Wonder Woman #62 Review: Making Peace with the God of War

January 16, 2019

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The first arc of G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman draws to a close this week, bringing the war in Durovnia to an end while leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions for our heroine and her divine associates moving forward. This was a storyline that raised a lot of heavy issues, for Wonder Woman herself but also for us as readers as we all grappled with the troubling shades of grey that characterize modern warfare. No matter how good someone’s intentions are, they can still cause harm when they decide to step in with force, and this is especially true in the arena of war. It’s almost impossible not to cause harm in a war, and Wonder Woman comes out of the conflict in Durovnia carrying the weight of that truth. We’ll get into the arc’s conclusion momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you all of the important things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, read it! This run has been GREAT so far!

Remember when Diana was the god of war? Oh, the New 52 days. So beautiful in its art, so increasingly troubling in its story choices. For all of that past run’s focus on Diana becoming the embodiment of war, it never really dug into the implications of what that could mean in a deeper, compelling way. War is inherently destructive and damaging. It harms innocents and profits the powerful. In short, it’s everything Wonder Woman hates. And yet, she often finds herself at the center of them. Fighting for peace, yes, but fighting nonetheless.

This arc dug into these contradictions, and fascinatingly so. By the end of this issue, Diana is shook. Yeah, she’s got some other stuff going on with the gods returning, a longing for home and a hope that the Amazons might be accessible again. But the war in Durovnia seems to have thrown her for quite the loop. Ares fashioning himself as a twisted version of her brand of heroism was disconcerting enough, and then the peace talks hit her hard. The president condemned the gods and empires that entered the fray, meaning Ares on the side of the rebels and American military assistance on the side of the government. Diana saw herself as beyond these sides, perhaps even above them, an impartial hero committed to protecting those caught in the middle. When she’s asked to leave with them, painted as part of the problem that exacerbated the conflict rather than part of the solution, it clearly stings.

Now, when an old, white dude whose government has been actively oppressing an ethnic minority calls you out like that, it’s a chastisement worth ignoring. I mean, that guy sucks. He’s blaming his own problems and the failings of his government on outside forces, admitting to past mistakes only once the entire nation nearly fell into chaos. This fool could have nipped all of this in the bud ages ago by not being such a terrible president. I feel like Diana should just brush off his dismissal of her and her efforts because, again, he sucks.

Also, so does Ares! Here’s another old, white dude misusing his power. And because of these two jerks, Diana is feeling a bit down on herself, a bit lost even. Not that there weren’t some interesting points raised over the course of their interactions. War is deeply, deeply terrible and it’s hard to be involved in it without hurting someone. But consider the source here. I’m very curious to see how Wonder Woman processes her feelings over the next few issues. It’s interesting that both men have her questioning herself, while Aphrodite and Etta are both telling her that she did a good job. Friggin’ patriarchy. Dudes tearing down women to make themselves feel better are the worst. What Diana needs right now are some more awesome ladies in her corner.

Which leads us to: AMAZONS. Wilson is teasing us at the end of this issue too much for this not to be happening, right? They’ve gotta be coming back! And I am very on board. First, the Amazons are the best and I miss them. And second, it feels like Diana is in a place where she could use some Amazon guidance. She’s been in man’s world for a while now. Their wars and aggressions are wearing on her, so much so that she’s starting to question herself. What she needs is some rad warrior women to remind her who she is, and to help her grapple with the disquieting questions that the harsh realities of modern warfare have raised for her.

Xermanico was back on art duties for this issue, and I liked it even better than his last one. I don’t know if it was him or Romulo Fajardo Jr. that brought in that Ben-Day Dot shading, but it looked super cool, especially in the night scenes with the battle. There was a bit of that two weeks back, but they really leaned into it here, for a nice effect. Xermanico is a good fit for this book, and I’ve enjoyed his two issues more than Cary Nord’s. His Diana feels more powerful and substantial, which is always good to see. And his art has actually improved from issue to issue, which we didn’t get with Nord owing to what appeared to be the time constraints of a bi-weekly book. I was wary when editorial had to swap artists so soon into the run, but they made a good choice here and I hope that we’ll see more of Xermanico in future issues. He carries on some of the cool style choices that Nord established, melding them well with his more conventional superhero comic style. I’m into it.

