Posts Tagged ‘Superwoman’

Superwoman #2 Review: Where’s Lois Lane?

September 14, 2016

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Superwoman  was advertised as a Lois Lane comic book. The New 52 Lois got superpowers when the New 52 Superman died, and now she was ready to take to the skies to defend and protect Metropolis as Superwoman. I was intrigued. It wasn’t the Lois Lane comic I was hoping for; I’d rather see her tracking down scoops and taking down bad guys at the Daily Planet. But I was on board, especially with Phil Jimenez writing and drawing it and Emanuela Lupacchino subbing in on art occasionally. It was a stellar team with a new, different take on Lois, and I was excited for it. Turns out, that’s not was Superwoman was about at all. We’ll discuss, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am going to disclose a number of shocking reveals!

So the first issue was fine for a while. It had a lot of Lana Lang, but I didn’t mind too much. I knew that she’d be working with Lois, and I was excited to see them grow from rivals and often adversaries into partners and friends. Then we learned that Lana has superpowers too, and again I didn’t mind too much. All the better for rad team ups! I liked the idea of dual Superwomen fighting evil. Then Lois was killed at the end of the issue, or at least it looked that way. It’s a comic book, so I was wary. I’m used to fake out cliffhanger endings, so while I was concerned, I was hoping it would all be a trick and the gals would be back together in the next issue.

But no. Lois is dead.

Real dead too. She straight up disintegrated in the opening pages of the second issue, leaving a grieving Lana to carry on as a superhero on her own. Luckily she’s got a good support system with John Henry Irons and his niece Natasha, two characters I quite like. But Lois is gone, and that means so am I.

Now, Superwoman isn’t a bad comic. Jimenez’s artwork is great, as always, and the series has got a lot of good characters in the mix. The first two issues have been a bit overstuffed, which has affected the pacing of the issues and the readability of the art at times but it is, on its own merits, a decent book. If it was advertised as the Lana Lang comic it is, I probably would have checked it out. I’m not a huge Lana fan, but she’s a character with potential and elevating her to a superhero role after decades trapped being a romantic rival is kind of cool. That’s a good hook on its own.

But instead we got this bait and switch, and with every page my main thought was, “Where’s Lois?” My frustration at the death of the lead character I was promised trumped whatever level of enjoyment I got from the comic itself. A Lois Lane comic book is LONG overdue. She hasn’t had a solo series since Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane ended in 1974, but she’s been a mainstay in the DC universe in every medium for over 75 years now. She should have her own series, preferably with a better title than her old one. To promise this book and then not deliver it is both insulting and disappointing.

Even worse is killing her off in the process. Lois gets killed a lot, especially over the last decade or so. Offing her, for real or not, to create anguish for Superman has become a common trope used again and again by bad writers, and now she’s been offed to create anguish for Lana. Moreover, the New 52 Lois had a terrible run. Since the 2011 relaunch, she’s been sidelined and forgotten, and this new series felt like redemption after years of poor treatment. Instead, Superwoman fell into the same old patterns straight away.

Lois could yet come back, of course. It’s comics, after all; nobody stays dead and Jimenez seems to be teasing something. Plus, why introduce her just to kill her off so quick? There may be a longer plan at work here. But I’ve got no time for it. I really don’t understand DC’s thinking here. Why involve Lois at all, and especially why advertise it as a Lois book in the first place? If the plan is to kill her off for good, you’re only upsetting Lois fans. If the plan is to “kill her off” and then bring her back later, all of the Lois fans will have already jumped ship by the time you do so. No matter how you slice it, the way DC set up this series is just ridiculous.

Lois Lane is the First Lady of the DC universe. She is as brave and heroic and compelling as any of those folks with the masks and the capes, and she deserves some time in the spotlight. Whether she’s dead or “dead,” Lois’s depiction in Superwoman has been yet another in a long list of comics that have treated her poorly. We don’t need more of those. I’m done with the series, and this will be my last review of it. I like Jimenez and Lupacchino, and I like Lana, John, and Natasha, but I love Lois Lane, and any book that kills her off to further someone else’s plot is a book that I’m just not interested in.

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Superwoman #1 Review: Either One Of The Best Or Worst Comics Of DC’s “Rebirth” Line

August 10, 2016

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Superwoman is a great comic book until the last page, and depending on how that last page plays out it’s either going to be a book I’ll be very much looking forward to each month or a book I’ll drop like a hot potato. We’ll see how it goes. I’m certainly hoping for the former, because I really enjoyed the bulk of this issue. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I mean, it’s kind of spoiled all over the internet right now, but still!

