Wonder Woman #33 Preview OR Hera Takes Charge

July 21, 2014

We’re in the final stretch of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run on Wonder Woman, with only three issues left before Meredith and David Finch take over in November. That’s only 60 pages of comics, and thanks to Comic Vine we’ve got a look at the first 5 pages in this preview of Wonder Woman #33. Let’s check it out:

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Wonder Woman’s got herself in a bad spot, but remains uncompromising despite her predicament. I love how Cliff Chiang has drawn Wonder Woman in this scene; while she may be beaten and captured, she exudes defiance in the face of the First Born’s offers. I’m going to miss Cliff Chiang so bad.

Back on Paradise Island, Orion is being a jerk and trying to take control of the situation, and Hera isn’t having any of it. It was nice to see Hera standing up to Orion and shutting him down, but the look of concern on Zola’s face is very telling. As much as she’s learned since she lost her powers, now Hera has her powers back and her son has taken over Olympus. If she’s forced to choose between the First Born and her new kinship with Zola and the Amazons, it wouldn’t surprise me if she betrayed her friends for her family. Hera’s going to be a key player to watch out for as this arc comes to a close, I think.

Wonder Woman #33 is on sale this Wednesday in comic stores everywhere and online. You should definitely pick it up, because there are only three issues of Cliff Chiang drawing Wonder Woman left! Enjoy them while you can.

Women At DC Comics Watch – October 2014 Solicits

July 17, 2014

womenatdcOCTOBER

This month’s DC Comics solicits report is aka. the Marguerite Bennett show. She’s got a big month lined up, along with a slew of other female creators and a few new books starring female characters as well. October should be a busy, exciting month for DC Comics, so let’s take a look at what’s coming up:

  • For New 52 writers, Ann Nocenti is on Klarion #1, Genevieve Valentine pens Catwoman #1, Becky Cloonan co-writes Gotham Academy #1, Amanda Conner co-writes Harley Quinn #11 and Harley Quinn Annual #1, and Marguerite Bennett co-writes Earth 2 #7 and Earth 2: World’s End #1-4 (it’s weekly).
  • For New 52 art, Meghan Hetrick is drawing Batman: Eternal #28, Babs Tarr is drawing Batgirl #35, Jan Duursema is doing a variant cover for Grayson #3, Becky Cloonan is doing covers for Gotham Academy #1 and Detective Comics #35, and Amanda Conner is doing covers for Harley Quinn #11 and Harley Quinn Annual #1.
  • Outside of the New 52, Marguerite Bennett co-writes Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Annual #1, Cat Staggs is doing the cover for Smallville Season 11: Chaos #3, Marguerite Sauvage is illustrating a story in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #3, and Georgia Ball is writing Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #50.
  • For Vertigo, Meghan Hetrick and Tula Lotay have art in Bodies #4 while Jenny Frison is doing the cover, Caitlin Kittredge writes Coffin Hill #12, Celia Calle is doing the cover for The Names #2, Marguerite Sauvage is doing the cover for Hinterkind #12, Yuko Shimizu is the cover artist for The Unwritten: Apocalypse #10, and the Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow #1 features writing from Marguerite Bennett and art from Toril Orlesky.
  • In terms of new books, Power Girl and Huntress look to have a big role in the new Earth 2: World’s End weekly series, Arkham Manor has a woman, perhaps Poison Ivy, front and centre on the cover, Gotham Academy has a female lead, and the new Trinity of Sin co-stars Pandora.
  • There are also some cool creative shake-ups, with new takes on Batgirl and Catwoman premiering in October.

So yeah, it’s quite a month for women at DC! All together, 17 different women are working on 21 different titles in October, an impressive jump from September’s 13 and 12 as well as the highest combined total we’ve seen since this project launched nearly three years ago. These are great numbers, but as always please remember that the number of male creators in DC’s solicits is still in triple digits. Things are getting better, but female creators remain a very small minority.

