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Trinity #3 sees writer Francis Manapul continue to demonstrate his skill at examining and constructing a solidly iconic and emotionally honest relationship between DC’s three signature characters. Though it’s another issue with more heart than action overall, and though it continues to introduce more mysteries than it solves, the result is still satisfying and classic in tone.
After a shaky first issue, the series has now come to kind of exemplify how well DC has gotten a handle on bringing back a fun and adventurous sense of classicism to its approach. This issue is the third instalment of the “Better Together” arc, and Manapul obviously has made it his mission to show us that, when they are written well, the quintessential finest team up in super-hero comics is the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Trinity #3 sees the trio, under the influence of the mysterious White Mercy plant (in a trap laid for them by Poison Ivy), taken back to the night of the Waynes’ murder. While still keeping the focus solidly on the emotional journeys of the characters, and allowing them to step up and be there for each other in ways that solidify their growing bond, Manapul doesn’t forget to continually push the overarching story forward. The punishing trauma Bruce is forced to re-experience also offers more clues that could lead to the trinity figuring a way out of their predicament. Meanwhile, in the real world, Lois’ efforts to help her friends and her son serve to keep a sense of jeopardy and narrative momentum.
The art in the issue is by Clay Mann. It’s inevitable when you have someone writing and drawing series, as Manapul is with “Trinity”, that you’ll need to supplement the art duties. Whether this shift in artists avoids being jarringly detrimental or not has a lot to do with how well thought out the process is. In this case, it works really well. Mann’s style doesn’t try to ape Manapul’s, but he’s not a million miles away either. They feel very similar to each other in terms of tone, but almost more importantly in terms of ambition as well. Mann does some great layout work here, particularly in a sequence that deals with some characters seeing reality differently than others. Using wide layouts and split panels, the effect is skillfully and boldly realized in a way the sells the disorientating effect without sacrificing clarity. He draws Wonder Woman particularly well, giving her a sense of power and beauty and dignity without ever straying into exploitative territory.
Manapul continues to excel with this series, even if the more inwardly focused arc remains a bit more quiet than a book with DC’s big three promises. I think this decision is winding up to be a pretty bold one; one that allows each issue to delve into the scars of each character in the Trinity and how the other members alleviate them. Trinity #3, with its focus on Batman, is another example of how DC’s most recent decision to try to recapture some iconic stature continues to pay dividends for the readers. 8/10.