Superman/Wonder Woman #1 – Friday Flash Review [Bane of Kings/Shadowhawk]
Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk take a look at the first issue of a new ongoing series, featuring DC’s biggest power-couple.
“A flawed but strong book that although not really needed, provides an entertaining look with a great portrayal of its titular lead characters. Also, Tony S. Daniel manages to deliver some absolutely stunning artwork.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
“Not as bad as I had feared but still falls far short of the mark.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Bane of Kings:
Pencils: Tony S Daniel | Inks: Bats | Colours: Tomeu Morey | Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Beginning a bold new series that details the relationship between The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess as rising star writer Charles Soule is joined by fan favourite artist Tony S. Daniel to tell the tale of a romance that will shake the stars themselves. These two super-beings love each other, but not everyone shares their joy. Some fear it, some test it—and some will try to kill for it. Some say love is a battlefield, but where Superman and Wonder Woman are concerned it spells Doomsday!
This issue features an amazing wraparound gatefold cover that opens up to a triptych with Superman and Wonder Woman in the center!
I’ll start this review by saying that I’m not a fan of the Superman and Wonder Woman pairing, and would much prefer that Clark be paired with Lois Lane like in the Pre-New 52 continuity as well as the recent Man of Steel film. However, I’m going to give this a chance because Charles Soule impressed with his villain’s month book focusing on Lex Luthor, the two lead characters are among my favourite comics characters – and Tony S. Daniel’s artwork is, at least in my opinion – fantastic.
I wasn’t going into this book with particularly high hopes, especially when I think it was Daniel that made a comment comparing this book to Twilight, which is a big no-no. Anything that gets compared to Twilight lowers its anticipation value just by being compared to Twilight, and I probably wouldn’t have checked this book out were it not for the fact that my local comics store didn’t have four books that I wanted to get that week so I thought what would be the harm in checking it out? New number ones always seem like good places to start (most of the time) and I was hoping that Superman / Wonder Woman would beat my expectations. And did it? Sort of. It was better than I was expecting, that was for sure – helped in large by the stunning artwork that Tony S Daniel brings to the table. Charles Soule delivers a fairly solid script as well, but it’s ultimately nothing that will blow you away here as he looks set to bring Superman and Wonder Woman into conflict with Doomsday, a conflict that I’ll be very interested to see play out.
Superman / Wonder Woman isn’t an all-action blockbuster, and neither is it a full on Twilight-esque love story, which I’m glad to see. We get a little exploration of Clark and Diana’s personal lives when they’re not saving the world or dating – for example, Clark is working with Cat on a website (something that I’m not too familiar with as I’m not entirely sure who Cat is having read very little Superman books in the New 52) whilst Diana is training in London. It’s a nice and evenly balanced compared to the massive-scale action sequences that Soule writes here, as we jump back and forth within the script. There’s a bit of romance involved as one would expect from a title created to focus on the romance between Superman and Wonder Woman, but it doesn’t play a major role as I would have expected.
For those of you who are wondering, both characters get plenty to do when it comes to action sequences. Soule weaves an interesting narrative that although will not blow you away, is far from the worst #1 that I’ve seen from The New 52 (that award goes to either Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws) even if the issue itself is mainly focused on setting the scene for upcoming issues that look set to include a variety of both Superman and Wonder Woman’s supporting cast, something that I’m looking forward to – because I think I will stick around for at least the first arc of this series just to see how it plays out depending on my budget.
The issue does have its flaws though. The relationship between Wonder Woman and Superman isn’t enough here to convince fans of the Superman/Lois Lane pairing that this should be the new permanent status quo. However, what Soule lacks with that angle – he makes up for it in character development, doing justice to both Clark and Diana as characters and does not disappoint with their delivery. The book also shows that it isn’t just Superman and his girlfriend, but truly deserves the title of Superman and Wonder Woman as both characters shine.
Whilst yes, it’s another mainstream superhero comics that DC are putting out – as opposed to something fresh and in my opinion, much more needed like Shazam or a Martian Manhunter ongoing, it’s good to be reading a Wonder Woman heavy comic again as I’m not a massive fan of Brian Azzarello’s ongoing series. The gatefold cover is pretty awesome as well – I love how it captures the majority of Superman and Wonder Woman’s cast with the two lead characters in the middle, and it’s always good to see another ongoing book with artwork from Tony S. Daniel. I’ve already mentioned that I’m going to be getting future issues to see if it gets better from here on in, and whilst this issue may not be perfect by any means, I found it to be a solid book that was relatively strong but not mind-blowingly awesome.
Give it time though, and I’m sure Superman / Wonder Woman has the potential to become an even better book. It’s certainly one that you shouldn’t abandon after just one issue though if you weren’t too satisfied with its debut.
