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After a first issue I criticized for lacking in incident and narrative drive, Trinity #2 shows far better the kind of book we can expect from writer/artist Francis Manapul, and it’s one worthy of the adventures of arguably the three biggest icons in all of super-hero comics. Trinity #2 is a superb issue, dialling up the mystery, intrigue and jeopardy while continuing to nail the disparate voices and personalities of the three main characters. The Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on display in this issue feel effortlessly iconic, even while Manapul delineates the inherent differences in their characters that both create friction even while they forge a bond.
While the last issue spent all of its time centred on a dinner party that I felt was bit too low-key and lacking in incident for an opening issue, Trinity #2 much more effectively balances the stellar character work of the first issue with a better handle on crafting a narrative with more menace, intrigue and foreboding. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman find themselves seemingly transported into Clark’s past, confronted by versions of Clark as a boy and Jonathan Kent. But things are clearly not what they seem, and a growing mystery suggests the past they find themselves in may be much more sinister than initially appears. Back in the present day, Jon and Lois find themselves embroiled in an equally mysterious and dark situation.
The issue presents a ton of weird goings-on and suspicious elements, which help to keep the reader invested in the plot, even as Manapul allows for our three main characters to interact in different ways that reveal more about their relationship. The scenes between Clark and Jonathan are nicely written, with Clark struggling with his emotion at being with his father again even as he knows something is definitely wrong and their position in the timeline is precarious. Meanwhile, Batman and Wonder Woman take opposing positions, with Bruce being of course incredibly suspicious and looking for answers even as Diana advocates wary concern and trust in Clark. Manapul clearly understands how these characters work, and how they work in relation to each other, the result being an issue that builds upon the considerable promise the first issue showed in this regard.
And the sense of menace and intrigue that flows throughout the issue is well-handled too. The suspense actually escalates throughout the issue. Manapul is quick to infer that there’s a lot happening that is clearly off, and then shows things getting more unsettling as the issue progresses. He could have tipped his hand a lot more, frankly, but that would have made the situation less ambiguous and therefore less intriguing. The people the Trinity meet are all accurate and true, and none are sinister. But the world doesn’t feel right, and Manapul uses two or three scenes to show the reader that there could be any number of elements conspiring to make things not what they appear, including showing us antagonists both familiar and as yet unknown.
A lot of the ambiguity comes from the art, which he keeps warm and suffused with nostalgia throughout. He could have made things much more overtly menacing and off-kilter, but instead he chooses to show us a Smallville that looks and feels exactly like Smallville should. And who knows, maybe it is (though there’s a lot to suggest something else is going on). But in any case, the art is gorgeous throughout. There’s an incredible opening double-page splash showing young Clark taking on the Trinity, and there’s some gorgeous lower-key and more character-driven scenes of Clark and Jonathan trekking through beautifully bucolic woods that is executed perfectly.
Trinity #2 delivers on all fronts, giving us a trio of main characters that feel as iconic as they’re meant to, even as they feel reliably human. And the plot has become genuinely compelling and suspenseful through a skillful injection of mysteries that intrigue rather than baffle. After a first issue I didn’t love, Trinity #2 has me completely on board. 9/10