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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Trinity #12

Trinity #12

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 20, 2008

Cover date: August 20, 2008

Main Story: "100101010"

Main Story Writer: Kurt Busiek
Main Story Penciller: Mark Bagley
Main Story Inker: Art Thibert

Back-Up Story: "Riddle Me This"

Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Pencillers: Mike Norton
Back-Up Inker: Karl Kesel

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey with Jeffrey Bridges and Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

Superman arrives at the CSA flying headquarters, disgusted to find pieces of their enemies all around the villains. They offer to allow him to take the slaves home and leave. Superman goes bonkers and attacks them.

John Stewart, Red Tornado, and Firestorm go to the CSA orbital satellite and explode their way in. Once inside, robot dogs attack them.

Superman fights the CSA. The JLA arrive to help him, and come under fire from the CSA defenses.

The evil Trinity talk about what's happening with the good Trinity. Enigma demands that Earth-3 remain untouched.

Superman gives in to his odd emotional feelings and spirals up into the air.

John Stewart goes wonky, sprouts electrical doodads, and begins speaking binary.

To be continued...

Back-Up Story: "Riddle Me This"

The Riddler reveals that he's assigned to solve the artifact heists.

He goes to the Penguin, who asserts no involvement.

Outside, Nightwing and Robin pull Riddler up high, ask him for what he knows, and then drop him into garbage when they find out.

Riddler goes to see Mr. Freeze. Freeze says that his men were put out of work when Riddler hired another group for a heist that was theirs. Riddler doesn't understand, and fights his way out before Freeze can kill him.

He goes to Madam Zodiac and asks her aid. Her gargoyle comes to life and tries to kill Riddler.

Riddler sends a letter to his employer indicating that only the Riddler could be the culprit.

Enigma, meanwhile, trades barbs with Morgan Le Fay.

To be continued...

Neal's Review:

1Main Story - 1: Again, we set back to where we were two issues ago. That issue started with the JLA squared off against the CSA. Here we are, still in that exact spot. There have been a few exchanged blows, but nothing with any real character benefit. It all just happens.

Superman is apparently wonky. It's inconsistent, odd, I can't get my head around it. Not because the concept is complex, but because it's presented so simply, as a way to justify oddness. "Oh, Superman is ENRAGED! It's our shared emotions problem that we have no real understanding of and yet still, somehow, instinctively understand!"


There are thought bubble captions. The reason comics went mostly to captions over thought bubbles is because it sounds like these ones do. Hokey. If you believe in thought bubbles, and want to bring them back, at least have the courage to make them what they are, like Bendis did. I disagree with what he did, but at least he's not trying to hide it.

Superman is, of course, out of character in challenging the CSA on his own. My guess is that this is to try and show how the emotion is working on him, but it's just kind of boring.

Let's make a comic about Red Tornado, John Stewart, and Firestorm fighting giant robot dogs.

Or not. Yeah. Let's go with not. Why? Because it's boring as hell.

And hey, let's have the evil Trinity talk about the good Trinity again. Suppose you try and say that it's a justifiable scene, because Enigma goes nuts about Earth-3 remaining untouched, giving away that it's his universe?

Well, suppose that's obvious, and not that big a revelation.

Also, don't know if this was writer or artist, but there's a dead Orion gear on one of the pillars. I thought there was supposed to be only one set of New Gods, right?

4Main Art - 4: Almost a three, but for the cool approach in the first page, but the rest of the art is kind of loose and scratchy, very rushed looking. I can't put my finger on it like a professional artist could, but a lot of it still feels rushed. Still, the backgrounds are rad, the action is great. It's only the character work that's suffering.

3Back-Up Story - 3: There's a lot here that's interesting, but ultimately it's undermined by a few odd elements that balance out the great.

On the basic nuts and bolts plot level, there are odd things here.

Dick Grayson directly hires the Riddler. Secret identities are out in this series for all bad intents and purposes, I know, but still.

Robin and Dick Grayson then scare the crap out of the Riddler and then risk his life dropping him from a great height when they're apparently working together. Out of character.

Riddler goes to Penguin with no reason, and Mr. Freeze with little reason. It's like he's knocking door to door as an excuse to show a cool scene with villain X. It sticks out like a sore thumb to me, I don't know about you guys. As a writer, I see that and I say, "Ah, this guy wanted a scene with X villain, so he just did it, even without a reason."

Rule number one in ANYTHING you do... don't make reference to Batman and Robin. "Your new chosen profession leaves me COLD!" Mr. Freeze making puns? Come on, guys. I had repressed that.

But the good is there. Riddler is portrayed with character here, it's a lot of fun, and there are a couple of really good scenes that play out. He's honestly confused by his doppelganger, and it's neat to see him confront it.

I'm a bit confused as to why he's just around wandering Gotham unmolested. I understand comic logic, he's "reformed." I think that was the beginning of the Dini run I started reading and ran like hell from. But what I don't see, as a reader, is the way he went from a murderer in Hush (wasn't he?) to a reformed good guy without molestation. Not this story's fault, but that's still in my head here, and thus a factor.

