Bonus Book #9 – Blue Trinity (December, 1988)
Writer – Hank Kanalz
Pencils – Bill Knapp
Inks – Jerry Acerno
Letters – Helen Vesik
Colors – Matt Webb
Edits – Joey Cavalieri
Executive Editor – Joe Orlando
The Blue Trinity? Just what in all hells is that? is what you might be asking if you were unfamiliar with early post-Crisis Flash comics. They’re speedsters, ya see… Soviet Speedsters, lest we forget it was the 1980’s. Their story never really wowed me… and I often lump it in with a lot of Millennium stuff. I know they had something to do with Wally’s father, Rudy who was………………. a Manhunter. We probably could just put a pin in them there, right?
This Bonus Book was included with Flash (vol.2) #19 (December, 1988).
Our story opens in either 1968 or 1969… my copy is a bit blurry. We’re at the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia where a group of sailors are in danger of capsizing on the choppy water. Suddenly, the Flash appears… gonna assume this is Barry Allen, and saves the day! He rescues the sailors, and doesn’t even accept any sort of compensation, claiming that a “handshake” is more than enough thanks. This feat is broadcast all over the Soviet Union… and a pair of scientists, Orloff and Krulik consider that, if they were able to recreate and harness such power… and give it to the Soviet citizens, a new Golden Age of Miracles would be on the horizon for Mother Russia.
And so, they get to working in the lab… immediately! They begin their testing on animals… and wind up exploding many many mice. Ya see, in attempting to speed up their metabolism, they’d actually triggered their growth rate as well! Well, that sure sounds scientific enough for me! Anyhoo, they finally strike gold with a monkey. The Flash’s legendary speed… has been duplicated!
Later on, after Orloff retires for the evening, Dr. Krulik breaks into their lab… with one thing on his mind, stealing the formula… and immediately injecting it into some human subjects. What he fails to notice on his way out the door, however, is that monkey from earlier. I’m not going to capture an image of it… just imagine it as being rather pained looking.
Next thing we know, Krulik’s at the Kremlin trying to sell “his” creation to… I dunno, some high-ranking comrade. He gets the a-okay, so long as the human test subjects fit a certain criteria. Krulik giddily heads back to the lab… and, get this, injects himself with the formula! This is a comic book, after all… this is kinda what evil scientists do here.
Next, he enlists three youngsters… who, might be his nephews and niece? Well, one of ’em calls him “Uncle” anyway. Just after they’ve been injected, Orloff enters the lab… and he’s pretty shocked that his partner would go behind his back this way. I dunno, pal, somethin’ about the name “Krulik” just doesn’t inspire trust. Speaking of names, one of the youngsters’ name is “Boleslaw”. Boleslaw? No offense to any “Boleslaws” reading this, but… yikes.
Ol’ Krulik flips out, and grabs his… I’m going to assume “former” partner by the collar. Suddenly, he’s overtaken by… I dunno, the Morituri Process? Looks like the super-speed formula has burnt him out! Orloff’s like “duh, that’s exactly what happened to the monkey!” Oh well, now it looks like Orloff is stuck with the speed-kids!
There’s a contentious chat at the Kremlin, where Orloff is sorta-kinda blamed for everything that went down, on account of he wasn’t able to stop his no-good, thieving, scumbag former partner from stealing his stuff… and so, he decides to stand by the “Blue Trinity”… and do whatever he can to train them not to “burn out”. This takes us to a good ol’ training montage… where we can see some side-effects of the treatment, and also a love-triangle among the Trinity members. Hmm… maybe they’re not all cousins? I sure hope they’re not.
From here, we jarringly jump to the “present day”… 1988 at a S.T.A.R. Labs facility. The Blue Trinity is facing off with their former mentor, Dr. Orloff. Looks like the Soviets have pegged him as a traitor, and responsible for Krulik’s death… and they’re here to collect. Worth noting, Orloff came to the United States to help our ol’ pal, Speed McGee!
Just then, the Red Trinity burst into the room! These are even more Flash-modeled super speedsters… however, this trio left the Motherland for the United States. Needless to say, there’s about to be a rumble.
Before long, Orloff shouts at them all to stand down. He insists to the Blues that he still cares for them… and he’s working toward a cure for their situation. The Blues understand, however, their first loyalty is to the Motherland… but this time, they’ll leave him in peace.
This was rather good! Up until the flash-forward, I found myself really digging the origin of the Blue Trinity. The jump to the present was a bit jarring… and didn’t feel quite as organic as it might have, which really hindered my overall enjoyment of this little extra.
As mentioned in the pre-ramble, I have very little affection (or interest) in the Trinities, Blue or Red. Anytime either of ’em showed up in pages of Flash back-issues, my eyes would just glaze over. Just not my cup of tea, I guess… which was too bad for me, because the writers seemed to be rather keen on them! This origin, though, was… at least grounded in a decent idea? Ya know, it would stand to reason that a scientist might try and recreate superpowers for their own (or their homeland’s) gain… heck, it’s kind of a trope.
I might’ve been a bit taken out of it by the “don’t think too hard about it” science that was used to get the job done… but, it’s a comic book, sometimes it’s better just to accept what’s being presented. Though, if it was this easy to recreate superpowers… okay, no, I’m gonna stop myself before I go off on an even deeper tangent.
Our writer might not be a familiar name to some, but Hank Kanalz, wrote the script for Youngblood #1! That’s right, between this and the Warlord story from the other day, these DC Bonus Books brought us darn near the entire Youngblood creative team! How bout dat? He would go on to become the General Manager for WildStorm Studios… and most recently, is/was the Senior Vice President of Vertigo Comics. Not sure where he stands today, since, last I read Vertigo got deep-sixed in favor of whatever the hell DC defines Black Label as (this week). As far as Hank’s writing is concerned, he didn’t do a whole heck of a lot in that regard.
Across the table sits Bill Knapp. Another fella who didn’t go on to be all that prolific in the field. This is the only story he’d do for DC Comics. He’d also do some stuff for post-Marvel buy-out Malibu Comics. As with most of the pencillers we’ve looked at in these Bonus Books, I gotta say, it’s kind of a shame he didn’t go on to do more for DC. His style seems to fit in fine with much of what they were putting out. It’s strange, seems “these days” it doesn’t matter how much your style falls in line with a publisher (which says more for editorial than anything). I’d assume back in the 80’s, when “Style Guides” were less verboten of a thing, this sort of art would’ve been right up DC’s alley. Ehh, who’s to say, right? Perhaps they made Knapp an offer he could refuse?
Anyhoo… overall, not a bad little story… a good introduction for the Blue Trinity, though the ending did leave quite a bit to be desired.
(Not the) Letters Page: