Wonder Woman #5 Review: The Slow Burn Continues, The “Lies” Remain Far Off

August 24, 2016

ww5a

Wonder Woman has been a creative stand out in DC’s “Rebirth” initiative and is selling extremely well, at levels the book hasn’t hit in decades. Over the course of the “Rebirth” special and the initial four issues, the series has largely lived up to the hype of writer Greg Rucka’s return, but Wonder Woman #5 is the first issue that’s fallen a bit flat. It’s not bad by any means, just a little dull and lifeless, especially compared to the spectacularness of Wonder Woman #4 two weeks ago. Rucka’s writing feels languid, Liam Sharp’s art looks scratchy, and the overall story is moving toward “The Lies” the title has promised at a snail’s pace. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

All of the happenings in this issue are about to revealed!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So this issue was disappointing, and continues the trend of “The Lies” being several orders of magnitude less enjoyable than “Year One.” The first issue of “The Lies” was fine if a bit slow, but it had to set the board. The second issue of “The Lies” was also slow, but had a moving conversation between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah that was nicely done. This third issue of “The Lies” continues to be slow, with very little in the mix to counter the dullness of the pacing. In fact, the writing and art both feel like a step down from the previous two issues.

Let’s start with a quick rundown of the issue: Not much happened. Steve and his fellow soldiers are still captured, the villain Cadulo goes on about his evil god Urzkartaga, and Wonder Woman and the Cheetah show up to save them. The only real twist is that Etta Candy goes to visit Sasha Bordeaux, an enjoyable guest star, and it turns out that Bordeaux might be working for some sort of fiendish operation. I didn’t recognize the symbol on the bizarre object that showed up; it looks like Hydra, but that’s the wrong universe completely. And Sasha mentioned a doctor, so maybe it’s Dr. Psycho? He’s the most obvious doctor with a Wonder Woman connection. Anyway, that was about it for twists and turns. The rest felt like a lot of treading water.

And not in a fun way. We got a villain monologue, which can sometimes be a good time, but Cadulo is a boring foe. There’s no nuance to him at all; he’s a megalomaniac under the thrall of an evil god. There are no layers to him, just one-dimensional villainy. And the lack of nuance continued with Steve, who served as the enlightened white knight to Cadulo’s misogynistic bad guy. I’m all for Steve standing up to sexist rhetoric, but dialogue like, “You’ve got some toxic ideas of masculinity, dude,” is a little too on the nose for me. It’s pretty clear that Cadulo represents toxic masculinity without Steve having to spell it out for us.

There were a couple of fun bits in the issue. In particular, I liked the flashback to Diana leaving Paradise Island, a scene we just saw two weeks ago in “Year One.” One of the cool things about the alternating storyline format is that there can be references and call backs across the years that unite the disparate storylines. And we did get a hint of information about the titular “Lies” when Wonder Woman talked about her false memories and we saw scenes from past incarnations of the character, like the gorillas from Gail Simone’s run and an Ares that had a George Perez vibe. We’re getting to the lies, just very very very slowly.

But the bulk of the issue felt uninspired, on the art side as well. Liam Sharp’s first two issues were strong, but this one felt scratchy and sloppy, as if he were rushing through the pages. Which may well have been the case; the alternating storylines give each artist a full month to do an issue, but even that’s quite a grind. It’s hard to keep up high quality work at such a pace, and that may explain the messiness of this issue. For whatever reason, Sharp’s usual detail is replaced with thicker, slapdash lines that don’t look great. And his choices are odd as well; on one page, he draws Wonder Woman’s hair in detail, as if he’s aiming to render every strand, and on the very next page her hair is drawn as more of a solid mass with few strands at all. It’s a bizarre juxtaposition and it feels like two totally different artists drew the pages. Plus, neither image of Wonder Woman is particularly good, and she’s the star of the dang book. You’ve got to make Wonder Woman look nice, at the very least.

The colouring is muted as well and adds to the flatness of the book. Laura Martin’s colours complimented the first too issues of “The Lies,” highlighting Sharp’s detailed line work without overshadowing the intricate art. But with sloppier art this time around, the colours fail to lift the panels like they’d need to in order to compensate for the drop in quality. To be fair to Martin, she doesn’t have a lot to work with, but the colouring on several of the pages feels overly monochromatic and dull, and merges with the messier art to create a rather muddied look overall.

