Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review: Superman Wonder Woman #4

Superman/Wonder Woman #4 came out last week and as usual, I have some problems with this issue.

It does what it should, moving the two major plotlines in this comic forward. And it does it in an interesting way, splitting the issue into two separate stories with two different artists. In that manner, I think the book works. I was glad to really concentrate on the two plots individually rather than have to transition from one to the other every couple of pages (not that that would be easy as one is Superman in the Arctic and the other is Clark in Metropolis).

But while that format works, there are pieces of these plots that still don't work for me and progression of the plot won't help that. Boiled down to its core, I still don't quite get why these two would be together outside of an immediate physical attraction. Every interaction seems to just hammer home why the don't work together. Writer Charles Soule seems to want to show how different the two are as a source of interesting stories and plot development. But instead, it just makes me think that these two would be happier of they broke up.

The art on the book continues to be excellent. While there are a fair number of 'romance novel' shots of Superman and Diana embracing, Tony Daniel and Paolo Siqueira really shine here. Daniel handles the Superman/Zod portions in the Fortress. Siqueira sparkles on the Cat Grant celebration party in Metropolis.

The book opens with our title characters still reeling a bit that the news of their romance has hit the airwaves.

And then we have this dialogue exchange that once again makes me think that these two just aren't fit for each other.

Diana asks Superman why he continues to be 'Clark'. Why not get rid of that identity and be just Superman and use his powers all the time, something that brings him joy.

Uhh ... Clark IS Clark. Superman is the mask. I can't imagine Diana not understanding that! And I am surprised that Clark doesn't look at her incredulously. How could someone who says they love him ask him that? Plus, isn't she just now enjoying the whole Diana Prince thing, as laid out by Geoff Johns.

But I didn't exactly like Clark's response either. He remains Clark because it is 'hard' and that reminds him of the lives of regular people. But I'd rather him say 'I choose to be Clark because I am Clark.'

The rest of the Tony Daniel portion of the book takes place in the Fortress. I talked last month about how Zod's murderous rampage when he came to Earth went uninvestigated and how I thought that didn't make much sense.

Here, Superman talks to Zod about Doomsday. Zod states that he volunteered to go into the Zone to fight Doomsday eternally. Now, you might think that Superman would actually try to look into the databases in the Fortress to do some research on who Zod is before believing this lie.

Or ... maybe he should ask his cousin who was alive back on Krypton to see if she knows anything about Zod. Remember, she was tormented by him in her youth as seen in the Doomsday book in Villains Month. But having Superman talk to Supergirl seems to be forbidden in the New 52.

But moreover, it just shows badly on Superman. He is too busy smooching Diana to figure out who this Kryptonian is?

Instead Superman is surprised when Zod is very interested in the Phantom Zone projector (as seen in panels above) and states outright that Superman should fear him.

Zod understands the Kryptonian technology better than Kal and is able to use a phrase to open all the cages in the menagerie (including his own) and fly to the projector.

Beautiful art here as the two fight amid the crazy zoo. Daniel really draws a great Superman.

Diana does the voice over here, talking about how they are truly mythological beings which usually means a tragic ending. Then she says that she and Superman will split for some time fighting their personal enemies. I guess that means Superman will face off against the Phantom Zone villains while she will fight more classic enemies from her rogues' gallery.

It turns out that Zod is heading to the projector to free Faora. He asks if Superman wouldn't do the same thing if Diana were on the other side.

I suppose this Zod/Faora relationship could be a nice reflection of the Clark/Diana relationship. Maybe we will compare and contrast these two couples to see the depth of love and loyalty, the problems of a power couple, etc.

So I am willing to give this a bit more time to see how it plays out. Will Zod immediately go 'despot'? (Hard not to when you tell Kal he should be feared.)

And the fact that the projector lens is cracked isn't lost on me. A detail like that has to have a reason for being there. My guess ... the machine breaks at the end of this arc, sealing the Zone off 'forever'.

Nice cliffhanger. The problem is getting to this point required me to swallow some odd characterization.

The second half of the issue takes place in Metropolis at a party that Cat Grant is throwing over the success of ClarkCatropolis now that they broke the Superman/Wonder Woman romance. My guess is it takes place between the apartment discussion between Clark and Diana and his heading to the Fortress.

