Wonder Woman #37 Review OR What Did I Do To Deserve A Book This Bad?

December 17, 2014

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I don’t even know where to start with this hot mess of an issue. This is an astonishingly bad comic book in general, and an even worse Wonder Woman comic. The last page should make me so happy, but it just makes me sad. All of the pages before it are no better, and for SO many reasons. I’m having trouble recalling a Wonder Woman comic that was ever this bad, and I’ve read ALL of the Wonder Woman comics. These people do not know what they are doing. It’s a train wreck, but not the kind where you can’t look away. I’d be glad to run as far away from this book as possible, if Wonder Woman wasn’t my beat here. Anyway, let’s talk about this catastrophe, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

I am fixing to tell you all of the ridiculous things that happened in this comic, so be warned!

Though I know a lot of you are reading this instead of the comic, which I can understand!

It’s a really bad book!

Let’s start with some small things and then get to the big things. Wonder Woman has a lot of feelings, gang. She’s just overwhelmed by everything. Check out this panel from her conversation with Clark, where she reacts strongly to the his suggestion that she may have reached her breaking point:

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This is not how Wonder Woman rolls. She’s a damn warrior princess. She handles her business and keeps on trucking because that’s what an Amazon does. It’s not that Wonder Woman can’t have emotions or get overwhelmed by stuff. She’s not a robot. But she IS Wonder Woman. She doesn’t need to flip out and unload her troubles on a dude in every single issue.

Add to that this storyline where some random old Amazon lady is trying to make her choose between being a superhero and an Amazon queen, and you’ve basically got a book about a woman struggling to have it all. Which is ridiculous when that woman is Wonder Woman. If anyone can balance a myriad of responsibilities, it’s her. This plot is such a flawed approach to the character. Plus it reeks of a ridiculously dated take on female characters generally; this sort of thing was getting old when it was the angle of every female-led television show in the 1990s. Wonder Woman is SO much better than the story they are giving her.

Aside from the bad story, the art is a rough scene too. When David Finch was announced as the book’s artist, me and pretty much everyone familiar with his work was concerned that his style might be too sexy for Wonder Woman. And guess what? Yeah, it really is. I was hoping he’d tone things down a bit for a feminist icon, but not so much. There’s a scene where Wonder Woman goes into battle in special armour, and the chest plate doesn’t even cover her belly. It’s ARMOUR. It has a very specific purpose. Armour that bares your midriff is useless armour. Finch also poses Wonder Woman in odd ways; even when she’s just standing around, her hips are cocked slightly so as to stick her rear out a little bit.

Worst of all, we’ve got Amazon butt crack. I’m not even kidding. There’s an Amazon gal wearing little more than a loincloth around her nether regions, and in one panel we see her from behind and we can see some definite butt crack, bent over plumber style:

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This is a WONDER WOMAN comic book. We should not be getting butt crack.

Nor should we be getting Amazons colluding with evil witches to sacrifice babies, but here we are. The degradation of the Amazons is a pet peeve of mine. I hated what Azzarello did to them, turning them into rapists and murderers, but at least in their present interactions they didn’t behave like monsters to each other. There were quarrels, but ultimately they all worked together. Now, there are factions of the Amazons full on rebelling against Diana. The weird old lady Amazon and her associates are actively working with a sorceress to take down Wonder Woman, though we have yet to see a really good reason why other then they’re not happy to have the Manazons around. I hate when Amazons are jerks, and I hate when Amazons backstab each other. They are supposed to be better than us; it’s kind of their thing. Making them cackling, conniving villains is the worst. And also very 1990s. This book would have been ALL the rage with fanboys in 1993.

This sorceress collusion leads us to the big reveal at the end of the issue: The return of Donna Troy. I love Donna Troy, so I should be happy to have her back, but bringing her back buck naked via the cauldron of an evil sorceress bent on destroying the Amazons is pretty much the last way I wanted to see her return, especially with such a subpar creative team at the helm. The return of Donna Troy should be exciting. It’s been years since we’ve seen her! And yet my only reaction was, “Oh no, now she’s been dragged into this mess of a book too.” I could not possibly be less excited about this turn of events. All that I can hope for at this point is that she comes out of this storyline relatively unscathed and can find a home somewhere else in the DC universe with writers and artists who will do her justice. Secret agent Donna Troy might be fun in Grayson, perhaps.

So basically, I liked nothing about this comic book. I actively hated most of it, to be quite frank. I have seen nothing in these first two issues that suggests that Meredith and David Finch have any understanding of Wonder Woman, much less the ability to tell an interesting and engaging story. The whole thing is a mishmash of clichéd ideas about female characters, sexy adolescent Amazons except for the one super old one who is of course evil, and senseless shock value. It’s rough all around, and I really can’t see how it could get any better. I can’t believe I have months of this ahead of me.

