Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About, How About Horrible, Horrible Super-Wonder Love?

I trust everyone has already read about this?

If not, here's a link to the story in Entertainment Weekly yesterday. Read it and weep. And if you're a Superman and/or Wonder Woman fan, I mean that literally.

 Without further ado, EW can exclusively reveal that Superman’s new partner in love is no mere mortal, but a superhero icon in her own right: None other than Wonder Woman. herself.

But wait, there's more!

The comic...culminates months of flirty foreshadowing. Writer Geoff Johns hints that some event — possibly tragic — will impact every member of the Justice League, and cause Superman and Wonder Woman to seek solace in each other and move from super-powered colleagues to power couple. This is no one-issue stunt: “This is the new status quo,” says Johns, adding that the relationship will have a seismic impact on all the heroes and villains in the DC universe.

...The creative team believes the heroes are right for each other. She’s a mythic Amazonian warrior; he’s a veritable demigod. Both have huge hearts for mankind, yet also feel estranged from humanity. Relationships with civilians are tricky for caped crusaders, even liabilities. Usually, they choose to mask their full, true identities and hide their secret, high-risk do-gooding from their lovers to protect them. At least together, Superman and Wonder Woman can be themselves. Oh, and they’re also ridiculously good looking, too. Still, says Johns, expect the new couple to face some unique challenges in their own right.

As a longtime fan of both characters, allow me to give you my completely objective opinion:

This is an UTTERLY HORRIBLE idea. I mean FUCKING AWFUL. It absolutely SUCKS ON ICE.

Anyone who could even suggest this obviously has absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what Superman or Wonder Woman, and by extension Lois Lane or Steve Trevor, is supposed to represent in the mythos. It's like they gave the matter no further thought or analysis than "Wow, Superman and Wonder Woman would look really hot together, like the star quarterback with the homecoming queen! And they could have really great sex!"

But then again, not getting what their characters are supposed to represent seems to be DC management's trademark with the Nu52. If this is the respect they show our heroes, I'd like the next big DC hookup to be between the current DC regime and the unemployment line.

I usually hate the idea of discussing the similarities between Wonder Woman and Superman because too many people dismiss Wonder Woman as simply a female counterpart to Superman. Which is dead wrong. If there's any male hero Diana most closely mirrors, it's Thor. With smidges of Captain America and even Black Panther thrown in.

However, there are similarities between the two and their roles in the DCU. Both are beings from other lands (other planets in Kal-El's case) who have demigod-like abilities, including super-strength and flight, and who make their home in the United States. There's also similarities in the symbiosis between them and their human supporting casts, particularly their primary love interests, Lois and Steve.

Not only are Superman and Wonder Woman supposed to be godlike beings in terms of power, they're also supposed to be something we aspire to in terms of personality and character. In other words, better people than most of us. And yet they're in love with two ordinary, imperfect mortal humans named Lois and Steve. Why? Because the two demigods see qualities in the two ordinary humans that they aspire to and even love. It brings the two demigods down to Earth. It humanizes them.

Kal and Diana involved with each other means they're hovering above us. Kal and Diana involved with Lois and Steve, respectively, guarantees they're interacting down here with us. Honestly, which is more relatable?

There's a term for the idea that Superman or Wonder Woman should be romantically involved with other demigod-like characters. It's called missing the fucking point.

The closest you would ever want Diana to get to a romantic involvement with a powerful heavy-hitter would be John Henry Irons aka Steel, because a) without the armor, he's an ordinary guy (like Steve) and b) even with the armor he's not in her power class. (That's just my idea; these two were never involved in canon.)

Any real Clark/Diana romance story can only function under one of the following conditions:

1. It's an Elseworlds story where a) the world has gone to complete hell and, more importantly, b) Lois is dead.

2. It's a Year One flashback story. Here it would be logical for them to at least consider the idea, even for the most superficial of reasons, because they're not fully evolved as characters yet.

3. Mind manipulation is involved. Mind control, amnesia, mind-body switches, possession, magic spells. You know, the usual suspects.

Otherwise, it's just a case of the beautiful people getting together. Who the hell cares?

