Superman/Wonder Woman #1 review

Wonder Woman and Superman are dating and while they'd like a nice dinner and some snogging, the superhero life tends to get in the way. So it is that a quiet night at Diana's London flat is interrupted by a call to Norway, where an unnatural storm threatens sea traffic. Superman is confident he can calm the maelstrom below the waters while Diana looks after the surface chaos, but neither of them are prepared for the monster known as ... Doomsday.

Dramatic dots there - it's a pacing thing. And writer Charles Soule does a good job with his pacing this issue, punctuating the main beats, described above, with moments from Clark and Diana's private lives earlier in the day.
Diana spars with Amazon pal Hessia and worries that Clark is ashamed of their new relationship, that he's embarrassed somehow. Hessia reassures (click on image to enlarge).

Clark is having a drink at Bibbo's bar with newsblog partner Cat Grant, who asks him to bring better stories to their site, before introducing him to her boyfriend Aaron Lord. Clark is distracted, looking forward to a date with Diana.

And a memory stick posted to Cat is ignored, cos she's just too darn hi-tech and modern to open the mail. Or have her assistant Brian look at it for her.

The balance of action and emotion is about right for a series centred on the Superman/Wonder Woman romance. Cards on the  Ace of Clubs table, I'm not a fan of this pairing; the heroes have their own corners of the DC Universe and their own supporting casts and occasional team-ups aside, never the twain shall meet. And while the current version of Diana has already rejected traditional beau Steve Trevor, so far as Superman is concerned, we have Lois Lane - sparky, intelligent, beautiful Lois. The woman to keep him grounded; I'm not at all convinced Superman would be attracted longterm to a warrior woman from a land of myth, it makes as little sense as Dick Grayson and Starfire dating all those years ago. For now, poor old Lois doesn't rate so much as a mention.

But someone at DC or Warners wants this pairing, and Soule is a good enough writer that I'm interested enough to take at least an initial look at this book. I like his Diana, as she's more than the choppity-slash fighter we've seen so often in the New 52 continuity; she actually thinks about her transformed-into-serpent sisters, something absent from her solo title back when I was reading it. And I like Hessia, another displaced Amazon, one I've not come across previously. Maybe she's been created for this book, along with Aaron (no relation to Max?) Lord, and Brian.

I'm less keen on Clark's portrayal, though - it makes some kind of sense that he doesn't want to announce his thing with Diana to the world and its arch-enemy, but to not even let those closest to him know? That's a guy who ain't going to commit!

Worse, though, is his attitude to his day job, telling Cat that big stories aren't lying around waiting to be scooped up, seeming almost blase about their business start-up. I'm all for fair play and Clark not using his powers unfairly to beat the opposition, but he's meant to be an ace reporter - he should be able to find something. But it's not a priority for him. What happened to the man who quit the Daily Planet with a heartfelt, if naive, speech about getting The Truth before the public?  I don't blame Soule, as his presentation is in line with how Clark's been shown in his own titles a lot of the time, but blimey, he's a waste of space these days.
He perks up around Diana (steady!), in my favourite scene of the book.

Mind, he isn't half patronising.
I can't see the proud Wonder Woman putting up with this kind of thing for long, which is fine by me. Break 'em up, they make an excellent team, but the current feelings between them - crush, rather than true connection - impede their on-duty effectiveness. They need to get things out of their system and move on - who knows, that could be DC's plan for this book. Meanwhile, Soule shows that as Clark doesn't get Diana, she doesn't get him.
The appearance of Doomsday is a shocker, as he explodes onto a boat, tearing crewmen apart. The scene is more graphic than I'd like, unnecessarily so, but as a Big Moment it works. Soule ensures we don't forget this is a relationship book, honest, by ladling over an earlier conversation between Diana and Superman as they canoodled. Whereas the slaughter is graphic, the smooching is in silhouette - this seems typical of the North American media, which sees sex as scary, but violence as family friendly.

The scene that doesn't ring true for me is Cat not bothering to have her mail opened - she's a reporter with good instincts, she needs material, of course she'd want to know what people are sending her. Heck, there might even be a cheque in there. I have to say, I'm puzzled as to why she and Clark are apparently renting office space, when they're all about on-the-go blogging. And hiring an assistant? Then again, this is 2013, Brian is likely a poor, unpaid intern.