Review – IDW’s Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip, 1944-1945 by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter

December 16, 2014

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I recently read and absolutely loved IDW’s collection of the short running Wonder Woman comic strip from the 1940s, and I was fascinated with the way the strips compared to the regular Wonder Woman comic books. Both were done by Wonder Woman’s original creative team of William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, but the strip debuted more than two years after Wonder Woman first appeared. With a couple years under their belts, they duo got a second chance to introduce Wonder Woman’s feminist message to a new audience, and the differences in the strips are just as interesting as what stayed the same. I examined IDW’s collection as compared to the original comics in a review that’s up now at The Comics Journal.

Marston doubled down on his matriarchal message, making it explicitly clear that Wonder Woman was coming to America to conquer the patriarchy. Look at this comparison of Wonder Woman leaving Paradise Island for the first time, and see what Marston added to the strip:

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He also kept his bondage fetishism front and center as always. In fact, the Cheetah story in the strips is completely different from the Cheetah’s first appearance in Wonder Woman except for an elaborate bondage sequence that was redrawn by Peter almost exactly as it first appeared:

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Head on over to The Comics Journal for more pictures and my full review.

Wonder Woman’s March 2015 Covers and Solicits

December 16, 2014

Wonder Woman is headlining four different books in March, though she’s doing so in the most annoying of ways with the over-sized, higher priced annual that wraps up the storyline you’ve been reading in the main books. Such a jerk move. “Oh, you’ve been enjoying this story for $3 a month? Well, it’s going to cost you $5 to get the end of it.” Not cool. I assume the rush to the conclusion was because “Convergence” is debuting in April and DC wanted to get stuff wrapped up before then, but still. That’s not classy. Let’s dig into the books.

First up is Wonder Woman #40:

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WONDER WOMAN #40
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
MOVIE POSTER Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
1:50 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
1:100 Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
On sale MARCH 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s the penultimate chapter of the series-altering first story arc by the new creative team of writer Meredith Finch and penciller David Finch as Wonder Woman faces a challenger to her throne created solely to defeat her. But how can Diana stop a foe whose every strength is matched to her every weakness?

“First story arc” sort of bums me out because I was hoping that this would be the only story arc we got from the Finches and that we’d get a new creative team post-“Convergence.” That does not seem to be the case. Anyway, Diana’s fighting someone. I doubt it’s going to be a thrilling read, but hey, you never know. Maybe the book will get better after its disastrous first issue. Stranger things have happened.

The storyline line concludes in Wonder Woman Annual #1, at a much higher price:

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WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
Backup story art by GORAN SUDZUKA
Advance solicit • On sale APRIL 1 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US RATED T
A story so big we couldn’t contain it in the monthly title! Wonder Woman faces off with the foe destined to become her ultimate nemesis in a battle that will determine the fate of Paradise Island! And in a backup tale that will alter the course of the Amazon Queen, an old face returns, and we mean VERY old! You couldn’t ask for more from Wonder Woman’s very first annual!

I almost don’t mind this cover. Wonder Woman still looks like a teenager, but at least it’s not all sexy and whatnot. Most of the Finch covers we’ve seen for Wonder Woman thus far have been pretty dull and/or sexy, so this somewhat okay cover is a nice change. As for the returning “old face”, I’m going to guess… Ares, maybe? Get rid of this dumb god of war thing by having him take it back? I’d be down for that. Or maybe Zeus will be back in full force.

Moving on to Superman/Wonder Woman #17:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #17
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by ED BENES
MOVIE POSTER Variant cover by GENE HA
On sale MARCH 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
It’s a bloody showdown as Circe and Magog attack the power couple! And the outcome will bring about a major change in Kal and Diana’s relationship.

Is Wonder Woman wearing hoop earrings on that cover? Wonder Woman doesn’t wear hoop earrings. They look weird. But “a major change” in the relationship sounds promising! Maybe they’ll break up. I must confess, when I heard that DC was cancelling a bunch of titles in March, I really hoped that this one would be on the list. But nope. Still going strong. Dang it.

Finally, the good Wonder Woman book, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #8:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #8
Written by JAMES TYNION IV and HEATHER NUHFER
Art by NOELLE STEVENSON and RYAN BENJAMIN
Cover by JAE LEE
On sale MARCH 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Teenaged Diana comes to Man’s World and discovers a “Wonder World” where she makes new friends. That part’s great, but her Amazon bodyguards are busy tracking her down and scaring everyone she meets! Then, in “Sabotage Is in the Stars,” Wonder Woman aids India’s space program, making it safe for them to launch their new SpaceCrops platform. But when Diana discovers that LexCorp caused the problem, she takes matters into her own hands!