What’s especially nice about this month’s solicits are all the new names. It’s always great to see old favourites, but new female creators are what is really going to change the industry. While it’s a bummer that there’s no Gail Simone this month, for perhaps the first time since this project began (she’ll be back soon with a new project, though!), growing the ranks of female creators at DC is a very positive thing. DC finally seems to be thinking outside of their dusty old rolodex and actively seeking new talent, and that is an exciting shift.

Also exciting are the new and revamped female characters debuting in October. Gotham Academy looks like an absolute blast, and the new Batgirl has already inspired a mountain of fan art. I’m excited for the new Catwoman as well; the book got off to a bad start with the New 52 and hasn’t yet found its footing in the new universe, and hopefully this will sort it out.

Overall, October looks pretty awesome for DC. The new books are garnering lots of excitement, and this explosion of new female talent is an extremely welcome change of pace for DC. Here’s hoping we get more of the same next month!

Marvel’s New Thor Is A Woman, And I’m All For It

July 16, 2014

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Yesterday, on The View of all places, Marvel announced that someone new will not only wield Thor’s famed hammer, Mjolnir, but that this new hero is a woman who will essentially be the new Thor. As writer Jason Aaron explained:

This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.

Marvel hasn’t revealed the pre-Thor identity of the new heroine, though before the announcement the chief rumour was that Angela, recently introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, would be the new god of thunder.

Certain male sections of fandom reacted like they always do and wailed about a female character replacing a male character, throwing around terms like “political correctness” and “feminist agenda” as if they were harmful, evil things. Other, more reasonable fans were intrigued, with reactions ranging from curiousity to outright enthusiasm. Personally, I think this could be a very fun comic, and that Marvel is going about it in a smart way.

First, the creative team is excellent. Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder has been great. He captures the epic awesomeness of the Norse gods well, and has a good handle on the mythological side of the Marvel universe. Aaron is a skilled writer, whose work ranges in tone from the light-hearted adventures of Wolverine and the X-Men to the dark Vertigo series Scalped. Russell Dauterman is an up and coming artist, currently doing solid work on Marvel’s Cyclops series, and he’s worked for several other comic publishers. From what I’ve seen of his art, he seems to be a cool mix of Olivier Coipel and Frank Quitely, while doing his own thing at the same time. Together, Aaron and Dauterman should make a great book.

Second, Marvel’s has an impressive track record with female characters as of late. Something seemed to change in Marvel’s thinking when they introduced the new Captain Marvel, and since then they’ve been focused on bringing strong, well-written female characters to the fore. Currently, Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk are all getting rave reviews, while Ms. Marvel is arguably one of the best comics out there right now. I trust that if Marvel is introducing a new, female Thor that they’re going to do it right.

Speaking of doing it right, Marvel is smart to launch a new female character in a familiar role in an established title. Marvel’s recently taken a couple of stabs at books led by Norse women, and they didn’t pan out well despite decent critical acclaim. The Sif-starring Journey Into Mystery and the Valyrie-starring Fearless Defenders both barely lasted a year. This is less a problem of the characters, and more an issue of branding, and I think Marvel realizes this. Established entities sell better; that’s why so many DC books have “Batman” on them somewhere. Many fans wondered why Marvel didn’t just introduce a new female character with her own identity instead of giving her a male character’s title and role, which is a valid question. But in today’s comic market, most new, non-established characters aren’t long for the world. Introducing her as Thor is a smart way to ensure a built-in audience and establish a new female character in the Marvel universe.

Because let’s be frank here: As much as Marvel says she’s the new Thor from now on, she’s not. The old Thor will be back at some point. This is just how comics roll. But, if while she’s Thor she can get a foothold in the Marvel universe and build up a fanbase, when the old Thor inevitably returns and the female Thor gets a different identity, her time as Thor will have laid the groundwork for her continued existence in another book, or several. Being Thor is an excellent foot in the door for long term relevance.

Now, there are some fair concerns out there. Not from the aforementioned idiotic sub-section of fandom; Thor’s been a frog and a space horse before, so Thor can be a woman. Chill out, guys. But the costume has some silly bits. There’s a belly window, which is impractical and nonsensical, and some fans are displeased with the breast-conforming armour (“boob plate” armour is a non-starter for a lot of fans, which I can understand; in this case, I think the aesthetics work and it’s a lesser offender on that front, but that’s just me).

