Superman/Wonder Woman #21 review

Wonder Woman has Lois Lane on the leash. She's the last of the friends of Superman - prisoners of the US Government - to be questioned on camera about whether they're in cahoots with the Man of Steel. Lois stands up to the questioning. Literally. 
Elsewhere, White House chief of staff Mr Bend goes off message to capture Firestorm, using the shadow creatures who have been bedevilling Superman of late. It's fair to say that he's working his own angles. 

Superman, having confronted Barack Obama, has learned where Lois, Lana, Perry, Jimmy, Cat, Steel and his Smalville neighbours are being held, and expected to free them without further assault on their civil liberties. He's not happy to find Diana has been using her magic Lasso of Truth on them. 
So there you go - as I suggested last time, Diana isn't acting as a flunky for the US, she's trying to speed up the release of Superman's pals. The newly outed Clark Kent, though, had told her to stay away from the situation, to avoid being 'tainted' by getting involved in his problems. Which is pretty rich, given that a basic function of the superhero is to insert oneself into the business of others, hopeful of a speedier, happier resolution to the problem at hand. More importantly, they're seeing one another, and she's one of the most powerful people on Earth; telling her to stay away is idiotic, and then getting angry about it, more so. He's now as furious with Diana as he is at Lois for revealing his ID to the world in the first place. 
Yes, Superman is upset that his secret has put Lois and co at risk, but Diana is no powerless civilian... and it's not that his friends can't lend a hand themselves. 
(Ah, DC North America, where everyone can handle a massive great gun.)

This issue is basically Superman in Grimace Comics, scowling his way through the latest chapter of the on and on and ongoing Truth storyline. The only people he should be shouting at right now are the behind-the-scenes supervillains. And the US administration, because the extent to which they've turned on him, the level of distrust, is astounding. A 'plan to overthrow the government'? Seriously?

Steel is presented as the trustworthy, solid ally to Superman, whereas Diana is the loose cannon. 
I'm not buying it. John Henry Irons has always been a good partner to Superman, but he's not his butler. As Diana - his romantic, as well as superheroic, partner - understands, 'partner' does not mean 'servant' and Steel, one of the most thoughtful, reasonable heroes out there, would never yell at Diana as he does in this issue. 

The one moment of lightness sees Clark meet former business partner Cat Grant for the first time since the expose. Penciller Doug Mahnke and one of this issue's four inkers nail the awkwardness of the moment. 
While I don't like much of what's going on in Peter Tomasi's script, he's written enough good stories that I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt - Superman's awful temper is almost certainly the result of editorial dictat. I hope Tomasi is serving the story outline he's been given, because it's a stretch to believe a writer so steeped in DC lore could get it so very wrong. Superman says Lois and Diana are betraying him, but he's betraying them, with his lack of faith in their integrity and abilities. 

So I'm going to grit my teeth and look forward to the inevitable erasure of this period in Superman's history, with its constant paranoia and angry tone. Every emotion is so amped up that even someone in the right is presented as over-the-top in their reactions, such as Lois when she belts the government psychiatrist. 

Mahnke's pencils are strong enough, or the inkers talented enough, that the issue has a pretty consistent visual look. The storytelling is generally very good, with the only scene I found difficult to 'read' being this wordless moment. 
Is Superman thinking of trying to rip up the lasso? Is he considering refusing to hand it back to Diana? I need some help here. 

As a dramatic comic book, this issue has some merit, it's inevitable some readers will find its intensity compelling. As a story of two superheroes created to be inspirations, living in the supposed greatest nation on Earth, it's a massive failure. 

Comments

  1. If you read the other books you will see anger is somewhat of a key issue Clark has to deal with and the new villain Wrath is not doubt a factor. I think you're largely discounting what Clark is undergoing and just as some readers who like their heroes perfect think Superman should just be nice all the time and so happy and grateful. Which is prob boring and not really how anyone would react in reality. The only thing out of place is him comparing what Diana did to what Lois did is not that fair. Lois did worse. I can only assume he wants to put some distance between him and the people he thinks he is putting in danger which again might seem silly to you...but very human reaction.

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    1. I'm reading the other books, and aware of Wrath's possible influence on Clark, but I don't think that's what's we're seeing here - I'm pretty sure this is DC's idea of an edgy Superman. There's certainly a happy medium between 'happy and grateful' and raging, and that's what previous Superman writers have found - while this is the first time he's had the entire US administration against him, it's not like no one has got his back up previously.

