A new Byrne-i-verse is introduced in this volume, with a new superhero team called Trio.
The highlight here for me is indeed the artwork- some of it is really quite stunning. Pencils, inks & colors are all great. Byrne is back to drawing in a more high definition style; he's constantly experimented with line-weights & inking over the years, and it's amazing to me that after decades in this industry he's still drawing at a very high level.
As much as I like this art, I think the overall concept & characters here are really kind of average.
Here are the main characters:
*One, aka Paper- she is of Asian ethnicity. A literally 2-dimensional being, she stretches all over the place like Mr. Fantastic or Flatman of the GLA. I actually like her visual design a lot, even if she seems largely ineffective in battle. She's like living origami.
*Two, aka Scissors- he is of Middle Eastern ethnicity. His lower arms & hands turn into blades at will. He seems pretty quick & effective in battle, and can even deflect bullets with his blades.
*Three, aka Rock- he is a young man of African descent. He can painfully transform into a strong, rock-like creature at will. There are a number of characters in comics like this: Thing, Blok, Badrock, Concrete, etc. I think Rock is considered the most powerful member of Trio.
These new heroes are trying to defend their city against the menaces of Nautilus, Kosmos, and Golgotha. Nautilus is a type of merman; Kosmos is a type of giant Alien threat; and Golgotha is a being who seems like the answer to the question, "What if Dr. Doom & the Red Skull had a baby?" Of these three menaces, Golgotha is easily my favorite. I think he has A-list villain potential, and Byrne was very smart to bring him in from the 90's title Danger Unlimited.
I believe comparisons between Trio & the Fantastic Four seem justified. Both teams are based on popular concepts, i.e. the 4 elements, and the kids game "Paper, Scissors, Rock". Yet 2 of the members of Trio seem like inferior versions of their Fantastic counterparts, which increases the feeling that these are mainly B-listers in appeal. Both teams have numerical values in their titles, adding to the similarity. And Byrne worked with both teams, so comparisons are easy to make.
Byrne is somewhat progressive in making all 3 heroes in Trio ethnic minorities, And Scissors is an extreme minority- not just in his ethnicity, but in that he's also openly gay & married to another man. We even briefly meet his husband on 1 page. As a heterosexual male, I'm much more interested in reading about heterosexual characters & their love interests, but if people are looking for gay superheroes, Byrne has contributed nicely.
I had high hopes for Trio, but as great as the artwork is in this paperback, I just can't see this concept as having long lasting appeal in an ongoing series. I do think these heroes could be *excellent* supporting characters, and I'd like to see them stick around. Interestingly, the adventures of Trio continue in a newer title called Triple Helix. I happen to like that paperback quite a bit more.