Read the book first!

This honestly isn’t the kind of Lois Lane comic book I wanted. I’ve been arguing that Lois should have her own series for years now, one that focuses on her journalistic adventures tracking down big scoops and taking down evildoers of the non-costumed variety. I basically want Gotham Central set in the Daily Planet newsroom with Lois as the main character. This book is not that. It’s Lois Lane with superpowers, which she gained when the New 52 Superman died a few months back. But while Superwoman is not what I’ve been wanting, it’s a lot of fun.

First, of course Lois Lane would make an awesome superhero. She’s done it a bunch of times over the years, as she actually mentions in the issue, and it’s always a good time. In Investigating Lois Lane, I call Lois a superhero without superpowers; she’s got all of the same values, bravery, and desire to do what’s right that Superman and Wonder Woman do, she’s just a hero in a slightly more down to earth way. So with powers, she’s got the temperament and heart to use them well and be a stellar superhero.

Second, this is one of the first comic books where Lois Lane and Lana Lang are on friendly terms. They’ve been rivals for decades, often to cringeworthy degrees, Superman’s old flame versus his new one. Writers in the Silver Age really leaned into their rivalry and often had them at each other’s throats, literally so on several occasions. This continued when Lana returned in the Bronze Age; in one issue, they got into a fight at work and Lana dunked Lois’s head in a punch bowl. Throughout the Modern Age, Lana became kind of a sad character who was obsessed with Clark and grated on Lois, and in the New 52 era the women haven’t exactly been pals.

But Lois knows that Lana helped Clark with his powers, and that she needs help to learn how to control hers. She also knows that Lana is smart and a good person, and that her advice and input would be invaluable. So she proposes that they work together and after some reluctance, Lana gets on board. They’re not friends, exactly, but they’re friend adjacent, which is a lovely change of pace. Plus the banter is so much fun.

Third, this relationship comes with the exciting twist of Lana having superpowers too! Her energy powers resemble the 1990s Red Superman era, and she and Lois team up to stop Lex Luthor’s mega-warship from taking out a bridge. So Lana’s not just an advisor and trainer; they have a super-team up! I was so on board for that. Two formal rivals that have been so often mistreated in comics teaming up to be super friends? Yes, please!

Then they killed Lois. Or so the last page suggests. It’s a busy page, so it’s hard to tell exactly what happens. Maybe whatever mystery villain the duo is battling turns Lois into stone or some such, or perhaps Lois just burns out in a manner that may have been exacerbated by Lana using her powers. Whatever the case, Lois appears to be dead and the tease for the next issue is “Who Killed Superwoman?”

If Lois is really dead, then I’m out and this book can go right to hell. I’m so sick of dead Loises. The entire 21st century history  of Superman comics is dead Loises, in various forms. Lois is why I showed up for this book. I love Lana, but I’m not going to read a Lana book that comes at the expense of Lois. It doesn’t help that I was reluctant to get this book in the first place because serial sexual harasser Eddie Berganza is editing it. Between that and killing off Lois, I’ll drop this book and never look back if the final page reveal holds.

However, this is superhero comics. Fake out death cliffhangers are the genre’s stock in trade. If this is a momentary thing that’s reversed and the book continues to be Lois and Lana: Super Friends, then I’m all about it. This was a very enjoyable opening issue, and I’m excited to read more if Lois stays in the picture.

I’m not sure how to read the tea leaves on this one. This book is called Superwoman, singular, so that hints that Lana might replace Lois since there can only be one. And there’s already another Lois Lane in the universe, a transplant from the pre-New 52 days, so the Superman offices might have considered their leftover New 52 Lois to be redundant. On the other hand, I know that Phil Jimenez loves Lois, and I’m hoping he’s going to stick with the character. Lois is on upcoming covers, too, though I’ve been fooled by that trick before. I’m also hoping that DC is smart enough not to tease us with a Lois book just to kill her off. They can’t be that dumb, right?

So, Superwoman may be the start of an exciting new series, or it may be a straight up pile of garbage! Time will tell. I’m really hoping that Lois is alive, because this was such a fun first issue and I am so down for more Lois and Lana fun. Phil Jimenez did a great job with the writing and the art, particularly with the excellent new costumes, and I’d love to see this new partnership explored for many issues to come. But if Lois is gone, I’m gone. We’ll see how things shake out.

