Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3 Review: “Defender Of Truth” By Amanda Deibert And Cat Staggs

August 28, 2014


Before we get into this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, first we’ve got a programming note. While the first two issues came out on a Wednesday, it looks like the book has moved to Thursday now; I’m not sure if this is just for this week or for the foreseeable future, but what we do know is that it won’t necessarily come out at the same time each week. But when it does, I’ll be here with a review.

Today’s story, “Defender of Truth” by Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs, appeared in last week’s print issue of Sensation Comics, so this week’s digital release might feel a bit anticlimactic if you’ve already purchased the paper version. This will probably be the last time the paper book is ahead of the digital, though. With 4-5 weeks in a month and the print version collecting only 3 stories each month, before long there will be quite the backlog of digital stories waiting to see print.

Having the print version out first gives us an interesting comparison for this particular story. While I enjoyed it on paper, I found that the art was a little muddled and a lot of the subtler things Cat Staggs was doing seemed to get lost. The digital version was a lot crisper, and the bigger size and simpler page layout made the art look even better.

Staggs is no stranger to Wonder Woman, having illustrated the covers for Wonder Woman’s appearances in Smallville Season 11. She’s also done interior art for the series, but this is the first time she’s drawn a Wonder Woman story and she did a great job. Whereas the first two issues of Sensation Comics left me feeling like the artist didn’t bring his A-game, Staggs’ art in “Defender of Truth” is some of the best art I’ve seen from her. Her Wonder Woman is powerful and lovely without being sexualized, the costume looks like it’s made of real fabric and not painted on, and the action is well choreographed. While the story appears to be set in the New 52 universe, Staggs streamlines the costume somewhat and achieves a nice blend of her current incarnation and elements from her past costumes.

The story takes place in Washington, DC, where Circe is wreaking havoc, bringing gargoyles to life and turning mounted policemen into centaurs. Wonder Woman shows up to sort things out, and saves the day with aplomb. Amanda Deibert’s writing moved the story along and for the first few pages, as Wonder Woman takes down her foes, I thought that her work was fine if unremarkable. But then Deibert absolutely stuck the landing with a couple of great scenes to finish off the issue.

In the first, Wonder Woman has captured Circe and is playfully chiding her:


The bit about “getting tied up” is obviously a reference to the bondage imagery that pervaded the early years of Wonder Woman comics back in the 1940s, but the way this panel is presented says a lot of things. On one level it’s a simple chastisement, with the classic “pick on someone your own size” reprimand. But Wonder Woman’s smile, nicely drawn by Staggs, suggests that yeah, Wonder Woman might be up for some bondage games with Circe. There’s a hint of flirtation there that we don’t usually see in Wonder Woman comics but that is very fitting given Wonder Woman’s Amazon heritage.

In the issue’s final scene, some young boys tease their friend for being a fan of Wonder Woman. As a guy who spent his vacation wearing a blue bathing suit with white stars, I very much identified with the young boy wearing Wonder Woman-inspired bracelets. Wonder Woman showing up to tell the boy he can like whatever he wants and to be true to himself is a lovely ending to the issue, as is the rest of the boys immediately changing their tune once they meet Wonder Woman.

All together, this story is a very good example of what Sensation Comics can, and what I hope it will, be. These stories, while short, can nonetheless showcase different facets of Wonder Woman, pairing strong character moments with enjoyable action scenes. Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs each did great work, with the art and writing complimenting each other well. I’m glad this story got to be in the premiere print issue of the series, and I hope that Deibert and Staggs will get to do another Sensation Comics story in the future.