This whole mess raises several questions:

1. Why does DC think Supes/Wondy is such a storytelling gold mine? Honestly, have you seen any decent post-Crisis stories where Supes and Diana got together romantically other than Action Comics#600 or Mark Waid's work? (And no, Joe Kelly's story doesn't count precisely because they didn't hook up.) Because from what I've seen, every other post-Crisis story where the two have hooked up has been complete shit.

Superman: Distant Fires. JLA: Act Of God. The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Need I say more?

And even Waid's Kingdom Come worked despite the Supes/Wondy romance, not because of it.

Now think of all the great stories the Clark/Lois romance has given us. One immediately springs to mind: Adventures Of Superman#628, written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Matthew Clark and Nelson DeCastro. Lois is about to go on an overseas assignment into a war zone, and she wants someone to look after Clark while she's gone. Who does she call?

This scene encapsulated everything that the relationship between Clark, Lois, and Diana should be. Despite Diana being absolutely gorgeous, here she's a trusted family friend to Clark and Lois, to the point where Lois has absolutely no problem asking Diana for the favor above. Rucka and Clark get everything right in this scene, right down to the womens' different body types.

Now isn't that much better than Dark Knight Strikes Again, where Frank Miller seemed to believe a roll in the hay (or in the sky) with Wonder Woman completely recharges Superman's powers?

2. Why did DC de-age and OMD (from Etta) Steve Trevor post-Flushpoint in the first place? Because he looked good in khaki? To make him yet another covert government organization guy? Really, DC? You bring the quintessential Wonder Woman love interest back into play just so you can stick him in a role that you could've shoehorned Rick Flag into? Bringing back Steve and not having a Diana/Steve romance is like buying an expensive Lamborghini and using it only space.

And yes, I know the Perez reboot was what originally took Steve out of play. (The Perez reboot made a lot of mistakes regarding Diana and her mythos. See: Rape of the Amazons.) But rebooting Steve was supposed to fix all that. This? It's like finally making a long-procrastinated repair and then immediately and deliberately breaking the thing you just fixed.

3. What is the real inspiration for the cover? The EW article says Jim Lee "took inspiration from Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square photograph".

However, other diligent readers have noticed a striking resemblance between the cover above and this scene with Lois in 2004's Superman: For Tomorrow arc.

Is Lee trying to be the new Greg Land?

4. Why in the name of Sweet Aphrodite are Wonder Woman's feet on this cover TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SIZES?

I take it back. Maybe Lee's trying to be the next Rob Liefeld.

5. Where does that leave me and my DC pull list?

 Frankly, I don't know. I'm not going the route of Certain Shades Of Limelight and other comic bloggers who are just dropping DC outright because of yesterday's news. Me? I try to avoid using the sledgehammer when I can use the scalpel. But believe me, it's going be one extremely bloody scalpel.

I dropped Justice League months ago. The final Dan Jurgens Superman comic released yesterday also marks my last purchase of that book. (Superman by the team behind Red Hood? Pass.) Action Comics has finally started to gel with me, but Morrison's leaving. And then there's the Wonder Woman book.

To Diana fans, the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Nu52 Wonder Woman comic has been a case of "other than that, Mrs Lincoln...". The shock revelations of Diana's parentage and the Amazons' history distort what Wonder Woman is supposed to be about by adding an unnecessary masculine power source to a character who is supposed to represent female power in its own right (hence the clay origin). Then there's Hippolyta and the Amazons' fate. Despite that, though, this book is still very enjoyable. It's Wonder Woman done Vertigo-style. Chiang's designs for the gods are very unique. How often do you see Hades as a little guy with candles burning atop his head and candle wax covering his eyes? And then there's Strife, Diana's newfound godly stepsister and the book's breakout character.

The thing about all the book's negatives, though? They're all things that are utterly reversible either by writers who succeed Azzarello or even by Azz himself. The revelations could be lies, and is death or petrification ever permanent when you're dealing with gods? This Supes/Diana power couple story, on the other hand? It's canon until the next reboot, and who knows how it will affect Wondy's comic or Action Comics?

