Normally, around this time of the month, we can rely on Charles Soule and Tony Daniel to cheer us with their usual top notch, high-quality Superman/Wonder Woman. However, this month, not only was Tony Daniel away, leaving the art to the not-quite-as-good Paulo Siqueira – possibly a permanent situation since Daniel is off to write and draw Deathstroke – we’re still stuck in the seemingly interminable ‘Superman Doomed storyline’. The result is the first issue of Superman/Wonder Woman that… I almost can’t bring myself to say it… isn’t very good.
There, I dared to say it.
Also after the jump, we’ll take a look at Justice League Beyond #24, which finally wraps up both the ‘Justice Lords’ storyline and the ‘Return of Wonder Woman’ storyline. Man these things go on for a long time.
Superman’s still infected by Doomsday so is still dicking around in outer space, smacking things together, while Lana and Steel look on. Then up pops Cyborg Superman, giving Doomsday Superman something better to play with.
Back on Earth, Lois Lane enters the Metropolis death zone and finally reveals herself to be infected with Brainiac.
Then up pops Wonder Woman. Cleverly, given that Lois is now green, glows indigo and talks with green speech bubbles, Wondy spots that all is not right with Lois. So Brainiac unleashes a mental attack on her.
Wonder Woman resists and uses the Lasso of Truth to compel Lois to reveal all. Except Lois goes and animates John Corben again.
Unfortunately, for Lois, animated minion Corben is fighting the goddess of war.
Continuing the Megamind theme, that leaves Corben as just a head. Apparently, that’s enough for Brainiac/Lois’s relationship with him, though.
Is it any good?
So clearly, it’s not without redeeming features. Wonder Woman gets to kick ass and show off her arsenal. Lois Lane finally reveals all, which actually moves the plot forward, unlike certain previous issues in the crossover have done.
All good so far.
The first trouble, of course, is that we’re still largely deprived of Superman, beyond the continuing internal, Superman III monologue between good and bad Clark, relegating him instead to hitting things, being sorry about it, and then realising he’s not that sorry after all. Doomsday’s an effective enemy because he’s so monodimensional and determined; as a protagonist, even one with Superman’s doubts, he’s correspondingly dull.
Then we have the Lois and Wonder Woman face off. Now, it’s possible to apply an awful lot of NerdFilla™ to the situation. It’s not Lois, it’s Brainiac; it’s Superman/Wonder Woman so naturally is going to revolve around emotional relationships; Wonder Woman’s too powerful to do anything to her physically so it has to be a mental attack; duh, the clue’s in the name Brainiac; and so on.
But what it comes down to is that Brainiac believes that the best way to get to Wonder Woman is to undermine her through the esteem of a man and whether she can ‘hold onto him’. It’s the Lois/Wonder Woman/Superman cat-fight triangle that everyone was worried about, drawing on all the worst bits of American patriarchy to put Wonder Woman in her place, in a comic that everyone was worried would diminish Wonder Woman and relegate her to the status of ‘Superman’s girlfriend’.
Again, the NerdFilla™ can help and one can argue, given that Steve Trevor figures in the scene and that Wonder Woman’s had no experience of relationships with men beyond that first relationship, the fact that failed could well be a source of emotional insecurity for her and not because she’s worried she’s ‘woman enough’. Diana also does shake off the attack very easily and points out how much this reduces Lois – green, indigo-glowing Lois – as a person.
But at the very least, even if we accept all of that, it’s cliched writing far below what we’ve come to expect of Charles Soule. And at the very least it looks bad, having the two of them squabbling over boyfriends rather than anything more elevated, and will help to confirm to detractors that the Superman-Wonder Woman relationship is precisely what they thought it would be under DC’s current management.
I will say that although the scene itself could be distinctly better written and although Siqueira’s art isn’t up to Daniel’s standard and once again gives us an overly, erm, chesty Wonder Woman, it’s not without some redeeming features. If we look closely, as well as the flashbacks to scenes in both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, we also get another scene we’ve not seen before*, down in the bottom right:
It could be a flashback to Wonder Woman’s childhood, given the hair; it could be a flashback to a future development in Wonder Woman, given the way that storyline is going at the moment. Overall, this panel is very interesting and at least shows that Soule and Siqueira have been reading Wonder Woman’s other title. And that Siqueira can at times be very good.
We should also notice that the meeting of Lois Lane and ‘Diana Prince’ is picked out at the bottom left, presumably indicating that Brainiac knows full well Diana’s secret identity and presumably that Clark Kent is her boyfriend and therefore almost certainly Superman. Told you that secret identity thing wasn’t working.
Overall, though, another issue ruined by the ‘Superman Doomed’ arc, with little to commend it in terms of the long-term development of the characters or even good action.
Justice League Beyond 2.0 #24
Lord Superman gets defeated by Batman Beyond in just two frames…
Blimey. That was easy.
Afterwards, he gets shunted into the Phantom Zone, where he meets up with his son Zod’s adopted dad and concoct a plan together.
The Justice Lords don’t want Diana in their world. And Zod’s none too pleased to have his real mum around either.
After toying with the idea of fixing up Paradise Island, Diana instead decides to stay in man’s world as part of the Justice League. In Batman’s mansion, specifically. Although Superman seems quite happy to have her around, too…
Is it any good?
The best that can be said about this issue is that not only does it terminate the Justice Lords storyline, it doesn’t end quite how you expect, since Wonder Woman gets to stay behind in the Justice League Beyond universe, rather than leaving to the parallel world.
However, the Lord Superman/Batman Beyond fight was perfunctory to say the least and the ructions between Zod and Diana are little more than ways to prolong that particular storyline.
But it does give Wonder Woman back to the Justice League, so promises us more potential Wonder Woman fun every couple of weeks. It does give us the Trinity and also hints at a possible future love triangle between them.
It’s still the Justice League Beyond universe and they really need to work on their Wonder Woman characterisation more, since at the moment, she seems to revolve mainly around (Lord) Superman and Zod, and not be especially powerful. But that’s two more issues of digital Wonder Woman fun a month, even before Sensations comics comes out.
* Caveat: I might just have forgotten it, that’s all