Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tie-ins, Part XXV: Superman/Wonder Woman (New 52) #13

Some random Wonder Woman books, Part 16
Checking out this New 52 romance thing

Pity I don’t recognize the main characters

"Battlefield of Love"
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller – Doug Mahnke
Inkers -  Jaime Mendoza and Don Ho
Letters – Carlos M. Mangual
Colors – Tomeu Morey
Assistant Editor – Jeremy Bent
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
January 2015

We are going to take a stab at figuring out why Wonder Woman and Superman are fooling around in the New 52 versions of themselves.

After a brief liaison that started in New 52's Justice League #12 in August of 2012, DC trotted out a team-up book in October 2013 of the to chart the ups and downs of the super couple's "super" relationship. The book lasted 29 issues and two annuals before the New 52 imploded under its own hubris.

I've said I don't appreciate the Superman/Wonder Woman thing so much. The idea never jived with me. Again it speaks to "like powers attract" kind of thinking and it isn't powers that really make a good relationship, it is diversity. Show me a couple who are so similar in ALL their interests and I'll assume they will split up in five years or less. Mostly because they lack enough diversity to challenge each other or to create growth.

You need some common ground in a relationship, and I get that. I also get that both of these two feel out of place in the world around them. However, as characters, they just don't work as well.

As for those Superman/Wonder Woman books, The Crapbox doesn't have any of that whole first year of issues, but we do have two parts of a multipart storyline that began in issue 13. As you will see in just a bit, this isn't really a Diana/Wonder Woman we've explored yet. She is completely different from the person of the same name that is inhabiting her solo New 52 title. I've got to say it, she's also one of my least favorite takes on the character.

We begin with a flashback, going all the way back to the day the Justice League (or Super Seven or whatever it was that Barry Allen, acting very much like Wally, called them) fought off Darkseid's parademon invasion.

It is here we encounter a very insensitive, Amazon warrior wearing Wonder Woman's outfit.

And a kind of vicious one, at that.

Superman notices her physical strength and asks for help building a protective barrier to prevent injuries and Diana, of course, says "no" and…

…Wait, what? Diana says no to helping innocents avoid injury. What gives?

Okay, well at least what she says here makes sense (as she guts a bad guy in front of a family with a small child). She seems unimpressed with Clark.

And his father too.

This interpretation of Diana is all ass-kicking Amazon warrior with very little-to-none of the diplomat/princess we are used to seeing. I believe Johns did the same in his Justice League. The few issues I have of it, she tends to be all about the physical confrontation with very little of her compassion on display. 

Just like here, where she channels Frank Millar's 300 down to the leaving the weak to perish mantra. It is a bold departure in that it makes her more like Super Woman from the Crime Syndicate than the Wonder Woman of any DC Universe we know of.

Superman's kind of an "off" interpretation in this dimension too, but even he thinks she goes overboard with this. He shouts her down and she gives him the cold shoulder.

And speaking of cold, there is no way I am warming to either of these two. They have made Wonder Woman unrelatable and even Superman comes off as an authoritarian jerk. Do I really have a whole two issues of this to go through, Crapbox?

I don't, because the issue shifts to the "now" which is about however long 24 or so issues of Justice League would take in the New 52 Universe. And in the intervening time both characters have become…well, not likeable. "Bearable" describes them best.

We begin with Superman unable to type out a story about lives lost in all the New 52 adventures of his various titles, a sad state of affairs, if you ask me. The one thing the New 52 appears to adopt is the lethal nature of the Wildstorm universe. As those characters blended into the DC titles, the body count started to rise. Devastation was nothing new, but we typically wouldn't see people meet their maker as often.

Anyway, Supes dubs himself "Pinhead" which is an awful term to use for yourself and something I don't think old-school Clark would ever do. Berating himself for not finding the correct wording doesn't feel very self-confident, an attribute the prior Clark had to spare.

He's supposed to be getting ready to go as Diana reminds him, causing him to spill his coffee on his shirt.

Couple of things here: First off, this art makes Diana look evil. I'm sure the intent was to convey sexy and attractive, but her face looks awful here. I'm not sure if I should blame Mahnke's pencils or Mendoza's or Ho's inks, but someone should have softened her up in that top panel.

And while we are at it, when have we seen Diana dress up like a hoochie mama to be sexy? I mean never, right? That outfit screams "looking for a hook up" and all the class that implies. This so isn't a Wonder Woman I want to know.

Secondly, why is Diana coming off like Lois? Why is she griping at Clark? This isn't a patient, loving Diana. This is a demanding, bossy Diana, both things I equate more to '80's version of Lois. I see how Supes could fall for that type of woman, but Diana's of the past haven't BEEN that kind of woman.

Also she can bench-press a battleship. Why does she need to have a hard, sharp temperament too? Lois needed it because she required spunk with all the crap that happened to her. If she wasn't seen as harder than the world around her, you would view her as the damsel in distress all the time. Because she got captured. A bunch.

Wonder Woman doesn't need to be "tough" emotionally. She is tough physically. She doesn't get rescued. This makes her so much like the '80's character Maxima, another character I despised.

Clark performs a cleaning miracle on his shirt and tries to explain that he feels remorse for losing so many people in the last big battle of "whatever." This humanizes Clark a bunch to show he understands loss like this even if he and Diana are pretty much invulnerable and unkillable. 

Meanwhile Tomasi does his best to make Diana so distant from humanity that you wonder why she even fights for us. This is more like some other character wearing Wonder Woman's skin. And possibly using a flat iron on her hair to kill all the natural body it used to have. Ugh that second-to-last panel smile make me sick.

So they fly to their dinner reservation…and some part of me is trying to say that while logically Wonder Woman wears something way skimpier and much akin to having on panties while fighting crime, that this flying around in a microskirt is just bad manners. I don't know. Call me old-fashioned.

And since this is the New 52, the Atomic Skull – ½ of our villain pair of the evening – makes an appearance by melting two power plant workers. His partner, Major Disaster shows up, flying around in rocket boots. This part of the book gets head-numbingly dumb, as there is a arch-enemy behind the scenes trying to maneuver Superman and Wonder Woman into position for their evil scheme. So they put the entire city at risk here in hopes that word makes it to the two heroes.

As this is going on, Clark is giving away taxis that he hails and Diana has lost all patience with him. Which is stupid as they could RUN faster than any taxi. There is just so much here that is so petty and REGULAR Diana would just let go. Instead we have Wonder Bitch (yeah, I'll probably take some heat for that one) who shows no kindness for anyone. Even Flashpoint Wonder Woman (we will get to her) acts nicer.

Luckily their date night ends and they have to go to "work." 

I say that because watching them punch and kick things are the only enjoyable parts of this mess.

Disaster and Skull throw more than just a truck at them. But they start with a truck.

And then some hail and rocket boot powered punches.

Just when I was starting to enjoy the fight, Tomasi decides to add dialogue. Clearly writing dialogue isn't his strong point either. Not sure what that leaves him, since we've already determined creating likeable characters is a "no" as well.

Things don't look like they are going well for our pair of unlikeable heroes…

…and then suddenly this guy shows up and puts a choke hold on both bad guys. The End!

What a messed up issue. I mean it points out all the things that I feel are wrong with the New 52. There was change for the sake of change to most of these characters. Everything from costume changes to relationship changes to emotional make-up…New 52 was just one bad step after another. I'm really shocked that Rebirth is getting so much of this so right when many of the same forces (looks Geoff Johns way) are still in power.

Will issue 14 make any of this better, plot-wise, character-wise, or otherwise? We'll see tomorrow.

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