Wonder Woman #36 Review: Can We Just Not, With Any Of This?

December 13, 2017

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Let’s begin with a story. Last Wednesday, I woke up prepared to begin my usual bi-weekly Wonder Woman review routine. Buy the comic. Read it a couple of times. Think about it a bit and formulate some opinions. Then sit down and write out my review. However, I was mistaken. Yes, it had been two weeks since the last issue of Wonder Woman came out, but November was a five-Wednesday month. The issue wouldn’t be out until the following week, because Wonder Woman comes out on the second and fourth weeks of each month. I was amused at my error, and tremendously relieved. I didn’t have to read Wonder Woman! It felt like a reprieve.

Anyway, now it’s the correct week and here we are. Let’s dig into this nonsense, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

This review reveals key plot points from this issue!

Don’t read this if you haven’t read the comic yet!

Though I can’t in good conscience recommend that you read this comic book!

So we’re in a bit of a catch-22 here!

Here’s a positive thing to start with: I like the new corner box on the cover. It’s an old school affectation brought back with a modern feel. I’m into it. That “Rebirth” bar was getting tiresome after a year and a half, and this is a lot cleaner and more compact. I think it might hint at some coming changes for the line, too. DC’s been doing a lot of multiverse stuff lately, and that “Universe” designation might be significant. Spinning out of “Metal,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see new books set in different universes, with corner boxes that marked them as such. Could be cool. But whether that’s coming or not, I think it’s a good look.

And here’s even more good news: Wonder Woman is actually in this issue of Wonder Woman! On nearly every page, even. You wouldn’t think that’d be something we’d even have to celebrate, but there’s been a substantial lack of Wonder Woman in this run thus far.

That’s where the good news ends, though. The book is still really bad. The story is still really dumb. There are a few twists in this issue, none of them good or particularly unexpected. I will say, the art is nicer than it’s been lately. While Emanuela Lupacchino’s done fine work on her villain backstory issues, a misuse of her talents but excellent art nonetheless, the main story has been decidedly subpar. Carlo Pagulayan’s pencils with inks from Jason Paz and Sean Parsons are a definite step up, and of course Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are fantastic, as always. While the story remains a trash fire, at least it’s nicer to look at this time around.

So let’s dive into the story itself. Grail and Jason have Wonder Woman trapped, and the issue begins with them all yelling at each other. Jason is bitter about his upbringing for no good reason, Grail just wants to kill folks, and Diana wants her brother to see reason. No one really breaks through with anyone, largely because all the speechifying is just there to lay the groundwork for Wonder Woman busting free and starting a big fight scene. I will say this for Robinson: I did enjoy the reveal that Diana could have broken out of her bonds at any time, but she stayed trapped and took Grail’s abuse to try to reach Jason. I mean, Jason sucks and all, but that’s a very Wonder Woman thing to do.

The fight takes a turn with the inevitable arrival of Darkseid, who has now grown to be a young man. Grail’s god killing seems to be feeding him well. Then we get the not at all shocking turn in which Jason finds out that Grail has been lying to him. Combined with Darkseid’s brutal treatment of his sister, Jason’s no longer sure he’s on the right team here and tries to stop him. This will likely lead to Diana and Jason teaming up to defeat Grail and Darkseid later on which, ugh, of course it will. I don’t know about you all, but I was cheering for Darkseid to blast Jason with an Omega Beam and free us from his tedious presence. No such luck this time around, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for future outings.

Then finally, the twistiest twist of them all! Hercules’ weirdo lawyer is actually Zeus in disguise! Gasp. A story about two children of Zeus features an appearance from Zeus. Who saw that coming? Anyway, he’s in the mix now, threatening Darkseid to close out the issue. And he’s got an all new design, too. It’s not great, though I do enjoy the glowing white cape. That’s kind of cool. His armour bits are a little too Magogy for me, and I don’t care for him copying Wonder Woman’s bracelets. Also, that crown could be better. Still, on the larger spectrum of Zeus designs in Wonder Woman, I’d say this is one of the better ones. Zeus has never looked particularly cool. I mean, the dude showed up in a space unitard at one point

(HOT TIP: For an excellent take on Zeus, and the Greek gods in general, go read the Olympians series by George O’Connor! They are excellent comic books with really smart, clever takes on all of the gods, and it’s got far and away my favourite Zeus ever.)