It Looks Like Lois Lane Will be the New Superwoman in Upcoming Series by Jimenez and Lupacchino

April 12, 2016

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First, Newsarama noticed that a picture file of the cover of DC’s recently announced Superwoman title, which is part of their upcoming “Rebirth” line, was titled “Lois Spread_Colors_Final.” That was a bit of a hint. And now that DC is releasing previews of their upcoming line, Bleeding Cool‘s got the inside scoop: Lois Lane is Superwoman. Here’s the official description of the new series:

Imbued with the powers of Superman, Lois Lane pledges to use her powers to protect Metropolis as the new Superwoman. The only problem is, Lois’ new powers are killing her, and neither she nor her friend and confidant Lana Lang know what to do about it. Will Lois even survive long enough to find out the deadly secret of ULTRA-WOMAN?

Superwoman debuts this August, and is written and drawn by Phil Jimenez, along with Emanuela Lupacchino, and it sounds like it could be an interesting series. Look away if you don’t want to see any potential spoilers, but it sounds like the New 52 Superman is going to die and have several different replacements. The pre-New 52 Superman who currently stars in Superman: Lois and Clark will take over as THE Superman, but there will also be Gene Luen Yang’s new Chinese Super-Man, Lex Luthor’s wearing a suit with a Superman logo on it, and Lois will take to the skies as Superwoman. It’s all very reminiscent of the original death of Superman in the 1990s, when he was replaced by Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator, Steel, and Superboy.

There are currently two Lois Lanes in the DC universe, the New 52 Lois and the pre-New 52 Lois, and the description doesn’t specify which Lois will be Superwoman. I’m guessing it’s the New 52 Lois, though, seeing as she’s got the closest connection to the Superman who seems to be not long for the world. I’m not sure if she’ll continue with her journalistic alter ego or if she’ll just be Superwoman and the pre-New 52 Lois will take over at the Daily Planet; the details are a little sparse right now.

I do like that there are two Loises, though. Having Lois be Superwoman and ditch journalism just wouldn’t feel right, but with a second Lois around to continue on the newspaper front, DC can have their cake and eat it too. We’ll have the classic Lois, chasing down scoops, along with a new take on the character in her Superwoman guise.

Lois has gotten superpowers occasionally in the past, but only momentarily. In one Silver Age story, both Lois and Lana Lang got powers and immediately used their new abilities to fight over who would be the better wife for Superman. It sounds like today’s Lois is going to use her powers for more altruistic means, and I’m very excited to hear that she’s teaming up with Lana! They were rivals for decades in the Silver and Bronze Ages, and then were never close in the post-Crisis era. Having them finally become friends is a very cool change and I’m looking forward to seeing them work together.

However, I do have a bit of trepidation about the superpowers slowly killing her, only because it sounds a lot like the current plot of The Mighty Thor. Jane Foster is Thor, but she has cancer in her civilian identity and turning into Thor negates the effects of her chemotherapy. Phil Jimenez is a great writer, though, and I’m hopeful that he’ll have a very different angle on things that will make Superwoman stand out from The Mighty Thor.

While the bulk of DC’s “Rebirth” line is set to ship bi-monthly, Superwoman will be a normal, monthly title and its first issue will premiere on August 10. I’m definitely going to check it out. Honestly, it’s not the sort of Lois Lane series I was hoping for; I think that Lois is long overdue for a series that focuses on her adventures as a journalist, tracking down scoops for the Daily Planet and taking down villains, corrupt institutions, and more. But this sounds fun too. I love Jimenez and Lupacchino, the book will be gorgeous for sure, and it could be an interesting new direction for the character. I’m looking forward to it.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #47 Review: “Besties, Part 3” by Barbara Randall Kesel and Laura Braga

August 13, 2015

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The first two issues of the “Besties” storyline struck an odd tone, with an arrogant Wonder Woman defeating teenagers in a footrace and then telling them they need to work harder if they want to be a champion like her in the first issue followed by Wonder Woman slut shaming her evil Earth 3 counterpart in the second issue. The writing didn’t fit the character well at all, and I was hoping that the third issue would have some sort of twist where Wonder Woman realized she was being too cocky or revealed that her bad attitude was some sort of ruse. It did not.

The conclusion was one big fight, with Wonder Woman and Superwoman duking it out to prove who was the better warrior. The only real twist was that Superwoman was pregnant, a revelation that momentarily caused Wonder Woman to hold back, but that was about it. Other than that, Wonder Woman continued her Muhammad Ali schtick as she continually asserted that she was the greatest.