However, I think there’s far more to be excited for than to be worried about. We’re getting a female Thor from an excellent creative team with a massive PR push from the publisher! That’s cool in so many ways. It shows that Marvel is reaching out to female fans and trying to broaden their appeal, plus a female Thor is just going to be rad as hell. As a Wonder Woman enthusiast, I’m all about lady warriors, and I’m very pleased to see a new one take center stage. I’ll definitely be picking up the book when it launches this fall.

The Women Writers Behind Pocket Books’ 1980s Star Trek Novel Line

July 15, 2014

Surprising absolutely no one given my nerdy proclivities, I’m a big fan of Star Trek, and have been since I was 8 years old. I’ve seen all the shows and movies, have dozens of action figures, and every now and again I read a Star Trek novel. As such, I usually take a look at the Star Trek area of the sci-fi section whenever I’m in a used bookstore, and recently I found something surprising: A Star Trek novel written by a woman.

Women writers aren’t entirely unheard of in the world of modern Star Trek books; most recently, Kirsten Beyer has been writing the Voyager franchise. But they’re definitely in the minority, especially in the bigger original series and Next Generation lines. So when I saw a Star Trek book from the 1980s written by a woman, I decided to check it out.

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The book is Star Trek: Dreadnought! by Diane Carey, and I quite enjoyed it. A recently graduated female cadet gets assigned to the Enterprise after frying the computers during the famed Kobayashi Maru test, and ends up helping Kirk and Spock stop a rogue Starfleet admiral with a massive, secret warship. The novel was a lot of fun, and at the end of the book was a list of other titles in the line, many of them written by women.

In fact, of the 97 numbered titles in the original series Star Trek novel line, 58 of them were written by women. That’s 60%, a clear majority. And that’s just the numbered books; there were several side-books as well, including adaptations of the movies which were all written by women after Gene Roddenberry wrote the first one.   These women writers included:

  • A.C. Crispin
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Barbara Paul
  • Carmen Carter
  • Carolyn Clowes
  • D.C. Fontana
  • Dana Kramer-Rolls
  • Della van Hise
  • Diane Carey
  • Diane Duane
  • J.M. Dillard
  • Janet Kagan
  • Jean Lorrah
  • Judith Reeves
  • Judy Klass
  • Julia Ecklar
  • Kathy Oltion
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • L.A. Graf
  • M.S. Murdock
  • Majliss Larson
  • Margaret Wander Bonanno
  • Melinda Snodgrass
  • Melissa Crandall
  • Myrna Culbreath
  • Pamela Sargent
  • Sondra Marshak
  • Sonni Cooper
  • V.E. Mitchell
  • Vonda N. McIntyre

That’s quite a list. All together, there were 30 different women writing 58 Star Trek novels. This substantial number of women writers is a pleasant surprise given that they’re in the minority by a sizeable margin in modern Star Trek novels. Generally speaking, we expect progress in representation, but Star Trek novels seem to have gone backwards.

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The novels that I’ve read so far are both written by women and feature a wide array of smart, fleshed out female characters. In the last book I read, The Tears of the Singers by Melinda Snodgrass, Uhura is the main character and Kali, the wife of Klingon captain Kor, is a key player in maintaining the peace between humans and Klingons as they investigate a space/time rift. There’s even a moment in the book where Kirk momentarily worries that Uhura might neglect her Starfleet duties because of a new romantic interest, and then he checks himself and remembers that he’s dated lots of ladies and it didn’t affect his work so he shouldn’t expect any different from Uhura.

On top of showcasing so many women, real and fictional, the novels are great because they’re from the 1980s, where each book had a painted cover. These days, Star Trek novel covers are just photoshopped, but they had to do it old school in the 1980s. There must be originals for these covers somewhere, right? If I ever came across one of those paintings, I would totally try to buy it, especially one with 1980s hair on futuristic clothes.

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Anyway, women-written Star Trek novels are now my go-to used bookstore objective. I’ve got six or seven already, and am hoping to get them all. They’re a cool memento of strong female representation from an era where you wouldn’t really expect it, plus they’re fun to read too.