So a bunch of things happened, none of them particularly interesting, all of them poorly written. The art was a little bit nicer, at least. And it looks like we’ve got a big fight coming, with Zeus and Darkseid set to battle it out in an Old God versus New God showdown. That could be a good thing, if only because the brawl might take up a lot of the next issue and thus cut down on the words therein. I’m all for anything that will make this book a quicker read and spare me from Robinson’s horrible dialogue.

Anyway, there’s some encouraging news for us to end on: We’re halfway through, gang. This ridiculousness is scheduled to last for twelve issues, and this was this sixth. By this time in March, we’ll have reached the grand finale and will be eagerly anticipating whoever is set to take over next. Will we get returning favourites? Will it be an up and coming team with a fresh voice for Wonder Woman? Will it be some random people they just grab off the street? Whoever they choose, it can’t be worse than this run.

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Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, February 2018 Solicits: 20 Creators on 18 Books

November 30, 2017

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We’re two months into 2018 with Marvel’s comic book solicits, and it doesn’t look like the New Year is going to be great for female and non-binary creator representation at the publisher. While the numbers ticked up in February after a relatively terrible January, they didn’t tick up much; the new totals are definitely terrible adjacent, at least. Marvel’s female and non-binary creator numbers remain at roughly half of their recent highs, with few signs of any substantive improvement on the horizon. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at Marvel this February:

  • Anna Rud: Black Panther #170 (variant cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: Captain America #698 (variant cover)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #87 (writer)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #29 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #27 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #12 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, The Unbelievable #25 (interior art, cover)
  • Jen Bartel: Gwenpool, The Unbelievable #25 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #16 (writer), Star Wars: Thrawn #1 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Gwenpool, The Unbelievable #25 (variant cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: Hawkeye #15 (writer), Rogue & Gambit #2 (writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: Captain Marvel #129 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: She-Hulk #162 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #28 (interior art, cover)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #6 (writer)
  • Stacey Lee: America #12 (interior art)
  • Stephanie Hans: X-Men: Blue #21 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Tales of Suspense #102 (cover)

All together, there are 20 different female creators set to work on 18 different books at Marvel in February, 2 more creators than last month but the same number of books. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators scheduled at Marvel this month. A gain of 2 creators is better than nothing, of course, but January marked one of Marvel’s lowest months in recent memory, so a small gain from there still leaves the publisher quite low. Moreover, in 4 of the past 5 months they’ve failed to post more than 20 female creators. Marvel is in a rut right now, one they don’t seem particularly keen to get out of.

In terms of new names, there aren’t many. I’m pretty sure that February marks Anna Rud’s first Marvel gig, which is very cool, and I can’t recall if we’ve seen Bilquis Evely at Marvel yet; she’s usually doing stuff at DC. Both are doing variant covers, which brings up a larger point about the sustainability of the numbers. A quarter of the creators listed above are doing variant covers, and while they’re an excellent way to get a foot in the door at a publisher and showcase their talents, they are also onetime gigs. That means a quarter of the women listed above are unlikely to be back next month unless they land a new cover or interior art gig. There are maybe 12 or 13 people up there that I am confident will be back next month for sure. Everyone else is a maybe. Marvel needs more female and non-binary creators, and they need to get them on some long term jobs.

It’s a pretty quiet month for new books at Marvel, but we do have the debut of X-Men: Red, a new team book that’s set to feature a newly returned Jean Grey (in a really ugly costume, I have to say) and Wolverine (the Laura Kinney version, i.e. the far superior Wolverine). As always, the X-Men team books are pretty solid at having a few women in the mix, at least fictional ones. Everyone writing, drawing, or doing covers on X-Men: Red is a dude.

