Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 Preview OR I Have No Idea What’s Happening Here

September 15, 2014

DC’s “Futures End” event is entering its third week, and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on because I don’t particularly care about a hypothetical future that’s not going to happen and that looks, quite frankly, generally bad. But this week we’re getting a double shot of Wonder Woman with both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman coming out in a sort of two-parter written by Charles Soule, and I always read the Wonder Woman books.

We’ve got a preview of Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 from Man Cave Daily; I feel like I’ve complained about putting a Wonder Woman preview on a website called Man Cave Daily before, so I’ll spare you all the redundant tirade. Anyway, here’s a six page look at the book, available this Wednesday with a fancy motion cover:

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First things first, this is inarguably the most boring Wonder Woman costume of all time. It’s jeans and a tank top, drawn as dully and uninterestingly as possible. Moreover, the art seems out of sync with how we know Wonder Woman works. For example, when Wonder Woman manifests her swords we should get a cool, blue Kirby krackle, not flames. The art here is generally uninspiring.

Also, I don’t know what is happening here. I have no idea where or what Koronoor is, I don’t know why Wonder Woman is dressed so badly, I don’t know why she’s fighting alongside a Viking and a World War Two soldier, and I don’t know what those black monsters are. Based on the solicits, I assume the monsters work for Nemesis, the big bad of Wonder Woman’s Futures End arc, but other than that I am all sorts of lost. This may be my own fault, seeing as I’m not keeping up with any of the other books or the weekly series. But as a casual reader of this event, I’m very confused.

What’s worse, I’m not particularly interested in reading the rest of the issue. Six pages is a lot of space to grab a reader, and I am entirely ungrabbed. The art is bland, the writing is not at all helping me understand what is happening and why, and given that this is a story that will never actually happen in real continuity, everything about it is screaming “You don’t need to care about this!” I’ll get it anyway, of course. I’m a Wonder Woman enthusiast, occasionally to my own detriment. But this preview has had the opposite effect on me that a preview should ideally have.

Hopefully the rest of the book picks up from here and things start making sense soon. Superman/Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 is also out this week to shed further light on these mysterious circumstances. We don’t have a preview for that yet, but maybe that’ll come tomorrow. Both comics are available on Wednesday, as is the print version of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #2, so at least I’ve got one Wonder Woman book to look forward to.

Could TNT’s Titans TV Series Starring Nightwing Mean A Live Action Donna Troy?

September 12, 2014

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Yesterday, news broke that TNT is developing a Titans television series that would center around Dick Grayson leaving his role as Batman’s sidekick Robin, becoming Nightwing, and forming his own superhero team. Other heroes mentioned in articles about the show’s development include Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg, but the obvious question for Wonder Woman enthusiasts is will Donna Troy, aka. Wonder Girl, be a part of the show?

Wonder Girl was a part of the Teen Titans from the very beginning, fighting alongside Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad in their own series in the 1960s. When the team was relaunched as the New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in 1980, Wonder Girl remained part of the team, alongside new additions like Beast Boy and the aforementioned Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg. New Teen Titans chronicled Dick Grayson’s evolution from Robin to Nightwing, the same era the show is built upon, and Donna Troy was a key character in the series throughout its entire run. Her history got rather convoluted over the years but, as the Teen Titans grew into adulthood, Donna Troy always stuck with her gang, from a rebranding as the Titans in the late 1990s to following Dick Grayson to the Justice League as the last incarnation of the team before the New 52 began in 2011.

Since the launch of the New 52, Donna Troy has been benched. DC has teased her return via a quick look a whiteboard planning future storylines; “Donna” is linked to “SM/WW”, or Superman/Wonder Woman. Nothing has come of it yet, but the same whiteboard mentioned the return of Stephanie Brown and Wally West, both of which have since been brought back. It also sounds like she’s going to be a part of one of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity issues, albeit it in a different universe.

Having Donna Troy in a Titans TV series just makes sense given her long history with the team. Plus, it might spur DC to bring her back into their primary universe after a now three-year long absence. Donna is a favourite of both Wonder Woman and Teen Titans fans, and her appearance in any medium would be a definite cause for celebration.

