Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #8

Superman/Wonder Woman #8 came out last week, the third part of last week's Doomed barrage, and officially chapter 2 of the arc. The prologue issue was a smash-em-up, an action packed brawl between the killing machine of Doomsday and the DCU. The end result was a Doomsday ripped in half. The first chapter in Action Comics was more of a set-up issue, showing that Superman was infected by Doomsday during the battle, filling him with rage and changing his body.

And those two chapters were a nice set-up for the story. The true story here is how killing Doomsday will change Superman on all levels - metaphorically and physically.

Now, seething with rage, and trying to go it alone, we get to chapter 2. This is Wonder Woman, the significant other, now trying to help her beloved. Chapter one was Clark responding to the infection. Chapter 2 is Diana's response. And, if I am going to believe that this relationship is based on real feelings, then I suppose this is a natural story progression. People know I have a problem with this pairing - mostly because I have yet to read anything that makes me think it makes sense. Writer Charles Soule does his best to show that Diana truly cares for Superman, seeking him out when he goes off the grid, revealing their relationship to some of his Clark friends. While I applaud Soule trying to bolster this relationship and mesh this with Brian Azzarello's interpretation of Diana, it still seems off to me.

All that said, Tony Daniel is back on art this issue and I am so happy he is back. If there has been one thing which has been consistently tremendous in this book it is Daniel's art. I mean it, his art is one of the main things keeping me coming back to this book. It is beautiful.

One thing that Soule does is start out the issue with Diana entering Clark's apartment. It is in semi-ruins as if Clark has been smashing things. And he sits in the dark, talking roughly, and being crass. He clearly is sick.

The remainder of the book is a series of flashbacks as Diana hunts down Clark. And these flashbacks are interspersed with more of this conversation. I suppose the story-telling technique works. By leaving this scene every so often, I felt increasing suspense. Superman is clearly unhinged here and so I kept waiting for him to lash out. Showing another flashback made that suspense simmer a bit.

But one thing I like about this Superman is that he is a bit unfiltered under the fever of the plague. He calls Diana an alien. And then skirts near creepy with his pleas of wanting to 'have fun'.

I hate to see Superman brought low like this ... but I suppose that is the basis of this whole arc.

Diana's first stop is Clarkcatropolis to talk to Cat. It seems that the one big break of the Superman/Wonder Woman kiss photo has been a financial boon. Suddenly the site has an office! And workers! I do wonder if we will ever get back to that story. Who sent it? And why to Cat?

It turns out that Clark has gone AWOL for several days. He hasn't been in contact with anyone.

I do wonder why Cat, who has been posting Wonder Woman photos on the site doesn't recognize Wonder Woman sitting in front of her?

And yes, indeed, it does seem that Clark has been acting strange. When he did show up to work at the site, he snapped at Cat. It concerned Cat.

Back at Clark's apartment, Clark starts to ask some questions that as a reader I have asked. I don't expect a lot of crossover with the Azzarello title because I think it is an Elseworlds. But here Superman wonders why Diana hasn't asked him to help out with her problems. He wonders why she hasn't said she loves him back.  I have asked those questions myself. Even now, after saving the world from Doomsday and suffering, she still hasn't said the L-word.

A couple of other things I liked here. I like the S-shield to be a huge element in the Superman costume. By making it tiny tiny here, Daniels evokes the feeling that the Superman part of Clark is withering, shrinking.

I also like that Clark tells Diana that he would rather die than become a monster. Is this a plea to her to do what might be necessary?

Cat doesn't seem to be of much help so Diana seeks out Lois. She finds her being arrested by the Army just outside of Metropolis.

So this is where I have a little problem. We know Lois is possessed by Brainiac. We have seen her mentally shut down throngs of people. Why would she ever let herself be caught like this, let alone cuffed. Couldn't he make all these soldiers unconscious? Convince them to let her go? Mind-trick them into thinking she didn't do anything wrong?

Of course, if she did that we wouldn't get this scene with Diana. Convenient ...

Diana showcases a new power. As God of War she can telepathically communicate with all soldiers! I don't know ... I think that is interesting enough that I don't mind it. But she is doing all this as Diana Prince.

