Thursday, July 16, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Superman/Wonder Woman #19
What is true love? My grandfather said true love is being able to throw up in a toilet while your lover holds your hair and sings to you. My ex-girlfriends would disagree, but I'm convinced that some of them don't know the difference between true love and having an neutered dog. This is a debate that has baffled philosophers, emperors, and shitty movies for ages. I sure as hell can't debate this kind of shit when I'm overly sober, but I can at least accept one argument. We know love when we see it.
And right now, anyone who doesn't have a raging hard-on for Lois Lane has to say that the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship is the kind of love that would make a guy like me quit drinking. They're a relationship of equals. Their not defined by their love for each other. They're made stronger and happier because of it. They actually go out of their way to work on their relationship to make it better. Hell, I couldn't get my last girlfriend to order a fucking pizza for me. Superman and Wonder Woman have shown what it takes to make love work.
Now, they're showing what happens when a special breed of asshole goes out of their way to make someone's life miserable. Superman's identity has been exposed. And since it's not enough that he can't live the life he worked so hard to maintain, someone has to go out of his way to desecrate his old home in Smallville. Outside Game of Thrones, there aren't many people who can claim to be that cruel. Someone wants to torment Clark Kent and Diana Prince is ready to stand by her man. That's what makes the setup for Superman/Wonder Woman #19 so intriguing. It also reminds me that true love and navigating shit storms aren't a mutually exclusive process.
I'm not sure what category shit storm that fighting the Suicide Squad in a graveyard falls under, but I imagine it's the kind that would get most people to board up their houses and stock up on duct tape. Superman and Wonder Woman have been investigating a distress call from Superman's old gal pal, Lana Lang. That distress call has revealed that someone has gone to great lengths to troll Superman in the worst possible way. Even the 4chan crowd would be impressed. Now, the Suicide Squad shows up to make Superman even more miserable. I'm not sure this counts as rubbing kryptonite laced salt in the wound, but it damn well ought to.
Under traditional circumstances, a fight between the Suicide Squad and the collective muscle of Superman and Wonder Woman wouldn't be fair. Hell, it's a fight that would be over the moment Superman and Wonder Woman got bored, tired, or horny. But Superman is not at full strength. He's vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. That makes the fight a bit more fair, but he still has Wonder Woman on his side so it's still more lopsided than a drinking contest between a Mormon and a Kennedy.
Fair or not, it still makes for a much more visceral battle. It's not as epic as a clash with Darkseid or Zod would be, but it's still pretty satisfying. Wonder Woman takes on the heavy hitters like Reverse Flash. Superman takes on the dipshits who still think shooting him will solve their problems. Even in his weakened form, he's got to be rolling his eyes. But these aren't typical Bond villain henchmen. They're the Suicide Squad. They have some personality in addition to their personality disorders. So there's plenty of entertainment value, as is often the case whenever Harley Quinn gets involved.
Entertaining aside, there's still one burning question that semi-sober minds are probably asking. Why the fuck would the Suicide Squad attack Superman in the first place? Who honestly thought it was a good idea to attack Wonder Woman's man? I don't know what kind of drugs would make someone think that shit, but even I wouldn't try them.
Wonder Woman makes sure she gets that point across, even to demented minds like Harley Quinn. But this question becomes somewhat moot while Superman is battling Black Manta. During their struggle, he reveals something intriguing. As sane as it sounds, the Suicide Squad's mission didn't involve fucking with Superman and Wonder Woman. They arrived in Smallville because others have noted some crazy shit going on. That means they didn't kick up this shit storm. They just got sent into it.
This adds another layer to the mystery and one that adds a new dimension to Superman's ongoing identity issue. Before his identity got exposed, most people probably couldn't find Smallville on a map, let alone think anything more remarkable than a pie-eating contest would occur. Now that everyone knows it's Clark Kent's hometown, it's attracting all the wrong kinds of attention and that includes the Suicide Squad. It's another testament to just how fucked Superman is in a world where he has no secret identity anymore.
Intrigue or not, the Suicide Squad isn't passing up an opportunity to rough up Superman when he's vulnerable. They might have had a chance to succeed if Wonder Woman hadn't been with him. But she is so they're more fucked than a Greek bank's credit rating. That's not to say Superman still doesn't show some grit. While Wonder Woman protects him from Deadshot's onslaught, he goes out of his way to really fuck up Black Manta. He doesn't try to be nice and friendly about it either. He's still Superman, but he's a Superman in a foul mood. He won't murder Black Manta, but he will make him wish he was dead and sometimes that's just as heroic.
The battle finally ends and as satisfying as it might be to rough up the Suicide Squad, they still need answers. And as it just so happens, Superman left Black Manta conscious. I'm sure he still wishes he were dead, but that just means it sucks even more to be him. He reiterates that the Suicide Squad had nothing to do with the disappearances. They're investigating it too and since this happens to be the hometown of Superman, sending a team of deranged villains just felt right. It still leaves Superman pretty pissed off, but it helps deepen the mystery.
For some, however, they couldn't give three tenths of a fuck about mystery. They have a chance to kick Superman when he's down and fuck, they're going to take it. That's exactly what Deadshot does, who they also left conscious. Superman and Wonder Woman probably regret being so merciful, especially Superman because he ends up getting a full-fledged bullet massage. It doesn't kill him, but just as he did with Black Manta, it makes him wish he were dead.
It's not the worst blow Superman has ever taken by a long shot. It's still probably more of an annoyance on par with a mild rectal itch. But it's a moment that once again reinforces just how vulnerable Superman is right now. He's still strong enough to take a bullet, but now they don't just bounce off him. Now they actually fucking hurt. I imagine it's a lot harder to stand for truth, justice, and the American way when you're sore as fuck, but that's why he's Superman.
