January’s Flash Variant Covers For Wonder Woman #38 And Superman/Wonder Woman #15

October 24, 2014

Every month, DC Comics has a variant cover theme for twenty or so of their titles. We’ve had selfie variants, Batman variants, Halloween variants, and now in January we’re going to get Flash variants. I assume this has something to do with the wildly successful Flash television show, which premiered to great ratings a couple weeks back and which I have been enjoying thoroughly thus far. The concept for the Flash variants is fun: Artists recreate classic DC covers, with the Flash running through them.

The Flash variant cover for Wonder Woman #38, drawn by the always excellent Terry and Rachel Dodson, is a recreation of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito’s cover to Wonder Woman #155 from July 1965:

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It’s a lovely cover, and a lot of fun. Wonder Woman marrying a monster is classic Silver Age ridiculousness, and the Dodsons always draw an amazing Wonder Woman. I’m going to try to pick up this one for sure.

As a sidenote, the yellow lines all over the New 52 Flash costume irk me. They always look slapped on, like the artists didn’t want to draw them so the colorist has to figure out where to put them. The Flash costume is so iconic and great, and doesn’t need all of those superfluous lines. Especially when he’s running fast and lightning is crackling around him anyway.

The Flash variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #15, drawn by DC’s superstar artist Ivan Reis, is a recreation of Jim Lee’s cover to Justice League #12, the kiss heard round the world:

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It’s an amusing take on a cover I’ve never been fond of, more for its implications than it’s art. I like that the Flash has tied up Wonder Woman and Superman with the lasso, and generally stunned them out of their romantic revels. It lacks the classic fun of the Wonder Woman cover, but Superman and Wonder Woman’s pairing only goes back so far. It’s not like there’s some great Silver Age cover with the two of them.

Both covers will be available this January, along with many more across a variety of other DC comic books. I’d suggest talking to your local retailer ahead of time and get them to set aside one for you if you’re interested in picking one up. The variants go fast sometimes, and perhaps even faster in January seeing as the Flash is on them!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #11 Review: “Not Included” by Adam P. Knave and Matthew Dow Smith

October 23, 2014

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First off, how was this not the Gilbert Hernandez story? I’ve been looking forward to the Hernandez story since it was announced months ago, and it’s scheduled for the print edition next week. Maybe that’s when we’ll finally get it, in print first. Who knows? This week’s digital first story isn’t scheduled to be published in print until January, which just seems bizarre. I’ve never followed a digital series before, so this scheduling strikes me as rather odd, but oh well. We’re getting a new Wonder Woman story every week, and that’s the important thing.

While I may have been disappointed with the lack of Gilbert Hernandez this week, my spirits were quickly buoyed by finding a Wonder Woman/Big Barda team up instead. Big Barda is one of my favourite characters of all time, and I think that she pairs perfectly with Wonder Woman. They’re both bad ass warriors, but Wonder Woman leans towards the brain a bit more while Barda leans toward the brawn. Of all the awesome ladies in the DC Comics universe, these two are the last ones you’d ever want to cross.

Adam P. Knave has written a very fun story and jam packed it with action, as one should do with a Wonder Woman/Barda team up. I’ve mentioned before that the constant team ups in Sensation Comics are wearing on me a bit because I’d like the book to be more of a showcase for Wonder Woman, but Knave does it right. He doesn’t waste any time explaining who Barda or flashbacking to her origin for a page or two. She’s just there, she’s tall, and she likes busting things up, and that’s all we need to know. Her inclusion in the story doesn’t take away from Wonder Woman; instead, the contrast between them highlights what is great about both characters, and the story is ultimately a fantastic showcase for Wonder Woman.

While on their way to an interview with Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Barda get sidetracked by an explosion at the Museum of Alternate energy. Barda throws herself wholly into taking down the robot gorillas they find inside, and while Wonder Woman does her fair share of robot wrecking, she also tries to piece together who is behind the attack. When she finds the villain Brain and his gorilla pal, Mallah, Wonder Woman shows why she’s such a fantastic hero. While Barda and Mallah fight in the background, Wonder Woman talks to the Brain and gets to the heart of why he’s there. Rather than taking him out, she offers him assistance for his problem if he surrenders, and he accepts. I’m always on board for a story where Wonder Woman, one of the best fighters in superhero history, tries to find a peaceful solution before she throws a punch.

The story is amusing and well paced, packing the short length with action and fun. Knave’s strong writing is complimented by Matthew Dow Smith’s art, which reminded me of a mix of Michael Lark and Tommy Lee Edwards, two of my favourite artists. At first glance, the art seems to have a rough quality, but it tells the story well. It’s unconventional art for a superhero book, but it’s a style that really works for me.

