August 19, 2015 – There is a moment in Superman Wonder Woman issue 20 that makes it, by far, one of the strongest Superman stories I have ever read. Superman has had a rocky road in his New 52 run, but has had several triumphant moments with writers such as Geoff Johns, Gene Luen Yang, and Greg Pak. I’ve long enjoyed Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s work on Superman Wonder Woman and their run is still the Superman comic I most enjoy. The first act of Dark Truth Part Three “A Matter of Truth” features Clark Kent/Superman having an intense debate with A.R.G.U.S. agent Steve Trevor. Clark Kent wishes to have an audience with the President of the United States after the Suicide Squad was deployed to his hometown of Smallville. Instead he gets Wonder Woman’s ex Steve Trevor and the two men argue. When push comes to shove, Clark Kent, “just a proud American with nothing to hide” as Trevor puts it, says:
“I was raised in Kansas by farmers, went to school, delivered newspapers, went to church, moved to Metropolis where I put on a pair of glasses, combed my hair differently and went to work for a daily newspaper, all the while waiting for the right moment I could put my powers to use.”
The moment works so incredibly well that you can’t help but wonder if Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke knew they had a winning moment all along or if it just worked out that way. It also happens to work as such a great series of panels as we see Wonder Woman make her way through guards, pry open reinforced doors, and make her way to the prison chambers Clark’s friends are being kept in. I’ve never mentioned the work of an editor in any of my previous comic reviews so I’d like to point out how fantastic a job assistant editor Andrew Marino and group editor Eddie Berganza did. Superman Wonder Woman issue 20 is a tightly paced story that maintains a level of authentic intensity. Issue 20 also happens to be the most sincere moment in DC’s New 52 and Post-Convergence timeline that seems to truly embody the spirit of the Man of Steel in every way that reflects back to his original creation and appearance in Action Comics issue 1.
The public outing of Clark Kent as Superman was an interesting creative decision, but up until now I’ve felt there hasn’t been a strong enough moment in play directly because of it. We’ve seen his life fall apart especially at a time where his powers are at their weakest. But it’s his meeting with Steve Trevor where we really get to see Clark have to defend who he is and everything he stands for in a way we’ve never seen before within the New 52. While writers have attempted to modernize Superman in a way that his mantra is no longer “truth, justice, and the American way”, we see writer Peter J. Tomasi return to that in a big way. Having Clark Kent directly and openly state his upbringing in Kansas, “going to church”, and working “for a daily newspaper” seems almost as shocking as it’s welcome within the pages of Superman Wonder Woman.
While Peter J. Tomasi has traditionally balanced Superman and Wonder Woman’s roles within his series, issue 20 does feel more like a Superman comic featuring Wonder Woman. It’s not a critique in any way against this issue especially considering just how much I enjoyed this particular chapter. However if you are a Wonder Woman fan, you might be a little disappointed with her role being so small.
There are many admirable qualities about Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s Superman Wonder Woman issue 20. First of all, it features (if I’m not mistaken) the comic book debut of President Obama within the New 52 constructed history. Admittedly, the President is never directly named as Obama, but Doug Mahnke’s art definitely depicts the DC Universe’s commander in chief as our very own. Issue 20 also features the return of classic Superman villain Parasite. The big action scene in issue 20 is of Superman battling Parasite on the grounds of the White House. It’s a big scene in a rather low-key issue filled with more exposition and dialogue than physical heroics. Lastly, I’ve made no secret that Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s usage of Lana Lang has easily been one of the strongest features in Action Comics and in Superman. While she’s in Superman Wonder Woman issue 20, she doesn’t have such a large role, but this issue mainly concerns itself with Clark Kent. Yet is her first panel we see Lana Lang incarcerated alongside Steel, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen among others. And how is Lana spending her time in A.R.G.U.S.’s futuristic prison? Doing push-ups. Twenty-one and counting! She’s a great equal to Superman and her relationship with John Henry Irons a.k.a. Steel is easily one of the more intriguing aspects of the New 52 Superman myth. She deserves a solo series or a team-up series with Steel. Here’s hoping this happens sooner rather than later!
Superman Wonder Woman issue 20 is out now and gets five stars!