In Review: Superwoman #1

Wow! DC has another hit on their hands!

The covers: This premiere issue features two covers. The Regular cover is by Phil Jimenez and Steve Downer. Flying up the center is Superwoman, her fist held high and her cape leaving a crimson streak in her wake. To her right are bust shots of Steel and Lex Luthor, while below this pair is a mysterious woman in shadow and a fiery looking Superwoman. To her left are Superman, Lois Lane, and two women I don’t know and don’t appear anywhere in this book. At the very bottom of the entire image is a farm and fields of wheat. When a cover shows off major characters it looks great, and this cover certainly does. There’s a lot of reds and oranges on this, which pulls the focus from the title character (…characters?). Tempering this color might have made this stronger. The Variant cover is a stunner from Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson. This is shot of Superwoman holding a car above her head. She looks fantastic and the car, which is barely glimpsed, has its undercarriage at the same angle as the book’s logo — extremely smart! This is the image that’s going to grab readers and one I’m going to have to track down since my local comic book store sold out of this cover. Naturally, this was the cover I had to use to accompany this review. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant A+

The story: Lana Lang is the issue’s narrator, introducing the reader to Superwoman by beginning this story a few weeks ago. At the Kent farm she’s watching Lois Lane lift a $30,000 John Deere over her head. Lois compliments Lana for what she did for Clark when he was young, “Hell, he could’ve laid waste to the whole planet, but he never did. Because of you. He told me you taught him control. You taught him how to use his powers in a way no one else could have.” Lana sees through her words, “You want me to do the same for you?” The training begins, but writer Phil Jimenez moves the story to Metropolis of today, where Superwoman is flying over the city, passing four jet fighters. This is followed by Bethany Snow reporting on the arrival of Superwoman to the city and asking who she is. A brief summary of her exploits is given and how social media is recording her adventures. Even Steel is shown welcoming her to the city. However, her face is never filmed without it being blurred, which upsets the mucky mucks of The Daily Star network, but their broadcast moves to Lana covering a story that involves something Lex Luthor has built. Jimenez has certainly captured the voice of Luthor, whose every word drips with arrogance. Naturally something goes wrong, so Lana signals her friend and things happen. During the action there’s a one page flashback showing Lana working with Lois to improve her abilities, and it features a surprising side effect which telegraphs this will lead to something major in a future story. Though Lois was the expected Superwoman in this issue, I was surprised by the arrival of another on Page 12. Where did that come from? This was a welcome surprise and this other Superwoman was much more interesting to me: she came off as much smarter than Lois and she looked much cooler. 16 foreshadows problems for this second heroine, and I’m anxious to see what this goes. The issue ends with a cliffhanger, as the two women find something that’s not pleased to see them. I enjoyed this story and I want to find out more about the characters. Overall grade: A

The art: Phil Jimenez is responsible for the pencils and Matt Santorelli does the inks. Jimenez’s work is very similar to the work of George Perez, and if a reader is a fan of that look, he or she will enjoy this book. The first three panels on the opening page show the reader that this book will look sensational: it’s a triptych showing the Kent farm and it looks incredible. The close up of Lana in the fourth panel is a wonderful introduction to the character which gives her a very intense and serious tone. The fifth panel shows Lois lifting the tractor and it’s an impeccably rendered vehicle, shown from a terrific angle. Pages 2 and 3 are a double-paged splash that shows Superwoman speeding over Metropolis and it’s a perfect introduction to her in costume. Ten panels comprise the fourth page, showing the news blitz that’s following the arrival of Metropolis’s newest hero. The arrival of the character in the first panel on 6 is great, giving him a commanding presence. The vehicle that crosses from 6 to 7 is high tech cool, and I half expected its captain to be in black leather and have an eye patch. The bodies that go flying on 9 look really cool; this isn’t shown in superhero flicks, so it’s cool to see this being done in this book with such details. My favorite page is 12, which features a dazzling debut. More of this, please! 15 has fifteen panels, which seems an unbelievable amount of work to put on a page, but it is in no way overcrowded; everything looks perfect in an incredibly tense situation. The bookend heads at the bottom of the page look really cool. Every page has several panels, of different shapes and sizes, that give the book an epic scale; yet, and I must mention this again, nothing overwhelms the entire page — each image is perfectly sized and composed for the page. It’s mind numbingly detailed work. A reader’s eye could spend a long, worthy time pouring over all the work in this book. A beautiful job. Overall grade: A+

The colors: With such small panels and detailed work, it falls upon Jeromy Cox to use his coloring skills to make every element stand out. And, boy, does he! Look at the wonderful work on the opening page’s farm. Take note of how he uses yellow to give the setting a complete farm feel. Cox smartly makes the backdrop of Metropolis very pale to Superwoman flying above, and her colors are incredibly bright, instantly making her a strong character. Page 4’s television screens have a slick faded palette to allow the reader to identify them as broadcast images. The oranges used for sounds on 8 nicely pop off the page. It’s the reds and oranges on 12 that really caught my eye because they explode off the page with power, much in the way a Green Lantern’s emerald emanates energy. The final setting has a terrific green to show it’s technological background, but it also allows the villain of the issue to seem more eerie. Cox’s work makes the visuals reach their full potential. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, the date, signage, dialogue, narration and broadcasted news, the story’s title, the list of credits, sounds, yells, strained speech, and the tease for next issue hail from the exhausted Rob Leigh. I say this because he must be after inserting so much — and there’s an incredible amount — text into this book. It’s amazing that none of his work steps onto the art, leaving the reader wondering what he or she should be looking at. Seriously, take a look at 17 — that’s impressive! For a letterer to do this shows the work of a pro. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Wow! DC has another hit on their hands! This packs so much story and so much art into one issue, the cover price should be much, much more for what’s given. I eagerly await seeing more adventures of these two heroes. Overall grade: A

To find out more about this book go to http://www.dccomics.com/comics/superwoman-2016/superwoman-1?adid=dcml2_SUPERWOMAN-1

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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