Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tie-ins, Part XXV: Action Comics #600

Some random Wonder Woman books, Part 18
What the 80's romance between Superman and Wonder Woman looked like

Or "how this should be handled"

"Different Worlds"
Story / Breakdowns – John Byrne
Finishes – George Perez
Letters – John Costanza
Colorists – Tom Ziuko
Assistant Editor – Renee Witterstaetter
Editor – Mike Carlin
May 1988

Remember when I reviewed the George Perez Wonder Woman issue number 15 book a couple of weeks ago? I discussed how there was a storyline about Wonder Woman dreaming of Superman because they were aiming for a big tie-in issue in Action Comics 600? That is this very issue I will be reviewing today.

I'm only going through the Wonder Woman team-up story at this time. There's a lot more under the cover, but I'd like to stick to the first 32 pages for this review. Byrne used Action like a DC Comics Presents title, making it the team-up book for Superman. Most of these stories were interesting and fun with this one being no exception. George Perez shows up doing inks and finishes, so you are in for a treat today - partially, as I'll explain in a moment.

I believe Perez had some input around Wonder Woman's involvement too. She seems a bit closer to his version of Diana than to the one Byrne gives us later. Either way, this story is way more enjoyable than it should be, given what it was being built up as, which was exactly what the New 52 DID to the two characters. But here they…well, you'll just have to wait and see.

If you CAN see, that is. I'll show you what I mean. This was a 80 page giant book, square bound with NO Ads (for $2.50 and including four complete stories. You can't do that these days because…comic book companies suck, basically.). Somewhere along its difficult little life, this issue's glue must have given out. And the young child who owned it last decided to fix that failing by...STAPLING THE BOOK BACK TOGETHER!!!

See this splash page from page two that is Byrne's unused cover for the book? See those two dark lines along the right margin? Yup. That’s them. Sadly that means the pages don't quite lend themselves to scanning, but I've done my best. Pardon my margins is what trying to say.

Let's kick this off with a two second background intro. In the last Superman book, Adventures of Superman #440 to be exact, was titled "The Hurrieder I Go" and featured Superman rushing to meet Wonder Woman but having to stop a half dozen times to help people in need. The issue culminated with him arriving, pulling Wonder Woman into an embrace, and passionately kissing her.

That's where we begin…

…right as their lips meet…

…Tell me what's wrong in this picture?...

OMG! Superman just inappropriately kissed Wonder Woman. It comes off as if he is a desperate schoolboy with a crush on a classmate. A horndog who doesn't have the morals or common sense to know you need consent before getting physical with a person.

How embarrassing.
What's worse is now he has to explain himself to his fellow superhero. Thus begins the most awkward conversation between Wonder Woman and Superman ever. And let's be honest here, when Wonder Woman says she HAD been thinking of him for months, your first thought is "before I found out you were an impulsive jock, more interested in getting freaky with me than finding out WHO I AM AS A PERSON." What a horrid way to start things off.

Notice body posture here: Wonder Woman with her arms crossed in front of her and turned slightly away. She's protecting herself in case he tries something again. Meanwhile Supes is all "So you're saying there might still be a chance?" Proof that even X-Ray vision can't grant you as much sight as just paying attention to someone's body language.

I love that Wonder Woman lays it all out for Clark here. She isn't seeking a physical connection without something else behind it, which given Clark's impetuousness, appears to be all he HAS been thinking about. Maybe he's taking the "Action" part of the title a little too literally.

Diana still offers to spend some time getting to know him, so off they fly, soaring across the fields and chatting with each other.

Speaking of the Gods, Diana receives an urgent call from help via a glowing pink portal in the sky... A call from Hermes, who looks badly hurt and in pain. As she rushes to aid him, Superman follows…

However where the portal takes him, isn't quite what he expected.

Welcome to the ruins of Olympus, Superman. Hope you survive the experience.

Byrne and Perez have a great deal of fun putting Superman through his paces here. They destroy every advantage he has while in the most entertaining ways. Appears he is at a great disadvantage as long as he stays in the home of the Gods.

Even though she's lost Superman, Diana finds the caged Hermes. He seems to be the only other inhabitant of Olympus. He doesn't say whatever became of the other Gods, but does name drop the reason Olympus is deserted.

Yup, that old Byrne favorite, Darkseid. And while he meant to take Olympus, he feels more than happy to see both Superman and Wonder Woman now wandering the halls of the Gods. Both of them pissed him off pretty bad in the Legends mini-series.

Just like that he hatches a plot and suddenly both heroes find the other…only we the audience know that these have to be doppelgangers due to their locations.

And if that wasn't the giveaway…

…their next actions confirm it… 

And Darkseid is having a "Jokeriffic" good time.

Which leads to an extended history lesson about how the Death of the Old Gods heralded the birth of both New Genesis and Apokolips. But there was also a stray bit of energy that hit ancient Greece, creating the Olympian Gods too. And of course, Darkseid took a shine to their cool floating mountain-top pad and this is his bid to take it over.

However getting rid of Superman and Wonder Woman is kind of icing on top of the cake. And to put some candy sprinkles on that icing would mean getting them to off each other. Thus the ruse involving Amazing Grace and Kalibak.

Now with their true identities revealed, Darkseid hopes both heroes will unleash their full fury on the disguised foes. To that end he has each lead the other on a merry chase until they are close enough to duck out of sight while putting Superman and Wonder Woman on a collision course with one another.

Before we ring the bells on this particular engagement, we jump back to Earth where someone in the PR biz has gotten wind of the Superman / Wonder Woman fling thing and they put out a huge story to capitalize upon it. Which is exactly what DC is doing with this story, so…meta much, Byrne and Perez?

Then we begin four pages of wordless butt-kicking as Superman and Wonder Woman trash Olympus and each other in the scrap to end all scraps. 

Each page featuring a tiny little Darkseid head in the middle like some kind of silent commentary track.

Until finally, the unlikely occurs: They break through the wall of machines where Darkseid and Desaad are standing.

Which appears wasn't all that unlikely after all, as the two were only fighting to cover their search for the real villains. It turns out they could quickly tell the fighting style of the other and knew Darkseid's jig was up almost immediately.

This makes Darkseid all cranky. Someone get this man a Snickers?

But be prepared for him to get even more upset as Wonder Woman explains that he's taken over an Olympus that is deserted BECAUSE the Gods think he is beneath fighting. That had the Olympian Gods thought him any threat at all, they would have mounted a defense. Instead they just left to await him leaving in a huff because he is beneath notice.

This makes Darkseid extremely pissed. So pissed he almost Omega-beams Desaad. Instead he sets a timer on a huge bomb and then Boom Tubes out. Hermes tells Wonder Woman and Superman not to fear…

…as Olympus cannot be destroyed or harmed and they are in no danger. Turns out he's right.

Once back on Earth, Superman admits that Wonder Woman is just too freaky for him, what with all the Gods and such she deals with. He passes on trying to create a "thing" between them in what should be a lesson to all women trying to get rid of a guy who is interested in one thing only: take him on a trip to meet the God or Gods you worship and that is sure to turn him off.

It is the first time he gives her his name. Sadly we don't linger long enough to hear Diana say "Clark? As in Clark KENT? The reporter who covers you? Seriously?"

Good job on this one. After worrying me with that start, this tale was a fine, fun way for these two to hook up without actually "hooking up."

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