Overall, February looks like it’s going to be another poor month for female and non-binary creator representation at Marvel. This is just the norm at Marvel now, I guess. Maybe having a new editor-in-chief will change things, though given all the news about C.B. Cebulski lately we might just get male creators using female pseudonyms! I kid, but also, the publisher is a dang mess right now. They need to right the ship, and bringing in more women and non-binary creators would be a smart first step.

Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, February 2018 Solicits: 26 Creators on 27 Books

November 28, 2017

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DC’s female creator representation is set to increase slightly in February, marking a second straight month of gains for the publisher. The growth is encouraging yet underwhelming; yes, things are moving in a positive direction, but it’s happening at a very slow rate and DC still remains well below their recent highs. Moreover, the publisher’s dips over the past year offer very little in the way of confidence that these gains won’t be erased in the months to come. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at DC Comics this February:

  • Alisa Kwitney: Young Monsters In Love #1 (co-writer)
  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #37 (cover), Harley Quinn #38 (cover), The Jetsons #4 (cover)
  • Aneke: Gotham City Garage #10 (interior art)
  • Bilquis Evely: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #5 (variant cover)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 (co-writer)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Wonder Woman #40 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Wonder Woman/Conan #6 (writer)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #20 (writer)
  • Jen Bartel: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #5 (cover)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #40 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #41 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic/Batman Special #1 (co-writer), Supergirl #18 (co-writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Batman #40 (interior art, cover)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #19 (co-writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #19 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #5 (interior art)
  • Lynne Yoshii: Gotham City Garage #9 (interior art)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 (co-writer), JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1 (co-writer), Mother Panic/Batman Special #1 (co-writer), Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 (co-writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #12 (writer), Bombshells United #11 (writer), Bombshells United #12 (writer)
  • Michelle Delecki: Deathstroke #28 (variant cover)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Harley Quinn #37 (interior art), Harley Quinn #38 (interior art), Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 (interior art)
  • Nicola Scott: Mera, Queen of Atlantis #1 (cover)
  • Rachael Stott: Motherlands #2 (interior art)
  • Rachel Dodson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #19 (cover), Bombshells United #11 (cover)
  • Sandra Hope: The Silencer #2 (inker, cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #19 (co-writer)
  • Yasmine Putri: Nightwing #38 (variant cover), Nightwing #39 (variant cover)

All together, there are 26 different female creators set to work on 27 different comic books this February, 2 more creators and 2 more books than in January. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators in the February solicits. This is a relatively solid gain after several months of stagnant numbers, but as I mentioned above, the totals are hardly impressive relative to DC’s past performances. The publisher has been mired in the low to mid-20s for some time now, well below the 30+ levels they’ve hit in the past, and while the February numbers are in the upper end of their recent range, there’s still enormous room to grow.

In terms of new female creators, this month is an array of returning favourites. There’s no one here that we haven’t seen at DC before. There are some solid showcases for emerging talents, though. Magdalene Visaggio in particular is set to have a huge month writing backup stories for a series of “Young Animal” specials. Mirka Andolfo continues her tour of the DC universe as well, with interior artwork on three different issues! She’s been in at least 6 or 7 different series in the past half year or so alone, doing wonderful work with each outing.

For female characters, there are a couple of new titles. Mera is launching her own six issue mini-series that marks her first ever solo outing. It’s long overdue, and will sport gorgeous covers by the always spectacular Nicola Scott. We’ve also got a new Wonder Woman book: She’ll be teaming up with the Dark Knight in The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman, which will be written and drawn by former Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp. The “Young Animal” specials also feature several of the line’s female characters, as well as a guest appearance from Wonder Woman.

Overall, February looks to have slightly more female creator representation than we’ve seen from DC recently, but the numbers remain rather humdrum. The lack of new creators is disappointing as well; as wonderful as DC’s current female creator ranks are, one of the surest ways for the numbers to grow is adding new voices to the mix. The only problem is, editors have to go find them, and it doesn’t look like DC is putting a lot of effort into that right now.

