Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #42 Review: “Nine Days, Parts 2 and 3″ by Karen Traviss, Andres Guinaldo, and Raúl Fernández

July 23, 2015

sensation44

The three part “Nine Days” wrapped in today’s Sensation Comics, bringing to a close a story that never seemed to find its footing. There was a lot going on, with Strife and Eris, two sides of the same goddess, interfering in diplomatic relations between two hostile, neighbouring countries, with Wonder Woman in the middle trying to negotiate peace. Despite the many factors at play, the results were entirely predictable. The goddess of strife caused strife, the cartoonish leaders of each nation both reacted as you’d expect over one getting oil and not the other, and Wonder Woman literally had to throw them in a room together and make them sort out their differences. Oh, and there was sort of a fight in the middle.

When the reader knows how the broad strokes of a story are going to play out after the first installment, it’s not a particularly enjoyable read. If you’re going to follow an abundantly obvious formula, it better be the best version of that formula ever put to paper, or in this case to the screen, or the reader is going to be bored. We all know that superheroes are going to win in the end; that’s a given. But writers have to set up real stakes beyond that, invest the reader in the outcome of every character, and throw some twists and turns in along the way. “Nine Days” failed to do any of that.

The story’s awkward art only made things worse. It wasn’t terrible, but things never looked quite right to the point that it became a constant distraction, especially with Wonder Woman. For example, Guinaldo and Fernandez gave Diana oddly shaped glasses that never seemed to sit properly on her face. As Wonder Woman, her bangs shot off at odd angles in a way that gave her a bit of a mullet vibe. Little things like this added up to make the art an unpleasant reading experience. Combined with the obtrusive narration and a hit and miss colouring job, the book left a lot to be desired, visually.

I don’t want to keep going on about how this was a badly put together story because it’s not bad in an offensive way, just subpar across the board, so it’s nothing worth getting worked up over. I don’t really have anything nice to say about it, so I’m just not going to say anything more. The full story will be out in print form in September, so if you didn’t read it digitally, check out the book and see if you agree or disagree with my assessment! Sensation Comics will be back with a new storyline next week with what looks to be an Earth 3 crossover, the evil Superwoman vs. our favourite Amazon.

Wonder Woman #42 Review OR It’s Got A Dang Pegasus In It And It’s Still Not Very Good

July 22, 2015

ww42a

Remember when Wonder Woman Annual #1 came out and it wasn’t terrible, and I was mildly optimistic that the Finches’ second arc might be not too bad? Well, that optimism was ill placed. We’re two issues in and while this new arc isn’t as aggressively terrible as the first, it doesn’t have a lot going for it. It’s traded being offensively bad for just being boring, which isn’t much better. The Finches have fixed a lot of the problems of the first arc; the Justice League isn’t around, Wonder Woman isn’t complaining all the time, and she isn’t drawn like a sexy adolescent anymore. But the poor storytelling remains, and that’s really the most important element. Let’s discuss the issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS that happen in this comic!

If you haven’t read it, turn away!

Okay, carrying on. We’ve got a couple of new developments in this issue. The first ten pages are devoted to Diana and Hessia living it up at a dance club and Diana then chasing that new dude who’s trying to kill her through London. Nothing actually happens; the dude tries to kill her, misses, and ultimately gets away. He rides a pegasus, which is pretty rad, I suppose.

SIDENOTE: Pegasus is the classic winged horse, but I don’t know if this is THE Pegasus or another winged horse, or if we call all winged horses pegasuses or just Pegasus. I’m going to go with calling it a pegasus for now, and you can correct me in the comments if I’m wrong.

Anyway, not a lot goes on in the first half of the issue, but then we get a flashback and learn that the mysterious would-be assassin is Aegeus, a descendant of Thesus and thus Poseidon, and he’s trying to claim what he thinks is his rightful place as a god. We still don’t know who he’s working with, but there are hints that it might be Strife. Speaking of Strife, she shows up a little later to free Donna Troy after Wonder Woman has a long and boring conversation with her imprisoned sister about forgiving herself. Strife convinces Donna to go see the Fates.

