Superman/Wonder Woman #15 came out this week and it highlighted some of my issues with this title and this romance. I have talked several times here about how Superman/Wonder Woman has teetered on the brink of being dropped. It has been saved by the superior art. And the promise of something great by Tomasi and Mahnke had made me a bit optimistic about the title.
Now all along I have had issues trying to understand why Clark and Diana are together as a couple. There hasn't been much that has made me feel that they are in love with each other ... or even understand each other. This issue really drives that viewpoint home. And maybe that is Tomasi's intention ... to strain the relationship to see if it will survive. Unfortunately, the way this comes through is with pretty shabby treatment of Diana. Here she is in full warrior mode, not one scrap of the classic ambassador Diana seen at all. And it was the odd, haphazard characterization of Diana last issue that I had issues with.
I guess you could say I have had issues with Diana's characterization since the New 52.
I suppose that I will need to see how this turns around in this arc, if Tomasi is able to stabilize this relationship, or turn it on its head. But I truly wish I could read a Wonder Woman in the main universe that I can get behind.
The art here is split between Doug Mahnke and Ed Benes. That doesn't bode well for me staying here. Mahnke's art was a big draw for me. If he can't keep up, this will be on even shakier ground.
The issue starts with the 'origin' of this version of Wonderstar/Magog.
Five years ago his family was killed in the Apokolips invasion that resulted in the formation of the JLA. Rather than blame Darkseid or move past his grief, 'David' lets it fester until it becomes an unnatural hatred for Superman and Wonder Woman. He feels they should have moved the battle away from the city.
Tomasi has already flashed back to this time in this arc, that time from the perspective of the heroes. We saw Superman trying to save people while Diana was on the attack. So it is a nice device to flash back again from a different perspective. But given the first flashback, it does paint Diana a bit darker.
The 'take the fight elsewhere' defense might work in 'Man of Steel' where Superman was fighting Zod. But this was an invasion. It is doubtful that the parademons could be led away.
The 'unknown' villain from last issue, the one who vowed revenge on Hippolyta, is pulling the strings here and uses a rare 'fusion stone' to link elemental energy to a human body. And, as an added wrinkle, she decides to erase David's memories. And thus we have Wonderstar/Magog.
Look, I can't comprehend comic book magic but the memory erasure seems like a little bit of a forced plot element to make the mystery of Wonderstar happen. And since that mystery ended so quickly, I don't know why we even needed this wrinkle.
Wonder Woman responds accordingly, attacking him while saying she doesn't care who Magog is or why he is doing what he is doing.
Now taken in a vacuum, Diana's response makes sense. Superman has been gutted. She would probably want to subdue first and ask questions later. But we have had three years of Diana being the warrior first, never giving a damn, and always punching and stabbing. So this moment doesn't have the impact it should. I simply no longer expect her to care.
When they recover, Superman says that he and Diana need to head to the city to save the people Magog is jeopardizing. Diana disagrees. He should save the people. She needs to be the God of War and 'handle things quickly'.
She is right to note that the two dance around her title. Superman isn't a war monger. He hates war. So how can he love the god of war. And Diana is a slash-first hero these days. In other words, how could these two be attracted to each other? How could this be a healthy relationship?
Does this romance make sense? Has it ever?
And then to drive the point home, Wonder Woman speeds by two cars filled with people that had been thrown off a bridge by Magog. She had faith that Superman was behind her and could catch them both.
It just feels a little callous to me.
But it gets even worse. Magog slices through the suspension holding the bridge up requiring Superman to hold on to the both ends, basically taking him out of the fight. If he left, the bridge would fall killing the people in the cars still on it. But rather than help him, Wonder Woman continues to brawl with Magog. She has faith that Superman will hold things up while she finishes off Magog. That, again, seems wrong.
And with things at a standstill, the 'mystery villain' Circe shows up with a horde of demons.
I have never understood this relationship. And these three issues by Tomasi have really shown me why I don't think it works. This especially true given the Diana character in the New 52 and especially in this arc. I can't imagine that Superman understands or agrees with anything she did here.
To be honest, I think Diana has been treated pretty shabbily by Tomasi. She has been all over the map emotionally and seems ultra-violent. This isn't a Wonder Woman I would want to read.
I really liked the Doug Mahnke art but the Ed Benes stuff seems a bit rough. Their styles aren't complementary making this a tough read.
I guess I'll give this title until the end of the arc. And then I'll make a decision about moving forward.
Overall grade: C-