Wonder Woman #19 Review: Back in Action

March 22, 2017

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It’s going to be an abbreviated review this week because your faithful reviewer is in the middle of an absolutely bananas week; so it goes, sometimes. We’ll still get to all the fun of the issue, just more succinctly. First, some good news: The reveal at the end of Wonder Woman #17 was everything we thought it was and Wonder Woman is totally back. The return of Ferdinand sparked her memory and she left the asylum to take on Godwatch. However, things went steadily downhill for her from there. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Details of this issue will soon be revealed!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So Wonder Woman’s joyful return quickly took a dark turn when she learned that Barbara Ann had given herself up to Veronica Cale and became the Cheetah again. She also learned that nearly everyone from the Picket was killed. Oh, and that several of her top villains are working together against her. It was a bevy of bad news. Plus Dr. Cyber called her a “self-righteous, arrogant, simplistic little airhead,” which was rude. Then the issue ended with Wonder Woman getting shot through the chest, so yeah. It was a rough twenty pages for our favourite heroine.

It wasn’t the most action packed issue, with a lot of it dedicated to Dr. Cyber’s bloviating, but there were some key developments. There was Wonder Woman’s return, of course, but Etta found Sasha Bordeaux as well, which could mean that another member of the team will be back in action soon. That’s good news, because they need all the help they can get.

There’s also some exciting developments on Themyscira. Initially, the Amazons are unsure if Diana is still alive or not, but the appearance of the Greek gods in their animal form, just as we saw them back in “Year One,” sparked hoped in everyone. My guess is that rather than Wonder Woman returning to her true home for the first time, Hippolyta and a delegation of Amazons may go find her first. Again, she needs all the help she can get, especially after how this issue ended.

The art for this issue was a bit hit and miss for me. Liam Sharp had some great moments; there’s a panel with Diana wearing a red cloak that is just gloriously detailed, for example. But Sharp did this sort of morphing thing with Dr. Cyber where her appearance was constantly shifting and it was a bit odd. Some of them looked cool, but some of them looked a bit messy and overdone. There was also one incarnation of her that was a full body shot where she had metallic balloon breasts for some reason; it reminded me of Cyber-Cat from Jim Balent’s Catwoman run, which is never the best thing to hark back to. Still, when Dr. Cyber looked cool, she looked really cool, and Laura Martin’s colours added a great mood and style to the pages, and to the book as a whole.

Overall, this was a decent issue, if not the best one the team’s done lately. It was more a table setter, bringing Diana back into the mix, moving some pieces around, and closing with a dramatic cliffhanger. You need to have issues like this from time to time, and it was still an enjoyable read. The Amazon bits in particular continue to be great, and Etta’s love for Barbara and her fury over losing her again was really powerful stuff. Things look like they’re going to get intense in the next few issues, and I’m looking forward to it.

Women at Marvel Comics Watch – May 2017 Solicits, 22 Women on 24 Books

March 20, 2017

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Marvel posted a new record for female creators in their solicits in March, an achievement so impressive that Christine Ro wrote it up in an article on Vice earlier this month. Christine chatted with me for the article, and one of the first things I told her was that this high probably wouldn’t last. Lo and behold, the numbers fell in April, and now they’re down even further in May. These stats are an up and down journey that ultimately moves in a positive direction, but Marvel’s quite far off their high right now. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what a Marvel in May 2017:

  • Becky Cloonan: The Punisher #12 (writer)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #1 (writer), Generation X #2 (writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: Captain America: Sam Wilson #22 (cover), Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 (cover), Elektra #4 (cover), The Mighty Captain Marvel #5 (cover)
  • Elsa Charretier: Star Wars: Darth Maul #4 (variant cover), The Unstoppable Wasp #5 (interior art, cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #18 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #3 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #16 (interior art, cover)
  • Helen Chen: All-New Wolverine #20 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #2 (writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Hawkeye #6 (writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Mighty Captain Marvel #5 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: Jean Grey #1 (variant cover)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Hulk #6 (writer)
  • Myisha Haynes: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #15 (interior art)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #19 (interior art, cover)
  • Paulina Ganucheau: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #15 (cover)
  • Stephanie Hans: Jean Grey #1 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Secret Warriors #2 (variant cover)
  • Yona Harvey: Black Panther and the Crew #2 (co-writer)
  • Yusaku Komiyama: Zombies Assemble #1 (co-writer), Zombies Assemble #2 (co-writer)