Soule's creative partner, penciller Tony S Daniel, handles his share of the workload with style, giving us good-looking, on-model stars, a scary Doomsday and a convincing, detailed world for them to move around in (extra credit for showing Diana in a modern, Gherkin-present London, rather than the medieval hamlet so often shown in comics). Cat doesn't look quite as she does in the Superman titles, with Tomeu Morey's hair tones not helping - Cat's more suicide than strawberry blonde, but that can be tweaked. Hessia is a strong piece of design, and Aaron, well, it'll be interesting if he doesn't turn out to be the sleazeball visual shorthand hints at.
Matt 'Batt' Banning's careful inks ensure a sharp look to the pages without things getting too glossy (it's probably sad that I'm so impressed by his treatment of Diana's balcony wall), while Morey's colour choices are on the whole spot-on. Daniel, Batt and Morey work especially well together so far as the stormy scene is concerned - look at Diana above, wet, a tad bedraggled, thoughtful ... wonderful.

I like Daniel, Batt and Morey's wraparound cover - I can't see many of Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello's characters showing up here, but it's good to be reminded of the sweep of her world. The Superman logo is pants, mind - where's the classic, as on the preview material?

All in all, an interesting start, I'll likely stick around awhile, see which way things are going. Downhill all the way for Diana and Clark, I hope!


  1. Great review, Martin. Honest and fair. The interesting thing about Diana saying that Clark was never trained to "fight" is that it reveals a key difference between who they are at their root.

    Clark was never trained to "fight" bc the "fight" is ALWAYS his last alternative. Not his first. Or, at least, it SHOULD be if he's being written correctly. Clark would always prefer to talk someone down and, as we've seen across history, is often MOST EFFECTIVE when he's using his heart and soul to save the day and not his fists. I can't imagine Clark Kent being "trained" as a warrior bc that's just not who he is. I don't think he has that inner drive to actually think about the most effective way to tear something apart. That's not to say that Superman won't strike back with force when he HAS to. But I don't think it's in him to "train" to fight. Bc he's always hoping, deep down, that he won't have to.

    Clark's passion for the truth and journalism is one of his most powerful weapons---one that Diana can't share. (A weapon that Clark DOES share with another woman. ::cough:: Can't remember her name right now. It will come to me! LOL) It's unfortunate that Clark's commitment to justice through the power of the press has been lost and strayed from course in the new 52 as this was part of what made Superman the incredible hero he was. The most powerful man in the world able to change the course of mighty rivers who truly BELIEVED that sometimes the way to "make change" was just to spread the truth and fight for truth through your JOB. Powerful stuff. It's why Lois was such an important piece and why something feels "lost" and missing here. It's her.

    For Diana's part, it's not her fault that she doesn't seem to understand the very nature of the Clark Kent identity bc she has never needed nor will she never truly need that kind of persona to truly be true to HERSELF. Yes, she can exist as Diana Prince in order to make her life easier but she does not NEED to be Diana Prince in order to breathe, to be true to her soul. Whereas, Superman is Clark Kent and Clark Kent is Superman. Clark Kent is half of the whole. He's not a variable that can come and go.

    As for the romance can't start a fire without a spark. Chemistry and attraction are funny things. A lot has been made about how Superman and Wonder Woman are both so "beautiful" and "powerful" and "higher beings" than us lowly humans. SO WHAT. In what world am I supposed to think that our two GREATEST heroes would be so shallow that their definition of true love would be based on something that....surface. Chemistry is rarely based on who is the most beautiful or the most powerful. It comes from within and often can't be explained on paper. It's about someone getting under your skin to the point that you can't shake them and sometimes you can't even explain it. It's an intangible that can't be explained by powers, beauty or social status. It comes from your gut. These two people may respect each other. They may care about each other. They may even "love" each other. But that intangible drive of passion that rocks you to your core for another person---the very nature of loving an IMPERFECT person perfectly? They don't have it. They never have and they never will. It won't matter how hard Soule tries---and he is trying. This is just not what these characters were meant to do or who they were meant to be together. So this may be a very interesting book. But if it's true to who Superman and Wonder Woman's not going to be a book about falling in love. It's going to be a book about discovering what real love is--and it's not in each other.---Shades

    1. Thanks for the kind words and the thoughtful comments Shades. I agree about the lack of chemistry - awhile back, I think someone pulled me up when I said I couldn't detect any between Superman and Wonder Woman, their point was, how do you detect chemistry between 'paper characters? In the writing, obviously! And while Diana and Clark are flirting, and getting to know one another here, the spark simply isn't there. Even when Lois is being sarcastic at Clark, you can see they both feel something.

  2. nice review. Still i can see the bias of you not wanting them together, you can't expect them to click so quikly its the first issue man this will take time. Atleast you are one of the few willing to give it a chance.
    Still relationships are hard most women expect to change the guy and make him better and most guys want the girl to be the same. This is what is happening in the relationship and trust me they will influence each other greatly. We see that clark will become more aggressive for diana and her is willing to be more passive for him.

    1. Why should Clark become more aggressive for Diana if that's not who he is? Part of what makes Superman whole is that he's also a mild mannered kind of "gentle" guy. That's not to say he doesn't rise to the occasion in a fight but he's not an aggressive person by nature.

