Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
This week’s set of Trinity notes will be a little different. Issue #45 was extremely light on trivia, focusing tightly on a relatively small group of characters. Since my function is to offer insight on elements which come from outside the series, there’s not a lot of that to discuss here, because everything happens based on these characters’ roles in the series to date.
Accordingly, #45 was an important issue for the series. It built steadily towards a big finish and threw in a couple of twists. I’ll be eager to hear what you thought.
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“The Power Is Close…” 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 Crime Syndicate takes one for the team … and one just for Enigma.
— Although the Trinity had little trouble sending the Troika into retreat, I thought our heroes’ fight with their Crime Syndicate counterparts was legitimately more suspenseful. Because the CSAers are also their world’s trinity, it’s reasonable to think that would give them some advantage, even away from home. Moreover, because the Trinitarians will have to give up their godhood at some point, I bought into Ultraman’s power-draining ultra-vision. As we know, though, it wasn’t meant to be; and the Crime Syndicate was just a slightly bigger bump on the road to Castle Branek.
— This is not the first Trinity reference to the inhibition-loosening power of Superwoman’s lasso. She used it to help her Jimmy Olsen tell more convincing lies, back around issue #11 when he was posing as “our” Jimmy. Later, in issue #13, our Trinity bound them with it so they’d blab their plans.
— Since I’d been complaining about the unitary nature of the Trinity’s work, it was good to see them each manifesting different but appropriate powers.
— It was also good to see Enigma get some measure of revenge, however short-lived, on the Crime Syndicate. He hasn’t been on Morgaine’s page for a while, of course, but he seems locked in a détente with her. Like the Trinitarians, the Troiksters each appear to be evenly matched, regardless of whatever super-powers they had previously. (Indeed, both Enigma and Batman have similarly wraith-like god-bodies, although I’m not inclined to read too much into that right now.) Enigma still needs Morgaine, and vice versa, because neither can conquer their Earth without the other. Furthermore, as long as Morgaine is hoarding creation energy, she must make sure that Enigma’s power is still on her side. On balance I think this puts Morgaine at a disadvantage, since she’s not used to dealing with equals. It also makes me eager to see more of her interactions with Krona.
— Morgaine’s mention of the reality-changing ritual also makes me wonder about her options now. On page 11 she states that “[i]f we’d gotten the spell right, we’d have had all the power.” However, as we know, Kanjar Ro’s impersonation of Despero screwed things up enough that he got none of the power, while Morgaine and Enigma were elevated to “godhood.” At the same time, rather than being wiped from history, the Trinity were elevated themselves and displaced to a newly-created parallel Earth. Therefore, if the spell had succeeded, Morgaine, Enigma, and Despero would be the new Trinity, with all of Earth looking to them for various forms of inspiration. Green Arrow would be accused of ripping off Enigma, Despero might have a midriff-baring cousin (Despera, of course), Lynda Carter would have played Morgaine on TV….
— But I digress. Practically speaking, Morgaine has no shot at re-creating the original spell, even with Despero’s participation. The biggest barrier would be trapping the Trinity, which was hard enough to do when they were just superheroes; and seems virtually impossible now. I have a feeling any new ritual would have to include (willingly or not) anyone with a claim on the creation energy.
— By the way, since it’s pretty well-known that Morgaine Le Fay has been involved in all these shenanigans, I’m hoping we see some input from the friendly magical community. Zatanna’s popped up in cameos and Dr. Fate has been mentioned a couple of times, but it seems like they should start having more active roles.
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“A Single Human Soul” 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: Krona, meet the Troika. Troika, Krona.
— Krona and the Troika are both fueled by creation energy, but I get the impression that Krona is still significantly more powerful than the Troika (or the Trinity) combined. I’m guessing that’s why he didn’t sic the Void-Hound on his guests — he didn’t need to.
— As revealed in issue #17, Konvikt was deprived of the ability to speak (intelligibly, that is) as a part of the criminal proceedings against him. (Graak spoke for him through a telepathic link.) The fact that he can speak now may well be related to some psychological block placed upon him by the authorities, which could be undone by an appropriate change of heart. It could also be simply temporary, and/or a product of Graak’s death. Regardless, I imagine being able to talk again will have a profound emotional impact on him.
— Morgaine and Krona’s scheme, as I understand it, involves giving the Worldsoul (via Tarot) to Krona. Stephie Nashton, the soul within SPHERE, would then replace the Worldsoul itself. All this would be in exchange for Krona lending his power to Morgaine’s. Apart from depriving Enigma of his only surviving family member, this plan is (needless to say) not the best deal for the Earth. First is the notion that the new Worldsoul wouldn’t be as “vital” as the old one. Second, since Stephie comes from the Anti-Matter Earth, her soul might turn the Earth as corrupt as its anti-matter counterpart. I know I’m getting into original-sin-type issues here, but if everyone on the A-M Earth is inherently, irredeemably … well, less virtuous, you’d think that would start (if only in small ways) right from the beginning.
— I mentioned back around issue #4 that “Gaia,” the spirit of the Earth, appeared in a Firestorm storyline which also featured other elemental beings including Swamp Thing, Naiad, and Red Tornado. Swampy’s off-limits, but we’ve seen a good bit of Firestorm and Red Tornado in Trinity already. If the Worldsoul is another name for Gaia, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Stormy and Reddy participated in some kind of Gaia-protecting ritual.
— Actually, since Morgaine is the only member of the (extended) Troika who comes from the regular Earth, might not Krona be planning some sort of double-cross involving whatever connection to the planet she might have? Tarot’s the link to the Worldsoul, but Morgaine has to be plugged into something.
— I’m curious to see how much of his godhood Enigma retains on the Anti-Matter Earth. He might even be stronger there. After all, the Trinitarians were gods on their parallel Earth, even though their home was elsewhere. In any event, he still has the Idol-Head of Infernatu, so he’s not exactly helpless.
— Finally, I have to note that this is not the first time Morgaine has screamed “I’ll KILL YOU” uncontrollably at Enigma.
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Well, that’s it for me this week. It’s funny — the day after I show off all my research material, I barely get a chance to use it. Oh well.
Until next time–!