I also enjoyed colorist Rex Lokus’ choice to colour Wonder Woman’s New 52 costume with more traditional Wonder Woman colours. The gold metal adds warmth to the outfit that I find is often missing with the New 52’s silver, and the new costume still looks good with the colours changed. Lokus’ colours throughout the issue are excellent, melding well with the art to make a very good looking comic book.

“Not Included” was a fun read, and a great team up of two of the best female characters of all time. If you’re only getting the paper versions of Sensation Comics, this story won’t be out until January, so you’ve got a bit of a wait ahead of you. But mark it on your calendar! It’s a team up with Wonder Woman and Big Barda. You’re gonna want to pick that up.

Secret Origins #6 Review OR Wonder Woman’s New 52 Origin Finally Revealed

October 22, 2014

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This week’s issue of Secret Origins tells the tale of how Diana, Princess of Paradise Island, became Wonder Woman. Sort of. It’s a truncated story that leaves out a lot of the parts traditionally associated with Wonder Woman’s origin story. Nonetheless, it provides some fascinating backstory for a character who hasn’t had a lot of it thus far. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal Wonder Woman’s secret origin!

You should read it yourself first!

The book is worth buying for that amazing Lee Bermejo cover alone!

Okay, so back to the origin. The story is written by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, and a lot of it is stuff we know already from their run on Wonder Woman. Diana is actually the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, but she and the rest of the Amazons think that she was made of clay. The story is a snippet from the life of Diana, starting with her desire to someday leave Paradise Island and ending with Steve Trevor crash landing there being her ticket out. It doesn’t go back in time to tell us about the history of the Amazons, nor does it show us how Wonder Woman left Paradise Island. It’s sort of a mini-origin, which is somewhat unsatisfying.

However, what we did get was both enjoyable and illuminating. The biggest reveal was Diana and Aleka’s relationship. They’ve been antagonistic for most of the current Wonder Woman run, but here in the past they were good friends, and perhaps more. There was a definite flirtation between them, and the way the fight scenes were constructed seemed to regularly place them in somewhat sexual poses. Whether or not they were more than friends isn’t clearly stated, but I got the feeling that there was an attraction between them, perhaps that had yet to be explored.

Whatever the nature of their relationship, their closeness in the past explains their distance in the present. Diana wanted to leave and Aleka wanted her to stay, and after Diana left to become Wonder Woman it’s obvious that Aleka didn’t take it well and turned against her. Her deep anger in the present again hints at a spurned lover or an unrequited love situation more than a broken friendship to me, but that’s again not explicitly stated.

This backstory adds a lot to both characters. Aleka’s been rather one note, but now we can understand her better. As for Diana, seeing her curiosity and desire to explore the wider world explains a lot of who she is today.

The story’s style is very similar to Wonder Woman #0, the flashback issue where a young Diana is mentored by Ares. It’s got a Silver Age vibe, both in terms of the writing and the gorgeous art by Goran Sudzuka, which is some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him. The tone is very upbeat and light, almost in an artificial way, which suggests that the story might not be a perfect recreation of what “actually happened,” and that there was more darkness and emotional depth beneath the cheerful surface.

Another surprising reveal was the first official appearance of Athena, in the form of an owl-like creature. I’ve been harping on the lack of Athena in Wonder Woman for years now, and in my review of the latest issue of Wonder Woman I revealed my theory that Zola is actually Athena in disguise. Part of my theory hinged on what happened to Zola’s eyes, how they took on an owly appearance when she visited Olympus. Owls are traditionally associated with Athena, and now we see Athena as a full on owl-like person, so I think my theory has definitely increased in likelihood.

While the story was limited in scope, that may well be a good thing. I was hoping for but also dreading reading more history of the Amazons; Azzarello’s done some bad stuff to the Amazons, turning them into rapists and murderers. While something that addressed and fixed these changes would have been nice, not having anything worse added to their altered history can only be considered a positive. It also leaves parts of their story, particularly the Amazon’s very beginnings, unexplored, which will allow other writers to fill that in and hopefully present a better take on the Amazons in the future.

Similarly, we don’t know if there was any sort of competition for who returned Steve Trevor or anything like that, which is usually a big part of Wonder Woman’s origin stories. Again, someone else can pick up on that in the future, which is cool.