      Further, why should Diana become more "passive" for him? For starters, I can't imagine why that would attract Clark Kent. Clark has a history of being attracted to aggressive, strong women. The love of his life for 75 years was an opininated, strong, brash woman. Clark Kent does not require women to be passive and never has. If he did...he wouldn't have been madly in love with Lois Lane for 75 years and he wouldn't have pursued her again in the new 52.

      I read the review by Rob Patey that you are referring to with the "women expect men to change and men don't want women to change" thing.

      I find that a very simplistic. I don't think the issue here is that Clark doesn't want to change---I think the issue is that he shoudn't change who he is. His secret identity is vital to who he is and he has every right to protect it and worry about it. Diana shouldn't have to change either.

      I don't think anyone disagrees that these two characters will "influence" each other going forward. I just don't think that influence is going to translate into a long term love affair that will stand the test of time.--shades

    2. Hi Anonoymous-not-Shades, and cheers for the comment. I disagree that women and men basically wish to change one another - I've seen plenty of relationships in which it's 'vive le difference' and 'I love you just the way you are'. Sure, everyone has habits their other half would happily see vanish, but change the basic them? I don't think that's a widespread attitude. Couples often tend to become alike in certain areas - picture a Venn diagram made of hearts rather than circles - but I think that's people relaxing, mirroring one another, not a result of any 'please change' attitude.

  3. Cant say I think much of this opening issue; on the many WW boards I inhabit like a spurned lover waiting for the REAL Diana to come back, this left me feeling slightly deflated.
    Superman was such a wuss here, his Clark so supine and obviously projecting to any female readers who think this milkqtoast watered-down Supss is how thye think men should be written. But enough about the Big Bore - Diana is reduced to supporting role already here, with her scene with Hessia [I like her btw, very insightful character, tho the retro fan in me does miss Mala - who remembers Mala?] resolent of 'girls waiting at home until hubby finishes work'. The art is oddly in some parts [the opening splash panel impresses] and poor in others. That Doomsday rampage was rather too explicit for my tastes still that's prob to be expected with an opening issue that fails to grab and was about as highly anticipated as a new Rob Liefeld book. The conversations between Cat and Clark are only a whisper away from ad-libbing, they betray little or none of the characters currently appearing in their regular Supes books.
    I can see the pattern emerging already - Diana will want Kal-el to change, he will try, he finds he cant/wont and she gets predictably worthy, well-worn and angry, thus facilitating an end to this book one cant possibly expect [oh hang on anyone who watches Greys Anatomy or any other such dross]. I find as a long-term WW fan since 1971 I am rather held hostage by getting this book but Im quite familiar with Stockholm Syndrome having buying Justice League for the same reason. This is merely a romance comic with sci-fi elements awkwardly attached, and its a transplant that already screams 'rejection'.

    1. Hi Karl, I remember Mala, Diana's best pal on Paradise Island in the Golden Age, it always surprises me that she hasn't been updated for every continuity rewrite

      I managed 20 minutes of the first episode of Gray's Anatomy, giving up as the first 'twist'.- she slept with her new boss! - yelled 'predictable. The minute this comic book starts inserting montages to the tune of 'Hallelujah', I am out. Out!

  4. I do think it real honest of you to say your bias. But here is mine. Nothing I have seen of Lois and Clark have interested me. Even MOS Lois and Clark was the most forced and boring set up I have ever seen. I am a new reader and this suits me. From the fact they are different and they bringing in new themes and not the same recycles troupes we have been bored to death with. I like that. Two thumbs up for Superman/Wonder Woman #1. Cheers.

    1. Funny, you admit you are a "new" reader but then you say that "nothing you have seen of Lois and Clark" has interested you. Huh. That's quite a contradiction, no? Because admitting your a "new" reader implies that you aren't actually educated then on the history not only of Superman and Wonder woman but the history of Superman and Lois Lane. Perhaps you just misspoke there?

      Then again, there is another problem and contradiction in your post. You criticize the "same recycled tropes" and then talk about Man of Steel. Man of Steel had a lot of problems (too much action being the most major one) but one of the things it did that got almost universal praise was allow Lois Lane to track Clark Kent across the globe and put together his "secret" on her own. This actually SUBVERTED the trope and created a new origin story.

      In fact, one of the positives of Man of Steel is that it created a situation where Lois Lane quite literally learned who Clark was by talking to the people he had saved. In a world where he was raised to live in fear and believe everyone was against him....she reached out her hand in peace. It tied back to action Comics #1 where Superman told Lois, 'You needn't be afraid of me. I won't harm you."

      So it's just funny bc you seem to admit here that you aren't educated or informed about the history of these characters, what they mean or how they have evolved over the years and yet, you think you are qualified to say it doesn't interest you. Huh. That doesn't quite work.