Also, if the show got picked up soon and Donna was a part of it, that would mean that we’ll get a new live action Wonder Girl (Debra Winger played a non-Donna Troy Wonder Girl in the 1970s Wonder Woman TV show) before we get a new live action Wonder Woman. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t out until March 2016, so Donna might beat Diana to the punch. Given Wonder Woman’s long and frustrating journey to a modern live action adaptation, her sister getting there first seems almost appropriate

The Titans pilot is being written by Akiva Goldsman, whose star power might help the project’s chances of getting picked up. Goldsman wrote A Beautiful Mind and several other Ron Howard projects, but he also wrote Batman Forever and Batman and Robin so don’t get your hopes too high. On the other hand, he worked on Fringe, too, and that was a fantastic AND fantastical show, which could bode well for Titans. Everything is currently up in the air, including Donna Troy’s hypothetical involvement in the project. She wasn’t mentioned as part of the show in any of the articles announcing the series, and Wonder Woman-related characters haven’t appeared in any DC properties like Smallville or Arrow, so this all may be wishful thinking. But come on! Donna Troy just makes sense. Make it happen, TNT. We’re all jonesing for some live action Amazon fun.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #5 Review: “Taketh Away, Part One” By Ivan Cohen And Marcus To

September 11, 2014

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It’s tricky to review half of a story, especially when that first part amounts to only ten full pages of comic book material. It’s not a lot to go on, plus the more exciting bits of a comic tend to come toward the end of a story and you get to see how bits of the first part pay off. So let’s call this a tentative review, because a lot could change once part two comes out next week.

That being said, I definitely have some thoughts about this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics regardless of how it ends later. On pretty much every level, it didn’t do much for me. I didn’t dislike it, but it was a decidedly average outing from a book that’s had a very strong beginning.

Let’s start with what I did like, which was the overall premise of the issue. Because Wonder Woman is an accepting and open-minded person, she states in a television interview that while she believes in the Greek gods, she’s not here to proselytize on their behalf. The gods, quick to anger as always, feel like Wonder Woman has denounced them and thus take away her powers. That’s a solid premise, and I’m curious to see how it plays out in the story’s finale.

However, the execution of this premise was fairly mundane. Ivan Cohen’s done a lot of great kids books for DC Comics, so maybe I was expecting more humour and fun from the story, but the writing was a little bit flat. Wonder Woman’s interview seemed unnecessarily long, with odd turns and no real pep, despite a bit of a cliffhanger that I assume will come up in some capacity next week. Wonder Woman’s interaction with an armed hostage taker was similarly uneventful. Cohen makes the gunman sexist, but in a very obvious way, and the scene’s attempt at a joke was mildly amusing at best. The dialogue throughout was okay, but there was no snap; there was no fire to Wonder Woman’s outrage, no cleverness from anyone, no real fun to any of it.

Wonder Woman’s loss of powers was also very telegraphed. She doesn’t realize that it’s happened until the last page, but earlier in the story when she wonders if there will be any repercussions from the gods for her statement, it’s clear that there will be. When she gets confused about where she’s going to stop a shooting and then fails to deflect a bullet, it’s obvious what is happening, though confirmation doesn’t come until the last page when Wonder Woman figures out what any reader could have put together pages before.

Marcus To’s art didn’t add a lot to the story, either. I’m a fan of To, but his work here matched Cohen’s writing in its middle of the roadness. Part of the reason the dialogue read so flat was because the characters didn’t have a lot of expression. The art felt very static and posed, lacking a sense of action and dynamism. Even when Wonder Woman fought some drakons at the end of the issue in a scene that felt needlessly tacked on to add a fight to the book, it was a fairly lifeless battle that was not helped by a white light that increasingly washed out the panels. The overwhelming light is on the colorist, but the rote art that accompanied it is on To.

The art also failed at a key moment in the issue’s cliffhanger ending. Wonder Woman realizes that the gods have forsaken her by looking in a mirror and seeing that her beauty, one of her gifts from the gods, is gone. The trouble is, in that panel she looks pretty much exactly like she did throughout the rest of the book. The only difference is a slight indication of bags under her eyes. She doesn’t look ugly, or even just average. She looks like a somewhat tired version of herself. It’s a pivotal moment in the story that the art doesn’t sell, at all.

