Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Lots of last-minute housecleaning in this penultimate issue of Trinity. Just about every lingering subplot is either resolved or set up for resolution, which doesn’t leave much old business for next week’s conclusion. Considering the standalone nature of this miniseries — and the fact that it’s a 52-issue standalone miniseries — I think that’s for the best. There will probably be some super-powered action next issue, but I still hope that Kurt Busiek & Co. have left room for a thoughtful epilogue.
We’re not there yet, though.
LEAD STORY (pages 1, 12-22)
“Can You Hold Out” 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: Some villains are dispatched — but some are still around.
SECOND STORY (pages 2-11)
“Solid Ground” 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: The world’s superheroes deal with its reconstruction.
— I was going to open with something smart-alecky like “now I feel like taking a few deep, cleansing breaths,” or maybe a comparison to one of those black-light posters from the ’70s. Really, though, this is a very nice, tranquil way to open the issue. However, I wonder about the transition from last issue, which ended with Lois at the North Pole yelling “It’s not over!” while the ground shuddered around her. Since the narration tells us things are “gentle on a planetary scale,” I suppose we’re to be reassured that it’s not as bad as it looks.
Pages 2-3 (story pages 1-2)
— What, no mention that Mercury is the only metal which is a liquid at room temperature?
— The Rocket Red Brigade was created by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton and first appeared in Green Lantern Corps vol. 1 #208 (January 1987). The Reds’ armor, developed by GL Kilowog, was originally more boxy. Their appearance here reflects a redesign which first appeared around 52 #6 (June 14, 2006).
— The first logo-shaped Batplane was the “Batwing,” designed by Anton Furst for Batman (1989). Before that movie, the various Bat-aircraft were all pretty much recognizable as customized versions of existing vehicles.
— “Major fault line”: ’round about Batman: Shadow of the Bat #73 (April 1998), Gotham City was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale. Eventually, as told in 1999’s year-long “No Man’s Land” mega-arc, the city was cut off from the rest of the United States.
— So long, Bigger.
— “What will be revealed … remains a mystery”: sounds like more continuity tweaks, but I didn’t think Trinity would do that.
— Since the Marianas Trench is actually in the Pacific Ocean, I’m sure Hal has a good reason for being over the North Atlantic. Maybe he’s on his way to the Pacific?
— Speaking of mysteries, the last I knew of Tempest (specifically, November 2007’s Aquaman: Sword Of Atlantis #56), he had lost his powers and the ability to breathe water. Here (as in Final Crisis, which takes place after Trinity), he looks back to normal. Maybe the answers will be in July’s Titans #15.
— By the way, we first saw Tempest as Aqualad back in issue #23, so I’ll mention here that he first appeared as Tempest in Tempest #2 (December 1996), by Phil Jiminez.
— I take it Dina is back to life because she was killed as a result of Morgaine’s magic. By contrast, Bigger is (still) dead because the Joker had already killed him.
— I had thought Tomorrow Woman might survive Trinity, but no such luck.
— The resolution of the John Stewart/Void Hound subplot doesn’t feel that satisfying, at least where John is concerned. I understand that the Void Hound learned that it could set its own purpose, etc., but now it seems like John was only involved to give us insight into the V-H’s mind. Maybe I’m not remembering it correctly, but it seems to have made John more of a passive participant. (It also got him off Earth while the Arcana Wars were going on, for whatever that’s worth.)
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— Despero can stab Enigma, but the latter still retains some of his shadow-power. In light of what the Trinitarians tell us later on, I take it the Troika’s powers have been similarly reduced.
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— I found this to be another awkward transition, mainly because there wasn’t much visually locating the various players in relation to one another. On page 8/7, SPHERE is apparently near Lois, Tarot, et al., judging by the placement of the word balloon in panel 1. The scene then shifts to the Troiksters’ battle, after which Enigma collapses next to SPHERE. Thus, Enigma apparently ends up near Lois, Tarot, and company, although each of these narrative threads plays out in isolation from the rest. Consequently, when Stephie emerges from SPHERE, calling for help, it’s not unreasonable to think she is in the same general area as Lois and the others. This sets up the transition from page 11/10 to page 12; but again, nothing has placed her expressly in relation to them. Moreover, this two-page spread doesn’t show any of those characters relative to each other, although the layouts may indicate that the good guys are on one side of the vast plain and the bad guys are on the other.
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— This was a pretty touching scene, and well within Batman’s paternal nature.
— “He knows what it means to be a machine”: but does he know what it means to miss New Orleans? Although it took me a while to figure this out, I’m guessing “he” is the Void Hound. (In fact, since we see Batman’s cape in panel 4, it looks like the V-H has been transformed into the black serpentine spirit.) I like this development, not least because it may lead to a new Anti-Matter Universe trinity.
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— “Our power was largely spent”: in helping the Worldsoul repair the Earth, I guess. However, as seen in this issue, they still have enough power to grow and shrink as best suits the drama of the moment.
— Shorter Krona: “It’s not you, it’s me!”
— Not sure what’s happened to Krona. The Trinitarians probably don’t have enough power to banish him from reality (as Morgaine’s spell would have done). Maybe he’s the Worldsoul’s butler now?
— And finally, here is the Trinity, once again in the flesh. I know I had complained that they were staying in their godlike forms a little too long, but they’d gotten more interesting since then.
— You know, if Green Lantern really is on his way to the Marianas Trench from the North Atlantic, he could take a shortcut over the North Pole….
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I got to the end of this issue and almost groaned oh come on, the Crime Syndicate? Their scene in issue #49 would have been a good sendoff. Still, in terms of who’s left at the North Pole, this twist makes sense, and it’s a decent cliffhanger. Besides, I expect they’ll get snapped up by the SPHERE/Void Hound combo and spirited back to the Anti-Matter Universe within the first couple of pages.
Accordingly, this issue looks pretty much like it wraps up Trinity‘s big-cosmic-action portion. The Trinitarians have returned to their old selves, the Earth is on the road to recovery, and the proper timeline has been re-established (future tweaks notwithstanding). Assuming that Enigma and Stephie/SPHERE/the Void Hound will be OK, I suppose we must still say goodbye-for-now to Konvikt (and Graak, because I think he’ll be brought back the same way Dina was), and learn the final fate of Gangbuster and Tarot’s relationship.
Other than that, though, it’d be nice if Trinity ended as it began, with our three principals meeting over a light meal to suss out what they’ve been through. The more I think about the end of this series, the more bittersweet it becomes. It’s not that I’ve developed a deep emotional connection to weekly research sessions; but in the context of DC’s other big events, this represents the last time for a while that these characters will be together. Of course, that separation won’t last — nothing is really permanent in superhero serials — but the timing makes Trinity‘s end somewhat more meaningful.
See you next week for the finale!