"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
The two stories in Trinity #44 each ask their characters to face some hard facts. The Troika, the Crime Syndicate, Despero, and Kanjar Ro have no reason to trust each other; and as of last issue, the Trinity hadn’t found any compelling reason to return to their old lives. The result is more foreshadowing, albeit in an entertaining way.
Accordingly, this was another issue where not much happened on a macro level, but which still left me with some thought-provoking questions about the nature of the Trinity and what it could really mean for the world. After all, that’s what Trinity is supposed to do….
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“What’s In It For Us?” 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: As the Dreambound leave Castle Branek, the Crime Syndicate and Despero come on board.
— I won’t parse T-V Man’s recap of recent events, because if you’ve been reading Trinity you’re pretty familiar with what he’s talking about. Still, if any new readers need a translation, leave a comment and I’ll do my best.
— Seems like Swashbuckler is a lot less demonstrative and/or dynamic now than he was when we first met him. Back then he was cocky enough to steal Nightwing’s mask and Etta Candy’s ID badge. These days he seems comfortable letting T-V Man and Primat do the talking.
— The four-eyed creature reminds me of the mechanoids who fought Wonder Woman back in issue #2.
— “How can I know”: as far as I understand it, Despero has never met Morgaine or Enigma in either version of the timeline. Issue #23 revealed that, Kanjar Ro took his place behind the scenes of issue #4, prior to the would-be Troika’s first meeting in issue #7.
— Am I remembering correctly that Morgaine and Despero’s common dreams were a product of Krona’s escape?
— “We had a deal”: well, the whole Despero/Kanjar Ro alliance never seemed very stable to me. Since the Anti-Matter Earth operates on the “favor bank” principle, the Crime Syndicate is at least marginally more trustworthy.
— Speaking of shaky alliances, Enigma was ready to throw Morgaine under the bus before his old tormenters showed up.
— “Addled, syphilitic”: probably pretty accurate, actually. Makes me wonder — could Superwoman’s constitution be strong enough to withstand the Anti-Matter Universe’s toughest sexually-transmitted diseases, or is she merely contributing to the evolution of the ultimate super-syphilis? (Hey kids, comics annotations!)
— Compare the Crime Syndicate’s dismissive treatment of Enigma to the Trinity’s dismissive treatment of the Justice Society and Justice League (and even Lois, Alfred, et al). The Syndicators remember Enigma/Quizmaster only so far as he provided them with entertainment — in other words, only so far as he served their purposes. To them, he simply wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. The Trinity isn’t so cold to its old colleagues and loved ones, and their big-picture designs are definitely more charitable, but they’re not so much about interpersonal relationships for their own sake either.
— No annotations.
— We know just about everyone on these two pages, but there are a few new faces: Bizarro, at the top of page 8, and Captain Nazi, almost lost in the fold. I don’t recognize the caped woman firing at Wonder Woman. [EDIT: alert commenter Ben Morse says she looks like Magenta — see below.]
— Bizarro (a/k/a the Bizarro Superman and/or Bizarro No. 1) was created by Otto Binder and George Papp and first appeared (as an imperfect duplicate of Superboy) in Superboy #68 (October 1958). The more familiar adult Bizarro was created with the same duplicating machine (this time stolen by Luthor), as told by Binder and artist Al Plastino in Action Comics #254 (July 1959).
— Captain Nazi was created by William Woolfolk and Mac Raboy and first appeared in Master Comics #21 (December 1941). He fought Captain Marvel and, by crippling Freddy Freeman and killing his grandfather, was indirectly responsible for the creation of Captain Marvel Jr.
[EDITED TO ADD] — Magenta, a/k/a Frances Kane, was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and first appeared in The New Teen Titans vol. 1 #16 (March 1982). Back then she was Wally West’s proto-girlfriend from Blue Valley, whose crazed mother thought she was possessed by the Devil when she was really possessed by Dr. Polaris (who’d been trapped in another dimension after a recent Green Lantern arc). Yadda yadda yadda, it all activated Frances’ own magnetic powers, but she didn’t want to become a superhero. Eventually, she had second thoughts, and suited up (in a really hideous costume; you can’t see much of this one but trust me it’s an improvement) to bring down the Church of Brother Blood. She made her Magenta debut in New Teen Titans vol. 2 #29 (March 1987), but put on the costume only irregularly after that. She was Wally’s girlfriend for the first couple issues of Flash vol. 2, and when she came back (in Flash vol. 2 #80, Early September 1993) she wasn’t too happy with him. I think the phrase “psycho hosebeast” was involved. She did, however, get a new costume, designed by the late Mike Wieringo. I think her current costume is different from Wieringo’s, and was designed by Scott Kolins.
