TRINGENUITY 35: "Trinity" Commentary

Tue, February 3rd, 2009 at 6:58am PST

Comic Books
Brian K. Eason & Justin Eger, Contributing Writers

"Trinity" #35 on sale now

"What is happiness but living in harmony with one's world?" - The Idol Head of Infernatu

Welcome to TRINGENUITY, CBR's ongoing commentary of DC Comics' weekly superhero series, "Trinity." The title is divided into two features; the first focuses on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the second feature portrays background or tangential events that relate to the ongoing lead storyline. "Trinity" is a weekly series that is promised to be epic in scale and help define the trio of heroes' mythical place in the DC Universe.

PREVIOUSLY

Black Orchid was slain by Brainiac and Lord Khyber, and Geo-Force was wounded. The action shifted to the Companions and the Pilgrims, who retold the famed death of Superman – with a twist; the Pilgrims imply that Kellel brought about his own demise.

Elsewhere, Morgaine’s villains took another territory away from the heroes, though many civilians were freed from her evil. Gangbuster, seemingly the sole voice of reason in a world where heroes are unafraid to kill to win, was pleased with the results of the battle despite how little the members of the Justice Society might think of him.

TRINITY #35

Last week's lead feature picks up where the action left off, with the battle between the Machinists and the Companions. As the Pilgrims grow wide eyed at the power displayed by the Companions against the machinists, the scene shifts to Madagascar, where the Troika's Dark Arcana claims more territory under the command of Morgaine Le Fey. In the Troika's secret lair, Enigma examines ways to strengthen the Dark Arcana and contemplates his place in this world that is not his own. Enigma's plan is to make Earth evil so that Anti-Earth will be good. But his daughter Stephie objects, bringing to her father's attention that they are killing people and that evil cannot beget good. We leave Enigma as he begins to doubt his mission is worth his soul.

The action returned to the Companions, who’ve easily defeated the Machinists. The grateful pilgrims reward them by continuing their story of Kellel, who, upon finding himself in the land of the dead, determined that he would simply rise again. Up, up and out of the darkness, Kellel decided that he, as a being of great power, could succeed at anything, including having a normal life. Marrying a woman named Luai, Kellell the god still protected his people, but withdrew from godly service, much to the chagrin of his fellow gods and to the detriment of his people. Lois lane, hearing the story, questions if she led to her own husband’s downfall, and demands to meet the gods, who respond by appearing above the travelers.

COMMENTARY

Brian Eason: While we start off like a normal lead-in, this week is a little different.

Justin Eger: Yeah, a little change-up this week. A quick peek at the companions starts us off.

BE:  But then we shift to Morgaine taking over Madagascar and Enigma doing a little self-examination.

JE: At the behest of his daughter in the SPHERE, no less.

BE:  It's the parental paradox: you teach your child to do what is right and when you deviate from that course, they bring you back on track.

JE: Seems to be working, in this case. Then we launch right into more of Enigma's origin.

BE: The transition from Quizmaster to Enigma was triggered by the death of his family and the desire to return them from the dead.

JE: To do that, Enigma decides to approach the greatest minds of his world, and then the most magically minded.

BE: Seems logical if you want to return someone to life. 

JE: And an interesting distinction for the character. Our Riddler never would have admitted he wasn't the smartest guy in the room.

BE: To be fair, Enigma is changing. This whole process is altering his perception of his abilities and his morality. 

JE: True. Riddler never had to face such a daunting tragedy, or people who were trying to kill him without remorse. Lock him up, yes, but never kill him outright.

The villains and heroes of Anti-Earth

JE: The Metal Marauders? The Time Shredder? Those are some scary thoughts (and personal favorites).

BE: Evil versions of the Metal Men and Rip Hunter, very scary stuff. I love the evil alternates, I'm a sucker for that sort of storyline. 

JE: Even though it's barely a page here, it's a great help in distinguishing the Anti-Matter Earth, Enigma's home, with our own.

BE: This is something at which the creative teams excel. We saw this earlier when the Trinity visited Anti-Earth and the Crime Syndicate.

JE: Aside from Ra's al Ghul being calmer, I gather he's very much unchanged.

BE: His goals, as stated, have always been purely logical. It was his methods that were "evil." He's more of a balancing force on both worlds, I think. 

JE: Indeed. It's he's got the right idea with what he wants to do. How he goes about it, not so much. Zatanna in an opium den? Man, Anti-Matter Earth is harsh.

BE: Zatanna as a corrupt mystic suits her in that evil world. 

Enigma's quest for happiness

JE: What about the Idol Head of Infernatu?

