Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #6

I have been of two minds whenever I read the Superman/Wonder Woman comic each month. For the most part I have found the writing to be rough especially the romantic scenes between the main characters which have been off-putting, forced, and weird. On the other hand, I have found the art by Tony Daniel to be absolutely superlative. This is the best work I have seen by him. The art has basically saved this book from being cut from my pull list.

Superman/Wonder Woman #6 came out this week and, in general, follows that pattern. In general.

Again, the 'tender moments' between the characters are still read a bit forced, a bit odd. For the most part, this is a brawl issue, a high action issue that reads fast. That said, writer Charles Soule does inject some interesting new interactions into this story, specifically the Olympus contingent of Wonder Woman's family. So I might ratchet the plot up of this issue a touch from prior.

The art by Tony Daniel contiues to shine. He continues to knock it out of the park. I am just drinking in the art here. In fact, after reading this book I am upset at myself for not getting a commission from him at last year's Boston Comic Con.

You might recall that last issue ended with the two power couples heading their separate ways to heal up and strategize. I didn't think it was a good idea then. How do you let two malevolent Kryptonians just fly off? And it turns out my worries were justified. Zod and Faora are shown building a massive Phantom Zone projector.

One of my complaints last issue was that Superman fought like a novice last issue, being outflanked and pummeled. This issue we learn why ... and it isn't pretty. Back when they were 'friends' Superman didn't worry about Wonder Woman in battle. Now that they are a couple, he can only think about protecting her in combat. Ummm ... a bit paternal? Sexist? Chivalrous? I don't know. It seems to me strange that he is thinking about protecting her more now. That just seems old-fashioned to the point of being antiquated.

And then when Wonder Woman says that they are the 'shelter from the storm' for each other. I just don't think I have ever felt that in their interactions.

Superman and Diana head to Olympus to pick up the weapons that Hephaetus has been crafting for them. He not only outfits them in armor but gives them his 'invisible chariot' so the two can sneak up on Zod and Faora. I love this panel with the two heroes semi-seen as they exit.

Call me old school, but I like Wonder Woman having some sort of invisible vehicle to cruise around the world.

While I have basically slobbered over Daniel's art, I think his work in this issue is just a bit less polished than last issue which was just incredible.

Then it is truly an old fashioned donnybrook.

In a nice change of pace and a good way to shake up the reader a bit, we get a twelve panel, Frank Miller-esque, 300-ish page.

This really worked for me. The multiple panels sped up the fight for me, made it feel more frenetic and crazy than a couple of panels would have. And the black palette with just splashes of red made it feel more brutal.

The Hephaestus armor turns out to be a weapon, absorbing the physical energy of the Zoners' attacks and then being able to be detonated like a bomb.  Again, a nice use of a semi-splash page. Big moments need big art.

Unfortunately the trigger for the bomb is for Clark and Diana to hold hands. Makes this whole thing seem like a schoolyard crush. And it once again feels forced to me.

Hephaestus isn't the only Olympian joining this skirmish. It turns out that Apollo used his sun powers to boost Zod and Faora's powers almost immediately. I am glad Soule explained away that prior question I had.

Still upset at Clark for punching him, Apollo decides to even the odds again, super-charging the Zoners with sunlight. The mega-powered villains are able to swiftly overpower Superman and Wonder Woman. And finding them still too difficult to kill, they toss them into a nearby, unused nuclear power plant. Hmmm ... how convenient.

Anyways, I did like that Apollo and Eris side with the Zoners. It reminded me of the Trojan War when the gods lined up on opposite sides. And of course Eris is going to want more chaos and strife. These side plots are more interesting to me.

It turns out that Zod wants to open up a huge Zone gate to free everyone and everything. That includes Warworld, just tossed into the Zone in last weeks Batman/Superman Annual.

I have to say 'continuity' in DC offices must be a curse word. When the hell does this story happen?

Weakened and trapped in the nuclear reactor, Clark comes up with a sort of last-ditch plan. Diana's magic sword can split an atom causing a reaction with the remaining fissionable material in the core. The resulting nuclear explosion will destroy the Zone gate. It could kill them.

Knowing this might kill them, Clark professes his love for Diana. I think this is the first time the 'L' word has been used by either of them.

I have to say, I don't like Diana's Han Solo-esque "Of course you do." No 'I love you too'. No kiss. No return of affection. They could be dead in a few seconds! I think Diana, if she truly loves Clark, would have said something different, kissed him, something .... anything else.

My biggest complaint is that these two characters have never acted like they love each other. This moment didn't help that complaint.

And it ends with this final image.

Are they dead? Is Diana unscathed in the invulnerable cape? Did it shut down the gate? Are Zod and Faora injured?

It is a decent cliffhanger. But ... the moment before soured it for me.

So more of the same with this book. Decent action. Nice side plots. Gorgeous art.

But the relationship between the main characters still isn't working for me. There hasn't been anything here that makes me think these two actually feel romantic about each other.

Overall grade: B-


hopper said...

Keep in mind the B/S annual was delayed like three months.