— “If we take that power away from them”: Morgaine supposes correctly that the Trinity isn’t inclined to relinquish it, but I still like the idea of Luthor trying to steal it as well.
— Kanjar Ro’s technobabble suggests that the Trinity and its allies needed similar measures to get into Castle Branek at the end of Act One.
— You’d have to think, too, that because the Dreambound were made by Morgaine, they could help take her down.
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“Much To Discuss” 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: “What if they’re right?”
Page 13 (story page 1)
— “Jerome” honors Clark’s co-creator Jerry Siegel, although other sources give his middle name as “Joseph,” for Joe Shuster. Wikipedia asserts that “Joseph” is the more common usage. However, “Jerome” was used on “Lois & Clark” and “Smallville,” which arguably reach more people.
— “They’re just leaving?” Hawkman said the same thing last issue. Drink!
— No annotations, although I wish Tomorrow Woman had yelled “Can you read my mind?!”
— No annotations.
— Tomorrow Woman’s plight is somewhat similar to Power Girl’s. PG is the last survivor of Krypton-2, which belonged to the universe of Earth-2, which for all intents and purposes ceased to exist as a separate entity after Crisis On Infinite Earths. There is a new universe of Earth-2, but as we see in the Power Girl preview at the back of this very issue (and other DC books this week), it has its own Power Girl. Anyhoodle, Tommie is about to become one of the last survivors of the Troika-altered timeline, which for all intents and purposes will cease to exist once the Trinity’s work is done.
— “We went to another universe to get you”: really? Perhaps that’s true from a certain point of view, but it seemed at most like just another galaxy.
— “We let our human feelings … cripple us”: apparently the Godwar had more of an impact than I thought. It seemed to me that the Trinity got more in touch with their feelings (the positive ones, at least) afterwards.
— “Our old selves could not have restored this world”: that’s a good point.
— “Is it truly important for Lois Lane to have a husband?” Like a fish needs a bicycle, eh? Indeed, the more successful Lois is on her own merits, and the less she looks like a “trophy wife,” the more valuable she becomes as a character.
— “Martha Kent”: Clark’s adoptive mother, of course. She was created by Siegel and Shuster and first appeared as “Mary Kent” in Superman vol. 1 #1 (Summer 1939). Clark recently lost his adoptive father in Action Comics #870 (December 2008).
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Last issue I argued for the quick resolution of this “godhood” storyline, and I’m not ready to back off that completely this week. However, this issue introduces the notion that the Trinity works better as gods; and perhaps also that their “ascension” is a natural part of their collective development. In other words, what if they were always meant to be the gods of DC-Earth, in truth as well as in spirit? That would mean the end of the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman titles as we know them, but it’s hardly the worst way to go. (At any rate, it beats being killed by a rampaging monster or zapped by Neron or Darkseid….) Superman and Wonder Woman were sent to Earth by well-meaning parents, and “Batman” was created out of an ordinary, sadly familiar, terrestrial tragedy. The former two ostensibly show humanity better ways, and the latter shows humanity what it can achieve on its own. For them to become divine archetypes seems altogether appropriate. They’ve done just about everything else. Certainly, as this world’s “keystones,” they appear to have unique connections which facilitated their transformations. The Crime Syndicate may even be closer to this sort of godhood than the Trinity.
There are “trinities” all across the Multiverse, of course, not just the Crime Syndicate. By dint of their continuous publication histories, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have become cosmic constants, branching out from the Silver Age Earth-1 to the Golden Age Earth-2 and dozens of other parallel worlds (and Elseworlds and Hypertime branches) besides. They were always there, and we are told they will always be there, in some form or fashion.
That, in turn, brings up a dangling plot thread from the altered timeline: the artifacts Alfred unearthed back in issue #19. In the context of that issue, they were none-too-subtle reminders of what the world was missing. Today, though, they also seem to speak to the Trinity’s inevitability, and the publishing realities which insure their eternal youth. Time passes for everyone except Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, making the Justice Society inspirations rather than contemporaries, and creating two generations of protégés so far. It creates a logjam, and sooner or later, DC’s flexible timeline will have to give. Trinity isn’t particularly concerned with that problem (nor should it be), but if it were actually the Trinitarians’ final sendoff, it would let everyone else get on with their lives.
Nevertheless, that’s a topic for another day, and I’m enjoying Trinity well enough as it is.
Until next week–!