Again, this isn’t a bad issue. Just a step down from the first two parts of “The Lies,” which were only in the good range for me. It’s not terrible so much as forgettable, an uneventful outing in a story that will hopefully pick up soon and turn interesting. We’re only halfway through the arc, but it’s hard to see its purpose right now in the greater context of “The Lies.” Wonder Woman’s trying to get home and discover what’s wrong with Paradise Island, so here we are stuck in a slow-moving outing in the middle of an African jungle? It would be fine if it was a more exciting and compelling story, but it hasn’t been thus far. Especially compared to “Year One,” which has hit it out of the park with its first two issues. It’d be nice to get out of this jungle at some point in the next installment, or at the very least to learn that this lengthy jungle adventure is key to a larger plot. Because so far, it’s been a bit underwhelming. The first two installments had other redeeming qualities, but this issue was just kind of lifeless.

Wonder Woman’s November 2016 Covers and Solicits

August 23, 2016

It looks like November is going to be a quieter month for Wonder Woman. The past few rounds of solicits have featured a variety of new collections of old Wonder Woman material, but either DC is taking a break this time or they’re waiting to see how those books do before continuing with more stuff. Either way, it’s just some floppy issues this November (apart from a trade paperback collection of Superman/Wonder Woman, but I’m doing my best to forget that that book ever existed).

So let’s see what Wonder Woman is up to in November 2016, starting with Wonder Woman #10 and #11:

novww10

WONDER WOMAN #10
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“YEAR ONE” part five! The world is finally introduced to the Wonder Woman, and adversaries—both ancient and new—take note. This story was previously scheduled to appear in issue #8.
On sale NOVEMBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #11
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by LIAM SHARP
Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“THE LIES” part six! In the conclusion to this epic tale, the lie is revealed as Wonder Woman returns to Themyscira in the company of Steve Trevor to find that nothing has changed—and everything is wrong.
On sale NOVEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Nicola Scott gets the cover this month and it’s a gorgeous one as always. She really is doing phenomenal work with “Year One;” Scott’s always been a great artist, but this run is the best I’ve ever seen of her.

The solicit shows that Wonder Woman #10 contains the story originally solicited in Wonder Woman #8, so I went to DC’s page to see what’s up and #8 is now a “Year One Interlude” focusing on a younger Barbara Ann Minerva. Greg Rucka is still writing it, but the art will be done by Bilquis Evely. It seems that Scott might have gotten a bit behind and needed a fill in issue, which isn’t surprising. Her work is very detailed, and in past monthly books she’s usually been 3 on, 1 off. I like that they’re just doing a new one off story instead of getting a different artist to draw “Year One,” and Bilquis Evely is great and should be a lot of fun.

As for “The Lies,” the slow build thus far seems to because we don’t actually find out what the lies are until November? That is some decompressed storytelling. Maybe it should be called “The Lies, Eventually.” I mean, the Cheetah and Steve stuff is fine and all, but not what I thought I was getting. Hopefully we’ll get more hints at what the lies are in the coming months at least.

Wonder Woman’s also appearing in Trinity #3:

novtrinity3

TRINITY #3
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Art and cover by CLAY MANN
Variant cover by STEVE EPTING
“BETTER TOGETHER” part three! The deadly White Mercy has Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman in its terrifying grasp! But who would dare to orchestrate this attack—and why? All will be revealed as the three most powerful heroes in the DC Universe fight for their very souls!
On sale NOVEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Francis Manapul is taking the month off on art, but Clay Mann looks to be a solid replacement. That’s a fantastic cover, and the best I’ve seen Mann’s art ever look. I’m really excited for this book to start in September. It looks like it’s going to be gorgeous, and the story sounds like a fun team up.

Finally, Wonder Woman is appearing in the new Super Powers #1:

novsuperpowers1

SUPER POWERS #1
Written by ART BALTAZAR and FRANCO
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
Variant cover by FRANCO
Aw yeah, the World’s Greatest Heroes are back in a new, all-ages miniseries—except for Batman! Superman helps out by cleaning up in Gotham City, where he discovers a clue that sends Wonder Woman into space to find the Caped Crusader. Her journey brings her a step closer to Batman, but can she uncover the truth behind his disappearance? From the award-winning creative team that brought you TINY TITANS and SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES!
On sale NOVEMBER 23 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED E

AW YEAH, Art Baltazar and Franco! Their team ups are always delightful. Plus I love that their books are great for young readers but also entertaining if you’re an adult. This mini-series should be a lot of fun, and it’s collected edition will be a great intro to the DC universe for kids, I’m sure. It’ll be under a lot of Christmas trees in 2017.

