Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #15 Review: “No Chains Can Hold Her! Part 2″ by Gilbert Hernandez

November 20, 2014

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Boy oh boy, did I need this comic this week. Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman debuted new creative teams, and the results were pretty much atrocious. I was underwhelmed, to say the least. It was a rough day all around, and I was feeling pretty down about Wonder Woman comics. Luckily, today has part two of Gilbert Hernandez’s Sensation Comics story, and it is just a blast.

Last week, I had some qualms about Wonder Woman getting brainwashed and Supergirl taking center stage. That plot continued in this issue, with Mary Marvel thrown into the mix to make it a three way fight, but I found that this second issue worked like gangbusters for me. Maybe I’m just jonesing for a fun Wonder Woman story after yesterday, but I thought it was hilarious and great.

Adding Mary Marvel to the super-fight upped the level of absurdity to a hilarious agree. There’s one panel where Wonder Woman and Mary Marvel are tossing Supergirl at each other like she’s a rag doll that made me laugh like crazy. I want to frame it and hang it on my wall, I love it so much.

The fight also resulted in a team up, with Wonder Woman snapping out of her mind control and playing a key role in defeating the aliens. Mary Marvel flew off with Supergirl to help her recover from a Kryptonite ray, so Wonder Woman took down the aliens by herself, and with ease. Also, when Wonder Woman returned to Earth she quickly found herself fighting a gro-bot, and she threw it so far and so high that she was able to sit down and have a full conversation with herself in the time it took the gro-bot to bounce off a satellite and come smashing back down to Earth.

I also love Hernandez’s style in this story. The Silver Age vibe I mentioned last week is a lot of fun, but I also like that he doesn’t draw any of the women in an exploitive way. His Wonder Woman is big and muscled, almost comicly so, in a manner that might look odd in the hands of another artist but that works for me here. Also, his Supergirl and Mary Marvel both look like teenage girls. They’re not curvaceous or sexified at all, as so many teen heroes are in today’s comics. From character designs through to posing, Hernandez’s goal is clearly humour and fun, and that’s a refreshing approach to female heroes.

There’s a line at the end of the issue about Wonder Woman going to get a massage from Superman, but getting irked about that would just be nitpicking because I’m so sick of the Wonder Woman/Superman relationship in the New 52. The issue is so much fun and so amusing, that I’m happy to let that closing line slide.

In terms of publication, I think that most if not all of this story is in the print version of Sensation Comics that came out this week. If someone reading this has a copy, please let me know how much of the story is there in the comments. We got a portion of part one in last month’s print Sensation Comics, and I’m not sure how much of the rest of the story they printed this month. Whatever’s happening, if you’re not getting the book digitally, I heartily recommend picking up the book in paper form to check out this Hernandez story. It’s a total blast, and a lovely antitode to the dour, angry, all around awful depictions of Wonder Woman we got elsewhere this week. Pick it up now!

Wonder Woman #36 Review OR It Seems Our Concerns Were Well Founded

November 19, 2014

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Today was a double whammy for Wonder Woman fans, with both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman debuting new creative teams and both books failing to deliver a decent Wonder Woman. I’ll have a review of Superman/Wonder Woman later in the week, but for today let’s get into Wonder Woman #36. It’s not good, gang. It’s not a complete travesty, so at least there’s that, but there’s really not much going for it. We’ll dig through it all momentarily, after this:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal everything that happened in this comic!

If you haven’t read it, turn away!

While I hate to be a downer and blather on about stuff I don’t like, I found nearly every scene of this comic disappointing on some level. It just continually missed the mark, in a variety of ways. Let’s go through it scene by scene.

The opening three pages are fine, a long rumination on the rain that cuts to a variety of locales and features some decent work by Finch. It’s not an exciting opening to the comic, but it’s scenic, at least. These pages are the best part of the book really.