      And you know what? I do hold Superman to a higher standard than other heroes; he shouldn't be losing his rag like classic Green Arrow, or the Hulk - he's been positioned for decades as the ideal to whom other heroes aspire, it's his unique selling point. There's a reason the people of Metroplis build statues to the man; he's not worshipped, but he is lauded as the best of humanity. The current trend to tear down that image isn't helping his sales - DC needs to let Superman be Superman, free its talents it write the best Superman stories they can, not push his personality into areas that don't suit him.

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    2. And, supposedly, the root of Steel's "Of course! He's Superman!" comment in the story.

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    3. @martinGray Super edgy superman, like snyder did on man of steel. Because God forbid a person be good and gentle. Now he is a mix of batman, hulk and punisher

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    4. When something traumatic or unfortunate happens, people sometimes act a little in ways that they wouldn't ordinarily act. I don't expect Superman to be perfect myself. I mean he got plenty of rediculously absurd abuse himself with people digging up the Kents' graves, which is just plain sick and depraved! It's not like I broke up with my girlfriend when say, she got irritable after the death of her Father. Similar logic here, Superman had a bunch of government goons do some serious crap to Superman and everyone around him, and guess what, he feels sad, confused, and frustrated, like most human beings wouldI like Superman because he feels frustrated and upset sometimes. He's a human inside. It's the same reason why I liked the movie Man of Steel, I mean sorry, I don't expect Superman to be perfect, I expect him to be trying to be decent.

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    5. Thanks, it's good to hear another point of view, nicely out.

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  2. well I think it is wrong Diana use the lasso on civilians prived their freedom by a corrupt goverment. They are innocent and wonder woman acted as a dumb character, what is next use the lasso on guantanamo prison? she has noright to do this to innocent people. This part superman was right.
    I know that my fellow brazilians hate tomasi writing, at least on this book is pretty evident the problems on his writing.

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    1. The lasso is not a tool for any government, the lasso was used on Lex too, the lasso was used on SM pre 52 when he think that kills some people, the lasso is a tool for the Truth.

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    2. Yup, nothing wrong with Diana using the lasso, it's a tool that could have cut through the nonsense. There's no comparison with Guantanamo, Veronica, that's just inappropriate. And I speak for all Themiscyrans.

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    3. For me is wrong Martin, and I stand by it. Lex is a villain dear, so it is allright on my book, superman was unsure and asked to use the lasso fine. But used to help a corrupt goverment is a Big no for wonder woman. she is better than this.
      Martin is impossible for me not mention real life situations, specially when in my country so many people where tortured with help of USA

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    4. Superman didn't ask for the lasso as you can read in the story called White Rage part 3 of 3 JLA 82, he even ask for her don't put the lasson on him, she did and he finally could see the truth. The Lasso didn't help the government in Lies, the lasso helped the SM's friends.

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    5. Veronica, Diana isn't seeking to help the government, she's trying to help Superman's friends by showing that they have nothing to hide.

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  3. Well I am brazilian, I live in Rio de Janeiro and love Tomasi writing and I know brazilians who love him too... The most of the brazilians first read then comment... she ask them if she can do this, people should answer by themselves not by a whole country.

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  4. Great review Martin, I agree with everything you've said here. I don't know what the problem was with the Lasso. They weren't hiding anything and agreed. Trevor was, I thought, right to ask Diana to free them this way.

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    1. Answer honestly do you buy the book? Do you like the relationship? If no your judgment is at least corrupted by your hatred. Mraston create WW and by that I am thankful but now she is more famous than ever, this WW will have a movie athing that any other version could not. She is selleing very well for WW and this may show that people are liking her. You hate her her and worships Lois so stop talking about her, stop to pretend like her or care about Marston just to gain some sympathy.

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    2. I've pulled a few comments here - could we please stay polite with one another!

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    3. Yes Andrea I read the book. Did you? I see no reason why you feel the need to attack somebody for a different opinion than yours. Meanwhile, if you need references? I've met the reviewer in person and we talked comics. We're the same age (2 weeks apart even) and have been reading since the early 1970s. Yeesh.

