In Review: Superwoman #5

A lot of build up for the punches coming next issue.

The covers: The text of this Regular cover states “Dark Mirror” and that sums up what’s occurring. Superwoman is being pursued over Metropolis by a mirror version of herself. The energy coming off both characters looks great. This cover is by Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez. I like the look of both characters and the city below them looks good. The coloring is smart, with cool blues making the rose of the characters pop off the page. The Variant cover is by Ben Oliver and it’s one I purchased. This has a close up of Superwoman lifting a helicopter, I think, in her left hand and holding the vehicle’s gun in her right. She looks incredible. She is strong and threatening, with electricity crackling out of her head and her eyes creating a lens flare effect. I’m not a fan of computer use to blur a picture, but it works here. This perfectly captures the wonder and fright of a super powered being. Overall grades: both A

The story: “Impressive Instant” by Phil Jimenez begins in dramatic fashion with Lena Luthor appearing in her new persona as Ultrawoman. She’s wearing a greatly enhanced version of her brother Lex’s green and purple armor. She contacts the citizens of the United States saying, “The Lexcorp technology you’re integrated into every aspect of your daily lives…the technology I invented…is under my control.” She has transformed her brother’s ship, the Gestalt, into a vehicle that will launch the culling of Metropolis’s citizens. She commands, “Creations…initiate,” and her female Bizarros are unleashed to raze the city. In addition to the destruction that they cause, they create temporal cubes which collect the people of the city. What Lena plans to do with these people is the threat that Lana Lang has to deal with. The heroine is with John Henry Irons trying to figure out what she will do, considering if she were to use her powers they would speed up her death. Not helping is that she appears to be haunted by Lois Lane. This could be an actual spirit or it could be a psychological manifestation of Lana’s guilt; it’s been done a thousand times over in other works and if that’s what’s being done here it’s okay. There are two additional heroes that go into action when Lana doesn’t and their scenes are good, but the outcome of their contributions is expected. This issue is by the numbers comic book storytelling with few surprises, with 16 being good, but this installment is a transition piece in this story, or the calm before the storm if you will. The ending is setting things up for the revelation of one character’s origin and the climax of the tale. Because of this, I can forgive the predictability. It’s readable, to be sure, but not much really happens. Overall grade: C+ 

The art: The pencils on this issue are by Phil Jimenez and inked by Matt Santorelli. Every page is like a mini-masterpiece. The full paged splash of Page 1 is a terrific image that establishes Ultrawoman for the reader. She looks like a malevolent god. The second page establishes the level of technology that she commands, which then transitions to the Gestalt. This ship looks like a twisted piece of Robotech technology. The entrance of the Bizarro women is cinematic; I really love that they enter with sliding doors and an expulsion of smoke. The double page spread of 4 and 5 that shows the taking of Metropolis is epic, with plenty of explosions, people running in terror, and sinister imperfect clones. This is exactly how the taking of a city should be illustrated. John’s first full panel of the issue shows his buffed body and instantly paints him as a hero. Lana’s, conversely, has her with her back to the reader, showing her to be out of the situation because she can’t be seen. This is as unheroic as a character can be. When she does show her face to the reader, she’s frustrated, complimenting her dialogue. This all leads to a terrific transformation into Superwoman on Page 13 that changes the tone of the book. My favorite page of the book would have to be 16, because it shows the pain of existence for that character. There are only two pages when the title character is in action. They’re great and set up the surprise on the final page, but I would have preferred to see more Superwoman in my Superwoman comic. Overall grade: A-

The colors: There are no flaws to be found in Jeromy Cox and Tony Avina’s work. Both colorists worked on this issue, but the work looks as though it was accomplished by only one individual. There’s no mention in the credits who is responsible for which page, but there are several pages with strong coloring: Page 4 has incredible explosion work; 8 has a frosty pale green used for the backgrounds in several panels, which places the focus on the characters; 12 has sensational work done on Ultrawoman’s face and a great explosion of energy from Lana; 13 is beautiful for all the work done in the first panel; and 18 and 19 are tremendous with the use of reds. This is great work throughout. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, narration, Bizarro women dialogue, broadcasts, screams, sounds, the story’s title, story’s credits, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Rob Leigh. I am always grateful when a letterer uses a different font for a book’s narration and dialogue. This book is silent for much of the action, which is a shame as Leigh has done some great sound effects in other books. It wasn’t his decision to keep these pages silent, but I hope in the future he can bring his expertise to punch up future fights. Particular attention should be drawn to the font he’s using for the Bizarro women’s dialogue — it’s as frightful as their appearance. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A lot of build up for the punches coming next issue. A decent installment, but nothing that will be memorable for readers in a year. Overall grade: B+

To order a digital copy of this book go to https://www.comixology.com/Superwoman-2016-5/digital-comic/430954?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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