A look at DC’s Superman / Wonder Woman #13; Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artist: Doug Mahnke.
We open on a flashback set during Justice League issue #3 where Wonder Woman meets what would become the Justice League for the first time during the first invasion of Darkseid. Superman tells Wonder Woman to help protect the civilians but she’d rather go and slay parademons, leading him to scold her about leaving innocent people to die.
Diana (Wonder Woman) waits impatiently as her now boyfriend Clark Kent (Superman) writes up an article on victims of the invasion of the Crime Syndicate, which took place in DC’s intercompany crossover “Forever Evil.” Clark explains that he writes the article so that victims he couldn’t save still have a voice. She doesn’t quite understand why he does it, but she and Clark eventually fly off into the night for their date. Later in the night an irritated Diana stops a cab by standing in front of it. Why? Because she was irritated with Clark letting other people take taxis that they themselves were waiting on while rain pours down in the streets.
Can you pinpoint the things described above that I find wrong for the character of Wonder Woman? They all have one thing in common: Wonder Woman’s apparent lack of kindness and concern for the suffering of others when it inconveniences her. This, in my opinion, is antithetical to the character as a whole. As I stated before, Wonder Woman is a paragon of compassion, strength, peace and an icon of female empowerment. It doesn’t mean that she’s a demure pushover, but it also doesn’t mean that she has to be a stereotypical “women, am I right” style nagging girlfriend, either.
This issue doesn’t treat Clark any better, to be completely honest. This issue didn’t just ignore Diana’s benevolent tendencies, so much as foisted them onto Clark, who is (usually) kindhearted to a fault in his own right. Ignoring that the flashback painted him in a much more sympathetic light than he actually was in the first Justice League arc, Clark’s altruism appears meant to make him foppish, almost a “bleeding heart” so to speak in comparison to Diana.
It’s one thing to show Clark being a decent and gentlemanly human being, but both times his manners are showcased, they come at the expense and irritation of his girlfriend. It serves the purpose of making him look both more sympathetic than the cold, steel-hearted warrior princess and making her a put-upon love interest for an overbearing, condescending milquetoast. It’s like the writer is trying to have it both ways and failing miserably at both.
Now, from a relationship standpoint, one could buy that a woman would be a bit irked by her writer boyfriend working on a project when he promised they’d go out that night and said he’d be “done in ten minutes an hour ago.” And someone could even understand when their boyfriend, in the pouring rain, continues to let strangers take the taxis they had already been waiting on. If that was the intention for these scenes, to show Clark and Diana being an average couple, then that’s understandable.
However, these aren’t John and Jane Q. Public here. They are Superman and Wonder Woman respectively and again, I don’t expect them to be overly genteel delicate flowers of sunshine, but Diana didn’t have to be so unsubtly bitchy and Clark really did not have to be so overly nice and decent to where it’s almost beaten over the reader’s head how “opposite” they are. The title characters have been turned into ideological foils for each other and that really shouldn’t be the case. Both are champions of the downtrodden, the defenders of the defenseless, and paragons of hope, decency, justice and goodness. I’m not saying that they aren’t allowed to have feelings and foibles, but there’s a difference between having a character flaw and not being who you truly are. Moreover, compassion should never, EVER be considered a character flaw for a superhero. Particularly the two superheroes whom most embody the word.
I’d be remiss not to mention that there is a supervillain fight in the issue. Superman and Wonder Woman take on Atomic Skull and Major Disaster as the latter duo raids a nuclear plant and cause mayhem. It’s a bit cluttered and the titular heroes appeared to be taken down way too easily. It also sets up the arrival of a new character called Wonderstar at the end. After the debacle that was the “relationship scenes” with Clark and Diana, I found myself racing through to the last page.
The artist appeared to be incapable of drawing people who didn’t have what the internet commonly calls “resting bitch face.” Basically it’s a facial expression where someone can say they’re perfectly fine but look like they’re about to shoot flaming daggers at you from the portals of hell behind their eyeballs. The environments didn’t look too bad, and Atomic Skull looked impressive, although if one wanted to know how Marvel’s Ghost Rider looked with a Star Sapphire ring, this issue answers that particular question.
I’ve written these last two articles to illustrate that, as it stands right now, DC Comics has no idea how to write Wonder Woman. Yes, she is a Princess of a race of warriors isolated from mankind. But she was sent as an emissary for peace and understanding between the Amazons and the outside world. Everything I’ve seen of Diana since the New 52 began has focused more on the aggressive, fierce warrior side of Diana that she, the spirit of truth, kindness and compassion, became the new God of War. It’s a microcosm of how focused DC is on violence, grittiness and [the ever-popular buzzword among creators these days] “realism” in their stories. I’d love to elaborate but that’s another article.
In regards to Wonder Woman, I’m not quite sure what inspiration women are supposed to take from a female hero who is irrational and overly emotional in one book, and cold, irritable and damn near frigid in the other. Inconsistent writing is nothing new when it comes to how creators see and interpret the original Warrior Princess. She’s undergone as many changes and incarnations as her super-boyfriend and his broody, bat-themed BFF. But one thing that should never EVER change about her is that she is first, foremost, and forevermore, an agent of peace and compassion.