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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Superwoman #5 reached the shelves this week with an adventure scripted and sketched by creator Phil Jimenez. In a story entitled Impressive Instant, the villain responsible for Lois Lane’s death has taken control of Metropolis. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to share his thoughts on the new installment.
(Warning: Some spoilers follow!)
Superwoman #5 Review:
Unearthly Ultrawoman Lena Luthor has conquered Metropolis through the technology she commands, and she is using Bizarro clones and temporal cubes to capture and compartmentalize everything and everyone in the city. Is the physically and mentally disintegrating Lana Lang up to the challenge of confronting her inhuman antagonists?
Superwoman #5 Synopsis:
Ultrawoman has taken control of the Lexcorp technology she designed, which is an integral part of the information infrastructure on which Metropolis operates. Lena unleashes her Bizarro clones to corral citizens, collect curios, and decimate the landscape. Her primary objective is to capture Superwoman.
A network of guerrilla operatives — including the Daily Star’s George Taylor, Maggie Sawyer, John Henry Irons, Natasha Irons, and Traci 13 — works beneath the surface to track Lena’s patterns and form an effective resistance. Lana knows that Lena’s mutated bioform requires enormous amounts of energy since her mind bonded with the Anti-Mother Box, but, when Natasha is injured rescuing Bibbo Bibbowski, Superwoman is drawn out of hiding… and into a dangerous clash with a pair of familiar foes.
Superwoman #5 Analysis:
Impressive Instant is seemingly a transitional issue, as evidenced in part by the absence of any titular questions concerning Who Killed Superwoman. The ghost of Lois is almost an afterthought in a story that focuses more on Lana’s emotional associations with the Steelworks team of John Henry, Natasha, and Traci than on her ties to the late Daily Planet reporter who may just be “my subconscious mind yapping at me as a judgmental, fast-talking brunette in wedge heels.” Lane — initially advertised as the star of the book — could just be in Lang’s head, existing solely to turn the redhead’s internal monologue into an uncomfortable dialogue.
Although the series’ foundation was built on a fridging, Superwoman #5 is a remarkably female-driven narrative. It is not until the issue’s sixth page that a male character has a speaking part, and the man is the more passive participant in every interaction between the sexes, whether it involves Nadidah and George, Sawyer and Gibson, Lana and John Henry, Natasha and Bibbo, or Lena and the members of her “menagerie of agents”. The only exchanges between ostensible equals in Impressive Instant match Natasha and Traci, who, not coincidentally, are the only two characters in the issue who succeed in balancing thought and action.
Superwoman #5 attempts to explain some plot points, but the story remains dense with details, technobabble, and more Easter eggs than a Faberge factory. Allusions abound, the pervasive cyber-crime is disturbingly timely, and Lena seems to trace her fictional lineage to everything from Star Trek to The Defenders. While Jorge Jimenez’s and Alejandro Sanchez’s unsubtle cover features a distressingly Liefeld-like Lana Lang, the internal artwork of Impressive Instant is richly nuanced and convincing, up to and including the issue’s iconic closing image.
This series, whose beginning was tough to forgive, offers a lot to unpack. We knew the New 52 Lana remained bound to other DC Comics publications, but an eye-opening Clark Kent cameo in Superwoman #5 underscored an inquiry this issue asked explicitly: “Where’s the Justice League… Where’s Superman”? In individual snippets, Phil Jimenez’s writing and graphics are sharp and effective, but the persistence of the book’s puzzling plotlines and the ongoing shock waves from its off-putting opening thus far have prevented this series from adding up to the sum of its parts. Readers frequently are offered such impressive instants as the tantalizing suggestion that the most vocal Bizarro clone is secretly Lois Lane, but whether and how these will tie together in the end remain hoped for but yet unseen.
Did you remain on board through Superwoman #5?
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T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
While well written and impressively illustrated, this series remains a hodgepodge of references reminiscent of Grant Morrison… but without the promise of a Morrison-sized payoff.