Submitted: Ken Trickey, Comic News Writer
23 September 16
Writer: Phil Jimenez
Inks: Matt Santorelli and Joe Prado
Is a world without Superman devoid of the hope he represented? While Lex Luthor and Lana Lang attempt to fill the power vacuum proceeding the death of the Man of Steel, a fearsome unseen puppet master capitalizes on the opportunity by maneuvering monstrous marionettes in fantastically destructive and brutal ways. Metropolis is overwhelmed by a barrage of attacks. Lex and Superwoman struggle to keep up with the onslaught but remain on the defensive. Like a prize fighter backed into a corner, the good guys are stuck holding their hands up to protect their face and chests as their opponent pillories them with crushing blows. Bearing that in mind, please don't interpret my description of her struggles as a negative review. I really liked this issue. It's just hard to watch someone you like get beat up like this.
As if her enemies weren't hellish enough, it appears Superwoman may be suffering from a terminal illness. Considering her powers were grafted onto her by Krypton’s red sun radiation after Solar Superman went nuclear, it's not all that surprising she would experience some negative side effects. But this ailment places a time limit on her life that is uncomfortably close and exasperated by her physical activity. Will our newest star burn hot and fast? Or will she find some way to beat the odds? Conventional wisdom suggests DC wouldn't birth a heroine of this caliber only to end her run in her infancy, but this series certainly hasn't been without its fair share of surprises. If I were a betting man, I would bet a small sum that she’ll find some way to stabilize her radioactivity via some mysterious Kryptonian technology.
There's some establishment of Superwoman’s family life with Piggy, Henry, and Natasha Irons. This is sorely needed and much appreciated. Without these little moments, it would be hard to understand what keeps Superwoman going. Additionally, there's a secondary story arc involving the prisoners of Stryker’s Island and their treatment there. The Atomic Skull alleges that he was tortured. He frantically fires energy blasts at civilians during a parade in a rage, proclaiming loudly that he won't be taken back to Stryker’s alive.
While this issue is compelling, there is a little too much handholding for my taste. The inner thoughts of Superwoman drive the narrative a great deal. When she’s providing background information about a character a new reader may be unfamiliar with, it’s fine. However, there are some instances where her inner monologue could have been better displayed, either through the artwork or in dialogue. The interview between Superwoman and Maggie Sawyer is a good example of this. Sometimes it’s better to trust the artwork and the audience to understand.
The Verdict: Superwoman’s heroic learning curve is steeper than any other I can remember, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Hopefully some good news will arrive in the next issue, because this one can leave the reader feeling defeated.