War. Different sides fighting for all they’re worth against their fellow man because every other avenue was exhausted. It’s epic, intense, and guarantees high drama – and even higher stakes.It’s the namesake of DC’s Trinity War event, and it’s what fans were promised for months before the launch. Orchestrated and written by some the best in comics – Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, and J. M. DeMatteis – this event was not only supposed to be epic in scale, but also genre storytelling at its finest. Sadly, it’s not even close to what fans got. Despite the star writers, impressive characters, and hyperbolic concept, Trinity War is merely a drawn-out prologue to September’s Forever Evil event that lacks any identity or purpose of it’s own. Star Wars has Episodes I-III and Forever Evil has Trinity War.

Trinity War where you're treated to War-like battles!

Trinity War where you’re treated to War-like battles!

Oddly enough a large part of this isn’t even the comic’s fault. As a story it has its problems, but it primarily suffers from the grandiose expectations set by DC and its creative team. Based on the media build up to the event, it was expected that all three Justice Leagues would be at odds – each with its own legitimate reason and plan to take the others out. What actually happened wouldn’t bother even the most tight-cheeked of pacifists. It begins with a minor tiff between the JL and JLA that gets way out of hand when Superman seemingly kills another hero. However, instead of that escalating the conflict it morphs the story into a superhero-whodunit, as the two teams partner to figure out who really killed Doctor Light.

Not having any real leads Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all develop differing opinions about how to proceed. The remaining heroes pick sides only to then leave each other alone while each “team” runs their own search. Which is not so much a war, but rather a misunderstanding, followed by a polite disagreement, that ends in teamwork. It’s a huge let down; as though someone switched out your DVD of Saving Private Ryan with a copy of Clue. To be fair, the story does conclude with a few pages of everyone fighting because Pandora’s box fills their heads with intense emotions that cloud their judgment. But if that’s a “War” then puberty is an extinction level event.

War-like conversation!

War-like conversation!

However, the real mark of a quality story isn’t if it lived up to expectations, but whether it’s still good 10 years from now when the hype is lost to the bowels of the internet and fan boys’ nostalgia. Unfortunately, for readers and their younger cousins, Trinity War is a bloated and rambling journey that drags out into six issues what could have been accomplished in two. The meat of Trinity War involves Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman leading teams of mismatched League members as they attempt to figure out what caused Superman to kill.

The problem here is only one of those teams are relevant to proceedings, yet they each get equal time. By the time the story wraps, we find that Pandora’s Box was the only thing that mattered, and since only Wonder Woman’s team finds Pandora’s Box everything Batman and Superman did was irrelevant. Yes they find small clues as to who is behind it all, but none of the clues end up affecting their behavior in any significant way, nor does it lead them to the villain. Which means two-thirds of the story is watching Batman and Superman run around flustered like a pair of overzealous student council members fighting over streamer placement at the school dance. In the big scheme of things, what they do doesn’t matter. Those storylines could be cut and it wouldn’t change the outcome a bit.

War-like near misses!

War-like near misses!

Not surprisingly, a story overstuffed with plot also means a story lacking in character. Things didn’t happen in Trinity War as a result of a protagonist pursuing a goal…things happened because DC comics needed them to happen. The writers glossed over the emotional meat of the story in favor of having characters hand out plot details. Everyone wants to find out what happened to Superman, but no one ever articulates why it matters to them personally. Is Batman afraid he’s losing his closest friend? Has Wonder Woman ever experienced such concern over a romantic partner? Are the younger heroes terrified to realize even Superman is mortal? We’ll never know because Trinity War takes the central dramatic event of the story and doesn’t explore it. The characters aren’t the point of the story, taking up pages until Forever Evil is.

and War-like performance anxiety!

and War-like performance anxiety!

The one saving grace of this series (some of) is its art. Switching artists between books is never a positive thing, but for an event like this it can’t be helped. The art in the book is amazingly clear and effective, given the number of figures that had to be jammed on each page. Many of the battle scenes are incredibly dynamic and offer more to look at than you’d ever think possible.

Given the rough history comics have with events like this, it’s not shocking that Trinity War turned out the way it did, but that doesn’t stop it from being disappointing. As a concept, it was interesting and exciting, but in practice never rose beyond required fan reading. It is something you trudge through because it’s important for continuity, not because it’s any good. One can only hope that Forever Evil is worth it to justify the creative shortcuts they decided to make. Then again, maybe it’s all some sort of meta commentary in advance of Forever Evil; where DC comics is taking on the role of the villain and the readers are being played like the Justice Leagues. Not that it would make any more sense, but at least the disappointment wouldn’t hurt so much.

Overall Score
38 %

Not even great art can redeem a bad story and blown expectations.

Story 30%
Art 80%
Warlikeness 5%

About The Author

Having recently discovered the adulthood phenomenon of disposable income, figured that, after getting a 401k, treating himself to comics was the perfect way to embrace being a grown-up. He lives in Washington, DC.

One Response to Trinity War #1-6