Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #10

I have waxed and waned on my enjoyment with the Superman:Doomed storyline.

From a story point of view, the good has included Clark struggling internally with the Doomsday persona crawling around inside him as well as the inspiration of Superman making heroes rally to help by asking 'what would Superman do'. From an art point of view, I have continued to be blown away by the work of Aaron Kuder and Tony Daniel.

The bad has included completely inconsistent characterization of Supergirl, some dangling plot lines which have gone weeks without being addressed (Dr. Xa-Du hasn't been seen in 4 issues), and while not started in this arc, the shabby treatment of Lois Lane.

Unfortunately, Superman/Wonder Woman #10 seems to fall more into the latter than the former. Writer Charles Soule, who has shined in Red Lanterns and She-Hulk, continues to miss on this book with me. Part of that may be that I still don't have a great grasp or understanding of this relationship. It still doesn't seem right to me and the stories of this romance haven't persuaded me otherwise.

And while I like the art of both Paolo Siquiera and Pascal Alixe, I missed Tony Daniel on this book. We have heard that Daniel is moving on to a new Deathstroke book. I will miss him on this book.

Last issue ended with a great cliffhanger, the Cyborg Superman leading Brainiac squidies to Earth. Between the two is Lana and Steel in their spaceship. Meanwhile, Superman gave in to the Doomsday darkness as he battled Halak.

With their ship in danger, with the squidies battering them, Lana calls out to Superman. And luckily, Superdoom hears them and arrives. He saves the ship by ripping apart the Brainiac swarm.

Now this should be a great moment, Superman saving his friends from a cold death in space. But then Steel says that Superdoom may be just what they need, God help them.

I think it is a sad comic world where Superman's friends think they need him to be a monster to stop a threat like Brainiac. They don't trust Superman to succeed as a person? As a hero? As someone with ethics?

Yes, Brainiac and the Cyborg are huge threats. Isn't that what Superman is used to fighting?

For some reason, that one line, Steel glad that Superman is a monster, really did not sit well with me.

Meanwhile, poor poor Lois.

With Metropolis in quarantine, its citizens comatose, she wanders into the town and embraces her Brainiac possession.

Okay, it is a nice near splash page.

But do I really need Lois as a villain. Let alone as a simmering villain for a year?

Will we ever get an explanation why she seems to thrive with this possession while 'The Twenty' all mutated into monsters and died?

Will we ever get an explanation why Parasite drained her memory of Superman's secret identity but not much else?

It leads to a conversation and confrontation with Wonder Woman who apparently promised to watch Metropolis in Superman's place. Diana recognizes Lois and so approaches initially as a friend.

Okay, at the very least, Soule is planting the seeds that Lois is not herself. She may or may not be aware of all the things she is doing. She later says she is like a reporter in her own body, observing what she is doing without actually doing it. I assume that when she eventually gets cured of this affliction that she will conveniently forget everything she's done.

Lois/Brainiac seems pretty immature in talking about relationships, reducing men and women to caricatures. The man makes a mess, the woman cleans up.

Last issue, I had a bit of a complaint in wondering why Steel would bring a civilian like Lana Lang along on a dangerous space mission. At least we get an explanation here. It was Lana who discovered the brain signal from Smallville into space. She has the most expertise in defining the problem right now.

Steel, while keeping his distance from Superman's death field, Steel tells about the threat to Earth. Hearing his home is in danger, Superman flies off before Steel can dissuade him.

Hmmm ... will we ever get an explanation why Smallville was chosen? Does Brainiac know Superman's secret identity? I suppose if Lois/Brainiac knew that at some point, he probable does.

With the niceties over, Lois decides it is time for battle and psionically attacks Wonder Woman by showing her the painful parts of Diana's recent past. Most of these are scenes from the main Wonder Woman book.

Very nice art here worth showcasing.

But then things get a little silly.

Lois uses her powers to somehow resurrect John Corben as Metallo. She creates a body and psionically puts his persona into it. He then attacks Diana.