I can see what Kesel was going for here, contrasting the backgrounds of the two women to show that Wonder Woman’s genesis of sisterhood and mutual support was a better source of strength than Superwoman’s brutal, solo origin. I agreed with everything that Wonder Woman said about her own greatness because of course Wonder Woman is the greatest.   What I didn’t like was that she had to say it, over and over and over, for three straight issues. Pretty much every line she spoke had something to do with how fantastic she was. It works to a certain degree in an epic battle against Superwoman, but not when Wonder Woman had used the exact same tone and arguments to shut down a teenager two issues before. If Wonder Woman had been kinder and more supportive of the girls in the first issue, showing and not telling the virtues of being an Amazon, the telling in the final issue could have had some punch. It would’ve been earned. But because she was kind of an arrogant jerk from the get-go, espousing similar rhetoric in the finale just felt like more of the same cockiness.

Everything just felt out of character. Superwoman bloviating about her superiority makes sense; she’s an awful person. But Wonder Woman is not the sort of hero who takes that kind of bait. She’s better than that. While Superwoman was busy throwing down her villain monologue, Wonder Woman should have just swooped in and taken her out. Engaging with her verbally just made Wonder Woman look petty. The whole arc did, frankly. There’s a line between confidence, which is good, and arrogance, which is bad, and Wonder Woman leaped over that line in the first issue and just kept going.

The art in the story was strong. Braga did an excellent job capturing the fight and making it flow naturally in an exciting way. If you took out the words and replaced them with something else, this could have been a really good comic because the fight was well constructed. I also liked the way she differentiated between Wonder Woman and Superwoman. They look very similar, but Braga gave Wonder Woman an air of regality and heroism while Superwoman embodied a boiling anger and perpetual snarl. I think this panel captures the difference nicely:

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Superwoman is furious and lashing out, while Wonder Woman looks calm and slightly amused by the entire situation. It really is quite a good looking issue.

The only flaw is a massive one, in that the entire story just doesn’t seem to understand who Wonder Woman is. You shouldn’t read a Wonder Woman story and come away thinking, “Dang, she was kind of a jerk.” Especially a story with Superwoman in it; she should occupy all of the jerk space, while Wonder Woman comes off as a rad hero. That didn’t happen here. The print version of this story is out in comic shops next week, so give it a peek if you want to see come cool art. Irene Koh, Emma Vieceli, and especially Laura Braga did some nice work on the book, and I think it’ll look great in print. Just maybe skip the words and make up your own story as you go through it.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #45 and #46 Review: “Besties, Part 1 and 2” by Barbara Randall Kesel, Irene Koh, and Emma Vieceli

August 6, 2015

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More than anything else, the quality of a Wonder Woman story depends on how well the creative team captures Wonder Woman. Cool fights, interesting settings or scenarios, and menacing villains are all important ingredients, but getting Wonder Woman right is the key. The current arc of Sensation Comics, “Besties”, has turned Wonder Woman into an arrogant jerk and the result is a rather disappointing story. I had high hopes for this arc, because the idea of Wonder Woman teaming up with some teens in a story written and drawn by a variety of female creators sounded like a ton of fun, but the first two installments aren’t great.

Barbara Randall Kesel writes Wonder Woman as a tone deaf braggart, basically. She joins a group of teens racing on the beach and defeats them all, then crows about it. Wonder Woman then launches into a big speech about how they could all do better if they worked harder, and offers several specific critiques for the girl who’s already her school’s best runner. There was no “You’re all doing great! Keep it up!” enthusiasm, just “I am the greatest and you should be like me!” bloviating. When Alicia, one of the girls, points out that Wonder Woman is only faster than them because she has gifts from the god, Wonder Woman dismisses her valid point by saying that she uses her gifts well. In short, she’s kind of the worst.

She’s also a hypocrite. When Alicia insults the Amazing Amazon’s skimpy outfit, Wonder Woman blasts her for slut shaming. Then when Superwoman shows up and they get into a verbal sparring match, Wonder Woman full on slut shames her for hooking up with other members of the Crime Syndicate:

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It’s kind of gross. I know she’s a villain and all, but come at her with some legitimate critiques.

The first issue of the story was kind of interesting because Alicia tore down Wonder Woman at every turn, and deservedly so. Wonder Woman was being a total ass. Even though Wonder Woman answered all of her critiques, she did so in a haughty and superior fashion that only confirmed that Alicia was right to try to take her down a few pegs. I almost wondered if Kesel and company were setting up a story where Wonder Woman learns a valuable lesson about arrogance, which seemed odd and different but maybe sort of cool. However, Wonder Woman’s responses seemed to be written as if they were fair responses to Alicia’s concerns; they weren’t, but the tone suggested that’s how we were supposed to read them. Turns out, they weren’t going for Wonder Woman learning a lesson; after Wonder Woman saved Alicia and her friends from Superwoman, all was forgiven and Wonder Woman was now her hero. It’s an unpleasant “might makes right” turn that feels unearned and dismisses Wonder Woman’s earlier arrogance.