David Finch is known for female characters in a manner that’s, well, what’s a nicer word for exploitive? He drew Catwoman with her zipper going down to her navel, he created a Batman villain who was essentially a Playboy bunny. His history with female characters is pretty bad. So it’s not great that the first time we see Diana, she’s in the shower. It’s not overly sexy, especially relative to some of Finch’s other work, but it’s a lot of flesh. It’s just a really bad decision for introducing the character given his track record.

The book then jumps to Paradise Island, where a group of Amazons are debating the new male members of their society. The two Amazons who are opposed to their presence, and thus to Wonder Woman, are complete stereotypes. One is all crazy eyed and borderline hysterical, while the other is an old crone. Amazons arguing amongst themselves isn’t something I’m keen about to begin with, and having the women who are against Wonder Woman be such blatant and clichéd villains is kind of cheap. It’s shoddy storytelling, and lacks nuance.

Next up is a double page spread of the Justice League. I am of the opinion that if you’re going to do a double page spread, you should make it look good. The art here is not strong. I don’t even know what’s up with Superman’s hair, Wonder Woman looks completely vacant, and the whole thing is poorly put together. Frankly, it’s something Finch will be able to sell for huge bucks, what with the size of it and six members of the Justice League, and that’s probably why he used up two pages for it. But the art isn’t even good! It’s just bizarre.

Wonder Woman goes off to investigate the mysterious destruction of some villages in Thailand, and when she finds Swamp Thing she attacks him immediately. She doesn’t ask why he’s there or talk it out first, she just assumes he’s behind it and launches a flying kick at him. It’s reckless and foolish and, more significantly, not at all how Wonder Woman rolls. Wonder Woman doesn’t punch first and ask questions later. Violence is a last resort for her. Nearly every single Wonder Woman run has established this basic tenet of the character, from Marston through to the present day. It turns out, Swamp Thing was investigating the destruction of the village as well, and wasn’t behind it. That double page spread of Wonder Woman’s flying kick will sure sell for a lot though…

Also, Wonder Woman loses the fight.

Then on the flight back, Aquaman tries to straighten her out. Wonder Woman then launches into a big thing about how she’s overwhelmed because she’s being pulled in so many directions with the Amazons, the Justice League, the gods, and more. Can a woman really have it all?! First, the woman overwhelmed by the busyness of her life angle is yet another cliché, as is the massive unloading of it all. Second, she’s Wonder Woman. She can handle it. It’s what she does.

But if she didn’t already have enough problems, guess what? When Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island, she finds out that her mother, who had been turned into a clay statue, is now dead. The statue melted in the rain; it seems that no one thought to bring it indoors. Hippolyta dying is the oldest story in the book. It’s happened so many times, to the point that this dramatic final page reveal barely elicited a shrug from me. In a recent interview, Meredith Finch mentioned that she didn’t read up on Wonder Woman’s comics much because she wanted to focus on her own approach to the character. She probably should have, because killing off Hippolyta has been done to death.

Throughout the issue, Finch’s art is inconsistent and his Wonder Woman is poor. With Cliff Chiang, we had a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. With Finch, we’ve got the head of a sultry teenager, with her snub nose, big eyes, and lips constantly slightly agape, and the body of an adult, shapely woman. Her head is also often over-sized, making her look more like a child with a lady’s curves than a grown woman. It’s an uncomfortable combination, and very offputting.

The writing itself isn’t terrible, but the story is awash in clichés. Moreover, the first issue fails to give Wonder Woman a single strong moment. She’s an emotional mess, and her fight with Swamp Thing is entirely wrongheaded. She never smiles, and she never does anything heroic. This is not a good way for a new creative team to introduce the character.

There was one thing going on with the story that I did find mildly intriguing. In the shower scene, Wonder Woman is washing off blood, and when she gets out of the shower there’s a drawing of her and a young girl, clearly made by a child. Later, while baring her soul to Aquaman, Wonder Woman holds an old teddy bear. Plus, she seems generally angry and upset throughout the issue. I think these things hint at a past tragedy, perhaps a young friend recently lost. I assume we’ll find out more in future issues.

