Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: Superwoman #12

It seems hard to believe but we are 4 issues in to K. Perkins run on Superwoman and things are finally starting to gel a bit. Perkins was dealt something of a mess of a character and has been trying to shore up the continuity gaffes of a character who has only been around for a year.

Superwoman #12 moves a number of the plots forward nicely. The villain is defeated. The mystery of Lana's powers is starting to be solved. Lana has to try to stabilize her home life and her work life. And all of this happening with the mystery of Steel's nephew Zeke simmering in the background.

But the main thing about this issue is the ending. Lana is finally a little confident in her abilities and her life's direction. After issues of anxiety and indecision, we see Lana smiling and that makes me smile. I know she is in for a lifetime of struggling with these feelings but at least she is coping and maybe even winning.

The art from Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert crackles nicely in the fight scenes. There is sort of Leinil Yu feel to some of the scenes and that is high praise.

Overall, I enjoyed this issue. But really what I want is to read the Lana of next issue.

"Rediscovery Part Three" opens up with a great splash page showing the two sides of Lana. Neither looks too pleased with how things are going. And the dialogue boxes reveal how she feels she is a failure. She isn't effective as a hero or a human. Skyhook is free. Zeke is missing. John Henry Irons is drifting away from her, perhaps even being pushed away.

But Lana knows the important thing is to get up and keep fighting, a lesson she learned from Clark.

Tuck this image in the back of your mind. We'll coming back to it.

Perkins gives us a brief peek into Lana's work life as a journalist for the Daily Star. Her work is suffering and her editor has noticed.

It is an important reminder that depression or anxiety can effect all aspects of life. We haven't seen Lana at work for some time. Just like the Daily Planet should be a key part of Superman books, the Star should have the same cachet here. For me, even though only two panels, seeing this was very important.

Later, at IronWorks, Lana discovers something interesting about the 'Insect Queen' armor she thought was helping her channel what little power she had left. 

Meanwhile, the Atomic Skull continues to bend laws and bash heads in the name of the SCU. Here he brings in Shockwave who probably has information on Crash Irons. If the SCU is going to capture Crash and Skyhook, Shockwave might have the answers.

We see Skull demolish a junkyard in pursuit of Shockwave, issuing threats all along the way. Here Sawyer even implies that she'll cut the Skull lose if Shockwave doesn't comply.

While I don't like the Skull's character a ton, I like this subplot of the villain being given a bit carte blanche by the authorities to help move a case along. Does this make Sawyer a bad cop? How long until the Skull doesn't bend the rule but break it? Do the ends justify the means? And what about Maggie? The old saying is battle not monsters lest ye become one. Sawyer is close.

So much of this storyline revolves around Zeke being taken from the Irons home. Crash, an arms dealer for super-villains, exposed him to this danger. Heck, we see Crash conduct a sale in front of his toddler son.

But everyone is weighed down with guilt about Zeke's kidnapping. Lana, John, Natasha, and Crash all feel responsible.

And this tragedy has really had an impact on everyone's lives.

For about a year we have seen an extremely patient John Henry Irons deal with Lana's outbursts. She has been emotionally abusive at times, pushing him away. And yet, he stayed out of love.

But last issue Lana shut him out of an opportunity to capture Skyhook shook even him.

This is a cold interaction. She begs him to stay and talk but he is gone. Lana wonders if he might do something drastic should he get hold of Skyhook. It was that thought that had her keep John at a distance last issue.

I liked the way this scene played out. It plays out slowly and cinematically. 

The next scene is a brawl in Suicide Slum. Crash has tracked Skyhook to a church. They fight. Then Superwoman joins in, telling Crash to stand down. She'll handle Skyhook.

Then Steel and Natasha show up. They try to talk Crash down as well. But he is out for revenge for having lost his family. I love Nat's understated 'I'm still here!' She's his daughter!! How terrible she must feel!

But Crash had already lost his family when he did his arms dealing. We saw Natasha turn her back on him then. At least she seems interested in reconciling. He is stuck on vengeance.

Ah, but this is where things get interesting.

In the fight, Lana sheds her armor and still has power. She doesn't need the armor. The power is within. That is what she discovered earlier.

She then blasts Skyhook into submission.

Now I like this panel a lot, the bands of armor falling away. But I wonder what advantage Lana thought she would gain by wearing it into battle. I mean, it is a great visual. I just don't know if making Skyhook think you need it is a clear reason for the deception.

Still, wonderful art here.

And then wrap-up. Skyhook is given over to the SCU. He says everyone will be horrified when the see Zeke.

Before Lana can explain how she has powers without the suit, she says she has discoveries to make. She zooms off, smiling. She says how it is good to be back. 

Compare this page's Lana, crackling and confident, to that split and dejected Lana in the opening splash. It is just a great bookend.  And the idea that she is going to make discoveries reminds me of the Lana we saw in the earliest Pak/Kuder issues, that adventurous woman who went out to meet the world. And to see her happy is wonderful.

I feel like this is a turning point for the book as Lana goes from 'Rediscovery' (perhaps a play on the Rebirth re-ness of it all) to 'Self-Discovery', defining herself and her role as a hero.

Here's hoping comic readers take notice!

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Top review, and yeah, let's hope for a happier Lana. The first order of business after she gets back from Smallville should be a long talk with poor John. Maybe it's time they admitted they're over. Heck, Lana could take one of her trips to Europe...

The big question remains: whither Zeke? I'm leaning towards him having taken over the Skyhook ID after years of exposure to the monster's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the book is definitely getting better after the disastrous initial run. And Lana is becoming more likeable.

Nonetheless, I'm afraid she and John are doomed. Their relationship isn't working out and I don't think they were ever popular out-of-universe.

I wonder what she'll find out in Smallville. A big trouble stemming from Superman Reborn is the powers of some characters depended on events happened in the New 52, such like Lana gaining powers.