Wonder Woman’s October 2014 Covers And Solicits

July 14, 2014

October is going to be a busy and significant month for Wonder Woman. Not only are Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang wrapping up their run on Wonder Woman, they’re unveiling her New 52 origin story in Secret Origins as well. Wonder Woman’s two other series have new issues as well, so let’s get to the solicits. First up, Wonder Woman #35:

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WONDER WOMAN #35
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
MONSTERS Variant cover by AARON LOPRESTI
On sale OCTOBER 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s the grand finale of the historic WONDER WOMAN epic by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang! Saying more would spoil all the surprises – and there will be plenty!

Well, we’ve got no information whatsoever. But we’ve got an amazing cover from Cliff Chiang that showcases Wonder Woman and all of the book’s prominent female characters. Zola in a Wonder Woman shirt is awesome, and it looks like Aleka is sporting Wonder Woman’s Hephaestian armour. I wonder if she’ll be wearing the armour inside the book too? This book would be worth buying just for this great cover, but the inside should be something special too. I’m excited to see how Azzarello and Chiang wrap up their run. I’ve had my issues with their time on the book, but there’s been a lot of good too and I’m really hoping that they bring it home in spectacular fashion.

Azzarello and Chiang are back again a week later with Secret Origins #6:

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SECRET ORIGINS #6
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO, CLIFF CHIANG, J.M. DeMATTEIS and CULLEN BUNN
Art by CLIFF CHIANG, GORAN SUDZUKA, KEVIN STOKES, IGOR LIMA and RUY JOSE
Cover by LEE BERMEJO
On sale OCTOBER 22 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
The same month the acclaimed creative team on WONDER WOMAN exits that book, they arrive to tell the Amazon Warrior’s secret origin! Plus, the beginnings of Deadman by J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Stokes, and Sinestro’s origin by series writer Cullen Bunn and artist Igor Lima!

Oh man, that Bermejo cover is nice. I love Bermejo’s art, and this is a fierce work of beauty. And, seeing as we’ve got no plot details again, the cover is all we can really talk about. Luckily, it’s a great cover. Bermejo’s done some epic, iconic images with this series thus far, and his Wonder Woman is a fantastic addition to the line.

It also looks like Goran Sudzuka will be helping out Cliff Chiang with the art, which makes sense given that Chiang has his Wonder Woman finale to finish. This should be an interesting issue; Azzarello’s track record with the Amazons has not been good, so I’m a little bit worried about how he’ll handle Wonder Woman’s origin. That being said, I’m still eager to check it out.

Here’s a book I’m less eager for, Superman/Wonder Woman #12:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #12
Written by CHARLES SOULE
Art by JACK HERBERT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
MONSTERS Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
On sale OCTOBER 8 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
“SUPERMAN: DOOMED AFTERMATH”! Diana recovers from the events of DOOMED, and the sacrifices and betrayals made. Is love lost?

“Is love lost?” I sure hope so! Please do that, DC! I am loathe to read more “Doomed” stuff, but if it means Wonder Woman and Superman are through than I am all over it.

It’s an interesting art mix this issue. I have never heard of Jack Herbert, and I read the solicits every month, so this could be fun. I like checking out new work. Tony Daniel’s cover looks really phoned in, which is disappointing, but Bill Sienkiewicz is doing a monsters variant cover and that should be AMAZING.

Finally, we’ve got Sensation Comics #3:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #3
Written by GILBERT HERNANDEZ and SEAN E. WILLIAMS
Art by GILBERT HERNANDEZ and MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale OCTOBER 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
When Wonder Woman allows an other dimensional science-villain to capture her, she expects to swiftly deal with his android minions and save the day. But he’s able to brainwash her and that’s when things go haywire! Then, back on Earth, we share a rare moment from Diana’s rock-star days.

I put this up last week when it was revealed earlier, but I’m putting it up again just to have everything in one place. I’m very, very, very excited for this issue, and am generally so excited that this book exists.

Check out all of these books in stores or online this October! It should be a fun month for Wonder Woman fans.