Wonder Woman #35 Review: Please, Someone Make This Stop

November 22, 2017

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: In this issue of Wonder Woman, Diana appears only fleetingly and never speaks, and instead the book focuses on the backstory of a villain, the bulk of which we already knew. It sounds familiar because that’s what happened two issues ago with an outing that was all about Grail. Now we’ve got an issue that’s all about Diana’s brother, Jason. So basically, two of the last three issues of Wonder Woman have barely featured Wonder Woman at all. Yeah, that’s the ticket, DC. Wonder Woman’s never been more popular, so now’s a great time to sideline her in her own book in favour of subpar villains. Who thought this was a good idea? Who is letting this stupid story drone on? It’s mind bogglingly terrible. We’ll talk about it all in a moment, but first:

SPOILER ALERT… actually, never mind.

There is literally no new information in this book.

Jason monologued all of this stuff in the last issue.

It’s an utterly pointless, useless, boring regurgitation of a comic book.

Carry on.

Before we get to the comic book itself, let’s chat about the cover. Bryan Hitch’s covers for the arc thus far have been a bit bland, to be honest, but this one had me intrigued for a second. I feared that we would get what we got, an issue that was all Jason and no Diana, but the cover showed me otherwise. Teen Diana! Doing some rad Amazon training! That looks fun. Also, there’s Hippolyta with some bad, ancient Greek style bangs; that was less interesting. But teen Diana, that could be cool! Turns out, there is absolutely no teen Diana in this issue. There’s barely any adult Diana. So thanks for that cruel tease. If you haven’t got the book yet and, like me, are too much of a completist to drop Wonder Woman from your pull list even though it’s straight up garbage right now, I suggest you try to get the Justice League variant cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson. You can never go wrong with the Dodsons drawing Wonder Woman.

In terms of the inside of the issue, where to even start? Let’s go with something I’ve mentioned already, the fact that pretty much everything in this issue is information we already knew. Jason blathered on about his life two weeks ago, and nothing here adds to that. It’s even more blatant than the Grail issue from last month, which did basically the same thing but added a fight scene in the middle, at least. We got no real action in this issue, apart from the tease of an upcoming battle with some aquatic creatures because, god help us, this issue was only part one of this redundant exploration of Jason’s past. James Robinson must be laughing all the way to the bank, telling a story in one issue and then retelling that story again two weeks later. The dude is getting two comic books out of one story, and he’s done it twice now. That’s one way to manage the bi-weekly schedule, I suppose.

Another way is to churn out horrendous dialogue and then just leave it, I guess. Because there’s no way any degree of thought or effort was put into Glaucus’ narration of Jason’s tale. It is PAINFUL. So annoyingly folksy, with its countless dropped letters. It’s not his, it’s ‘is. It’s not and, it’s ‘n’. Every ing is an in’. An of is an o’. To is t’. It is so laboured and irksome and, most annoyingly, not even consistent. Robinson replaces the with th’, but only occasionally. Why? There is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s so bad. There are few things that are less enjoyable to read than a bad story poorly narrated. No one needs that double dose of unpleasantness. Then Glaucus just disappears for no good reason apart from some sort of bicentennial migration, because Robinson is putting as much effort into the plot as he is the dialogue.

The book’s one redeeming quality is the art, and even that is frustrating. Emanuela Lupacchino is an excellent penciller, and Ray McCarthy inks her well. And do you know what they’re particularly great at? Drawing Wonder Woman. And do you know what they’ve barely done at all in their last two issues of Wonder Woman? Drawn Wonder Woman. The few panels in which she appears are gorgeous, and they would do an amazing job on an issue that actually had Wonder Woman in it for any length of time. But no, DC’s chosen to waste this talent on some annoying boy that no one cares about. Meanwhile, the artists on the issues Wonder Woman actually does show up in are middling at best. Come on, now.

Finally, in the midst of this truly terrible outing, we’ve also got additional confirmation that Diana is still the daughter of Zeus in current continuity. This was a New 52 development, along with a horrible take on the Amazons, but the “Rebirth” arcs “The Lies” and “The Truth” reset that and erased those Amazons as a fiction crafted by the gods. Greg Rucka and company never addressed Diana’s birth directly, however, and it seems that it remains unchanged. The real Hippolyta also hooked up with Zeus, as this issue shows, and it looks like that’s just going to be the standard origin going forward. It was bound to stick after they used it in the movie and all, but it’s still dumb and antithetical to the very nature of the character.