And that’s about all that happens. In terms of changes from where we were at the end of last month’s issue, Wonder Woman knows Aegeus is after her, we know Aegeus’ backstory, and Donna Troy is free.

Rather than dig into various aspects of a story I don’t particularly care about, I’m going to focus on one scene to try to articulate why I find this comic so bland. It’s the opening scene, with Diana and Hessia at a dance club. When I posted the preview for this issue on Monday, I talked a bit about the cliché of the woman who’s harassed by a guy and then decks her harasser. It’s been done a bunch of times, with diminishing returns, and this is one of the most clichéd versions I’ve seen. The actual scene in the book is longer than the preview, with the dude hitting on Diana for a page beforehand and Diana clearly stating she’s not interested. The guy is a walking caricature, Diana’s reaction is exactly what you’d expect, and her speech afterwards aims for empowered anger but just reads as tacky. I understand what Meredith Finch was going for here, but it all just comes off as stale.

Apart from the harassment bit, the writing in the scene feels incredibly flat on several levels. There are more clichés with Diana spouting the usual “This was just what I needed”, dancing her troubles away line that you can see in pretty much any scene sat at a dance club in any form of media. Moreover, the club is in London, and you can’t tell at all. Nothing captures the locale in the slightest. I’m not saying that there should be Union Jacks everywhere and that Diana’s fellow dancers should be talking about tea and crumpets and the queen, but there should be some sense of setting and instead there’s none. It’s all just generic. In Azzarello and Chiang’s run, when Diana needed to blow off steam she went to a punk club. It had atmosphere and a sense of place and said something about the character. Meanwhile, this scene is just completely nondescript.

The art doesn’t help matters. David Finch dresses Diana and Hessia in generic club dresses. There are no designs, no textures, nothing unique about them. They are a red and a grey dress of the same construction. Also, Diana’s only got one move: hands in the air, hips sticking out to one side or another. She does it over and over. Plus there are actual music notes in the background to let the reader know that music is playing:

ww42generic

It is all so very bland and nonspecific. Finch is not good at investing clothing and settings with any kind of mood or characterization. Because of this, he fails to set a scene properly, and also fails to communicate anything about the character and who she is through his art. This scene is like the clip art version of a dance club, everything boiled down to a simple, dull, non-detailed version of things.

I suppose we should be thankful that Finch didn’t try to come up with more creative outfits for Diana and Hessia, because he does so for Hera later in the issue and the result is a belly top and a loin cloth. It’s not great. His Zola is much improved, though! I’ll give him credit for that. He’s got her back in plaid and looking a bit more like herself.

Ultimately, this hopelessly bland and generic club scene is indicative of the Finches’ run as a whole. They’re not investing the characters with unique attributes that make them more than cardboard cutouts, and they’re not putting them in situations that speak to who they are in some way. Plus, they’re spending four pages on a clichéd dance club scene that really adds nothing to the book when they’ve got a dang pegasus in the mix. Pegasuses are SO COOL. How do you not have four pages of rad pegasus fun instead?

I feel like everyone in this book needs to push a little more. Dig into each scene, figure out why it’s in the book, what it’s saying about the characters, how you can bring out a bit more of everyone, add some excitement to the book, or do something unexpected. It all just feels boringly surface level and shallow, without much thought put into it. A pointless club scene, unfruitful chase, hints of backstory, and a moderately shocking ending is a really dull formula, doubly so when poorly executed. It’s hard to get invested in a book when there’s so little to get invested in.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – October 2015 Solicits: A Rough Month, With 9 Different Female Creators On 10 Different Books

July 21, 2015

womenatmarvelOCT

It’s never a smart idea to brand something as “All New, All Different” and then deliver so much of the same old. Marvel’s relaunch (but don’t call it’s a relaunch; they don’t like that) starts rolling out in October with a bunch of new books, and October also happens to have Marvel’s lowest number of female creators in some time. Marvel hasn’t had the strongest 2015 thus far, and they’ve been regularly thumped by DC, but at least the number of women has been in the double digits for a while, if just barely some months. They couldn’t even hit that low bar this month. Let’s see who’s doing what at Marvel in October:

  • Annie Wu: Angela: Queen of Hel #1 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: Doctor Strange #1 (variant cover), The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (art and cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Avengers #0 (co-writer), Ms. Marvel #19 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #4 (writer), Angela: Queen of Hel #1 (writer)
  • Nik Virella: 1872 #4 (interior art)
  • Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – Lady of Shadows #2 (co-writer)
  • Sara Pichelli: Invincible Iron Man #1 (variant cover), Secret Wars #8 (variant cover)
  • Stephanie Hans: 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #4 (art and cover), Angela: Queen of Hel #1 (art, variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Invincible Iron Man #1 (variant cover)

All together, there are 9 different women set to work on 10 different comics this October, a definite step down from September’s 13 and 11. That’s really not a lot of ladies, despite a slew of new titles, and while I realize that more titles are coming and there might be more female creators in the mix, it doesn’t change the fact that Marvel’s done an embarrassingly poor job at female representation in this, the first month of their “All New, All Different” line.

Furthermore, a lot of the gigs listed above are one-time jobs. There are six variant covers up there; that’s not steady work. Avengers #0 is a one-shot, and 1602 With Hunter Angela is done in October, with basically the same creative team launching Angela: Queen of Hel. So it’s great that Marguerite Bennett and Stephanie Hans are sticking around, but their multiple credits this month will go down to just one credit each in November unless they land more jobs. Marvel’s posted some very low numbers, and they’re not even sustainable. They’re going to need an influx of ladies doing more just to maintain their paltry total next month.

It is, however, a good month for female characters. Several of the new series star women, including books headlined by Angela (now the queen of Hel, it seems), a new female Blade, Spider-Gwen, and Squirrel Girl. More will be coming next month, I’m sure. Several other female-led books have been announced but aren’t yet on the schedule.

Ultimately, it’s 2015, gang. If a massive publisher like Marvel with 70 or so books and well over 150 different creators can’t hire at least 10 female creators, they’re just not trying hard enough. There are so many talented women doing amazing work in this industry right now. It’s not hard to find great female cretors. Marvel’s usual response to a lack of diversity is to point out that there’s more coming, and that’s all well and good, but tomorrow is not today. And today, these numbers are rough. It’s even worse because it’s their big relaunch month. At a time when all eyes will be on Marvel, female creators will be few and far between. Not cool, Marvel. Sort of shameful, Marvel. Get it together, Marvel.

Wonder Woman #42 Preview OR It’s 11:30 and the Club is Jumpin’, Jumpin’

July 20, 2015

I almost made the subtitle for this post the entirety of Destiny’s Child “Jumpin’, Jumpin'”, but that seemed a bit excessive. It is, however, a fun and enjoyable jam, unlike Meredith and David Finch’s plodding Wonder Woman run thus far. I was hoping they’d return after the “Convergence” break with something fresh and moderately interesting, but last month’s issue was a real dud, with an ugly costume thrown in the mix too. Wonder Woman #42, out this Wednesday, picks up with that weird dude from June’s issue who is trying to kill Wonder Woman. Unsurprisingly, it’s not going well for him. But first, the club! Here’s a preview, courtesy of Comicbook.com:

ww42a

ww42b ww42c ww42d ww42e ww42f

First off, why is Wonder Woman saying “Hi yah”? That’s an Asian martial arts thing, and she was trained in Amazon fighting styles. It just doesn’t seem like something Wonder Woman would say. Unless they were going for a Miss Piggy reference, in which case, cool beans.

Second, this club scene is not great. I understand what they’re going for here, sticking it to sexist dudes as some kind of empowering moment where the audience can cheer, but it’s all just so cliché. A guy harasses a girl and she beats him up? Seen it. So many times. Plus the guy is such a caricature, and Meredith Finch doesn’t have a good enough handle writing Wonder Woman to not make her follow up speech not read like an after school special. I appreciate what they’re trying to do here, but it doesn’t work well. Plus Azzarello JUST did this a little while ago, when Wonder Woman almost ripped Orion’s balls off.

