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Trinity #2

Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 30, 2003

Cover date: September 2003

Writer: Matt Wagner
Penciller: Matt Wagner
Inker: Matt Wagner

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (IronMunro@aol.com)



Diana and other members of The Purge meet with a street gang on a rooftop in Gotham City. The spokesman for the group asks to inspect the "merchandise", which Diana agrees to but warns them not to get any funny ideas about the firepower they are going to look over. As members of the gang inspect the weapons Diana turns to find that the Batman has taken them by surprise and already brought down her fellow members of the Purge. The gang opens fire and Batman makes quick work of them as well.

As the fight ends Batman blocks a dagger thrown by Diana. He turns to find the young girl in a ready stance telling him that she's not sure how he took out her men but if he wants to rumble that is fine with her. Batman is able to fend off most of her attacks, but she lands a solid blow with her baton catching the Dark Knight across the face. He warns her that it was a lucky shot and that she won't get another. Batman strikes again, but Diana blocks and throws a fierce kick to his stomach followed again by a baton to Batman's face. Batman recovers, but not before Diana escapes leaving behind the guns and her crew.

Selecting a member of the Purge Batman dangles him over the edge of the building as the interrogation begins. Despite his best material Batman cannot get anything out of the member besides his devotion to Ra's Al Ghul. Suddenly a golden lasso wraps around the man and he starts spilling his guts. Batman looks up to see Superman and Wonder Woman floating above him. Wonder Woman chides him for his aggressive methods. Batman is not amused and tells her that he is not seeking approval. Superman tries to play peacemaker and as he starts to introduce the two, Batman tells him that he knows who she is. Batman and Wonder Woman begin to bicker again but Superman breaks them up and tells Batman why they are there.

After bringing Batman up to speed on the stolen missiles and nuclear detonation the Dark Knight questions why the theft was not reported. Superman replies that the Soviets are slow to admit to any failures on their part and the explosion took place in the Bermuda Triangle where radio interference is common. Wonder Woman explains the real question is where the other missiles are and what they should do about it. Batman gives the two heroes a psychological sketch of Ra's and wants to question the Purge member further, using Wonder Woman's lasso. She agrees, adding that Batman is not to brutalize the suspect.

Batman wraps the lasso around the Purge member and after getting his name, rank and serial number he discovers that one of the missiles was brought to Gotham. As far as the location of the missile in Gotham or the location of the other missiles the man doesn't know. When he is finished Batman breaks the man's jaw.

Below the streets of Gotham Ra's enters his Lazarus Pit and confers with his seer, the ancient Sybil. She cryptically tells him of how the pit has caused a rift in the Earth. She also warns that a triad of great power is going to oppose him. He thanks her and takes his leave. Behind him Diana pays her respects in Sybil's native language, which surprises Ghul. He tells the young girl that the woman has been with him since the age of nine, which surprises Diana as she realizes that Ghul is much older than he appears.

Back on the rooftop Superman has to physically keep Batman and Wonder Woman apart as the Amazon is furious at the brutality of Batman's actions. Batman is furious that this woman would come to his town and tell him how to do his job. Wonder Woman is offended that her lasso would be used in such an act. Batman finally has enough and reveals that the girl he fought earlier wore an eagle crest like hers and that she matched Wonder Woman's scene in general. Wonder Woman is taken aback and tells them that an Amazon would not be involved with such a cult. Batman informs the two heroes that he will deal with the missile in Gotham and that they should get on with finding the other weapons.

Batman departs, leaving Wonder Woman to question how Superman could consider such a man a friend. Supermen tells her that Batman has never been much of a team player and that he should catch up and try to talk it out. Wonder Woman is sure that they could find the missiles on their own, which Superman agrees to but adds that Batman could find them faster. She begrudgingly hands him one of her ear rings that is also a transmitter and informs him that she will be in the jet.

