I have been of two minds whenever I read the Superman/Wonder Woman comic each month. For the most part I have found the writing to be rough especially the romantic scenes between the main characters which have been off-putting, forced, and weird. On the other hand, I have found the art by Tony Daniel to be absolutely superlative. This is the best work I have seen by him. The art has basically saved this book from being cut from my pull list.
Superman/Wonder Woman #6 came out this week and, in general, follows that pattern. In general.
Again, the 'tender moments' between the characters are still read a bit forced, a bit odd. For the most part, this is a brawl issue, a high action issue that reads fast. That said, writer Charles Soule does inject some interesting new interactions into this story, specifically the Olympus contingent of Wonder Woman's family. So I might ratchet the plot up of this issue a touch from prior.
The art by Tony Daniel contiues to shine. He continues to knock it out of the park. I am just drinking in the art here. In fact, after reading this book I am upset at myself for not getting a commission from him at last year's Boston Comic Con.
You might recall that last issue ended with the two power couples heading their separate ways to heal up and strategize. I didn't think it was a good idea then. How do you let two malevolent Kryptonians just fly off? And it turns out my worries were justified. Zod and Faora are shown building a massive Phantom Zone projector.
One of my complaints last issue was that Superman fought like a novice last issue, being outflanked and pummeled. This issue we learn why ... and it isn't pretty. Back when they were 'friends' Superman didn't worry about Wonder Woman in battle. Now that they are a couple, he can only think about protecting her in combat. Ummm ... a bit paternal? Sexist? Chivalrous? I don't know. It seems to me strange that he is thinking about protecting her more now. That just seems old-fashioned to the point of being antiquated.
And then when Wonder Woman says that they are the 'shelter from the storm' for each other. I just don't think I have ever felt that in their interactions.
Superman and Diana head to Olympus to pick up the weapons that Hephaetus has been crafting for them. He not only outfits them in armor but gives them his 'invisible chariot' so the two can sneak up on Zod and Faora. I love this panel with the two heroes semi-seen as they exit.
Call me old school, but I like Wonder Woman having some sort of invisible vehicle to cruise around the world.
While I have basically slobbered over Daniel's art, I think his work in this issue is just a bit less polished than last issue which was just incredible.
Then it is truly an old fashioned donnybrook.
In a nice change of pace and a good way to shake up the reader a bit, we get a twelve panel, Frank Miller-esque, 300-ish page.
This really worked for me. The multiple panels sped up the fight for me, made it feel more frenetic and crazy than a couple of panels would have. And the black palette with just splashes of red made it feel more brutal.
The Hephaestus armor turns out to be a weapon, absorbing the physical energy of the Zoners' attacks and then being able to be detonated like a bomb. Again, a nice use of a semi-splash page. Big moments need big art.
Unfortunately the trigger for the bomb is for Clark and Diana to hold hands. Makes this whole thing seem like a schoolyard crush. And it once again feels forced to me.
Hephaestus isn't the only Olympian joining this skirmish. It turns out that Apollo used his sun powers to boost Zod and Faora's powers almost immediately. I am glad Soule explained away that prior question I had.
Still upset at Clark for punching him, Apollo decides to even the odds again, super-charging the Zoners with sunlight. The mega-powered villains are able to swiftly overpower Superman and Wonder Woman. And finding them still too difficult to kill, they toss them into a nearby, unused nuclear power plant. Hmmm ... how convenient.
Anyways, I did like that Apollo and Eris side with the Zoners. It reminded me of the Trojan War when the gods lined up on opposite sides. And of course Eris is going to want more chaos and strife. These side plots are more interesting to me.
It turns out that Zod wants to open up a huge Zone gate to free everyone and everything. That includes Warworld, just tossed into the Zone in last weeks Batman/Superman Annual.
I have to say 'continuity' in DC offices must be a curse word. When the hell does this story happen?
Weakened and trapped in the nuclear reactor, Clark comes up with a sort of last-ditch plan. Diana's magic sword can split an atom causing a reaction with the remaining fissionable material in the core. The resulting nuclear explosion will destroy the Zone gate. It could kill them.
Knowing this might kill them, Clark professes his love for Diana. I think this is the first time the 'L' word has been used by either of them.
I have to say, I don't like Diana's Han Solo-esque "Of course you do." No 'I love you too'. No kiss. No return of affection. They could be dead in a few seconds! I think Diana, if she truly loves Clark, would have said something different, kissed him, something .... anything else.
My biggest complaint is that these two characters have never acted like they love each other. This moment didn't help that complaint.
And it ends with this final image.
Are they dead? Is Diana unscathed in the invulnerable cape? Did it shut down the gate? Are Zod and Faora injured?
It is a decent cliffhanger. But ... the moment before soured it for me.
So more of the same with this book. Decent action. Nice side plots. Gorgeous art.
But the relationship between the main characters still isn't working for me. There hasn't been anything here that makes me think these two actually feel romantic about each other.