In 2006, DC Comics launched an ambitious, yearlong weekly series, "52," that portrayed a year without DC's big guns: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
DC's latest weekly series, "Trinity," begins in June.
And this time, the Big Three take center stage.
"It's kind of a big Tom Clancyesque thriller - if Tom Clancy thrillers were metaphysical and had mysticism and science-fiction and outer space and big cosmic issues in them," says writer Kurt Busiek.
Busiek is writing the main thread of "Trinity," 12-page lead chapters that will run the length of the 52-issue series. He's also writing, with Fabian Nicieza, 10-page "back chapters."
"We're getting cautious about calling them backups because people react to the word 'backup' and they think, 'Oh, that means a throwaway story,"' Busiek says.
The back chapters, he says, will feature heroes beyond DC's biggest stars and will dovetail into the main story in various ways.
"Nobody's going to read the first three issues of 'Trinity' and then go, yeah, these backup stories, they're just fill-ins," Busiek promises.
"Trinity" explores the role of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the DC universe - a role that apparently goes way beyond keeping the streets of Gotham City safe or protecting Earth from Brainiac.
"It turns out that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman aren't merely the most famous DC characters," Busiek says.
"It's not just that they're on all the Underoos. It's that they represent a kind of keystone trinity that is central to the way the Earth works in a metaphysical way."
Busiek also will explore the relationships among the three.
"This asks the questions who are they to each other, how do they play off each other, what tensions have there been, what strengths are there?"
Busiek has written about any character you can think of from DC and rival Marvel Comics.
Among DC's Big Three, he's most associated with the Man of Steel; until giving it up to take on "Trinity," he was the writer of the monthly "Superman" series.
"Batman is a character that I've always liked, but I haven't had as much of a chance to write him as some of the others, and I am having an absolute blast," he says. "Batman can say more with a dirty look than a lot of other characters can say with a full-page monologue."
In "Trinity," Busiek is reunited with artist Mark Bagley; the two worked together on Marvel's "Thunderbolts." Bagley is drawing the lead chapters of "Trinity" while a trio of artists will handle the back chapters.
Bagley's page count on the weekly chapters add up to more than two regular comics a month. Many artists struggle to get one monthly done.
"Mark has been an absolute production machine," Busiek says.
It helps that Bagley had a significant lead time, but it also boils down to his speed and work ethic, Busiek says.
When Bagley went on vacation with his family, he apologized for getting only a page a day done then, Busiek says.
"That's a full day's work or more for a lot of artists. And that's what Mark gets done when he's on vacation."