So we’re back in two weeks with Diana trying to deal with the successful but somewhat demoralizing outcome in Durovnia. Will there be Amazons? I sure hope so. And I’d love to see more of Aphrodite. That lady knows FAR more than she’s telling anybody, and that is definitely going to come into play in the issues to come. Plus, the search for Athena! She was name dropped this week and now I’m eager for her to join the mix as well. Something is up with the gods, and I’m keen for Wonder Woman to get to the bottom of that mystery. And find her mom! We have so much fun ahead of us, gang.

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Wonder Woman #61 Review: Love Will Lead You Back

January 2, 2019

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After taking a break over the holidays last week, Wonder Woman is back and set to dominate January. Or rather, lovingly induce the willing submission of January. The point is, we’re going to get three issues of Wonder Woman this month, and that should be a lot of fun. This run has been great so far, and it’s nice to enter the New Year with a stretch of good comics ahead of us.

This issue brings us the return of Aphrodite, and more questions than answers so far. Something strange is obviously afoot in the realm of the gods, perhaps caused by Ares’ escape from his Themysciran prison, but no one seems to know exactly what is happening. Deities are being deposited on the Earth all hither and yon, fully powered yet unsure as to why they are there. Mysteries abound, the war is relentless, and Steve Trevor’s been running around shirtless for several issues now, so this book’s got something for everyone.

We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Turn away if you haven’t read this issue yet!

You really should read it, though!

Add it to your pull list or subscribe through Comixology!

The book is good again, I promise!

So we begin where we left off three weeks ago, with Steve and Aphrodite. But a slightly different Aphrodite. She’s still a goddess with all of the powers and grandeur therein, but she’s grown tired of being the goddess of love specifically. Having observed humanity for centuries now, she’s come to the conclusion that love makes people do stupid things. Harmful things, even. All of this war and strife due to a fickle emotion is not something she wants to be associated with anymore.

I’m very much enjoying this identity crisis of the gods. First, we have Ares wanting to give up war for justice. That’s gone quite poorly so far, of course, due to his engrained toxic masculinity more than anything else, but it’s been a very interesting turn for the character. And now, Aphrodite wants to separate herself from love. She doesn’t seem to have a plan of where to go from there, what new cause to champion, if any. She’s just tired of being’s love representative.

And fair enough. What I like most about G. Willow Wilson’s new approach to the gods is that they each have a decent point to make. Ares, for all his foolishness, made some compelling arguments about the nature of war. He lacked the character or humility to back them up, but it was an understandable turn. With Aphrodite, I can again see her point. As much as love is wonderful and good, it’s an emotion that can make us act in unreasonable ways. Though, just like with Ares, I find myself agreeing with the mortal perspective. I sided with Wonder Woman’s arguments against Ares, and I’m in Steve’s camp now with his pro-love stance.

There’s a detachment to the perspective of the gods that I think befits their station. They’re separated from humanity, not just because of their status as deities but in a more literal fashion. Ares has been locked away for millennia, and Aphrodite has been comfortably housed in Olympus. They only see us from afar. They observe us rather than understand us, and this detachment has led them down some troublesome paths of thinking. At least Aphrodite hasn’t started a huge war with her new ideas. I’m curious to see what comes with her, whether she sticks to her new approach or finds her faith in love renewed by Diana and Steve. The latter might be hard to pull off without being corny, but if anyone can do it, it’s Wilson.

