DC’s “Big 3” gets the Rebirth treatment in Trinity: Better Together.
Superman’s wife, Lois Lane, invites Batman and Wonder Woman to a family dinner to help ease the tension among the three following the death of the “New 52” Superman. The three heroes fall into a trap that pays homage to one of Superman’s most famous stories, sending the trio on a journey through time and space that has them confront lingering issues from their youth. Meanwhile, Lois and her son, Jon, encounter one of the villains responsible, while the Trinity has to learn to trust one another in order to defeat the plot’s mastermind.
Francis Manapul tries to go the auteur route with Better Together and does a decent job with the writing side. He captures the personalities and dynamic among his three leads fairly well and mixes Lois and Jon into the action in effective ways. The plot is more impressionistic for a lot of the story, shifting from locale to locale as it follows the emotional journey of the characters. The sequences are nice, but not exactly revelatory. The upshot is a bonding experience for the heroes that helps them work together going forward (until the further changes of the Rebirth era basically rendered this story unnecessary).
The issue is the art. And not that it’s bad; quite the contrary. But Manapul’s intent to be a one-man show doesn’t come off, as he only handles half the visuals of a six-part story. His loose, soft-focus aesthetic and innovative approach to page design work well and help sell this tale, even through some of the slower bits. But Trinity is not one of DC’s twice monthly books and it’s hard to fathom how fill-ins were necessary for half the arc. Manapul got through only two installments before the team of Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Brad Anderson came aboard for an issue that boasted a harder-edged approach that went to some lengths to at least mimic Manapul’s layout approach. Which is no knock on the Manns or Anderson, their work looked great. But then, after only one more issue as artist, Manapul ceded way to Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy and Hi-Fi for the final two issues. Again, not a bad thing, it’s another strong team doing some appealing work.
But it’s really hard to fathom that three separate art teams were necessary to complete this story. And then DC released it in the hard cover/deluxe format. Which might have been more acceptable if a subsequent arc in the Superman family of titles hadn’t rendered this story largely pointless.
That all sounds harsher than it’s intended to. The writing is sturdy and the art, while not exactly seamless, is fairly strong, taken on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Trinity: Better Together is enjoyable, but makes less of a mark than it should.