All together there are 22 different female creators set to work on 24 different books at Marvel this May, 2 fewer women than in April though 5 more books. The increase in books is encouraging; it’s always good to see gigs spread across the publisher. But another drop in the number of female creators is unfortunate.

We do have a couple of new names in the mix, though. Christina Strain had a brief gig at Marvel last fall, and now she’s back with a regular series. Also, as best I can tell, Yusaku Komiyama is a woman; I’m not terribly well versed in manga and a lot of the stuff written about Komiyama is in Japanese, but there were a couple sites that identified her as a woman. The bigger story this month is who’s missy, though. Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! ended in April, meaning that we’re missing Kate Leth and Brittney Williams, and for some reason Amy Reeder isn’t on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur this month, which is odd.

There are also several new books with female leads. Jean Grey is set to debut her own solo series, while a few team books feature women: Daisy Johnson, Ms. Marvel, and Moon Girl are all in Secret Warriors, Gamora is in the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, and Generation X stars Jubilee and some gal with antlers I don’t recognize but who looks really cool.

All together, May looks to be an okay month for fictional women at Marvel but another step down for the real ones. They’re on more books but in fewer numbers, and are way down from their recent high. A rebound seems inevitable; things always go up again at some point. We’ll see what the numbers bring as the summer begins to unfold.

Women in Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, January 2017 In Review, Plus Female Characters

March 15, 2017

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It’s a whole new year of “Gendercrunching,” and my latest article is up now at Bleeding Cool. We saw last month that 2016 marked the highest overall percentage of female creators at both DC and Marvel since this project began, so it should be fun to see where 2017 takes us.

Both publishers began the year down from their December totals, however. DC ticked down slightly to 18% female creators overall, while Marvel tumbled to 16.1%. It’s not the most auspicious beginning to the New Year, but both are average performances relative to each publisher’s recent totals.

We also take a look at female characters in our biannual check in. Women account for 32.4% of the characters on DC’s covers, down slightly from July, while they account for 35.8% of the characters on Marvel’s covers, a big jump from their last total. The percentage of comics with female leads is up at Marvel as well, as it is at DC albeit much less so.

Head over to Bleeding Cool for the full stats and analysis!

New Wonder Woman Movie Trailer Explores Her Origins

March 13, 2017

A new trailer for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman debuted this weekend, and I’m happy to report that the movie is still looking great. We got a lot of new footage in this one, including a decent amount of time spent on Themyscira, and I really liked a lot of what I saw. Now, of course, this is the DCEU; good trailers don’t necessarily mean good movies. But so far, Wonder Woman has been hitting it out of the park and that has me cautiously optimistic about the film.

Warner Bros. describes the video as the “Origin Trailer” and thus we got a good look at the Amazons. They remain super bad ass and cool, and I like the design of the island and the Amazons themselves a lot. We also get some flashbacks, including a peek at a young Diana who is just adorable:

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I’m hoping we get a few scenes with her because she seems cute and fun.

Little Diana is staring at the “god killer” sword there, and I do remain irked at how much attention the sword is getting. Wonder Woman’s never been a character who wields a sword until very recently; she’s got a golden lasso that she’s rather famed for, and I wish that’s what young Diana was eying rather than a sword. To me, sword fighting just isn’t who the character is. But I was pleased to see the lasso play a key role as the trailer progressed, including this rad takedown:

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Hopefully Wonder Woman’s real weapon gets its due throughout the movie as well.

