Superman/Wonder Woman #3

"Superman/Wonder Woman" #3 is a strange little book, one that simultaneously plays in the DC Universe and somehow feels slightly distant from the rest of it. It took me a while to figure out why it feels so different and distinct from the rest of the line, but "Superman/Wonder Woman" #3 finally crystalized why that's happened. Namely, Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel are actually incorporated everything readers have seen about the DC Universe (and more specifically Superman and Wonder Woman) and then proceed to do something with it.

For example, "Superman/Wonder Woman" #3 takes a lot of the little facts about the new versions of these characters and pays attention to them. The issue references Clark and Cat's news blog (something that has faded into the background over in "Superman" almost as fast as it was announced), and readers get glimpses of Diana actually having a life inside of London. It sounds trivial, but these are the sorts of things that have been slightly missing elsewhere in DC Comics. Their books are so focused on the big events that the quieter moments get lost, and Soule's found a way to integrate the personal lives in their public superhero personas.

Soule hasn't lost track of the bigger picture in terms of superheroes, though. Seeing Superman's meeting with the god Apollo from last issue continue to have ramifications is a great touch, for instance, and pulling in the Justice League of America is a logical step forward when you consider Vibe's powers and how that would tie in with General Zod. And while General Zod is still in early days, here, I appreciate that Soule hasn't gone for a slavering monster. The pacing is a little slow in "Superman/Wonder Woman," though, and now that we're three issues in I find myself hoping for a little more pep. At the same time, though, there's no denying that the slightly slower pace is what allows Soule to make the book feel more integrated and whole.

Daniel and Batt's art looks good here, if crazily idealized. Everyone's got award-winning abs on display, when they aren't looking supermodel-perfect. I normally don't mind that a superhero comic book cast has turned into the parade of the beautiful people -- it's a trapping of the genre after all -- but Daniel's depictions of them seem overly prettied up. Still, it's an interesting and good looking book.

With a subplot about the perfect Christmas present for Superman -- which comes to a slightly predictable but still heartfelt conclusion -- "Superman/Wonder Woman" #3 even gets in a little extra bonus for tying into the time of year that it was published. When you look at the main cast of the book and the characters that it pulls in, "Superman/Wonder Woman" almost feels like a member of the "Justice League" family rather than an offshoot of either Superman or Wonder Woman... but without feeling the need to tie into "Forever Evil." For those who aren't interested in the crossover, this might be the substitute title they've been looking for, instead. It has a strong grasp of the DC Universe, it plays with some of the major icons, and it's well crafted. That's a winner in my book.

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