Wonder Woman ’77 #8 Review: “The Cat Came Back, Part 2” by Marc Andreyko and Richard Ortiz

September 3, 2015

ww778

Wonder Woman’s confrontation with the new Cheetah, Barbara Minerva, continues with this week’s issue of Wonder Woman ’77, but it’s a somewhat underwhelming outing. The story goes as we all expected it would after the first issue: the Cheetah attacks Wonder Woman, they fight, and then there’s a cliffhanger ending promising more fighting in the finale next week. The problem is, we’ve seen this before, and I’m not just talking about the formulaic three act structure.

This week’s issue ended with the Cheetah calling on her goddess Mafdet to create a cheetah army for her, and scores of attendees at the museum’s Wonder Woman exhibit got turned into angry cheetah creatures just like Barbara who came after Wonder Woman in the cliffhanger ending. It’s not a bad cliffhanger, really, except for the fact that this is exactly how the second issue of the FIRST arc of Wonder Woman ’77 ended. The Silver Swan mind-controlled the innocent civilians at the disco and sent them after Wonder Woman, just like the Cheetah’s army swarmed her here. The Silver Swan outing was only six issues ago, and it’s disappointing to see Andreyko repeating himself so soon. It all feels a little uninspired.

It’s a pity about the copycat ending, because the issue up until then had been decent enough. Wonder Woman’s speech at her exhibit wasn’t much of a stirring piece of writing, I suppose, but I liked a lot of the Cheetah fight. I particularly enjoyed the moment after Wonder Woman lassoed the Cheetah and she just ran around a pillar a few times, wrapping the lasso around it, and pulled it down, causing Wonder Woman to go stop the building from collapsing while the Cheetah bounded off. That was a nice use of the lasso and a good display of the Cheetah’s nefariousness. But then the ending ruined the whole book for me.

The art didn’t help a lot either. Richard Ortiz had some good moments in this issue, and his Cheetah was fairly decent, but for most of the issue his Wonder Woman didn’t look a whole lot like Lynda Carter. I really don’t understand how DC structures these arcs, because every first issue of a storyline in Wonder Woman ’77 has begun with beautiful, detailed art that allows for rich colours and an overall delightful reading experience. Then the next two have more basic linework, the colours are simpler, the characters look less like the actors, and the whole thing makes for a less enjoyable read. During the last arc a while back, I speculated that perhaps the original artist fell behind schedule and they had to replace him for the next two, but I heard from Jason Badower, the artist of Wonder Woman ’77 #4 who did a spectacular job with that first issue, and he told me that he had only been contracted for that one issue. Why isn’t DC hiring people to draw the full arc? Drew Johnson’s work last week was gorgeous, and this issue suffers by comparison. It seems like an absolutely bizarre way to run things to me.

Overall, this issue was a series of disappointments, really. The few strong moments were countered by a blatantly recycled plotline and a substantial drop off in the quality of the art. I was very excited for this week’s issue after the arc’s solid debut last week, and now after this I’m not particularly looking forward to next week’s conclusion at all. I feel like editorial should have been much sharper here, both in terms of catching the story duplicate and in ensuring consistent art through the arc. A lot of balls were dropped by everyone involved when it came to this issue, it seems. It’s a shame, because this should be such a fun comic book.

Wonder Woman Film Adds Ace Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema

September 2, 2015

wwmovie

The team behind the scenes of the upcoming Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, just keeps getting better and better. The latest addition is cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who not only has a fantastic name but is also quite impressive at his job. Hoytema has worked on films like the creepily wonderful Let The Right One In, the tense Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the quirkily futuristic Her, the epic Interstellar, and the upcoming Bond film, Spectre.

That’s quite a resume, and a very good sign for the Wonder Woman movie because all of those films were shot beautifully and looked great. I know Spectre isn’t out yet, but given how the first few Daniel Craig Bond movies were shot, the cinematography bar has been set high and Hoytema wouldn’t be working on it if he couldn’t meet it. Hoytema has also been nominated for a couple of BAFTAs over the years.

What I like most about Hoytema’s past projects is that they’re all very different. He seems to be a cinematographer who excels at any setting. This should bode well for Wonder Woman, given the many things that should be going on in the movie. There’ll be a variety of settings, from the ancient home of the Amazons to presumably the present day, and perhaps some World War Two scenes if those rumours prove true. There will also be action and a lot of special effects to take into account. With Hoytema’s versatile history, he should be well suited to adapt to all of these situations.

