Superman/Wonder Woman #1 came out this week, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Tony Daniel. It is a book that has had its share of controversy already as the DC community seems pretty split on whether the romantic relationship between the title characters is a good thing.
Now I am a pretty big Lois fan. And I have always understood just why these two don't belong together, most elegantly stated in John Byrne's Action Comics #600. Clark is just a simple boy from Kansas and Diana is a goddess. It isn't an easy match.
Things change of course. But the stories in the New 52 with these two have done nothing to make me understand why they are together. There hasn't been any characterization explaining why they have decided romance is the way to go. From a meta viewpoint, this has felt forced, as if they are only together because the powers that be in DC have decided they should be.
And unfortunately, there wasn't much in this issue that made me think differently. If anything, this issue made me think they shouldn't be together. Soule does his best to show us the extremes of their relationship - loud moments of action and quiet moments together. But it still doesn't crackle.
The story has Superman and Wonder Woman battling an odd storm at sea intercut with flashbacks of Clark and Cat Grant, Diana and Amazon friend Hessia, and finally Clark and Diana alone. I don't mind nonlinear story telling but in this instance it took me out of the story, breaking any momentum the storm scene has by leaving it. And the transitions don't move the story either.
I will say, outside of Diana's high heel boots, Daniel's art is superb here.
We start out with Superman and Diana streaking to the storm together. I will say, they sure do look good together. But this could be them streaking to battle in a JLA book.
They decide to divide and conquer. Superman will take care of the storm and Diana will help out a plane in danger nearby.
I do like how Clark is kicking himself for saying so glibly 'I've got it' when talking about the storm.
But that is the thing. Clark is just a small town kid who now is dating a goddess. He should feel awkward around her.
But before we can get too invested in this rescue mission, we cut away to the private lives of Clark and Diana in the hours preceding a date.
These scenes are actually my favorite. I love Cat's continued enthusiasm even if Clark bemoans the lack of stories to break. It sounds defeatist of Clark. And didn't he get a file on the Twenty a while back? Why not break that story.
Instead we get these images of someone with the knowledge that Superman and Wonder Woman are amorous downloading pictures onto a thumb drive and mailing it to Cat. It sits there in a pile of mail, waiting to be opened. It reminded me a bit of Rorschach's journal at the end of Watchmen.
And this scene also struck me as Diana talks with her friend Hessia about why Clark is hiding their relationship. Diana thinks he might be ashamed. Her friend knows he has been trained to hide everything. Then Diana says it is an inherent difference between them ... her openness and his timidity. Umm ... maybe it'll be hard to be together?
I will say, at least Diana sounds like Diana here.
But we leave those scenes to head back to the ocean where Diana is hoisting this plane up, keeping it from crashing, only to have Superman get punched through it from whatever was at the bottom of the ocean.
I will say the page before where Diana struggles with the weight and momentum of the plane is wonderfully rendered by Daniel. And this panel is a great one as well. Superman must be going pretty fast given the perspective here.
Then back to earlier, this time as Clark and Diana start their date night.
I think this panel was funny, again showing how Clark must be nervous dating. He calls Diana beautiful and strange. Or is that some strange pick-up line by him?
Listen, I know it is early in their relationship. I probably was awkward and bizarre when I first started dating my wife. But all these scenes don't make me feel why these two are together.
The Hal line is beautiful.
When confronted by Diana about hiding their relationship, Clark talks about giving 'them' everything and this is something he wants to keep just to them for now.
It sounded a little weird. I assume the 'them' is humanity. But he sounds almost a bit resentful of mankind as if they pry. I suppose wanting to keep the relationship out of the papers and away from the paparazzi makes sense. But he even looks a little angry.
And then the most odd moment in the book. Diana wants to show Clark that he needs training in how to fight. While mighty, he isn't a true warrior. And to show that, she brandishes a sword and almost slashes him.
Soooo .... if I was dating someone and she pulled out a sword and waved it at me, even if it was to make a point, I think I'd be out of there.
Maybe separate I could deal with all these small moments. But together, they make me think their isn't any chemistry between Clark and Diana. I just don't feel it. Not yet.
And then we get to see one of my pet peeves again. The US military sees Superman break through the plane and assume that Wonder Woman and Superman have destroyed it on purpose. So a nearby battleship opens up its guns onto Diana.
Because if Superman and Diana were going to destroy that plane, they would fly into a storm where the plane was going to crash anyways and then be flung through it as opposed to using heat vision from far away or just letting the plane go down.
And then to make matters worse, Diana flies to the ship and rips it turret off, destroying it.
I am sick of seeing DC's heroes attacked by the military. I am sick of seeing the heroes fighting the military. Can we take a break from this?
And then we finally find out what clocked Superman. Doomsday.
And then we get this page where there is a big panel of Diana getting throttled with smaller panels in silhouette of Clark and Diana getting frisky only to be called away by the emergency.
I don't know, seeing the two of them hugging, unbuttoned, and kissing surrounding her taking a backhand to the jaw made me cringe just a little. This is where the nonlinear story-telling was its most jarring.
I think there is some potential in this. Who is Doomsday in this new universe? What will Clark do when Cat wants to break a story he wants to bury? And it really is a beautiful book. Daniel really does wonders here.
But the back and forth flashbacks felt jarring. And I still don't feel the romance here. Will Soule be able to convince me these two really have romantic feelings for each other??