Now, this isn’t a bad comic book at all. It’s okay albeit unexciting, and it’s failings are hardly catastrophic. It is, however, firmly average. Nothing’s terrible, but nothing is great or stands out as a really strong bit of writing or art. I’m hoping that next week’s finale will remedy this, and offer a good conclusion to a fun premise that just lacked a solid execution. Ideally, some of the things that read as mundane or dull in this first part will pay off in clever ways in part two, and my opinion of the story as a whole will shift firmly to the positive. I’ll be back next week to talk all about it, with the highest of hopes.

Check Out Darwyn Cooke’s Four Wonder Woman-Centric Variant Covers Coming This December

September 10, 2014

Continuing their now regular variant cover themes for each month, DC has announced that their December variant theme will be widescreen Darwyn Cooke art. Cooke is the acclaimed multi-award winning artist of DC: The New Frontier and more recently his Parker adaptations, and his superhero art is often a gorgeous Silver Age homage combined with his own tweaks to the characters.

Of the 23 covers Cooke is drawing, 4 feature part of the Wonder Woman mythos in some capacity, mainly Wonder Woman herself but also another fun gal. So let’s take a look at what we’ll be searching frantically for in December because they’ve all sold out instantaneously. I’ve gotten the covers from Comics Alliance, who in turn got the covers from the variety of sites where DC debuted them.

First up, here’s Cooke’s cover for Wonder Woman #37:

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The covers will fold out, thus their odd shape as compared to normal cover size. I like this cover a lot; I’m always up for cool changes to Wonder Woman’s costume so long as she still looks like Wonder Woman, and she most definitely does here. And what’s more fun than Wonder Woman fighting a bunch of minotaurs? I don’t love the lasso, though. The hard black line and the lack of glow and detail is leaving me a bit cold. But that’s just being nitpicky.

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #14:

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The variant covers for this series have sold me more on this relationship than the contents of the book ever have. Last month’s selfie variant was just adorable, and this is a lovely, cozy depiction with more warmth and charm than DC has yet been able to muster out of these two in the comics. Using Superman’s cape as an intergalactic picnic blanket is an especially nice touch. Wonder Woman’s bracelets are the wrong colour but again, nitpicky.

Wonder Woman is also part of the cover for Justice League #37:

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It’s a nice group portrait, and it’s good to see Wonder Woman in a prominent position. And smiling; a lot of the guys are trying to look like tough dudes. As a Justice League portrait, it would’ve been nice to see Zatanna or another female character to add more ladies to the mix, seeing as 8 of the 10 characters are male. But yet again, a nitpick.

Finally, Wonder Girl shows up in Cooke’s Teen Titans #5 variant:

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Remember when the Teen Titans were fun and not angsty and dark all the time? I miss those days. As does Darwyn Cooke, apparently. Wonder Girl, also missed in the current New 52 universe, is front and center on the cover, rocking out with the rest of the team. Plus the bracelets are the right colour and everything! No nitpicks here.

All of these covers will be available throughout the month of December. If you want to pick them up, I’d recommend talking to your local comic shop now about getting them set aside for you, because I wouldn’t be surprised if the demand was through the roof.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #4 Review: “Brace Yourself” By Jason Bischoff And David Williams

September 5, 2014

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I’m a day late with this review because I was on road the all day yesterday, but this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics was definitely worth the wait. The story is a one-shot by Jason Bischoff and David Williams, two creators I’m not particularly familiar with but whose work I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for in the future based on the strength of this issue. This was my favourite issue of the nascent series thus far.

The story begins on Themyscira, with a young Diana undergoing an Amazon ritual. The tale is a fun twist on the usual Amazon origin, where the Amazons wear bracelets as a reminder of their captivity after Hercules’ attack and of the cruelty of men in general. In “Brace Yourself,” an Amazon gets one bracelet just for being an Amazon, but has to earn the other bracelet by defeating the Amazon’s greatest warrior: Queen Hippolyta.

Young Diana sets out to defeat her mother and earn her second bracelet straight away, and the montage of the girl’s attempts is both hilarious and adorable. Diana hiding under the bed, helmet on, lying in wait to sneak attack Hippolyta with her wooden sword is very cute, but snorkelling Diana is probably my favourite of her failed attempts.

