Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: Superwoman #7

Superwoman #7 came out last week so I am a bit late in covering this issue. But in some ways, the time was needed. This issue is a super-dense and somewhat confusing closure to the first arc. I wonder if the story got away from writer Phil Jimenez. I have praised Jimenez in the past for packing a lot into his books, making them feel like two issues in one. But here I felt like there were so many threads being covered that I was feeling frayed as a reader.

As all the characters and plots are being wrapped up, I found myself asking 'why'? Why did Lena need the temporal cubes? Why is she invading the Phantom Zone? Why is the suit called 'Insect Queen'? Why does the Atomic Skull demand an apology from Lex? Why doesn't Lex know how to reboot his armor? Why does Lana sound like she has been mistreated by all the men in her life? Why does the Gestalt ship need to change configuration? Why? When I ask that many whys, the story is lost on me.

I also can understand that this book might be the title for Jimenez to look at feminism and that is fine. But I think that the downgrading of Lex and some of the speeches by Lana feel a little forced. I'd love a Lana story about feminism. I don't know if I need a feminism story with Lana as speechmaker. Maybe I am saying this too clunky. Maybe it is better for me to say that I would rather be shown the feminist slant than be told it.

The art on the book is done by Jimenez and Jack Herbert. The two styles seem to jibe well with each other. And as usual, it is a packed issue with inset panels and great page layouts.

On to the book.

Within the bowels of Lexcorp, Lana has rescued Lex. But this is where I feel like Lex is being torn to shreds by Jimenez for no good reason. Is this to point out Lex's toxic masculinity, contrast it Lana?

As I said above, the Atomic Skull demands an apology from Lex and makes him say 'I'm sorry!' And then, the Kryptonite Man tells the most brilliant scientist on the planet that he should turn his suit on and off to reboot it. Last issue we saw how Lex stole all his initial ideas from Lena to make his fortune while hiding her away.

Of course, he represents everything that is evil about all men.

Meanwhile, outside the Lexcorp building, the rebels are still trying to stay one step ahead of Lena.

 I still don't know exactly what Lena is trying to do here with the temporal globes and capturing of humans and trying to get to the Phantom Zone. And that makes this difficult for me to feel the threat of what is happening here. This started out as a revenge tour on Lex. Instead it becomes this huge thing.

And then, to combat Lena, we get a lot of things suddenly thrown at us. Traci 13 gives us a ton of sci-fi babble about how the power system is the nervous system of the city and she can use it to fight the temporal cubes like an infection.

I don't know if I understand that.

 So we have raids, network hacks, Natasha's army of Steels, and all the other ways the remaining survivors are fighting Lena all seem to be wearing on Lena who has the eye on the prize. But unfortunately I still don't know the prize!

Jimenez adds The Savior and the Bizarro army into the mix.

Lana asks Lex how to defeat his sister and when he says he doesn't know she call Lex useless.

 I do like the idea that Lena's humanity was a link for Lex to the world. He is always thinking grandiose thoughts, elevating himself as more than the average man. He needed Lena to ground him. But now that she has basically stripped herself from humanity, he is a bit lost.

Now that is a decent hook that could have been played up here. Unfortunately, it is a throwaway line.

 Oh yeah, remember how Lena needed Lana's energy to actualize her plot. That seems to have been forgotten since Lena is close to victory without Lana.

At one point, Lana is captured and she gives a speech that she must have practiced in her head. I suppose a great orator could speak like this extemporaneously. But this feels a bit stilted.

Lana talks about Lena being a disappointment. She thought Lena would elevate herself, outside of the 'shadow of men'. Superwoman says she wanted to create a team of women who fought for good things. People who would be good to one another. But Lena turned herself into something horrible.

This just feels like a broad brush for Lana to be painting with. Is she saying that she also has needed to escape from the shadow of men? A little shade tossed at Clark and John? Is she saying that her team of people who want to do good can only be women?

Again, this felt like a speech that I wouldn't expect Lana to give. And that is the dissonance. I don't mind the content. I mind the vehicle. Lana wasn't mistreated like Lena so why the anger?

(I fully concede that as a middle aged man maybe I am missing the whole point.)

 But then Lana burns through her red Superwoman costume revealing her Insect Queen one, a suit which somehow has capabilities to defeat Lena.

We never learn what the suit actually does. Lana says she 'saw what it could do' but we don't get an explanation.

So hurray Insect Queen reference. But it seems like something else forced into the mix.

Lena is defeated.

But the power that Lana expended has brought her to critical mass and near death. She says just what Lois said before she died. She understands it all.

Meanwhile, a hooded figure we saw last issue turns out to be the living Lois, the pre-Flashpoint one who states that the same thing happened to her! Huh?

I don't know. Maybe I am being too harsh. It is a beautiful book to look at. But, much like last issue, it felt a little preachy. And it was definitely convoluted. Maybe I'm not the target audience? Or maybe I am the audience that needs this the most?

I had absolutely loved the opening issues of this book. But I feel like it sort of jumped the rails here. And that's a shame.

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

Very fair review, Anj, and I really don't think your being a middle-aged man means you wouldn't appreciate Lana's diatribe about Lena disappointing her as a woman had it made sense - it's out of nowhere for the character, and out of place for the story. I'm a big Phil Jimenez fan and think he got overambitious with this one, tried to pack too much in, and so various story points didn't have room to work. The editors should have got in the way, in a good sense.

Was that not the older Lois at the end? I thought New 52 Lois had black and Mrs Superman Lois had the shorter, brown hair.

Anonymous said...

Honestly? I think this issue is a convoluted, preachy mess. And the Lex bashing and downgrading was annoying at best. Lex is a self-serving, incredibly brilliant monster. That's the only reason that he can routinely defy and annoy the world's most powerful beings and get away with it. Take his brilliant mind away from him, and you turn him into someone pathetic. And you make Superman and Supergirl even more pathetic because they cannot figure out a way to defeat a creadit-stealing idiot who needs to be told how his own armor works.

And you're making it in order to deliver a point you could have easily done without downgrading him.

Anj said...

It is the 'current' older Lois. Is that pre-Flashpoint? Or earlier?

And yes anon, downgrading Lex, especially given what Jurgens is doing, seems wrong.

Anonymous said...

During the issue, Traci13 says that she is using magic to heal the city's power system, something that Lena could never understand because Lena only understands science.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lana overloads herself and goes critical, but unlike the New 52 Lois, Lana doesn't turn to sand and blow away. Her body remains whole but is degrading by the second.