Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Superwoman #16

Superwoman #16 came out last week, the first issue released since the announcement of the title's cancellation. We are in the midst of the Midnight story arc. Some weird technological being is sucking the population into tiny black holes. Superwoman has teamed up with Natasha, Traci 13, and Maxima to figure things out. But it hasn't been easy.

Lana has also been dealing with the renewed problem of stress and anxiety, a problem she has been dealing with since the beginning of this title. And we even get another nod to the earlier part of the book here as well.

It will be interesting to see how much of this will carry forward past January. When this title ends, will Lana continue to have powers? Continue to have anxiety? Continue to be part of the active Superman supporting cast? I hope the answer to all three questions is yes.

And I hope that K. Perkins finds another title to land on at DC.

The art for the book is by Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert and continues to be slick.

But this title is ending. Will there be a finale feel? Can Perkins wrap it all up?

Last issue, Lois barely escaped Midnight and arrived at IronWorks crackling with purple lightning.

Here she collapses, spitting out a mix of binary numbers and warnings to Lana.

I guess Lois is semi-effected by the Midnight interaction, energized but not badly hurt.

I like how this fantastic four mobilize. Maxima provides first aid while the others go to investigate.

As for Steel, he had been brought into Midnight's black hole dimension and it seems to be a Negative Zone of sorts. There are hundreds of people floating around. And Midnight talks about how she is getting stronger by absorbing all these people.

But for some reason, I suppose due to her energy, Midnight must absorb Superwoman. And she knows Steel is good bait.

Meanwhile, Traci recognizes Lois speech as binary. She literally plugs herself into the net to try to decipher Lois' speech and investigate Midnight. I don't know if they are actually ports, but Traci puts wires into her chest and head. Maybe they're suction cups.

But plugging in, Traci sees that Midnight has absorbed 726 people! And it looks like it is Midnight is a program designed to grab people. And the programmer? Lena Luthor!!!

Hey, I wrote this in last issue's review:
Okay, I am going to guess that this is some remnant of Lena Luthor's embedding herself into the world's digital infrastructure? Maybe not Lena herself but some self-aware AI from that first storyline.

I suppose this wasn't a major revelation. Given the beginning of this title, any AI would have to be linked to Lena. I didn't understand the end of that storyline. Maybe Perkins can polish it up a bit.

Before they can mull things over too much, Midnight makes her move.

Creating a giant sort of Brainiac head and several large black holes, she begins to suck in chunks of Metropolis.

It's a nice 2 page spread, showing the devastation.

And, as anticipated, it draws out Superwoman.

But she is pretty ineffective. She can't save anyone.

It seems like every time Lana makes progress and feels better about herself, she takes steps back. 

I have to say it was hard for me to follow the art closely. I thought initially that Lana was sucked into the black hole. But now I think instead that all the energy and black hole has instead coalesced in the real world to form this person of Midnight. And the floating head look screams Lena. It is creepy to see those human spirits being sucked into the bodily form.

We get some exposition from Midnight. She is a failsafe program designed by Lena to rescue the evil Luthor should she ever be captured. And Midnight as a program was activated by Lana's energy attack against Lena way back in Superwoman #7.

I don't know exactly what the Midnight program was supposed to do. Was it designed to absorb people? Now I know that Lena was doing all sorts of 'surgery' on Metropolis, partitioning it into time cubes. Could this be some version of that??

And is the need for Superwoman just the fact that this Lena rescue is going to take a ton of energy? Or something more personal? Frankly I have to look back to see what actually happened to Lena. Was she taken off to jail?

But this couldn't be a Superwoman book without Lana's emotional state being used against her. Despite the recent improvement in Lana's confidence, despite her embracing the role of Superwoman and recognizing the power lies within her, she is pretty easily staggered by Midnight's psychological attack.

Midnight exists because of Lana. Midnight has sucked up people and part of the city. Therefore, Lana is responsible. Therefore Lana isn't a hero. This last panel makes it look like Lana has gone catatonic.

I understand that dealing with mental health issues is a life long process. But I don't like it being used as a crutch to defeat her. And I'd love for her to shrug off such simplistic psychological attacks as this.

And while I guess we had to go back to the Lena plot, I didn't like the Lena plot.

I wish Perkins had another few months to shore things up.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

At this stage, I just want this book gone, and Lana depowered and back in the supporting cast. As you say, it's constant little steps forward and big steps back. Things that didn't make sense previously return and fail to make sense in a different way.

We've had some good moments in the last few months, but the failure to move forward has hobbled a promising series.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. Perkins tried, but this book has become a sorry mess. Right now I hardly understand what is happening. Jimenez's run was wiped out, but then Superman's imploding and infusing Lana with his power or Lena becoming evil is referenced, but then we are told those events happened but in a different way...

And I don't get yet what Lana's power source is. Was it Superman? The Red-K? Was she a metahuman?

Can we go back to Lana being a non-powered Daily Planet employee and mentoring her "niece" Linda, please?

Anonymous said...

Agreed as the curtain falls my only desire is that Lana's character receive no further damage & that the "Mantle of Superwoman" get passed along to someone else. Maybe its Lois' turn or Maggie Sawyer or Lori Lemaris or whoever...this book has larrupped off in every direction possible save The Right One.