Superman/Wonder Woman #20 came out this week, another chapter in The Truth, another book labeled with the cover dress 'Alienation', another book with a couple of decent moments. But it also is another issue of this new direction of Superman that overall just doesn't make much sense to me.
I have had a hard time with the overall direction of The Truth, the depowered Superman revealed to the world. I have tried to reconcile the divergent paths that each super-book has been taking. And I have continued to wrestle with the lack of Lois, the lack of a supportive supporting cast, and the romantic relationship with Diana.
Last issue of this book was an improvement overall. Writer Peter Tomasi actually had me feeling like Clark and Diana had feelings for each other. They felt like a couple. And the story was decent with excellent art.
This issue seemed to undo all that momentum. The issue is basically two stories. One is Clark talking to Steve Trevor and the President, discussing his life decisions, to be Clark and Superman. The other is Diana, rescuing Clark's friends from being held by the government. But then Diana does something I simply can't explain or get behind. The dialogue is also a bit on the nose, with the word truth in a bunch of lines, to remind us of this arc's theme.
The art remains top notch. There is a lot of tension in the air of these conversations and Mahnke brings that aura to the scenes. There is also a sort of unneeded fight with the Parasite in the middle of the book but Mahnke's art shines there.
That wasn't the President that Superman confronted at the end of last issue. It was an ARGUS officer. And after dispatching that agent, Trevor shows up to tell Superman that this revelation that he is Clark has shaken things up. The government isn't sure what to do.
Meanwhile, we see 9 of Superman's closest friends captured and placed in a prison that looks like the old setting of Hollywood Squares. ("I'll take Lois Lane in the corner for the block." - I know, I just dated myself).
What gets me are the reactions of these citizens who have been arrested. Lois fumes. Perry sleeps. Lana does push-ups.
When did Lana go from fun-loving action scientist in Pak's Action to a parody of Sarah Conner in Terminator 2?
The initial conversation between Superman and Trevor is decent. Superman simply lays the simple truths of his life.
He has dedicated his life to saving people. He has helped people. This revelation shouldn't overshadow a life of service.
I am trying to decide if this panel showing the FDR quote is just a little too heavy? Or just right.
Trevor doesn't buy that simple explanation. Having a secret identity must mean that Superman/Clark is hiding something. That not wearing a mask as a hero but as a citizen is more disingenuous that folks like Batman who wear a mask. Where is THE TRUTH?
The sad thing here is that Trevor's argument doesn't hold water. He was open as Superman and as Clark. The government can backtrack Clark's movements more easily than the unknown half of Batman. They know the truth.
And Trevor also says he would have no qualms in doing something bad if it meant protecting a greater good. I wonder if the bolded no qualms is a nudge at Quarmm, the dimension the power-sucking sand superman came from in a similar arc in the 70s. (Maybe I am looking for something not there.)
He grew up in Kansas. He led a simple life. He waited for the right time to use his powers. Then he used them.
Why does that story make people nervous?
As for 'needing' the secret identity, Clark reminds Steve that even Trevor has some downtime. He takes off his uniform and leads a 'normal life' at some point.
Sadly, Superman doesn't even have that luxury because he always hears the disasters around him.
This explanation seems to be a pretty straightforward look at Clark's life, one that has been an open book on both sides.
So why would the government take the Kent house, exhume the bodies, kidnap Clark's friends? And why is anti-government paranoia so rampant in comic these days?
Sorry ... I don't understand it.
Clark again lays some simple truth down. After all these years and battles, didn't he deserve the benefit of the doubt.
I will say, this scene was pretty good. But in some ways it pointed out why I think parts of this overall arc, and the plot of this book in particular, is kind of ludicrous.
Meanwhile, Diana has smacked around some army soldiers and has freed Clark's friends.
But then she says she is there to help Clark. But she distorts that into interrogating Clark's friends to get to THE TRUTH. She is going to hear what they have to say to then help alleviate fears.
Diana ... is going to interrogate Clark's friends ... using the magic lasso ... to help him.
I simply can't follow that reasoning.
I also don't like a lot of the things his friends say.
Perry again remains bitter, feeling betrayed. and staring angry. Seems off. Don't you think he has used unnamed sources, received anonymous tips, understands the occasional need for secrecy. Doesn't he trust what he knows about Clark and Superman apart to reconcile them together?
I loved Lana when we first met her at the beginning of the Pak/Kuder run on Action Comics. But that character is long gone.
She helped Clark when he was a boy. But she is still angry that he didn't save her parents.
I miss the other Lana.
The other interviews are interesting and sometimes fun. We hear that Jimmy beat Clark in video games. We learn that John Henry now understands the need for a secret identity. Cat thought Clark was hotter than Superman.
Still, The President has to ask Superman if he will still fight on the side of angels. Still.
By the way, I totally skipped the fight with the Parasite, a villain released under the Task Force X initiative to 'protect' the President. Beautifully rendered but essentially unnecessary for what this issue was trying to do.
And then the ending note.
Diana has one more detainee to question. Lois.
I just don't understand it. I don't want my Wonder Woman to be doing this. This just feels wrong. And as a result, this was a bad way to end the issue.
Again, I am trying to wrap my head around this whole arc and this title. I liked the Clark conversation at the beginning. But the fact he needed to have this conversation with Steve Trevor shows the underlying problem with this arc.
And the Diana part ... yeesh.
And while the art continues to be a draw, the dialogue seemed a little ponderous here.
Overall grade: C