Women At DC Comics Watch – November 2014 Solicits

August 27, 2014


After years of ludicrously subpar representation, DC Comics has started to increase their number of female creators. In November, should the solicits hold true, they’ll hit a new high for combined cover artists, writers, and interior artists. DC’s progress over the past several months has been a lovely change of pace, and with lots of room still left to improve hopefully we’ll see this growth continue. Let’s take a look at their November 2014 solicits:

  • For New 52 writers, Meredith Finch starts her run on Wonder Woman #36, Ann Nocenti is on Klarion #2, Genevieve Valentine pens Catwoman #36, Kate Perkins co-writes Supergirl #36, Becky Cloonan co-writes Gotham Academy #2, Amanda Conner co-writes Harley Quinn #12, and Marguerite Bennett co-writes Earth 2 #28 and the weekly Earth 2: World’s End #5-8.
  • For New 52 art, Jan Duursema has pages in Earth 2: Worlds’ End #6-8, Sandra Hope is inking Batman/Superman #16, Babs Tarr is illustrating Batgirl #36, Amanda Conner is doing the cover for Harley Quinn #12, and Emanuela Lupacchino is doing the cover for Worlds’ Finest #28 and the cover and interiors for Supergirl #36.
  • Outside of the New 52, Joelle Jones is drawing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #19, Cat Staggs is doing the cover for Smallville Season 11: Chaos #4, and Amy Mebberson is drawing a story in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #4.
  • Over at Vertigo, Ming Doyle is on interior art for The Kitchen #1 while Becky Cloonan draws the cover, Caitlin Kittredge is writing Coffin Hill #13, Meghan Hetrick and Tula Lotay are drawing Bodies #5, Celia Calle is doing the cover for The Names #3, and Yuko Shimizu is doing the cover for The Unwritten: Apocalypse #11.
  • There’s not a lot in the way of new series coming in November, but Gotham by Midnight #1 has two female characters out of six on the main cover. Vertigo’s The Kitchen focuses on mob wives who take over their husbands’ racket, so that should be a very cool, female led book, especially with the fantastic creators on board.

All together, the November 2014 solicits list 20 different women working on 19 different books, marking the first time we’ve ever been above the teens for either DC or Marvel since this column began three years ago. The October solicits had 17 women on 21 books, so we’re a bit up and down comparatively, but November also marks the highest combined total for the two categories we’ve seen thus far.

What’s particularly encouraging is that most of these jobs are long-term gigs. Occasionally we’ll get bigger numbers boosted by one-shots or variant covers, but I expect to see at least 16 of these 20 women back next month, if not more. While there’s not a lot in the way of new faces this month (though Kate Perkins on Supergirl is certainly new), it’s good to see creators who’ve popped up in the past come back again, like Sandra Hope, Joelle Jones, and Ming Doyle.

It’s a slow month for female characters, but October was pretty big for new books and creative shake-ups, and Wonder Woman gets dual new directions in November with new creative teams on both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman. And The Kitchen sounds fabulous, plus Jordie Bellaire is going to be colouring the book as well.

Overall, this is DC’s strongest month since we started keeping track of female representation there, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop and celebrate. Things are definitely improving, which is wonderful, and DC certainly deserves some credit. However, male creators still number in the triple digits and there’s tons of rooms left for female representation to improve further. Onward and upward, DC! You’re on the right track.

Fallout By Gwenda Bond, A Young Adult Novel Starring Lois Lane, Coming In 2015

August 26, 2014


After a few teases from Switch Press and author Gwenda Bond, DC Women Kicking Ass has the scoop that a new young adult prose novel starring Lois Lane is coming out in 2015. Titled Fallout, the novel will be released next May. Here’s an official description:

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy …

Author Gwenda Bond added her own thoughts about Lois and the book on her blog today, writing:

Lois is an icon, of course, a superhero without any superpowers . . . except her unmatched bravery and smarts. Not to mention her sense of humor and her commitment to truth and justice. She’s also one of my all-time favorite characters — which is why I jumped at the chance to write a novel featuring a teen Lois, moving to Metropolis and becoming a reporter for the first time. As I said yesterday, it’s been an incredible honor to do this project and work with the fantastic teams at Capstone/Switch Press and DC. And, most of all, to get to put Lois front and center in the starring role, obviously. (Also fun to write lots of banter with her maybe-more-than-a-friend from Kansas, screen name SmallvilleGuy.)