On art this issue we’ve got Xermanico, making what I think is his first appearance in a Wonder Woman comic book. He’s drawn the character, and the bulk of the DC universe, before in the ongoing Injustice: Gods Among Us series, but now he’s in the DC universe proper. And doing a decent job of it. It feels like he’s captured a little bit of the style Cary Nord had established in the first few issues, but with more of a conventional superhero angle. Everything certainly feels more polished and finished than the last issue, when it was pretty clear that Nord was racing against the clock to get the book done. This issue feels complete, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colouring does a great job of establishing a lovely through line for the differing art styles.

The art on Wonder Woman has been inconsistent for the last year or so, a bit of a revolving door after the carefully planned Evely/Scott/Sharp trifecta of the Rucka run. This is a problem that’s plagued DC’s double shipping books for a couple years now. If an artist stays on a book for a while, things end up looking hasty and rushed. If they sub in a new artist, it’s hard to match the tone and the quality can vary wildly. Very few titles can keep a consistent level of quality. Batman does it well, with stellar artists rotating in and out, and the planning on that must be considerable. Here, Xermanico was a late addition to the book. Nord was originally scheduled to draw it, but they subbed Xermanico in. And it worked pretty well. This time, anyway. That they needed to sub someone in so early on is not the best sign, and I hope that the editors can come up with a workable schedule full of great artists to give the phenomenal writing of this run the gorgeous look it deserves. Everything is better when the whole team has the space and time to do their best work.

But this one looked nice. Also, I don’t know whether Wilson or Nord came up with the idea for Aphrodite to be wearing an oversized t-shirt with a swan on it, but I love it. It’s such a funny, humanizing touch, and it’s played so well with no one even mentioning it. In contrast with the bombastic armour of Ares, Aphrodite presumably just finding a t-shirt somewhere and rolling with it is delightful.

And now we’ve got an interesting situation ahead of us. Ares has tricked the prime minister with some sham peace talks, and it looks like he’s spoiling for a fight. Wonder Woman’s pretty annoyed with him, so she might be keen to offer one. But his old beau Aphrodite might have some other plans. We’ll find out, in two weeks’ time!

Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, February 2019 Solicits – 31 Creators on 29 Books

December 21, 2018

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Marvel’s starting the New Year right. After coming in just shy of thirty different female creators for the past few rounds of solicits, they’ve crossed that line with their February offerings. Now the publisher is in the ballpark of their past highs for the first time in a long time. It’s been an interesting road back up. Just a year ago, Marvel had only 11 female creators in the mix, but things have improved considerably since then. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what this February at Marvel:

  • Amanda Conner: Captain Marvel #2 (cover)
  • Amy Reeder: Ironheart #3 (cover)
  • Annie Wu: Love Romances #1 (variant cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #29 (cover), X-23 #9 (cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: Captain Marvel #2 (interior art, variant cover)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (variant cover), X-23 #9 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #41 (cover)
  • Eve L. Ewing: Ironheart #3 (writer)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #38 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Love Romances #1 (co-writer)
  • Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #5 (interior art)
  • Jen Bartel: Marvel Tales: Black Widow #1 (cover)
  • Jen Soska: Black Widow #2 (co-writer)
  • Jody Houser: Captain Marvel: Braver & Mightier #1 (writer), Star Wars: Age of Republic – Anakin Skywalker #1 (writer), Star Wars: Age of Republic – Count Dooku #1 (writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Avengers West Coast #8 (writer), Captain Marvel #2 (writer), Mr. and Mrs. X #8 (writer)
  • Leah Williams: Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (writer)
  • Maria Lapham: Marvel Comics Presents #2 (co-writer), The Gunhawks #1 (co-writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: X-23 #9 (writer)
  • Michelle Delecki: Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (cover)
  • Naomi Franquiz: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #41 (interior art)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #40 (interior art, cover)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Shuri #5 (writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Mr. and Mrs. X #8 (cover)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #18 (writer)
  • Sana Takeda: Miles Morales: Spider-Man #3 (variant cover)
  • Sara Pichelli: Ms. Marvel #38 (cover), Star Wars #61 (variant cover)
  • Seanan McGuire: Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (writer), Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #5 (writer)
  • Stacey Lee: The Unstoppable Wasp #5 (cover)
  • Sylvia Soska: Black Widow #2 (co-writer)
  • Yasmine Putri: Avengers: No Road Home #1 (cover), Avengers: No Road Home #2 (cover), Avengers: No Road Home #3 (cover), Shatterstar #5 (cover)