On top of that lasso scene, we got a bunch of other cool action shots too. I think Wonder Woman is going to have some epic fight scenes. Everything we’ve seen so far looks very cool, and Wonder Woman’s fighting scenes in Batman v Superman were easily the most entertaining part of that movie. All of the action clips we’ve seen thus far in Wonder Woman trailers look exciting and well-shot, and it’s going to be a blast to see the full scenes.

One thing I’m particularly glad to see every trailer has included is humour, and this new one is no exception. Gal Gadot’s fish-out-of-water Diana shtick looks like it should be entertaining, Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor seems good for some wisecracks, and Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy looks like she’s poised to steal the whole show. I liked her trying to dissuade Diana from carrying her sword in public:

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The humour in DCEU movies hasn’t been great, at all, and it’s nice to see some genuinely funny bitsĀ  are coming with Wonder Woman.

Finally, the trailer appears to confirm the daughter of Zeus origin story. Hippolyta ominously tells Antiope that Diana “must never know the truth about what she is,” which sounds like it might be a Zeus-related secret given this lightning display later on in the trailer:

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I don’t care for the Zeus origin at all. I much prefer the clay origin, in which no men are involved and Diana’s origins are distinctly female and feminist. Making her a demigod who gets her powers from a man is boring, dumb, and kind of misses the point of the character. I’m hoping it’s not a huge point of focus for the movie, and that Zeus doesn’t come up too much.

So yeah, Wonder Woman looks pretty great. And in ways that seem to be addressing how DC’s other movies have been not at all great, which is encouraging. This could be really cool. And we’re less than three months away now! Can you believe it? Wonder Woman’s finally getting her own movie! And just when we need her the most.

Wonder Woman #18 Review: Who Watches the Godwatch?

March 9, 2017

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I’m a day late to this review after being busy all day yesterday with some family things, but I got to read the issue yesterday and having an extra day to think back on it has only increased my appreciation of it. “Godwatch” is clearly a different kind of story than “The Lies,” “Year One,” or “The Truth,” and I like that about it very much. The arc is keeping a dual focus on Veronica Cale and Wonder Woman, having them circle each other without meeting yet as they both grow into their new roles, Wonder Woman as a superhero and Veronica as the woman trying to learn her secrets. It’s made for some excellent storytelling so far, and we’ll dive into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to disclose all of the things that happen in this issue!

Read no further if you haven’t picked up this issue yet!

First things first, we’ve got a time jump. I love a good time jump. It can be a really effective storytelling technique when done well, and I think it was nicely executed here in a very sensible way. At the end of Wonder Woman #16, everything had gone wrong for Veronica; Deimos and Phobos had her daughter, her best friend was dead, and her plan to capture Wonder Woman had failed on every level. This issue begins a year later, with Veronica having festered in this defeat for a year. Wonder Woman’s reknown and power has only grown, meanwhile Veronica’s daughter remains creepily faceless, Deimos and Phobos are still around, and she’s only just figured out how to bring back Adrianna’s consciousness as Dr. Cyber. The time jump gives us a sense of Veronica’s pain, and shows us the steps to her becoming the hard-edged villain we see in the present day arcs. All of this horror has been her life for a full year, a crucible forging her into what we know she’ll become.

The story almost shouldn’t work. We already know Veronica Cale is a villain who hates Wonder Woman. This arc adds backstory to that, but not a lot else as of yet, and it would be really easy for this to be a flat, unessential tale. Luckily for us, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely know what they’re doing. The characterizations are so strong and the emotions so clear that it makes for a very compelling read. I even feel sorry for Veronica and the terrible situation she’s in, and I’m Team Wonder Woman a billion percent! Seeing the joy of her getting her friend back and the sorrow of not having her daughter, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for the difficult spot she’s in, even though she does horrible things to characters we love.