Bond is clearly a huge Lois Lane fan, which is great to hear. Her past work includes the young adult novels Blackwood and The Woken Gods, neither of which I have read but I’m trying to get a hold of them now to check them out. Her newest novel, Girl on a Wire, comes out in October.

This is a very exciting announcement, and yet another step by DC Comics to reach a female audience as of late. Marvel tried a similar move last year with the young adult novels The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch, which were okay but departed from past incarnations of the characters in significant ways. Fallout appears to have a solid grasp on Lois, and is exploring a part of her life that hasn’t been covered very much, so Bond has lots of room to do her own thing while staying true to the character.

Switch Press has released two teasers for the book this week. Here is the first:


And the second:


The publisher seems very enthusiastically behind the book, so hopefully that will mean a big push from Switch Press and DC Comics as publication nears. I’m really looking forward to this book, and I’m glad to see Lois Lane finally getting some attention. It’s long overdue!

Marvel Studios Is Stealing All Of The Wonder Women

August 25, 2014

Over the past decade or so, there have been several attempts to bring a live action Wonder Woman to the movies and/or television. They’ve all failed spectacularly, because I guess maybe all of us Wonder Woman fans did something in a past life that we’re collectively paying for now? That could be it. That or institutionalized sexism in the entertainment industry and society at large. One or the other.

Throughout these abandoned projects, various actors have been linked to the titular role but nothing ever came of it. They all moved onto other projects, and we’re finally going to get a live action Wonder Woman in 2016 when Gal Gadot dons her brown costume in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But in the meantime, Marvel Studios has been snapping up several of these past potential Wonder Womans and giving them cool, kick ass roles in their own cinematic universe, all of which have or will hit the big screen before Wonder Woman ever does.


First, Joss Whedon cast Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill in The Avengers, and she’s appeared throughout the Marvel franchise since. Way back, Whedon was hired to write a Wonder Woman movie that never came together, and when he announced he was leaving the project he hinted that Smulders was his first choice for Wonder Woman. Whedon later brought her into the fold when he directed the most successful superhero movie of all time (good work letting him walk away from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros.!), and she’s been an awesome Maria Hill throughout her many appearances on the big and small screen. Smulders is a great fit for the role, though every time I see her in it I lament that we never got to see her as Wonder Woman. I think she would have been fantastic.


Around the time Whedon was working on his Wonder Woman script, Warner Bros. spoke to several actors about playing the lead and one of those women was Evangeline Lilly. The conversations never went anywhere, what with the movie falling apart, but she later booked some great roles in other epic action films. She was spectacular as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last winter, and now she’s set to play Hope van Dyne in Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man film. Plus, given her rad new haircut, it looks like she’s going to get to be the Wasp too, which is all sorts of cool. Lilly may have sadly missed out on Wonder Woman, but she’ll get to play a superhero for Marvel.


Finally, Marvel’s grabbed Adrianne Palicki, who actually played Wonder Woman in David E. Kelley’s god awful pilot a couple of years back. The show was a complete mess, but Palicki was solid in the role and could have made a decent Wonder Woman on a better project. She’s since shown her action chops as Lady Jaye in GI Joe: Retaliation and recently had a very charming run on NBC’s About a Boy. Now she’s set to star as Bobbi Morse, ie. Mockingbird, in the upcoming season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., completing the Wonder Woman trifecta for Marvel Studios.

A live action Wonder Woman is coming, slowly but surely, but Warner Bros.’ list of failed projects has turned into a very strong casting sheet for Marvel Studios. While it would be nice for Marvel to put a female superhero in a lead role at some point, several women in the Marvel cinematic universe have had great, kick ass roles over the past few years, which is a lot more than we can say about DC’s superhero movie output. Our series of losses as Wonder Woman fans has turned into gains elsewhere, but I’d still trade a Maria Hill, the Wasp, and Mockingbird for a decent Wonder Woman any day of the week.

