120 pages $18
John Byrne was and still is comic book royalty. Like most royalty he is simultaneously loved and hated by the people he encounters. Like royalty most people form their opinions having never met him. Others that do know him usually have a more realistic opinion of him. Sometimes they come to a positive opinion, other times not so much. There are stories all over the industry of how awful he is and just as many saying the opposite. Personally I do not care. He is human like anyone else and since I do not know him personally, I don’t care about anything other than his work; a comic book career decades long and filled with amazing things.
Trio is the newest work to come from his fertile imagination. This collection is the first four (and so far the only) books of the series from IDW. It is not his strongest story by any means, but there are some great touches here. This was billed as a “traditional” super hero book, I think to its detriment. This is really only traditional in that there are a lot of “bang” “pow” and “zap” type sound effects graphics. The book also is largely devoid of the needlessly dark and angst ridden “heroes” that are so common and tedious in most modern comics. This is not a Garth Ennis book. Calling this old school or any other term of the kind devalues and restricts the potential audience for this, and this was reflected in the book’s dismal sales. Why tell people anything other than “it’s a John Byrne book”? Anyone who has a clue will already know what they are in for, why scare them away with descriptions that are pejorative? Unless this trade collection sells well, I think this is all we are likely to see of this book as a solo feature, and the poor marketing of the single issues will have been to blame.
Trio focuses on One, Two and Three, or as the media calls them “Rock, Paper and Scissors”. Their powers are pretty much described in the names and the personalities are not all that well-defined in this book. There was obviously more intended to follow this, and that would be a caveat for some, I guess. If this volume does not sell well, the chance of a second volume is not great, so it is problematic. I recommend buying this volume even though it does not actually have a complete story. Yes there is a risk that you will never read the next part, but if you don’t get it, then the chance that there will be no follow-up is even greater.
Enough preaching about the lamentable state of the industry. The book is quite good. The story is a bit basic, due largely to its unfinished status, I think. The art is just great though. Byrne’s work post Terry Austin is hard for some people even to this day. Austin’s clean and tight line gave Byrne’s pencils a very different quality from the line when he is inking himself. I for one like both and this book is one where Byrne is clearly enjoying himself with these drawings. At times he seems to be channeling Neal Adams or even Steranko, but not to the books detriment. There is also more than a few things that will remind many of the Fantastic Four here. This is a well-drawn book. What little character development we get centers around Rock, and to a lesser degree, Scissors. The group’s only female, Paper is the McGuffin the other two seem to focus their emotional depth on at this point, so her development is somewhat lacking at this stage.
The package is fairly typical of IDW’s trade collections, but I felt the paper was very flat. This could have used a bit nicer grade of paper to liven up the visuals even more. All in all, a good book that I hope you will support. John Byrne is one of those creators that should be given the benefit of our doubts. Anyone that likes his work in general should give anything he puts out a fair chance. I have not liked everything he has done, but I have always given his work a look each time, before deciding to buy or not. As long as he doesn’t pull a Miller and go bat-crap-crazy, we should continue to support and enjoy his works.