Anyway, the rest of the issue is that dude from last issue trying to kill Wonder Woman and missing. I mean, a bow and arrow from that distance? That’s bound to go wrong, mysterious dude. And now Wonder Woman’s going to kick your ass.   There’s a lot of book left after this preview, so I doubt that scintillating conflict will play out over the whole of it. I’m expecting some Donna Troy stuff in there too, and maybe more background on this dude and who he’s working with. The Finches have talked about that a bit in interviews, but I won’t spoil it here until it’s officially out there in the comics.

Look for Wonder Woman #42 in comic shops everywhere and online this Wednesday! Or, as I suggested with Superman/Wonder Woman last week, just buy Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #12, which is also out on Wednesday. It’s got some GREAT stuff in it. The Poison Ivy team up is really good.

Women At DC Comics Watch – October 2015 Solicits: 27 Different Female Creators On 22 Different Books

July 16, 2015

womenatdcOCT

DC’s track record with female creators since their #DCYou mini-relaunch has been odd. On the one hand, they’ve topped Marvel every month thus far, but on the other hand they’ve been far below their pre-#DCYou numbers for female creators for four straight months, and by a considerable margin. It’s not been an impressive run; going backwards is never good, and hiring more women than Marvel really isn’t that hard to do. But now, finally, five months into their mini-relaunch, DC has a list of female creators that that is comparable to where they were for the first half of 2015. Let’s see who’s doing what in October:

  • Amanda Conner: All-Star Section Eight #5 (cover), Harley Quinn #21 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn and Power Girl #5 (co-writer, cover), Starfire #5 (co-writer, cover)
  • Annie Wu: Black Canary #5 (cover)
  • Asher Powell: Vertigo SFX #3 (unspecified)
  • Babs Tarr: Batgirl #45 (interior art, cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy #11 (co-writer)
  • Carla Speed McNeil: Sensation Comics #15 (writer, interior art)
  • Cat Staggs: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #2 (interior art)
  • Chrissie Zullo: Fables: The Wolf Among Us #10 (cover)
  • Claire Wendling: Wonder Woman #45 (variant cover)
  • Corin Howell: Bat-Mite #5 (interior art, cover)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Starfire #5 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Clean Room #1 (writer), Secret Six #7 (writer)
  • Genevieve Valentine: Catwoman #45 (writer)
  • Jen Wang: Vertigo SFX #3 (unspecified)
  • Jenny Frison: Clean Room #1 (cover), Grayson #13 (variant cover), Sensation Comics #15 (cover)
  • Kate Leth: DC Comics Bombshells #3 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: DC Comics Bombshells #3 (interior art)
  • Lauren Beukes: Survivors Club #1 (co-writer)
  • Lea Hernandez: Teen Titans Go! #12 (interior art)
  • Marguerite Bennett: DC Comics Bombshells #3 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: DC Comics Bombshells #3 (interior art)
  • Meredith Finch: Wonder Woman #45 (writer)
  • Ming Doyle: Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 (co-writer, interior art), Vertigo SFX #3 (unspecified)
  • Nicola Scott: Wonder Woman ’77 Special #2 (cover)
  • Pia Guerra: Black Canary #5 (interior art)
  • Ricken: Teen Titans #13 (interior art)
  • Vanesa Del Rey: Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 (interior art)

All together, there are 27 different female creators set to work on 22 different comics in October, a big jump from September’s 19 and 16 and DC’s best month for female creator representation since April. It’s a huge improvement for DC, though still below their best. As always, there remains lots of room for growth.

Plus, there are a lot of one-time gigs here. I’d estimate that at least 7 of these women aren’t likely to be back next month. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s fantastic they’re getting work in October; it just means that DC’s going to have to step it up to keep their numbers from nosediving in November.