All together, there are 31 different female creators set to work on 29 different books in February, 2 more creators than in January and the same number of books. As far as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators in this round of solicits. While a jump of two additional creators isn’t particularly big, it does cross a significant threshold and takes Marvel over the thirty line for the first time in ages. That’s an achievement, as are the steady numbers the publisher has been posting lately. It’s good to see some stability at Marvel.

As well as some new names! This month, we’ve got Maria Lapham co-writing a couple of one-shots with her husband, David. They’re temporary gigs, and the Laphams are certainly busy with their own books elsewhere, but perhaps they’ll be back for more Marvel fun in the future. We’ve also got Naomi Franquiz doing interior art on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which is a book that’s always deliberate in its choice of creators. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of her going forward, whether it’s back with Squirrel Girl or elsewhere.

It’s a very quiet month for female characters, however. Most of the new books are centered on dudes, including titles for Conan, Daredevil, Peter Quill, Wolverine, and more. But we do have a couple team books with some ladies in the mix. Avengers: No Road Home features the Scarlet Witch, Spectrum (I think that’s the current handle for Monica Rambeau?), and Voyager. There are also a bunch of “Age of X-Man” mini-series starting, most of which have some female characters. It looks like Jean Grey, Nature Girl, Storm, and X-23 are in The Marvelous X-Men, a few teen gal mutants I don’t recognize are in Nextgen, and we’ve got Psylocke and Jubilee in The X-Tremists.

Overall, 2019 has been a very solid year for female creators at Marvel thus far. It would be nice to see this growth extend to non-binary creators as well, however. There is always room to grow further, in a whole host of ways. But on the whole, Marvel has more than 30 women working on their books right now, and that’s an impressive comeback after some dismal lows in 2018. Here’s hoping that the upward trajectory continues.

Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, February 2019 Solicits – 18 Creators on 15 Books

December 18, 2018

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Well then. DC’s January solicits didn’t give us a lot of hope that the publisher was going to start the New Year off strong in terms of female and non-binary creator representation, and the February solicits haven’t helped matters at all. We’re back into the teens, which is just ridiculous. Embarrassing, really. In the year of our lord 2019, a major comic book publisher should be able to find more than 18 female and non-binary creators to work on their titles. They’re EVERYWHERE now. It’s really not that hard. Anyway, let’s take a look at who is doing what at DC this February:

  • Adriana Melo: Female Furies #1 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: Old Lady Harley #5 (cover)
  • Aneke: House of Whispers #6 (interior art)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Dreaming #6 (interiort art)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Female Furies #1 (writer)
  • Elena Casagrande: Catwoman #8 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Batgirl #32 (cover), Supergirl #27 (variant cover). Young Justice #2 (interior art)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Wonder Woman #64 (writer), Wonder Woman #65 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Catwoman #8 (writer, cover)
  • Kat Howard: The Books of Magic #5 (writer)
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick: Aquaman #45 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #32 (writer)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Hex Wives #5 (interior art)
  • Nalo Hopkinson: House of Whispers #6 (writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Wonder Woman #64 (cover), Wonder Woman #65 (writer)
  • Reiko Murakami: Lucifer #5 (cover)
  • Tula Lotay: Hex Wives #5 (cover)
  • Zoe Quinn: Goddess Mode #3 (writer)

All together, there are 18 different female creators scheduled to work on 15 different book at DC this February, 2 fewer creators though 1 more book than in January. As far as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. So yeah, not great. If a behemoth like DC is in the teens, they just aren’t trying hard enough. Or, much at all, it seems. I feel like they brought in a couple of huge names with G. Willow Wilson and Kelly Sue DeConnick and were like “Hey, we’ve got the famousest ladies! We can take a break on that front now!” Which, no. I mean, I love them both, but they don’t count extra. Everyone in DC editorial should feel bad about this showing.