Wonder Woman By George Pérez Omnibus Coming In August 2015

August 22, 2014


DC Comics has released their schedule for graphic novels and collections for the next year or so, and the item on the list that is most relevant to my interests is the Wonder Woman by George Pérez Omnibus coming on August 25, 2015. This 640 page hardcover collects Wonder Woman #1-24 and Wonder Woman Annual #1, covering the first two years of Pérez’s acclaimed relaunch of the series from the late 1980s. It’ll retail for about $75, which isn’t too bad for such a massive book.

This is exciting news for fans of Pérez’s iconic run, which has been out of print for several years now. DC released four paperback collections of Wonder Woman #1-24 in 2004 and 2005, but they haven’t been part of DC’s catalogue for a while; used copies of the first two volumes sell for upwards of $50 on Amazon, though the latter two are more affordable.

Pérez’s relaunch was a defining moment for Wonder Woman, and re-cemented her as one of DC’s top characters. Wonder Woman was a perennial poor seller throughout the 1980s, and the book became so toxic that no one wanted to touch tackling a new series after Wonder Woman’s “death” in Crisis on Infinite Earths. George Pérez was the only big name creator who was excited by the challenge. His Wonder Woman run embraced key aspects of her past incarnations while presenting a more modern, relevant take on the character, and the book was very popular with fans and critics. The writing and art are both some of the finest in Pérez’s storied career, and it’s an era for Wonder Woman that deserves to remain in print for future generations to enjoy.

The only disappointing note in this announcement is that “Wonder Woman by George Pérez Omnibus” is not followed by “Volume One.” That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a second volume, but tellingly the paperback collections and this omnibus both stop at the same point; after Wonder Woman #24, Pérez stopped drawing the series. He continued to write it for several years, with excellent art by Chris Marrinan, Colleen Doran, Jill Thompson, and a few others, but those issues weren’t collected in the paperback line. My fingers are crossed for a second and third omnibus that collect all 62 issues of Pérez’s run. There were a lot of great stories in the later issues of his tenure, and the art by Colleen Doran and Jill Thompson in particular is a fantastic showcase of these two great artists early in their careers.

But for now we’ve got a first omnibus for sure, and that is very exciting. It’ll be a whole year before we can buy it, but it will definitely be worth the wait. And if it does well, perhaps we’ll see more Wonder Woman collections like this in the future, from Pérez or even other creators. I would definitely be on board for a Wonder Woman by Phil Jimenez Omnibus. So mark your calendars for August 25, 2015, and let’s make the Wonder Woman by George Pérez Omnibus a hit!

Wonder Women Gal Gadot And Lynda Carter Take The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 21, 2014

If you are at all familiar with the internet as of late, you’ve undoubtedly seen videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Someone gets a bucket of ice water poured on them and challenges three friends to either do the same within 24 hours or donate money to the ALS Association, the leading group for research, care, and education for ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects tens of thousands of people, limiting their motor functions and often eventually paralyzing them. There is currently no cure.

Those who are called out to do the Ice Bucket Challenge seem to be both accepting the challenge AND donating money. The internet is riddled with videos of people being doused in ice water, while donations to the ALS Association have gone through the roof, topping over $13 million over the past three weeks.

