Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #29

Superman/Wonder Woman #29 came out this week and is an important issue for fans of the super-family for a number of reasons. The Final Days of Superman is coming to an end as #Rebirth is right around the corner. This arc is basically the foundation for the upcoming super-titles. So within this issue, we get some set-up for the Supergirl book, the Super-sons book, and the upcoming Superman books. Previously, we have seen the beginnings of the New Superman book.

Despite having to reset the landscape, writer Peter Tomasi does a great job making this story be compelling on its own. There is more to this arc than just establishing where the #Rebirth books will be in the next couple of months. Tomasi is dealing with the fallout of The Truth. And for the most part, I have been very satisfied with this read. There is something very classic about the feel of these characters. Gone is the deconstructed, brooding versions of these characters. Instead, we get heroes.

All that said, this book is probably the last issue of the Clark/Diana romance. And, surprisingly, there isn't any romance in this issue at all. I wondered if this would be the place we would see one last kiss. Instead, there is one last brawl. As someone who never really understood the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, I still felt let down that there wasn't one last tender scene.

The art on the book is just wonderful. The cover is by Karl Kerschl and showcases Supergirl and Wonder Woman in action and both look determined. The internal art is by a favorite of mine, Jorge Jimenez. Jimenez shined on an arc of Smallville and brings a stylized kinetic feel to his work. His stuff really catches the eye. And as he is on the upcoming Super-Sons book, it makes sense for him to be here.

And let me say it is hard to write a review when there are three Supermen in the book. So, for clarity:
Fire-Superman=bad guy avatar
Superman = New 52 Superman
PF-Superman = Pre-Flashpoint Superman

On to the book.

The Trinity has tracked the Fire-Superman to Salinas, California and are poised to battle. Fire-Superman has the memories of Superman but the host body of a career criminal. As a result, he is almost schizophrenic in his actions. He has taken Lois to meet the PF-Superman. He is struggling to do what's right but his fiery temper gets in the way.

He voices how he is struggling. He wants to be recognized as *THE* Superman. He wants respect. He wants to do what Lois told him he should do, not kill and protect the innocent. But his nature can't allow that.

These panels show his power and his struggle nicely.

 Superman tells Batman to whisk Lois to safety so he and Diana can fight the Fire-Superman without fear of harming someone.

The two use their fists, boulders, trees and just about anything they can find to batter this guy. And Superman really lays into the guy for disgracing the S-shield.

I can only imagine what is going on in Superman's mind. In fact, I wouldn't mind some internal monologue from the Man of Steel as he copes with dying, an avatar killing in his name, and the discovery of an older version of himself on Earth. That's a lot of stuff to be dealing with!

As I said above, Jimenez brings a palpable energy to the book. Here a warped ribbon of panels makes the fight flow nicely. Great page set-up and sizzling art. I love the panel of Diana hammering the Fire-Superman repeatedly.

 The PF-Superman has brought Lois and Jon to his version of the Fortress of Solitude.

This couple has been propped up as the pinnacle of love and equality. Both have agency, power, and they clearly love each other. So it was odd to hear that PF-Superman didn't tell Lois that this place existed. Weird that he would be hiding a place he is imprisoning villains and hoarding trophies.

PF-Lois sort of calls him on it, saying that this obviously took some time to set up. When was he going to tell her. This just seemed weird. Imagine if you told your spouse that you had an apartment on the other side of the country to store your comic stuff. Hmmm ...

It was fun to see Jon run around in wonder, realizing this is his legacy too.

 Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and Superman have battered the Fire-Superman with redwoods to the point that he is finally dazed and temporarily powered down.

Interesting that he immediately rattles off his prisoner number and jail location.

But it is the name that caught my attention.

Denny Swan.

That has to be an homage to the team of Denny O'Neil and Curt Swan, the creators on the Sand Superman storyline from the 70's, the 'Kryptonite Nevermore' arc. The Truth started with Superman being drained by Quarmers, depowered. And this guy could be the new version of the Sand Superman, a being who has absorbed not only powers but ideas from Superman. Nice touch.

 But the Fire-Superman remains depowered for only a short period of time. The anger inside him just seems too great to control. He stands and erupts in a solar flare, knocking both Superman and Wonder Woman unconscious. And looking for an end, he picks up Superman and flies off.

I just love this panel as a showcase for Jimenez' art. This is spectacular. It is tremendously stylized. The proportions of Superman and Wonder Woman are slightly strange but it works in this exploding panel. As a reader, you can feel this flare.

 The battle's energy signal is so big that it is detected in the National City DEO where Supergirl is being bombarded with yellow sun rays. Remember, she is dealing with decreased powers herself.

She is being helped by two scientists named Jeremiah and Eliza.

Jeremiah and Eliza! Shades of the television show! They even sort of look like Dean Cain and Helen Slater. Again, this is a set up for the new Supergirl book too.

As I said in the beginning, Peter Tomasi is giving us a more classic representation of these heroes. And Supergirl in this book is here as a loving cousin, a hero, willing to put herself in danger to help others.

When she hears Superman is in danger, she immediately tells Jeremiah and Eliza to let her go. She won't take no for an answer. She isn't a prisoner. Even if half-powered, she needs to be there for her cousin. She streaks off. Again, great panel by Jorge Jimenez. You feel Kara streaking away.

Overall, I liked this issue a lot. It pushed the multiple plotlines forward, giving us new information. It definitely was beautiful. And it gave me optimism for the future of these books, even if this Superman is apparently going to die.

#Rebirth is around the corner. Can't wait.

Overall grade: A


Jay said...

A Superman leaving other superheroes high and dry so he can tell his son a story is about the least Superman-like things I've read in a long time. It made perfect sense for him to fly his wife and son to safety. But now that they're safe, help your double and his friends out for gods sake from the maniacal villain. You don't choose that moment to tell your life story to your kid. If you need a filler reason to delay his return to the battlefield, come up with a better reason than that. Because he just looks like a massive tool in this issue.

Martin Gray said...

As you say Anj, an excellent issue. When I came across that 'Denny Swan' bit I wondered if his middle name was 'Murphy'.

Roll on Wednesday's conclusion!

Super-League indeed...

Anj said...

I agree Jay. If some are holding up the Pre-Flashpoint Supes as the hero, this was not his finest movement.

Mart, maybe his name could have been Swanderson.