After the slightly bumpier issue #2, Superman/Wonder Woman is back on track with issue #3, which features not only a bevy of guest superheroes, including Batman and the Justice League of America, but also classic Superman villain General Zod, Harrods, a Christmas present, an ex-boyfriend and a USB flash drive.
Guess which one is going to give our hero and heroine the biggest problem?
Superman’s up on the moon, trying to deal with all the extra sun energy Apollo gave him last issue. He’s also trying to work out how much to involve Diana in all of this, with the help of his super best bro and relationship counsellor Batman.
Meanwhile, it’s the 1980s again, because Princess Diana is shopping in Harrods for her boyfriend.
Apparently, finding Christmas presents for superheroes is hard.
But out in a desert, General Zod has escaped or been released from the Phantom Zone. And he’s a bit confused and stompy.
The Justice League of America (well, most of them) don’t think that’s a good idea, though.
After giving them a thorough beating, Zod meets his match in… Wonder Woman and her lasso.
Superman and Wonder Woman assert their rights to their prisoner, taking him off to be stored in Superman’s zoo (yes, Zod in a zoo – it’s alliteration-tastic this issue).
But just as Diana reveals her Christmas gift to Superman – blessed silence – and everything gets romantic, the world finds out that Superman and Wonder Woman are a couple, thanks to that pesky USB drive.
Is it any good?
Very. It’s got fights, it’s got romance, it’s got guest stars, it’s got plot twists and turns, it’s got surprises galore, some of the inbalances of the previous issues have been redressed, and it looks great, too. What more do you want?
First, a couple nitpicks. I’m pretty sure that Superman can hold his breath a long time; I’m not sure how he manages to speak on the Moon, though (there’s probably an explanation).
Second, Tony Daniel’s artwork is largely lovely, but a few of his drawings give Wonder Woman a roman nose and even cross-eyes. Which, at least for consistency’s sake, isn’t right.
Third, Soule does suggest the tension that exists between Wonder Woman and former beau Steve Trevor, but Wonder Woman really isn’t especially nice to Steve in their exchanges. Yes, he’s being a dick, but she’s always been very careful with him and his feelings.
Equally, Superman is dickish to Steve. Yes, it emphasises that Supes and Wondy stick together, but it doesn’t make them look great as a couple and doesn’t suggest they’re bringing the best out in each other.
But those minor things aside, this is a very enjoyable issue. I’m glad to see that the effects of Apollo on Superman haven’t been glossed over, making him more of a worthy enemy than issue #2 suggested. Equally, it was nice to see the Justice League of America taking a battering at the hands of Superman’s equal, Zod, only for Wonder Woman have him all trussed up in a couple of panels:
It’s a fun contrast that shows just how significantly outside other superheroes’ league both Superman and Wonder Woman are, with the dynamic couple literally heads and shoulders above the others (hopefully, it’s not going to their heads – cf Steve Trevor and being dicks to him). It’s also a counterpoint to the ease with which Superman took down Apollo last issue, which was one of its biggest flaws.
Most importantly, it shows you just how much shorter and different a movie Man of Steel would have been had Wonder Woman turned up at the end, rather than waiting until the forthcoming Superman v Batman. Superman + Wonder Woman + Lasso + Zod ≠ dead Zod + murdering Superman + controversy.
It’s worth noting, here, that Zod’s protestations of innocence and only being confused when he went ape-shit crazy are all done while he’s bound up by the Lasso of Truth, so unless there’s been an artwork or writing snafu (or Charles Soule has forgotten it’s still the Lasso of Truth in the nu52, which seems unlikely), all the things he says are true:
For the stompy general, this is a nice character touch from Soule, a Zod that’s more than just fighting and blowing things up, a touch that’s echoed in a pane showing Zod discovering the joys of flight:
Which incidentally nicely echoes a similar page from the much maligned Odyssey.
Also offsetting another previous inbalance is Superman’s reliance on Batman for relationship-counselling. As I mentioned in my review of issue #1, while Superman got to talk about work and stuff, Wonder Woman was relegated to talking about boys in her spare time, largely because she had a gal-pal (now revealed to be a bi gal-pal in a nicely inclusionary Amazon measure by Soule) and Supes didn’t have a friend of his own to talk to. Now we have Supes asking the billionaire playboy philanthropist Batman how best to deal with Diana and their relationship, which gives us more of an insight into his internal life, too.
All in all, a great issue, with great kissing, great punching, great character moments and great plot moments. One to add to the collection.