Ultimately, this issue was very bad indeed and I would suggest buying literally any other comic book instead. There are lots of good ones. Hell, there are lots of bad ones that are still better than this foolishness. You can’t go wrong. Come back to Wonder Woman in four months. After Justice League‘s subpar box office performance, DC’s got to realize that Wonder Woman is their biggest character right now and they’ll put a great team on the book then. Right? I hope so, because what they’re churning out now is just embarrassing.

Justice League Review: It Was Fine, I Guess? Not Good, But Not Awful

November 17, 2017

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Justice League isn’t a terrible movie, and that in itself is a major achievement. Director Zack Snyder’s past two superhero outings were dour, unwieldy affairs that fundamentally misunderstood almost every character who appeared in them. Justice League is a much more conventional movie, leaner and even fun at times. It’s not great by any means. I wouldn’t even say it was good. But I didn’t leave the theater angry, so that’s a plus.

Everyone seems to have learned a few lessons from Wonder Woman, which is the far superior film by leaps and bounds. Justice League is lighter and funnier than its predecessors, though since those films weren’t light or funny in the slightest it really wouldn’t have taken much. But Snyder and his uncredited co-director Joss Whedon appear to be actively trying to set a new tone. There are jokes this time, and considerably less brooding and angst. The team bickers which each other instead of trying to kill each other. People smile sometimes. The success of this new approach is hit and miss, with a lot of corny dialogue and quips, but it’s a far better direction to move the franchise toward than the dark, miserable drama of the past.

In terms of plot, Justice League is a little bit thin. Steppenwolf and his evil plan to terraform the Earth and turn it into a hellscape is pretty standard stuff, and neither he nor his nondescript legion of Parademon minions bring much personality to the movie. Luckily, the good guys are far more endearing and enjoyable to watch. Jason Momoa’s gruff Aquaman is a good time, Ezra Miller’s socially awkward Flash is amusing, and the complicated interpersonal dynamics of bringing a group of very different heroes together for a common cause made for some decent scenes. Everyone is new at this team thing, and several members were new to their powers, so watching them all find their way together makes for an interesting angle. That’s really what the movie is about more so than the possible destruction of the world or how to bring back Superman (SPOILER ALERT: They bring back Superman! I know, I was shocked too).

Between assembling the League and Steppenwolf’s nefarious activities, we get a tour of the franchise as a whole and a peek at where things are going. We stop by Themyscira again, and I missed Patty Jenkins so much. The scenes there highlight that this was a film written, directed, and generally designed by men, as do many of Wonder Woman’s scenes. Nonetheless, the scene is a good reminder of the larger superhero world at play here. As is the visit to Atlantis, peeks into the backstories of the Flash and Cyborg (who was particularly cool; I’m excited to see more of Ray Fisher’s take on him moving forward), and a fun cameo that I won’t spoil. All of this will be fleshed out in solo films to come, and this is a franchise that could grow in interesting ways.

Watching the film, I realized that my main issue above all else was characterization. Having grown up on DC comic books and researched them extensively in my professional life, I feel like I know these characters very well. And as much as Momoa was fun, that wasn’t Aquaman. Ditto for Miller and the Flash. Affleck’s Batman and Cavill’s Superman have been off for multiple films now. No one feels right to me in the way that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman does. She captures the spirit and legacy of Diana so well, in ways that the boys just don’t with their characters. It felt like I was watching Wonder Woman plus a bunch of alternate universe impostors.

In short, while they’ve made an okay movie with the characterizations they’ve decided to go with, it just doesn’t feel like the real Justice League to me. That’s 100% my personal taste, of course. But by not being true to the characters, I found this turn toward the light to be a little bit underwhelming. Composer Danny Elfman even integrated iconic bits of his own 1989 Batman score and John Williams’ Superman theme, which was super clever and cool, and it still didn’t move me because these versions of the characters don’t fit the iconic mold for me. For example, there’s a mid-credits scene with Superman and the Flash that is classic comic book fare and I should have loved it, but because the personalities are so different from my experience of the characters it fell flat. While I appreciated what they were trying to do, it just didn’t land for me in any emotionally resonant way. Meanwhile, I wanted to cheer every time Wonder Woman did anything rad because Gadot’s take on her connects with me so well. With everyone else, I felt a disconnect.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, I enjoyed her role in Justice League for the most part. The franchise painted itself into a corner by having her stay out of the public eye for a century in Batman v Superman, so trying to reconcile that with the engaged, inspirational character we saw in Wonder Woman was a bit awkward but narratively necessary. Her action scenes were excellent, especially her solo outing busting up an attempted bombing; there’s so much bullet deflecting, and it’s glorious. What I enjoyed the most, though, is that she’s the heart and soul of the team. No one particularly likes or trusts each other as the League comes together, but they all respect and admire Wonder Woman. There’s a scene where she and Batman are arguing in front of everyone and she gives him a forceful shove, and the Flash says something along the lines of “If she’d killed you, we would have covered for her.” As much as Batman is the one who works to assemble the team and Superman is set up as some sort of great, inspiring unifier, it’s Wonder Woman who brings them all together.

Another of my favourite ladies, Lois Lane, is in the mix as well, and although she isn’t given much to do, she does have a couple of amazing scenes. When SPOILER ALERT Superman comes back (I still can’t believe it! They pulled the wool over our eyes on that one!), Lois plays a pivotal role in what was the only really emotionally impactful moment in the entire film. Her connection with Superman is shown beautifully, and Adams and Cavill have great chemistry together that really makes for a powerful reunion. I wish that Lois could have had a bigger role, perhaps tracking down a big story or some such, but Adams make the most of the limited screen time she’s given.

Overall, Justice League isn’t awful and I’m glad about that. It’s not good either, and this cinematic universe really isn’t for me apart from Wonder Woman, but there was nothing egregious or terrible about it. I mean, the Amazons should have beaten the hell out of Steppenwolf; they screwed up there. But other than that, it is a run of the mill superhero film that isn’t entirely unpleasant to watch. It’s easily the second best movie from DC’s current superhero line. It’s just far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far behind the first best.

“The Truth About Wonder Woman” on AMC’s Secret History of Comics, Featuring Me!

November 14, 2017

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I was on television last night, gang! With a lot of amazing people, too. AMC has a new documentary series about comic books called Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, with Kirkman’s production company making the show. Last night’s episode was “The Truth About Wonder Woman” and it focused mainly on her early years, particularly William Moulton Marston’s vision for the character and the role Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne played in inspiring and shaping her. Guests included Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins (!!), actual Wonder Woman Lynda Carter (!!!!), and also me:

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So yes, I’ve officially starred in a television show with Lynda Carter now. We never met, but still. I’ll take it.

The other guests were great as well. My pal Travis Langley, who I co-wrote a chapter of Wonder Woman Psychology with, was on it. So were some other historians and writers who I don’t know personally so much but whose work I respect, including Noah Berlatsky, Andy Mangels, Trina Robbins, and Jennifer K. Stuller. Also, Phil Jimenez was in the mix, doing a fantastic job talking about Wonder Woman as always; few comic book creators understand Wonder Woman as well as Phil does. There were a couple of folks I wasn’t familiar with too, plus a member of the Marston family, and actor Michelle Rodriguez for some reason? It was a cool mix, and I was really honoured to be a part of it.

I couldn’t watch much of it because seeing/hearing myself weirds me out so much, but from what I saw they did an excellent job telling the story of Wonder Woman’s creation and explaining what she stood for then and continues to stand for now. The director, Jesse James Miller, had a real love and understanding of Wonder Woman. When I met with him and filmed my interview, he was still pretty new to the project and to Wonder Woman’s history, but he’d really thrown himself into it and had completely grasped not just the meaning of the character but the importance of Elizabeth and Olive behind the scenes. He was committed to being respectful and not salacious in telling their story, and I think he did an excellent job of it here. It was a real pleasure to talk with him and see how he worked.

