Written by: Francis Manapul
Art by: Clay Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
If there’s one thing that’s been evident so far in Trinity it’s that the book is unbelievably gorgeous, with Manapul’s art the clear selling point. As such an issue without his pencils would normally warrant caution, that is however if it weren’t for the stellar pencils of Clay Mann acting as a fill in. Mann helps to deliver an issue that conveys a totally different tone than we’ve seen so far, delivering a stunning issue which shows the versatility of the series.
This issue sees our three heroes land in Gotham city during Bruce’s childhood, where young Bruce is suffering from severe grief and torment following his parents death. Manapul uses the issue to explore concepts of guilt and loss and how they affect Batman’s character. Starting with the positives, the issue is gorgeous as already stated. Having Mann come on board mid-arc, while usually a pet peeve of mine, actually services the arc well. His art sets a different tone from the outset from last issue’s lush and nostalgic water colors of Smallville, to a much harsher and grimier Gotham city. This artistic change is also less jarring due to maintaining some distinctly Manapul-esque traits to give a certain level of consistency. The layouts for example, such as panels forming Batman’s emblem are common place, and on the whole the art feels like a very natural follow on of what came before, but suited to the tone of the issue.
Speaking of tone, I’m really enjoying some of the subtle ways Manapul uses to show distinctions between our main characters. Switching focus to Batman this issue shows that the series can and will take advantage of its other stars and their worlds despite the last two issues being very superman-centric (not that I’m complaining) and this brings about a tonal shift in the comic. This issue feels completely different from the issue that came before it, while still feeling like it’s part of the narrative Manapul is telling. He shows is grasp on these characters by using tone and art to give each issue a different feel, something I really hope continues as the series goes on.
The big problem this issue however is the script feels a lot clunkier when it comes to dialogue. Manapul does such a good job portraying character through art and actions that it feels strange he feels the need to spell out his intentions at certain points. It’s something that’s much clearer in this issue than the other two, which I feel may be because he didn’t’ draw this one, so he felt the need to make the intention of the script more obvious in order to compensate. The ending for example features Batman making a speech about what he’s learnt about mourning rather than letting the story speak for itself. There are powerful themes at play, and the issue has potential to be quite emotional, but for me personally, having Batman spell out the revelations makes them loose a bit of their power which is disappointing. Also rather weirdly (and this really is a nitpick) there’s quite a few editorial captions that feel unnecessary. There’s one that seems fair, as it talk about current events in Detective Comics, but there’s a page that contains two editoral boxed directing you to events last issue. It just feel strange, their dialogue reiterates what happened last issue anyway, why do they need to reiterate twice that what they’re talking about happened last issue? It feels clear enough on it’s on that it happened there, and it’s not like this is a series in its 100th issues needing clarification on when stuff happened. I’m definitely nitpicking, but it just struck me as odd.
Overall though, Trinity is absolutely moving in the right direction and quickly working it’s way to becoming on of the best Rebirth titles. The way it can use art uniquely to explore these characters and tell the story makes it fascinating to come back each month and see how the title will reinvent itself, it’s currently one of DC’s most unpredictable books. While definitely rough around the edges in places, the issue manages to be nostalgic, moving and utterly gorgeous. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.