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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Trinity #19

Trinity #19

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 8, 2008

Cover date: October 8, 2008

Main Story: "Call Me Freddie"

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

Back-Up Story: "Just a Little Bit of Hope"

Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Pencillers: Mike Norton and John Floyd
Back-Up Inker: Allen Passalaqua

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman with Neal Bailey and Jeffrey Bridges

Click to enlarge

Tarot relaxes outside a camp site. She thinks back to the fight at Castle Branek and how everything suddenly changed. Gangbuster and Tarot ran halfway across Europe. They were attacked by demon-monsters and were rescued by sharpshooters.

In the present, Tarot has met up with Alfred Pennyworth. Without Batman to care for, he's become an amateur archeologist on the search for items associated with the missing heroes (though he's not quite sure why or what he's looking for).

Tarot recalls her secret origin. Her "papi" gave her the first set of tarot cards but he insisted they were for fun. From the beginning, Tarot felt something, like a tingle. One day she read that her father shouldn't go to work. He insisted that tarot's just a game and went anyway. He died that day when a truck and bus collided.

Tarot realizes she's been letting Jose - and now Alfred/Freddie - do all the work. She decides to read Alfred's cards. She tells him that she sees that he's been a father figure to a strong man plus a few more. She has a strong image of him in a cavern (the Batcave). Though the name "Batman" means nothing to him (other than as an army officer's orderly), he seems to recall the cavern.

After the reading, Gangbuster and Tarot head back to America. Alfred remains behind. Alfred gives them an artifact from the fourth dynasty - the reign of Khufu. He tells them that he's not sure why but he feels it should go to the head of the J.S.I. (presumably Hawkman).

As Gangbuster and Tarot ride away, Alfred says one word: "Bruce."

To be continued...

Back-Up Story: "Just a Little Bit of Hope"

A woman named Desiree lives in Washington, DC with her abusive husband Trevor. She has no apparent ties to the heroes except she attended an empowering Wonder Woman speech in the real reality. Without that speech, the woman Desiree - who is pregnant - remains in an abusive relationship. On her way to her job at the Air & Space Museum as a tour guide, she literally bumps into Dr. Julia Kapatelis - Wonder Woman's first Patriarch's world mentor and friend in the real reality - who sees Desiree's art and offers her a job.

As Desiree leaves work at the end of the day, she passes what used to be the Hall of Justice which is now the J.S.I.'s Metahuman Courts Building for crooks who are too dangerous for the regular courthouses. There, Mammoth is causing a destructive scene looking for his sister Shimmer. Firestorm stops Mammoth. But the police don't recognize him apparently because he was out of reality when reality changed. Desiree remembers him and the Justice League. She tries to defend Firestorm who flies off.

Desiree returns home and her abusive husband Trevor takes all her papers and artwork, throws them in the sink and sets them all on fire. Desiree finally starts to lose hope - but Dr. Kapatelis's business card remains partially un-singed.

To be continued...

Barry's Review:

2Main/Back-Up Story - 3: It's about time Tarot stopped acting like the victim and started living up to having a heroic code name. Modern DC heroes are defined by a code name and a secret origin and here we get both. Finally.

The lead story reminds me of the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where the main characters knew there was something they had to do but didn't know exactly what yet persisted forward anyway. The modified Alfred feels incomplete without Bruce and company. And Alfred's military background sans meeting Thomas Wayne would probably lead him in the direction this Alfred's headed.

The theme continues in the back-up story to even better effect by using a regular person with no apparent ties to the heroes but for being present at an empowering Wonder Woman speech in the real reality.

The story's far from perfect. I'd have preferred to see Jose un-costumed in the new reality given it was Superman who first wore the Gangbuster uniform when he was traumatized by his decision to kill the alternate Earth Phantom Zone villains. But that story appears to be out of continuity now with the return of the real Phantom Zone villains to New Earth so who knows what made Gangbuster into Gangbuster.

