Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 2, originally released November 13th, 2013
Shelby: I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for quite some time. Since it was not unusual for more than a year to pass between books, when a new volume was released I would frequently re-read a book or two that had come before to remember where the story was. I noticed that each new book would have to devote a solid chunk of pages to re-hashing basic concepts, presumably to familiarize new readers with way this world worked, just in case someone decided to jump right in at book 7, I guess. I’m sure there was an element of reminding the long-time readers as well, but I always skim through those parts with some annoyance. I understand the purpose and the necessity of the quick recap (hell, we do it here), but if I don’t need it I just want to skip it and get to the meat of the story. Charles Soule finds himself with a similar situation on his hands; he’s got to find a way to tie together the disparate worlds of Superman and Wonder Woman, using the existing New 52 framework, while telling his own story of these two characters. A Herculean task, to be sure.
Doomsday turns out to be a little tougher than Wonder Woman originally thought. After breaking her arms (wait, what?!), he’s about to break the rest of her when a huge wave hits, he disappears, and Superman takes everyone to safety. They head up to the Fortress, where Diana identifies Doomsday on a Phantom Zone viewing device. Since “Doomsday is death,” and all, Clark is more than a little concerned about facing him again. So, the two head to Hephaestus’ forge to commission some weapons for Superman. Apollo and Strife show up talkin’ smack, and Clark very politely advises Apollo that, since he’s a god, Clark can actually punch him at full strength. Apollo, seemingly not the brightest star in the sky, tries hitting Superman with sun power; it goes about as well for Apollo as you would expect.
Meanwhile, Cat has the memory stick with the Super Kissy Face pics in the incoming mail pile on her desk, but she’s too interested in playing with her boyfriend to find it. Oh, and Zod just burst his way out of some sort of portal made of knives in the Sahara, and he looks like he’s ready to subjugate a planet or two.
I really want this title to work. While the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship isn’t the greatest thing in the world (in my opinion, of course), I think their story has a ton of potential. A story about two unbelievably powerful entities trying to balance the weird power dynamics of a relationship? That sounds awesome. Oh, there’s tons of punching, too? Sign me up! Issue one did a great job establishing a core problem for these two: Clark’s need to maintain the appearance of normalcy vs. Diana’s refusal to pretend to be something she’s not. Clark is cautious when Diana is headstrong, Diana is confident when Clark is unsure. Their complimentary/contradictory character traits can make them either the best or worst couple around; either way, there’s a lot of great story to be told.
The unfortunate thing is the recapping Soule has got to do. I respect him a lot for working within the bounds other writers have set for these characters. I never thought there would be a way to bring Brian Azzarello’s vision of Wonder Woman to the DCU proper. While I’m glad Soule is using the existing stories for these two, and I understand that he’s got to explain everything at least a little bit for those not reading Superman or Wonder Woman proper, I just really want to skip over all that and get to the story. There’s no sense of heavy exposition to Soule’s writing, but despite the intriguing mystery of Phantom Zone leaking monsters all over Earth, I feel like this story hasn’t really started yet.
I’m also not totally on board with Tony Daniel’s art. His action scenes are great; the page of Hephaestus testing Superman’s strength? Amazing! But when it comes to the small, emotional moments, Daniel just doesn’t do it for me.
The moment is just so flat, there’s no emotion on either of these characters’ faces. Dead eyes and grimaces, as far as the eye can see. The narrow panels exacerbate the problem; Daniel’s has limited himself to one feature to convey the emotion of the panel. What should be a tender moment that shows the non-superhero side of Clark and Diana’s relationship turns into a cold moment of two people reading lines. Daniel has never been a favorite artist of mine, and I hope his particular style doesn’t interfere too much in the “romance” part of this romance action title.
I’m going to keep reading this title, because both Wonder Woman and Charles Soule are favorites of mine. Fingers crossed that next issue Soule can really let the story take off instead of taking time to remind us that Diana is in fact half-divine and Clark works for a news blog. What do you think, Scott, am I being too hard on the necessary world-establishing Soule is doing here? If I weren’t reading Wonder Woman and didn’t know all the business with the gods, I would have had a lot more patience with this issue; do I just need to chill out and have faith in the creators on this one?
Scott: I understand your frustration, Shelby, but have faith in Soule! I appreciate that he’s taking a little time to acquaint readers with Azzarello’s Wonder Woman universe. It’s a fascinating world, but it’s very complex and doesn’t easily crossover to other DC stories. Hopefully, this issue will convince a bunch of people to pick up Wonder Woman and get a load of all the drama happening on Mount Olympus. Because everyone should be reading that title. I’d be willing to read a comic entirely devoted to getting people to read Wonder Woman, that’s how good it is. But I have a feeling Soule has something greater in mind for this title.
I’ll admit, I was giddy when I realized this issue was taking place amongst the gods. Their world is rife with drama, and introducing Superman into that setting could only be entertaining. Like Diana, Clark’s virtuousness makes him a misfit amongst the greedy, conniving gods who populate Olympus. But unlike Diana, Clark is still naive enough to take their verbal jabs and taunts seriously. But of course Clark is just generally naive, a trait illustrated by his failure to understand that these gods might actually know who Superman is.
This panel accomplishes a few things. First, it reinforces what Shelby identified as one of the issues that could derail Clark and Diana’s relationship– Clark’s desire to keep it secret. His quickness to accuse her of blabbing to her siblings tells me that this is a real issue that these two will need to confront sooner or later. Second, it shows that Clark has no idea who he’s dealing with. He may be cautious when it comes to love, but he isn’t one to shy away from a fight, even against a god. Clark clearly doesn’t give a crap about who Apollo is, but getting on the ruler of Olympus’ bad side can’t bode well for him.
Lastly, it shows how unobservant Apollo truly is. If he can see everything from his throne atop Mount Olympus, you’d think he would’ve learned more about Superman than just that he’s dating Wonder Woman. He’s hilariously overconfident during his fight with Supes, considering his Sun powers only make Superman stronger- culminating in an awesome two-panel set-up/payoff orchestrated by Soule and Daniel.
I tend to agree with Shelby that Daniel’s art falls a little flat. I’ve gotten so used to Cliff Chiang’s versions of Apollo, Strife and Hephaestus that seeing them any other way just seems wrong. There’s a certain charm in Chiang’s minimal, cartoonish figures that is stripped away by Daniel’s more detailed approach. Strangely, by making the characters look more like real humans, they become less believable as gods.
Shelby, I’m glad to hear that you’re sticking with this title. Soule is an exciting writer, and giving him access to Azzarello’s Wonder Woman world should yield incredible results. I’ll be sticking around, too.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?