With their cinematic counterparts grabbing attention at Comic-Con International in San Diego this past weekend, it seems only proper that the Suicide Squad press an attack on the Man of Steel and Amazing Amazon in Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19.
In what seems like a rare occurrence, Mahnke has one inker covering him in this issue: Jaime Mendoza, who completes Mahnke’s work quite nicely. On occasion, trademark Mahnke-ness — like squared cheekbones and details upon details — smooth out a bit, but Mendoza is keen enough to hold the line tightly and enhance it, rarely detracting and never distracting. It’s nice to see a complete issue of Mahnke’s work with one inker, and it definitely helps the issue’s cohesiveness, giving colorist Wil Quintana a reliable canvas to fill with color and texture.
Mahnke’s art is still very much recognizable, with Superman as the most dynamic character on any page and Wonder Woman a studious mixture of beauty, grace and power. Mahnke has spent over a decade honing his take on these characters and, clearly, their new uniforms have invigorated his art. Mahnke provides detail and design to the backgrounds and pages as well, and everything in “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19 comes across as intentional and purposeful. Quintana’s colors are bright and dynamic during the fight with the Suicide Squad, casting glows and shadows but, after the fight, the colorist matches the mood Mahnke sets. Rob Leigh’s letters dance around and through the action. The constant, unending “BUDDABUDDABUDDA” of Deadshot’s guns overpowers the action and threatens to do likewise to the titular stars. Wonder Woman remarks on the continuous firepower, showing some cheek and emphasizing her confidence in her abilities.
For the most part, in the twenty-two pages of this issue, writer Peter J. Tomasi gives readers a fun story that is all bad guys versus good guys, with clean lines drawn between the two, thanks to Mahnke and crew. Sure, there are plots and subplots orbiting the skirmish, but the heart of the issue and the bits that grab readers’ attentions will stay lodged in their memories until the next installment. Tomasi layers in Diana’s genuine concern for Clark and juxtaposes that with Clark’s hardheadedness to fight his own battles, but the true nature of the relationship (and depth of their friendship) shines through.
“Superman/Wonder Woman” seems like an unnecessary excess when considering the landscape of DC’s new releases, but Tomasi, Mahnke, Mendoza, Quintana and Leigh provide enough action, excitement and polished craftsmanship to elevate this title. Yes, it stars two of DC’s most recognizable characters and, arguably, both are struggling to find themselves and their audience right now, but that doesn’t stop this creative team from delivering a solid fight in the pages of “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19, especially when tangling with the Suicide Squad, whose popularity wave is just now beginning to rebuild.