Overall, though, this wasn’t a good issue. More damningly, it was a bad Wonder Woman issue. She didn’t come off well, visually or via the story. Maybe things will pick up as the story progresses, but given this first issue I have very little hope for this run now.

Wonder Woman’s February 2015 Covers And Solicits

November 18, 2014

It looks like February 2015 is going to be an eventful month for Wonder Woman across her three titles, with big twists and surprises throughout the line. Let’s take a look at what she’ll be up to, starting with Wonder Woman #39:

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WONDER WOMAN #39
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
HARLEY QUINN Variant cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
1:50 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and BATT
1:100 Variant cover by DAVID FINCH
On sale FEBRUARY 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island, and she’s in for a surprise: The Amazons have chosen a new queen to lead them! The identity of this new queen will send shock waves through the entire DC Universe! Guest-starring the Justice League and featuring the introduction of Diana’s craziest new cast member in, well, ever!

So is Hippolyta not a living statue in this run? Because she was “alive” in the last issue of Azzarello and Chiang’s run, albeit not flesh and blood. Whatever the case, the Amazons are going to have a new queen and it sounds like it’s going to be quite a shocking choice. Given the appearance of the Justice League and the sending of shock waves through the universe, I’m betting it’s someone outside of Wonder Woman’s usual circle. Maybe a famous villain, or perhaps a more intergalactic character. I’m curious about who it will be, though not at all in an excited way. More in the manner of, “Oh god, what are they going to do now?”

The cover’s pretty dramatic, so clearly Wonder Woman isn’t excited about what’s going on. While a bit of a downer, it’s one of Finch’s nicer covers thus far just in terms of a not overly exploitive image of Wonder Woman.

On to Superman/Batman #16:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #16
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
HARLEY QUINN Variant cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
On sale FEBRUARY 11 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Superman and Wonder Woman come face-to-face with the newest arrival to The New 52: MAGOG!

I sort of feel like Magog is a bit played out. Kingdom Come was a while ago, plus he’s been back in a bunch of other books since, including big arcs in Action Comics and JSA. I’m half wondering if this is a lead-in to Convergence, DC’s multi-universal event that starts this April, given the Kingdom Come connection. Though if it was you’d think they’d play that up to increase the sales.

Finally, Sensation Comics #7:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #7
Written by ALEX DE CAMPI and AMY CHU
Art by NEIL GOOGE and BERNARD CHANG
Cover by SHANE DAVIS
On sale FEBRUARY 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
In “Venus Rising,” Diana’s conflicted about her current mission: She agreed to represent the Justice League as the first space station for harvesting Venusian fuel gases is brought online. But her arrival doesn’t go smoothly – and then, kaiju attack! Plus: A combat pilot gets a little help from Wonder Woman as a routine reconnaissance mission turns deadly in “Rescue Angel.”

Wonder Woman in space PLUS kaiju? I am very on board for that. That sounds like a lot of fun. I’m also glad to see Amy Chu writing a story; she’s great. And Bernard Chang is back! He drew a few issues of Wonder Woman during Simone’s run on the book, and I’ve always enjoyed his work. This should be a really solid issue.

Look for all of these Wonder Woman comic books in February! And perhaps buy them for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says I love you like a Wonder Woman comic!

Superman/Wonder Woman #13 Preview: A Look At Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s First Issue

November 18, 2014

It’s quite a week for Wonder Woman fans! Not only does Meredith and David Finch’s Wonder Woman #36 debut tomorrow, so too does Superman/Wonder Woman #13, written by Peter J. Tomasi with art from Doug Mahnke. I wasn’t a big fan of the book’s last creative team, so let’s take a look at what’s coming from the new guys courtesy of Comic Book Resources:

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It’s only five pages, and five pages set five years in the past, but this isn’t doing much for me. I hate the idea of a Wonder Woman who thinks that human frailty is a weakness and values fighting over helping people. I know she’s just off the boat from Paradise Island and not used to the wider world in this scene, but for me Wonder Woman is all about compassion, and right from the get go. She doesn’t need to learn it. Caring for others should be the Amazons stock in trade. I know that’s taken a backseat in the New 52 with the Amazons raping and murdering men and whatnot, but this harsh approach to Wonder Woman will never not rub me the wrong way. While I’m sure in the book it will be contrasted with a much more compassionate and caring Wonder Woman in the present, it irks me when creators make her all martial-minded.

