Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #9

Superman/Wonder Woman #9 came out this week, the next chapter in the Superman:Doomed storyline, and the second chapter of the Enemy of the State mini-arc.

Apropos of this title and its focus, this issue concentrates on the Kal/Diana relationship and how this Doomsday affliction is effecting them. Writer Charles Soule does his best here to show that there is some deep love between the two. That there is true affection between them. Part of that is through their actions, Diana completely supportive and protective of Superman. Part of that is through their words - although their romantic dialogue reads a little stiff.

The issue also does its best to move the Doomed story forward, showing Superman's decline and bringing things to a head on Earth. It also answers a nagging question from the first arc of this book. And, for me, most importantly, it brings Supergirl into this story.

I will say that Kara isn't exactly portrayed well here. This is somewhat surprising given how Soule has written her in Red Lanterns. She has shined there.

Finally, I have to again comment about Tony Daniel's art on this book, the biggest draw for me here. He really draws a fantastic Diana. I would love to see him on the Wonder Woman solo book. (If only he would get rid of the high heels on the boots!)

The book also had a nice Bombshell cover, drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino. These are supposed to look like 40's pop art and pin-ups. I like the propaganda feel to this cover, similar to WW2 posters.

With a Kryptonite cloud looming overhead (supposedly safe for humans), the Doomsday part of Superman has grown in power and is close to taking control.

I think it is interesting that we see this conflict within Superman's mind as a battle of wills between Clark and Superdoom. Is this a disease? Or a possession? Is this just a visual representation of the voice in his head?

I like how Clark is the 'good half', not a clean looking Superman. Clark is the default personality, not Superman. And I like his sentiment. There is always a way.

With Superdoom screaming and angry, Diana arrives with Hessia. Diana asks her physician friend to try to help heal Superman from this affliction. I think this is a good idea and a nice touch. It makes sense that Diana would turn to her friend to use her skills to help. (I guess there is no purple ray in the New 52?)

To help her survive the Doomsday death field, Hessia dons her armor. I like the caduceus spear, the perfect weapon for a doctor I suppose.

When I first saw this armor, it reminded me somewhat of Genocide, the supervillain from Gail Simone's Wonder Woman run. The tossled red helm, the yellow energy crescents looking like the embedded lasso - maybe I am the only one who saw that?

Ironically, Hessia heads to Superman not to heal but to kill. She immediately engages him in battle. This isn't what Diana wanted but Hessia explains her thoughts.

She tells Diana that she is triaging the situation. Physicians need to prioritize care. In this instance, if you need to save the world full of patients, you need to eradicate the disease of Superdoom. It is an interesting take and slanted look at triage.

Is this a betrayal of Diana by Hessia? She went to Superman under a pretense of care.

What I did like was how strongly Diana defends Superman, telling Hessia that he can defeat Doomsday with help.

But Hessia isn't hearing it. She knows that Superman is a threat.

And to prove it, she puts Clark to the test ... by revealing that she is the one who sent the pictures of Kal and Diana to Cat Grant. Finally, that mystery is solved. I actually also think this makes sense for Hessia given her friendship with Diana. She heard Diana bemoan the fact that Kal was hiding their relationship. She heard Diana wonder why Clark always hides his life. As a friend, she forced the issue ... for Diana.

Unfortunately, it takes Clark by surprise. He wasn't happy about the secret relationship coming out. And that manifests itself as anger. Doomsday takes over and thrashes Hessia.

It forces Diana into action. She can't let Superman kill Hessia. But she also believes in him. She believes he can take control. He can prove Hessia wrong. And Diana believing in him, trusting him, has to make Clark fight harder.

This was a great page with a nice panel of Diana flying into action. We see here hogtie him here and bring him into space, away from the Kryptonite cloud. It is these action shots of Diana by Daniel that are the highlights of every issue.

And away from the K-energy, Clark wrestles control again. He finally ... finally ... realizes he needs to leave Earth.


But first, before he exiles himself, there has to be some stilted dialogue from the two lovers. Clark says he will come back to show Diana all his dance moves. Diana knows her darling will beat this and return.

It is a goodbye speech without being a goodbye speech. There is hope here ... but it reads like they realize that there may be no hope.

But ... I don't know ... it just read a little stiff. Part of that might be because I just haven't understood why these two would be together. And there is something weird about Diana saying 'darling'.

At least Clark realizes he needs to leave. That's good right?

It would be if the Red Lanterns didn't show up and stop him. They blast him with all their power, halting his flight, and enraging him.

There is Kara telling the Lanterns they need to stop Kal.

Unfortunately, her first thought is to attack Kal ... not help him. You would think she would want to learn more about what was happening to see if she could do anything about it. And calling him Kal-El seems overly formal. Why add the last name?

In Red Lanterns, Kara has tried to help Bleez, the Judge, the world of Primeen. Here, she attacks her cousin. It felt like a half-step back for Supergirl. She has progressed nicely recently. This felt like the 'old' Supergirl.

The attack makes Superman lose control. Suddenly he is Superdoom again and he throttles the whole Lantern team.

What is more crazy is Supergirl's response. She yells out for Superman to stop, wondering why he is attacking.

Ummm .... you just had the whole team blast him Kara. What did you think his response would be?

This felt like another half-step back.

Does that mean she took a whole step back?

Again, it is odd given that Soule has treated Kara great in Red Lanterns.

Thrown to Earth, the Lanterns try to regroup. But Diana intevenes.