Meanwhile in Ghul's temporary fortress Diana inquires about Ra's personal bodyguard Ubu. She thought that he had led the team that was obliterated in the explosion. Ra's tells her of Ubu's family and how the men are trained to serve him. The subject makes Diana somewhat homesick and Ra's makes another attempt to find out where the girl is from. She reveals that it is an island known as Themyscira and tells Ghul that it is not a bad place, but rather a paradise. Ghul tells her to relax and that soon all the world will be a paradise once the urban blight is removed and tells her that she reminds him of his daughter. After that he orders his men into place as the hour approaches and all must be prepared.

In the Batcave Batman explains to Superman that the sub's missile capacity is half a dozen, so there are four of them left. He goes on to tell the Man of Steel that two days before he busted a Purge communication cell and discovered that in twenty-four hours ninety-five percent of the world's communication satellites will pass within in five cubic miles of each other. It is a freak occurrence and one that most world leaders are not even aware of it. Ra's is, however and is using it to plan an attack. If Ghul detonates a missile in the center it will throw the world into a communications blackout. To launch a missile into orbit Ra's would need a full silo facility. Superman suspects that Bizarro could be used to launch the missile, but Batman does think so, citing a Radio Free Europe report that a Bulgarian silo had been attacked.

Batman admits that he can't handle the situation alone. Superman wonders why he hadn't mentioned this before, hinting that maybe Bruce had a problem with woman in general and Wonder Woman in particular. Batman is quick to point out that Superman knows next to nothing about him and that he prefers to work alone. Superman gives Dick Grayson, who has been skulking around the cave for some time, a quick wink while pointing out that Batman's attitude doesn't jibe with current events. Batman orders Dick upstairs and turns to tell Superman that he has forbidden the boy to be involved with this case once Bizarro entered the picture. He adds that Superman and his kind are dangerous. Superman asks why Robin is allowed to face psychos and madmen and Batman replies that they are at least human.

Superman takes to the air to take care of the missile in Bulgaria as Batman smiles, knowing that he has kept one piece of information to himself and that is the location of Ra's Al Ghul.

In her jet Wonder Woman sits impatiently. Suddenly her radar picks up a signal that is similar to Superman's but crooked. Realizing that she has found Bizarro the Princess of Themyscira follows the creature. Bizarro leads her to Ra's lair where she makes her way through the fortress silently battling Ghul's forces. She realizes she is going in the right direction as the opposition grows in number and skill. Finding Ra's lair Wonder Woman listens as a messenger reveals that Soviet troops have breached the outer defenses of the forces in the East, but the missile is still prepped and ready. Ra's raises a glass to toast his plan and orders that his men are to only terminate after the missile has flown.

Feeling the time is right Wonder Woman reveals herself and takes out Ubu and the messenger before attacking Ghul himself. Ra's calls out for Bizarro, who bursts through the wall to defend the man who he considers his only friend in the world. Wonder Woman and Bizarro fight with Bizarro taking the lead. Wonder Woman ponders that she has never faced such a foe and finally wraps the lasso around the creature. Much to her surprise Bizarro breaks the lasso and savagely beats Wonder Woman into bloody submission.

Meanwhile Superman reaches the silo in Bulgaria just as the missile is launched. He thinks of Diana and hopes that she is alright since his attempts to reach her have failed. Matching speed with the missile he goes to work, fighting against the momentum and hoping his plan works.

Wonder Woman awakens and finds her self bound in heavy chains. Ra's sees that his captive has regained consciousness and he says that he thinks there is more to her than meets the eye. Wonder Woman counters with the fact that Ra's is exactly what he seems to be; a petty, would-be conqueror who hasn't a clue. Ra's explains why he has not only a clue and but also an agenda and goes on to tell her that for the Earth to survive he must succeed. Wonder Woman doesn't buy it, pointing out that he can't save Gaea by unleashing a weapon of mass destruction. Ra's says that he is out to save the planet from man itself.

In another part of the facility Diana finds a group of guards lying on the floor out cold. Batman comes out of the shadows and attacks quickly. He isn't thrown off as before and the fight goes in his favor. Finally he gases the rogue Amazon, rendering her unconscious before moving on to the next bad guy.