Two days ago, the Ice Bucket Challenge was accepted by Gal Gadot, who is playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She donated money to the ALS Association and was drenched in frigid water, and she also challenged the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, to do the same:

Carter responded promptly, and posted her own video the next day. Her husband, Robert Altman, poured a bucket of cold water over her head, and she pledged to donate money to the ALS Association as soon as she dried off:

Lynda Carter also encouraged everyone who watched the videos to donate, and I think that’s a fantastic idea. With both live action Wonder Women stepping up to the plate, it’s only fitting that Wonder Woman fans do the same. If you want to join Gal Gadot, Lynda Carter, and thousands of others in donating to ALS research, you can do so via the ALS Association’s donation page. If, like me, you are in Canada, you can instead donate to ALS Canada via their donation page. It’s a great and worthy cause, and I hope everyone takes inspiration from these Wonder Women and chips in what they can!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #2 Review: “Gothamazon” Part 2

August 20, 2014


While the first print issue of Sensation Comics hits comic shops today, including the Amanda Deibert/Cat Staggs story that won’t be out digitally until next week, today we’re going to keep with the digital schedule and look at the finale to “Gothamazon” by Gail Simone and Ethan van Sciver. It’s available online today via Comixology for the low price of just 99₵.

The second half of the story further cemented my opinions from the first half: what I liked got even better, and what I didn’t like bothered me more. Let’s start with the positives, specifically the fact that this is a great story. Wonder Woman in Gotham City is an inherently fantastic idea, and Simone finds ways to add extra awesomeness to the story. Structurally, since it’s part two, the slow build of the first installment is in the past and Wonder Woman gets to dominate the story after sitting out the first half last week. More Wonder Woman is always a plus.

Even better is what Wonder Woman does in the story. First, after Catwoman and Harley Quinn show up to snarkily observe her attempts at saving the city, she enlists them in her fight against the villains, inspiring them by naming them honorary Amazons. Any other hero would have fought or ignored this duo, but Wonder Woman makes use of them and brings them to her side. It’s a spot on character moment for Wonder Woman, and a very cool use of Catwoman and Harley Quinn.

Simone also gives us a peek inside Wonder Woman’s head as she contemplates what to do with the Gotham villains. She could easily destroy them, ending their incessant reign of terror once and for all, dispatching them like she would any mythological monster who crossed her path. Instead, she realizes that such thoughts are just a reaction to the evil of the villains, who are challenging her and tempting her to change who she is. She decides to remain herself, and to handle the villains without killing them. The story reveals that some of the bad guys even reformed afterward due to Wonder Woman’s positive influence.

In taking such a turn, Simone highlights how Wonder Woman differs from Batman. Both face the darkness and are tempted to end it for good, but they resist and respond in different ways. Batman’s power is fear, which allows him to keep his enemies in check, while Wonder Woman’s power is mercy and compassion, which allows her to stop and even help her foes.

Overall, Simone has crafted a solid Wonder Woman story, and again has demonstrated how well she understands the character. Placing Wonder Woman in Batman’s world let Simone put Wonder Woman in a new light and focus on the heart of who she really is in contrast to both the heroes and the villains of the city. It was smart move by Simone, and one I enjoyed thoroughly.

The art, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. A lot of it felt rushed, like van Sciver was on a very tight deadline. Little things were wonky; there were panels where Wonder Woman’s eyes weren’t quite level and the star in her tiara was off center. Some panels were more detailed and professional and resembled van Sciver’s usual work, while others looked rushed and haphazard with slapdash backgrounds and a lot of silhouettes. A couple pages were even drawn by someone else, which might also suggest a deadline crunch.

For the first issue of an exciting new series, I’d expect the art to be more polished. I realize that a digital first series may not have the prestige or audience of a top tier book, but it still deserves care and good work. This is doubly true for the much anticipated and overdue launch of a new Sensation Comics. I’m a little bit disappointed in van Sciver and the editorial team for the fairly weak artistic effort. It wasn’t bad enough to bring down Simone’s great story, but great artwork could have elevated it even further and made this a really fantastic first issue that will be a standout in Wonder Woman’s history. Instead, it’s a wonderful story with middling art.

All together, things could have been better on the art side, but the second issue of Sensation Comics was an excellent end to the “Gothamazon” story and a fun launch for the book. I’m excited to see the many new creators lined up in the weeks to come, and hopefully the book will continue on from its strong launch and find an enthusiastic and entertained audience.


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