Look for all of these fun new comics this November!

Wonder Woman #5 Preview: Off To Rescue Steve. Again.

August 22, 2016

Wonder Woman saving Steve Trevor is a plotline as old as Wonder Woman herself. It’s how her first ever issue started after all, with Steve crashing his plane on Paradise Island and Diana rushing over to rescue him. Now, nearly 75 years later, Steve’s in trouble again. And he’s not worried in the slightest, because he knows that Wonder Woman will be along sooner or later to set him free. Revelist has the preview of this week’s Wonder Woman #5 by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp, so let’s take a look:

ww5a

ww5b

ww5c

ww5d

ww5e

ww5f

ww5g

First off, is that Sasha Bordeaux? Well played, Greg Rucka. I love a writer who doesn’t forget his favourite characters and works them into other projects where applicable. It’s a good time; it serves as a fun easter egg for long time readers and a nice introduction to an enjoyable character for new fans.

As for the peek at the story, it’s got some fun banter and such, but for a storyline called “The Lies” it seems like we’ve been waiting a long time to actually dig into the lies. While we’ve had some fun with the Cheetah and we’ve got Steve who needs rescuing, this arc is allegedly about Wonder Woman’s dual life memories and finding out which are true and which are false. That’s what I’m most interested in, and in two and a third issues so far we’ve not dug into it too much. But we’ve got two thirds of this issue to come, so perhaps things will pick up on that end when we get the rest of the book on Wednesday. I certainly hope so because while “The Lies” hasn’t been bad, “Year One” has been AMAZING and the even numbered issues are blowing the odd numbered issues out of the water thus far.

Wonder Woman #5 is available in comic shops and online this Wednesday. Be sure to pick it up!

The Already Great Supergirl TV Show Just Got More Wonderful With Lynda Carter

August 19, 2016

carter.png

As if Supergirl wasn’t already fantastic enough. We’ve got a hilarious Cat Grant. The dang Martian Manhunter. Melissa Benoist just IS Supergirl. And this upcoming season on The CW sounds amazing: Miss Martian and Mon-El are going to show up, there’s going to be a huge crossover with Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, and in a separate team-up Supergirl is pairing with The Flash for a musical episode crossover. Oh, also Superman is going to be on the show and he looks rad. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. It’s just too much delightfulness.

And yet, it gets even better. A few months back, when Supergirl was still on CBS, it was announced that Lynda Carter, i.e. Wonder Woman herself, would be guest starring in the show’s next season as the president of the United States. Then Supergirl‘s renewal got iffy and it ended up moving to The CW and we didn’t hear much about this obviously brilliant casting choice. But, thank Hera, it’s still on! Melissa Benoist posted the above image on her Instagram account and it’s just the best.

We don’t yet know when Lynda Carter will show up. Just guessing from the production photos, it seems like the first couple of episodes will be the Superman stuff since we got those shots a few weeks back, and with this photo now that would put her at maybe three or four episodes in? It depends how they’re shooting, too; with everything moved to Vancouver now, they might be filming scenes with notable guest stars for a bunch of episodes all at once. She may show up even sooner. And hopefully often. What with all of the alien craziness going on as of late, the president way want to involve herself in things a bit more, and perhaps develop a closer relationship with the Maiden of Might.

Supergirl returns on The CW on October 10, and I can’t wait. The first season was a blast. Nothing makes me happier than smiling superheroes having awesome adventures. Oh dang, you guys, Lynda Carter sings too! Could she part of the musical episode as well? A Supergirl, Flash, and President Wonder Woman trio doing a number or two together would be the most enjoyable thing. Get on it, Greg Berlanti!

Women in Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, June 2016 in Review, Plus Ethnicity Numbers

August 17, 2016

bleedingcool

My latest “Gendercrunching” column is up at Bleeding Cool, and it’s got DC and Marvel’s June 2016 gender numbers plus our annual tabulation of ethnicity stats for both publishers and Image.

In terms of the overall percentage of female creators, DC ticked up slightly to hit 17.5%, their highest total over the past year, while Marvel dropped down to 15.6% women, a middling number for them as of late and well below their recent record highs.

