Monday, 23 June 2014

Batman/ Superman/ Wonder Woman: Trinity Review (Matt Wagner)

Ra’s Al-Ghul executes his latest dastardly plan of undoing human civilisation and the damage it’s wrought on the planet by wiping it out because Greenpeace aren’t hardcore enough! He defrosts Bizarro, who’s frozen in an iceberg for some reason, and then it’s up to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to stop him. This is also the story of Superman and Batman’s first meeting with Wonder Woman.

The book starts well with Clark going about his routine of pretending to be clumsy and ditzy to throw off any suspicions that he’s Superman, and I loved that because Matt Wagner gets Superman’s character perfectly in this book. Throughout the story Superman is noble, kind, tolerant, smart, and NOT the goody boy scout he’s often portrayed as. Unfortunately, Superman’s the only character Wagner gets right.

Batman is written as a belligerent thug with a hair-trigger temper, ready to throw a punch at Wonder Woman as he would any of Ra’s goons – which isn’t Batman’s character. Wagner’s Batman is so angry he’s almost as bad as Frank Miller’s Goddamn Batman, except he doesn’t torture Robin in this book.

Wonder Woman on the other hand is, very broadly, supposed to be the female Superman but here she’s written as frequently hysterical, often self-doubting, quite dim and pretty bad in a fight – also not Wonder Woman’s character. And Ra’s Al-Ghul is so cartoonishly awful here that it’s amazing anyone takes his global threats seriously – he’s about as dangerous as a pie in the face.

Wagner introduces a new character called Artemis, who’s a teen Amazon from a group who’ve chosen not to live in Themyscira and live in Egypt instead. Her character is so baffling, I have no idea what role she was supposed to play – maybe because Wonder Woman was introduced so late and Artemis so early, she was a red herring and we were supposed to think this punky, hot pink pig tails chick was Wagner’s Wonder Woman? Either way, her motivations are completely unknown, surprisingly even to her, which she realises in the final battle! In a book of bad characterisations, hers was easily the worst.

There are a lot of action scenes like Wonder Woman and Batman battling Bizarro and Superman diverting nukes into space and so on, but it’s still a really unexciting read. I never followed Ra’s weird, constantly morphing plan – we’re going to attack the planet! Now we’re going to attack space or something! Now we’re going to attack Themyscira! – or believed that any of the heroes were in any real danger.

Also, because Wagner can’t make each of the characters’ voices distinct, he (or the letterer) really needed to establish who was speaking in the captions either with a symbol or different colour. All of the boxes are more or the less the same colour and it’s hard to tell when Superman’s talking or Batman or Wonder Woman or Ra’s, etc. DC have solved this problem in recent years by placing the character’s symbol in the top left corner of the caption box but that was after this book was published, so it’s difficult to differentiate when reading.

It’d be great to read an awesome Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman story where they save the world but Trinity isn’t that book. They needed a better villain and Wagner’s characterisations were a disservice to these icons.

And what the hell was up with giving Wonder Woman boxer shorts – just give her trousers already!!

Batman/ Superman/ Wonder Woman: Trinity

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