The problem with DC's reboot is that it seems to have been executed with all the planning, care, and consistency of monkeys randomly throwing crap against the wall and seeing if it sticks. Wally West, Donna Troy, and Cassandra Cain are too much continuity but Batman having five Robins (no wait, scratch that, four Robins) isn't? If Hal's consistently been a GL all this time why are there 3 other Earth Lanterns? And what about the inconsistencies? Tim Drake used to be Robin, oh wait, no he wasn't. Diana doesn't know Clark and Bruce's secret identities, oh wait, yes she does. Batman approves of  Booster's JLI, oh wait, no he doesn't, oh wait, yes he does.

Sure, I still enjoy many of the DCnU's fringe characters' books, such as JL Dark, Frankenstein, Demon Knights, Dial H, Swamp Thing, I Vampire, All-Star Western and the late,great OMAC. But right now DC's mainstream superhero universe, the aspect of DC most recognized by the general public, is rapidly being fucked up beyond recognition.

It's like head honchos Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Dan Didio are trying to remake DC's universe in their own warped image and make the comics cater only to their sensibilities and twisted sense of notalgia, while forgetting they're supposed to be selling to a diverse market. That's why we get reboots no one asked for, like making Barbara Gordon become Batgirl again or OMD'ing Barry Allen or Superman wearing armor. That's why there are no married superheroes in the Nu52 except for Aquaman/Mera and Buddy Baker. That's why Wonder Girl is now dressed like this:

Yaaaah!!!! STERNUM SPIKES!!!

As a result, characters who once felt like familiar friends are now either completely gone or rapidly becoming unrecognizable, therefore shattering my and other readers' connection to the most familiar characters.

And without that connection? Well, fuck it, I might as well drop those now-unrecognizable comics and buy independents instead. It's not coincidence that I've been adding indie titles to my pull list like mad this last year. I just added the new Archer & Armstrong this month, and I've been picking up virtually all of the Monkeybrain titles online.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not boycotting DC's books altogether. But at this rate the only DC superheroes I may continue following will be Zatanna, Animal Man and some  Bat-characters. What a shame.


At 2:09 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

Why is DC trying to make me cry? Superman and Wonder Woman together is, as you have pointed out...something that has been tried numerous times before, at least in Elseworld format, and it Just Doesn't Work. And no amount of fiddling, is going to MAKE it work!

Not, at least, if you write each character as being IN character.

Why do you want to match up the two Best and Brightest? So they can float there, and look down on everyone else?

I love Lois. Superman loves Lois. I even like Steve Trevor. Heck, I even liked Tom Tresser. But Clark and Diana together, just because Geoff Johns wants to write some fanfiction...well...No. Just no. And this is from someone who really does like most of what Geoff Johns does.

At 5:16 PM , Blogger Shelly said...

Having already stopped reading most DC titles, this won't affect my pull list much.

It does, however, sadden me greatly.

I preferred Tom Tresser to Steve, but the premise is the same with either: the superhero with the heroic human. And Lois and Clark are iconic. They even had a TV series! If they'd kept the romance, which would have made removing the marriage palatable, showing them falling in love again, I could live with that. But Kal and Diana? No way.

At 5:44 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Here's the thing: It would've been OK if this was a Year One or a flashback story. If it were in the Morrison Action book, which is set in the past, or if Johns' JL HADN'T flashed forward to the present but remained set in the first year, this would've made perfect sense, as we could see WHY they aren't together now. They tried a romance, they decided to be friends instead, they grew, done. But in present day? This is just bad fanfic.

At 5:57 PM , Blogger Shelly said...

Yes, good point. I agree.

With DC so determined to redo the universe, I just wish they'd started it from scratch, all the characters at the same point in their lives. Not assuming Babs Gordon is younger but Dick Grayson is his former age, but Bruce is younger (I think I got that right). Then you could do the origin books and the romances that didn't work out, the way the once did those Year One books.

What we've gotten, however, is a mess.

At 1:07 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

Actually, calling it bad fanfic is being generous, because really, can you think of that many fans who LIKE this pairing? I haven't seen a single person yet you likes this.

At 8:16 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Seriously, there are more fans who want Clark and BRUCE together than Clark and Diana.

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