And Wonder Woman is still his lover so Deadshot just ensured he'll need to be dry humping morphine for the next three weeks. She does a reverse Princess Peach and limits Superman's soreness as best she could. She also makes damn sure that Deadshot will be way more sore for the foreseeable future. It's yet another mark of genuine love. One person fucks with their lover, that person gets fucked up as a result. It's simple, genuine, romantic, and even a little violent, but in the best possible way. It's not the kind of shit that'll ever show up in a romantic comedy and that's exactly what makes it so satisfying.
What makes it even more satisfying is how Wonder Woman rushes to his aid. But she doesn't try to prop him up and baby him. She's his girlfriend, not his mother. He's sore and wounded, but at least he had someone to take it out on and Wonder Woman was there to share in the fun. I'm pretty sure this counts as a date by their twisted standards. Wonder Woman even finds a way to add some extra sentiment, giving him the old Kent family mailbox as something he can hold onto. It's not the most romantic gift she could've given him. I'm pretty sure crotchless panties would've revitalized him just as much. But it gets the point across. It's the kind of non-creepy romantic gesture that even Twilight haters can enjoy.
Beyond the romance, we get a few more hints as to who's fucking with Superman's life and thinks it's a good idea. While Wonder Woman flies him away, someone else is spying on him. He's not Lex Luthor. In fact, he looks kind of like the principal of my old high school, which means he must have choked a live puppy at some point in his day. He's also intrigued at Superman's vulnerability and probably wants to exploit the fuck out of it. And he makes it clear that he's not done fucking with him. Either he really hates Superman or getting beat up by Wonder Woman is the only thing that'll give him a boner anymore.
Wonder Woman takes Superman back to the bunker under his old house, which is probably the only part of his life as Clark Kent that wasn't hit with a TNT enema. While there, Wonder Woman plays the part of the sexy nurse girlfriend, but in a completely non-porno way. It makes for a wonderfully sweet moment that should still give some people the same boners that sexy nurse porn will. Superman is badly bruised and in a lot of pain. Wonder Woman is there to treat him. It's a beautiful moment. It's intimate without being overly sexy. For once, my heart and my penis are in agreement.
Beyond the sentiment of the moment, Superman says something important that some women only wish their lover's would say. He tells Wonder Woman that they can't go into a battle where she has to worry about protecting him all the time. Even though he's vulnerable, she has to trust him to carry his own weight. Now that might not apply in a battle against Darkseid or a coked up Lex Luthor, but they be an inverted version of Super Mario brothers. They still have to trust each other, even when one of them isn't at full strength.
What makes this moment so special is that it shows how Superman isn't going to let his girlfriend fight his battles for him. Some men might be okay with that. Some might even prefer it. But Superman still has to be Superman. It still worries Wonder Woman because like any genuine lover, she doesn't want to lose him. And some women will wrap their lovers in bubble wrap and duct tape in a very unsexy way to protect them. But she's not willing to be that obsessive. She's Wonder Woman, not some character Jennifer Anniston plays in shitty movies.
Once they make these reservations known, Superman focuses back on the conflict at hand. He's still Superman. He's still determined to save innocent people, especially those from his hometown. To do that, he'll have to do some kind of crazy shit that only Superman can get away with doing. And he has to do it without Wonder Woman. It feeds directly off the conversation they just had. He needs her to trust him to do what he needs to do and she has to believe him when he says she doesn't want to be in this part of the shit storm. It's a test that even mature relationships will fuck up every now and then. With these two, the margin for fucking up is extremely small. It's a powerful moment that conveys its power while fully clothed. That alone helps make it meaningful.
So why exactly would Superman not want Wonder Woman to tag along through this wing of the shit storm? Well, there's actually a very believable explanation for that and one most women, minus those who get reality shows on A&E, would understand. It involves Superman breaking into the White House and having a chat with the President himself. So yeah, this is shit that only Superman could do and not be the target for drone strikes for the next eight years. And bringing Wonder Woman along for this would only make it more awkward. Two of the world's most powerful heroes breaking into the White House doesn't send a very good message. One vulnerable hero who just got attacked by a government-sponsored task force is more palatable. At worst, it'll trigger a few committee hearings and some bitching from John McCain.
In reading the Superman/Wonder Woman comics, I've come to see it as the antithesis to romantic comedies and softcore porn on Cinemax. This series isn't about some quirky way a couple of attractive, model-worthy people hook up and start humping. This is about two people actually building a meaningful relationship. The fact that they're two of the most iconic heroes in the history of comics is actually secondary. Think about that for a moment. The heroics that make Superman and Wonder Woman the icons they've been since the days of FDR is superseded by a relationship. And yet, it's still awesome.
This is the kind of relationship that won't get Twilight fans horny, but it will get anyone who values honest, realistic romance excited. And yes, there are people who do appreciate that shit. They won't admit it and they'll deny it until the day they die, but it's a common theme that binds anyone who has ever been in love in any capacity. So unless you're an emo goth who never stops listening to Linken Park songs, this comic will resonate.
The battle against the Suicide Squad was nicely detailed, even if it didn't do anything overly epic. But more than anything else, it deepened the mystery and put Superman on a more dangerous path. We still don't know who has been making him miserable, but we know Wonder Woman is giving him something to fight for. And she can do it while keeping her top on. That, my friends, is true love right there. I give Superman/Wonder Woman #19 an 8 out of 10. It'll put a smile on your face, but it won't make your hearts explode. Those looking for something more intense should just stick to crack. Nuff said!