It’s encouraging to see another solid film professional with an interesting body of work added to Wonder Woman. The script will still be key, of course, but given the team they’re building behind the scenes it certainly should look great at least. Filming is reportedly due to begin soon, and rumours are flying about what they’ll be doing and what that means for the story. The latest has them shooting in Italy, perhaps in old ruins for some Amazon scenes or perhaps for some World War Two scenes elsewhere. No one knows, because actual official information has been minimal thus far. At least we know that the film is going to have a cool cinematographer. That’s a good start.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – November 2015 Solicits: 16 Female Creators On 10 Books

September 1, 2015

womenatmarvelNOVEMBER

Marvel really had nowhere to go but up after their dismal showing for female creators in October, and I’m glad to report that their November numbers are better. Far from good, but definitely better. It’s an odd situation indeed when a publisher can nearly double the number of female creators they hire and still remain woefully behind most of their competition. Despite the fact that Marvel’s solicits regularly feature roughly 150-175 different creators, they seem incapable of getting out of the teens when it comes to women. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel this November:

  • Amy Reeder: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 (co-writer, cover)
  • Brittney Williams: Secret Wars Too #1 (unspecified), The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #1 (writer)
  • Helen Chen: Silk #1 (cover)
  • Jenny Frison: Ms. Marvel #1 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Max Ride: Ultimate Flight #1 (writer)
  • Kate Leth: Secret Wars Too #1 (unspecified)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Angela: Queen of Hel #2 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 (interior art), Spider-Woman #1 (variant cover)
  • Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – Lady of Shadows #3 (co-writer)
  • Sara Pichelli: Ms. Marvel #1 (variant cover)
  • Siya Oum: Spider-Woman #1 (variant cover)
  • Stacey Lee: Silk #1 (interior art)
  • Stephanie Hans: Angela: Queen of Hel #2 (interior art, cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Max Ride: Ultimate Flight #1 (cover), Star-Lord #1 (variant cover)

All together, Marvel is scheduled to have 16 different female creators working on 10 different books in November, a big jump from October’s 9 different female creators but, oddly enough, the exact same number of titles. That’s an weird bit of segregation there. So yes, Marvel is much improved from last month in terms of the number of women working for them, but last month was straight up abysmal. Plus, while this is a slightly higher than average month for Marvel, the numbers are still lower than the worst month DC’s had all year. It’s really not an impressive showing.

Moreover, at least a third of the gigs listed above are one-time jobs and the women involved are unlikely to be back in December unless they book another gig. Only 10 of these women have a regular position and are ensured to be back next month. It’s a crapshoot for the rest.

On the plus side, though, there are a lot of new names. Brittney Williams and Kate Leth are in for some comedy fun with Secret Wars Too, and I think that Jody Houser and Natacha Bustos might be new to Marvel as well, both with regular gigs too. It’s always good to see Marvel growing the ranks and expanding their rolodexes. Perhaps someday they’ll hire a bunch of the various women they’ve employed over the year at once instead of spreading them around so much.

November is also a very good month for female characters, as Marvel’s relaunch continues to roll out. Among the women getting new solo titles are Spider-Woman, the all new Wolverine, Moon Girl, Silk, Ms. Marvel, and Thor. Women also play a key part in several team books that are set to debut in November. I should point out that while 6 female characters are launching solo books, so are at least 10 different male characters. Nonetheless, that ratio is one of the better ones we’ve seen.

Overall, Marvel’s set to have one of their more decent months of the year in November, and it’s still not a terribly good showing. They continue to lag behind DC and employ a significant percentage of their female creators in temporary jobs. Things are definitely looking up from last month’s awful numbers, but it will take another leap of a similar size to get Marvel anywhere near a strong number of female creators. In this day and age, if you can’t hire at least 20 different women a month across a massive line of 75 different books, you’re not looking hard enough.

Women At DC Comics Watch – November 2015 Solicits: 24 Female Creators On 23 Books

August 31, 2015

womenatdcNOVEMBER

After four months in which DC’s new, supposedly diverse mini-relaunch resulted in their lowest totals for solicited female creators in some time, October was a step up into the ballpark of DC’s past highs. It wasn’t their best month of the year, but it was considerably better. November looks to be a slight step down for women at DC, but will be a stronger showing for female representation than the first four months of the #DCYou initiative at least. Let’s see who’s doing what in November:

