This week, it’s quality (I hope) over quantity, as we explore a surprising number of Barracudas, suggest a possible explanation for John Stewart’s “skin condition,” and judge bad puns from … Hawkman?
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“So What Now?” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: We bid farewell to the Anti-Matter Earth as it copes with the loss of the Anti-Trinity.
– Despero has henchmen from Armad to Zardb … including Yhea! I hope there are 23 more….
– The arrival of Despero’s men gives this story a parallel with “Syndicate Rules.” That arc also found three factions fighting over the Anti-Matter Earth; namely, the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate, and a Qwardian army.
– Zardb is the latest character to refer to Anti-Matter Earth merely as “this world.” Is the phrase becoming Trinity’s version of “I have a bad feeling about this,” or just part of the inevitable drinking game?
– Barracuda, the Anti-Matter Earth’s Aquaman analogue, was named by Grant Morrison and fleshed out by Kurt Busiek and Ron Garney for JLA Secret Files & Origins 2004 #1 (November 2004). For whatever reason, Barracuda has never been a regular part of the Crime Syndicate, unlike Aquaman, who of course was a founding member of the Justice League.
– “Barracuda” is also a new alias for the old Aquaman villain called the Scavenger; and was used further by half of the pair known as Swordfish and Barracuda (see World’s Finest Comics #306-07 (August-September 1984)).
– They’re not the only ones, though. I found it interesting that there have been a couple of other Multiversal characters named “Barracuda,” both analogues for Marvel characters. The first Barracuda appeared in Freedom Fighters #7-9 (March-April 1977 to July-August 1977) as the Namor-analogue in the Crusaders, a group which parodied Marvel’s Invaders. This Barracuda has since been updated for the recent Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters miniseries. The other Barracuda was part of Earth-8′s Extremists (see, e.g., Countdown #29 (October 10, 2007), et seq.), who parodied Marvel villains like Doctor Doom, Sabretooth, Magneto, Dormammu, and Doctor Octopus. Wikipedia lists that one as a Namor analogue, but since he’s based on a Marvel villain, shouldn’t he be an Attuma analogue? I don’t know; I didn’t read the Lord Havok miniseries.
– Not to be outdone, The Invaders had its own parody of the Freedom Fighters, also called the Crusaders.
– I’m guessing that the hawk-people hail from the Anti-Matter Earth’s region which corresponds to the hidden land of Feithera. Feithera first appeared in Flash Comics #71 (May 1946) and is home to a race of avian/human hybrids, including Norda “Northwind” Cantrell of the original Infinity, Inc.
– In the absence of any official codename, I’m calling the guy in panel 3 “Whitestroke.” He’s obviously based on Deathstroke the Terminator, a/k/a Slade Wilson, the mercenary created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez who debuted in The New Teen Titans vol. 1 #2 (December 1980). Another anti-matter analogue of Deathstroke first appeared in Superman/Batman Annual #1 (December 2006), in a story written by Joe Kelly and pencilled by Ed McGuinness; but in yet another set of intercompany shenanigans, he acted a lot like Deadpool, who started out as a Deathstroke parody.
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– I suppose the line “every lost race hidden out of fear” would explain Barracuda’s absence from the Crime Syndicate.
– Here’s a wacky thought: could John Stewart somehow have merged with an Omegadrome battlesuit? The Omegadrome suit first appeared in New Titans #114 (September 1994) in a story written by Marv Wolfman and pencilled by Rick Mays. The suit seemed to have been unique, but John’s condition looks fairly similar to me.
– “Atomic transmutation powers”: Firestorm can permanently rearrange the structure of inorganic matter at the subatomic level, which is a fancy way of saying he can turn bullets into (plastic) flowers or air into water. If he tries to affect organic matter, he suffers painful feedback.
– Of course it’s convenient that this JLA squad includes two Real Smart guys, an android, and two heroes who can literally think things into existence, but I still love how they use their brains and Science! to solve the problem at hand.
– Wonder Woman channels Superman, Superman channels Batman, and Batman channels Wonder Woman? How circular.
– Also, while I understand completely that all the “trinity” talk is essential to the themes of this series, I have to wonder if it’s being given special emphasis because of the Troika’s mystic manipulations. I mean, it’s not like there’s a lot of Trinity Talk in Justice League, Superman/Batman, or any other team-up title. Again, I think it works well in the context of this series, but to a certain extent I think it would only work well here.
– “Trying to make you its new trinity”: … yeah, I don’t know if I quite buy that. Given the particular ethical tendencies of the Anti-Matter Earth, I’d expect our heroes to start turning evil if it were trying to work its mojo on them.
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– Superman said “this world” — drink!
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– Superman’s brand comes from the same set of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs as Wonder Woman’s. Next issue’s preview describes Superman’s symbol as “justice” and Wonder Woman’s as “strength.”
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“– Let The Burning Begin!” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Tom Derenick, inked by Wayne Faucher, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: The Dreambound go down, but not before getting the last artifact.