Bischoff is clever in his finale to Diana’s quest, tying it into the classic competition of the Amazons battling to get to be the champion who returns Steve Trevor to America. In most tellings of this story, Diana beats her fellow Amazons and wins the tournament. Here, after defeating her sisters handily, Diana has to then defeat her mother in one on one combat.

What I most loved about this story is the way it blended two aspects of Amazon culture that a lot of writers have trouble marrying together: the competitive, warrior aspect and the loving, familial aspect. With Hippolyta especially, many writers have trouble reconciling the two; Hippolyta is often an aloof, regal figure, concerned with ruling and battle, or she’s a friendly, peace-loving, nurturing character. She’s rarely both.

“Brace Yourself” is one of the best stories I’ve ever read in terms of capturing Hippolyta as a mother AND an Amazon. Her interactions with the young Diana are nurturing and patient, but she never lets Diana win. When it comes to their final battle, Hippolyta remains as unrelenting as ever, giving her all to defeat her daughter in combat. Diana, too, battles fiercely, fighting as hard as she can to force her mother to yield.

Hippolyta’s reaction when she loses is just sheer perfection. A shadowed Diana stands over her fallen mother in a pose that usually brings to mind a harsh, painful defeat. But instead, Hippolyta smiles broadly and leaps up to embrace her daughter, caring not at all that she was beaten and overjoyed for Diana’s achievement. “Brace Yourself” is a good Diana story, but it’s a great Hippolyta story.

Jason Bischoff’s writing is strong throughout. It’s paced well, is both funny and touching, and Hippolyta’s narrative propels the story along without overwhelming it. He also walks the fine line of giving the Amazons a more formal brand of dialogue without leaning too far into the archaic style; it’s very easy to go too formal and have the dialogue feel sort of caricature-like and off-putting, but Bischoff has a solid handle on it.

While David Williams art is occasionally hit and miss technically, he absolutely nails the emotion of every scene he draws. His characters are expressive, both facially and physically, and he sells both the humour and the touching finale with aplomb. Unlike last week’s issue, which I thought looked better on screen than it did on paper, I think this story will look better on the page where it will be smaller and we won’t be so zoomed in on each panel. Sometimes pulling back a little lets the art shine more.

Overall, while the series is still young, this has been my favourite issue of Sensation Comics so far. I loved the clever tweaks to the Amazon mythos, and more importantly I loved how these changes let us see new sides of Diana and especially Hippolyta. The issue was well executed on every level, and I think it will be a hit both with hardcore Wonder Woman fans who already love the characters and with new readers who experiencing a Wonder Woman origin story for the first time.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – November 2014 Solicits

September 3, 2014

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For a while, Marvel’s female creator numbers were pretty much abysmal. Then, in the October solicits, things started to look up a bit. Now, with the November solicits, Marvel is in comparatively decent range for female creators and even has some female characters starring in some new books. Let’s take a closer look at their November 2014 solicits:

  • For writers, Marguerite Bennett is on Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #4, Kelly Sue DeConnick pens Captain Marvel #9, G. Willow Wilson is on Ms. Marvel #10, Corinna Bechko co-writes Savage Hulk #6, Katie Cook has a story in Spider-Verse #1, and Robin Furth is co-writing Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Prisoner #4.
  • On art, Katie Cook is illustrating her story in Spider-Verse #1, Elia Bonetti is doing interior art on Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #5, Stephanie Hans is doing the cover for Storm #5, Stacey Lee is doing the cover for New Warriors #12, Amanda Conner is doing a variant cover for Miracleman #13, and Siya Oum is doing a variant cover for Spider-Woman #1.
  • Also, there’s a whole lot of Sara Pichelli. She’s doing variant covers for Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #5, Superior Iron Man #1, All-New Captain America #1, and All-New X-Men #35.
  • For female characters, Spider-Woman launches her own series in November (along with the much maligned Milo Manara variant cover), Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 features 3 female characters of the 7 shown on its cover, and Scarlet Spiders #1 is 1 of 3. There are a lot of men getting books as well, though, including relaunches for Iron Man, Captain America, and a whole load of Death of Wolverine stuff.