Barbara Ann Minerva is both a good example of Veronica’s terrible acts and of presenting backstory in a powerful way. We all know she’s going to become the Cheetah, and that Veronica has something to do with that. That’s been well established earlier in the series. But getting a glimpse into how Barbara’s relationship with Diana has developed in the year since she became Wonder Woman adds more emotional heft to the story, and seeing the ways Veronica manipulates the situation so Wonder Woman can’t save her friend is genuinely upsetting. The scene when Wonder Woman finally arrives to find a bitter Barbara in her new Cheetah form is just heartbreaking. And we all knew it was coming!

Also, kudos to Rucka for his symmetry. Having Barbara become the Cheetah again in an emotionally brutal scene two weeks back in “The Truth” in Wonder Woman #17 and following it with her original transformation this week is quite the one-two punch. Tough on my poor heart; I’ve really grown to love Barbara. But so well executed and structured.

A key part of this arc being so effective is Bilquis Evely’s stellar artwork and what she’s able to bring to all of the characters. We know the broad strokes of this story already, and while Rucka’s doing a swell job writing the book, it’s all on Evely to communicate the emotions of the scenes that make filling in this backstory worthwhile. And she’s hitting it out of the park. The look of horror on Diana’s face when she realizes that she was too late to save her friend is so powerful that it sells the entire scene from the get-go. Similarly, she brings so much to Veronica, humanizing someone we could easily see as a monster. Again, Rucka’s writing her well, but it could feel hollow in the wrong hands. With Evely, each beat plays out true. The final page of the issue, in which Veronica is ashamed of the magnitude of horror she’s perpetrated to save her daughter, is particularly compelling. Evely captures the human side of her so well that you can’t help but sympathize with her despite all she’s done.

Evely’s helped by Scott Hanna on inks, and I’m glad to see that they were able to have just one inker for this outing. It was much stronger than last month’s issue, when several different inkers contributed to the books and the differences were clear and somewhat jarring. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours remain stellar as well. That man has a deft touch. Evely’s linework pairs best with a muted colour palette, which could be limiting, but he’s able to find vibrancy and contrast within this somewhat subdued range that makes the book look absolutely gorgeous. It’s a different set of skills that Fajardo showed us with “Year One” and it’s just as lovely.

Overall, this issue was a heartbreaker, and a very well executed one at that. We knew the bulk of what was coming and it not only still hurt, it conjured up some sympathy for the villain of the piece! That’s kind of remarkable. This arc has been great so far, and I can’t wait to see how Rucka and Evely toy with our emotions again in a month’s time.

Happy International Women’s Day AND A Day Without a Woman!

March 8, 2017

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Today is International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere while also acknowledging the systemic oppression they continue to face across the world. As always, I’m celebrating International Women’s Day with the women that I’ve written books about: Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and now Catwoman!

All three women could definitely get behind this year’s official theme on the International Women’s Day website, which is #BeBoldForChange. They explain:

Each one of us – with women, men and non-binary people joining forces – can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

The United Nations celebrates International Women’s Day as well, and their theme for the year is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.” The UN has a variety of goals for their 2030 Agenda, including:

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

It’s a bold list, to be sure, and one very much worth pursuing.

This year, the folks behind the fantastic Women’s March last January are getting in on the International Women’s Day fun as well by holding “A Day Without A Woman” to recognize the value of women. It’s a three pronged event which you can support in these ways:

  • Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  • Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  • Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

Some people can’t take the day off, of course, which is why it’s great to see that they’ve got a solidarity option. Wearing red is a clear and simple way to express your support for women across the world, and our three comic book heroines are definitely on board.

Wonder Woman’s been wearing red since her very first appearance in 1941. It’s her go-to color choice for bustiers and boots, as we can see here at the end of her debut in All-Star Comics #8:

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Lois Lane’s commitment to wearing red goes back even further, to her own first appearance back in 1938. She was wearing red at the office when Clark Kent asked her on a date:

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And she was wearing red later that evening when a goon tried to dance with her. She wasn’t in any mood for it; she didn’t even want to be out with Clark, much less have some other dope get all up in her space:

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While Wonder Woman and Lois Lane have been showing solidarity for ages with their red outfits, Catwoman’s never been much for red. She’s worn a lot of black and purple, and even green and orange at times, but red has never been her primary color. She has used it for accessories, though. In Batman #210 in 1969, Catwoman debuted a new pair of red goggles:

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The outfit didn’t last for long, but the red has recently returned to the lenses of her goggles, as we can see on this cover from last year’s Catwoman #48:

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She’s subtle about it, but Catwoman’s on board for “A Day Without a Woman” too!

