I think it’s safe to say people are talking about the DC universe right now. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is raking in the bucks at the box office, and whether you liked it or not, it’s a thing. A definite thing. With big explosions. And tries very hard to bring together the three biggest heroes DC has to offer, Batman, played by Ben Affleck, Superman, played by Henry Cavil, and Wonder Woman, played by Gail Gadot.

There won’t be any spoilers here for that movie, except to say that these three characters have been known as the DC Trinity for some time. They’re the founding members of the Justice League, and as such, the foundation for decades worth of storytelling. Some of that storytelling is better than others, and that’s really just the way it shakes out sometimes. If Dawn of Justice ends up in the ‘good’ column or not, well, I’ll let people decide that on their own. But having the movie out there, the characters so fresh on everyone’s minds, I thought it was worth taking a moment to break my own rule about superhero comics, and take a look at a story about these three iconic characters that I found compelling and entertaining. It’s called Trinity: Volume 1.

Trinity was a stand-alone series starring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but also featuring many Justice Leaguers, including the Green Lantern (John Stewart), The Flash (Wally West), Black Canary, Firestorm, Vixen, and more. When a strange dream comes to Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, all three meet and discuss how each interpreted it and what it could mean. Batman saw a criminal imprisoned and intent on escape; Wonder Woman, an ancient god or fundamental, mystic force bound by unknown forces; Superman, a cosmic extraterrestrial intelligence warping the fabric of space-time. This is the first of many times the three interpret things very differently, giving the reader a sense of who they are at their core, and how they are so different.

Also drawn together by these reams are Morgaine Le Fey and the strange Enigma, both of whom see the message of the dream as leading them towards some fantastic cosmic power. They use magic to track the Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, analyzing them, coming to recognize them as Keystones and sources of power. But why, that is the question. And why do the other members of the Justice League defer to them? Step aside when they enter the fray? These questions and more drive Morgaine and Enigma forward. They want the power for themselves, but know that in order to do so, they’ll need to form a Trinity of their own with the alien warlord Despero. A Dark Trinity.

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As big, mega comics house stories go, this one is pretty good. It’s Pre-New 52, for the most part. It ran for 52 issues Pre-Final Crisis, and another series named ‘52’ ran at the same time, but not The New 52 – and now my head hurts.

Let’s put it this way—these are the characters you remember. Not the most recent versions of them. You have a lot going on in these books (there are 3 volumes total). Volume 1 sets up the dream, the story, and starts running. There is a character named Rita who casts the Tarot (which also becomes her name) and continues to see glimpses of the Trinity and the mystical powers surrounding them. You have mystical energy changing Gotham, Metropolis, and Washington D.C., offering up altered versions that each of our heroes has to deal with in their own ways. Plus, aliens like Konvikt and Graak arrive to cause havoc, and minionsTrinity copy of the Dark Trinity are released to mark the heroes with mystic runes and steal artifacts associated with them and generally distract them from what’s really going on. All so their power can be taken. 

 DC’s Trinity represents the three most powerful heroes in the DC universe, who are almost certainly stronger when they’re together and working in unison. It’s no wonder DC would want to use them as a launching pad for their new cinematic universe. But this book illustrates something beyond their powers—it reveals their friendship. A friendship built upon decades together, and that’s what really brings this book home for me. No one knows these characters better than they know themselves, and the writers bring that to each and every page, which is wonderful—and in a time when all our big-screen versions of these heroes MUST be dark and gritty, that kind of fun and familiarity is refreshing.

If the movie hits or misses with you, I still strongly suggest you pick up Trinity.

 

Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal), and 2014 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fancast. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.