Ups and Downs
Written by: Sholly Fisch, K. Perkins, Keith Champagne and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Too many Guys and Gals to mention here.
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: December 30, 2015
Sometimes I don't know what DC Comics is thinking. They start off the New 52 by announcing that Superman and Lois Lane would no longer be a couple and after the Clois fans out there erupted in anger, gave them the Superman/Wonder Woman book. Talk about adding insult to injury. Maybe you haven't noticed it, but in our neck of the woods, I can still hear the screaming and yelling. Maybe that's because I actually like Superman/Wonder Woman as a book and a couple and that has made me a target of the hate. If you are one of those haters, just click on the "Featured Post" on your right or maybe listen to our podcast because this review is not for you. Don't look at it. Shut your eyes. Don't look at it, no matter what happens. You have been warned...Weird Science is not responsible for any face melting that might happen from this point on. No that that's settled, let's get on with it...
If I were to describe this Annual to someone on the street, I'd say it's a Director's Cut of the regular book...or maybe a bunch of Deleted Scenes...or even a Prequel. Yea, I'm not good at describing things to random people walking around town, but I did like this issue. Fans get a bunch of missing pieces from the regular run as well as see that it may be a little too late to make things right. It's reads like a greatest hits that aren't all so great.
The issue is bookended by Superman, sitting on the porch of his childhood home, looking at photos of his parents and thinking about how great a couple they were. It was a touching scene that does a great job of setting a hopeful start (first kiss and all) and a heartbreaking end. In between, there is some good stuff as well, starting in Atlantis.
Aquaman is the worst at dinner conversation! Him and Mera are entertaining Superman and Wonder Woman, if you call talking about and atmospheric generator "entertaining". Mera knows what's about to happen and asks Wonder Woman if she wants a tour of Atlantis. It all seems like a setup for Mera to press Diana to dish on her and Clark's relationship. The problem is, noone is supposed to know. Call it woman's intuition or the worst case of outing since Tom Hank's Oscar speech for Philadelphia, but I loved the scene. Mera and Diana go back and forth with whose dating life is harder, but in the end, they're both winners (or losers). Being a superhero is hard...being a superhero in love is harder. Got it? Good because it's off to Pakistan.
In Pakistan, Superman and Wonder Woman are fighting Demigod, Dichara, but that's just a means to an end. Granted, it was a fun fight with everyone letting loose and Dichara calling Superman an "underling", but like I said...means to an end. This story is all about secrets, like Wonder Woman being the God of War. That's pretty major and after Dichara let's it out of the bag (kind of), Diana has some 'splainin' to do. We are seeing their relationship taking a down turn here and while I'm used to the Truth Superman being a self centered jerk, he turns it up a notch here. The story ends up with Diana sleeping next to a pissed off Superman.
The next story is a little prologue to the actual Truth story...Superman has used his Super Flare and is waiting for his powers to return. When Wonder Woman is called to an emergency, Clark wants to go, but Diana tells him he has to stay behind. No powers and all. While Wonder Woman fights a huge Cthulhu monster, Superman reads a book and stews. When Wonder Woman returns, the dinner is cold, but Supes is hot...and the jerk off Superman enters round two. He doesn't want Wonder Woman to protect him and just wants to help. Of all of the stories, this is the one that doesn't show us anything that new. Readers of the Truth books (and this one in particular) will have seen Superman bitching and moaning about this for months. However, it is neat to see where and when it started.
After a cool full page spread showing that duty gets in the way of life, the Annual ends with Superman possibly giving up on the best damn thing he's ever had. He may be trying to convince himself it's for the better, but I don't buy it. Best. Damn. Thing. He's. Ever. Had.
As a fan of Superman/Wonder Woman, I was glad I read this Annual. I won't lie and say it's required reading, but it gives fans a better understanding of Clark and Diana's complicated relationship. The thing that I appreciated most was that everything isn't pinatas and RC Cola. Any relationship is hard work with plenty of ups and downs, but throw in saving the world on a regular basis and things can get really hairy. What I'm saying is that fans of Superman/Wonder Woman should grab this Annual, but everyone else can pass on it.
With a ton of artists on a bunch of stories, this book looked pretty good overall. It helps that it's divided into fully separated stories so the transitions don't throw the reader off. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to go with the Aquaman bit done by CrissCross, Leonardo Olea and Marilyn Patrizio.
Bits and Pieces:
Fans of the regular run of Superman/Wonder Woman should pick up this "Director's Cut" of the power couple's relationship. It wasn't the "every thing's coming up roses" story I was expecting and I appreciated it for that. Most of the dangling questions are addressed and I am glad I read it.