Page 13 (story page 1)
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– “Much like her sister”: without getting too far into it, remember from last issue that Donna Troy is, for all intents and purposes, Diana’s Amazonian sister.
– Over the course of Infinite Crisis, World War III, and “The Sinestro Corps War,” I grew tired of the “dogpile on [bad guy]” school of fight choreography. Big panels featuring several super-folk running dramatically at the bad guy therefore give me an uneasy sense of deja vu. Thankfully, there’s a little more strategy going on in this fight.
– Let’s take a moment, though, for a head count of those present at the end of last issue versus those present here. Last issue featured groups of Teen Titans (Wonder Girl, Ravager, Red Devil, Robin, and Supergirl), Outsiders (Grace, Katana, Metamorpho, Geo-Force), adult Titans (Donna Troy, Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg), Justice Socialites (Hawkman, Stargirl, Damage, and Doctor Mid-Nite) and Birds Of Prey (Huntress, Misfit, and Lady Blackhawk), and the unaffiliated Gangbuster. That’s a total of twenty-two super-heroes, not all of whom see action this issue.
– This issue’s fight begins with eight powerhouses (Starfire, Wonder Girl, Supergirl, Miss Martian, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Metamorpho, and Grace) charging Sun-Chained-In-Ink. Starfire, Donna, and Miss Martian are taken out by SCII’s gravitational power, leaving 19 people of various power levels on the good guys’ side.
– SCII then stuns Cyborg and Metamorpho with his (solar-flare?) wind power. That leaves 17 (or 15 if you take Robin and Nightwing out of the mix), although Hawkman says “half our number” is now down. Since we won’t see Ravager, Katana, Raven, or the three Birds Of Prey, I’ll assume that they were also stunned, at least temporarily, by SCII’s blast. That accounts roughly for the “half.”
– As Robin, Nightwing has been known historically for bad puns and groan-worthy fight dialogue, even without the whole “Holy [reference]!” thing. Therefore, it’s kind of odd for Hawkman to be doing the same in his presence.
– Donna and Wonder Girl are back in action, but I don’t know what Doctor Mid-Nite could do against SCII.
– There are Stargirl and Red Devil, who weren’t in the first wave (shown on page 14/2).
– Given what happens later in this story, I’d say that’s Max Lord’s skull in panel 2. I forgot to mention last issue: Max should get extra bonus-points for being a villain who struck at the heart of the Trinity itself. He used a mind-controlled Superman to beat Batman to a pulp and force his own death at Wonder Woman’s hands so that his Batman-built satellite could then exterminate the rest of Earth’s superheroes. That’s like hitting the villainous superfecta.
– From here the fight narrows, so I’m not so concerned about the choreography anymore. Still, we only saw 16 of the 22 super-folk from last issue. I think the obvious implication is that the others were busy with the rest of the Dreambound (with whom they were probably better fits, power-wise), but I suppose the nitpick is there if you want it.
– Metamorpho can change himself into any element, and Geo-Force has gravity-manipulating powers.
– I don’t know why Geo-Force looks so beefy in panel 1. Weird perspective, I guess.
– According to WebElements.com, leutetium (or “lutetium”) “burns readily,” so Metamorpho might want to be careful. It melts at 1925 degrees K (3006 degrees F), and from the looks of panel 2, Sun-Chained-In-Ink may be well on his way there.
– The “Karman Line” is the estimated “boundary” between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, about 100 km high.
– So Hawkman’s plan was for Supergirl to a) throw Metamorpho at the Sun, and then b) have Metamorpho get away somehow from SCII? Seems like Metamorpho would have had to “brake” himself suddenly, enough to let SCII’s momentum carry him on his way.
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– “So what now…?”: Hey, Nightwing read the first story!
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I’ll be honest — this issue marked the first time I thought I had to justify the existence of these annotations. Trinity doesn’t depend on intertitle coordination, like Countdown did; and it’s not especially reference-heavy, like 52 was. It’s a straightforward superhero story focusing on three of the most recognizable characters in pop culture.
From the beginning, its creative team has also felt free to use quite a bit of the larger DC Universe, most notably the Bat-characters and the Justice League, but not in a way which seems off-putting to me. Instead, Trinity has tried not to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the details of its story; so it uses established (albeit sometimes obscure) characters and venues both to make longtime readers feel comfortable and, I presume, to introduce those hypothetical new readers to DC’s superhero settings. I’d say that’s where we fans come in, spotting the Easter eggs and providing an additional layer of context.
Every so often a blogger will post a review from someone relatively unaware of the current state of superhero comics. Generally, these reviews find the author lost in the high weeds of continuity, obtuse writing, and/or impenetrable art. Even the ones who aren’t driven away seem to be discouraged from coming back to a particular title. Well, I’d be very interested in reading what a relative newcomer thought about Trinity. I’m hardly the ideal person to judge a book’s accessibility, but as best I can tell, it tries hard to be not only accessible, but inviting. Here’s hoping that future DC weeklies do as well.
Until next week–!