BE: This is the Anti-Earth version of the Idol-Head of Diabolu who first appeared in "Detective Comics" #326 (April 1964) in a Martian Manhunter back-up feature. This was the last issue of "Detective Comics" before Julius Schwartz took over editing the book and the Manhunter moved to "House of Mystery" with issue #143 (June 1964), and the Idol-Head came along. The Idol-Head of Diabolu is, well, the head of an idol. A crook name Vince Durskin stole the head from a private collector and during its first appearance it "killed" Detective John Jones, the Manhunter's secret identity. After that, the Martian Manhunter and his sidekick, Zook, tried to destroy the Idol-head, but, every month, on the full moon, the Idol-head would spawn a new monster for J'onn to fight. This silliness went on until "House of Mystery" #158  (April 1966) when the thing was mercifully destroyed. What does all this mean? It means I have read way too many comic books and that Kurt Busiek does this stuff just so I'll go digging through my old comics and have to explain it.

JE: Wow. That's something else, right there. And here I was wondering if that thing might still be floating around somewhere in our world.

BE:  I certainly hope not. Just as an aside, in "Trinity" #13, Enigma's Idol-Head satellite was first mentioned and shown and he used the word Infernatu to transport himself there.

Enigma begins to question his crusade to save his world

JE: And we get to the crux of the story: destroying this world will help Enigma reshape his.

BE:  Because Anti-Earth is a reflection of ours, if our world goes to hell, his gets better.

JE: It's not just the power to reshape, but with the two earths being mirrors of each other, well, I think that just blew my mind.

BE: It's a cunning plan and worthy of Enigma. 

JE: Though I wonder if even he was prepared for the ramifications. But as we've discussed, Enigma isn't actually a villain.

BE: No, back home on Anti-Earth he was a hero, but his actions here are hardly heroic. Also, let's not forget that our own Edward Nigma was searching for the identity of Enigma before the Trinity disappeared.

JE: No doubt much to his own confusion. Then it's back to the companions, who rout the Machinist Cult with ease.

BE: Not surprising, at least three of them are (if you'll pardon the expression) lesser versions of the Pilgrim's gods. 

JE: Expression pardoned, and the other three are literally the closest people to them in the whole wide world. You don't care about someone without picking up a few traits along the way.

BE: One half is lesser examples of the physical abilities and the other half is their touchstone to humanity, combined they form the whole? I think you're on to something here. 

JE: Glad you agree. Kellel is a tough one. He simply walks right out of the Underworld.

BE: Dude. He's Superman. 

JE: Point taken, but ... wow. That's a pretty hefty (and mythic) image. A quick crushing of the Doomsday monster and Kellel is king of the world.

BE: Again, the story is very messianic. 

JE: Kellel grabs onto something we touched upon last week: he's so powerful that he can't fail, even if he's just trying to be normal.

BE: The argument being that Kellel could only die if he wanted to and by defying his godhood, he succeeded is allowing himself to die. Hell of a paradox.

JE: Right. And with that success, he's reinforced that he can do whatever he wants. So he decides he's going to have a regular life. Decision made, and Kellel makes it happen. Were you not looking for a wedding reference last week?

BE: I was, and here it is: The wedding of Lois and Clark.

JE: Or Kellel and Luai. Kellel's friends disagree with his choice.

Kellel's wedding and a confrontation

BE: Yes, it seems that Atmahn and Dinanna that their godhood should keep them apart from their worshipers, perhaps as a result of their personal falls from grace with the death of Rabbat and the death of the Gray Lord. 

JE: But Kellel returns to the infallible nature of their “godhood,” since we know these characters, their perceived godhood. It's unlike Clark to be tempted this way. Which will lead to more problems, it seems.

BE: A Godwar. I don't like the sound of that. 

JE: Nor I, and considering that this "Godwar" is what drove the gods from history, that's big trouble. Lois, once again, doesn't like the way the story has turned.

BE: I can hardly blame her; the marriage is essentially set as the cause for the Godwar that followed. 
JE: Not something any woman would care to hear, I imagine.

BE: I think Lois has always worried that she is Superman's weakness. 

JE: She's certainly been a target in the past. Supergirl asks the same question we thought of last week: what if this world is the better one for her?

BE: I have to think it is. Here she is her own person, was never used by Darkseid and never had all the weird ret-conned evil Zor-El stuff. She's not Superman's cousin, she's Interceptor.

JE: I'm in agreement with you, but we have to consider, as Tomorrow Woman and Triumph did a few weeks ago, what's best for everyone, not just one person. I believe a good summary for the final page would be "Uh-oh..."

The Trinity return?

BE: Yeah, the gods are here. It appears that the stories told by the Pilgrims is not an allegory, the Trinity really are gods. Next week needs to hurry up and get here so I can get an answer to this one. 
JE: You don't trust that the "gods" know what they are doing?

BE: I don't trust that the Trinity. If they have been stripped of their humanity, are capable of making the correct decisions. They need that missing part and I think it's the Companions. 

JE: Exactly. They maybe the best at what they do, but they are the best because they're grounded by the people they surround themselves with.

TAGS:  trinity, tringenuity, dc comics, mark bagley, kurt busiek

 
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