DRAWN & QUARTERED
‘Trinity’ rises for DC
The summer has kicked off with major hype for Marvel Comics, with the big-screen megasuccess of "Iron Man" and anticipation over the release of "The Incredible Hulk," scheduled to hit theaters June 13. But competitor DC Comics will get its due July 17 with the opening of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight."
Speaking of the cowled superdetective, he, and Superman and Wonder Woman will all be part of a breakout title for DC called "Trinity." It's big news in the mainstream comic book world. When the extra-size debut issue goes on sale Wednesday, it'll be the company's third stab at a weekly series, following in the steps of "52" and "Countdown."
But compared to the multi-character-and-story arcs that were the thrust of those titles, "Trinity" will be a stand-alone title featuring DC's three biggest superheroes.
"Trinity" rejoins the creative team of Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, who last worked together on Marvel's "Thunderbolts," which had a three-year run in the late '90s. Busiek, one of comicdom's most knowledgeable veteran writers, finished a two-year run on "Superman," and Bagley makes his anticipated debut with DC after a lengthy and lauded run with Brian Michael Bendis on "Ultimate Spider-Man."
"Trinity" begins on what feels like an innocuous note. Speaking by phone from his Oregon home, Busiek said the story "starts with them meeting for brunch at a trendy riverside place in Keystone City. All of them have had what feels like a prophetic dream, although expressed differently to each of them. They decide that 'we need to follow up on this.' They then split up and have their separate adventures briefly. That takes up most of issue 2."
While the title has been used before - Matt Wagner's fine miniseries told of the trio's first big adventure together - Busiek said that "it's a useful group term for those three. But I'll be playing with it in a deeper way, (setting up) a metaphysical structure that colors their relationships with each other and the world, with the villains of the story becoming this great power in the universe."
Busiek promises that the trio's nemeses will not be expected villains like Superman's Lex Luthor or Batman's Joker.
"Their trinity of villains embody, in their own way, the iconic elements the heroes have," he said. "They're not the usual run of enemies. Two of them regular readers have met before, but one is new, although he - or she - has been seen before, but not in this identity."
"We already have a nice big stack of stuff and we're doing well on schedule."
Kurt Busiek / 'Trinity' writer
How these villains got together will be subject of a co-feature in the first issue, co-written with Fabien Nicieza. Future co-features will fill in the back-stories of some of the other important characters - including cohorts in the Justice League of America - who are involved in "Trinity's" main story line.
Where DC's previous weekly titles were criticized for occasional lack of focus and direction, Busiek is confident that will not be the case with "Trinity."
"This has got momentum, purpose and drive," he said. "The comic book is built around telling the main story, two chapters per issue. As for the guy handling the other characters that are part of the story, Fabian and I have worked together over the years. Both of us came out of Marvel's sales and promotions departments, and he was a good guy to tap into when I realized the project had grown to 22 pages a week. I knew then that I can't do it by myself."
So don't expect any unexpected gaps in publication. "We're about a third of the way with plots," Busiek said, "and Mark's art is closing in a quarter of the way. We already have a nice big stack of stuff, and we're doing well on schedule."
Speaking of gaps, fans of Busiek's have had to be patient with his ongoing "Astro City" books, a labor of love done with artist Brent Anderson. Over the years, the two have done a superlative job with their inventive take on the superhero genre with various tales of the inhabitants of a fictional Midwestern city - superpowered or otherwise.
"We're midway through the next miniseries, and we don't solicit another project to DC until Brent finishes the last issue. ... The ideas come when they come for us, and, unfortunately for fans, they come slowly," Busiek said with a laugh.
"I'm still pushing that rock up the hill, but, to be honest, if we did 'Astro City' on a monthly basis like 'Trinity,' either Brent wouldn't be its artist, or every issue wouldn't meet our high standards."