DC Unveils New Wonder Woman Statue Designed By Cliff Chiang

July 11, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con is almost upon us, and DC Collectibles have revealed an array of new products that will be available at the convention, including a fantastic new Wonder Woman statue by Cliff Chiang. The statue shows Wonder Woman in the armour she received from Hephaestus during Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s current run on Wonder Woman:

wwstatueIt’s also a really gorgeous statue. Holy wow.

The sculpt perfectly captures the armour from the comics, and is a great representation of Chiang’s take on the character. I love the paint job on the metal especially; it looks aged and battle tested. And with her sword and her lasso, she’s clearly ready for a fight. Plus the base is the Wonder Woman symbol, which is pretty fun.

The statue is part of DC Collectible’s “Wonder Woman Art of War” line. Past statues have been designed by Adam Hughes, George Perez, Jim Lee, and Yanick Paquette, and DC also announced a Tony S. Daniel that will be available at Comic Con next weekend. The Chiang statue is my favourite thus far, partly because I love Chiang’s work and partly because it looks super cool.

You can pick up the statue at DC Entertainment’s booth at Comic-Con if you’re lucky enough to be at the convention, and if not it will be available via their online store, and probably in comic shops soon. The previous statues in the line sell for $79.95, so I’d expect the same pricing. My birthday’s in September, by the way, if any of you all are looking to get me something…

Wonder Woman Sales: Wonder Woman Holds Steady While Superman/Wonder Woman Grows

July 11, 2014

Today we’re looking at two months at once, April and May, and Wonder Woman remains rock solid. In April 2014, Wonder Woman #30 was in 69th place on the charts with 31,095 copies sold, a gain of 0.3% from March, while in May 2014, Wonder Woman #31 was in 72nd place with 30,655 copies sold, a drop of 1.4% from April. Here are the numbers for the issues, and the five issues previous:

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NOTE: The average sales total is based on all of the available sales data, which currently comprises every issue of the series since September 1996, for 204 issues in total.  The average rank isn’t given because rank is dependent on what other books came out that month, and that’s such a variable that an average really wouldn’t mean anything.

April’s gain was a surprise, given not much was going on with the book. There was no special event or notable creative change. The only thing different was a MAD Magazine variant cover, but many other DC titles were part of the same variant line and didn’t see an increase in sales. Wonder Woman #31 had a variant cover too, by Mike and Laura Allred, and the issue dropped (despite being a much nicer cover), so I’ll attribute this to market randomness. The numbers are so small both ways that it’s all rather inconsequential. The book is staying remarkably steady.

Wonder Woman fell only 7 spots on the sales charts from March to May, but fell 10 spots among DC’s titles, from 21st in March to 25th in April to 31st in May. However, considering how many books came out in that span, Wonder Woman is holding up very well. DC premiered two new weekly series, Batman Eternal and Futures End, which add 8 books to DC’s monthly lineup, all of which are ahead of Wonder Woman on the charts at this point (I expect Batman Eternal to stay ahead of Wonder Woman for its run, but wouldn’t be surprised if Futures End dropped below a few months in). There are two new monthly series ahead of Wonder Woman too: Justice League United and Sinestro (of the two, I predict Sinestro will fall below Wonder Woman by July or August).

Superman/Wonder Woman had an even better run, increasing in sales in both April and May. Here are the numbers:

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The April issue was a “Doomed” prelude, a lead-in to the crossover but not technically part of the crossover, while the May issue was the first proper “Doomed” issue. The event seems to be paying dividends for DC from the get go; Superman/Wonder Woman rose nicely, and its co-“Doomed” book Action Comics did as well.

Events are a nice sales boost, and one most comics are reliant upon every year or so to keep the series from perpetually dropping. Wonder Woman has been event-free since the New 52 began, making its solid numbers all the more impressive, but a big event is coming in November: David and Meredith Finch are taking over the series. I’m expecting a big jump when their first issue debuts, but steady sales until then.

Prediction For Next Month: Wonder Woman isn’t fluctuating much either way, so let’s go with a drop of about 1% for sales of 30,350 or so. Check back next month to see how I did!


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