All together, 12 different women are set to work on 15 different books in November, a huge increase from October’s 7 and 9. Now, DC has 20 different women slated to work on their books in November, so Marvel’s 12 is considerably less impressive. But at the same time, both publishers have hundreds of men writing and drawing their books as well, so no one is really killing it when it comes to female creators. Nonetheless, this is a definite improvement for Marvel.

It’s also good to see some regular gigs. While there are several variant covers slated for November, Corinna Bechko and Stephanie Hans seem to have steady jobs, joining Kelly Sue DeConnick and G. Willow Wilson as Marvel’s handful of regular female creators. Plus there are some new faces, too; I don’t think I’ve seen Stacey Lee before.

Female characters have a decent month lined up as well. Any month with a new female-led book is a new one, and despite the PR catastrophe of the cover reveal, Spider-Woman getting her own series is an exciting development that’s long overdue. It’s also good to see women on the new team titles, though as always there are several more dudes.

Overall, Marvel is looking pretty good for November, and is much improved from their past showings. There’s still a lot of room to grow, but “some” is better than “barely any at all” any day of the week. Here’s hoping they keep it up for December, and into 2015.

Some Wonder Woman Comic Book Teases From Brian Azzarello At Fan Expo

September 2, 2014

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Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s three year run on Wonder Woman is coming to a close this October, with two full issues of Wonder Woman remaining (Wonder Woman #34 got pushed back from its usual spot in August to the first week of October) and her origin story in Secret Origins #6. That’s a lot of pages left for surprises and revelations, and during the “Champions of Justice” panel at Fan Expo in Toronto this past weekend, Brian Azzarello promised some of both.

Bleeding Cool and Comic Book Resources had full reports on the panel, where Azzarello reflected on the upcoming end of his Wonder Woman tenure. He said that they’re ending the book where they’d always planned to end it, and that, “We told the story we wanted to tell, and we maintained the character throughout.” The only plan Azzarello had that he didn’t get to explore was a romance for Wonder Woman with someone other than Superman, but once the Wonder Woman/Superman relationship began elsewhere in the New 52 universe his plan was off the table.

Wonder Woman has ended each “season” of this run with a big, crazy finale before the September event book break, and it sounds like the grand finale is going to be more of the same. Here’s what we can expect in the last few issues:

  • “There’s a revelation that’s never been touched on in her origin in the next issue.”
  • “A real big reveal in 34.”
  • “Then Secret Origin has a huge reveal.”

Not surprisingly, Azzarello was tight lipped about what any of those reveals might be. If you’re at all familiar with Wonder Woman‘s solicits and Azzarello’s interviews generally, the man doesn’t like to give anything away. However, he did unveil a pretty obvious scoop, stating:

“Come on, you guys know how this works. She’s not going to die. I mean, some characters will die in the finale, but she won’t be one of them.”

Azzarello also had some words of wisdom for Meredith and David Finch, who are taking over Wonder Woman in November. He said:

“You have to treat Wonder Woman different than you treat Superman or Batman or any other characters. Wonder Woman fans are really passionate about that character. You can mess up some of the other characters a bit more but that character deserves your respect. She represents things to people that have nothing to do with the comic book at all.”

Which is solid advice. I’m hoping that Azzarello learned from that himself and that some of the more unpleasant things he’s added to the Amazon’s history will be undone in these last couple of issues. I’m not holding my breath, though.

David Finch was at the panel as well, and he said that the book has been a challenge for him, both in larger ways, like creating a story that’s respectful to the character, and in smaller ways, like getting Wonder Woman’s hair right. Preview pages for the Finch’s first issue show the Justice League and Swamp Thing, but Finch said that Swamp Thing is only in the first issue and that the Justice League have only a minor role in the series. I remain very skeptical about this creative team, but I will say this: David Finch has definitely gotten better at talking about the book after his disastrous first few interviews.

So it sounds like we’re set for some big reveals and lots of excitement this October. Azzarello’s reveals haven’t sat well with a lot of Wonder Woman fans in the past, myself included, so I’m a little wary of more, and bigger, reveals, but hopefully he pulls it all together well. While I’ve had my qualms with his run, there’s been a lot of good too and I’m absolutely cheering for Azzarello to stick a great ending. Either way, we know it will be gorgeous with Cliff Chiang drawing it, and three Cliff Chiang stories in one month is just an embarrassment of riches.


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