the keys beforehand, she most likely did when she took over (temporarily) as Wonder Woman IV (as shown in World War III #1 (April 18, 2007) and Wonder Woman vol. 3 #1 (August 2006)).
— No annotations.
— Shouty Alfred seems a little out of character. Shouty Lois does not.
— “It must be made perfect”: oh, good luck with that. Have you seen these pages from JLA/Avengers #3?
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I’m not exactly thrilled that the Trinity hasn’t yet let go of its godhood. Obviously it’ll have to happen before the end of the series, and I still think it will happen at the least opportune moment, but I get the feeling it needs to happen soon. We’ve already seen Lois et al. plead with the Trinity to return to normal. We’ve seen Kellel acknowledge his connection to humanity by living as one of his worshippers. I can make a pretty educated guess about the resolution of this subplot, and you probably can as well — and I’d say if it doesn’t involve Lois and Clark’s eternal bond, it won’t feel true to what’s been built up so far (not just here, but in decades of Superman stories). I mean, it’s not like Tomorrow Woman is suddenly going to make the difference that changes the Trinity’s collective mind. Furthermore, it’s pretty late in the series to start exploring more tweaks to the timeline, even if they do illustrate the Trinity’s “perfect” world.
Now, it is possible that this subplot will wrap up next issue, with Tommie pleading her willingness to sacrifice herself for the imperfection of the regular timeline, and Lois saying her perfect world is with Clark. However, the Trinity’s current Living Tribunal act is getting a little old. (Nevertheless, Luthor pulling a Dr. Doom and sucking the “Power Cosmic” out of the Trinitarians — at the most inopportune moment, naturally — would be a good twist….) It tends to prove the conventional-wisdom criticism that Superman is too powerful to be interesting. Indeed, these scenes with Lois, Alfred, et al., would be more interesting if they didn’t feel like a variation of what’s come before.
Admittedly, Trinity is in a weird place, pacing-wise. Nine issues doesn’t seem like a lot in a fifty-two-issue series, but it is still nine issues. For example, Osiris’ death at the end of 52 #43 led into a few issues’ worth of Wrath Of Black Adam; but the culmination of that arc (i.e., World War III) didn’t come until issue #50, after a few issues with Montoya and the Crime Bible. Likewise, what with the Trinity, the Troika, Krona, Despero, Kanjar Ro, the Crime Syndicate, the Dreambound, Tarot, Gangbuster, Charity, Luthor, and probably Brainiac and Khyber, you’d think Trinity would need most of its remaining space.
Oh well. I imagine it is tricky to satisfy the needs of both the weekly crowd and the eventual collected-edition audience, and in hindsight this may play out better. At the moment, though, I’m more impatient.