There were some interesting numbers in the ethnicity count as well. At DC, their percentage of people of colour dipped down to 22.5%, at Marvel it rose to 29.9%, the highest number since we started tracking ethnicity a few years back, and at Image things stayed about the same at an unimpressive 16.5%. Basically, white men are still making a lot of comics, though some publishers have done more to improve representation in their hiring than others.

Click on over to the “Gendercrunching” article to check out the full stats breakdown for June 2016!

Open Letter From WB “Insider” Calls Wonder Woman Movie “A Mess”, Patty Jenkins Disagrees

August 15, 2016

wwmovie

In a fun bit of internet drama late last week, Pajiba posted an open letter from a pseudonymed, irate Warner Bros. employee addressed to the company’s CEO, Kevin Tsujihara. The letter took Tsujihara to task for a variety of box office bombs and underperforming franchises, failures for which lower level employees have borne the brunt via layoffs. There’s been some debate about the legitimacy of the letter writer and many have called it a fake written by a fan; the letter has tidbits of insider knowledge, though perhaps not enough to prove her credibility wholly. Regardless of its authenticity, the letter is an amusing scorcher, and is particularly interesting for what it has to say about Warner Bros.’s upcoming Wonder Woman film in the wake of Suicide Squad‘s critical drubbing:

What are you even doing? I wish to God you were forced to live out of a car until you made a #1 movie of the year. Maybe Wonder Woman wouldn’t be such a mess. Don’t try to hide behind the great trailer. People inside are already confirming it’s another mess. It is almost impressive how you keep rewarding the same producers and executives for making the same mistakes, over and over.

We don’t get many specifics, but the implication seems to be that Wonder Woman is in a troubling state in the same way that Suicide Squad was, i.e. a film developed in a similarly dark vein as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice scrambling to change its tone after critics eviscerated Batman v Superman and the film failed to deliver the studio’s box office expectations (it made a lot of money, sure, but all sources suggest that Warner Bros. expected it to be a billion dollar movie, which it wasn’t). Suicide Squad had massive reshoots trying to strike a lighter tone, and the resulting film is a bizarre jumble that’s just plummeted at the box office in its second week. This open letter suggests that Wonder Woman might be experiencing similar troubles.

Whether or not this is true, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins took to Twitter to defend the film and call into question the report. Combined into a paragraph with her original spelling and grammar, Jenkins wrote:

Woah, just saw this press about WW having problems. Are they serious? This is some made up bs right here. Made up! Produce a source, anyone. You can’t because it’s entirely false. Don’t believe the hype people. Someone’s trying to spread some serious misinfo. Isn’t until you are intimately involved in these things that you realize how totally false these rumors can. Let me reassure you zero about the movie we are making has been called a mess by anyone in the know. Fact. Real lasso of truth, time, will reveal that letter to be false soon enough. But lame something so transparent in its agenda gets traction.

It’s an unequivocal defense of the movie, which is to be expected from its director, really. Though we’ve seen other directors at Warner Bros. talk about how well their film is going and how everyone is on board only to end up with cinematic messes; see: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Still, Wonder Woman is ten months away and I doubt there’s even much of a rough cut yet, much less anything near a finished picture. Unless it’s been terrible from the start, it’s unlikely there’s much for folks at Warner Bros. to praise or criticize yet. Plus Geoff Johns co-wrote the film, and he’s the poster boy for DC’s new, more fun direction. Wonder Woman may turn out to be the first film in this new tone, rather than the last of the original dark tone.

As always with rumoury movie news, time will tell. The trailer for Wonder Woman was fantastic, Gal Gadot is a great Wonder Woman, and the rest of the cast seems strong. I’m not worried about it yet, apart from my general worry about any superhero film that involves Zack Snyder in any capacity. The open letter will either be a prescient warning if the movie is bad or something we all forget about if it’s good. I remain cautiously optimistic it will be good. Maybe I’m fooling myself after Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad, but I’m hoping for the best.

Superwoman #1 Review: Either One Of The Best Or Worst Comics Of DC’s “Rebirth” Line

August 10, 2016

superwoman.jpg

Superwoman is a great comic book until the last page, and depending on how that last page plays out it’s either going to be a book I’ll be very much looking forward to each month or a book I’ll drop like a hot potato. We’ll see how it goes. I’m certainly hoping for the former, because I really enjoyed the bulk of this issue. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I mean, it’s kind of spoiled all over the internet right now, but still!