She asks Guy what he is doing. I love Guy's response. He has to protect Earth. But he also knows that Superman is the best person amongst them. It further cements a running theme through this arc - the response of other heroes when seeing Superman suffer. They all, so far, clearly look up to him.

But Diana has to ask Guy who he is. I am so confused about current DC continuity. Guy was a Green Lantern in Blackest Night and Diana doesn't know who he is?? This makes no sense.

With the Reds on Earth, Clark regains control and flies into space.

So, what to think of this issue which had some ups and downs.

I like the fierceness of Hessia, her conflicted decisions as a warrior and a healer. And I do like the reveal that she gave Cat the info.

I didn't like Kara's brief interaction with her cousin. I was hoping she would be more supportive and caring.

The romantic dialogue felt a bit off when Diana says goodbye to Clark. But I love how much she believes in him and defends him tirelessly.

And, as usual, the art is just beautiful. Nice panel contruction. Diana looks fabulous and strong. Tony Daniel is just putting out incredible work.

Overall grade: B/B-


Thomas Hayes said...

I thought the issue was OK, if a bit padded, up to the point the Reds showed up. That's where the story lost me, because Guy, Zox and Kara all felt out of character, for the same reasons it didn't work for you. The decision to attack Superman outright doesn't seem consistent with the most recent issues of their book, or the Supergirl book. Red Lanterns #30 had Bleez telling Kara not to attack first. Supergirl #31 had Kara only fire a warning shot at the Judge before trying to talk her down, and the Judge had just been cutting down civilians! Then Only two weeks ago Red Lanterns #31 avoided what might have seemed like an inevitable Guy/Atrocitus punch-up by having them actually negotiate!

So to see those three popping up in Earth orbit and trying to blast Superman out of the sky with all they've got is jarring. No amount of sloppy dialogue on their first page can hide the fact it's bending their characterisation out of shape and making them look like idiots for the purposes of this story. That's poor writing at the best of times, but it's baffling when it's coming from the same writer. Guy's dialogue to Diana after the fact makes it even more odd. I was looking forward to some good interaction between the Reds and Diana, especially Kara, but this issue delivered none of that.

It did look awesome, though. Daniel is good with faces too, I felt like Diana in particular is very well portrayed by him, and the Doomsday/Clark duality is a nice idea. It's just a shame this all felt like so much stuff that just had to happen for the story rather than anything meaningful for its characters.

Supertorresmo said...

I liked the connection with the Wonder Woman title where she takes off her bracelets to become more powerful.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

You are right Thomas that the Reds seem off here. Which is odd given that Soule writes their book.

And I didn't even pick up the gauntlets coming off SuperTorresmo. Thanks for pointing that out!

Martin Gray said...

I only noticed Diana had gone into that god mode because of the colouring, Soule should have been clearer on that. But then, wouldn't Diana have been able to take SuperDoom (always makes me think of SuperGoof) in her full Olympian mode?

You're dead right about the stilted dialogue. Kara, too, was off, but I think that may be the nature of her being in a crossover. So long as she's OK in the RL and Supergirl book, and emerges with dignity and renewed joyfulness, I'm OK.

I loved all the turns of the Hessia storyline, it made sense and brought her on as a character. And having two distinct battles in one issue was a treat.

Overall,a pretty decent issue and yes, the art was wondrous.

Jay said...

I dont' mind that Supergirl's first action was to attack. She is after all, for all my bemoaning, a Red Lantern right now. Might as well be in character to that. My only issue is that she barely said anything. But there's still time in this story for her to do more, I hope.

As far as Hessia, I was reminded of something but it wasn't Genocide. When she put that gold belt on and it clearly made the double W, I immediately thought of Donna's original Wonder Girl costume. I'm really starting to suspect Donna will be Hessia's daughter when she returns.

Anonymous said...

This is now the second of Diana's friends to betray her. First was Barbara Minerva, and now Hessia. I don't care whether Hessia's actions were coming from a good place; her decisions were disloyal and disrespectful. I'll be annoyed if Superman doesn't eventually tell Diana what Hessia did, because Diana deserves to know what kind of "friend" she has.

I was really confused about a few other things. The action here follows from Action #32 which showed Steel and others still very much involved in the action. This issue pretends as if the government, and the heroes who had previously been attending to the problem, just disappeared. Then there's the odd behavior of the Red Lanterns. Both seem like contrivances so that Diana has something to do in order to prove herself and her love. Why organic situations couldn't have been designed is beyond me.

Then there's the issue of Diana's handling of the problems she's been faced with recently. Soule was the first to have Diana informed about Lois Lane's strange predicament back in Superman/Wonder Woman #8, when a soldier told her that Lois had glowing eyes. She has still done nothing about that. Now, in this issue, Superman tells Diana that he's concerned about Lois after having learned she was manipulating John Corben from Corben himself. I'm also perplexed why Diana never bothered to ask Hessia what she planned to do to help Superman, and why Diana didn't seek Hessia's assistance sooner in this arc.

Lastly, Diana was the only one to learn from Lana that the coma victims in Smallville were communicating with something in space. She told Lana in Action #32 that she was "on it," but the "it" she was "on" was apparently nothing to do with that situation which, in addition to the suspicious glowing eyes of Lois Lane's she's known about for some time, puts Diana in a very unique position to help with that problem; yet she's been far too preoccupied with Superman that she's not even passed information along or delegated the matter to anyone, leaving it to fester. On top of her bizarre overlooking of Clark's Metropolis apartment, Diana's been positively confounding to me throughout this event.

Anonymous said...

The original version of the cover in the solicitation didn't have Supergirl trying to use her heat vision on Superman, that seems to have been a later addition.