Back in Wonder Woman's cell Ra's explains that his plans had changed to humiliate Batman. One missile will destroy the satellites and the other he has brought to Gotham will set off fault lines under the city that will cause a massive earthquake. Wonder Woman defies Ghul, telling him that Superman will stop him. Ghul ignores her and goes on to say that the two remaining missile will strike the two most lucrative oil fields on the planet. Between the loss of energy and the loss of communications the world will be thrown into chaos, giving Superman something bigger to worry about. He then hints at his plans for her, mentioning that the effects of the Lazarus Pit make a person somewhat frisky at first, but then quite open to suggestion.

Meanwhile, Superman chases the missile into orbit and finally manages to separate the warhead from the missile. He pushes the payload deep into space and watches the detonation before flying back to Earth.

In Wonder Woman's cell Ra's asks Bizarro to crush Wonder Woman's skull. He resists, but goes forward when Ra's produces Wonder Woman's lasso, which had confused and hurt the creature. As Bizarro wraps his hands around the Amazon's skull Batman attacks, hitting the creature with an explosive burst from a solar-spectrum laser right between the eyes, which crystallizes Bizarro's eyes. Blinded, the creature flies off as Batman beats Ghul, demanding to know where the missile is. Ubu take Batman by surprise, hitting him in the back of the head with the butt of a rifle, which allows Ra's to escape. He opens fire on Wonder Woman, who deflects the bullets with her bracelets despite the fact that she is still under the heavy chain.

Ubu finally grows tired of the exercise and joins his master. Batman comes around and picks the lock on Wonder Woman's chains. She tells him of Ra's plan to set off an earthquake, but Batman is unfazed, confident of his ability to stop Ghul. Wonder Woman decides to follow and the two make their way deep into the complex until they come to a door with intricate markings.

Batman is prepared to blast the door with explosives, but Wonder Woman stops him. She tells him she can read the markings and after translating them the door opens. Batman seems unimpressed and the two bicker for a moment before Wonder Woman weakens as the fumes of the Lazarus Pit overtake her. Batman dons a gas mask, but Sybil tells him that while the fumes will not overtake him the essence of the pit is composed of the same materials that made Wonder Woman, which will weaken her.

Ignoring the old woman, Batman goes to work on the missile, hoping to attach an electromagnetic pulse device to the warhead. Sybil attempts to stop him, but Wonder Woman, weakened by the fumes, manages to fight her. As they struggle, the spear that Sybil had intended for Batman snaps and impales Wonder Woman. Batman cries out for the Amazon and hits Sybil with a Batarang, in the hopes of knocking her out. Instead, the woman falls to her death as Wonder Woman crawls towards the Lazarus pit.

Batman succeeds in stopping the missile and goes to assist Wonder Woman, who is following her instinct to go to the Pit. She falls in just as Superman arrives on the scene. Batman explains that the Pit is where Ghul gets his longevity before Wonder Woman emerges, glowing with power. The madness that follows after being submerged into the Pit kicks in and she demands that Batman and Superman to stop staring at her. She takes off with Superman in pursuit. He asks her to let him help, but in her dementia she blames everything on the evils of patriarch's world and leaves in her jet. Superman cries out to her, calling her Diana. Batman joins him and asks if her name is Diana. Sadly, Superman tells him yes.

5Story - 5: Matt Wagner delivers another solid issue, building and expanding in terms of character with almost all of the lead characters.

Like the first issue the main focus in on characterization. The plot is pretty basic for a comic book story. It almost trips into a clich, but I think the story is enjoyable enough to transcend that. Yes a villain planning to destroy the world, even if it is in terms of civilization and not the planet itself, but the nuclear angle makes it interesting and important enough to involve the three big guns of the DC Universe.

In my review of the first issue I made an off-handed comment that I thought that each issue would focus on a different hero and it seems I was right. I am not claiming that I am a genius for guessing this. It's a pretty safe bet, but at the same time it is nice to be right. Just as the first issue focused on Superman this time out we get Wagner's take on Batman, which, like his interpretation of Superman, is iconic but at the same time harkens back to an earlier time.