So yeah, I’m a TV star now, I guess. If you missed the show last night, it’s up on AMC’s website, though I think you might need a cable subscription to sign in? And it looks to be just for Americans. But if you’ve got AMC on your television you should be able to get it, and if you have a pal with AMC it’s probably going to be re-aired a bunch of times over the next few weeks so check the schedule and go visit them maybe? They did a very nice job with the show, plus you can see me wearing my favourite tie!

Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch: January 2018 Solicits: 18 Creators on 18 Books

November 9, 2017

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With their last round of solicits, Marvel Comics closed out the year with only 19 different female creators writing and drawing their substantial line of comic books. And I wrote a column about it, in which I used words like “poor” and “ridiculous” and generally lambasted Marvel’s lack of effort in recruiting and maintaining female and non-binary talent. Rightly so, too. The number was just over half of Marvel’s record high of 37, posted less than a year ago. Now, with a new batch of solicits, Marvel’s dropped down to less than half of that record high. So let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel Comics this January. It won’t take long; it’s a short list:

  • Alitha E. Martinez: X-Men Gold Annual #1 (interior art)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16 (cover)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #86 (writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: All-New Wolverine #29 (cover), Jean Grey #11 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #28 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #26 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #11 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #24 (interior art, cover)
  • Jody Houser: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #15 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Doctor Strange #384 (variant cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: Hawkeye #14 (writer), Rogue & Gambit #1 (writer)
  • Leah Williams: X-Men Gold Annual #1 (co-writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: Captain Marvel #128 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: She-Hulk #161 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #27 (interior art, cover)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #5 (writer)
  • Stephanie Hans: Phoenix Resurrection #3 (variant cover)

All together, there are 18 different female creators set to work on 18 different comic books at Marvel this January, 1 fewer creator than in December though 3 more books. As far as I can tell, no non-binary creators are scheduled to work at Marvel this January. A drop of 1 creator isn’t massive, but given how embarrassingly low Marvel’s numbers were last month, slipping down even further is not a good look. Maybe all this talk about “Legacy” with the publisher’s recent spate of renumbering and relaunches was about going back to the days when only men wrote and drew Marvel’s comic books? Is that the legacy they’re aiming to celebrate here? If so, they’re doing a heck of a job.

In terms of new female creators, we don’t have any. Shocking, I know. Everyone listed above is someone we’ve seen at Marvel before. We do have a couple of old pals we haven’t seen in a while though, with artist Alitha E. Martinez and writer Leah Williams. It’s nice to have past creators return. The only trouble is that they’re both back on an annual, i.e. a one-shot book, and that means that it’s unlikely we’ll see them again in February.

With female characters, we’ve got one new book I’m sure a lot of folks will be excited for: That classic pairing of Rogue & Gambit. Nice job putting Rogue first there, and it’s good to see her in the spotlight again, doubly so with the always excellent Kelly Thompson helming the book. Her Hawkeye has been a dang delight, and I’m expecting more of the same here. Also, Phoenix Resurrection is coming out weekly all through January, so get on that, Jean Grey fans. There’s only one female creator involved across all of these issues, though, with Stephanie Hans doing a variant cover, which is a downer given a) there’s so many issues, and b) there’s a female lead. Fun fact: Avengers is coming out weekly in January as well and there’s not a single female creator solicited on ANY of the issues.

Overall, Marvel still sucks at hiring women and non-binary creators. Like, a lot. Like, the editors should feel bad about themselves for doing such a terrible job at representation. Here’s some interesting news, though: Brian Michael Bendis, Marvel’s most prolific writer over the past two decades, is leaving for DC Comics, and that leaves a huge opportunity for Marvel to bring in some new voices and mix things up with their creator ranks, perhaps with some female and non-binary folks? We’ll see what happens. If their current output is any indication, don’t hold your breath. But you never know.


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