I finally got around to reading Superwoman Volume 1 this past week, which was released as individual issues in 2016, and in trade format in early 2017. The series was short lived, having been cancelled after a mere 18 issues earlier this year. Nonetheless, DC got three trades out of the book, which to me seemed like a serious attempt to reach a broader audience within the Super-books.
More on that in a minute.
I actually found this book to be pretty solid in its quality. Phil Jimenez writes and draws this story and does a great job. Jimenez is a very talented creator, and this is not his first time writing and drawing a book (his Wonder Woman run from the early 2000s comes to mind). I have been a fan of his since I read Countdown to Infinite Crisis wayyy back in 2005, and since then I’ve discovered his work on X-Men, Tempest, and even Transformers, all of which has been stellar. Phil does a wonderful job packing story into one issue, developing characters and drawing beautiful pictures. As an artist, I’d say Jimenez specializes in two areas: 1) female characters who look strong, athletic and pretty realistic, as opposed to being overly sexualized (as so many in the comic book field are want to do), and 2) pages packed with action and tons of characters, a la his idol, George Perez. In short, Phil Jimenez was tailor-made for this book.
The stars of the book are basically characters from Superman’s universe who are not being used in any of the other Rebirth books- Lana Lang and Lois Lane (New 52 versions), Steel, Natasha Irons, Lena Luthor and Maggie Sawyer, among others. The story oscillates from being a buddy cop movie between Lois and Lana and a typical Superman adventure, in which Metropolis is threatened by a powerful menace somehow involving Lex Luthor. Even so, despite the big cast, it hardly feels like a dumping ground for characters and really does flow nicely together. There is a good mix of action and characterization, and the book moves at a fairly nice pace. Jimenez knows how to tell a good story and the dialogue and art are easy and fun to read.
As I mentioned above, there seems to be a concerted effort among all the DC Rebirth Superman titles to not only reboot and rebrand Superman in a more traditional way, but also to reach multiple kinds of audiences. There’s the typical Superman and Action Comics titles, but there’s also Super Sons, New Super-Man, Supergirl and Superwoman. The risk with a diverse lineup is that I think at times it can feel very forced and exclusively sales-driven, but each of these books makes a lot of sense. One would think Superwoman was an attempt to bring in a female audience in a corner of DC where readers are typically male, and I’m totally cool with that. Lois Lane and Lana Lang are established characters and this book is a continuation of stories written for them during New 52.
The problem for me, with all this, is that it is New 52. All of the aforementioned characters who make up this huge cast are castaways from the previous status quo, which, quite frankly, I hated. To make matters worse, the book spins directly out of events from perhaps the worst New 52 Superman story, “The Final Days of Superman,” which was basically DC admitting that New 52 Superman didn’t work and writing him out of the book. Lois and Lana’s super powers were acquired when their Kal-El died, and this book is about them dealing with the repercussions. Their Clark, and that story, are mentioned often, which weakens the book for me quite a bit. I love Rebirth because it righted the ship with Superman, and as such, we don’t need to keep revisiting bad stories.
Just my two cents, anyway.
If I did have another gripe it would be the previously held New 52 tendency to get a little too cute and to connect storylines too much- Lana dating Steel, Maggie Sawyer being in Metropolis again, the Daily Star and George Taylor being the main paper and EiC, respectively. All of it feels a bit too convenient. When the same 5-10 characters occupy the same world and run into each other all the time, it makes that world feel smaller. Say what you will about the 90s, but the “triangle numbering” era did feel like Superman’s world was a HUGE city, with new characters popping up all the time. I could have used a bit more of that here, especially with Jimenez’s awesome cityscapes.
I can’t say this was a bad book. Far from it. All in all, if you don’t care about New 52 vs Rebirth, or don’t have any particular preference for Superman status quo, you’ll probably be able to overlook the things that bugged me and enjoy this book immensely. There’s definitely plenty of good stuff here, just not my cup of tea, per se.
I just hope at some point we can finally leave New 52 behind and give Phil Jimenez something more worth his time.
Capeage Meter: 5 out of 10