Superman/Wonder Woman #19 Review

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

I have not checked out Superman/Wonder Woman since the debut issue of this title. There are several reasons why. First, I have been summarily unimpressed with DC’s handling, or mishandling, of Superman’s character ever since the New 52 reboot. Second, I have found the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing to be creepy. Seriously, it is like watching a brother and sister hook up. It just does not work for me at all.

I have not checked out Superman/Wonder Woman since the debut issue of this title. There are several reasons why. First, I have been summarily unimpressed with DC’s handling, or mishandling, of Superman’s character ever since the New 52 reboot. Second, I have found the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing to be creepy. Seriously, it is like watching a brother and sister hook up. It just does not work for me at all.

So, why am I giving Superman/Wonder Woman #19 a try? Well, DC is claiming this is a part of the new DCYOU direction for their titles. So far, DCYOU has been nothing more than a simple brand name change as all the DC comics I have read still read like the crap DC shoveled to us under the New 52 banner. So, no, it is not the cheap marketing of the DCYOU brand that enticed me to give Superman/Wonder Woman #19 a chance. It is the creative team. I have always been a huge fan of Peter Tomasi’s writing. When left to his own devices, Tomasi rarely disappoints. I also have always liked Doug Mahnke’s artwork. This creative team is certainly tailored specifically to my tastes. Let’s see if this creative team can get me to like this title!

Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Jamie Mendoza
Colors: Wil Quintana

Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Wonder Woman and Superman squaring off against the Suicide Squad in a graveyard in Smallville. After the Suicide Squad delivers their cheesy Team Rocket styled intro we get right into a brawl. Wonder Woman does the heavy lifting as she kicks ass and takes out Harley Quinn, Reverse Flash, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. Meanwhile, Superman battled Black Manta.

Black Manta gets the upper hand on Superman. But, Superman powers up and makes a comeback. Superman viciously beats down Black Manta. (Yeah! Badass, bro! This ain’t your daddy’s lame ass Superman. This Superman is all 1990’s edgy!) Wonder Woman then steps in and protects Superman’s backside by blocking Deadshots’ bullets with…her…boobs…oookay. (Um, yeah. That’s why the bracelets were always used prior to the New 52. They are great literary tools that help avoid slightly awkward panels like this.) Superman continues to beat Black Manta like a government mule. Wonder Woman then asks Superman if he is finished. Superman says “Yeah.” (‘Roids, bro. They make you lose your temper. You gotta watch out for that.)

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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Superman and Wonder Woman are curious as to why the Suicide Squad would be in Smallville. Superman picks up Black Manta by his helmet. Superman asks Manta where all the people in Smallville have gone. Manta says that he has no idea what Superman is talking about. Superman asks “Why are you coming at me like this?” (COME AT ME, BRO!!) Manta says that the Suicide Squad is here because it is now open season on Superman. Superman says “What I know is you have made me very unhappy.” (Yeah! You won’t like Superman when he is unhappy! Feel the edgy badassery that is Dude Bro Superman!!) Superman starts crushing Manta’s helmet.

Suddenly, Deadshot pops up again and starts pumping Superman full of bullets. Once again, Wonder Woman has to do Superman’s light work and smashes Deadshot into a tree. Wonder Woman then helps Superman to stand up. Wonder Woman hands Superman a damaged mailbox with the name “Kent” on the side of it. Wonder Woman says “Here. Motivation.” Superman responds “Don’t need any, but thanks.” (LOL. How in the world am I supposed to take this issue seriously?!) Wonder Woman then picks up Superman and flies them away from the scene.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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We cut to Amanda Waller being informed that the Suicide Squad was taken down by Wonder Woman with a tiny assist by her valet Superman. We cut to a white guy in a suit watching a bunch of screens with  Wonder Woman flying Superman away from the graveyard. (There is nothing more evil in comics than a white dude in a suit. Nothing.) The white guy in the suit says that Superman appears to be diminished. The man says that it is working. (I knew he was evil.) The man then says “Initiate seizure protocol.” (Oh, dear. That cannot be good.)

We shift to Superman and Wonder Woman at the Kent family home. Wonder Woman proceeds to use her fingers to pull the bullets out of Superman’s chest and shoulders. (With her fingers?! That cannot be hygienic.) Wonder Woman says that it is terrifying to see Superman like this. (No, what is terrifying is to see you sticking your fingers inside the bullet holes and scooping out the bullets! Seriously, this is going to lead to an infection. Did she sterilize her hands first?)

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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Superman says that he wants Wonder Woman to trust him to pull his own weight. That in a fight she cannot be constantly looking to protect Superman’s backside. That doing such a thing will lead Wonder Woman into not looking out for herself and getting herself hurt. (Her boobs deflected high impact armor-piercing bullets earlier in this issue! What the hell is going to hurt Wonder Woman?!)