However, there are a lot of new names, and that’s always encouraging. I don’t think I’ve seen Asher Powell or Jen Wang at DC before; they’re both on a Vertigo special. This might be Claire Wendling’s first DC gig as well. My pal Kate Leth is doing a variant cover for DC Comics Bombshells, so that’s all kinds of rad! And Jenny Frison and Nicola Scott are back at DC to drop some fun cover art.

In terms of female characters, a few are starring in new books. Cassandra Cain is coming back in Batman and Robin Eternal, there look to be a few gals in the new Titans Hunt series, and an alternate universe Lois Lane headlines Superman: Lois & Clark, though DC is still hurting for a kick ass Lois Lane solo series. I mean, seriously. Get on that, DC. There are also scores of other new books that don’t feature women at all, real or fictional, including six “Darkseid War” one-shots all starring male characters written and drawn by male creators. So that’s not great.

Ultimately, October is looking decent for female creators in what is hopefully a return to form for a slumping DC. November will tell us whether this is an aberration or a new trend, but for now it’s nice to see DC well out of the teens again with a plethora of great female creators across their titles. Things could be a bit better for female characters, but there’s something at least. Here’s hoping for continued growth next month.

Wonder Woman’s October 2015 Covers and Solicits, Plus Monster Variants

July 15, 2015

October is looking like another busy month for our favourite Amazon, with all of the usual fun plus a returning special I’m very much looking forward to. DC is also doing monster themed variants for many of their titles, just like they did in October last year. It’s good Halloween fun, and two of Wonder Woman’s titles will be part of the line. So let’s see what Wonder Woman will be up to in October!

First up, Wonder Woman #45:

octww45a

octww45b

WONDER WOMAN #45
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by DAVID FINCH and JONATHAN GLAPION
Cover by DAVID FINCH
Monsters Variant cover by CLAIRE WENDLING
On sale OCTOBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
With the Fates dead and Donna Troy still on the run, Wonder Woman must confront the sins of her past and a new, growing threat that’s closing in on the Queen of the Amazons!

I don’t imagine that the Finch cover is actually the final cover, but you never know. It just looks like a panel, and those blue bars don’t look great. I’m not sure whether Claire Wendling’s variant is the final cover or just a sketch either, but I’m super into it. I hope it is the final cover; I like the rougher aspects of it.

Anyway, the Finches carry on with their uninspired tenure on Wonder Woman. Apparently the Fates are dead. Thanks for the spoiler alert, because they haven’t even shown up in the comic yet. Also, Donna Troy hasn’t broken out of prison in the comics that have been published so far, but several solicits have told us she’s going to. You almost don’t have to read the comics, really. Just follow along with the solicits and you’ll get all the highlights.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #22:

octswwa

octswwb

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #22
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by CARY NORD
Monsters variant cover by J.P. LEON
On sale OCTOBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Following a shocking betrayal, Kal has lost faith in justice. Now, he’s embarking on a dangerous quest to restore his powers, while Wonder Woman makes unexpected allies of Lois Lane and Lana Lang.

The insides of this series have never done anything for me, but what I do love is it’s proud tradition of excellent variant covers. This one by John Paul Leon is fantastic. It’s a great idea for the monster theme, and is just all sorts of gorgeous. I’ll be glad to put this with my collection of Superman/Wonder Woman issues I’ll never read again but I keep to enjoy the lovely covers.

Man, Superman is really out of sorts, eh? Losing his faith in justice?! That’s a third of what he stands for! In theory I’m excited for a Wonder Woman/Lois/Lana team up, but being familiar with the quality of this book I’m not overly optimistic that it will go well.

We’ve also got Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #15:

octsensation15

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #15
Written by ADAM BEECHEN and CARLA SPEED McNEIL
Art by JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ, KEVIN NOWLAN, SCOTT HANNA and CARLA SPEED McNEIL
Cover by JENNY FRISON
On sale OCTOBER 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
In “Our Little Dance,” when the well-meaning members of Debbi Domaine’s family argue that Cheetah needs rehabilitation more than incarceration, Wonder Woman is dragged into court! And Diana teaches a young thug a lesson about how having a pet forces you to train “Both Ends of the Leash.”