In terms of new creators, we don’t have much here. Reiko Murakami is someone I haven’t seen before, and her cover for Lucifer looks cool. Everyone else is the usual gang of folks we’ve seen in recent months, though I am glad that Cecil Castellucci’s got a new book! Female Furies looks rad.

Speaking of, Female Furies is one of two new titles with female characters in a lead role this month. And given that it’s a pretty quiet month for new books, that’s some decent representation at least. We’ve got Big Barda and all of the Furies in this mini, getting up to some sort of Apokaliptic adventures. And we’ve also got a Wonder Twins book that co-stars Jayna, the sister half of the duo. I was never huge into Super Friends, but this book looks like it could be fun.

Overall, DC editorial needs to get their act together. These are some terrible numbers, way down from their recent highs. Both months of 2019 have been lower than the month before, and that’s not a good way to start the year. Sharpen up, DC! Representation matters, you know.

Wonder Woman #60 Review: With War on the Sidelines, Will Love Enter the Fray?

December 12, 2018

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We’ll get to Wonder Woman in a moment but first, let’s talk about the new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. When Netflix announced that they were bringing back She-Ra with Noelle Stevenson as showrunner, I instantly had an idea of what the show could be. I’m a big fan of Stevenson, from Nimona to Lumberjanes to her early days of hilarious Tumblr comics. She’s got a delightful yet slightly dark sensibility that always comes through in her work. And when She-Ra debuted, it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s charming and hilarious and surprisingly heavy at times, and as queer as they let kid’s TV be these days. Basically, it was what I expected to get in a Noelle Stevenson project, in all of the best ways.

I feel the same way about this run of Wonder Woman. I’m a huge fan of G. Willow Wilson too, and I’ve enjoyed all of her comics and prose work. Her strengths lie in telling fun, action-packed stories that simultaneously dig into deeper, timely themes. I thought that he was the perfect choice to take over Wonder Woman right now, and she’s bringing everything I thought she would to the book. It’s an exciting story with lots of cool fights, but it’s also a deeper meditation on a whole host of issues, from the nature of war and heroism to the limitations and disappointments of supposed allies in these fraught times. Basically, it’s great, and exactly what I hoped it would be. Also, how awesome is it that we’ve got G. Willow Wilson on Wonder Woman in our comics and Noelle Stevenson on She-Ra on our televisions? Truly we live in a golden age of entertainment.

Let’s dig into the issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the rad things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And make sure you do read it! It’s so good!

So, Ares sucks. I think we all knew that deep down, but I was hoping he’d come around, that he would learn something from Wonder Woman and channel his newfound quest for justice into something actually productive. But no, he’s just a dope. And even when Wonder Woman shows him the error of his ways in the most blatant, impactful way, he still takes the wrong lesson from it. Instead of fixing his mistakes and finding a better way forward, he just decides to leave. Even though he started the war, even though all of these deaths are his own doing, he’s decided he wants no part of it any longer and just steps away.

It’s a fascinating turn. There are so many ways to read it, all of them compelling. The book has felt like it’s about the nature of war and justice over the past few issues, asking whether answering violence with violence is wise or if it’s just perpetuating a vicious cycle. We get more of that here, with a critique of the power structures behind war. So often, those who start wars leave them unfinished, walking away unscathed while scars and lingering tensions remain for those caught in the middle of it. Ares is a global superpower in and of himself, igniting a conflict for his own selfish reasons and then leaving it behind when it gets to bothersome. We’ve seen this too many times in the real world over the past few decades.