The groundwork for this series was laid down more than a year ago when, in Geoff Johns’ Justice League #12, Superman and Wonder Woman shared an intimate moment and a kiss, a kiss that was heard around the world (so DC’s marketing claimed). Since then, we have seen precious little of their relationship other than as extremely small subplots that kind of develop into big things but never really go anywhere. More than a year on, and we still don’t really know much about their relationship. Its as if the relationship is in stasis or something while the two heroes figure out where to go next.
Charles Soule’s new ongoing series is meant to address that and give us the status quo of the relationship.
A few weeks ago, Tony S. Daniel did an interview in which he mentioned that the goal of this series was to attract the Twilight crowd, that he and Charles Soule essentially wanted to write something of similar style/import and thus draw in that entire demographic. It was an extremely problematic statement since, while the books and movies have gone on to be bestsellers and blockbusters, they all portray an extremely unhealthy relationship that is all kinds of creepy, especially in the first book/movie. Seeing Superman and Wonder Woman reduced to such an… abusive relationship was very much a major turn-off for me.
Plus, I don’t really like this pairing. Superman and Wonder Woman don’t work as a couple on a whole lot of levels because they are too similar to each other. I get why the attraction is there, for the characters and for DC editorial, but this just doesn’t work on an emotional level. All the same, I was willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt and at least check out the first couple issues. And like I said up top, this wasn’t as bad a comic as I had feared it would be, but it is still extremely problematic.
For starters, Clark/Superman is shown as someone who wants to keep this relationship a secret. Despite the fact of “the kiss that was heard around the world” and that Batman already knows about them and has delivered ample warning. Despite the fact that many of Wonder Woman’s actions during Trinity War just a couple months ago were fueled by her… attraction to Superman. So it doesn’t make sense why Superman doesn’t want to have a public relationship. Especially since unlike Lois, Wonder Woman/Diana can (almost?) match Superman blow-for-blow and is a much experienced warrior, all of which goes to her favour. So Superman’s decision is completely inexplicable and the issue just dances around that fact. How disappointing.
Then, we see Diana unburdening herself on a fellow Amazon, who is apparently the last one of the daughters of Themiscyra still alive after Queen Hera turned all the Amazons into stone (in Brian Azzarello’s first arc of the New 52 Wonder Woman). It just didn’t jive since this new character, Hessia, hasn’t shown up in Azzarello’s run and doesn’t have any back-story here either. It is rather depressing really. The whole setup is for a “girl-talk” but emotionally and situationally it falls flat since there isn’t any kind of an impactful resonance to the whole sequence.
There’s also a huge misstep in the issue. We know from Azzarello’s run that Ares, the Greek God of War, was an influential mentor in Diana’s training as she grew up in Themiscyra, that he pretty much shaped her into what she is today. But, one of the things that’s always been there in her background is that Diana is an Amazon first and foremost, that she has been trained by her mother and her sisters to the peak of physical perfection as only an Amazon can. And this is played out in Azzarello’s run as well. But Charles Soule quite conveniently handwaves that all away and tells us that Diana essentially considers only Ares’ tutelage to be of any worth. It just jars a lot.
This definitely isn’t the Diana that I know, not by a long shot. This is some weird amalgamation, conjured up by Charles Soule for a matter of convenience. He quite blithely negates away Diana’s entire heritage and her past with a simple throwaway line like that.
I mean, I could go on and on about the book’s flaws. Such as the fact Doomsday of all of Superman’s villains is the big bad here. And there is absolutely zero buildup to this in any DC Comic. There was Charles Soule’s Villain’s Month issue, but that one was a downright mess (review). Considering how iconic of a character Doomsday is, this is the most jarring thing in the entire issue.
And there’s a psedo-sex scene between Clark and Diana, contrasted against scenes of Wonder Woman fighting Doomsday in those same pages. Just… weird.
But, let it not be said that its all doom and gloom however.
There is a decent sense of pace to the issue and the script moves along rather well. We do get to see some intimacy this time around, but it is extremely limited sadly. And of course, its nice to see both of them talking openly about their relationship with people they trust, such as Hessia for Diana. It adds a sense of scale and relevance to the proceedings and makes the issue more complete.
And Tony Daniel’s artwork is generally quite good. His pencilwork etc is as good as the work he did on Geoff Johns’ Justice League #13 and #14. Really cinematic, eye-popping stuff that makes and leaves an impression. But there were inconsistencies here and there, mostly do with a certain pilot crew and how Doomsday deals with them. Bats’ inks and Tomeu Morey’s colours are also similar in effect to that of some other different comics that I’ve read of before. Together, they all turn out a decent looking book, but that’s really as far as it all goes sadly.
I didn’t have high hopes for this one, so I am not too disappointed with this, but I am still plenty disappointed.