Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #7

Superman/Wonder Woman #7 came out last week and acted as a sort of pause between the opening Zod/Faora arc and the upcoming Doomed storyline.

Writer Charles Soule does his best to use this issue to synch up this book with the mainstream DCU, particularly with Wonder Woman. In many ways, some of that contradicts the earlier issues of this book. That has been a problem for me since the inception of the New 52 ... and not just with Diana. The Wonder Woman in her main title is very different from the one in this book which has a different feel than the one we have seen in Justice League. The Superman in the Lobdell books is very different than the one in Greg Pak's Action which is also different from the one in this book. Reconciling all of this is tricky.
While I commend this attempt, it also irritates a bit.

On top of that, this issue slams the door shut on the Zod/Faora story a bit too quickly, a bit too easily.

Lastly, there is no Tony Daniel on art here and Daniel's work has been one of the consistent wins of this book. There is a very good triumverate of artists here - Paolo Siqueira, Eddy Barrows, and Barry Kitson. And the styles seem to meld into each other decently. I have enjoyed these artists on other books in the past, especially Kitson. However, there are some sequences where the art doesn't fully convey the story which made me go back to reread. It definitely re-emphasized just how important Daniel is to my enjoyment of this book.

So we start with a flash forward of a sort. We aren't picking up where last issue ended, our heroes almost killed by a nuclear explosion. Instead we are 'now'.

The question is 'when is now?' Is it pre-Doomed? Or is it post-Doomed?

My guess is that it is post-Doomed given that the London in the background is nearly leveled. Every corner is filled with cracked buildings, rubble in the streets, or construction vehicles.

If it is post-Doomed, then we know the particulars survive. We know London is nearly leveled. And we know that despite the clean-up, that Wonder Woman and Superman are going to take some 'me time'. I guess if a major battle has ended they deserve it. But it feels a little weird to see them happily cavorting while London tries to pull itself together in the background.

It also means, based on the dialogue, that Diana still hasn't said she loves Superman back. If this is post-Doomed that is really crazy. I assume Kal is near-death again at some point.

We cut back in time to the cliffhanger. Wonder Woman seems in better shape than the skeletal Superman. Maybe that invulnerable cape helped.

I will say that this is the first panel that I actually felt like there may be true feelings between these two. I may be wrong but I think that this is the first time she has called him Clark in this book. She has been confused about his need for his Clark persona, maybe even chided him a bit. Calling him that in this intense moment made me think ... for once ... that she actually cares about him.

But the plan works. The Phantom Zone, Zod, Faora ... all gone. But we only hear that in one word bubble. Seems like a let down from the actual build up of that confrontation. And what's to stop Zod from exiting again. The defeat of the villains happens off-screen, technically between issues!  I wanted more closure. But I guess with Doomed teed up, there isn't time.

I talked above about how sometimes the art doesn't necessarily convey what is happening making me have to fill in some info.

First Wonder Woman touches a button in the invisible jet which shoots a beam into the air. The clouds part and the yellow sun comes down onto Superman's hand. But I had to look back at those panels a couple of times to make sure I understood what was happening.

The same thing here. Ghost Soldiers attack Wonder Woman (synching up with a scene discussed in Action Comics #30). I assume that the second panel is Superman blasting them with heat vision (what else could it be). But we see Superman looking absolutely emaciated the panel before this. Could/should he be able to pull this off? Since I have no other explanation I guess the answer is yes. But I had to look at the panels again to make sure I had followed things, even making sure pages weren't stuck together.

And then it seems like Wonder Woman is worse for wear. The two struggle to fly off. But it is Superman that takes Diana to Hessia first, rather than she getting him aid. He looked way worse for wear initially. But by the time they get to London, he is looking plumper and less spectral.

Separately they heal. He goes to the Fortress for a sunbath. She gets some purple ray therapy.

But before parting ways, Clark again tries to drop the L word on Diana. She stops him ... saying she knows it. She doesn't reciprocate. Weird.

Meanwhile, Doomsday bursts from his Urchin-like cocoon and seems different. He seems intelligent, climbing out of the deep sea trench. And I don't know what this black energy/light he is oozing/emanating.

What I do think is crazy is that the Tower, which supposedly released Doomsday, thinks they can simply scoop him up and contain him for their purposes.

Will this be a super-intelligent Doomsday? A thinking Doomsday? Or simply a monster?

I talked about the awkward panel progression in the invisible plane sequence and the heat vision sequence. There was another.

The Tower submarine closes in on Doomsday. Then there is a panel with THOOOM. Then there is splash of the submarine exploding.

