Comic Review: Trio, Volume 1

Trio, Volume 1
Written by John Byrne
Art by John Byrne
Colors by Ronda Pattison
Cover by Neil Uyetake, Robbie Robbins
IDW Publishing
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Cover Price: $17.99

John Byrne: The man, the myth, the legend. X-Men, Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman, The Avengers; Byrne has done it all and he’s renowned for his ability to create controversy when he takes on a popular franchise. With Trio, Byrne brews up a super-team up from scratch in the spirit of Bronze Age comics.

Trio features, well, a trio of super-heroes. Amongst themselves they refer to each other as One, Two, and Three. One is a paper-thin woman who can stretch herself out like Plastic Man. Two’s superpower is that his arms turn into giant blades that he can use to deflect bullets. Three is a teenage boy who can transform himself into a Thing-like beast. The press refers to the group as Rock, Paper, and Scissors””a name the team seems uneager to adopt.

Trio collects the first few issues of John Byrne’s new comic series. Each issue builds on the last one with an increasingly more powerful super-villain invading the city. First up is Nautilus, a merman who controls a Godzilla like monster that stomps through the city. Then a giant, interstellar, planet-slurping alien invades, which pulls Nautilus over to the good guys. Finally, a Nazi super-villain from an alternate dimension makes his way into the picture.

John Byrne plays with the tropes of older comics with heavy-handed narration, thought balloons, action-oriented storylines, and phrasing such as “Meanwhile”¦” The narration boxes, in particular, are just an annoying storytelling crutch that I subconsciously skipped over. Most readers will look right past the bright yellow narration boxes, much how they automatically skip past large swaths of flowery, unnecessary description in novels. Not to name any names, Robert Jordan. Ahem.

The superheroes in Trio are rather weak in comparison to the villains they have to stop. They don’t beat down the enemies as much as they let circumstances defeat the enemies. It seems as if Rock, Paper, and Scissors kind of stand by while the monsters work it out amongst themselves. Paper typically ends up out of commission in every single issue. I suppose that’s to be expected when your superpower is being very papery.

Beyond the “Holy-Shit! It’s John Byrne” factor, you have to ask if Trio is a good book on its own merits. Well, yes and no. This comic is obviously an homage to a different era. It’s unfair to compare Trio to its current peers. Younger readers or those unfamiliar with Byrne will probably not get the point of Trio. I grew up on this stuff; it’s the foundation of what we read in comics today. But it’s like playing Atari 2600 when you have an Xbox 360 sitting right next to it. It’s a fun when you’re having brief spurts of nostalgic longing, but this era is better left as a fond childhood memory.

At times, Trio comes dangerously close to crossing the line into slap-in-the-face irony. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger how that worked out for him with Last Action Hero. If you’re looking for an engaging, multi-layered story with complex character development and elaborate artwork, then Trio is not your answer. This comic is aimed squarely at nostalgic comic fans who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. Good guys were good guys, bad guys were bad guys, and their epic battles vaporized business districts. If you’re the type that pines for a simpler time and loves John Byrne, then you may get some enjoyment out of this comic.

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