It is an inclusive look at the response to the relationship as we hear what the party-goers think. And we also get a bigger scope as we get a two page spread of the heroes kissing while surrounding them are people -both known and unknown - responding to the news. I did like the construction of the page with Superman and Diana in bright color surround by the muted green of the 'Matrix', people seeing the news on-line.

And Steve Trevor's is the most cutting. He 'knows' Diana is going to dump Superman.

I will say if there is a Cat Grant comic one day, I want Siqueira to draw it. He seems to have a handle on both her and her mannerisms, whether it is being the center of attention (as here when she is simply eye candy while the conversation happens below) or lounging on the couch as the party wraps up.

Her boyfriend is some dunce. He is working on some sort of Absorbascon like device where all knowledge can be downloaded into someone's mind, a way to give humanity their 'edge' back over super-humans. Sounds like a super-villain waiting to emerge. New Brainwave? Seems odd that this party takes place in Aaron's lab though. One 'rum and coke' spilled onto the control panel and the Absorbascon could be broken.

I do like that Clark states that being 'super' doesn't automatically mean someone wants to rule. My guess is Zod is going to challenge that notion.

And what about the rest of the world.

Well the continuity nut in me is trying to figure out when this story takes place.

Lex is imprisoned and scarred. That means we are pre-Forever Evil.

And Lex isn't happy about this relationship either. I guess if he hates a super-being over him, a super-couple is twice as scary.

Meanwhile, as in last issue, Diana is confused about her relationship and goes to her friend Hessia to talk things out. At least Diana has someone to talk to. In this book she feels alone, concentrating only on her mission. This Diana feels so different from the Azzarello one who is surrounded by her own version of Modern Family.

And you would think if every time she is with Clark she is so confused she needs to talk about her relationship with a friend, she might wonder if this romance will work.

I suppose having two women talking in the comic and talking about a relationship fails some sort of test. At least Soule gives us this moment where Diana inspires some girls who are studying self-defense under Hessia's tutelage.

With the girls out of the dojo, the two Amazons have a workout to relieve some stress, fighting robots. I don't know where this takes place. Is it in Hessia's gym?

Happily, Hessia reminds Diana that there is more to her life than simply this relationship. She isn't defined by Superman. Whew ... thank goodness someone tells Diana that. I don't know if this Wonder Woman reads like the Wonder Woman I know.

And Dian decides that maybe she should ... I don't know ... try to figure out a way to save the Amazons instead of making out all the time. I'm not saying that you can't have a relationship and do all this personal stuff (research Zod, save Amazons). In fact being in a stable relationship should help them with these personal quests. It just seems this book makes the two heroes seem infatuated with each other, interested in only the physical components of a relationship, and ignoring everything else. I guess when smitten that stuff can happen.

Lastly, the big mystery remains. Who sent Cat those pictures?

This is a beautiful book to look at with really fantastic art by Daniel and Siqueira.

But the relationship this book is built on still reads all wrong, like two people who don't understand each other at all, who are on opposite ends of the spectrum on some basic ideology, and who just seem uncomfortable with each other when they aren't embracing.

I do think the Zod/Faora relationship at least allows some sort of foil to be set up, some sort of mirror for the main characters to look at and wonder. In some ways, while malevolent, I bet Zod and Faora have truer feeling for each other.

Overall grade: B (raised a bit by the art)


Martin Gray said...

Well done, Anj, you nailed the problems and pleasures of this book. After yesterday's announcement that Superman Unchained is ending when Snyder and Lee's Wraith story is done, I wonder if DC won't pull the plug on this sooner rather than later. It HAS to be leading to the 'Diana and Clark are wrong for one another conclusion' - let's just get there already.

Supertorresmo said...

I'm think you're seeing things were there's nothing. It is well known fact that we tend to see things which confirms our prejudices and glance over the things that disagree with them.

It is obvious that this romance is just a temporary thing to shake things up, just like Superman's Death. So just enjoy the ride until its inevitable end...

Anj said...

Hmmm ...

What did I see that wasn't there?

I agree with you that this is a temporary thing. I don't think 5 yrs from now the two will be together.