The art for both issues is fine, if somewhat underwhelming. Irene Koh’s issue is a little bit scratchy and not detailed. It’s not bad, but I’ve seen much better work from her elsewhere. It’ll probably read better on the printed page, in smaller form, than blown up on my computer screen. I liked Emma Vieceli’s art a bit better; it’s more polished, though I’ve seen better work from her as well. Nonetheless, Vieceli has a flair for dynamic storytelling and did a particularly nice job with the fights scenes.

All together, this arc is not one of Sensation Comics‘ better outings, and it’s largely due to a horrendously cocky and rude Wonder Woman. The attitude she displays just doesn’t fit the character at all. I’m all for confidence and being proud of who you are, especially with female characters; Wonder Woman should definitely claim all of the credit she deserves and take pride in her abilities. But these issues went far beyond that, and just turned her into a jerk. There’s one issue left, and I’m curious to see if Kesel can turn it all around somehow and either show Wonder Woman learning something or explain her arrogance in a satisfactory manner. I’d love a finale with a turn that makes me reconsider these first two issues entirely.

If you’re waiting for print, this issue is out in just two weeks! It hits comic shops on August 19.

Lucy Lane Will Be On CBS’s Supergirl, And I Hope She’s A Riot Grrrl

August 4, 2015

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CBS’s new Supergirl show is set to debut this fall, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s already got several comic book stalwarts in the main cast, including Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, and Hank Henshaw, and now they’ve added another one with the addition of Jenna Dewan-Tatum as Lucy Lane, Lois’ younger sister.

Lucy is probably best known for her Silver Age exploits as Jimmy Olsen’s fickle girlfriend in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. She was kind of the worst, always jerking that poor boy around. It sounds like the show is going to pick up on that romantic angle and have Lucy be Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend, in Metropolis to right an old wrong.

But the Lucy Lane I’d really like to see is the one from the mid-1990s. Throughout the decade, Lucy had a running storyline through all of the Super-books. She dated Jimmy for a bit, then dated Daily Planet reporter Ron Troupe, got pregnant, and married him. Her best storyline came between these two relationships, when Lucy got involved in the riot grrrl movement. Riot grrrls came out of the underground punk scene, and they dealt with feminist issues through art, zines, and music, including notable bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. They were brash and direct, speaking their minds on issues ranging from sexuality to rape to politics.

The riot grrrls of Metropolis were somewhat less hardcore, what with them appearing in a comic book for kids and all. Nonetheless, they tackled the issues of sexism in superhero narratives from their very first appearance. Here’s a scene from their debut in Adventures of Superman #515 from August 1994, where Lucy stumbled upon them salvaging some instruments from a music store that was razed by an attack from Lex Luthor:

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These gals didn’t give a hoot about Superman because they knew full well the limiting roles that getting wrapped up with a male superhero entailed. Instead, they preferred to do their own thing, in this case starting a band literally called the Riot Grrrls. Their confidence in their future success despite none of them knowing how to play any instruments was reminiscent of Bratmobile, who talked up their band in their zines before any of them ever picked up an instrument.

Lucy hung out with the Riot Grrrls for a year or so across sporadic appearances. They often critiqued the sexism of their superhero world, and Lucy’s time with them marked a real turning point for the character. She moved beyond Jimmy Olsen, who never treated her well, and became a voice for more grounded storylines. Lois was always busy with Superman and his superhero adventures, so Lucy became a sort of woman on the street, dealing with real issues like interracial dating, poverty, and unexpected pregnancy.

It didn’t last, of course. Lucy disappeared after the Super-books became a cycle of crossover events starting in the 2000s, and then came back as Superwoman a decade later only to be killed (sort of) in the “World of New Krypton” event before the whole universe got rebooted.

I’m hoping that we get more of the riot grrrl, relevant Lucy instead of another superhero or a fickle ex-girlfriend. Lucy’s been depicted in a variety of ways over the years, and her riot grrrl incarnation is probably the least well known, but I think it’s the most interesting by far. Greg Berlanti, the producer of Supergirl, has done a good job in general with his other superhero shows, including Arrow and The Flash, but when it comes to female characters their roles have often been what the Riot Grrrls critiqued in their first appearance: cheerleader, girlfriend, or victim. Here’s hoping that on a show with a female lead, the women in the supporting cast will have more to do, and that Lucy can be an interesting, relevant character.


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