All told, the Wonder Woman story in Secret Origins #6 is both enjoyable and adds a lot of interesting, albeit limited, elements to her backstory, and to Aleka as well. It should also have ramifications for Azzarello and Chiang’s upcoming Wonder Woman finale, if my Zola/Athena theory proves to be true. Plus it was all pretty gay, really, however unspecifically, and that’s fun to see. There is obviously a massive lesbian component to the Amazons, and I’m glad to see them start to be explored.

Secret Origins #6 is available online and in stores today, and also features the origins of Deadman and Sinestro. I didn’t read the latter two, but hey, more stories! The issue is worth buying for the Wonder Woman story alone, and the fantastic cover.

Wonder Woman’s January 2014 Comic Covers And Solicits

October 21, 2014

DC Comics’ full January solicits went up yesterday, and Wonder Woman’s got a lot on the go with her three regular series. I thought that we might see the print version of the new Wonder Woman ’77 set for January as well, but it’s not on the list. Perhaps in February.

But we’ve got three other books I am looking forward to on a scale that ranges from “Not At All” to “Quite A Lot.” Let’s start with the book I’m least looking forward to, Wonder Woman #38:

janww38

WONDER WOMAN #38
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
1:50 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
1:100 Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale JANUARY 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
With her people against her, Wonder Woman has left Paradise Island more uncertain of her intentions than ever before! And with only the mantle of God of War to turn to, she’s challenged to give that up!

Well, that’s certainly an interesting cover. A berserker, blood spattered god of war Wonder Woman. Yeesh. That is not an appealing image.

As for the story, it sounds like Wonder Woman and the Amazons are having a bit of a spat. We’ve seen that sort of story done about 78 times before, including in the run that immediately preceded the Finches taking over, so that seems like an odd choice. It’s hard to have a fresh take on something that’s been done to death. Some month, I’d like Wonder Woman to have a really nice time in her own book for a change. Things go well, her family and friends are kind and helpful, and she takes out a bad guy and saves the day. No rage, no blood, no betrayal, just a pleasant day of superheroing. I know, it’ll never happen.

Onto Superman/Wonder Woman #15, which I remain very curious about:

jansww15

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #15
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by IVAN REIS
On sale JANUARY 14 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Wonderstar’s destiny is starting to become clear – and his path may lead to the end of humanity! Will Superman and Wonder Woman be able to prevent him from becoming what – or who – he’s meant to be?

I love that Superman is getting blasted on the cover while Wonder Woman remains unharmed. That’s a fun change from what we’ve seen in past Superman/Wonder Woman covers.

Also, random sidenote, is it just me or does Wonder Woman look like the gal from The Blacklist on that cover?

I know absolutely nothing about this run or the new Wonderstar character on account of Tomasi and Mahnke don’t even start on the book until next month, but here’s my theory on what’s going down: Wonderstar is either Superman and Wonder Woman’s kid from the future and/or an alternate universe, or it’s some kind of mixed clone thing that’s half Wonder Woman and half Superman. Either way, I think they’ll have some parental connection to this new character, and that’s why they’re so involved with him. We’ll see how it plays out over the next few months. I’m probably absolutely wrong, but you never know.

Finally, the book I am most excited for, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #6:

jansens5

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #6
Written by MICHAEL JELENIC and ADAM P. KNAVE
Art by DREW JOHNSON, RAY SNYDER and MATTHEW DOW SMITH
Cover by PAUL DAVEY
On sale JANUARY 21 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Hippolyta’s first rule of war is demonstrated in “Generations,” as Diana and Cheetah battle over a phoenix egg – and its promise of immortality! Then Diana and Big Barda fight the awesome menace of robot gorillas in “Not Included.”

This cover isn’t doing much for me, but here’s what I’m excited about: BIG BARDA. I LOVE Big Barda, and a Big Barda/Wonder Woman team up is everything I could possibly want in a comic book. Plus they’re fighting ROBOT GORILLAS. Sign me up. This is already THE comic book of 2015 for me.

And there’s a Cheetah story too! Talk about bang for your buck. In a world of New 52 darkness, Sensation Comics is the gift that keeps on giving.

I will say that I’m a little bit disappointed at the lack of female creators, though. Usually Sensation Comics is good for at least one somewhere in the mix. Hopefully there’ll be some in February.

Look for all of these Wonder Woman comics in January online or at fine comic book shops everywhere!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #10 Review: “Attack of the 500 Foot Wonder Woman” by Rob Williams and Tom Lyle

October 16, 2014

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman has been on a pretty steady run for me lately, putting out a diverse array of issues that I’ve enjoyed. This week’s story, “Attack of the 500 Foot Wonder Woman” didn’t work quite as well for me, but I didn’t dislike it either. I had a mishmash of feelings about it, which is rather appropriate given that it was a real mishmash of an issue.