What I am having a hard time dealing with is why they would think they should be together now. No writer has made this relationship seem healthy since the beginning. And infatuation (or even lust) can only take you so far.

I am sitting back and watching. But it hasn't been enjoyable for me yet (outside of the art).

Zoraida Merlo said...

Great review! I am not a fan of this book neither the romantic relationship between Superman and Diana. These 4 issues has only proved that they don't work together as a couple, they lack of intimacy and deep feelings for each. Their differences are quiet remarkable in this issue. At this point Diana should understand the importance of Clark because that's who he is! And she trying to dismiss Clark as a whole, says a lot about her as his "girlfriend" , she is being selfish so different from the Wonder Woman the fans get in her book. Clark, sighs, I don't know what to think anymore of this vesion, he was raised as Clark Kent and now he says it's "hard" to be him and not talking to Diana about the big elephant in the room only makes things worst for these two. He looks miserable and forced to be with her. She only cares about making out. Ok we get it! They are like gods, no one is that beautiful and powerful but them, but there should be more than that to make a relationship work, that's only physical attraction that will vanish, they don't have anything else in commom more than that. They see things and the world in two different and not compatible ways, they crash and Soule is making a wonderful job writing the big differences. If the story should have followed the first panels to the end this will probably have been the last issue of this nonsense.
I am sorry if this sounds like a fangirl rant, but I am so tired of not getting the real Superman and myth is so disappointing.

Jay said...

Superman's not the mask anymore. That was Byrne/MOS continuity, which started going the wayside well before Flashpoint. Post Flashpoint though its become a lot more apparent that they've made a compromise. Granted it hasn't gone completely back to the old days when Clark was a clear mask, but they have reverted completely from Byrne's idea that Superman was. He is, in his mind, Superman as much as he is Clark Kent.

That's what Diana has yet to realize here and hopefully something she'll understand about him. He's not one or the other.

Jay said...

Also, sorry for the double post but I think its kinda overthinking it to want an explanation as to why they put them together now. They just wanted to. I don't know why there has to be an elaborate reason to want to write two characters in a romantic relationship. And I would also disagree that no writer has made the relationship seem healthy. To me no writer has made it outright unhealthy. I mean, there's been nothing staggeringly odd about the circumstances about how they got together, nor has their been anything odd about their courtship since. They have their differences of course, but everyone does. I'd make the argument that them noting that and exploring it is quite healthy.

In any case I get simply not being a fan of the pairing. That in of itself makes perfect sense to me. But I think as fans when we have a preference in regards to "shipping" if you'll forgive the phrase, we tend to overanalyze and add strict and unrealistic expectations to things to sabotage it from the start inside one's head. And I'm not just projecting onto others here. I've done the exact same thing. It happens.

Anj said...

I don't mind the double post Jay and loved the dialogue.

Here is my problem.

I am a Clark and Lois guy. But surprisingly, that hasn't necessarily impacted my thoughts about SM/WW that much.

I get that this SM/WW relationship is being forced by the DC editors for one reason for another. And I don't care about why now vs 5 years ago vs 3 years from now.

The thing is the creators have yet to write a scene where I understand why these two are together or why they would want to be together. The stories and conversations feel forced.

I'm not shipping one relationship over the other (even if I prefer Lois).

But if DC wants me to accept SM and WW being together, they should write them such that I understand their feelings for each other. Instead I read awkward scene after awkward scene where the differences in the characters seem so insurmountable that I can't believe they would be in a romance.

As such, the comics feel as forced as the editorial edict.

Jay said...

Hey that's cool, and believe me, when I used the term "shipping", I used it only for lack of a better word at the time, I definitely didn't mean it in the negative connotations its taken on in the lexicon.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or has this blog rolled back? I can't see the article after the Supes&WW review.

Green said...

As a fan of Wonder Woman her characterization in this book isn't being good. they are showing much more Diana feelings for Clark than Clarks feelings for Diana.abd damn everytime she is with Hessia she ask about relationship advice. And she wouldn't never compare her and clark with Gods, she knows how powerfuls beings can be so mean.
Agree with Anj if DC want peple to root for this couple they need to show why we would do this.