5Back-Up Art - 5: Really well portrayed, and most of the reason Riddler's character popped so well despite some odd turns. I'm a fan of Karl's work, and this is why, great work like this. I hope to see more soon.

Because of his work here, I see two things I never saw before in the Enigma design. The disfigured face, and the fact that his mask looks like a question mark. That alone has already made his story much better for me. Little details.

4Cover Art - 4: That's actually a pretty darned cool Batman picture. The only flaws are the glaring, gaudy words, and the WONDER WOMAN sigil above him. But the picture overwhelms that suckitude.

Jeffrey's Review:

2Main Story - 2: Some bang, some boom, not much else.

I'm running out of things to write when I have the mini-reviews. There's just nothing going on here and nothing more to say.

3Main Art - 3: I have no idea what the hell Superman was flying toward on page 1, but I liked his fists and the angle of the shot.

And what the heck is happening in the last panel of this story? I have no idea, which means the art is likely failing there.

2Back-Up Story - 2: So anyone who doesn't think Enigma is the CSA's version of Riddler please raise your hand. No one?

If you're going to reveal that's who Enigma is, do so. If you want to keep it a mystery, do so. But doing something so blatantly revealing and then pretending it's not been revealed is rather silly.

We also get such stellar dialogue as:

"Eh, how could it have become animated?" (JUST what someone would say when a gargoyle snapped to life and tried to kill someone)


"How passing strange. He was here and yet... two places at once...?" (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!)

My head hurts.

3Back-Up Art - 3: Same old same old.

Everything about this book is a study in mediocrity, it seems.

5Cover Art - 5: Guess who got the best cover again?

Barry's Review:

1Main Story - 1: Last week I declared that it was enough time on the Antimatter Earth and time to get things moving back on New Earth. But this week virtually nothing has changed. Correct that: remove virtually from that last sentence because nothing has changed at all. We're still stuck with the Syndicate and on their Earth. Even the villains spend an entire page explaining why the story doesn't belong on the CSA Earth (and see the back-up story review for more on this).

We're still stuck with the most stilted over-simplistic ways to demonstrate how the Big Three's personalities are meshing. Were the three of them not always saying it was happening, it wouldn't feel like it at all. The worst offender of all starts the story: Superman's ridiculous thoughts expressed in the captions in the first panel of page 2. How precisely does someone distinguish Batman's anger from Wonder Woman's drive. It's as if to say Superman is never angry and never motivated so expressing those traits at all must mean the personalities are meshing. The art's supposed to be the only two-dimensional thing on the page here Kurt. Your story idea isn't bad here. But your story execution is sloppy, lazy, over-simplified, and repetitive of ideas already made clear last issue.

4Main Art - 4: I continue to enjoy the art. The special moment for me this issue, artistically speaking, takes place on page 3 with the juxtaposition of the super-doppelgangers. In panel 2, Superman is so angry he looks more like Ultra-Man than Superman. Then in the very next panel, Ultra-Man seems so relaxed and in control that he looks more like Superman than Ultra-Man.

4Back-Up Story - 4: Riddle me this: When is Mr. E. Nygma not the Riddler in question? Answer: When his parallel Earth version seems to be some amalgamation of Riddler and Two-Face.

I'm not a big fan of the Riddler as a supposed good guy. But then I was never a big fan of making Catwoman a good gal in her own comic book and, not only has it run 80 issues or so, it's a pretty good read most months. Still I'm thrilled Selina seems to be returning to her baddie roots. It's been so long since we've had Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and Penguin all on the same side - that side being the pursuit of each of their own very different personal agendas. I want Edward to return to the out and out villain mold. It does seem he's not too far from making that jump - his morality is elusive at best, his ego his greatest weapon and biggest liability, and Batman still his biggest challenge. But, as with Catwoman, I think this particular treatment of Riddler makes a good read. But I still want him to be a real arch-villain again.

Madame Zodiac - a poor excuse for the unavailable Madame Xanadu who is under the 'Vertigo' banner at present (enough of these ridiculous inter-company contracts that limit the ability to use characters DC - you need better lawyers) - is an actual minor league Batgirl villain who has appeared only twice (her first appearance in an issue of "Batman Family" from the 1970s).

3Back-Up Art - 3: Artistically, this plays out as a pretty decent adventure in Gotham. The heroes and villains all look unmistakably recognizable. Though 'riddle me this, riddle me that, couldn't Zodiac be more flat?'

3Cover Art - 3: The legacy of "Superman Returns": I see a super-hero baring his sole - the soles of his shoes that is -- and I immediately look for the hero's logo imprint.

Of the three covers with the flag background, Batman's least comfortable embracing any way but his own so he's placed in the shadows of the flag. Nonetheless, the Dark Knight naturally would believe everything he does that furthers his view of justice would further the real (i.e., his version of it) American way.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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