By: Charles Soule (story), Tony Daniel (pencils), Matt Banning & Sandu Florea (inks), Tomev Morey (colors)

The Story: If even the best man on Earth can be a bad boyfriend, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The Review: The tendency with writing Superman is to portray him as a goody-goody, such a paragon of model behavior that he comes frequently across as bland and unrelatable. That’s how he inspires both worshipful respect and defensive hatred from people, both fictional and otherwise. In real life, it takes real effort to maintain that degree of goodness, and in the new DCU, with a younger, brasher Clark, the suggestion is that it takes real effort for him, too.

But if Clark’s public virtues are the product of strict self-control, of suppressing an inclination to “punch down” (as Greg Pak always puts it), then we now have opportunities for him to relinquish that control. Such is the effect of the Doomsday infection, unleashing all those mean-spirited, primal thoughts that you’ve always wondered if Clark ever felt, much less repressed. It’s an interesting direction for Soule to take, exploring the psychological, rather than purely physical, dimensions of a Clark gone wild.

The fact that one of his first targets is Wonder Woman also gives the story an almost illicit thrill, like a racy piece of fanfiction or one of the more daring “What if…?” stories. Just as you’d never think of Diana as someone who’d engage in anything as mundane as dating, you’d definitely never think of her as someone who’d just stand there and take the kind of verbal abuse Clark’s giving her, from sexist irritation (“Guesss [sic] that’s what I get…for giving a girl a key. Should have known better. Never any privacy.”), to personal attacks (“You’re one to talk… You’re as much an alien as I am.”), to pervy comments (“Getting a little…lonely in here. Could use some commmpany [sic].”

But these remarks are included purely to illustrate how low Clark can sink in this state, so out-of-character that you don’t take them very seriously. His rant about how he feels jilted by Diana is a different story, unleashing a far more uncomfortable, potentially damaging set of emotions: “I told you I loved you months ago. You still can’t say it back. You’re so wrapped up in this icy…” The fact that he says this at the most lucid point of his transformation means there’s real discontent in their relationship, which they’ll have to deal with sooner or later.

But Clark does have a point. Diana may have been born on Earth, but she’s in many ways more alien than he is, raised on an island of all warrior women as she was. She may feel the same emotions as anyone else, but how she expresses and deals with them is completely different from our cultural norms. Little wonder she comes across as a bit chilly in response to Clark’s passionate ramblings, assuring him, “If things…deteriorate, then yes, I will make sure you cannot hurt anyone. But I do not believe we are there yet.” It’s more tactical than emotional, but that’s Diana for you.

Actually, that’s one thing Soule does remarkably well, which is write strong, convincing women. Cat Grant and Lois Lane are no less assertive and confident than Diana, but they’re clearly different forces. It’s kind of a lovely to see the contrasts between Diana’s always composed, thoughtful exterior (“No matter how you got the story, turning it into all this couldn’t have been easy. Well done, really.”), Cat’s businesslike directness (“[T]his is supposed to be a partnership. We both have to carry our weight, and I think I’m well within my rights to let you know when you’re letting your end drop.”), and Lois’ borderline verbal diarrhea (“You know, fellas, I’m as impressed by those guns as any red-blooded American gal, but you really think you need six of them?”).

As you can well imagine, this issue is nearly all talking heads, but what pretty heads they are. Daniel’s incapable of drawing anyone as less than inhumanly attractive, which makes the visuals easy on the eyes even if there’s not much going on. But like a lot of artists who place so much emphasis on looks, characters, especially female ones, have a tendency to come out looking the same, only with different haircuts. Other than that, Daniel’s slow, piecemeal reveal of Clark’s physical changes adds a little suspense to his transformation, even though all the Doomed covers have ruined any possible shock or surprise value it might have had.

Conclusion: In an otherwise tepid sort of plot, Soule manages to infuse some real moments of character, making for a credibly uncomfortable read.

Grade: B

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - Anyone care to explain Lois’ glowing eyes? Is this part of some other Superman storyline I’m missing?

- It’s always amusing how the pants manage to stay on when the shirt is ripped to shreds.

- Diana’s new abilities as the god of war include being able to mentally communicate with and command soldiers. Nice to see her stretching her divine legs a bit.

Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: Cat Grant, Charles Soule, Clark Kent, DC, DC Comics, Diana Prince, Doomed, Doomsday, Kal-El, Lois Lane, Matt Banning, Sandu Florea, Superman, Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman/Wonder Woman #8, Superman/Wonder Woman #8 review, Tomev Morey, Tony Daniel, Wonder Woman

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