First and foremost, credit where it’s due: the final three pages of “Superman/Wonder Woman” #14 genuinely surprised me. Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke and whichever member of the legion of super-inkers worked on those pages pulled the rug out from under me, and did so effectively. But in looking back throughout the rest of the comic, I can’t help but wish that the previous 19 pages had been even half as attention-grabbing.
The problem is that most of this issue deals with Superman and Wonder Woman trying to evaluate the new hero Wonderstar, and to figure out if he’s really fighting for good. If this sounds familiar, it is; this is the plot of so many different comics that you just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for something out of the ordinary to sprout up. But cliffhanger aside, that’s not what we get here. This is not only a very standard story, it’s a very boring rendition. Wonderstar’s ridiculously high level of eagerness makes him annoying, and as a result there’s nothing to latch onto in watching him go through his paces. Superman and Wonder Woman, aside from being a tiny bit manipulative, also don’t bring anything new to the table.
As much as I’ve liked Mahnke’s art elsewhere, I’m also not convinced that he’s the right artist for this title. Superman’s face looks very strange throughout the comic, almost like the Joker wearing flesh-colored makeup with a rubbery sense to his eyes and mouth. Poor Wonder Woman actually looks a little homely in places, rather than like the god that she is; it’s an odd thing but if there’s one character that should take your breath away, it’s her. The character of Debutante is also one that is centered around a sight gag involving her outfit, but she’s in such strange poses that it takes away from the overall concept of the character.
As for the big cliffhanger, without giving anything away, I feel a bit apprehensive. This is a character who after his initial debut, has been mishandled on several occasions; I’m not sure one can point to a successful usage of the character beyond his initial creation, in fact. Maybe Tomasi and Mahnke will surprise us all and do something special and intriguing; I’m going to try and keep an open mind. But after the startled factor wore off, looking back on how dull the rest of this issue was, I don’t have high hopes.