But I think there’s another interesting angle here as well. With Ares so inspired by Wonder Woman, I can’t help but see him through the lens of male feminists who position themselves as allies to the cause, only to ultimately prove themselves to be self-serving above all else. Ares wanted to be like Wonder Woman, but not only did he fundamentally misunderstand her from the beginning, he balked when she pushed back and then left full of anger and spite. How often have we seen this with allies for all sorts of causes? These white male saviors who saunter in and spout the lingo only to turn away when the people who have actually been doing the work deign to challenge them in any way? It’s painfully common, unfortunately, and I think we see something similar here with Ares. He’s trying to help a worthy cause, but in the wrong ways and only to make himself feel good. When it feels good no longer, he leaves. It’s a biting critique of male allyship.

And also, the fights are cool! It’s a comic book, after all. Between all of the deep philosophizing, Wonder Woman is battling Ares, deflecting a bunch of bullets, and just generally being her awesome self. It’s a fun read.

Plus Steve’s adventures with the mythological creatures continue, and lead us to a fun surprise. We meet the leader of these Olympian exiles, and it’s none other than Aphrodite. This should be VERY interesting. First, Aphrodite is key to Wonder Woman’s own history. In her earliest adventures, love was the core of the Amazonian worldview, and Aphrodite was its embodiment. I’m curious to see if Wilson delves into that. Second, the goddess of love is an obvious contrast with the god of war, and having them so near, with conflict abounding, should prove to be compelling. And third, Aphrodite and Ares have quite the history. They were lovers, and in Rucka’s run it was the love of Aphrodite that led Ares to accept his imprisonment in the first place. So yeah, now that he’s free there might be some serious drama here. I’m excited to see where this all goes.

The art, however, remains a bit underwhelming for me. Cary Nord’s work here seems even sparser than the last issue, and the detail is lacking. We see this a lot when people take on a book that ships twice a month. A lovely first issue leads to a rougher second issue and then a bit of a slapdash third. It’s a ludicrous schedule for artists, and editorial would be wise to consider other approaches to ensure that the quality stays high. I got a distinct later Frank Miller vibe from a lot of these pages, and not in a good way. Nord is successfully telling the story and is not bringing down the writing here, but he’s not exactly elevating it either, which is disappointing.

Still, the book remains a great read overall. Wilson is doing some fascinating things, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes next, especially with Aphrodite in the mix. She could be a very fun wild card moving forward.

Wonder Woman #59 Review: A Twisted Reflection

November 28, 2018

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In this issue of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor kicks a griffin in the face then gets head-butted by a satyr. So yeah, this run has been pretty dang fantastic so far. Also, that griffin is the best. She calls Steve a “beakless idiot,” which is a sick burn coming from a griffin. Then she talks about how she doesn’t trust human males at all and only trusts “egg layers.” And sure, fair point, awesome griffin. Plus she’s a key member of some sort of renegade group of mythological creatures. There’s the aforementioned satyr, a minotaur, a dryad, and more. It’s a cool crew. I’m all about whatever these creatures are up to.

Also, this issue raises compelling questions about war and justice, and if we are complicit in perpetuating a destructive cycle when we answer violence with violence. But first and foremost, Steve tries to fight some mythological beasts and it’s hilarious and great. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss the events in this very fine comic book!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And go pick it up if you haven’t! It’s super good!

G. Willow Wilson isn’t screwing around here, gang. She didn’t take over Wonder Woman just for a lark. She’s not that kind of a writer at all. If you’ve read Ms. Marvel (and if you haven’t, what are you even doing?! Go get on it! It’s phenomenal!), you know that Wilson has a knack for tackling big, complicated ideas through fun superhero adventures. Ms. Marvel is rip roaring fun, to be sure, but there’s always a lot of thoughtful, relevant themes at play.

