Friday, June 06, 2008

Trinities and anti-Trinities: Boys and Their Games

What was most surprising to me in this week's comics was that in such a solid week (JSA! Manhunter! Devi!), my favorite was Trinity #1.

Now, as a non-Christian, I am sure that I am missing tons of Trinity imagery. My history of never having read the Christian bible severely limited my ability to succeed as an English major in college (I always missed the Christ imagery!) and also made me look like a moron at other cultural events. ("'Jesus Christ Superstar' is just a huge rip-off of 'Tommy.'" "No, Ragtime, Tommy just has a lot of Christ imagery.")

One thing that bugged me though was "Boys and Their Games," which was the title, and referred to Diana's lumping Bruce and Clark together is their "Secret Identities." She says that she has a "Private Identity," but that she acts the same whether she's Diana Prince of Wonder Woman, while Bruce and Clark have different personalities as Batman and Superman.

I think Diana's being too simplistic here, and is eliding over the main reason that I have always far preferred Superman to Batman. Diana's summary is perfectly applicable to Batman. The entire "Bruce Wayne" persona is a show. He acts like the idiot billionaire playboy to throw off suspicions. Bruce isn't actually like that at all.

Clark is different. When he is in his secret identity as Clark Kent, he isn't putting on a show. Maybe that's how he was portrayed in the Golden Age, and to a lesser extent in the original Superman movie -- as playing Clark as a bumbling fool so no one would realize that he's "really" Superman under the glasses. But the current Superman -- and the one for at least the last 20 years -- is the one who is "really" Clark Kent.

Now, it's too simplistic to say that Clark is the "opposite" of Bruce. That he's Clark when he's not pretending and just "acting" like a superhero. I think it's more like having different sides of personality come through in the different spheres of your life. I don't act the same with my clients in my "law world" and I do with the Ragkids in my "home world." And it's not that I'm "acting like a lawyer" or "acting like a parent," even though looking at the two sides, you'd have to figure that they couldn't both be the "Real Me." In the same way, reporter Clark would naturally act differently than superhero Kal El. "Clark" isn't a game he plays, and its why Lois nicknames him "Smallville." He really IS the farm boy/ boy scout/ hick as well.

Anyway, I was disappointed that Diana blended together the two points that make me love Superman, but be largely indifferent toward Batman.

Anyway, things I liked:

1. Sitting around the table chatting. Maybe I'm the only one who really likes those scenes (like in the last JLA), but I really do.

2. Alternate realities. I'm also a big fan of alternate reality stories where Green Arrow and Speedy protect Gotham, and Lois Lane is apparently a chain-smoking elf. Just enough hints to get me excited.

3. The Enigma guy, and his interactions with Morgan le Fay. Am I supposed to know who he is?

4. The idea of the new anti-Trinity. Scipio asks to come up with our own Trinity. Personally, I've always thought that the recurring Superhero technique of "switching enemies" should be able to work just as well for bad guys. So, I'd assign Doomsday to take out Batman, the Joker to defeat Superman, and . . . maybe ("classic") Darkseid for Wonder Woman.

I started out choosing Ares for Superman and the Joker for Diana, but then i remembered that Diana actually did fight the Joker in Wonder Woman #97, during her "I'm not really Wonder Woman any more" eras) with one of the most Mishugenah resolutions I recall in a Wonder Woman comic.

4. Most importantly, lots of stuff actually happening. (Unlike, say, Countdown #51).

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Blogger Scipio said...

"I was disappointed that Diana blended together the two points that make me love Superman, but be largely indifferent toward Batman."

But, in some ways, isn't that what her function is in the Trinity? Showing that Batman and Superman who are often presented as "opposites" are in fact extremely similar?

Isn't that exactly what happened when she did What Needed To Be Done and snapped Max Lord's neck, to the horror of Batman and Superman?

Men are often more interested in their rules and roles than in figuring our what a situation requires, unlike women, who are often more practical.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Ragtime said...

I agree that it is her function to point out the similarities between the opposites when they are actually similar. It's fine to say "You think you have different approaches, but your moralities are essentially identical."

But there's a difference between pointing out similarities that Bruce and Clark have might missed and just "lumping."

Despite her protestations about "Private Identities," Diana doesn't actually have a part of her life where she would have to choose whether to be like Clark or like Bruce, or come up with her own way. She has a "Private Identity," but has yet to have a "Private Life."

Her joking insult is more telling about the one-dimensionality of her own life (she always "On Duty") than any decisions her friends made.

7:32 PM  

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