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 #6, released this past week, kicked the series into high gear. Creator Phil Jimenez contributed the script and the layouts to the chapter of the opening Who Killed Superwoman? arc subtitled Come Dancing. T. Kyle King, who covers all DC Comics superheroes wearing S’s on their chests, offers his thoughts on the most recent edition.
Superwoman #6 Review:
Ultrawoman is unleashing her inhuman scheme. Lex Luthor is imprisoned in a tesseract. Lois Lane is dead, and Lana Lang doesn’t feel so good herself. What bizarre alliances will have to be formed for Lena Luthor to be defeated, and at what price?
(Warning: Spoilers Follow!)
Superwoman #6 Synopsis:
Aided by an injured Mercy Graves, Lex attempts futilely to escape confinement. Lana battles both her own doppelgänger and her failing health before being rescued by one of Ultrawoman’s rogue Bizarro clones. Learning the details of Lena’s nefarious design, Superwoman organizes a resistance effort and plots to free Lex in order to enlist his invaluable aid.
Accompanied by the turncoat Bizarro clone, Lana locates Luthor in his chronological cage within the bowels of Lexcorp Tower. Lex reveals the history of his relationship with his sister, rationalizing his actions but failing to convince Superwoman of his good intentions. Kryptonite Man and the clone uncover a way to release Luthor from his tesseract, but his liberator — the Atomic Skull — demands a high ransom for his deliverance.
Superwoman #6 Analysis:
Come Dancing was the issue in which Superwoman at last came into its own and started to escape the shadow of its ignominious beginning. Jimenez’s dual role as both wordsmith and graphic artist gave Who Killed Superwoman? — Part 6 a unified feel that was not diminished by the inclusion of finishes by Matt Santorelli and six pages of pencils and inks by Jack Herbert. Hi-Fi’s colors, Rob Leigh’s remarkably meticulous lettering, and a cover that was the handiwork of Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Marcelo Maiolo — the visual arts team who recently collaborated on Superman #14 — added a few more cooks, but that did not spoil the broth of Superwoman #6, which was a good looking issue augmented by relatively realistic body types and female portrayals that steered clear of the most egregious comic book offenses.
This issue is about each central character’s brave defiance in refusing to accept her fate. The pronoun is gender-specific because the male actors are full of sound and fury but signify nothing until the final page. Before that, Kryptonite Man mumbles, Lex Luthor fumbles, and John Henry Irons grumbles, whereas Mercy Graves raises her head after being left for dead to divulge a key datum, Traci 13 safeguards Steelworks, Natasha Irons literally builds an army, the Bizarro clone asserts her independence, Lena Luthor overcomes her brother’s callous condescension in her own warped way, and Lois Lane and Lana Lang stand firm in the face of death itself to continue the struggle. Lana declares to her duplicate that she and her kind are irreplaceable, not interchangeable… and so they are.
Superwoman #6 stands in interesting contrast to Action Comics #971, which was released the same Wednesday. Not only do both issues feature an imprisoned armor-wearing Lex Luthor in an adventure in which a Mother Box figures prominently, but they also involve the brilliant supervillain explaining the inspirations that drove him to become what he now is. Jimenez’s more detailed exegesis of Lex’s origin paints a perfectly twisted picture of both his arrogance and his excuses, for which Lana refuses to be an enabler. Their exchange is among the strongest character-driven colloquies in recent memory. The subtitle of Who Killed Superwoman? — Part 6 also is the title of an ‘80s ditty about melancholy nostalgia for a lost past, and Superwoman #6 continues Jimenez’s trend of highlighting Bronze Age mainstays (although, given the effort to free Lex, one ‘70s standout is conspicuous for his absence).
It increasingly is apparent that Lois actually is alive, and Come Dancing makes it clear where, if not precisely how. The Bizarro clone can see both Superwomen, proving Lane is no mere figment of Lang’s imagination, and the revelation that Ultrawoman intends “to invade the Phantom Zone” obliquely explains the ghostly Lois’s ethereal presence. (This, too, is a nod to history, from Mon-El to Krypto.) Early on, Jimenez encouraged readers to stay with the series because Lois’s “story isn’t over yet”; Superwoman #6 offers the best evidence yet that the payoff for remaining with the book ultimately will turn out to have been worth it.
Are you staying on the bandwagon to find out Who Killed Superwoman?
Come dancing in the comments and ComiConverse with us about Superwoman #6!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Plotting, pacing, callbacks, and characterization were the hallmarks of this strong installment, which helped to overcome the shocking disappointment of the series’ beginning.