Review by Frank Plowright
Over the two previous graphic novels the content in Superman/Wonder Woman has reflected outside continuity, most obviously in Superman’s case, but now Peter J. Tomasi’s forced to prioritise what goes on elsewhere. Vandal Savage was revealed as targeting Superman in Dark Truth, and his plans progressed considerably in other Superman publications leaving Superman on death’s door.
As a Superman/Wonder Woman graphic novel A Savage End is unsatisfying. Despite Tomasi making more attempt than many writers of crossover chapters to ensure his individual pieces are relatively self-contained (at the start), there are great leaps in the status quo between chapters, events taking place in other titles requiring fullsome text explanations. Of course, this is better than not including them, but hardly satisfactory regarding a complete story when buying a graphic novel rather than a random collection of issues, and the complete story is in Superman: A Savage Dawn. Even leaving that aside completely, A Savage End is unsatisfying. Of necessity the story focuses on Superman, frequently leaving Wonder Woman with little other than a cameo role, scenes seeming to have been contrived just so the graphic novel fulfils the title obligations, as in most she could be replaced by any other strong superhero. The exception is an early chapter in which she asks the Greek gods to restore Superman’s life, but even in that she only appears in the introduction and ending. By midway through the collection Tomasi has lost all interest and is just funnelling Superman back into other titles via twenty page fight scenes.
The art also disappoints. The sample page shows that when he’s drawing a chapter Doug Mahnke still impresses, but too many others don’t. They depict Superman and Wonder Woman in their more usual larger than life incarnations rather than human, and few of them have Mahnke’s facility for laying out a story. A centrepiece has Superman leading assorted other superheroes against Vandal Savage’s minions, and Cliff Richards draws this as a series of spreads featuring multiple stiffly posed characters with little background. It’s not appealing, and it’s not the poorest art.
Despite the collection being titled A Savage End, there’s no end to the Vandal Savage story. Again, look to A Savage Dawn for that. The book closes with two random stories not previously published as individual comics, and occurring as the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman disintegrates. Resolving that relationship wasn’t possible in the course of the larger story arc and the simultaneous preparation for yet another DC continuity reboot, so Brian Buccellato tries his best to draw some closure. It’s two chapters told from Wonder Woman’s viewpoint, so adjusting the balance of the collection moderately, and the second chapter is good, adding little tweaks to the relationship when it’s not repeating ground already covered. However, this material not available elsewhere isn’t strong enough to fulfil its purpose of making this an essential buy. If you’re inclined, read the earlier chapters in A Savage Dawn instead.