52 weeks. 52 different writers. 2 trade paperbacks or hardcovers a week.  Each week I’ll take a look at a different writer and read two different collected editions from within that person’s repertoire to help in the examination of their work.

Charles Soule

Charles Soule became a staple of the roster of writers for DC Comics during 2013.  Soule took over “Swamp Thing” from his dear friend Scott Snyder starting with issue #17, took over Red Lanterns at issue #21, and even created Superman/Wonder Woman, a new series that would examine the now romantic relationship shared between the two title characters.  All three series continued to be incredibly well received as the transition of Soule’s takeover occurred, with Soule scripting out some of the most memorable moments that some of these characters have had in recent years.

Superman/Wonder Woman Volume 1 – Power Couple

superman_wonder_woman_coverA whole new power couple takes the world by storm as Superman and Wonder Woman decide to become an item.  The two super powered lovers grapple back-and-forth with the decision to let others know about their relationship.  Superman wishes for secrecy whilst Wonder Woman wishes to embrace the fact that they’re together.  In the midst of prying eyes and loose lips, the two characters have a handful of mysterious problems lobbed their way.  When a plane is about to suddenly crash into the ocean, the heroes race to save the day but discover an unexpected rival from Superman’s past.  Then, when a strange man named Zod appears in the middle of the desert, taking the fight to the Justice League Of America, Superman and Wonder Woman show up to help incapacitate the enemy.  Little do they know that Zod may actually have answers to unasked questions from Superman, as Zod is of Kryptonian heritage as well.

On the surface Superman/Wonder Woman is an interesting series, in that it examines the now intricate relationship shared between the two title characters.  Initially they were teammates with a fun sense of chemistry between them, but as of this series they are so much more, as we get to examine how the two characters and their opposing traits effect their relationship.  As I already pointed out, Superman wants to keep the news quiet while Wonder Woman could care less who know about the two of them.  It’s reflective of who they are as heroes, with Superman being raised to be proud of his powers but hide his identity, while Wonder Woman was taught to embrace and feel empowered by who she is.  As such, secrets are the last things Wonder Woman wants to keep but she does such for Clark’s sake more than anything.

superman_wonder_woman_pg1If there’s one thing that I took away from reading this series is that Charles Soule understands Superman quite well.  Soule packs in so many grandiose and human moments into this first volume for Superman that will make you fall for the character in a whole new way.  Soule takes this God like character and humanizes him in so many ways, touching on the core of the character which is in fact his sense of humanity.  Here is a character who is born an “alien”, clearly different and exceptional in comparison to humans, but was raised by humans.  As a result this man, who is so wildly different from us, actually relates to us more, even though he knows he’s nothing like us physically.  It’s that sense of humanity that makes Superman such a fascinating characters and that’s something that Soule just seems to understand in the way he writes the character.  He’s a man who wants to separate his personal and private life from his super heroics.  He feels love, sadness, and joy even though he can’t feel much physical pain at all, tapping into the idea that his humanity is accessed through his emotional side.  Under Soule’s penmanship Clark Kent/Superman is a raw, emotional character who wants what’s best for everyone else while also trying to stay fair to himself.  From scenes where he confesses his feeling to Diana to the one powerful scene where he gets advice from Batman, Soule steals the show with his interpretation of Superman.

superman_wonder_woman_pg2If there’s one criticism I could launch, whilst also doling out a compliment, it would be that the series is incredibly “moment” dependent.  By that I mean Charles Soule tries to write more big and noteworthy moments rather than structuring a plot .  In one issue you’ll have an incredible scene between Superman and Apollo, the God of Sun, but it doesn’t really factor in with the plot Soule is trying to push.  Or, in another instance, Batman will be trying to give Superman some relationship advice but it bares little relevance to the rest of the issue, let alone the overall narrative Soule is trying to establish.  These moments are thrilling and are definitely moments you’ll talk with other fans about but they only punctuate a plot that is riddled with holes.  The narrative that eats up most of this volume revolves around the sudden debut of Zod, a Kryptonian with ties to Superman’s past.  Zod is the primary antagonist of this story and has clear motivations but they’re easy to miss as the writing leaves too many threads left loose.

When it comes to the primary characters of this story, there truly are only four.  Your two title characters fill the roles of your primary protagonists whilst Zod and Faora, two mysterious Kryptonians from the “Phantom Zone” are your clear antagonists.  As I already described, Soule has a superb grasp on what makes Superman tick and that carries over to Wonder Woman as well to an extent.  Soule shows he understands the fundamental nature of Wonder Woman but just never quite gives her the same love that he gives to Superman.  In spite of this, Wonder Woman still fills the role as a primary protagonist admirably, showing she’s not a character to mess with and even comes to Superman’s aid on more than one occasion.  With Zod and Faora, Soule almost taps into the opposite sides of Superman and Wonder Woman.  Wherein Superman is selfless, Zod is selfish, with his evil plan of only clear benefit to himself and no one else.  Zod is a character who exploits the naivety of Superman  for his own personal gain, proving to be more than a match for one of the title characters.  With Faora, not nearly as much time is spent developing her character as there is with Zod.  Instead, she is relegated to round upon round of fisticuffs with the title characters while Zod hatches his master plan.  Nonetheless, the two antagonists are still well motivated in their attempts and make for, at the very least, interesting additions to the cast.

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Collects:  Superman/Wonder Woman #1-7

Best Character:  Superman

Best Line Of Dialogue/Caption(s):  “Second, if you two are together then you’re together.  Your problems are going to become her problems, to a certain extent, and vice versa.” – Batman

Best Scene/Moment:  Batman gives Superman relationship advice – Issue 3.

Best Issue:  Issue 2.  Overall, I found that issue two seemed to be one of the issues that just read well.  It features the important plot point of Superman and Wonder Woman visiting Hephaestus so that he can build armour that Superman can use if/when he must fight Doomsday next.  Things gets complicated when Apollo and Strife appear and begin to give Superman a hard time.  What you’re left with is one of the most awesome Superman scenes you’re likely to have seen in the last 5-10 years.  There’s strong dialogue, character interactions, and solid action weaved into this one.

Why You Should Read It:  Two of the world’s greatest superheroes come together to save the world and fall in love.  It’s a simple but shockingly endearing idea from Charles Soule, giving the reader a story that hinges on the relationship shared between Superman and Wonder Woman.  Soule packs in some amazing character moments and scenes into this one, showcasing his deep appreciation and understanding of the cast he has at hand.  You’ll want to read this for the differing philosophies of Superman and Wonder Woman to see what type of toll it takes on their relationship.  The character dynamics are a standout part of the story as Soule shows you that just because these characters are in love doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re “love birds”.