I’ve been curious about the art, seeing as Doug Mahnke’s been taking a different approach with his covers, but seeing interiors now for the first time his art looks about the same as it always has. It’s decent art, to be sure, but usually not my cup of tea. It’s perhaps less harsh than it usually is; I find Mahnke’s characters tend to look mean, even the nice ones. I’m curious to check out the rest of the issue. I’m on the fence about it thus far.

Seeing as this preview is set entirely in the past, we still don’t know a lot about the main story. For more, we’ll have to check out Superman/Wonder Woman #13 tomorrow, which will be available in stores and online. I’ll have a review of the issue later in the week, probably on Friday after Wonder Woman tomorrow and Sensation Comics on Thursday.

Wonder Woman #36 Preview: A Peek At Meredith And David Finch’s First Issue

November 17, 2014

After more than three years of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang giving us a good, albeit up and down, run on Wonder Woman, it’s time for a new team to take over. Writer Meredith Finch and artist David Finch debut this Wednesday in Wonder Woman #36, and Buzzfeed has a preview of the first few pages of the book. I’ve included the variant cover because we’ve all seen the regular cover a bunch of times already:

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Like everything I’ve seen or heard or read from the Finches since DC announced they’d be the new creative team on Wonder Woman, this preview is not making me particularly optimistic about the book. I’m doing my best not to prejudge and to keep an open mind, but I’m not very excited for this and I’m seeing nothing here to pique my interest.

Some dude is talking about the rain for three pages, and then Wonder Woman fights Swamp Thing across a double page spread, mouth agape the entire time. I will say that for David Finch art, Wonder Woman is slightly more covered up than you’d expect, but that’s really not saying a lot at all. Luckily for us, the costume doesn’t lend itself to navel-range necklines. Based on the covers, though, it seems that Wonder Woman has excellent posture, with her chest jutting out prominently.

Also, as a totally random sidenote, what happened to the Swamp Thing with antlers and wings and stuff? It was bonkers and cool! Lately, he’s just looked like regular old Swamp Thing.

Anyway, Wonder Woman #36 is out Wednesday online and in comic shops everywhere. I’m concerned, but also my expectations are so low that it being not entirely terrible will be a win for me. I can’t imagine how it will be in the ballpark of good, but you never know! Stranger things have happened. For all my snark, I really do hope it’s decent. I love Wonder Woman and I want her to have a good comic book. Plus, I hate writing review of books I don’t like. That’s not fun for anyone. So fingers crossed for a pleasant surprise! I’ll have a full review on Wednesday, and I’m hoping for the best!

Check Out The Wonder Woman Covers For February’s Harley Quinn Variant Month

November 14, 2014

In what is a rather smart move to capitalize on the popularity of one of their most successful characters, DC Comics has announced their next variant cover theme: Harley Quinn. The covers will debut in February, and both New 52 Wonder Woman series will be part of the line. With some excellent artists, too!

First up, Phil Jimenez has drawn the variant cover for Wonder Woman #39, with Hi-Fi on colours. Let’s take a look, courtesy of Newsarama:

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Jimenez is beloved by the Wonder Woman fan community for his excellent run on the book years back, and it’s always fun to have him return to the character. This cover is a good laugh, with Harley besting Diana to become the new Wonder Woman with the help of her comically over-sized hammer. It’s very cute.

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #16, by Francis Manapul, courtesy of Comic Book Resources:

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I love Manapul’s art, and this cover is just lovely. Somehow, the Superman/Wonder Woman variants we’ve seen over the past year from a variety of great artists sell me on their relationship more than the comics inside ever have. Manapul’s captured something very nice here, with Harley coming along to spoil the party, as always. This is a great one too!