Happy International Women’s Day everyone, and cheers to all of the women participating in today’s general strike as well as all of those who can’t but who are nonetheless showing their solidarity!

Women at DC Comics Watch – May 2017 Solicits, 28 Women on 21 Books

March 6, 2017

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May looks to be a decent month for female creators at DC Comics, with the publisher set to post their highest number of different women for the year thus far. While the total is still somewhat below the highs that DC hit last fall, the numbers have been moving up for a couple of months now and are nearing the 30-range, a relatively strong bar for female representation at either superhero publisher. Let’s take a look at who is going what at DC in May 2017:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #19 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn #20 (co-writer, cover)
  • Audrey Mok: Shade, the Changing Girl #8 (writer, interior art)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #9 (co-writer), Shade, the Changing Girl #8 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: Wonder Woman #22 (interior art, cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: DC Comics Bombshells #26 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #27 (interior art), Detective Comics #957 (interior art)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, the Changing Girl #8 (writer)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Green Lanterns #22 (variant cover), Green Lanterns #23 (variant cover)
  • Genevieve Valentine: Detective Comics #957 (co-writer)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #11 (writer)
  • Jen Bartel: Shade, the Changing Girl #8 (variant cover)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #22 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #23 (variant cover)
  • Jill Thompson: The Flintstones #11 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic #7 (writer)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #10 (co-writer)
  • K. Perkins: Superwoman #10 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #10 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: DC Comics Bombshells #27 (interior art)
  • Lilah Sturges: Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #9 (co-writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #3 (co-writer), DC Comics Bombshells #26 (writer), DC Comics Bombshells #27 (writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Shade, the Changing Girl #8 (interior art)
  • Mirka Andolfo: DC Comics Bombshells #26 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #27 (interior art)
  • Msassyk: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #9 (interior art)
  • Nicola Scott: Red Hood and the Outlaws #10 (cover), Wonder Woman Annual #1 (interior art, cover)
  • Rachael Stott: DC Comics Bombshells #26 (interior art)
  • Sandra Hope: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #9 (inker)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #10 (co-writer)
  • Tula Lotay: Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #9 (cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: The Hellblazer #10 (variant cover)

All together, there are 28 different female creators set to work on 21 different books in May, 2 more women than in April though 3 fewer books. Things were a bit more concentrated this month; rather than women across the board, a few series like Shade, the Changing Girl and a double shot of DC Comics Bombshells had a lot of women in just a few places, thus the drop in different comics despite the gains in female creators overall. All together, it was a solid month for DC, and the nearest the publisher has come to their fall highs thus far in 2017.

In terms of new names, I think we’ve got a few women making their DC debuts, though they are known for their work elsewhere in the industry. According to my records, Audrey Mok, Jen Bartel, and Rachael Stott are all appearing in the DC solicits for the first time since this project began, and it’s always enjoyable to see pros from other kinds of comics pop in to do some corporate superhero fun. We’ve also got a couple of returning favourites; we haven’t seen Carmen Carnero, Genevieve Valentine, or Jill Thompson in a while, and it’s cool to have them back in the mix.

There’s not many new comics set to premiere at DC in May, much less ones with female leads. Things have been pretty steady at DC for a while now, so much so that I can’t help but expect a new wave of books sometime soon. June will mark a year since “Rebirth” began, so perhaps we’ll see some new titles then? DC’s been sticking with this lineup for several months now.

All together, May looks to be a decent month for women at DC Comics. There remains, as always, a massive amount of room to grow, but increases in female representation for two months running is a positive sign, as is posting the highest number of the year thus far. Hopefully June brings more growth, and perhaps some new series.


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