As I said a couple of days ago, it is ironic that DC released Superman/WonderWoman #2 in the same week that Smallville #19 was released. Both books have Superman and Wonder Woman, both have them fighting major threats. But they are so different in tone and characterization. And these differences were all the more jarring when these issues were read back to back.
Most know that I am more of a Clark/Lois fan and don't necessarily agree with this romance. It doesn't make much sense to me and my ingrained (and possibly antiquated) understanding of these characters. And seeing a more classic camaraderie in Smallville, complete with intact Superman ethics and Wonder Woman ideals made this a tougher read.
So I am trying to be open-minded as I read this book. I don't agree with the direction of the romance. But if the story is good, if the romance seems real in the book, maybe I can move past it. But so far, there are things that stick out in this book that continue to make me cringe a little, that make me remain steadfast that these two shouldn't be together.
Now there are some good things about this book. For one, Tony Daniel's art on the book is really spectacular. I have really enjoyed his stuff and story-telling here. If only Diana wasn't wearing high heel boots!
And I think Soule's characterization of the Greek Gods was very good, showcasing how they feel above everybody.
But Superman and Wonder Woman's interactions seem off, as they did a bit last issue, and that makes this a tough read.
Last issue ended with Doomsday appearing in the middle of an off-shore storm. With Superman out for the count, Diana faced off against him.
The opening page of this issue is horizontally oriented and just shows Wonder Woman being thrashed. I thought this was a very good opening page, bringing us immediately back into the action and showing us the power of Doomsday. Daniel gives us the 'feel' of this shot, Diana's head bent back, her body appearing limp.
I usually like this sort of action panel oriented differently, with the 'attacker' in the panel, and maybe the victim more at an angle. But I thought this really worked here. Maybe the giant 'Kathooom' added to the feel.
Just as Diana, arms broken, is about to accept the killing blow from Doomsday, Superman returns lifting the ship out of the water.
Unfortunately the next panel is this. We learn a couple of panels later that Doomsday disappeared. But in reading the book, I wondered what happened to Doomsday. I thought I must have missed a page, going back trying to separate a single sheet to see what happened.
And there is no closure of the 'military attacking' portion of last issue's plot. Did they just fly off? Or did they explain what was happening to the Navy? One little panel showing the two sides come together would have been nice. But that is coming from someone sick of seeing nations' armies attacking super-heroes in books.
Diana's description let's Clark know that this was Doomsday she was fighting. They head to the Fortress so they can confirm it by looking into the Phantom Zone.
Superman is rightly afraid of Doomsday who he says is simply 'death'. But Wonder Woman doesn't know Doomsday.
Does this mean 'The Death of Superman' didn't happen in the New 52? Does Morrison's 'Super-doom' from Action take the actual Doomsday's place in history? Did Superman die? Or is that coming up ... as part of this new weekly? I thought there were references to it already in the New 52 (although with no Eradicator, clone SB, and Henshaw Cyborg, the official story is impossible now).
Anyways, as much as I sort of like the dialogue here, Diana telling Clark he doesn't fight alone, the panels here don't work for me. I'd rather see the characters faces to add some emotional context.
To help, Diana takes Superman to Hephaestus to see if the Smith can make Clark something to help him in battle. Initially, Diana asks him for a 'weapon' which seems odd for Clark. But later they say it would be armor.
Here, Hephaestus attack Superman, I guess to prove that Superman is worthy of being there. And Clark easily parries it. Clark is even nice, calling Hephaestus 'sir' and saying 'Thank You'. But it is a little off that Superman can so easily face off against a god. And it gets worse.
Here is the part of Superman's characterization I really didn't like.
So Apollo and Strife show up, after all a mortal has come to Olympus. And Apollo, very appropriately, acts like a condescending jerk, even questioning Diana's choice in love.
This is the first time that Superman has met Diana's family (I think). So his first words to Apollo is how he is going to hit Apollo as hard as he can.
Doesn't sound like the Kansas farm-boy who knew manners. Even if Apollo is being a smug irritating ass, I want Superman to rise above. This hyper-masculine posturing seems beneath the inspiration I want Superman to be. You think he would ignore or be polite. No need to puff up and get into an alpha male moment.
And what an odd relationship. Last issue, Diana brandished a sword on Clark. Here, on first meeting, Clark threatens to throttle Diana's older brother. Does that sound healthy? Or right?
Apollo backhands Superman into Hephaestus' forge.
I like Strife's response. Yes, it is a riff on the famous 'one punch' Guy Gardner moment. So that is amusing. But Strife is out and out giddy during this scene. She should be. She loves discord and that is flowing. As I said, the characterization of the Greek pantheon is spot on.
Diana threatens Apollo but Superman arises from the fires to fight.
It is a moment that is similar to that opening panel. But the art execution is wonderful and different. We get too above shots, the second from Apollo's viewpoint, as Superman throws him through the mountain. And then we get a wide angle shot of the mountain itself, Apollo's tiny form flying into the sky.
So it is a very dramatic moment and is the sort of stuff that with other characters I might applaud. The art is fantastic, nicely capturing the action as the reader wheels through this. It is fun in form.
But really ... Superman, threatening a first punch, then dispatching the current ruler of the Greek Gods in the New 52 this easily.
And then this panel.
I don't know if I want Diana preening about this display like this. And, even if she has issues with her family, is this going to help matters? To have her significant other attack her brother?
I don't know. Am I being too stodgy?
I did however love Strife practically squeeing over Superman taking out Apollo like yesterday's trash. Her schoolgirl OMG is a perfect response. (Although the god word carrying over to the next panel and sitting near (defining?) Superman was worrisome. I want Superman to be a but more humble and in control than this.
At least he again thanks Hephaestus.
Of all the scenes in the book, I would love to hear people's reactions to this one. Because I worry I am out of touch.
Superman's concerns are that the dimensional barriers between the Phantom Zone and the universe are weakening since Doomsday temporarily escaped. And that worry seems valid as the issue ends with Zod appearing in the desert, bringing with him shards of the Zone. Of course, this being the dark violent DCU, he happens to manifest at a point of the desert where a caravan just happens to be, the crystals perforating the locals and their camels, killing them.
I don't know if I needed these deaths. Zod's entrance alone is dramatic enough.
So there was a lot that to me seemed wrong in this book and most of it focused on the characterization of our titular heroes. The art and the supporting players of the Gods (and Cat Grant who gets a page) all were very good. And I suppose that those things as well as wanting to be on the ground for the re-introduction of Zod and the Zone villains, makes me think I will be in for the first arc.
The question is what I do after. And does this make me more worried about how Kara will be treated by Soule.