T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Superman/Wonder Woman #27 hit the stands on Wednesday as part of a busy New Comic Book Day for the Man of Steel. Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Cliff Richards brought readers the penultimate chapter of the Savage Dawn saga, and ComiConverseâs Metropolis Marvel correspondent, T. Kyle King, is here with a review.
In Slam Bang, the newly re-empowered Action Ace leads a collection of heroes in a battle royal against Vandal Savage and his metahuman descendants. The immortal cavemanâs long years of planning are coming to fruition, but is the Last Son of Kryptonâs solar-charged strength a match for the villainsâ comet-enhanced capabilities?
The Justice League and the other superheroes who came to aid Metropolis during Vandalâs attack prepare to square off with Savageâs children. The heroesâ efforts to convince their antagonists of their father’sÂ bad intentions fall on deaf ears, and the instability caused by the celestial wandererâs mutations eventually destroys all of the mastermindâs brood.
Aided by the Puzzler, Vandal propels himself upward to meet the approaching comet, but he is pursued into the sky by Superman. The Man of Tomorrow catches up to his ancient adversary at the edge of the debris field surrounding the streaking cosmic ball of ice, where the two foes steel themselves for their final confrontation.
Throughout Truth, the strength of this series consistently has been Doug Mahnkeâs pencils, so the substitution of another artist in his stead was a bit of a disappointment. To Richardsâ credit, his styleÂ in Superman/Wonder Woman #27 is similar to the bookâs typical look, but Mahnkeâs finely detailed muscular striations and facial features are not adequately replicated in Slam Bang. Richardsâs good faith attempts at matching Mahnke suffer by comparison, most noticeably in Salvaxeâs raised veins, which look more like the dividing lines on Ben Grimmâs rocky body for an entirely different publisher.
If ever there was going to be a comic book for which a lack of fine detail was a feature rather than a bug, though, Superman/Wonder Woman #27 is it. Slam Bang is all about big visuals and kinetic energy. With Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Stargirl, Steel, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Flash, Cyborg, Captain Marvel, Adam Strange, the Beastmaster, and the omnipresent Frankenstein all getting in on the action, it isÂ understandable that the backgrounds are all motion lines and wide skies with fading hues. Nevertheless, the lack of attention to detail becomes glaring when the normally reliable Wil Quintana mistakenly paints Shazamâs costume in Supermanâs colors.
Because Superman/Wonder Woman #27 is all action, the writing is no more nuanced than the graphics. The dialogue is functional at best, beginning with Supermanâs awkward opening exposition (âHere they come. Powered up by the comet. Vandalâs new world order.â) and continuing with Wonder Womanâs plan of action (âThree words. Fast and furious.â). Vandal Savage offers the closest thing to subtlety of expression, and he provides the issueâs best line when he tells his robotic son, âThank you and shut up, Puzzler.â
Superman/Wonder Woman #27 serves largely as a bridge between the historic 50th issues of Action Comics and Superman. Since Slam Bang exists mostly as a means to an end, and is an installment of a series that itself will end as the New 52 gives way to Rebirth, its form follows its function. This issue serves the limited purposes of getting the long-sidelined Justice League back into action and dispensing with the latest wave of Vandal Savageâs now explicitly dispensable descendants.
âTheyâre unstable!â announces Cyborg. âYour bodies arenât able to handle the increasing powerâ, explains Wonder Woman. âYouâre mutatingâ, warns Green Lantern. One remarkably self-contained explosion later, and Diana is able to declare: âVandalâs progeny… gone… all of them… nothing left…â With that, the threat of any villainy other than solely Savageâs is tied up neatly. Even Wonder Womanâs umpteenth tired rehash of an overly familiar trope:Â severing a limb from one of the twins, is excused by his ability to regrow his missing appendage before he disintegrates.
Slam Bang accomplishes its narrow objective by getting rid of the inconvenient offspring who were no longer useful to the story, and setting the stage for the inevitable one-on-one confrontation between Superman and Vandal Savage. The literary critic of the second novel of William Faulknerâs Snopes trilogy as âa rather frail and limber board placed across two firmly based stoolsâ could just as easily have been written aboutÂ Superman/Wonder Woman #27.
Before we turn to Superman #50, though, this is your chance to share your thoughts on the next-to-last chapter of Savage Dawn. Please ComiConverse with us in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
This issue does exactly what is required of it, but not one iota more.