Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Superwoman #11

Superwoman #11 came out over a week ago. This review has been pushed back because DC continues to put out 4 Superman titles in the same week. As a result, this book has been pushed back a bit. Thanks for waiting!

We are now 3 issues in the K. Perkins era on the title and I feel like we are finally starting to get some glimpses of what she hopes to accomplish in this run. The first issue was setting up the post-Reborn Lana. Now we are into the first arc, finding Zeke, Steel's missing nephew. This leads to a melee with Skyhook.

Overall, this complicated Lana, dealing with anxiety, phobias, needing to be loved but wanting to be a hero, is a great character. I think there is a lot to be mined here. And I am hoping that the book survives long enough for Perkins to find solid footing and really explore Lana and her world. In particular, we get a hint as to how Lana's powers work in this issue which seems pretty fascinating.

That doesn't mean I think we can just move forward. The post-Reborn world is confusing. I still don't know the exact nature of Lana's powers. Are they still some remnant of Superman's? And I think I need a better sense of her personal timeline to fully understand things. So I am hoping we get backstory too!

The art on the issue is done by Jose Luis (no Garcia-Lopez) and is very good, reminding me of Brad Walker in some places. That's high praise. And I preferred this Renato Guedes variant cover for my collection. There is something classic about the monster looming over the hero who is tracking them. And Superwoman looks great.

On to the book.

So the book starts with a flashback. Zeke is in his bed, trying to get to sleep, but afraid of a monster in the room.

Jon Henry Irons and Lana come in to calm him, assuring him that no monster is there. And that even if there were a monster, super-heroes would be around to save him.

There is some poignancy around this opening scene. There is a monster in the room; Skyhook is in the closet. And Lana promising the heroes will protect him, given they are right there, has to be a terrible memory for her. They didn't protect him.

But moreover, it makes me wonder just how long Lana and Jon have been together in this new world. Natasha seems young in this scene. And Zeke has been missing for some time (I thought). Does this mean the couple has been together for years?

We then see Natasha's father, Clay 'Crash' Irons. He has been out while Jon and Lana have been babysitting (another sign that Natasha is much younger here). Clay brings home a paper bag filled with cash, money he stole from Skyhook to help provide for his family. Everyone is angry at Clay including Natasha who wants nothing to do with her father's dirty money..

There is a tense scene between the brothers. Jon chastise Clay for being a crook. Clay fires back that not everyone is an engineering genius who can lift themselves out of poverty. It is a powerful scene showing how desperate Crash is to provide for his family even if it is done in an illegal way.

As we know, Skyhook was in the house that night. And rather than get his revenge on Clay, he kidnaps Zeke. I am assuming this was years ago.

In another great scene, we see Lana consoling Natasha. Again, Lana promises to get Zeke back.

I liked this scene because it shows the connection between Natasha and Lana nicely. Nat sees Jon as a quasi-father figure. Maybe she sees Lana as a mother?

But again, that unfulfilled promise has to be eating at Lana.

Now that Skyhook is out and active, Lana finally aims to close this chapter. She is going to find Zeke.

She confronts Maggie Sawyer, asking for details. But even Maggie knows that Lana is too close to this story. Is Lana there as a Daily Star reporter? Or Irons family advocate? There is too much conflict of interest here. Lana gets rather fiery, screaming back that she wants justice. It is a subtle way of showing that Lana wears her emotions on her sleeve. She isn't unstable. But she is quick-tempered.

This idea of Lana being a journalist seems to have been a bit lost in the shuffle of this book. I had honestly forgotten it. So glad to be reminded.

I guess my other question is does Lana actually think Zeke is alive? After all this time? Again, some sort of timeline in my head would help me here.

The Atomic Skull arrives to give Maggie an update on the situation. He has used his powers and reputation to scare some information out of captured villain Remnant. Skyhook is holed up in a power station.

Now there are some things I liked about this. Specifically, Skull getting used to being a good guy and needing positive reinforcement is kind of funny. But discussing specific and crucial details of an ongoing case in the hallway? Sawyer should know better.

But more intriguing is Lana's decision to go after Skyhook alone. She can't let Crash get there. And she doesn't know how Natasha and Jon will respond. She only trusts herself not to kill the villain. This seems a bit rash. Given everything she knows about Jon, I am surprised she took such a stance.

But she makes matters worse (in my opinion) by lying about it. She says none of them should go after Skyhook. She denies knowing anything about his whereabouts. It irritates Jon and Nat who decide to go out and see what they can find on their own.

I worry about this decision. It is clear that Lana needs to support of her family and friends. But she continues to isolate Jon Henry. She hasn't been a very good partner in this relationship. My guess is we are heading towards a break up here and that isn't going to be very healthy for Lana.

With the Irons out of the way, Lana becomes Superwoman and heads out to take on Skyhook.

Now this is where I am very intrigued. Throughout the beginning of this series, we have seen Lana's mental health issues. She has anxiety. She has been crippled by it. And yet she keeps trying to overcome.

Here, we see that she somehow channels her fears and anxiety into power! She uses her anguish as a strength. Now that is interesting. Will she become less powerful if she gets more control of her emotions? Will medication effect her powers? Will counseling?

I hope we really get a chance to explore this!

But Lana fails in subduing and capturing Skyhook. In fact, we discover a key weakness for Superwoman. Her metal powersuit is susceptible to magnetism. She gets stuck to the magnetic rail of the Metropolis monorail allowing Skyhook to escape.

I wonder what Steel and Natasha will think when they see coverage of this fight especially given Lana wasn't successful in capturing Skyhook or finding Zeke. All of that seems to be written on Lana's face.

What will the fallout of all this be?

I liked this issue a lot. There was a lot to mull over. There are new layers to Lana. And there are seeds for the future sown here.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

"This review has been pushed back because DC continues to put out 4 Superman titles in the same week."

Yes, we already agree on it being a comercially suicidal strategy.

"That doesn't mean I think we can just move forward. The post-Reborn world is confusing."

Heh. That's an understatement. I don't know anymore what stories count and which ones have been retconned out. It's incredibly confusing and frustrating.

"And I preferred this Renato Guedes variant cover for my collection."

I'm very grateful to Guedes for starting the trend of drawing Post-Crisis Supergirl like a human being instead of a stick figure with boos and a ridiculously short skirt.

This book has improved a lot since the first awful story arc. Lana is still flawed but more likeable, and we're delving into seldom explored sides of Metropolis.

Lana and John breaking up? I find it likely, but maybe Lana is heading for a realization that she's been an awful partner, she'll have a heart-to-heart talk with John and they'll make up.

Anyway I've got the feeling that the Superman books are about to undergo another shake-up. Sales have dropped, a big event is approaching, and we've been told the incoming storylines are apparently going to shake both Super-cousins to the core.

I'm frightened because I don't trust DC to NOT do something stupid.

Martin Gray said...

A pretty enjoyable issue, but Lana's isolationism and hubris is really annoying. She should have shared the information with John and Natasha, both more experienced than her in the hero game, and everyone could have gone in together, checking one another's anger.

My guess is that of the extra decade returned to the DCU by Superman Reborn, Lana has spent it with the Irons. I do hope her 'electric adventuress' moments from Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's Action Comics still happened.

Anj said...

Steel and Lana together for almost a decade! Incredible. But given how young Natasha looks in the flashback, you could be right! But the writing is on the wall for at least 'taking a break'.

And I agree, Lana needs to begin trusting people more. Probably the biggest theme for this book right now.

Anonymous said...

I dropped Superwoman after a few issues, but with the Superwoman/Supergirl crossover coming up in September I might give it another go. I really, really, really wish they would redesign her costume though.