And now Wilson is bringing a similar approach to Wonder Woman. Ares is back on Earth, and he’s styled himself as a hero, drawing inspiration from Wonder Woman herself. He’s defending an oppressed ethnic minority group in Durovnia from violent government forces, which is a noble stance. Definitely something Wonder Woman would do. Except that when they spot a Durovnian missile headed for them, instead of redirecting it into an empty field, Ares sends it to a home of Durovian government supporters, killing them all. Wonder Woman is furious, of course, but Ares is perplexed. Doesn’t she carry a sword? Hasn’t she killed her enemies?

Then the tables turn even more. American fighter jets streak overhead, allied with the Durovnian forces. Ares wants to destroy them, but Wonder Woman saves them. Now it’s Ares who feels angry and betrayed. Those fighter jets were targeting the oppressed people he was defending. In not stopping them, Wonder Woman essentially sided against him and his cause.

Wonder Woman vs. Ares should be the most black and white confrontation ever. A warrior for peace against the god of war and destruction. The right and wrong of it all should be clear as day. Except that now, it’s not. Modern warfare isn’t that simple. So much of it is shades of grey, and now Wonder Woman and Ares find themselves mired in this grey. As much as Wonder Woman is outraged at Ares’ actions, there’s an argument to be made that they are more the same than they are different. They’re not exactly the same, of course. Wonder Woman wouldn’t kill civilians, no matter who they supported. But she works with the Americans, who support the Durovnian military. She uses weapons of war against her foes. Her hands are not entirely clean.

Ares still sees things in black and white, but from the side of the oppressed now. Instead of glorying in military might above all else, he takes a moral stance and glories in turning that might against the tyrants who wield it. And yeah, tyrants are bad, right? Ares is doing some sketchy stuff, but he’s not entirely wrong here. Is he going too far, or is he just being realistic?

I’m still on Wonder Woman’s side, because of course. She’s Wonder Woman. And killing civilians is a step too far for me. But dang if this book isn’t raising some fascinating questions about war and where we decide to draw the line when it comes to defending what we believe in. There’s not a simple answer here either, and I’m excited to see how this arc continues to dig into it all. From her earliest days, Wonder Woman has been associated with war. She left Paradise Island in 1941 to go fight the Nazis, after all! But war has gotten far more complicated over the decades, and I’m glad to see the book diving into the messy complexities of it all.

Plus, there’s a cool griffin! The series is digging into heavy stuff with Wonder Woman and Ares, so the comic relief and intriguing mysteries of these mythological creatures is a welcome contrast. I’m intrigued by the cliffhanger, which suggests that the leader of the beasts is a woman of some sort. Perhaps a goddess? It looks like Olympus might be back, if in a rather damaged state. And if there’s a goddess in charge, is this divine return connected to Ares’ recent escape? There’s a lot of cool stuff at play here.

While the writing is great, I did find the art a bit hit and miss in this issue. Some of the pages are really nice; Cary Nord and Mick Gray are talented dudes, and they can do exciting action. But some of the pages feel super rushed. There’s a lack of detail in certain panels, with proportions that are off and simplistic linework that looks like it was hastily cobbled together. And honestly, that’s just how it goes these days with bi-monthly books. It’s hard to keep up a high level of quality at that pace. We’ve seen it several times before. Still, there are some rough moments in this issue. Writing this good deserves good, consistent art, and I hope that editorial can figure out a way to keep everyone on track and putting out quality work.

But this is a stellar issue nonetheless. The story is dealing with some big ideas in intriguing ways, plus it brings a huge dose of superhero spectacle and fun with each outing. I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, January 2019 Solicits: 29 Creators on 29 Books

November 27, 2018

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Marvel closed out 2018 with solid gains in terms of female and non-binary creator representation, bouncing back well after some terribly low numbers last winter to plateau at a relatively decent level. The numbers aren’t great by any means, but they’re now consistently not bad, and that’s what counts for progress when it comes to representation in superhero comic books. Now we’ve got numbers from the new year, and this consistency is set to continue. Marvel is rolling into 2019 at about the same level they ended 2018, which is nice to see. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at Marvel this January:

