Wonder Woman has Lois Lane on the leash. She’s the last of the friends of Superman – prisoners of the US Government – to be questioned on camera about whether they’re in cahoots with the Man of Steel. Lois stands up to the questioning. Literally.
Elsewhere, White House chief of staff Mr Bend goes off message to capture Firestorm, using the shadow creatures who have been bedevilling Superman of late. It’s fair to say that he’s working his own angles.
Superman, having confronted Barack Obama, has learned where Lois, Lana, Perry, Jimmy, Cat, Steel and his Smalville neighbours are being held, and expected to free them without further assault on their civil liberties. He’s not happy to find Diana has been using her magic Lasso of Truth on them.
So there you go – as I suggested last time, Diana isn’t acting as a flunky for the US, she’s trying to speed up the release of Superman’s pals. The newly outed Clark Kent, though, had told her to stay away from the situation, to avoid being ‘tainted’ by getting involved in his problems. Which is pretty rich, given that a basic function of the superhero is to insert oneself into the business of others, hopeful of a speedier, happier resolution to the problem at hand. More importantly, they’re seeing one another, and she’s one of the most powerful people on Earth; telling her to stay away is idiotic, and then getting angry about it, more so. He’s now as furious with Diana as he is at Lois for revealing his ID to the world in the first place.
Yes, Superman is upset that his secret has put Lois and co at risk, but Diana is no powerless civilian… and it’s not that his friends can’t lend a hand themselves.
(Ah, DC North America, where everyone can handle a massive great gun.)
This issue is basically Superman in Grimace Comics, scowling his way through the latest chapter of the on and on and ongoing Truth storyline. The only people he should be shouting at right now are the behind-the-scenes supervillains. And the US administration, because the extent to which they’ve turned on him, the level of distrust, is astounding. A ‘plan to overthrow the government’? Seriously?
Steel is presented as the trustworthy, solid ally to Superman, whereas Diana is the loose cannon.
I’m not buying it. John Henry Irons has always been a good partner to Superman, but he’s not his butler. As Diana – his romantic, as well as superheroic, partner – understands, ‘partner’ does not mean ‘servant’ and Steel, one of the most thoughtful, reasonable heroes out there, would never yell at Diana as he does in this issue.
The one moment of lightness sees Clark meet former business partner Cat Grant for the first time since the expose. Penciller Doug Mahnke and one of this issue’s four inkers nail the awkwardness of the moment.
While I don’t like much of what’s going on in Peter Tomasi’s script, he’s written enough good stories that I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt – Superman’s awful temper is almost certainly the result of editorial dictat. I hope Tomasi is serving the story outline he’s been given, because it’s a stretch to believe a writer so steeped in DC lore could get it so very wrong. Superman says Lois and Diana are betraying him, but he’s betraying them, with his lack of faith in their integrity and abilities.
So I’m going to grit my teeth and look forward to the inevitable erasure of this period in Superman’s history, with its constant paranoia and angry tone. Every emotion is so amped up that even someone in the right is presented as over-the-top in their reactions, such as Lois when she belts the government psychiatrist.
Mahnke’s pencils are strong enough, or the inkers talented enough, that the issue has a pretty consistent visual look. The storytelling is generally very good, with the only scene I found difficult to ‘read’ being this wordless moment.
Is Superman thinking of trying to rip up the lasso? Is he considering refusing to hand it back to Diana? I need some help here.
As a dramatic comic book, this issue has some merit, it’s inevitable some readers will find its intensity compelling. As a story of two superheroes created to be inspirations, living in the supposed greatest nation on Earth, it’s a massive failure.