There's very little action in the stories and very little actually happens to move the overall plot forward. Nonetheless, the characterization for Alfred is spot on. Desiree is a well-developed character who engenders empathy. Firestorm is his typical hot-headed self. And Tarot finally gets a super-heroic back-story. Not too shabby - at least compared to the 18 previous issues.

4Main Art - 4: As usual, the lead story's art is above average especially Alfred's vision of the Batcave. But why does alternate reality Alfred appear to have purple highlights in his hair?

4Back-Up Art - 4: The artwork is very good. I especially like the way light and dark are used to reflect Desiree's mood. In her apartment and at the job she doesn't like, it's dark and subdued. When she bumps into Julia, it's a bright sunny day on the National Mall. Similarly she has her vision of the Justice League with them running and/or flying out of a bright light.

4Cover Art - 4: The beginning of the latest triptych is, at least, something new and different. Casting the heroes in marble evokes the notion that they are our modern gods. And the damage to the statue represents their loss. It's more than just cracks and missing pieces, there are whole holes throughout the statue, a metaphor for Batman's slow disappearance from peoples' memories.

Neal's Review:

2Main Story - 2: There's an attempt at characterization for Tarot here that makes me care about her for a page or so, when we hear about her father dying and her power being unable to prevent it. It's a compelling scene.

Otherwise, for the second straight (of I'm sure many) issue, we're treated to people seeing the oddity of the new episode, whereby Tarot and Gangbuster are the main characters in a book called Trinity about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

We're also treated to a characterization of Alfred were Bruce not around, which at times is absolutely deliberate when referring to Bruce. "Gee... were I not this strange version of myself, had I had a young boy to watch, I might have been different!"

More wolvors, too, that kinda stank. But at very least I felt some sympathy or empathy for something in this book.

3Main Art - 3: At times it gets very loose. I couldn't tell Alfred was Alfred, at first, and Tarot often didn't look like the image of Tarot I have in my head from earlier issues. Jose is also a bit loose at times.

Still, when Bagley is on, he's on, like with the first appearance of Alfred, even if the face threw me off, the background made it very dramatic and eye-pleasing.

1Back-Up Story - 1: Another character starts recalling one of the missing Trinity. We just had this exact same story, done better, last issue. It's like the idea is if you've got fifty-two weeks, you might as well beat the dead horse with another face.

The abuse is a sympathy point, but it's a hard sell when it's this typical in terms of how it's executed.

4Back-Up Art - 4: The art is actually pretty darned strong, with most of the characters distinctive, cool backgrounds. A good depiction, compared to the rest of the issue's failings.

1Cover Art - 1: These cover go out of their way to be weird. First, Bats under the Supes logo. Still irks me. Secondly, it's a world where they never existed, not one where they're reviled, so the concept is odd. Thirdly, what would better boast this story, a stock Batman pictures, or Tarot as a child holding her dying father's body? Consider.

Jeffrey's Review:

2Main Story - 2: So it's a book about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (supposedly), and we get an entire issue about Tarot talking to Alfred. The entire issue is Alfred looks for artifacts that remind him of the Trinity, Tarot decides to stop being meek suddenly and without real motivation.

I think I almost fell asleep halfway through.

3Main Art - 3: I guess this is about as good as it's going to get when all you have to draw is Tarot and Alfred standing around talking for the entire story.

2Back-Up Story - 2: Hey, more new characters in this rotten new world without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Why, in this world there are people who think the arts aren't worthwhile or "real work" and there are jerk husbands and...

Oh wait, that's the same, isn't it?

What's the point of this? THIS is the story we're telling in what should have been one of the most epic stories ever told? A pregnant woman who wants to draw but her husband is a jerk. If only Wonder Woman were around! Then... nothing would be different!


3Back-Up Art - 3: Adequate. Forgettable.

3Cover Art - 3: I guess it sort of ties in with the content of the book, since it's largely about Alfred in a life without Bruce... kind of?



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