The story seemed to draw it’s inspiration both from the John Byrne era of the mid-1990s with the Gateway City setting, and classic Silver Age adventures with the giant Wonder Woman and lizard monster. Giant Wonder Women were a common occurrence in the 1950s and 1960s, because Wonder Woman writer Robert Kanigher tended to recycle plots and had a thing for giants.

The story was also a mishmash of characters. It’s a Wonder Woman book, but it co-starred the Atom, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the villain was Byth, the creature of a thousand shapes, who was a regular Silver Age foe of Hawkman. I find it unusual that Sensation Comics has relied so heavily on guest stars and villains from other hero’s rogue galleries. In the past few weeks we’ve had Deadman, Catwoman, the Atom, a rash of Thanagarians, and Sensation Comics launched with a two-part story full of Bat-villains. I don’t recall DC’s other digital series like Adventures of Superman or Legends of the Dark Knight being so heavy on guest stars. I’d really like some Wonder Woman-centric tales, that dig into her world and supporting cast. The issues we’ve had that fit that mold have been my favourites thus far.

On the plus side, all of the other superheroes quickly disappear once the story gets going and the action centers on Wonder Woman defeating Byth while everyone else is out of commission. If you’re going to do guest stars, having them get their butts kicked to show the awesomeness of Wonder Woman is definitely the best way to go. Rob Williams has created a fun story with some cool elements. I liked Wonder Woman repurposing a bridge cable as a giant lasso of truth, and I always enjoy when a Wonder Woman story ends with compassion. The big Silver Age-style introductions for each character were an amusing touch as well.

Continuing the mishmash theme, while I enjoyed the writing I thought that the art wasn’t well executed. On a technical level, Tom Lyle’s faces were all over the place, proportionally, especially with Wonder Woman. In one panel, her nose would be way oversized, and in the next her nose would return to normal but her mouth was now massive. There were some solid panels, to be sure, but overall the art was very inconsistent.

In terms of layout and style, there was more mishmash. I thought Lyle’s backgrounds were really good, which was especially nice to see given that I’ve been noticing a tendency to phone in the backgrounds a bit in Sensation Comics thus far. He rendered the city, and Themyscira, very well, and the issue had a solid sense of geography. On the other hand, I was constantly distracted by Lyle’s choice to give Wonder Woman some weird bangs. It sounds like a dumb, little thing, but they just looked bad, and regularly so. It took me right out of the story. Wonder Woman’s entire head region in general was a bit of a mess this week.

So there was some good and some bad with “Attack of the 500 Foot Wonder Woman.” Ultimately, it came together as just an average issue for me, and one of my least favourites thus far, though it’s not without its redeeming qualities. I mean, a giant Wonder Woman fights a lizard monster. That’s worth a buck.

WONDER WOMAN MOVIE COMING IN 2017! And Other DC Movies Too, But Who Cares. WONDER WOMAN!

October 15, 2014

gadotww

Warner Bros. unveiled a bunch of announcements at their shareholders meeting today, including a full slate of new superhero films, but I only heard one thing: WONDER WOMAN MOVIE. It’s happening. It’s scheduled. June 23, 2017. All we know about the people involved is that Gal Gadot is starring as Wonder Woman, but it’s definitely going to happen. A live action Wonder Woman is going to be on the big screen for the first time ever.

Other characters are coming too. Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, a rebooted Green Lantern. But who gives a hoot about those guys?

While we don’t have much in the way of plot details, we’ve heard some things about Wonder Woman’s origin. It seems that they’re going with the New 52 version, where Diana is the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, rather than the classic baby molded out of clay and given life by a goddess route. That’s a bit disappointing for me, because the New 52 origin strips away a lot of the feminist power that should be at the core of the character. With the classic origin, Diana is wholly the creation of other women, and her powers come from growing up in an Amazon utopia and, later on, are also gifts from goddesses. With the New 52 origin, a man is rather involved in her creation and all of her powers come from his divine attributes. I don’t love that.

However, a good movie with an awesome, kick ass Wonder Woman can make up for a wonky origin story. Will Wonder Woman be a good movie? It’s hard to say at this point, because we don’t know whose involved. Man of Steel was the worst, so that’s not the best sign, but with Zack Snyder busy with Batman v Superman and Justice League, perhaps we’ll get a new writer and director who will have a different, less dour approach to superheroics.

