It's hard to believe that it has been 8 months since Superwoman #1 came out. I didn't know what to expect with the title when it was announced. But I knew I liked Phil Jimenez and the concept of Lois (and then Lana) acting as a superhero seemed fascinating. And the first issues were fantastic, a rich read of inset panels and interesting characterization.
Where did the book lose its way?
The last couple of issues have been scattershot. Just as chock full of panels and stories, but no where near coherent. I still don't know exactly what Lena was plotting, what was going on with the Bizarros, and how she was thwarted. And the book seemed to be veering away from solid characterization to more 2-dimensional situations for Jimenez to get on his soapbox a bit. It didn't help that the book is solidly set in the Superman book universe but seemed to exist separately. When exactly did this storyline take place? Why is this Lex portrayed so differently from the one in the main books? When did Metropolis get taken over without any Superman around?
It all comes to a boil in Superwoman #8, the finale of this first arc and Jimenez's last issue. This is a long psychological look at Lana and her issues. It involves Lois and Clark. It looks like all of this book might end up being swept away with the rewriting of Superman history in his own Reborn series. And like last month's book it comes across as a little preachy.
All this story and confusion and politicking might end up never having happened. Weird for a new book.
The art is done by the interesting mix of Jack Herbert and Stephen Segovia. They bring a sort of Perez/Jimenez flare that fits the tone of the book. But most of the book is people talking so there isn't much action for them to convey. Still the emotion is there.
On to the book.
Remember last issue, Lana was dying. In an effort to save her, Superman placed her in the medical womb of the Kryptonian battle armor.
While her body heals though, Lana's spirit seems to wander the Fortress.
First she gets visited by her family. First it seems that they are disappointed with how she has turned out. But then they turn it on its head saying they are disappointed she didn't recognize her own strength.
We meet Lana's brother Ron, a military man who apparently killed himself. I didn't know that Lana had a brother. Am I getting a little senile? His saying that Lana's support helped keep him alive fell a bit short because I don't think I have met him before.
But Lana's anxiety and lack of self-confidence has been a theme in the book. So getting this support fom her family should have been a powerful moment.
And not only is her family there, the New 52 Superman and Lois are also there. Lois has been a part of this book, haunting Lana and providing advice. But this is the first time we have seen Clark interacting this much.
Throughout this issue, Lana really is angry about everything. First she screams at Superman, saying she can smell how disappointed he is in her. It seems oddly abrasive.
And then, in a bit of meta, Lana yells at Lois for being the only thing that counts. When the universe reboots, it sets Clark and Lois right and everyone else follows.
I wonder if this is Jimenez complaining that a redone Superman history is going to make this storyline part of an impossible past.
But then Lois decides she is going to fire back. She really belittles Lana's concerns. Why should Lana complain about life being unfair when was well-paid, educated, well-traveled, and super-powered. She actually says to Lana 'boo-effin-hoo'. That seems overly harsh from Lois.
But then she doubles down. She tells Lana to 'get out of the drama pool'!
It might be tough love, most of the speech (on this page which is one of the wordiest pages in a very wordy title) is propping Lana up as being very capable. But mental health isn't that easy. You can't just tell someone 'you're life is great' and expect them to overcome their issues.
I did like the art here. You feel Lois emoting this rah rah speech.
But Lana's story isn't the only one which might be disappearing. So Jimenez let's us peek at the others.
Jon Henry Irons is pining over Lana, hoping she will survive.
We hear again how wonderful Natasha is.
Atomic Skull might be romantically interested in BizarroWoman.
And Lex once again shuts Lena in a LexCorp vault. Once again we hear how awful Lex was, how he used her intelligence to build his empire. At least we hear Lex tell her she needs to take responsibility for the monster she has become.
Subplots all accounted for.
In what I think is also metatextual, Lois and Lana talk about how this all has defied comprehension. Yep.
Lana doesn't know what is past and present. Neither do I. When did this happen in the #Rebirth timeline? Or is this some sign that this is going into the true literary past, not part of the next iteration.
Finally, we hear what needs to happen. Lana has to help Lois and Clark to save their son.
Now remember, the New 52 Lois and Clark never married and hardly interacted. I suppose what this is means is that all the Loises and Clarks are the same being. These adaptations might not have had Jon but they will be rolled into the others, creating the one Lois and one Clark, the parents.
And with that Lana knows this story is going away. She asks if she will remember this life. She wonders if the Smallville past will happen.
Maybe Jimenez was told to end things fast because Reborn was happening. Maybe this wasn't his fault. But this whole thing is literally unraveling in front of my eyes.
Superman tells Lana he needs his energy back to save himself. He thanks Lana for holding on to it.
Lana won't remember this.
So let's see ... how confusing is all this going to be when it happens.
I hope DC spells out the Superman timeline in a way that we can figure out what counts and what doesn't.
And yet, despite all this seemingly going away, the last shot is Lana in a Superwoman suit in the Kryptonian battle armor.
So maybe when she says she won't remember this she doesn't mean this life, she means this vision in her head. Maybe in the end all of this will have happened but the Superman life sort of reset everyone slightly.
I don't know anymore.
What I do know is that this issue was a fitting capstone to this arc. I was kind of lost. I thought it was kind of preachy. I still don't know when all this is happening in the current world. In some ways, I am happy this book is moving on. I can't help but be disappointed, especially considering the way it started.
All that said, K. Perkins comes on as writer next issue. So I am excited for this book moving forward!