Review: John Byrne's Trio

The Trio

Written and drawn by John Byrne. Colored by Ronda Pattison.

Come for the art, but there’s little else to stay for. Two hooves out of four (limited recommendation for fans of Byrne or Silver/Bronze Age comics).

Review of issues #1 through #4 with preview pages below.

Three superheroes, dubbed “Paper,” “Rock,” and “Scissors” by the media but call themselves One, Two, and, Three, face off against threats that are demolishing their West Coast City. They, however, are almost useless throughout the battle to save their city. There’s no time to care about why they’re given powers and why they’re a government team.

Also, Byrne stacks the odds against the heroes in the first three issues. You liked seeing Leviathan and the frightening, kidnapping mer-people in the issue #1? Here, his awesome master and sea lord Nautilus will give Trio a hard time in issue #2. By the way, we won’t see the mer-people again until issue #4.

Wait! Another behemoth emerges from a enormous black ship that’s sucking the water out of as many planets as he can. Only Nautilus and his Leviathan can handle him. Oh, no! Here’s a spooky figure arising from an alternate-universe Nazi Germany making his presence known in the ruins. How can these guys be stopped?

I don’t know, but Byrne’s art is impressive. Some of the art would be worthy of framing on the wall if a poster-size version exists. The character designs of the superheroes and supervillains are cool. It’s too bad they all had to be rushed in four issues. The visuals are a welcome throwback to the Silver/Bronze age stuff I liked when I was little.

Leviathan Battle spread

But Byrne’s drawings don’t make up for the lack of story resolution and achievement from Trio. Their liabilities aren’t convincing. Why would Rock want to remain part of a government-sponsored superhero team if he can’t hold his stony form for long periods of time? Scissors’ blades are useless against the mega-threats he faces. Thin and stretchy Paper isn’t very durable in battle.

Even the violent dismissal of an important character didn’t make me want to see more Trio. Byrne throws readers a bone with impressive-looking battles, but the meat around it is undercooked and unsatisfying.

Preview Issue #4

Click on each thumbnail for larger size.

Trio #4 CoverTrio #4 Preview PageTrio #4 Preview Page

Trio #4 Preview PageTrio #4 Preview PageTrio #4 Preview Page

Trio #4 Preview PageTrio #4 Preview Page

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Author: Clarence

Webmaster, editor, writer of Red-Headed Mule. RHM was founded in 2011. Currently is liking British TV better than U.S. TV, mayhaps.

4 thoughts on “Review: John Byrne's Trio”

  1. Your criticism is that the story stacks things against the heroes TOO MUCH? Huh? The tougher it is for the heroes, the better– the MORE HEROIC. So their powers are useless in the fight? Great– so how will they get out? How will they win? That sounds dramatic, but it sounds like you don’t want drama.

    Very odd review.

  2. Hi, Mark, thanks for responding.

    I very much want drama. In fact, when I see a comic book called “Trio,” I want to see the group called Trio triumph over threats. When they’re trying to figure out the giant water-stealer, they’re nearly bystanders in their own comic.

    Do you have a copy of Trio #4? If you do, you’ll see it’s not really the three heroes who get the honor of finishing the baddies off.

    If you don’t have a copy, or even worse, don’t intend to read Trio #4? Well, I don’t what else I can say to have you consider my viewpoint.

    I remind you, and anyone critical of the review, that I give a recommendation for Byrne fans and fans of the art style. Trio is nice to look at, but I don’t recommend it for general comics readers. Not all non-gushing reviews should be taken as a trashing of the work, nor should I be satisfied with poorly “heroic” plot resolutions.

    Thank you for taking the time for comment and please visit again if you have time.

  3. I have not yet had the chance to buy Trio #4. I don’t imagine I would care to read your review or anyone else’s if I had.

    But if, as anyone would suppose, you do want drama– I don’t understand what you are criticizing in your review. It sounds like you wish Trio were more front and center to the action — but the choice to do something less conventional is not, in and of itself, something to criticize.

    You do not cite anything specific that was done poorly, you just describe the story as if its flaws should somehow be understood from that.

    That’s what I find so odd about your review. I see that it is not “trashing” the art, but it is trashing the story without any specific criticisms. The questions you pose about Rock, Paper and Scissors in the end make them seem interesting– but you pose them as if being left with these questions makes you dislike them and as though anyone else should feel the same.

    It just seems that if you think you can be so dismissive of the writing, then you would have bigger problems to point out than you do.

  4. “But if, as anyone would suppose, you do want drama– I don’t understand what you are criticizing in your review. It sounds like you wish Trio were more front and center to the action — but the choice to do something less conventional is not, in and of itself, something to criticize.”

    There’s nothing wrong with unconventional heroes and storytelling if it’s done well.

    “You do not cite anything specific that was done poorly, you just describe the story as if its flaws should somehow be understood from that.”

    In my reviews, I lean towards not giving away endings and major spoilers, especially if the comic/movie/etc. hasn’t been released yet. This is standard practice for me and other reviewers IRL.

    “That’s what I find so odd about your review. I see that it is not “trashing” the art, but it is trashing the story without any specific criticisms. The questions you pose about Rock, Paper and Scissors in the end make them seem interesting– but you pose them as if being left with these questions makes you dislike them and as though anyone else should feel the same. ”

    Different strokes and all that, but the way I saw Trio being presented makes them ineffectual and poorly fit to be heroes not overly sympathetic and compelling.

    Two’s powers of slicing and dicing, for example, doesn’t lend itself well to mega-threats that stand several stories tall that may wear armor or are less sensitive to pain.

    Three’s inability to hold his power for long periods of time undermines his status as an operative.

    What punctuates my view is that the reasons the group’s raison d’etre isn’t established well enough that I want to proceed to read more of their adventures. Yes, we’re given a peek at the domestic situations at Two and Three (husband and family, respectively), but they’re not interesting characters on their own.

    I do recall from reading the series a lot of coverage of the carnage in the city, but a lack of why on Earth do we have a Trio.

    We just see things differently. Oh, well.

    “It just seems that if you think you can be so dismissive of the writing, then you would have bigger problems to point out than you do.”

    First, I’ve read worse *cough*Amazing Spider-Man #692*cough*. Second, is that some sort of odd attempt at a personal attack?

    Anyway, any further debate will just result in both of us going in circles and things could turn into awful mudslinging.

    I don’t hate Trio and I don’t mind disagreements. If you enjoy Trio, that’s fine, but don’t let my dissent, of all things, ruin your enjoyment. I appreciate your feedback.

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