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    4. My comment was not for you mayak46, but a response to a comment that was there previously.

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    5. WW is selling very weel for mid level seller, with variant covers it gets a bump but it is very close to Ms Marvel and Fraction Hawkeye. Nothing really special

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    6. The WW never sold very well, was always median, the best numbers to it were from the George Pérez reboot and is managing to go well now.

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  5. My only nit with your review is I don't think Irons and Diana were yelling at each other, they were shouting to be heard over the noise of battle.

    Hoo-boy, I loathed this issue. Took two attempts to get through it (at mayak46's insistence).

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  6. Thanks for the review Martin. This was one of the worst issue of this book, and that~s saying something. I can~t stand a Superman who is acting like a jerk to his friends and to the woman he once said he loved. His behavior is unacceptable and a shame. He is acting like a child who has been deprived from a candy. So NOW he cares about being Clark Kent? Funny because he hasn't been honoring Clark nor Kent's legacy in a while! He has anger issues and is acting on impulse and very stupidly. Talking about "betrayals" to Lois and Wonder Woman, who have done nothing but try and help this tool! Specially LOIS who saved his sorry behind of dying because he wasn't strong enough to say no to blackmailing!! And now he is pointing fingers left and right to this women? Maybe he needs a big reminder of his own actions: Has he forgotten the day he left Parasite fed from Lois in order for her to forget her memories about him being Clark? He could have killed her and now he feels "betrayed"? Stupid!
    I really think WW used the lasso to help Lois and rest of friends, thought if it was right or not is debatable. I just don't understand why WW allows being treated this way, is just not her! She's acting like a dumb submissive, where is her personality? But I guess since this ridiculous relationship was announced personalities for both characters just flew out of the window.
    I really wonder why Lois or Diana even bother helping this idiot! Clark is certainly an ungrateful immature boy with no regards to other feelings rather than himself. THIS has nothing to do with perfection but he was raised to be better than the others, I just wish Clark was allowed to remember what his parents, the Kents, taught him! But in true honest I am afraid we won't see a decent Superman until current leadership and Editors are gone for good. My money is on Jurgens Lois & Clark, that's the real power couple, that's the Superman I want to read not this poor caricature of one the most iconic superheroes of all time.

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    1. Nicely put, Zoraida, I agree with pretty much every word. I really miss Superman, Lois and co.

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  7. I think, maybe, Clark may be under the influence of some kind of mental/emotional attack which has been slowly changing him. But that's supposition. I have stopped reading this, Superman, Action Comics, and even Wonder Woman, because frankly, the stories have been excrement and DC has really been buggering things up of late, and even the few rays of light they put out recently have now been cancelled so that, no doubt, they can bring us some more "gritty" BS that is not really gritty at all, just a bit mean spirited.

    Super-Bullies is much better a term for the characters I am seeing now than Super-Heroes.

    Sorry, I know this came out way negative, but I am having a hard time accepting what DC and Marvel are doing of late. Maybe I have finally gotten too old for comics.

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    1. There is a character in Action Comics who apparently can spread negative emotions, but again, I recall think this is DC's new default Superman. And it's pretty horrible.

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  8. The intrinsic problems of this book are insurmountable. Superman and Wonder Woman together, and it's meaningless. Mind you, Superman and Batman have no business being together either, but at least their pairing is entertaining for the most part. Wonder Woman using the magic lasso is just wrong, and done to create more needless angst. Steel, while he may seem like he's "Driving Mr Clark" does have a point. He's Superman. There has been no other character who seems to believe in the man, rather than the powers he used to possess. Metropolis turned against him, Wonder Woman wants to watch over him, and macho BS as it may seem, the set-up is that Superman still needs to pull his own weight, even if it's too heavy. It might be a problem if him being depowered was an actual issue, but lower levels hasn't slowed him down one iota.

    What has been done to Lois Lane is downright criminal, and it's had an equal effect on Superman. Distancing the two of them has rendered him into a caricature, and her into a stereotype. Wonder Woman, she's just there as a foil . . . or to provide transport.

    All done for the puerile minded, who just can't believe that Superman or Wonder Woman could ever be interested in human beings like Lois Lane and Steve Trevor, because they'll break during coitus.

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  9. Great last par, that made me smile. It's true, though, people relally need to get over the Larry Niven bit.

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