Speaking of Justice League, Wonder Woman’s probably going to be in that as well, and it’s also coming out in 2017. After decades without any movie play whatsoever, Wonder Woman is set to headline two of the biggest films of 2017. That’s very, very cool.

I’m looking forward to hearing more details about the film. Hopefully we’ll get an announcement about who is going to be behind the camera soon. And about the rest of the cast. And villains! There’s so much to sort out. Wonder Woman in a group movie is fun, but Wonder Woman on her own and creating a world around her is so much more exciting. Here’s a free hint, Warner Bros.: Hire Cliff Chiang to design stuff for you. The man is amazing. Feel free to call me as well; I’ve got some thoughts!

So Wonder Woman is going to headline her own movie! And in less than three years. For once, DC is ahead of Marvel. They should have announced a Black Widow or Captain Marvel film ages ago, but now they’ve been beaten to the punch. It’s sort of fitting that Wonder Woman is the first big female-led superhero movie, though. She’s been around the longest. So HOORAY Warner Bros.! You finally did it! Now, for the love of god, please don’t screw it up.

Marvel Makes Big Women In Comics News At New York Comic-Con

October 14, 2014

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Last week, I posted my regular look at Marvel’s solicits, and found their December offerings severely lacking in terms of female creators. There are only 7 different women scheduled to work on Marvel’s comics in December; by comparison, DC has more than 20, which is still a very small minority. I ended the post by expressing hope that Marvel would make some news at New York Comic-Con. Basically, to quote my new favourite character Maps Mizoguchi, I said that Marvel better cut the crap.

Now, with NYCC wrapped up, Marvel has made a ton of announcements. The stage of their “Women of Marvel” panel was PACKED with female creators, and there were women, real and fictional, all over their new books. Here’s a rundown of what’s coming in 2015:

  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, drawn by Erica Henderson.
  • A new Spider-Gwen ongoing series.
  • Also spinning out of “Spider-Verse” is Silk, with a female lead and art by Stacey Lee.
  • Gamora, an ongoing series written by Nicole Perlman.
  • G. Willow Wilson is writing at least an arc of X-Men.
  • Kate Bishop will be a big part of the soon to be relaunched Hawkeye.
  • Kathryn Immonen is writing Operation S.I.N., a mini-series starring Peggy Carter.
  • Marguerite Bennett is adapting the James Patterson’ novel Maximum Ride as a mini-series called Max Ride: First Flight.
  • A series of variant covers drawn by a variety of female artists, which look like they’ll hit shops in March.

I may have missed something. It was a busy weekend and Marvel announced a lot of things involving women in some capacity. Not being able to keep up with all of it is a good problem to have.

So based on this list, what we’ve got is at least 5 new series with a female lead, 4 new books written by women, and 2 new books drawn by women. While some of these female creators are familiar faces who are already working on Marvel books, there are a lot of new names too. Erica Henderson, Stacey Lee, and Nicole Perlman are new additions entirely, and it’s great to see that two of these names are interior artists, where Marvel is often sorely lacking. Kathryn Immonen’s written a lot for Marvel before, and it’s nice to have her back on a mini-series that sounds like it’s going to be very fun.

In my December solicits report, Marvel had 7 different female creators working on 7 different books. If you add in all of these announcements, Marvel’s up to 13 different women on 13 different books, which is a big jump. Almost double, in fact. This is significant progress for a publisher that’s been fairly stagnant with female creators as of late.

At the same time, Marvel remains far behind DC, which is hardly a bastion of female representation. The NYCC announcements were a big step in the right direction, but they’re no game changer. Plus, both Marvel and DC lag behind comparatively; Boom! Studios puts out about a third of the books that either DC or Marvel do, but they’ve got more female creators scheduled in December than either publisher.

The Marvel announcements are also symptomatic of an odd phenomenon at both major superhero publishers: Female creators are working almost exclusively on female characters. None of them are writing or drawing Spider-Man or Superman. They’re working on the female versions thereof. At best, a couple female creators work on mixed team books. The numbers for women creators are growing at both DC and Marvel, but for some reason they’re being kept away from the higher profile, male heroes. True representation means women working across the board, not just being relegated to the titles with ladies in them, as awesome as so many of those books are right now.

So things are better! Hooray! But there’s still lots of work to be done for female representation at Marvel. In the industry as a whole, really, but Marvel is still comparatively lagging a bit behind among the major publishers, despite this progress. There are folks in Marvel plugging away for more, though, including some kick ass female editors, and everyone is optimistic that each new “Women of Marvel” panel will be increasingly packed with female creators.


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