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 #9 represented a change of direction for the series, as K. Perkins took over the writing duties, Stephen Segovia began handing the pencilling chores, and the impact of Superman: Reborn began to be felt in a tale titled Steel Resolve. ComiConverse’s Kryptonian correspondent, T. Kyle King, reviews the most recent issue.
(Warning: Spoilers follow!)
Superwoman #9 Review:
Lana Lang has emerged from the Kryptonian armor into what literally is a different world. Without the powers that made her Superwoman yet threatened to kill her, will Clark Kent’s Smallville friend be depressed or overjoyed… and will she still be a hero?
Superwoman #9 Synopsis:
After giving her ghostly visitors the red energy that made the reunification of the pre-Flashpoint and New 52 timelines possible, Lana returns to reality. Superman releases her from the healing armor from his homeworld while John Henry Irons and Lois Lane stand ready to lend assistance. Kelex scans Lana and finds none of the energy signatures that gave her superpowers. While Lang struggles with returning to ordinary human existence, Maggie Sawyer prepares a Metropolis Special Crimes Unit squad led by the Atomic Skull for a mission to recapture Remnant.
John Henry finds he cannot help Lana, so he calls Clark to Smallville to speak with her. Superman flies her to Metropolis to show her the positive impact she had on the city as Superwoman. As the Atomic Skull takes the battle to Remnant in the city’s underground electric tunnels in defiance of Captain Sawyer’s orders, Kent confides to Lang that he needs her help with a greater threat. Before he can explain what he means, the supervillain battle beneath them explodes up to street level. Lana is able to lend her aid to bystanders, convincing her that she still has a role to play.
Superwoman #9 Analysis:
Steel Resolve may be a clever title, but it constitutes false advertising, as no one in this issue is the least bit steadfast, and the wishy-washiness eventually becomes wearying. John Henry and Lois move to help Lana, but Superman stops them, telling them to “let her do it”… then, two panels and one question later, Clark is right beside her, offering reassurance and a helping hand. Lang feels both bitter and liberated, prompting her to alternate between viciousness and whimpering as she asks herself clueless questions that demonstrate her complete ignorance of the existence of emotional ambivalence. Superman insists that the powerless Superwoman stand with him in the coming calamity, yet he tells Lana to run for cover when a lesser danger arrives moments later. Lang serves as a human shield for a couple of kids and yells at Remnant, distracting the bad guy long enough for the Man of Tomorrow to hurl a car at him, and this puts her mind at ease that her lack of metahuman abilities is no big deal.
None of this comes remotely close to making any sort of sense, and every consequential plot development is entirely contrived. Lana, who didn’t want to be Superwoman and whose life was saved by the surrender of the energy that gave her superpowers, ought to be thrilled at her restoration to normality, but, because Superwoman #9 needs a reason to have Steel send for Superman, Lang has to be given an excuse for being needlessly nasty to Irons. Maggie likewise has to turn into Colonel Nathan R. Jessup to set the stage for the Atomic Skull to go rogue in the midst of a complex plan that involves sending a radioactive operative into underground tunnels lined with electrical cables. To top it all off, the Metropolis skyline suddenly is dominated by buildings — including the city’s bastion of journalistic integrity, the Daily Planet — decorated with posters of Superwoman several stories high.
Every development central to Steel Resolve is plucked from the ether, having no genesis in any prior installment. The best moments in Superwoman #9, on the other hand, all were done better elsewhere. The girls on the playground pretending to be Superwoman could have been effective, if a more inspiring example of the same sequence hadn’t appeared a week before in Supergirl #8. The Action Ace’s efforts to elicit the assistance of all members of the Superman Family would have worked well had not a more stirring version of that conversation occurred earlier in New Super-Man #10. By comparison, this story merely went through the motions, painting by the numbers without regard to anything resembling coherence.
The spotty plotting of Steel Resolve was mirrored in the issue’s inconsistent artwork. The normally reliable talents of Segovia, inker Art Thibert, and colorist Hi-Fi combined to produce some pretty unimpressive, and often awkward, images in Superwoman #9, particularly in the initial pages. The graphics got better in the later action sequences, but the more static early scenes were rendered in an unimaginative and slapdash manner. The only contributors to this issue who turned in consistent craftsmanship were letterer Josh Reed and cover artist Billy Tan. Now that this series has served its purpose in bridging the gap separating the New 52 from Rebirth, it is time for Superwoman to end as it began, in ignominious demise.
Was the gravestone on the cover a portent of the future for this increasingly aimless title?
ComiConverse with us in the comments and share your thoughts on Superwoman #9!
This was perhaps the poorest effort yet in a series that has struggled to figure out what it is supposed to be, raising questions whether it is time to pull the plug on this misfiring title.