Friday, November 23, 2012

Utterly Bored By The Execution, Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity Flops!

The Good: Decent concept
The Bad: Predictable, Terrible artwork, Lackluster character development/establishment
The Basics: Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is a dull, poorly illustrated graphic novel not worth the time and attention of fans of Wonder Woman, Batman, or Superman.

I have a bone to pick with Brad Meltzer. Meltzer is the author of the wonderful graphic novel Identity Crisis (reviewed here!) and a guy who clearly understands both what character is and how to write an engaging character-driven story. Meltzer is also a world-class liar. I write this with full authority, having never met the man, because his forward to Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is such a load of bullshit propaganda that he seriously lost credibility with me just for having written it. On the other hand, maybe Brad Meltzer’s foreword in Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is just another example of what a wonderful fiction writer he is. Regardless, it was reading his foreword that convinced me to read Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity and now that I have wasted my time on that, I’m blaming him for his part in this literary travesty.

Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is, arguably, the worst written, worst-illustrated DC graphic novel I have yet come across. From the choppy writing of Matt Wagner to the art that looks more like, well, mine (and I am very much not a visual artist!), Matt Wagner created a mess under the guise of what was supposed to be the original team-up story between the three icons of the DC Universe: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

When a new group of villains, known simply as the Purge, begins to attack Metropolis and Gotham City, Batman and Superman get involved. Batman quickly recognizes the force as one trained by Ra’s al Ghul, though he will not tell Superman how exactly he knows that. When Ra’s al Ghul unearths Bizzaro and uses Bizzaro to bring him a Soviet sub filled with nuclear missiles, one is detonated off Themyscira. After conflicts with a mysterious Amazon, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman meet and determine they share a common enemy in Ra’s al Ghul.

As Ra’s al Ghul moves to set off four nuclear missiles and reduce civilization to cinders, Superman and Batman hunt for Bizzaro and Wonder Woman investigates the Amazon angle. Their journey to stop Ra’s al Ghul takes the trio from Gotham to Metropolis, deep under the ground, and to Paradise Island where they join the Amazons to stop an all-out assault by Bizzaro, Ra’s al Ghul and the Purge.

Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is not, in fact, the first meeting of Batman and Superman; it is very clear that they have known one another for quite some time before the events in Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity. Moreover, both heroes seem to be aware of Wonder Woman (including her having that name already), so the real purpose of Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is a bit murkier than the stated one.

Actually, I’m at a loss as to what the point of Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity actually is. The conflict is set up pretty generically with a villain for each of the protagonists. With Ra’s al Ghul, Bizzaro, and a mysterious Amazon (I’ll not ruin the faux-surprise of her identity) all in play, it seemed like a pretty natural set up for a crossover with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. One of the very few surprises of Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is that the heroes to not simply square off with their traditional adversaries. As a result, Batman becomes obsessed with defeating the Amazon (he also takes on Bizzaro pretty intensely), Wonder Woman and Bizarro have quite the conflict and Ra’s al Ghul manages to exploit some of Superman’s moralistic weaknesses.

Beyond that, there is astonishingly little to Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity. Superman simply accepts Bruce and his harsh methods (because he is already used to it, he says – and because he sees the heroism in Batman’s one-man crusade against crime) and neither of them treats Wonder Woman especially well. In fact, Diana is offended by how Batman uses her lasso of truth, but there is really no reaction or dialogue about it other than the stated sense of offense. Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is not a bold character study. Instead, it is a pretty tired adventure to save the world like these heroes have done numerous times.

What gets me most about Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is how very sloppy it is. While the artwork is terrible and largely simplified (much of the book looks like a nicely-colored comuic strip as opposed to a rich comic book or graphic novel with well-developed or rendered characters and settings. But the sloppiness is more than just an artistic problem. First, the writing is frequently choppy and changes narrators abruptly and in unclear ways. Second, thoughts pop up that are not shown, they are simply told. Like Batman and the Invisible Plane: we are told he wants one, but not shown it, he doesn’t say it, etc. Moreover, the Wonder Woman presented in Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity makes the Invisible Jet baffling as she appears to be able to fly on her own.

The other troublingly sloppy aspect of Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is how characters appear out of nowhere for no real reason. Robin appears in one frame abruptly next to the Batmobile before scampering off out of the Batcave. Aquaman is given an utterly gratuitous cameo near the end of the book and the ultimate feeling one is left with is that Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity needed filler; it was not significant enough on its own.

And it is not. Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity is a dull story where the villains and heroes seem thrown together with little sensibility for coherent motives and the book reads as a thoroughly average superhero story of saving the world. But even its peaks in average territory is brought down by the artwork which is enough to make one shudder and almost swear off the medium forever!

For other works that feature Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman together, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Kingdom Come
Superman/Batman: Supergirl


For other graphic novel reviews, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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