Read the book first!

This honestly isn’t the kind of Lois Lane comic book I wanted. I’ve been arguing that Lois should have her own series for years now, one that focuses on her journalistic adventures tracking down big scoops and taking down evildoers of the non-costumed variety. I basically want Gotham Central set in the Daily Planet newsroom with Lois as the main character. This book is not that. It’s Lois Lane with superpowers, which she gained when the New 52 Superman died a few months back. But while Superwoman is not what I’ve been wanting, it’s a lot of fun.

First, of course Lois Lane would make an awesome superhero. She’s done it a bunch of times over the years, as she actually mentions in the issue, and it’s always a good time. In Investigating Lois Lane, I call Lois a superhero without superpowers; she’s got all of the same values, bravery, and desire to do what’s right that Superman and Wonder Woman do, she’s just a hero in a slightly more down to earth way. So with powers, she’s got the temperament and heart to use them well and be a stellar superhero.

Second, this is one of the first comic books where Lois Lane and Lana Lang are on friendly terms. They’ve been rivals for decades, often to cringeworthy degrees, Superman’s old flame versus his new one. Writers in the Silver Age really leaned into their rivalry and often had them at each other’s throats, literally so on several occasions. This continued when Lana returned in the Bronze Age; in one issue, they got into a fight at work and Lana dunked Lois’s head in a punch bowl. Throughout the Modern Age, Lana became kind of a sad character who was obsessed with Clark and grated on Lois, and in the New 52 era the women haven’t exactly been pals.

But Lois knows that Lana helped Clark with his powers, and that she needs help to learn how to control hers. She also knows that Lana is smart and a good person, and that her advice and input would be invaluable. So she proposes that they work together and after some reluctance, Lana gets on board. They’re not friends, exactly, but they’re friend adjacent, which is a lovely change of pace. Plus the banter is so much fun.

Third, this relationship comes with the exciting twist of Lana having superpowers too! Her energy powers resemble the 1990s Red Superman era, and she and Lois team up to stop Lex Luthor’s mega-warship from taking out a bridge. So Lana’s not just an advisor and trainer; they have a super-team up! I was so on board for that. Two formal rivals that have been so often mistreated in comics teaming up to be super friends? Yes, please!

Then they killed Lois. Or so the last page suggests. It’s a busy page, so it’s hard to tell exactly what happens. Maybe whatever mystery villain the duo is battling turns Lois into stone or some such, or perhaps Lois just burns out in a manner that may have been exacerbated by Lana using her powers. Whatever the case, Lois appears to be dead and the tease for the next issue is “Who Killed Superwoman?”

If Lois is really dead, then I’m out and this book can go right to hell. I’m so sick of dead Loises. The entire 21st century history  of Superman comics is dead Loises, in various forms. Lois is why I showed up for this book. I love Lana, but I’m not going to read a Lana book that comes at the expense of Lois. It doesn’t help that I was reluctant to get this book in the first place because serial sexual harasser Eddie Berganza is editing it. Between that and killing off Lois, I’ll drop this book and never look back if the final page reveal holds.

However, this is superhero comics. Fake out death cliffhangers are the genre’s stock in trade. If this is a momentary thing that’s reversed and the book continues to be Lois and Lana: Super Friends, then I’m all about it. This was a very enjoyable opening issue, and I’m excited to read more if Lois stays in the picture.

I’m not sure how to read the tea leaves on this one. This book is called Superwoman, singular, so that hints that Lana might replace Lois since there can only be one. And there’s already another Lois Lane in the universe, a transplant from the pre-New 52 days, so the Superman offices might have considered their leftover New 52 Lois to be redundant. On the other hand, I know that Phil Jimenez loves Lois, and I’m hoping he’s going to stick with the character. Lois is on upcoming covers, too, though I’ve been fooled by that trick before. I’m also hoping that DC is smart enough not to tease us with a Lois book just to kill her off. They can’t be that dumb, right?

So, Superwoman may be the start of an exciting new series, or it may be a straight up pile of garbage! Time will tell. I’m really hoping that Lois is alive, because this was such a fun first issue and I am so down for more Lois and Lana fun. Phil Jimenez did a great job with the writing and the art, particularly with the excellent new costumes, and I’d love to see this new partnership explored for many issues to come. But if Lois is gone, I’m gone. We’ll see how things shake out.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,078 other followers

%d bloggers like this: