[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
“Superman Reborn Aftermath: Steel Resolve” (20 pages)
Writer: K. Perkins
Artists: Stephen Segova (p) and Art Thibert (i)
Lana Lang is a fickle lady.
Yeeeeeah . . . I guess that about covers it.
Oh, God, I hate to say anything negative about this book. Somehow, I just know any criticism is going to get interpreted as, “You just hate diversity.” So, this is written by a female. And it stars a female. So, there are your positives.
Stan Lee used to have a rule that went something like: Whatever else it is, it is not a good comic book story unless someone punches somebody before Page 3. That’s hyperbole, of course. Not every comic needs a slug fest by Page 3, or even at all. And we do get to some fisticuffs near the end of the issues. But the rule does serve to demonstrate what’s wrong with this book. Nothing really happens. At least not anything that would make your inner 12-year-old sit up and say, “Gosh-WOW!” It’s basically 20 pages of Lana feeling all mopey sorry for herself over all she’s lost until a sudden epiphany at a chance occurrence turns her ‘tude around. So, whatever it is, it’s not a comic book — it’s a friggin’ New Yorker short story.
And I have a rule of my own. It’s “Don’t buy Hawkman. Hawkman sucks. DC has sucked the life out of every Hawkman story.” That’s because, after the Hawkworld series, every Hawkman story was no story at all but an attempt to explain how the character now fit into DC’s shared universe, especially given DC’s lamebrain decision post-Crisis to merge all realities into a single Earth timeline. This, it wasn’t watch Hawkman do this, and watch Hawkman do that, it was, okay, at least as well as we’ve got it cobbled together this week, Hawkman once did this, and Hawkman once did that. Honestly, no one was happier than me what the recent Adam Strange/Hawkman limited series got a title switch to Death of Hawkman. I was like, OMG! Do you promise?!
So, what does Hawkman have to do with Superwoman? Well, she’s now subject to the same shoehorning principle, as she observed metatextually last issue, now mandated to conform to the continuity of other characters. As Lana says-but-doesn’t-say this issue, as she struggles to cope with the list powers, she can’t have powers if TPTB at DC have decided the person she got those powers from never existed.
Of course, the whole New 52 Superman/Pre-52 Superman merger is stoopid. I mean, isn’t Superman supposed to be in his mid-to-late 20s? So why doesn’t Lana think, hey, of Superman has a 10-year old son, why, he must’ve been boffin’ Lois while Clark and I were roaming the halls of Smallville High! It just doesn’t make sense!
So, really, I have a hard time faulting Perkins for anything I hate here. She got handed a hot friggin’ mess.
Not that her story helps.
For one thing, the past eight issues have been all about Lana as the reluctant hero, not really wanting her powers and hoping she could ditch them. Now all of a sudden she does a 180, and acts like her editorial raping was physical as well as figurative. All she ever wanted was powers, and all she wants to do is get them back, and she is, oh, so terribly incomplete without them. Sheesh, if we were going to completely change the character Lana has been established to be so much that this feels like an Elseworlds story, why not pick an Earth where she still has super-powers, and just carry on from there? I mean, hell, if CW viewers can grasp the concept of Supergirl and Flash living in different realities, surely hard core comic book readers can deal with Superman and Superwoman taking place on two different Earths.
But there’s more. Lana starts the issue being kind of a jerk to poor John Henry. That much, as least, hasn’t changed. She’s been awful to him from the start. I don’t see why he sticks around. He should change his code name form Steel to Cuckold. So ol’ J.H. calls in Lana’s ex-boyfriend to cheer her up. (See — Cuckold!). Well, there’s a side story about Maggie Sawyer and the Atomic Skill of Metro S.C.U. pursuing some baddies about something for some reason, and all blows up from the sewers into the streets right next to where Superman and Lana happen to be. Super plot convenience is super convenient! So, Superman rushes in to clobber the bad guy while Lana safeguards some kids from central casting he had shown her as they were playing Superwoman, thereby proving to herself she’s, like, all for totes useful even without powers, and stuff.
Funny thing is, Perkins seems to have realized the absurdity of what she’s written as she actually has Lana wonder how Superman managed to coordinate the confrontation to prove his point. And the issue ends with her feeling like a true Superwoman, powers or not. Yaaaayy. Tears of Joy and Daytime Emmys all around.
Meanwhile, the art is okay. I don’t hate it. There’s weirdness like a leg on Superman here, an arm on Atomic Skull there, that are not anything near in proportion to the character’s body. And there’s an unintentionally funny panel of a kid who’s not even sitting on a swing saying, “Look! I’m flying as high as Superwoman!” But that’s probably not Segova’s fault, and the panels do an otherwise decent job of advancing the story and conveying emotion. Much of that is apparently due to Thibert I imagine. I’m not familiar with Segova, frankly (although I feel pretty certain from this issue he’s never hauled a bale of hay), but I’ve seen Art’s art line for a lot of years, and certain faces, especially near the end of the book, look a lot like his style.
DC should have just canceled this book the moment it decided it was going to tip over the narrative apple cart upon which this entire series was based. Of course, considering where sales were, and given the price hike to $3.99, I don’t expect cancellation is that far off, regardless.