Wonder Woman asks what if Superman’s powers continue to decrease until he is simply a normal mortal. Wonder Woman says that she does not want to lose Superman. Superman replies “You won’t.” (Ick. So gross.) Wonder Woman says that Deadshot’s bullets were specially crafted to be used against Superman. Wonder Woman says that this could be just the beginning. That “they” may be building something even deadlier to take down Superman.

Superman then says that he needs to make a trip. (To the supplements store! Time to get some more protein and creatine, bro! Gotta stay buff!) Wonder Woman says she is going to go with Superman. Superman says that perception is everything at the moment. That Wonder Woman needs to stay in the light. That she cannot be found guilty by association. Superman then leaves.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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We zip to the White House. Superman takes out the Secret Service agents. We cut to the President at his desk. The President is on the phone. There is a knock on the door. The President says “Yes. Come in. What is it?” Superman enters carrying the unconscious bodies of the Secret Service agents and Superman’s eyes are glowing red. Superman says “I’ll tell you, Mr. President…IT’S NOT GOOD.” (LOL. GRRRR. Dude Bro Superman is here to whip your candy-ass, Mr. President!) The President tells the person on the telephone “I have to go. He’s here.” End of issue.

The Good: Wow. This issue was…something. Despite Superman/Wonder Woman #19 being such a cheesy read, I can easily satisfy The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity with this issue. And it all comes down to one word: Action. Yup. Action fans will be pleased with the amount of brawling that we get in this issue. There are many things you can say about this issue but one thing you cannot say is that this issue was dull or boring.

Tomasi kicks Superman/Wonder Woman #19 off with a furious 13 page brawl. That’s right. You read that correctly. Over half of this issue is a fight scene. The remaining 9 pages of this issue deal with the aftermath of the fight and the hook ending to set up the next issue. That is a lot of fighting packed into a single issue. Action junkies will be more than pleased with the level of fighting in this issue.

Tomasi also delivers a quickly paced issue. The story hits the ground running with the first page and does not let up at all until the very end. The flow of the story is pleasant. I also like that the story moves with a clear purpose in mind and wastes little time progressing the main plot line of the story. From a plotting and pacing standpoint there really is nothing much to complain about. Tomasi has always been a strong writer from a technical standpoint.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19 is also extremely new reader friendly. I have not read a single issue of Superman/Wonder Woman since the debut issue. I have also only sporadically read Wonder Woman’s solo title and Superman’s solo titles. Yet, I never felt lost or confused in this issue. Tomasi made sure to continually feed the reader with enough back-story in order to make sure that the reader felt comfortable hoping aboard this title. I always appreciate it when a writer can make an issue accessible to even newer readers.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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Tomasi ends Superman/Wonder Woman #19 with a solid hook ending. If you bought into the story, which I did not, then you would certainly have been hooked by this fairly dramatic ending. Readers who have bought into the story will certainly be eager to come back for the next issue in order to find out what happens next between the President and Superman. You cannot ask for a better job of trying to sell the reader on coming back for more than what Tomasi did at the end of this issue.

I have always loved Mahnke’s artwork. Having said that, Superman/Wonder Woman #19 was not Mahnke’s best work. Still this was a solid-looking issue with moments of brilliance as Mahnke is able to deliver some pretty spectacular panels at certain moments in this issue. I have always enjoyed Mahnke’s detailed style of drawing. Mahnke’s clean lined style is a perfect match for the super hero genre.

The Bad: Superman/Wonder Woman #19 was a dumb story. I do not expect art or high concept stories with every mainstream super hero comic on the market. But, I also do not expect to lose IQ points by the handful during the time that I read a super hero comic, either. Tomasi delivers a story that is quite frankly far below his talents. I have high expectations from Tomasi based on his excellent track record. Superman/Wonder Woman #19 fell woefully short of my expectations.

Tomasi delivered a story that was just way too over the top. The entire tone was so overblown and melodramatic. Combine with that the general cheesiness of the story and the result is a comic book that read like a 1990’s Image comic. Tomasi is so ham-fisted with the story that Superman/Wonder Woman #19 becomes unintentionally funny. The reader begins to chuckle and laugh at the most inappropriate time. Tomasi certainly did not design this issue to get chuckles from the reader.

Tomasi is normally a delightfully balanced writer who is able to handle literary themes in a subtle fashion. Tomasi usually brings equal parts humor, heart, action and intensity to his stories. None of that is the case with Superman/Wonder Woman #19. This issue has no heart. It has no soul. There is no humor. There is faux teenage testosterone and angst as Superman and Wonder Woman “GRRRRR” their way through this issue. There is nothing fun or enjoyable about the general tone of this story. The “edgy” and “dark” tone of the story feels like something you would see in an action movie targeting 13-year-old boys. Even for “edgy” and “dark” this issue was not well done.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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Part of the problem is that Tomasi delivers some truly awful dialogue. The characters chew through their dialogue like 1980’s action movie characters. The dialogue vacillates from generic and bland to cliched and cheesy. It truly feels like Tomasi mailed it in with this issue. The dialogue in this issue is absolutely nowhere near the fantastic level of quality dialogue that Tomasi normally delivers in his writing.

