Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #14

Superman/Wonder Woman #14 came out this week and was something of an improvement to the inaugural issue by the new creative team of Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke. Last month was something of an uneven mess when looking at the relationship between Clark and Diana. This issue the mystery of WonderStar takes center stage which means the awkward interactions between the two are at a minimum. That's a good thing.

If there is one thing to applaud about the issue is the pace at which the story moves along. A major revelation occurs on the last page which moves things forward significantly. In the new comics world, I am surprised this happened here and not at the end of next issue.

And the interaction between our heroes feels more natural, although it is strictly in the context of battle.

Still, there were a couple of places that still felt a little clunky. I am interested in reading other people's reactions.

Art-wise, Mahnke always impresses me. I really like his stuff and this book is no exception.

Lastly, my apologies about the quality of pics here. My scanner is on the fritz. Thus, panels are camera pics. And thanks to The Nerdist for the cover pic.

The issue starts with an unknown foe talking about how she will get revenge on Wonder Woman for past transgressions by Hippolyta. We see the eye of the foe, burning like Sauron, talking about painfully remove Wonder Woman from the world.

Okay, we know from future solicits that this is Circe. Too bad because this would have been a good mystery.

But it is the dialogue here which read a little weird to me. It starts out with the line 'what is it with women?'. And then Circe talks about how men are ruled by a handful of emotions while women are fickle, as apt to love as they are to fight. It just read wrong.

And maybe it is supposed to. Maybe Circe has wonky thoughts about gender.

We then head back to Superman, Wonder Woman, and WonderStar wrapping up their battle with Atomic Skull and Major Disaster.

There is this 'aw shucks' earnestness about Wonderstar who says he hopes to be trained by 'his heroes' and wants to help people. Even he knows in this cynical age that it is unlikely that Superman and Wonder Woman will believe him.

So he takes them to the first place he remembers, a massive crater he crawled out of with his beliefs in his heroes and desire to help.

Magic? Time travel? Both?

This lack of true memory is intriguing.

Before the three can talk more, they fly off to stop another bunch of super-villains. Mammoth (who I recognize) has teamed up with someone named Debutante (looking like she is heading to the cotillion) and someone named Crash (looks like a crash test dummy). They talk about getting their powers from someone ... but who? Circe again?

Debutante talks like a stereotypical spoiled little rich girl gold-digger ... which sounds odd and again a bit off. She talks of always letting money and fun blind her. She says that no one should get between a woman and her shopping money. And then she yells that no one breaks a date with her.

I don't know ... I felt uncomfortable reading those lines, even from a super-villain. Am I overreacting?

During the fight, Diana actually needs to rescue WonderStar, using her magic lasso to grab him and move him out of danger. And she uses that opportunity to do a psychological screening of him. Hmmm ... is this a new power for the lasso? Is that a reach of what it should do?

I do like that Diana planned this, making it happen at a time where 'Star couldn't shield his thoughts.

He is a blank slate, a void, without any clear feelings of malice. And he actually thinks the plan to scan him is cool! Who is he??

I have spoken of Mahnke's art and how much I love it.

This was my favorite panel of the book with the three heroes punching out Mammoth once and for all.

Look! They all have a pretty good left hook!

We do touch upon the Clark/Di relationship once in the book. Wonderstar marvels at their love for each other, obvious in how they interact. (Funny, I have never felt that way.)

But Clark and Diana's responses are different.

Diana looks subtly thrilled to hear this. Meanwhile, Superman is irked that someone is talking about their private lives.

I wish this relationship felt natural and seemed obvious. I have never been able to wrap my head around what the two see in each other that led to romance.

But I said there was a revelation at the end.

Without warning, Wonderstar loses control of himself, talking in another voice, screaming threats, and thrashing Wonder Woman and Superman. And then he morphs into Magog.

Ugh ... Magog.

So who is he in the New 52? The Kingdom Come Magog? The JSA Magog? Someone new?

And was he actually Wonderstar transformed?

Okay, I am sick of Magog and wish he stayed in Kingdom Come and was never seen again. But I will admit this was a decent cliffhanger. We only met Wonderstar at the end of last issue. And now we already know who he really is. That is a quick pace for comics. So I am not complaining.

So some awkward moments. Some good battle scenes. A nifty strategy by Diana. Magog. And slick Mahnke art. We are getting better ... but aren't quite there.

Overall grade: C


Jude Deluca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

No, I don't think you're off base wondering about the clunky stereotypes. Hysterical, fickle, unstable, and overly emotional characterizations seem part and parcel of the New 52. I hope it's a plot point here rather than being the overall tone for the book, but last issue had it too.

rolo said...

I don't know if the review matches the grade too much.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Interesting point Rolo. I am assuming (and I may be wrong) that you think C is too high for my review. I do think I am an 'easy' grader.

But I glossed over the action sequence and even the early conversation with Wonderstar, both which worked well.

Unknown said...

Tomasi always takes a couple of issues to find his groove

Martin Gray said...

This was indeed much better than the first issue, and I thought there were some good interactions between Diana and Clark - I'm still not convinced by the romance, but they're certainly a good team here.

I don't tend to read solicits, so didn't know it was Circe :( As for her dialogue, I'm OK with it, I go with, yeah, she's a nutter.

Similarly, I have no problem at all with Debutabte. A stereotype, but a self-aware one. We've seen hundreds of women by now in the New 52, and this is the first shallow glamourpuss villain I've come across. Can't there be room for a baddie with a bit of the ditzy society gal about her?

Based on that 'mini-sized madman' and presence of Mammoth, I'm guessing the supplier of the toilet-seat teleporter is good old Gizmo.

The lasso thing is pretty much in line with the way the rope and Diana's been used over the last decade or whatever - I can't recall if it's been in the New 52, but it's Diana as a human lie detector via the lasso. Or something!

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a reveal on Wonderstar so quickly, I assumed he'd be the alternate future kid of our stars. Magog though, I can't stand him either.

Wasn't the art great? And we have the same favourite panel!

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I think I would feel better about Debutante if Wonder Woman was stronger in this book. Circe is nuts. Debutante is ditzy (right word). But Diana is a all over the emotional map here too.

I do agree they work like superhero partners in this issue. Hopefully I conveyed it in the review. Much better!

Glad to know the lasso trick wasn't pulled from thin air.

And Bug, I am going to give Tomasi more time. I do trust him!

Jay said...

Debutante didn't bother me much because the whole group had that "lame joker-supervillain" vibe to them. That the exaggeration was on purpose because they're supposed to be frankly pretty sad, y'know? Like, as she played on the stereotype of the fickle materiaslistic girl, Mammoth on the other hand was the typical strong but incredibly stupid guy. But that's me.

Tomasi is pretty straightforward as a writer but I'm still kinda hoping that Magog and Wonderstar are two separate beings that just share the same body or something, somehow.