Scott: Why are Superman and Wonder Woman together? Anyone remotely tuned in to the DC Universe has wondered this at some point in the past several months. On the surface, it seems perhaps too convenient, or little more than an attention-grabbing ploy. Realistically though, doesn’t the relationship make perfect sense? People date the people they spend the most time with. A 20 year old college student is most likely to date another 20 year old who goes to the same college. So, in a time when Justice League duties seem to be dominating many heroes’ lives, it’s only appropriate that Clark and Diana, the two most similar Justice Leaguers, would get together. The real question is, what does their relationship have to offer us as readers? If Clark and Diana are going to be spending a lot of time together just by the nature of their jobs, does a romantic relationship add anything to the story? With Superman/Wonder Woman 6, Charles Soule sets the record straight — the relationship and, thus, this book, is more than the sum of it’s parts.
After a reassuring talk about their relationship, Clark and Diana visit Hephaestus, realizing they need something extra in order to take out Zod and Faora. Hephaestus suits them with some special armor and an invisible chariot, enabling them to catch the Kryptonians off-guard and withstand 100 of their blows — which are absorbed by their armor and then deflected back onto Zod and Faora all at once! Zod and Faora are toast, at least until Apollo swoops in and replenishes their strength with a big dose of sunlight. Stronger than ever, they pummel Clark and Diana into oblivion and leave them for dead in a nuclear reactor, while they open the Phantom Zone for Warworld. Clark suggests they try splitting an atom using Diana’s sword, causing an explosion that will shut the gate. First, though, Clark drops another bomb — telling Diana he loves her. Then they blow the place.
Alright, Tony S. Daniel, you got me all choked up. I had a tough time deciding whether to include this image or the issue’s final page, which shows a clearer image of Clark and Diana locked in an embrace, with Diana wrapped up in Superman’s cape. I went with this one, which shows them holding each other during the actual blast. Both images are stunningly beautiful and embody the theme of the issue: that two people, truly in love, are stronger together than they are independently. Neither Clark nor Diana would have been able to split that atom alone, both physically (they needed Clark’s eyes and Diana’s sword) and emotionally. They needed each others’ reassurance that, even knowing they might not survive the explosion, they were doing the right thing. The end of this issue laughs in the face of Batman’s suggestion that Clark and Diana’s relationship could get in the way of protecting the planet. Because of the love they’ve found, they have the strength to sacrifice themselves to save mankind.
I’m loving the way Soule is incorporating Superman and Wonder Woman’s worlds in equal parts. A fight against two Kryptonians feels rather like Clark’s domain, and I was content with the idea of this series featuring some sort of trade-off, wherein this story would be followed by one where the heroes square off against foes more associated with Diana, and so forth. But having Zod and Faora get an assist from Apollo is pure genius, and shows a glimpse of what special treats a Superman/Wonder Woman collab can offer. Plus, I’m a big fan of Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman title, which means I can’t help but shake my head and smile whenever I see Strife pulling the strings.
I’m continually impressed with the thoughtfulness with which Soule constructs his stories. Hephaestus reminds Superman that Apollo still holds a grudge against him, in reference to an encounter from Superman/Wonder Woman 2, which seems hardly relevant now. Clark brushes off the comment, knowing Apollo can’t hurt him, but never considering the idea that Apollo could be helping his opponents. This concept of Apollo giving strength to a solar-powered being is very simple and was illustrated just a few issues ago, but I, like Superman, didn’t put two and two together. This is my favorite kind of twist — the one that’s right under our noses the entire time.
Daniel provided some truly beautiful panels throughout the issue, but there were also some artistic decisions that confused me. The silver/gray armor that Clark and Diana receive from Hephaestus makes them look a little too much like Zod and Faora. During their fight scene I couldn’t always tell who was who (well, I could, but it took some effort, and I’m too lazy for that). The confusion was even worse during the page of close-up, silhouetted, blood spattered, mini-panels.
Stylistically, I like this page. It looks cool. But honestly, I have no idea who’s who in half these panels. I didn’t realize Clark and Diana were the ones taking all the hits until Faora explicitly says so on the next page. If I have to choose, I’ll take clarity over style. Elsewhere, Daniel proves he’s capable of both, making this page feel like a missed opportunity.
Taylor, aside from a couple little clarity problems, I like what’s going on in this issue. I’ve generally been on board with the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, so seeing them team up like they do felt like a victory. What did you make of Diana’s Han Solo-esque response to Clark’s declaration of love? How’s she gonna leave him hanging like that?!
Taylor: That Han Solo response is pretty great and it’s totally in character for Diana. Wonder Woman is never going to let any person, be they man, woman, or space monster, dictate her life. Sure, she probably does love Clark, but a strong willed person like her, who’s used to only depending on themselves, probably has a hard time telling someone else they love them. To do so is to make yourself vulnerable in a way, which goes against everything Diana learned while growing up. It will be interesting to see if this plays into later issues of the series, as Clark probably will be feeling a bit of sting from not having his love reciprocated at what could be the end of his life.
But man, I do really love that scene. Scott, you already pointed out how it demonstrates how Supes and Wondy are more powerful as a team than they are separately, so there’s no need for me to elaborate on that. What also makes the scene so enjoyable for me is just how loony the whole thing is. Between Superman being able to see an atom, Wonder Woman being able to cut it, and the re-ignition of a nuclear reactor it’s a super pseudo-science delight.
While I enjoy comics for what they can tell us about ourselves, I also enjoy them because they can show us things we could never see anywhere else. In short, what Superman and Wonder Woman do here is impossible, and that’s okay! I like my comics to have a bit of weird grime smeared across the pages, and in this case, I like how that grime actually refers to previously established devices in the series. It’s a fun moment and I love reveling in the implausibility and absurdity of what beings with super powers can do.
But not all aspects of this issue are so nicely packaged. Throughout this issue and the last, Faora and Zod have continually talked about how they are more powerful than their do-gooder counterparts.
In this case, Faora makes the audacious claim that she can easily defeat both Superman and Wonder Woman on her own. While I appreciate that she is essentially Superman’s equal in strength and all such things, it just doesn’t make sense how she could achieve such a thing. If there was a scoville scale for superpowers, both Superman and Wonder Woman would be the equivalent of ghost peppers. Now Faora, who has the equivalent strength of Superman, would also be around the tops of the charts. But how could one ghost pepper defeat two? Clark speaks about Zod and Faora’s tactical skill, but we never see how this gives either of them an advantage over our heroes.
But it’s hard to fault Soule too much for resorting to this measure. The hard thing about writing a Superman comic is that the guy is, well, super. To put him into mortal danger and create a bit of tension in the comic, someone has to come along who can somehow defeat him and here we have it. Of course, having a god or two on your side to help out doesn’t hurt either. This brings up the idea of why this book has been surprisingly good so far. It takes the idea of Superman and makes it interesting by introducing Wonder Woman as a love interest. Suddenly he has something to lose but also something that can make him more powerful than he could ever be alone.
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