I went on about my excitement for this issue last week, and I remain just as keen to check out this book. What a killer lineup, and a great cover too. This issue should be a blast all around. You’re definitely going to want to pick this up, gang.

Look for all of these Wonder Woman comics this March, except for the annual which is out the first week of April, just before “Convergence” kicks off in full force.

DC Comics’ March Movie Poster Variant Covers For Wonder Woman #40 And Superman/Wonder Woman #17

December 15, 2014

DC’s continuing their very successful monthly themed variant cover line this March, and this time it’s going to be covers based on movie posters. So Batgirl as Purple Rain, The Flash as North by Northwest, and Justice League as Magic Mike. They’re certainly drawing from a wide array of film genres and eras. Both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman are part of the variant line, with mixed results. Let’s take a look, starting with Superman/Wonder Woman #17 by Gene Ha:

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The annoying thing is, this is a very nicely done cover. It captures the Gone with the Wind vibe totally and recreates the poster well. However, I hate it. Wonder Woman is no Scarlett O’Hara and should never be positioned as such. Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass has a great response to this cover, where she points out that there are so many other great couple movies that DC could have used here that presented both characters in a strong way. Instead, we get Wonder Woman being passively carried by Superman in an homage to one of the most useless characters of all time. Not cool.

Here’s the variant cover for Wonder Woman #40 by Bill Sienkiewicz:

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Some people are not pleased with Wonder Woman being depicted in an homage to bloodthirsty Spartan warriors in this play on 300, and I definitely take their point. I’m pretty sick of the angry, violent Wonder Woman we’ve been getting so often since the New 52 launched. At the same time, this cover is AWESOME. It just looks super cool. And I certainly find it far less ridiculous that the Gone with the Wind one. So while I don’t love Wonder Woman being presented all violent and blood spattered, I think the execution thereof is kind of impressive.

Both covers will be available in March, and as always you might want to talk to your local retailer beforehand if you want to be sure to get one.

Wonder Woman #37 Preview OR A Bunch Of Teenage Girls Fight Robot Owls Or Something? I Don’t Know

December 15, 2014

The second issue of Meredith and David Finch’s run on Wonder Woman is set to hit stands on Wednesday, and Newsarama has an exclusive preview. I pretty much hated the first issue, and I honestly can’t imagine this arc getting a lot better. The writing was poor and the art was bad and creepily exploitive; oddly, there’s nowhere to go but up, and yet I’m not at all optimistic that they can make the book any better. So with that ringing endorsement, let’s check out this preview:

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I really don’t understand why Finch has drawn all of the Amazons to look like curvy adolescents. It creeps me out so bad. They are WOMEN. Grown adults. Make them look like that. Also, all of the mouths agape are only making the creepy factor worse. It’s all just kind of gross.

Furthermore, only a creative team this inept could ruin robotic owls with Amazon in-fighting. There’s barely any actual owl fighting. There’s a massively unnecessary double page spread though, which is not surprising.

I will say that I do like the Amazon with the undercut. That’s nicely played. And the armour she’s wearing is well rendered. If she didn’t look like a sexy teenager and the shot didn’t have her mouth agape and her cleavage so prominently exposed, this might actually be a decent take on an Amazon. But alas, it is not. Finch can draw well, he just seems to choose not to and instead focuses on making everything look all sexy.

Wonder Woman #37 is out this Wednesday is comic shops and online. Honestly, I understand if you don’t want to buy it. I’ll have a review up on Wednesday and you can read that instead of dropping a few bucks on what should be a rather subpar comic book. It’s up to you. Go buy Bitch Planet instead. It’s the BEST.

Noelle Stevenson, Of Nimona And Lumberjanes Fame, To Draw Wonder Woman In Sensation Comics

December 12, 2014

The March issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman looks like it’s going to be fantastic. Not only does it have a story by Heather Nuhfer and Ryan Benjamin, it’s also got one written by James Tynion IV with art by one of my favourite creators in all of comics, Noelle Stevenson. Here’s the solicit, via Comic Vine:

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #8

Written by James Tynion IV and Heather Nuhfer; Art by Noelle Stevenson and Ryan Benjamin

Cover by Jae Lee

Teenage Diana comes to Man’s World, and discovers a “Wonder World” where she makes new friends. That part’s great, but her Amazon bodyguards are busy tracking her down and scaring everyone she meets! Then, “Sabotage Is in the Stars,” as Wonder Woman aids India’s space program, making it safe for them to launch their new SpaceCrops platform. But when Diana discovers LexCorp caused the problem, she takes matters into her own hands!

