Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #15

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.

Powered by magic, Magog is more than capable of mixing it up with our heroes. Magog stabs Superman with his spear and tosses Supes into a nearby lake.

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.

Of all the panels in the book, this is the one that struck me the most. Magog briefly overpowers both heroes and flies off into the city to make the heroes feel 'a true sense of loss'.

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-


Anonymous said...

I agree that the WW-Superman paring/romance makes no sense. It's as if someone who doesn't understand people was a matchmaker and said "hey you can lift a lot, I know someone else who can lift a lot." In other words, matching on superficial things. The concern is that there are many at DC who do not understand women. This was evidenced in Supergirl in the Loeb run and the earlier New 52 Kara..

Jay said...

I think it makes tons of sense. I've enjoyed the entire run outside of the Doomed Annual which inappropriately ignored Diana entirely, and #13 where Tomasi went too far highlighting the differences and made Diana look too haughty and Clark too goody-goody. The past two issues though has seen a huge improvement in that regard, imo. The past two issues has highlighted more their strength together through their differences, to me. For dramatic purposes there will surely be more instances of their differences causing strife, but that's just natural. They did it all the time with Lois and Clark too so its not that big a deal to me. Just as long as neither looks really bad in the process (and yes, oftentimes it is the female who comes off bad. Can't remember how many times Lois came off a shrew in order to create drama in the engagement/marriage). But you hope for the best.

Jay said...

Darn, forgot to add something there. I would disagree it seems wrong for Diana to keep fighting Magog while Superman holds up the bridge. It makes all the sense in the world. She's better suited to fight Magog because of his magical capabilities, which as much as it bugs me, DC seems intent on still keeping a major weakness of Superman's. He's the one causing all this damage, so he has to be stopped. Just while the people currently in trouble need to be saved. Two heroes, one job for each hero. If anything it was Superman who kinda looked amateurish earlier in the issue by not getting this.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Jay, I love hearing your take on things as we often disagree.

In my mind, Wonder Woman should help with the bridge support cables so Superman can fuse them with heat vision and then they can attack Magog together. For you, Superman is fine. WW should eliminate the threat and then save the bridge. Both are valid approaches.

I think I simply don't see why these two, who seem so ideologically different, could easily maintain a romance. And since I don't understand that (and trust me ... I would love to understand it!) I think I look at everything through a jaundiced eye.

It isn't that I think it makes no sense for Wonder Woman and Superman to be together ... it is that I think it makes no sense for *this* WW and *this* Superman to be together.

Of course, I also prefer Lois and Superman together.

Martin Gray said...

Great review, highlighting all the problems with the issue. I wonder if Tomasi is being subversive, making it so obvious that this Diana and this Clark are incredibly wrong for one another that the book will break?

Well, Jay said to hope for the best! (Hi Jay, I'd love to know why you think Superman and Wonder Woman could be a couple.)

And I just do not care about Magog, the ungrateful wretch. As for Circe, I hate it when villains show up in a revised continuity with pre-existing grudges we know nothing about. And why all the manipulation of a kid, why not just find an adult who already hates the heroes, and power them up?

Jay said...

Thanks Anj! I definitely like getting an alternate take from you as well, makes me go back and look at things from that perspective and sometimes even makes me change my mind, be it a positive or negative change. Because I by my very nature like this pairing, which can cause me to overlook certain problems because of the bias. And I like to think that sometimes an alternate opinion could make those who have a natural aversion to it maybe take another look sometimes in the same way. But even we agree to disagree its still always good to get that alternative view.

Either way I know you love Superman as well as Supergirl, so hope this title can do enough to stay on your pull list just so you can get more of him. :)

Anonymous said...

The romance makes sense, but only with a good writer, just like how Tomasi writes Wonder Woman poorly, he fails to establish any chemistry between these two.
At this point the book is nothing but an action fix with good art.

Anonymous said...

I like wonder woman with batman together. They were great together at the justice league animated series.

ambush bug said...

Anj you should really read azzarello's take on wonder woman in new52...its great

Anj said...

I read Azz WW and liked it a lot Bug. But I read it as if it was in its own universe. It made it more palatable to me.

Jay said...

JLU was about the worst thing ever done with Wonder Woman. The silly teenage Batman "romance" was just the icing on the cake. I've always thought the show was incredibly overrated, but the complete butchering of Wonder Woman as a character is what makes it virtually unwatchable for me.