The “Doomed” arc continues in this issue of Superman / Wonder Woman, following on the heels of Action Comics #32. As mentioned before, the “Doomed” arc has been a bit uneven, but the installments by Charles Soule and Tony Daniel in this title have been some of the high points.
Firstly, the character design of Doomsday, going all the way back to the 1990s, has never been all that strong. He’s just a bulky guy with spikes who’s meant to look threatening, but ends up just looking like a giant rock guy with spikes. The Superman/Doomsday crossbreed design isn’t much better – if anything, most of the designs makes SuperDoom just look cartoon-like and kind of silly. However, in this issue, Daniel does a great job of making the Doomsday-infected Superman look a bit scary, freakish, and menacing without becoming a mere caricature. This is most evident in the opening panels of the story featuring an internal argument between the Clark-half and the Doomsday-half of Superman. The colors by Tomeu Morey do a lot to help this scene succeed and make it one of my favorites of the “Doomed” story arc so far. It’s the first time as readers that we really get a true sense of what’s going on with Superman being infected.
Daniel also draws a spectacular-looking Wonder Woman, who is the perfect combination of strong warrior, stately princess, and larger-than-life god, all without losing her sense of femininity. In this issue, we get to see Daniel’s take on another Amazon warrior and compare and contrast between her design versus Wonder Woman. And as if that isn’t enough, we get another strong female character for Daniel to illustrate in this issue, Supergirl, and see how he handles her character design. With all three character designs, Daniel illustrates them as powerful and feminine, but without the overt and exaggerated sexuality into which many other illustrators fall.
The remainder is this issue is jam-packed with tons of characters and a lot of action. Soule brings in some characters from Wonder Woman’s past, and that whole segment gets turned on its head with an unexpected character turn that helps to continue propelling the story forward without seeming awkward or forced. There are also some great, if somewhat short, scenes with the Red Lanterns at the end of the issue that were a lot of fun. Like one of his fellow Doomed-scribes, Greg Pak, Charles Soule really knows how to insert a level of fun into his stories so we don’t lose sight of the fact that ultimately, comics should be enjoyable to read even when dealing with a really “heavy” story about an infected Superman and whether he can ever be cured.
This issue of the Doomed story arc also continues the tradition of the front page of the story being used as a pseudo-newspaper article (for the Web-based version of the paper) for the Daily Planet. This little touch has been most welcome to remind readers of the ties back to the origins of Superman in the late 1930s, and how important the Daily Planet has been in the character’s history. It’s a very clever way to catch readers up with the previous story installments without the cumbersome “previously in Doomed…” or frequent Editor’s Notes of “As seen in…” that can take the reader out of the story.
While Superman/Wonder Woman #9 isn’t a great stand-alone issue of this title in general, it’s a strong part of the Doomed story arc and a beautifully illustrated comic with some really fun scenes throughout.