She learns that Lois was downloading some military mainframe with crazy glowing eyes. Despite that concern, she commands the army to release Lois and they do. I don't know ... it seems that this might be a bit short-sighted of Diana. Hasn't she seen enough crazy things to want this to be investigated more? And if Lois is Brainiac, wouldn't she sense that Diana is Wonder Woman? Or at least be curious why the Army obeyed Diana? It's a bit too convenient.

And the resulting conversation between Lois and Diana is also a bit awkward. Lois also hasn't seen Clark in weeks. But he did call Lois ... a sort of 'drunk dial'. Yeesh. A sick Clark calling and propositioning Lois? Ugh.

But Lois doesn't know where Clark is either. So Diana has to ask someone else. And it just so happens that Batman is approaching Metropolis. He also is concerned about Clark.

What a great splash by Daniel. Shown just because it is spectacular.

It turns out that Batman has figured the whole thing out (I guess I shouldn't be surprised). The samples he took at the battle site show that Superman is mutating into Doomsday.

Batman was heading towards Clark's home. It would be the first place to check right?

Amazingly, Diana hasn't checked there!!! She doesn't recognize or remember how important the Clark part of Superman's life is. She interrogated his friends before she checked his apartment!

This is just one more thing that makes me question just why these two are together. Diana just hasn't been written in any way that would make me think she would love Superman romantically. She didn't even think to go to his apartment? She has eaten lunch there!

It is just odd. I suppose Soule needed her not to go straight there to plot this issue. But ... it seems weird. This is my biggest problem with this book.

At least she shows how much she cares for Clark at the end of the issue. She gives him a nice inspirational speech. He is stronger than this ... even stronger than the disease. He can defeat it.

And, don't ask me how, he does. He is able to actually morph back to his human form and get the rage under control. It makes me think this is more like a Hulk-problem than a true disease.

This sequence with Diana is just drawn lovely.

I can't believe Daniel was at Boston Comic Con last year and I didn't get a commission. His stuff stuns me.

Anyways, this was an okay chapter in Doomed, probably the weakest of this week's trifecta. While it is interesting to see how the plague is warping Superman's body and mind, it can't get past the fact that Diana was worried about him for days and didn't go to his apartment. And Lois not utilizing her Brainiac powers? And Diana letting Lois go? And Cat not recognizing Wonder Woman? The first problem is significant. These others are annoying.

Still, beautiful beautiful art.

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

Yes indeed, there were holes in this one - and yet I found myself turning a blind eye. Charles Soule should have found a way around the problems, or altered his structure, but I just enjoyed the thing.

I'm getting soft in me old age!

Jay said...

Diana actually is right with her original instinct though, Anj. Yes its odd that she'd forget all about the apartment, but she WAS correct in checking the Fortress first because it was indeed the first place Superman went to. He just couldn't get in because the Fortress didn't recognize his voice pattern. Again, its odd she wouldn't think of the apartment next, but its far from any indication of her not understanding the man. She understood enough to know where he'd go first.

Anonymous said...

If soule is trying to show how utterly incompatible as a romance these two are, then he is doing a bang up job. If this us supposed to convince me they love each other, not so great.

I guess at least there wasn't a catfight.

Jay said...

He's not, and he isn't, imho. Diana successfully talking Superman down, so he could regain enough control to suppress the monster, was very touching to me.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Mart, it is okay to go with the flow if you like the story. Maybe I should try that more.

Jay, I do think the speech Diana gave was inspiring. But the fact that she devalues or doesn't grasp the importance of Clark in Superman's life seems wrong. She has known him for 5 years and has been dating him for a while. And she still doesn't get it? Feels off.

Green said...

"He's not, and he isn't, imho. Diana successfully talking Superman down, so he could regain enough control to suppress the monster, was very touching to me."

just like a great friend she is. In Azzarello book she does it with everyone she can. I guess she and orion are in love so

one thing is go first at the fortress, other is let days pass without going to his apartment.
this book is really poor written

Jay said...

I agree Anj, it was an oddity that she didn't think to look at the apartment at all. I do rather wonder what it was Soule was trying to get across there because there are less hamfisted ways to get across that she's still learning to grasp with his affinity for his human side (it just looks more amnesiac to not think of this detail). Plus in the same panels he illustrated she DID know him quite well in guess correctly where he'd first go, as I pointed out before. So its just a weird addition.