By Cullen Bunn, Clay Mann, Miguel Mendonca, Johnny Desjardins & Brad Anderson
Writer Cullen Bunn takes a break from writing Monsters Unleashed over at Marvel to give Trinity’s primary writer/artist, Francis Manapul, one; bringing with him a new art team as well. Key antagonists from each of DC’s trinity’s rogues gallery are brought together in ancient ruins to form another unlikely alliance and create a “dark trinity”, if you will. Ra’s Al Ghul, Lex Luthor, and Circe meet for the first time (at least in this current continuity) and come into contact with supernatural/magical elements that force them to confront some of their characteristic flaws….
The first half of the issue is actually quite strong. The artwork is extremely detailed from the pencils to the inks to the color. Luthor and Al Ghul’s designs are excellent and are given defining facial expressions as they meet and exchange insults. Since it’s unclear whose art is at work, I won’t give specific credit, but it’s absolutely worth paying close attention to. Bunn writes Ra’s Al Ghul very well; it would be great to seem him deliver a Batman/Ra’s-centric story. The voice for Lex starts out on-point (the interactions between Ra’s and Luthor are compelling), but, as the comic progresses, it feels as if his inner monologues lean too much on his egotism. It comes off a tad one-note.
Circe doesn’t seem to have a specific voice at all. Just another villain with generic arrogant dialog, which is sad considering she’s the only female in this treacherous triad. There is a page where she has some strong narration, but it could have easily come from either of the other two antagonists. Perhaps, she’ll be developed more in the forthcoming issue, but she failed to leave a real impression in this one.
The premise is very intriguing. Cullen, who is known for his work in horror and the supernatural brings those proclivities to this storyline and it works. Magic and the supernatural seem natural go-tos since Superman and Wonder Woman’s strength is susceptible to those types of threats, so some strong conflict/drama can come into play. Despite the threat the dark trinity encounter, which seemed a bit on the nose, the cliffhanger Bunn leaves the issue on will make one raise an eyebrow or both! Now the whole “enemies joining forces” narrative has been done countless times, so readers do have a right to be wary, but Cullen is a competent writer (read Harrow County) and will hopefully not fall prey to the tropes associated with those types of stories.
As stated earlier, the introductory artwork fires on all cylinders, but after a full-page shot, it changes for the worse. The work is not as refined and seems to have a plastic quality to it. It’s an extreme contrast to the first half. It’s hard to pinpoint whether it’s due to the pencils, inks and/or colors. Brad Anderson is a fantastic colorist, so it’s hard to believe he faltered in this work. This inconsistency hurts the comic a lot because the majority of the action takes place in this portion of the story.
At first glance, this is a perfectly fine comic, but delve deeper and one will probably find issue with one or two things. Really that could be said for almost anything that is viewed critically, but when the reader has to go through a comic and needs to pause during the initial read and be taken out of the story, there is something definitely not right. There are good elements and moments in this issue, but as a whole, the book doesn’t hold together.