  • Amanda Conner: Captain Marvel #1 (cover)
  • Amy Reeder: Ironheart #3 (cover)
  • Ann Nocenti: Marvel Comics Presents #1 (co-writer)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #28 (cover), X-23 #8 (cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: Captain Marvel #1 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Conan the Barbarian #2 (variant cover), X-Force #2 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #40 (cover)
  • Eve L. Ewing: Ironheart #3 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Domino #10 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #4 (interior art)
  • Jen Bartel: Marvel Tales: Fantastic Four #1 (cover), Marvel Tales: Venom #1 (cover)
  • Jen Soska: Black Widow #1 (co-writer)
  • Jody Houser: Star Wars: Age of Republic – Jango Fett #1 (writer), Star Wars: Age of Republic – Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 (writer), Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1 (co-writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Captain Marvel #1 (writer), Mr. and Mrs. X #7 (writer), Uncanny X-Men #8 (co-writer), Uncanny X-Men #9 (co-writer), Uncanny X-Men #10 (co-writer), West Coast Avengers #7 (writer)
  • Kirbi Fagan: Conan the Barbarian #1 (variant cover)
  • Lauren Tsai: Captain Marvel #1 (variant cover)
  • Mariko Tamaki: X-23 #8 (writer)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Black Widow #1 (variant cover)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #39 (interior art, cover)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Shuri #4 (writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Mr. and Mrs. X #7 (cover)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #17 (writer)
  • Rosi Kampe: Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #4 (interior art)
  • Seanan McGuire: Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #4 (writer)
  • Stacey Lee: The Unstoppable Wasp #4 (cover)
  • Stephanie Hans: Asgardians of the Galaxy #5 (interior art)
  • Sylvia Soska: Black Widow #1 (co-writer)
  • Yasmine Putri: Shatterstar #4 (cover), Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation #4 (variant cover)

All together, there are 29 different female creators set to work on 29 different comic books at Marvel in January, the same number of creators as in December though spread across 6 fewer books. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. So the number of female creators remains steady for the third straight month, which is good. Even though Marvel’s still below their past highs, 29 isn’t a terrible number. The drop in books is steep, though. Some event tie-ins have wrapped, which explains part of the decline, and while Marvel usually has a bevy of different one-shots each month, December’s had more female creators in the mix than January’s offerings do. Still, decent numbers all around.

We’ve got some new names in the mix as well. Laruen Tsai is doing a variant cover for the new Captain Marvel, and I don’t think we’ve seen her at Marvel before. We’ve also got the Soska Sisters, Jen and Sylvia, writing a new Black Widow series. We’ve seen them before briefly, in one of those aforementioned one-shots, and now they’ve jumped to an ongoing book. That’s the benefit of including female and non-binary creators in these one-shots: It’s a great way to find talent that you can promote to a bigger role.

Marvel’s one-shots this month just aren’t doing that. They’ve got a series of specials lined up to celebrate the publisher’s 80th anniversary, and it’s a dude-centric affair. The vast majority of the books star male characters, and the vast majority of the creators involved are men. Ann Nocenti’s got a story in the special Marvel Comics Presents, and that’s about it. It’s not a great look.

We’ve got a couple big new books with female leads, though. Captain Marvel is relaunching yet again, with Kelly Thompson and Carmen Carnero on board. I’m very excited for this one; Kelly’s been killing it on so many books lately, and Carmen Carnero is always good. We’ve got a new Black Widow series too, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Soska Sisters bring to it. Elsewhere, there are a few teams books with some ladies in the mix as well, including relaunches of Guardians of the Galaxy and Champions.

Overall, it looks like Marvel is starting the year on a good foot. Their numbers are consistent, some of their biggest female characters are launching new titles, and their embarrassingly poor start to 2018 is becoming a distant memory. As much as there’s lots of room to grow, as always, steady representation at Marvel is rare. Hopefully it continues as the year goes on, and even grows.


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