It appears that Byrne is attempting to write Trio in the same manner as daytime soaps write their episodes (albeit with much larger monsters and far more punching of things). The general format is that PLOT A is the main plot while PLOT B is the subplot. In the background are PLOT C and PLOT D. As PLOT A gets resolved, PLOT B moves in to the spotlight and all the other plots move up a space and a new PLOT is introduced which will slowly percolate and build until it gets moved to the forefront. This was a successful formula for years in the comic book industry as well (Chris Claremont’s X-Men run is a classic example of this). However Byrne is attempting to do it in a compressed timeframe and the effect is significantly diminished for it.
In four issues there has been a bank robber, an invasion from the depths, a new invasion with a plot to steal all the water from the planet, and now there is a resurrected parallel universe Nazi super-villain rampaging through the city. I know that I am often the first to complain about story decompression, but I think Byrne has taken things a bit too far in the opposite direction.
In these four issues, we have learned very little about the main characters. We know that Rock is secretly an african-american teenager who comes from an affluent family, we learn that Scissors is gay, and that Paper is “supposed” to be the smart one of the group. That is all there is. For four issues the three characters have stood in the middle of the city and punched things. There has been no time for any of the characters to truly develop or for a purpose of the book to emerge because Byrne has been too busy getting to the next “threat to the city”.
After four issues I am still not sure what this book is really about. The Fantastic Four is about a family and, when it is at its best, it is about a family who is exploring the unknown. The X-Men is about fear and prejudice. Alpha Flight was about the dangers of government (as well as the struggle between science and nature/magic). Spider-Man is about responsibility. but so far Trio is about punching things. Fun for an issue or two. Not so fun month after month.
But all is not lost. There are plenty of small bits and pieces nibbling around the edges where PLOT C and maybe even D are hanging out. If Byrne can begin to shift the focus on to those – the people who are supposed to be helping the Trio but who seem to secretly want to use them for their own ends/the mysterious stranger who just arrived in Rock’s house – then Trio could right itself. Byrne is more than capable of this, having written some emotionally charged and punch-free issues of Fantastic Four back in the 80′s.
The question is, will he shift the focus to the character development, or is he content to draw one ever-extending fight scene?