Wagner's Batman is a lot like the early Bill Finger version. This Batman is a little rough around the edges and not as refined as he is today. He's just as arrogant, but I have a hard time thinking of the more experienced Batman looking at any female and saying, "Look, Lady." This characterization works for me. It's kind of neat to see a rough and ready Batman who doesn't want to hear anyone question his methods and is not shy about sharing his feelings on the subject. The more experienced Batman would simply give one of his many "I'm better than you" looks and saying something to the effect of, "If you don't like it the door is that way."

There wasn't as much of an out and out view into the mind of the Batman as the first issue did with Superman. This examination was a lot more subtle with a little more show than tell. Whatever the case this issue had a great insight into how the early Batman worked. Like the original Bill Finger Batman this Dark Knight is extremely violent. It's almost like he is trying to find the balance between simple brutality and using enough force to get his point across. In reading this story, following it up with some of the current Batman and then finishing it with Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns you almost come full circle with Batman and his use of violence. It disturbed me to see Batman break the Purge member's jaw but at the same time it fit into Wagner's use of the character.

Wagner also displayed Batman's ability to learn from his mistakes and prepare for the worst in terms of the villains he fights. While I wouldn't refer to Batman as a misogynist in regard to his initial confrontation with Diana there was an uncharacteristic underestimation of the girl's fighting prowess, which may have lead to his defeat. His second battle with her showed two things; the first being that Batman doesn't lose twice and the second is that if he can't beat the bad guy he should cheat his way to a victory. The gas was a little underhanded, but did the job fast and efficient, two things Batman eventually became known for.

The second focus that struck me was the early relationship with Batman and Wonder Woman. I never gave the matter much thought but it makes perfect sense that the two would be at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of philosophy and execution. As much as other writers and artists like to play with Wonder Woman as the ultimate warrior I always found the Cain from Kung Fu approach that George Perez used by having her seeking a peaceful approach first and foremost and resort to violence only when necessary. Of course when she does cut loose it's a thing of violent beauty, but you get the idea.

Batman is pretty much the opposite. Violence is his main tool on a street level. Yes he is the world's most brilliant detective. He is a master of criminology and always uses his head to overcome the madmen and psychos that he must face. On the other hand when he catches a group of punks in the act, whether the Purge or a simple street gang, a razor sharp detective skill isn't going to get him far because most of the men he faces don't respect intelligence, they respect power. So he fights and fights well. Why else would he train his body for all those years unless he was willing to use it as his ultimate weapon?

(You could argue that he trained his mind as much as his body. You would be right, but the fact remains that if Batman wanted to solve crimes from afar, using only his wits and intelligence he wouldn't go out every night dressed as a giant bat and trying to bust up drug deals and gang rapes.)

This is why the two clash. They feel so strongly about their causes and are passionate that they are right. In the end, though, the two will end up working well together, even though their first team-up didn't go as well as it could have. Though with the supposed romantic feelings between the two in the pages of JLA it is kind of funny to see that when they first met they hated each other, which is the sign of true love in comics.

Wonder Woman was well handled on her own. There have been very few times that the character was beaten as badly as she was in this comic, but like Batman there were some classic, if not disturbing moments. The scene where she was chained not only harkened back to the previous issue where Bizarro was in a similar position, but had that Golden-Age feel where she was chained up every five minutes. Her emergence from the Lazarus Pit was a really neat scene. Crazy Wonder Woman was kind of scary, but her ranting made sense with the character.

I also liked how Wagner tied the Lazarus Pit into Wonder Woman's origins. I used to hate when creators tied two seemingly unrelated things together, but I have sense changed my mind. As long as it isn't as broad based as the Genesis event from 1997 where John Byrne tried to tie all of the super powers of the DC Universe to the God Wave I can deal.

Superman was pretty much in the background this issue, but that worked since Batman was relegated to that status last issue. His part was pure Man of Steel though and while it is probably just me I got a sense that the scene where he pushes the warhead deep into space had a Superman II feel to it. I almost expected the "camera" pan to the right and show the Phantom Zone villains being blown free from their prison.

Ra's Al Ghul was my only problem with this story. The reason has more to do with my perceptions of the character than anything else. I always liked the aloof; only get my hands dirty when the time is right Ghul. I never really saw him as a would-be rapist. Maybe it is my general unfamiliarity with the character that causes this, but I didn't really buy it.

In the end I am really digging this series. This issue continued the quality of writing from the previous issue and while the main plot of the story can be seen as clichd it is more than made up for with the characterization, which seems to be the main thrust of the story anyway. It doesn't really matter why the three characters get together. The main point of this series, to me anyway, is how the three biggest icons of the DC Universe got along when they first worked together. In this Wagner maintains the quality of the story.

On a somewhat unrelated note I would like to take this opportunity to voice my extreme displeasure at the recent published People Magazine Top 200 Pop Icons magazine. In the "Unreal" department both Batman and Wonder Woman got mentions, but I could not find a single reference to Superman. Spider-Man was there. Harry Potter was there. The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse were there, but no Superman. At least VH-I had the decency to make Superman number two. This was a bad move, but then again I am really biased on the subject. Then again Superman has been around for over sixty years, had four major motion pictures, three live action series (if you count Superboy), four animated series (counting the Fleisher shorts, six if you count the Superboy cartoon from the '60s and his numerous appearances of the various Super Friends series), a radio show, two movie serials and more merchandising than you could shake a stick at.

Forget Spider-Man, Superman should have been mentioned.

5Art - 5: The artwork, like the writing, continued its quality. Matt Wagner has great story-telling skills and his attention to detail shines through as well.

The first page was a stunning view of Gotham City and was a great set-up for the scene to come. Page three was pure Batman; dark, mysterious and scary as hell. I was particularly taken with page six. This is one of the best images of Batman that has been produced lately and despite the blood trickling down it has the iconic feel that the series needs.

Some other highlights include the spread across sixteen and seventeen with Superman keeping the Batman and Wonder Woman apart. When combined with the writing this is both a well drawn splash page and an amusing scene. Page thirty-six was equally as eye-catching but also kind of sad to see a hero bound. The wigged out Wonder Woman on page sixty-two was a highlight as well.

The only place where Wagner seems to have a weakness is establishing shots involving characters. He excels at cityscapes, but on pages seventeen and twenty-one the backgrounds are spectacular (especially the Batcave), but the figures look stiff and out of place. As stated this is the only weakness I can see because otherwise Wagner seems to put his heart into every page trying to get the look right. This is a hard task, especially when you consider that these are the three best-known characters in comics and count for the only three characters that have been published on a regular basis (barring certain leaves of absences that Superman and Wonder Woman have taken) since the Golden-Age.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Dave Stewart in this section. While Wagner's art is fantastic the coloring of this book really puts the final nail in the artwork. The differences in lighting really set the tone for the scenes and little touches, like Wonder Woman's glowing lasso, did a lot to make the artwork what it was.

I can't say enough about the artwork, but since I took so much time on the story I think I should cut it off here. Wagner and Stewart did a really solid job.

5Cover Art - 5: As in the previous issue the character to take center stage gets the biggest part of the cover. In fact the cover has such a darker feel with the moon surrounded by clouds in the background and the shadowy colors that it's a safe bet that Batman is the focus this time around.

The composition of the cover is very eye pleasing. It almost seems that the importance of the characters in terms of the story is highlighted by how much detail went into the character. Batman is the clearest followed by Wonder Woman. Superman is in the background, much like he was in the story itself. Overall the cover fit with the story better than most do these days.

Another nuance I noticed was the lighting of the characters. Superman is lighted the most, which to me suggests that he is the brightest in terms of outlook than the other two. There is almost as much light on Wonder Woman, but there is enough shadow to let you know that while this character is optimistic she has a darkness to her that is just under the surface, which may reflect her warrior side. Batman is has almost no light on him at all. There is a small amount along his back and cape, showing that he does have some brightness about his character, but mostly he is shadow.

If this lighting effect was done on purpose than it worked. If it is just a coincidence than maybe I am thinking about this too much. Either way this was a fantastic cover and gets 10 out of 10 on the "Grab Me" scale.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2003

Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2003

February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003

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