Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Superwoman #4 Review and **SPOILERS**

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

Script: Phil Jimenez 
Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino 
Inks: Ray McCarthy 
Colors: Hi-Fi 
Letters: Rob Leigh 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: November 9, 2016


I write so much nonsense in these introductions, I don’t know if I’ve ever revealed that I believe in the paranormal. I’ve never had a personal experience that really cemented it for me, but I think there’s enough physical and anecdotal evidence to say that something wacky is going on here. Even if it’s just auditory and visual hallucinations brought on by the proximity to overhead wires or whatever, I think that’s fascinating enough to pursue. Why do so many people see similar apparitions in the same places? What do we make of EVP recordings? Why do exorcisms seem to work, sometimes? I was hoping to find out in the pages of Superwoman #4, but no luck. I did find out some other stuff, though…why not read on and see what it is!
Explain It!

That Lana Lang, she’s a real Jane of All Trades. Electrical Engineer. Newspaper reporter. And, at heart, a farmer. She loves to go back to old Smallville farm every chance she gets, to reconnect with earthworms or whatever it is farmers like to do. While back in Smallville, she can’t help think of Clark—no, not that new Clark that came out of nowhere, but Superman—no, not that new Superman that came from the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths universe during Convergence. She liked the New 52 version. She grew up with him. And now he went all solar flare and died on them, giving Lana and Lois Lane powers in the process. Ah, Lois…murdered in the first issue. Why I can picture her just like she’s standing in Lana’s living roo…whaaaa??? Lana rightfully thinks this is the Lois from the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths universe, that showed up recently in Action Comics, but nope. Turns out it’s a ghost. Lana figured it out by blasting the room with an intense burst of Lana energy, because that’s a sensible way to deal with spooks. This blows a hole in the farmhouse but doesn’t harm Lois because, again: ghost, and then after flipping out against haunted Lois she finds herself at the Ace O’Clubs, some bar with John “Steel” Henry and his niece Natasha, talking up their big team-up from a couple of issues ago. Was that really a couple of issues ago? It feels like some issue from the early 2000s, this book is so dense. There’s really nothing wrong with the plotting, but there are just way too many word balloons and people’s faces rendered really small.
The television at the bar is playing the news, because that’s always fun-time drinkin’ watchin’, and everyone learns what we already knew: that he’s missing. Lana has this weird long whisper conversation with John and tells him she knows his attendant Mercy is at the bottom of this, and then these three women are apparently the Sapphire Angels and want to induct Superwoman? Did I miss an issue here? Who the hell are the Sapphire Angels? Then…these pages are really so dense. Looks like Natasha sees her criminal dad on television being hauled back into Luthor’s torture prison, Natasha mentions that she’s worried about someone named Traci, and Lana sees Lois Ghost again. Over at Metropolis Special Crimes Unit Headquarters, some big powerful criminal is throwing cops around like rag dolls, while Maggie Sawyer yells. Sawyer takes him out with a super taser, then Superwoman shows up out of nowhere to tell Sawyer what a swell cop she is. Lois’ ghost is also there but it’s pretty clear that only Lana can see her. Lana and the Atomic Skull have a conversation so involved it needs to be recapped in the captions—while it is happening in-panel—and I still didn’t catch most of it. Bottom line is that Maggie heard that Lex is being kept in an underground laboratory by his sister Lena, which is true.
No one can find Lex, though, because he’s being kept in a tesseract of time, outside of normal space. He learns this from Kyrptonite Man, who is also there. Okay, is this comic punking me? Is this some kind of prank? It’s like one of those writing games where a bunch of people pass around a story by writing a paragraph apiece. So Kryptonite Man, he’s in, like, the fourth dimension with Lex Luthor and also is just a head for some reason. This is starting to read like a Young Animal book. Back at Smallville, Lana and Lois Ghost have a heart-to-heart wherein Lana reveals she loves the drugs more than Steel, and then later Steel does a body scan on Lana to reveal that her new powers are 100% fatal. Gosh, what an uplifting sequence of events! No time to dwell on that, though, for through some portal out of nowhere comes Traci 13, whoever the fuck that is, and she’s there to warn them that this is all a diversion set up by Lena Luthor who wants to rule Metropolis! By destroying it! With the battleship Gestalt for some reason! And also it takes too many pages!
Despite my grumbling, there are some things I like about this book. It’s definitely off-the-wall, introducing concepts pulled right out of Bob Haney’s ever-lovin’ kooky mind. There a bunch of captioned call-backs and explanations of acronyms that take me right back to 1980s Uncanny X-Men issues. But the problem with this issue, and this series—and I think I’ve written this before—is that it’s ten pounds of crap in a five-pound back. It’s got way too much exposition and too much thrown at you that has no immediate result. I’m usually beating the “stop writing for trade” drum, but in this case the series could stand to lose a few incidental plots, or at least be structured better.

Bits and Pieces:

A whole lotta stuff happens that brings us incrementally closer to some kind of climax. I suppose you get your value for three bucks, but you're not going to walk away satisfied. Nothing really wrong with the technical side of the thing, though some of the faces seem a little off. There's so many of them yammering away all the time, I suppose I can forgive a little slippage.


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