It looks like the Tynion/Stevenson story will be the first one, with a teenage Diana and her Amazon bodyguards. Tynion posted this sketch of all of the characters that Stevenson designed for the story, which looks so fun:

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All of the creators on this issue are wonderful, but I’ve been a huge fan of Noelle Stevenson for years. I first heard about her when she started her “Broship of the Rings” art, a series of drawings and eventually a short comic that reimagined characters from the Lord of the Rings as modern dudes. Biker chick Eowyn was probably my favourite, though hipster hobbits were a close second. Her career has since exploded from there. Her webcomic, Nimona, wrapped up recently and is being published next year, and she’s part of the amazing team behind Lumberjanes, one of the best comic books on the stands right now. She’s also got a day job at Disney and wrote a story in an upcoming Thor annual. I’m so excited for Noelle Stevenson to draw a Wonder Woman story partly because I love her art and partly because she is exactly the sort of creator that the Big Two needs right now. Stevenson is the future of comics, and while I adore her own original stuff, I hope we get a lot of superhero stories out of her too.

I feel sort of bad talking up Noelle Stevenson when everyone else on the book is super good as well. It’s going to be a great issue all around! She’s just one of my very favourite creators, so I’m super excited. You should definitely pick up the book in March, and the stories should be available digitally before then.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #18 Review: “Dig for Fire, Part 3″ by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman

December 11, 2014

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Well, that was a twist! The second part of “Dig for Fire” had us all set up for a thrilling adventure where Wonder Woman and her newly freed Amazon sisters escaped Apokalips, but it took a hard left turn when the Amazons’ true plan was revealed. Unbeknownst to Queen Hippolyta or Wonder Woman, the gals had teamed up with Lex Luthor and were planning to destroy Apokalips once and for all with a LexCorp bomb that would make the planet implode. Needless to say, Wonder Woman was not onboard.

I really enjoyed how Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman threw in this twist, and how everything played out from there. The issue started with some standard Amazon butt kicking, as they all teamed up to use the golden lasso and collapse a tunnel on top of a horde of parademons. It was exactly the sort of fare I was expecting in this final issue, and then we learned that the Amazons had gone rogue. It was a cool turn that led to a lot of great moments.

First, we got to see Wonder Woman facing off with Darkseid. Her Amazon sisters took off with the bomb after the Furies showed up, capturing Diana, and she was brought to Darkseid in chains. Then, in a great scene, she talked herself out of them. Darkseid was trying to be all cool and aloof and “Take her away,” but Wonder Woman not only convinced him that there was a bomb, but that she should be the one to stop it. It’s rare to strike a deal with Darkseid, but Wonder Woman pulled it off.

Plus, the panel of her diving into the depths of Apokalips in a heatsuit while riding atop a robot is super cool:

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This is what superhero comics are for, crazy scenes like his. I love it.

Wonder Woman stopped the bomb, of course. She’s Wonder Woman. That’s what she does. And Darkseid killed the two Amazons who brought the bomb, because that’s what he does. However, Wonder Woman was allowed to leave. He actually kept his deal with her, that’s how awesome Wonder Woman is. If anyone’s going to screw you over, it’s Darkseid, but even he wouldn’t cross Wonder Woman.

Now that we’ve got all three parts of the story, it’s cool to look back and see how Bechko and Hardman set all of the pieces up. The first issue introduced the Furies, who captured Wonder Woman in the third issue. The second issue brought in the scavengers and a mysterious package box from LexCorp, which were key parts of the finale. The writers did a great job creating issues that were enjoyable on their own, with good characters and a fun cliffhanger, while putting everything in place for it to come together at the end. I think it was a very nicely constructed story that made excellent use of the format.

Bechko and Hardman also have a great grasp of Wonder Woman. She is on task and to the point, and firm in her convictions. When her Amazon sisters tried to sell her on their plan to destroy Apokalips, she wasn’t having ANY of it. Not for a second. Even on the most evil planet in the universe, protecting innocent lives comes first. The end of the final issue also showed how Wonder Woman’s presence inspired the citizens of Apokalips; they saw someone stand up to Darkseid and leave alive. Wonder Woman didn’t give a big speech or anything like that. She just inspired them with her actions, which is how I think Wonder Woman would roll. I don’t see her as intentionally trying to inspire people, but rather just doing so inadvertently because of who she is and how she affects people.

All together, this was a great three issue run for Sensation Comics and I hope that Bechko and Hardman will get to write Wonder Woman again. They did a great job here, and the book was especially enjoyable because it came in the midst of a rough time for Wonder Woman comics in the New 52. I’d much rather see Bechko and Hardman at the helm of a Wonder Woman comic book than anyone who’s working on one now.

Don’t forget to pick up the print version of this story in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #5, out next Wednesday.


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