Now I can assume that Doomsday leapt out of the shark that had swallowed him, swam to the submarine, and destroyed it. And that would be a fine guess. But I wish I could say I knew that. At first I didn't know what was happening in that second lower panel. Was the sub firing on Doomsday? Or Doomsday heading to the sub? As a reader I don't know in what direction that action is happening.

Again, I have to commend Soule for trying to reconcile the disparate takes on these characters. It is a shame that writers have to deal with such diverse representations of popular characters. You would think the higher-ups at DC would lay out a plan or template for writers to follow.

So while London smolders, Superman and Wonder Woman catch up while sitting on a rooftop. She divulges that she is now the Goddess of War, and she hopes to use that change mankind's views on the topic.

Might be hard for Superman ... at least the Superman I know ... to be comfortable with that.

But this scene at the end of the book, again trying to streamline all the presentations of Diana, made me question if Soule went too far.

Remember, in the Wonder Woman main title, writer Brian Azzarello has shown Diana in street clothes listening to rock music at a club. That Diana hasn't been seen anywhere else ... especially not here. Soule has had Wonder Woman questioning Superman's love of humanity. She has asked him why he has a civilian identity. She has talked to her friends about why he would have a secret identity. She has even tried to talk Superman out of being Clark in this book. It is one of the things that has made me think these two aren't meant for each other.

But then Soule has Diana take Clark to a club to dance. It is a club she is a regular at ... the bouncer knows her name, tells Clark she has never brought a beau with her before. She slinks onto the dance floor, telling Clark how much she loves to dance. And he is happy they have this night.

But .... ummm .... how can someone who for 6 issues has said she doesn't understand civilian time turn around and be a regular at a dance club? A regular! They know her name!

It is this sort of uneven characterization that has plagued the New 52 all along, especially Superman and Wonder Woman. I would have actually liked it more if Soule kept portraying Diana as he saw her. At least this book would be internally consistent.

I have to say, between the easy ending of the Zod arc, the off storytelling, and the schizophrenic Diana, this should be my last issue of this title. But I will stick around through Doomed. If only to see the Tony Daniel's art.

Overall grade: C-


Jay said...

I think this is pre-Doomed, Anj. The precedent for London being messed up is a precedent already set by First Born's short menace in the city, and its always possible that the Crime Syndicate were responsible for some extra damage. In any case it read more to me like the two were getting some down time in the aftermath of Forever Evil as opposed to Doomed.

Martin Gray said...

Ugh, I felt a bit sick reading this - how can Diana ever fancy Clark again after seeing him so corpse-like? Sure, she can admire him, and love him, but that image would be tough to remove.

And all that romance stuff, it felt icky - and suddenly I'm a ten-year-old boy.

I agree, there were storytelling issues, I could barely parse the Doomsday sequence. All I know is that I want Doomed to be over.

And shouldn't the heroes have referenced whether anything died when they created a nuclear explosion, what did the UN have to say? I guess it was an unclear explosion.

The only thing that grabbed me here was the mystery of Hessia's backstory.

Supertorresmo said...

Martin, a lot of people see the people they care for sick and "corpse-like", specially cancer patients, and mostly it makes their love stronger afterwards. I think your comment would apply only to a very futile person.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, I know that, but New 52 WW and S's 'relationship' is so based on physical attraction rather than a meeting of minds that I'm going for shallowness on both parts.

In real life. I admire hugely the people who manage to get on with their lives despite terrible setbacks, and the loved ones who support them.

But thanks for the response, Supertorresmo.

Jay said...

Still think this title is a close second only to Pak's Action in terms of quality on Superman's part. And on Wonder Woman's part, I'm actually pretty close to saying he's writing the best Wonder Woman in the New 52 period. As much as I love Azzarello's run, Soule gives a window into Diana on a personal level that I don't always get from her main title.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm sorry, but everything about this relationship sickens me. They look like siblings, and as a couple, the contest is for who can out-bore the other. Kitson draws Diana looking and dressing like Donna Troy, and given how consistently Wonder Woman steals the best parts about her supporting cast for herself, it reflects very poorly on the character.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Jay - I think the now/then is open to conjecture. But I think you are right. It would be wrong to have this be post-Doomed. This issue was the calm before that storm.

I would probably put Smallville and Adventures of Superman above this for Superman quality.

Frank - part of the problem with this book and this relationship is that there has never been any sort of 'realness' to this. They don't seem to be compatible at all. They are together not because the characters have drifted that way. They are together because someone said 'this is cool'.

Mart - yes, some comment about the nuclear explosion would have been nice.