Finally, just for the fun of it, former Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang has done a variant cover for Batgirl #39, and it’s fantastic. I miss you so much, Cliff!!

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He’s just the best.

Look for all of these variants this February, and as always with variants it’s probably best to talk to your local comic shop ahead of time and get them to set one aside for you if there are any you’re keen on. They tend to go pretty quick.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #14 Review: “No Chains Can Hold Her! Part 1″ by Gilbert Hernandez

November 13, 2014

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This is the story I’ve been waiting for since it was announced months ago! Of all of the creative teams that have been solicited for Sensation Comics thus far, Gilbert Hernandez was the one I was most looking forward to. Hernandez is a comics legend, best known for his work on Love and Rockets, but my favourite thing he’s done is more recent: Marble Season, a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in the 1960s. And now we’ve finally got his Sensation Comics story!

Or, half of it. It’s a two-parter. And oddly, in the print version it seems to be more than that. Sensation Comics #3, which came out in comic shops last month, features only about half of the story that was released digitally this week. So basically, a quarter of the overall tale. Maybe they’re stretching it out in print so as to maximize the amount of Hernandez. We’ll see in the months to come, I suppose.

Anyway, the story! Honestly, I didn’t love it. I liked it, and there are some great moments, but when I heard that Gilbert Hernandez was doing to write and draw Wonder Woman, I was looking forward to him writing and drawing Wonder Woman the hero, not a mind-controlled version thereof. Very soon into this first issue, Wonder Woman gets captured by aliens who make her their slave, and she ends up fighting Supergirl for the remainder of the issue. There’s more to come, I know, and I hope the fight quickly turns into a team up in part two, but I was expecting Wonder Woman to be the hero of the book, not Supergirl.

Nonetheless, there’s a lot of great stuff in this issue. First off, Hernandez playing around with Silver Age aesthetics and tropes is ridiculously fun. We’ve got Wonder Woman in her lace up sandals, a teenaged Supergirl constantly worried about “cousin Superman”, and weird robots and aliens with crazy schemes. It’s old school in all the best ways, and Hernandez leans into the setting with his dialogue as well. “They just don’t make killer robot slaves like they used to,” is a line you don’t read in a lot of comics lately.

And while I’m not enthused about Wonder Woman being enslaved by an evil alien, the fight with Supergirl that then follows is pretty fantastic. It’s over the top violent, with the women punching each other through mountains and hitting each other so hard that the reverberations are felt across the galaxy. But despite the heavy violence, it’s not gory or bloody. Both women remain generally unscathed, and the banter back and worth as they smash each other across a barren planet is a lot of fun. At one point, an irked Wonder Woman comments, “These collisions of ours are getting tedious.” Supergirl also has an amusingly sincere moment of self-correction when she realizes that she’d insulted Wonder Woman captors by calling them “alien goons” when she herself is also an alien.

The cliffhanger is solid as well. Another female hero shows up to join the fray, but she’s silhouetted so we don’t know who she is yet. Based on the cape and the skirt, I’m guessing maybe Mary Marvel; she would also fit the old school vibe of the story. But it could be any number of female heroes, or perhaps a villain in league with the aliens.

Overall, the issue is a good time and Hernandez’s work is as enjoyable as ever. I just wish that the story was a better showcase for Wonder Woman. Sensation Comics has been really heavy on the team-ups thus far, which takes a lot of time away from Wonder Woman and has resulted in a bit of guest star fatigue on my end. I mean, obviously you let Gilbert Hernandez do whatever he wants; he’s a master. But for future issues, it would be nice to see more of a focus on Wonder Woman herself and less of a rotating cast of the entire DC Comics universe. People shouldn’t be avoiding Wonder Woman so much in her own dang book.

That being said, the fight is really quite fun, and I’m looking forward to the second part of the story. If you’re reading Sensation Comics in print form, I have no idea how it’s going to be coming out, but you can at least check out the first half of this first part of the story in Sensation Comics #3, which is available now.


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