Anonymous said...

The light grey smear against the ground in the final panel makes it seem more like something very, very bad has happened to Diana.

Superman seems to have been affected in exactly the same way a Nuke affected him in The Dark Night Returns - sort of robbing him of all his stored solar energy, rendering him a frail skeletal husk of his regular self, but still very much alive. This is also consistent with his appearance in Flashpoint, when he was denied access to the Sun.

I think Kal didn't think of covering Diana in the cape quickly enough and this was an afterthought to hide how horrific her appearance now is.

Of course, they'll both be fine eventually, but I think Diana was hit worse than Kal.

Sadly, yet another example of the new "I rival Godzilla in the collateral damage stakes" Superman. I would have preferred the explosion to have gone off some other way than it did. An accident, or Zod's idea, etc.

This is also yet another example of why changing Diana's origin from clay golem to routine demi-God was a mistake. The effect of the blast on her now needs to fit into a framework of what might happen to her peers - she's not unique any more and so the result can't be something interesting like her being temporarily turned into solid clay like a fired vase, or half-melted, etc. She's "just" a demi-God now, so her vitals are limited by what a DC demi-God should or has previously been able to live through.

Anj said...

Thanks for the great comments!

The delay in that annual does probably effect the weird timeline feeling I have.

And anon, great comment on the new origin. I didn't like it then. I don't like it now. And it does effect how you look at her for a power set.

Jay said...

I'm pretty sure Diana is going to end up in pretty good shape all things considered thanks to the cape. At the very least I don't at all think she's going to be in worse shape than Kal. If the cover to #7 is any indication (which it might not necessarily be, considering the unreliability of covers), she's okay and Superman is not. I tend to think however this will be what happens and this particular cover will be an apt representation. Because the emotion of him shielding her at the cost of himself kinda falls flat if she's in just as bad of shape as he is.

As for the aftermath, my guess is that Zod and Faora will be sucked back through the gate before its destroyed. Likewise, unbeknownst to anyone Doomsday will come through to Earth. I'm thinking the force of the blast though, despite him plowing through, will knock the beast unconscious and bury him in the earth, hence his "dormant" state that's been solicited before Doomed starts.

Anonymous said...

Why do people keep saying he protected her with the cape?

At the moment they use the sword and set off the explosion, Kal's cape is clearly still on his back, blown backward and fluttering in the force of the blast.

The only way he could have put the cape over Diana is after the explosion happened, which suggests she is hurt badly. If it turns out he somehow did protect her with the cape then that's an extremely weak retcon of what the artwork clearly shows, plus yet another example of sexism and character assassination of Diana. As if she would ever let him use the cape on her, when he could have protected himself! No nigh-indestructible princess of all Amazons would allow a man to protect them like that.

Jay said...

Because that's what he did.

The cape still being on his back during the explosion was just a snafu or artistic license. You're making too big a deal of it than it really is, stuff like this happens all the time.

He wrapped his indestructible cape around her to protect him from harm.

Jay said...

Another example of said artistic license or screw up in that silhouette panel: Superman's cape also is being ripped up. That can't happen. Again, indestructible cape. The final splash page has it right in that the cape is fully intact. So yeah, whether you want to be nice and call it artistic license or just say Daniel messed up, that silhouette isn't properly indicative of what happened.

The explosion occurred, and probably simultaneously with it and using what speed he has left in his tank, he wrapped Diana in his cape. And no its not sexism or character assassination when someone, even probably against their loved one's wishes, sacrifices himself for her. I'm sure he didn't ask her permission during a nuclear explosion and she said "okay, sure". He just did it because it came natural for him to do it to do anything possible to protect the woman he loves.

Anj said...

I agree. He has just said that he thinks of protecting her first, even when he is in combat.

That has to be what he did.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid art error. I'm still really confused.

The pictures show Kal and Diana kneeling with the sword, plus Kal's cape on his back. Then a big explosion, then a smaller explosion, and then two people being atomised (which I assumed was Zod and Faora, since they were still nearby with the gateway, about to bring an army to Earth. The picture makes it look like THOSE two people, whoever they are, were being torn to bits!). THEN there's the final panel.

So the general consensus here is that Kal managed to grab is cape, take it off and wrap it around Diana during the time between the sword splitting the atom and the explosion expanding? Wow, that's speed...

Also, if Diana is anything like her pre-52 self she would be very angry with Kal the moment he recovers, for treating her like that. It could be grounds for breaking up.

Jay said...

It happens. Its not optimal, but it does happen. Again, I don't know whether it can be chalked up to human error or just artistic license. In Earth 2 #1 Nicola Scott clearly drew Superman's sillouette being disintegrated, and yet, he's back, so that was certainly not entirely what happened.

As far as Diana's reaction, I highly doubt protecting the woman you love is grounds for breaking up. That's really silly. If she'd be upset it'll only be because he got hurt so bad.

Spider said...

Diana has told Clark she loves him multiple times (at least once by my count) before this happened. This was his first time saying it. That's why she replied how she did.