The poor dialogue helps to contribute to the fact that Tomasi tossed out some truly terrible character work in this issue. Superman has all the personality of a piece of balsa wood. Now, I know Tomasi’s hands are tied with this. Superman’s new look and personality are both editorially mandated. Tomasi has no choice but to write Superman as the new Dude Bro Superman. The result is a version of Superman that is about as appealing as an enema full of acid.

Dude Bro Superman walks mechanically through each season and robotically delivers his dialogue. Dude Bro Superman tries to act like a badass but it all seems so forced and completely uncomfortable. Being the badass has never been in Superman’s DNA. Never has been and never will be. Yes, you can force any character to be “badass.” You could rewrite Aunt May to be a “badass” is you wanted to. But, it would come across manufactured and forced and the reader would never buy into it.

The fact is that forcing a character to act against their core personality always makes them appear either fake or lame. Take your pick which one applies to Dude Bro Superman. I’m going to go with both. Dude Bro seems like an awkward re-imagining of Superman’s character by a 13-year-old boy. There is just nothing appealing about that. And Dude Bro Superman’s character seems to embody all of that awkwardness as well. Dude Bro Superman does not know if he is a classic hero, an edgy vigilante or simply an ass kicker. The result is that he acts schizophrenically as he constantly shifts between all three types of characters at utterly random intervals throughout the issue.

When a character acts inconsistent with their core personality it pulls the reader out of the story. The reader becomes conscious of the writer due to their overt and conscious efforts to intrude into the story to make a character act out of the norm. The result is that the character does not appear comfortable in the story nor does the character’s new personality seem organic within the context of the story. And the reader becomes too aware of the writer and is no longer fully immersed in the story.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19

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And Wonder Woman? I am pretty sure Chyna had more personality as the mute bodyguard for HHH in the late 1990’s. She has no depth to her personality at all. All she exists to do in this issue is act as an enforcer for Superman and worry about his health. Tomasi gives the reader such a bland and one-dimensional version of Wonder Woman in this issue.

The combination of the bad dialogue and lack of character work results in absolutely zero chemistry between Superman and Wonder Woman. At no point does the reader actually feel any emotion between these two characters. Superman and Wonder Woman are like two automatons acting out a scripted romance. It seems so forced and awkward. The reader knows that these two characters love each other because we are explicitly told so by the writer. However, the reader on their own, never arrives at the conclusion that these two characters actually love each other. This is a terrible pairing that continues to lack any chemistry, sizzle or passion of any type whatsoever.

Superman/Wonder Woman #19 is also a shallow read. That is not much depth or substance to the story. This is a very on the surface read. What you see is what you get. There is not much subtext to this story. This is an issue that a reader can breeze through in 5-10 minutes easily without ever engaging their brains. This is not an issue that delivers a deep and nuanced story that has multiple levels and offers plenty for the reader to chew and digest even after they finish reading the issue.

I cannot ding Mahnke for the terrible costumes. Mahnke has to draw whatever ridiculous costumes that Jim Lee tells him to draw. Dude Bro Superman’s costume and haircut continue to be horrible. What looks great on a teenage character like Conner Kent looks like a clown costume on the much more mature adult Clark Kent. And Wonder Woman’s costume? Good God. What a hot mess. Seriously. Just a shit design in every possible aspect.

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

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If DC, for some unknown reason, simply felt that they had to abandon the one piece bathing suit costume for Wonder Woman then they should have just made the comic version of Wonder Woman look like the movie version from the upcoming Batman v. Superman. That Wonder Woman costume for the upcoming movie absolutely blows away the Wonder Woman costume in this issue.

Now, what I can blame Mahnke for is contributing to the overwhelming grim tone of the issue. Superman and Wonder Woman grimace their way through this entire issue. It is just too much. I never thought I would ever read a comic book starring Superman and Wonder Woman and it would contain less smiling than a Wolverine comic book. Why so serious?

Overall: Superman/Wonder Woman #19 was a poor read. There is no way I would ever recommend anyone spend their hard earned money on this issue. The only readers that I believe would enjoy this issue are die-hard Wonder Woman fans and any Dude Bro Superman fans. There are so many other super hero comics on the market that offer a far superior bang for your buck. Honestly? If you are just hankering for some Wonder Woman or some Superman then go buy a trade paperback of some older pre-New 52 Wonder Woman or Superman stories.