Posted by: Brian Hibbs on December 2, 2008
Something reasonably rare happened this week: SUPERMAN, BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN all shipped in the same week.
SUPERMAN #682: I’m just not feeling this “New Krypton” storyline — maybe because I agree with the idea that Superman works better when he’s the “Last Son of Krypton”. I can just barely accept Supergirl, too, but when there are Kryptonians everywhere (including, we’re told, new versions of Superwoman, and Nightwing & Flamebird; not to mention Zod, etc.) I start not to care.
Superman is a hard guy to write, I get that, and not everyone is suited to him. I really like James Robinson as a writer, but Superman doesn’t play to what I would consider his strengths as a writer (same with Greg Rucka, of the newly announced Superman-less ACTION)
There’s nothing at all wrong with any of this — in fact the story as presented is fairly solid. The Kryptonians decide to “clean up” Superman’s problems, which leads to more strife, fair enough — but I just don’t have any affection for Kandor or Kandorians, except in some abstract pathos-driven view (“Oh, how sad they’re trapped in a bottle, as one of Kal’s greatest failures”) — one that put the “man” in “Superman”, look HE can fail, too. I also like Kandor as a silver-agey plot device, as a way to show that Superman is still heroic, even without his “super” bits. But those are both based on KAL, not on Kandor itself, of any of its specific inhabitants.
This is somewhat similar to my Problems With Atlantis, if you think about it.
Like I said, the issue itself is competent — I’d give it a high OK — but at the end of the day I don’t like the setup, and all I’m thinking is “how fast can we get them back in that bottle”?
Sounds like that ISN’T happening, however — we’re told that Kal goes off into space, and he won’t be seen on Earth for some period of time. In fact, he’s losing the starring berth in the title that started it all: ACTION. I just don’t see how that’s going to lead to compelling stories, in and of itself. I’m old enough to recall the last time he set off to space for an extended period, and thinking “Man, when is he going to get back to Earth?” in every issue.
WONDER WOMAN #26: This is probably going to be a bit unfair, but my first thought upon finishing this was “Women in Refrigerators!” — the helpless civilians all sadistically slaughtered are all women, and we end up with Diana hung looking crucified. Ew.
There’s some potentially interesting other stuff here, with the Old Gods returning (From where? And what the HELL are they wearing?!?!), and sounding like they’re going to quit, which is presumably how we’ll get the “manazons” we’ve been told about, which will lead to, we assume, the Wonder Not-Woman who will be “Olympian”?
We’ll see how this all plays out, but I did think this comic was unnecessarily cruel, and not really focused on anything that I much like about Wonder Woman. OK.
BATMAN #681: I don’t think the world needs another BATMAN #681 review, really, so let me just note that I felt like all of the reveals were undercut pretty much right away. Is he Thomas Wayne? The dialogue immediately afterwards would seem to indicate not. Did Bruce blow up in that helicopter? Considering the entire issue repeats again and again that Batman is the master of the contingency plan, let’s call that one “unlikely”.
Fuck, the local news, I guess having read it on Drudge, called me Friday night and wanted to shoot a story in the store. I’m not one to turn down free publicity, but I felt really awful on this one — I don’t want a bunch of civies coming in thinking this is Batman’s “death” like they descended for Cap’s. I said something like “It’s more of a psychological death, than a physical one”, but there I am on the channel 5 news report anyway. Ha!
Plus, since Morrison has directly said that this takes place before FINAL CRISIS, it would seem safe to assume that he DIDN’T “die”, as such. Making both “what next?” and “why?!?!” to be extremely confusing questions for this reader.
I thought the issue itself was (again) competent, and things were certainly clearer on a single read-through than the earlier chapters, so, again, OK.
This week also brought us TRINITY #26, the half-way point of the series, a series we were told was ABOUT the “Big Three”, but has since become about them NOT being around. Week-to-week, I’m enjoying it decently as a tale, but it doesn’t feel like what it was billed at, and, beleive it or not, we’re actually selling fewer copies than we were of COUNTDOWN at this same point. It, too, is OK.
I was reading some interview or feature in the last few weeks where someone, maybe Didio, maybe Johns, maybe Giffen said something along the lines of “The DC universe works if Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are working”
On the face of that, I’m not really certain that statement is true, but let’s pretend that it is, without objection.
My question is: ARE they “working”? I, for one, really don’t think so. In fact, what I see is playing a VERY familiar hand out over again.
Cast your mind back to the dark distant days of 2006. In those dim and hazy days, DC declared there would be a weekly mini-series exploring a year in the DCU, without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. While we didn’t SEE most of that missing year for those three, the idea was the characters weren’t the characters.
Right now, of course, we have a weekly mini-series that is showing the world as it would have been without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. There will be a “battle for Batman’s cowl”, Wonder Woman is going to be “replaced by manazons”, and Superman is no longer unique, and is going off into space to not star in his own books.
Does current DC management only have ONE idea for how to make this all work?
And of course, this is all echoes of 1993 when Superman was dead and replaced by a bunch of like-a-looks, there was a battle for Batman’s cowl, and Bat-rael took over and (well, a little later in 1994) Wonder Woman was replaced by the darker more vicious Artemis. Only real difference is they didn’t have weekly comic books back then…
DC is in deep deep kimshee right now. Our BATMAN sales have dropped precipitously, and, trust me, Tony Daniel isn’t going to bring them back. ACTION spiked up for Johns/Frank, but that never played into SUPERMAN, and that’s all going to piss itself away right now, and WONDER WOMAN is back into decline again. Meanwhile anything b-list on the schedule is dying fast, and c-list stuff like REIGN IN HELL or RANN/THANAGAR WAR has dropped to, and I’m not kidding, where I’m now lucky to be selling a SINGLE not-preordered rack copy.
This is comics, and in comics reinvention is King, and every month a new issue comes out again that holds the potential to erase every sour thought… but DC needs to do something serious, and something fast because they’re headed in absolutely the wrong direction right now.
What do YOU think?