But the words Lois says here is crazy. She calls John Corben her man? Her soldier boy? She talks about how Brainiac took him from her?

Umm ... I am pretty sure she rebuked him in the past. She wouldn't describe him in such loving terms.

It is, again, some wonky characterization.

If there is a glimmer of Lois, she wouldn't talk about Corben or Superman or relationships this way.
If she is completely possessed by Brainiac, would Brainiac resort to this sort of 'my boyfriend is better than your boyfriend' sort of yapping?

Of course, she is controlled by Brainiac so I suppose all of this can be rationalized away as madness. But it there on the page. And it is disheartening for both characters.

At least we get some progression of the main Doomed storyline. With the Cyborg speeding to Earth we get an important little nugget of information.

The Doomsday Gambit was a engineered by Brainiac and Dr. Xa-Du. So maybe Xa-Du isn't going to help things. Of course, we haven't seen him in several issues so I don't even know where he is.

But it hasn't worked completely well. Superman is still a bit in control and flying to intercept this Brainiac fleet.

I don't know if Brainiac, who wants to collect information and life and store it would think putting out a death-generating monster on a planet he hopes to gather from would be the best idea.

While Diana defeats Lois/Brainiac from creating a device to ramp up the coma-field/Brainiac signal, Lois continues to talk about her love of Corben. Yeesh.

In orbit, Superman meets the Cyborg Superman for the first time.

I like how the Cyborg rightfully says that Superman is more polluted and less worthy of the S-shield than he is.

It is clear, to defeat this threat Superman will have to completely let go and let Doomsday take over.

But is that true? Is that best? If he lets Doomsday take over, won't he be a death-generating uncontrollable monster plodding around Earth? Wouldn't that save Earth only to then have him kill it? Can't he remain partially in control and mobilize the super-human community to help him ... sorta like what we saw way back in Panic in the Sky?

I don't know. The opening chapters of this Superman:Doomed story seemed like it had more potential than this. There is so many plot and character cracks that are making this less enjoyable for me. And the treatment of Lois still irks me.

How many more months do we have of this?

Overall grade: C


Jay said...

Yeah its definitely lulled, and I really liked the beginning. Its annoying how most all events work like this these days: strong opening, weak middle. They all just seem routinely planned longer than they end up needing to be. The Annuals is and the closer (Doomed #2) will probably have the most content, but that leaves me afraid the next batch of monthlies will again read more like filler.

And dang Soule, you write a fine Wonder Woman, but you made her look kinda dumb here, asking Lois if she's alright after a transformation that has her skin green.

Martin Gray said...

Indeedy, things were a tad all over the place. The Lois/Corben stuff especially made no sense, Brainiac lunacy was the only way I could make it work for the story.

But it doesn't really.

As for all the unasnwered questions, and whether we'll get explanations, on previous Superman office form, I expect not. Scott Lobdell's freewheeling/sloppy plotting has polluted the rest of the Superbooks and no editor seems to be bothered about having their remaining writers clear things up. It's depressing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah thus was a pretty wonky issue. I've been doing my best to try to get into and enjoy this arc, but this just made me think, what?

Another nice review though. Love your site. It's one of the high points of my day

Maya said...

I thought the conversation between Brainiac possessed Lois and Diana was very very strange.

It read like a parody sketch to me.

I didn't understand the Corben business at all. Yet it was one of those "so bad it's good" moments for me at least.

From the "I kept him" to The "Hi Baby" and all the crazy in between. I loved his head in that Futurama like jar. Not to mention Lois flying away holding said head taunting Diana about her absent boyfriend and Diana's sad face. It gave me a few giggles at least.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Jay - the 'weak middle' is so true. And I think that makes it harder to recover to 'satisfying ending'.

Mart - I guess we'll have to chalk it up to lunacy. But that seems to pat an answer.

Maya - I suppose I could read it like a Monty Python skit. It is so bizarre to the point that it could be a farce. Why Lois is being so cozy with Corben makes no sense.

Anon - thanks for the compliment and glad you come here! If you paused and said 'what?' shouldn't the editor have done the same?