To be honest with you all, I wasn’t a big fan of either of these stories when they came out digitally, but I do love this cover. It’s lovely work by Jenny Frison, and will look amazing on the stands. The stories inside are pretty average, but neither of them are bad. They’re also very different stories, so chances are you might find something you’ll like.

Finally, Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman is back with Wonder Woman ’77 Special #2:

octwwspecial2

WONDER WOMAN ‘77 SPECIAL #2
Written by MARC ANDREYKO
Art by CAT STAGGS, RICHARD ORTIZ, DREW JOHNSON and JASON BADOWER
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
RETROSOLICIT • On sale SEPTEMBER 30 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Get ready for three new stories based on the classic television series starring Lynda Carter! A scientist who is intensely jealous of Wonder Woman becomes empowered by an ancient artifact and Cheetah is born! A woman with the powers of both fire and ice seeks revenge against a corrupt politician. And, Halloween finds the princess up against an undead adversary.

So many stories! Plus the Cheetah and zombies, presumably. This should be a fun book. None of the stories have been released digitally yet, though I anticipate that they’ll be out soon. That’s a great lineup of artists, and Marc Andreyko did a fine job with the first few Wonder Woman ’77 stories so I’m glad to have him back. Nicola Scott’s cover looks fantastic as well. This will actually be out at the end of September instead of October, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

There’s a lot of Wonder Woman fun to be had this fall, and a lot of great covers. Remember to ask your local comic shop ahead of time if you’re keen to get a variant cover; they can go quickly.

Wonder Woman’s June Sales Are Flat Despite #DCYou Push

July 14, 2015

juneww

The sales numbers for June are out, and DC Comics can’t be thrilled with the results. They’ve been talking up their June mini-relaunch for months, with their slew of new titles and dramatic changes to returning books. They started a hashtag, #DCYou, and had commercials and everything. The result? They got trounced. Marvel accounted for 43% of the comics sold in June, and DC only had 28%. Their share of overall dollars was even lower, coming in at 25%. The numbers were comparable to May, when Marvel was boosted by a huge push for Secret Wars #1. To top DC so handily in June without such a push is a surprising turn of events, and must be a blow for everyone at DC.

In the midst of DC’s middling month, Wonder Woman didn’t fare particularly well. Meredith and David Finch returned with two issues, and the first was Wonder Woman Annual #1, the conclusion to their first arc. It sold only 29,189 copies, down 35% from the 45,172 copies Wonder Woman #40 sold in April. The first issue of their new arc performed better than the annual, but didn’t move many more books than they did in April; Wonder Woman #41 sold 45,284 copies, a gain of just 0.25%.

Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke were back on Superman/Wonder Woman with similarly unimpressive results. After Superman/Wonder Woman #17 sold 39,868 copies in April, Superman/Wonder Woman #18 returned in June to sell 39,787 copies, a drop of 0.2%.

The changes for both series were negligible, but several of the DC books around the Wonder Woman titles on the chart showed decent improvements. The Flash rose 7.5%, Green Lantern was up 8%, and Action Comics, buoyed by the “Truth” storyline jumped 15.4%. Superman/Wonder Woman is part of “Truth” as well, but saw no gains whatsoever. Also, much like Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, those three titles had the same creative teams return to the book, so there was no big creative shift to inspire their gains.

The first month of a big, new initiative is always tricky. Some books will be over-ordered, some under. It’s hard for shops to gauge what readers will want, and we may well see higher numbers for both Wonder Woman titles in July. But at first glance, both books had a poor showing. No real gains despite all the hullabaloo about Wonder Woman’s new costume in Wonder Woman and the “Truth” storyline in Superman/Wonder Woman makes for a weak debut. While the July numbers will really tell the tale, the June numbers are looking rough.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 676 other followers

%d bloggers like this: