Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1

Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1 came out yesterday, chapter 3 of the Superdoom portion of Superman:Doomed. It was also one of three parts of the Superman:Doomed storyline that was released yesterday, a glut of this story. And, unfortunately, I think it was too much all at once.

I have been sort of teetering about this whole story arc recently. While there have been some interesting scenes and small moments of characterization that have shined, over all it just hasn't grabbed me. Now it is true that I don't particularly like the idea of Superman as Doomsday, as a feared being, as a monster. I don't know if he has been established enough in the New 52 as a pure hero where such a devolution would have a strong impact. But more importantly, I think the story has become too big, with a lot of moving parts, all that need to be accounted for. As a result, sometimes I have to make a leap of faith in understanding what is happening. I just don't know if I 100% understand exactly what is happening right now. And that is never good.

Now this book and Action Comics Annual #3, in theory take place simultaneously, which is an interesting way to try to market the books. It also means something big happens at the end of this book that doesn't make sense until I read the Action book.

Lastly, I actually like most of the artists listed on this book. And there are a lot of them - Tony Daniel, Ed Benes, Cliff Richards, Pascal Alixe, and Jack Herbert. But there are so many that I think it sort of was distracting. It is a stunning cover by Tony Daniel. I think it is a shame he is heading to Deathstroke.

The book opens up with a recap page of the electronic version of the Daily Planet. I do like that there are more '404' errors on the page, maybe showing that Brainiac is coming nearer?

But this paragraph puzzled me. I wondered why Smallville has become comatose, why it was targeted. Now this paragraph says Superman has 'centered his activities' there.

Has he? When in the New 52 did Superman establish himself in Smallville?

Last issue ended with the Cyborg Superman leading a fleet of Brainiac ships to Earth. I thought this might be an introduction of the Cyborg as a Superman rogue. But turns out, this was something of a feint.

Superman rips off the Cyborg Superman's arm while the fleet flies by. The Cyborg says he was there to simply delay Superdoom from trashing the fleet before it made it to Earth. Superman leaves him and tails the ships.

We see the Cyborg Superman again ...

I wonder just what is going to become of this Zor-El Cyborg. He is a slave of Brainiac. He is Supergirl's dad. Can he ever become someone I am interested in?

Part of the moving parts is Steel and Lana, in deep space, tracking the Smallville brain signal but now turned around and streaking back to Earth.

I don't mind Lana being feisty and strong and part of Superman's life. But I don't necessarily need her to be pumped up too much. Here she notices that Brainiac's ships are landing in a specific pattern, most likely to boost the coma-signal to encompass the whole planet. Steel patches her through to the gathered resistance (Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Harrow, Ghost Soldier, Shay Veritas, and Luthor).

So one of the most talented electrical engineers can recognize and intergalactic despots fleet placement? Maybe too much?

Regardless, 36% of the pods need to be destroyed to snuff out the plot.

Throughout Doomed we have had these internal monologues between Clark and Doomsday. Here is one moment of good characterization. Clark knows that he can destroy the Brainiac probes but to do so means entering the K-cloud surrounding Earth and therefore losing control. The Doomsday virus would take over.

The Doomsday persona actually wants to go to Earth knowing that he will win. I don't know if it is flattery or a sarcastic jibe, but I like how he tells Clark that Pa Kent would be proud of him.

The fact that the internal monologue is Clark and not Superman, the fact that Jonathan Kent is an important part of him ... these are important parts of a Superman I want to read.

Clark wins out and Superdoom flies to Earth.

Meanwhile, Earth's heroes are swarming to destroy the probes as well. Humanity's fighting nature is enough to impress the Cyborg.

While not strictly cheesecake, Diana is nearly falling out of her top this whole issue.

But the coma-pods also seem to be a Brainiac feint. Or maybe he has a plan B?

Because while the probes are being knocked out, the Cyborg is constructing some kind of Star-gate near Earth.

Steel feels he has no choice but to try to stop the Cyborg even though he is hopelessly overpowered.

I am beginning to think that John Henry Irons is starting to get some feelings for Lana. While I doubt he is about to say 'I love you' (he just met her), he might be saying that he cares or would like to know her better if they survive. We'll see if I'm right.

Superdoom and the heroes on Earth start to make some headway against the probes, but Superdoom does indeed gain the upper psychological hand. He is about to wade into a small town in Romania, killing the inhabitants with his killing field.

There isn't anyone who can stand up to him except Wonder Woman in her God-mode.

Didn't we already see a scene like this in this arc. When I feel like we are retreading things within an arc, it might mean it is too long.

Wonder Woman fighting Superman. The internal monologues where Clark says he will prevail. Superdoom reverting from full Doomsday to completely normal to just a couple of horns. It seems like we are walking in place sometimes.

Steel does indeed get thrashed by Cyborg Superman such that Lana has to fly into the fray, firing phasers at Cyborg.

The Cyborg is pretty much unscathed by simple lasers. He rips the ship apart. Luckily Steel can fly to the rescue and spread his skin over Lana to rescue her. I do sense some romance here.

But the coma-nodes begin to self-destruct? It is odd. And it also seems like a forced plot point that in the end doesn't matter. Sort of a maguffin.

That's because the Brainiac mother ship, which is bigger than Earth (!!!), arrives through the stargate.

The end of the book has the Kryptonite in the air suddenly disappear (we need to read the Action Annual to see why). As a result Clark can overcome the Doomsday persona. But on one page an artist has him being mini-horned. And this artist has him being completely normal and not shedding the Doomsday death field at all.

I just can't wrap my head around Doomsday virus and what it is doing. The complete mutation and significant death field to completely normal switcheroo seems to be almost variable. If, this many chapters in, I don't have any idea about the threat of this infection or cannot anticipate how it can effect Superman, I feel frustrated.

Add to that the feints of what is a threat and what isn't and I am starting to feel a little bored, despite all the action. It makes me wish that this story was ending sooner than it is.

And there were 2 more chapters released yesterday.

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

Hi Anj, I've not read your whole review yet as I've only just read the previous part, Action Comics Annual, today, but that text box jumped out. That's just garbled nonsense from someone who has no sense of how to structure a sentence. You could scramble your brain trying to find the 'sense' in that.

Jay said...

It is starting to seem like they bit off more than they could chew with the big cast and all the plot threads, huh? Its just becoming a bit of a chore to follow in terms of motivations and all that. I'm still not sure what Brainaic's real plot is. If its a doozy of a reveal that'd help, but I dunno at this point.

Also disappointing that in their first Annual, Superman and Wonder Woman get so little time together. Kinda a waste.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, I got the order of reading wrong, didn't I? Too much Doomed for one week!

Martin Gray said...

OK, I've now read all three of last week's parts and I agree with you and Jay, this thing is far too sprawling. I found myself just glazing over as a zillion things happened. The biggest problem is, as mentioned, the lack of clarity as to what Brainiac is up to. I'm impressed at how well Greg Pak handles the various characters, but I really don't know what I'm meant to be focusing on at any one time.

I'm still wondering why no one tried throwing a few of the JLDark magicians at SuperDoom, he's vulnerable to magic and it would've been worth a try.

I do agree, Steel and Lana, sitting in a tree ...

Martin Gray said...

And Charles Soule, who actually wrote this issue - he impresses me too! ;)

Anj said...

You know I didn't even think about mystics curing him!

The up and down nature of this infection is frustrating.