Pros: The examination of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman’s relationship is very interesting. The artwork here is simply beautiful.
Cons: The story drags on in the middle and is mediocre at best. The conclusion feels a little rapid and forced and thus becomes somewhat messy.
Overall: There are a lot of great moments in this book, from Batman and Superman joking with each other over dinner to Wonder Woman literally carrying them around. In addition, the incredible artwork almost makes this book worth it by itself. However, with a large portion of the book dedicated to rehashing origins and a unsatisfactory ending, readers will be forced to decide if these positives outweigh the negatives. All in all, this is a book that might be great for newer comic book readers but one that might not be as great for longtime fans.
When Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together was announced, I was very excited to see a book that would show off the relationship between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in an action packed, yet fun way. What ended up being delivered was a few moments of this amongst a book filled with individual character spotlights. Meaning that part of the book is seeing Batman and Superman joking around with each other and another part is seeing Batman’s parents getting killed again. When you throw a lackluster ending into the book as well, the product is definitely a mixed bag. Being such a specific mix of good and bad, individual reader preference will be what will ultimately decide if readers like or dislike this book.
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The first issue of this story hooked me in right from the beginning. It was relaxed, decompressed, and even funny at points. But the best part about it was the way it melded past continuity with current events to give a logical and reasonable explanation for why this “Trinity” is necessary. Batman and Wonder Woman trusted the old Superman and while they are open to embracing the new one, they are also cautious as well. Seeing Manapul work this all together in a way that makes sense is fantastic and is something both new and old readers can appreciate.
The second issue of this collection sets the Trinity in a fantasy version of Superman’s past. In it he gets a second chance at talking with his dead father and we get a peek into who he is as a person. It is another fun issue that presents something new for readers to enjoy.
From here, things get a little weird. The next two issues copy the last one’s structure, they focus on one member of the Trinity and dig into the personality and past. However, while Superman’s story is interesting because it shows readers something they have never seen before, Batman and Wonder Woman’s stories simply rehash their origins over again. Maybe this is fun for someone unfamiliar with their characters, but I would assume most readers have seen the death of Batman’s parents plenty of times by now.
In addition, these individualized looks into members of the Trinity do not contain the one thing that is expected of them, interaction between the Trinity. If the focus was on these heroes coming together to overcome their personal struggles, these issues could have been great. Instead, each story focuses almost entirely on one hero, while the other two watch and give an occasional snippet of commentary.
After these personal journeys are completed, the story’s true villain is revealed. Mongul shows up and explains that they are all trapped in a mindscape created for him and that he plans on escaping this mindscape through Superman’s body. In a lot of ways, the conclusion returns to what I wanted from this series: the Trinity working together in order to defeat the villain.
However, this conclusion is also hampered by its share of troubles as well. For one, it happens very quickly. With the White Mercy only being introduced a few pages beforehand, the emotional impact of her sacrifice is significantly mitigated. Plus, this pace forces Wonder Woman to have a deus ex machina moment where she simply is able to remove the Black Mercy from her body because she can. If this ending was built up to more directly throughout this book, instead of being confined to the last few pages, it could have potentially been a lot better.
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One thing that cannot be denied about this series is that the artwork in it is phenomenal. For the bulk of the collection, Francis Manapul’s gorgeous artwork is on display. The rest of the collection is drawn by either Clay Mann or Emanuela Lupacchino, both of whom present a unique addition to the collection.
For the portions of the book drawn by Manapul, there really isn’t anything to complain about. The art is beautiful, detailed, and of high quality throughout. In particular, the little details are what make it great. Details like the way he draws sunlight as the sun is setting or the way he makes panels match characters are what really add to this book. This is not just good looking artwork, this is good looking artwork utilized in the best way possible.
After a few issues of Manapul’s artwork, Clay Mann steps in to do the Batman-based issue in this collection, centered around Gotham. In general this is a great idea as the darker and more serious setting lends itself to Mann’s more realistic artwork. It also works because Mann is also a great artist, who’s take on Gotham is as dark and strangely photogenic as one would expect Gotham to be.
From here, there are two additional issues drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino. Lupacchino’s artwork looks very similar to Manapul’s, which helps to provide a more consistent reading experience. It is also of good quality throughout and does not have any real problems. However, its biggest fault is that it simply looks like a lesser version of Manapul’s amazing artwork. The comparison is obvious and, though Lupacchino does some quality work, it suffers slightly from this comparison.
Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together is the first volume of the Trinity Rebirth series. Rebirth is not a continuity reset at all; it is more of just a good jumping on point for readers. This means that, although there are stories that come before this, an in depth knowledge of the Trinity’s past is not really required to enjoy this series. However, the story does still reference previous stories so we will still be listing them below.
The Trinity series continues in Trinity Vol. 2: Dead Space.
- At the center of this story is Superman and his family. Their presence in this universe and their journey in it so far can be found starting in Convergence and continued in Superman: Lois and Clark (Review).
- Superman’s story of a Rainbow Suit Batman comes from Detective Comics #241, a story which has not yet been reprinted in trade format.
- Batman’s story of the previous Superman attacking him and Hal Jorden occurs in the first Justice League story arc of the New 52 and can be found in Justice League Vol. 1: Origin.
- Wonder Woman references her past with the New 52’s version of Superman. This can be seen in any issue of the Superman/Wonder Woman series but starts in Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey.
- Wonder Woman also recounts her recent interactions with Cheetah. These can be found in the odd issues of Greg Rucka’s Rebirth Wonder Woman series, collected in Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies.
- Superman talks about his father’s death at one point. This occurrence is collected in Superman: Last Son of Krypton.
- Bruce Wayne’s parent’s deaths have been depicted many times in comics but the most prominent can be found in Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1, Batman Year One, or Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year-Secret City (Review).
- The fate of Tim Drake (Red Robin) is depicted in Detective Comics #940, which is collected in Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen (Review).
- Wonder Woman’s inability to return to Themyscira and her quest for the truth are detailed in Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth series, collected in Wonder Woman Vol. 1- The Lies.
- At one point, Ivy references “recent events.” This is a reference to Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life & Death.