      Of course, if you were informed, you would also know that the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up (and the relationship failing) is also a well used, recycled trope that isn't really new at all. It's been the subject of many failed, out of character AU's. The only difference this time is that Lois is alive this time out. (Normally, she's dead.) Which means Lois is still that living, breathing wild card out there. Just breathing away....



    2. Hello (New?) Anonymous. you're a new reader, fair enough, the WW/S romance is fresh to you. As Shades says, it's been done a fair few times, but usually as a one-issue wonder (ahem). Let's see what happens with a bit of room to breathe. Me, I'm looking forward to the inevitable arrival of Lois (and maybe her current boyfriend, Jonathan) as you can't have a romance comic without a love triangle.

  5. Great review of the book! As for the romance, I disagree with your analysis. I'm a long term comic book reader and the whole "Superman/Lois forever and ever" never sat well with me. Not that there's anything wrong with Lois but along the way the pairing lost its spark.

    And just like some may wonder why is Superman with Wonder Woman, others have wondered over the years why is Superman with Lois? I've heard it all. And I've considered many of those as weak attempts then again maybe it is because, just like you and a couple of other posters here, I'm bias and no matter what is said, it would unacceptable. But the same can be said of those not in support of Superman/Wonder Woman.

    We've grown up with Superman/Lois which can be good and bad. Some feel that nothing should come and disturb what we've become so accustomed to, while others enjoy the change. Such is the way of life.

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback. I'd be interested, one day, to see a proper Clark and Lana romance for awhile, I always liked these two together.

  6. Diana spars with Amazon pal Hessia and worries that Clark is ashamed of their new relationship, that he's embarrassed somehow.

    Um, what? Like yourself, I clearly recall that pretty early on in Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang's run on Wonder Woman, all of the other Amazons were transformed into snakes by Hera. That's the primary reason why, now that Hera is mortal, Wonder Woman is giving her shelter & keeping her from getting killed by all the people who are majorly pissed off at her. Wonder Woman is hoping to somehow find a way to restore Hera's powers, so that Hera in turn can restore Diana's friends & family to human form. So how can Diana be having a conversation with another Amazon? Is there any explanation given for where this Hessia person came from?

    And, much more importantly, considering in the New 52 the Amazons were revealed to kill all of the males that they mate with, should Diana really be going to another denizen of Themyscira for relationship advice?!?

    1. Hi Ben, I hope that we learn Hessia's story soon, find out what brought her off the island. I wonder who else Soule might bring in for her to talk to. A new I Ching. A kanga?

      The man-killing business, yeah, I'm torn between wishing to see it addressed and wanting to forget the whole thing.

  7. Maybe Im being a tad pedantic, butanother very telling thing that leapt out at me on the cover itself, that says it all, is the logo. Instead of Superman and Wonder Woman's names being side by side [as youd expect in a team-up book], Supes name is directly on top of WWs; to me that's reminiscent of the old 'Supermans girl friend Lois Lane'. Goes to show you what DC must really think of her...

    1. I think you're making to much of that last point and seeing things that aren't there. Batman's name is over Superman's in the Batman/Superman book, does that mean Clark is to be seen as Bruce's side-kick, of course not. It's just who is first alphabetically and has nothing to do with priority.

      The title works the same here as the Batman/Superman ( or Huntress/PowerGirl for that matter) book (and Clark definitely isn't seen or depicted as Bruce's side-kick or whatever there, in fact it's a good book so far), and same is here, it's set up exactly like a DC team-up book. Diana isn't being snubbed here, I get you don't enjoy the current 52 take, but I think you are seeing things that aren't there in this instance.

    2. Or you could look at it as Superman has taken on Wonder Woman's logo style, and he's subservient to her in that regard.

      Neither idea tells us much. It's just what looks good on the page.

    3. Hi Karl, I suppose DC trouble have done the Hollywood thing of having one name on the right but the other name higher. Like it or not, Superman is more famous than Wonder Woman, so it's not unreasonable he gets top billing, if top billing it is. Basically, I'm with Anon and Rob in not seeing a slight.

  8. I agree with a lot of what you say here Mart as you will see eventually.

    I did enjoy the quieter scenes with the two apart the most, especially the Diana/Hessia one.

    What I didn't feel here was any sort of crackle between the two that would make me convinced they want to be in a romantic relationship. There weren't any early relationship sparks and infatuation. There wasn't any established deep sentiment conveyed either. They kind of walk through their scenes together except for those silhouetted panels with them relaxing together.. I wasn't behind this move to begin with and this didn't help.

    I also found the story format of flashbacks in the middle of the action felt disjointed and pulled me out of whatever momentum was building.

    It is a beautiful book to look at. Daniel really shines here.


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