Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #3
From the beginning, I have felt that the Superman/Wonder Woman romance was wrong for both characters. I didn't think it suited either of them or was consistent with more classic interpretations of either Clark or Diana. I wasn't 100% closed to the idea but I knew it would take something spectacular, something new, to make me think this was right for either of them.
With that in mind and knowing that the first arc was going to redefine the Phantom Zone villains, I decided to add Superman/Wonder Woman to my pull list. I would give the book a shot to see if writer Charles Soule could sway me. Besides, I knew already that I enjoyed Tony Daniel's art. At the very least, it would be a beautiful book to look at.
Superman/Wonder Woman #3 came out this week and like the first two issues, the characterization of the characters seems just a bit off. They don't seem comfortable with each other. This relationship feels somewhat forced. And the characterization of the two doesn't jibe with me. Now don't get me wrong, there are a couple of nice moments in the book. And the art is stunning. But this Diana is a far cry from the God of War in her solo title. And this Superman seems to eager to distance himself from humanity. And then they seem to pick the oddest time to get amorous and frisky. Maybe this is the early stage of any relationship, where passion seems stronger than love?
Anyways, unless things change, I don't know if there is going to be a second arc in my collection.
The book opens with Cat Grant finally opening up the flash drive that was sent to ClarkCatropolis. On the stuck are pictures of Superman and Wonder Woman kissing.
This is exactly the sort of publicity that the small start up blog needs. So it will be interesting to see how Clark (who wants the relationship to remain a secret) responds. Will he try to bury the story, make it a non-story, or spin it in a way he wants?
This is one of those times that having a dual identity is troublesome.
Let's start the guesses on who sent the drive. Who would be able to even get those pics? Luthor? It would give him pleasure to put Clark against Superman in a news war. That's all about I got.
One of my complaints about this book is the sort of uneven characterization Soule puts into the book. I also question how healthy this relationship is.
First the good part. Overpowered by the Apollo sunburst, Superman can barely control himself. He huddles down on the moon trying to burn off some of his energy. He talks to Batman during the process. One thing I liked about this was Batman's assessment of Superman here. Okay, calling him a dumb farmboy might be over the top. But the idea that it is the 'man' and not the 'Super' that defines Superman is how I think of the character. He is considers himself someone who can help more than the average person can. I like that.
But the bad part is that Soule thinks that Diana feels above everyone on the planet. She has 'no connection' to the world of everyday folks and that is problematic. Frankly, that just reads completely wrong to me. I wonder if Diana fans feel even more irritated by that than me.
Lastly, Superman tells Batman that he doesn't want Diana to know about his problem with the sun energy. Not exactly the openness I might want in a relationship. Isn't early to hide things from each other?
So the strong men talk about the ways of the world.
Diana gets to stroll around town talking about what gift she should get Clark for Christmas.
This also seemed off. I suppose if the prior scene was Clark and Bruce doing the same I might be able to deal with it more, contrasting the 'ordinariness' of it. But having Diana stress over buying her boyfriend a gift seems to denigrate her.
Here is seems insane at first, screaming insensibly, trying to fly, and then cruelly stomping a passerby into a bloody pulp and smearing the man's blood on his face.
I talk about the over the top nature of comics these days and this is a good example. We know Zod is a bad guy. I don't know if this scene added anything to my understanding of his character. That is the definition of gratuitous.
The Justice League of America shows up to investigate the incursion onto our world. It was nice to see Vibe and Hawkman try their best against him. I also think that the 'breach' idea tied in nicely with Vibe's title.
And sorry to all the Martian Manhunter fans out there as he is used as a measuring stick character again. Zod is already powerful enough to lay J'Onn out.
Then Superman and Wonder Woman arrive together and Zod is trapped within the coils of the magic lasso.
But, in my mind, things start to unravel a bit. Zod suddenly starts to speak calmly and claims that he was confused by his surroundings.
Of course, the blood he smeared on his face isn't there any more. Because that might be tough to explain.
And what about the place of his actual incursion ... remember the spikes perforating and slaughtering the caravan? And how about that poor nomad stomped to death? Did the JLA track him from his entrance onto Earth or did they just stumble onto him?
The point is all the evidence of him being a brutally violent man is simply erased or ignored. If Superman saw the pulped man in the desert, he might have a different attitude towards Zod.
And then these panels, probably my least favorite ones in the issue. Just pages after Soule reminds us that Superman is more man than Super, Superman decides that he wants to distance himself from mankind. When the JLA asks to take Zod in, Superman says he remembers what 'the government does to his people', a reference to Action Comics #2, an event that happened 5 years ago in continuity. He is worried what Earth will do to Zod! Daniel cloaks him in shadows and silhouettes kicking up the darkness in Superman.
Is this really Superman? Is this the Superman DC wants? Someone who distrusts mankind to the point of flaring up with anger at other heroes? What happened to Batman's 'dumb farmboy'??? This whole thing is completely wrong.
So Wonder Woman's characterization is off. And now Superman's characterization is off.
Superman brings Zod to the Fortress and puts him in a zoo cage until things can get sorted out. Superman tells Wonder Woman that the cage cannot be broken out of, even by someone of Kal's power levels.
Let's say that Soule needed Zod in the Fortress as a plot point.Couldn't he have had Superman say in the last scene that he would take Zod because he had something strong enough to hold him as opposed to isolating himself from humanity?
And doesn't this seem like a recipe for disaster, taking someone to your top secret headquarters filled with your secrets?
And then the most awkward bizarre ending. Wonder Woman decides that now is the right time to give Clark his Christmas gift ... the gift of time, a time where they can just be with each other and not worry about the world. It leads to some in air passionate kisses.
But ... really? Is it the right time for 'time'? The script could have read like this.
Diana: Hey Clark, I know you just got into a heated argument with the Justice League, discovered there is a third survivor from your doomed world, and have imprisoned him in your sanctuary, but ... let's go french kiss!
Clark: Perfect timing!
I can't believe that she thinks it is the right time for this tryst. And I can't believe that he agrees with her!
What would the really life equivalent be?
Normal Diana: Hey Clark, I know your long lost thought dead relative just showed up and is staying in your house. And I know you just got into an argument with your friends. But let's go make out!
Normal Clark: Perfect timing!
It just felt like a forced element to show the two embracing again. Luckily we don't gaze on their snogging too long. The news of their relationship has broken and Clark hears the world debating it!
So there is a lot of stuff in this issue that I simply have a hard time with. The odd characterization of the main two characters is the biggest. But the lack of investigation on Zod's appearance on Earth also was glossed over.
I will again say, I am loving the art of Tony Daniel here. Beautiful.
Overall grade: C/C-