  • Amanda Conner: All-Star Section Eight #6 (cover), Harley Quinn #22 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn and Power Girl #6 (co-writer, cover), Starfire #6 (co-writer, cover)
  • Annie Wu: Black Canary #6 (art and cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Batgirl #46 (interior art)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy #12 (co-writer)
  • Bilquis Evely: DC Comics Bombshells #4 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #5 (interior art)
  • Caitlin Kittredge: Sensation Comics #16 (writer)
  • Chrissie Zullo: Fables: The Wolf Among Us #11 (cover)
  • Corin Howell: Bat-Mite #6 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Starfire #6 (interior art, variant cover), Superman/Wonder Woman #23 (cover)
  • Gail Simone: Clean Room #2 (writer), Secret Six #8 (writer)
  • Genevieve Valentine: Batman and Robin Eternal #7 (writer), Batman and Robin Eternal #8 (writer), Catwoman #45 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Clean Room #2 (cover)
  • Laura Braga: DC Comics Bombshells #5 (interior art)
  • Lauren Beukes: Survivors’ Club #2 (co-writer)
  • Lesley-Anne Green: Bat-Mite #6 (cover)
  • Marguerite Bennett: DC Comics Bombshells #4 (writer), DC Comics Bombshells #5 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: DC Comics Bombshells #4 (interior art)
  • Meghan Hetrick: Red Thorn #1 (interior art)
  • Meredith Finch: Wonder Woman #46 (writer)
  • Ming Doyle: Constantine: The Hellblazer #6 (co-writer)
  • Mirka Andolfo: DC Comics Bombshells #4 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #5 (interior art)
  • Pia Guerra: Black Canary #6 (variant cover)
  • Rachel Dodson: Wonder Woman #46 (variant cover)
  • Tula Lotay: Slash & Burn #1 (cover)

All together, there are 24 different female creators scheduled to work on 23 different comics at DC in November, a drop from October’s 27 different female creators but a slight gain from last month’s 22 different books. The mid-20s is a comparably good range for DC Comics; while they hit the low 30s earlier this year, they’d been stuck in the high teens for a while following the mini-relaunch. They’re capable of a higher number than this, and 24 different women still isn’t a substantial percentage of DC’s entire creative line up, but it’s a decent showing for the publisher.

One good thing about November’s solicits is that a lot of these women have regular gigs at DC. There aren’t a bunch of variant covers or one-shot deals upping the numbers. I’d estimate that close to 20 of these female creators should be back next month on the same books, and that’s good to see. One-time jobs are fun, and a great way to break into a publisher, but it’s nice to see a consistent core of female creators working regularly each month.

November’s not huge for female characters at DC, nor is it big for new books generally. The only new superhero titles are Superman: American Alien and Batman: Europa, both with male leads. Vertigo continues to unveil its new line up with another four titles, and Red Thorn and Slash & Burn both appear to have female leads, as well as some female creators in the mix, while Unfollow seems to be more of an ensemble cast with some female characters. These new books from Vertigo have been decent for women, real and fictional, thus far.

So November looks like it will be a solid month for women at DC. While there are fewer female creators than in October, they’re spread across more books. There are also a few books that are bastions of female representation, most notably DC Comics Bombshells. It double hips in November, and is written and drawn wholly by women apart from the covers. Plus it’s a lot of fun! It’d be nice to see DC’s December solicits tick up so that they can end the year by matching or perhaps topping their past highs, but that will take a sizeable jump. We’ll see what happens when those solicits are released in a few weeks’ time. But for now, November is relatively average for the publisher.

Wonder Woman ’77 #7 Review: “The Cat Came Back, Part 1” by Marc Andreyko and Drew Johnson

August 27, 2015

ww777

No new digital issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman this week can only mean one thing: Wonder Woman ’77 is back! Apparently DC can’t run two digital Wonder Woman titles simultaneously, but whatever. We’ve got more Lynda Carter inspired fun and that’s delightful. I’ve been waiting for these digital issues to start since DC announced a double sized collected print issue for the end of September. I actually expected these to start a lot sooner. We may get six straight weeks of Wonder Woman ’77 now to try to beat the print book, and still the final digital installment would come out after the book’s print date.

Wonder Woman ’77 #7 continues the series’ tradition of bringing Wonder Woman’s classic comic book villains into the world of the television show. Silver Swan and Dr. Psycho were the big bads for the first two arcs, and now we’ve got the Cheetah, arguably Wonder Woman’s most iconic villain. I was a little bit surprised when the book began with Barbara Minerva, because she’s a more modern Cheetah that post-dates the show by a decade or so. Then I remembered that the last arc of Wonder Woman ’77 had Wonder Woman facing hallucinations of several of her villains, including the original Cheetah, Priscilla Rich. A display at a museum’s Wonder Woman event in this issue also included Priscilla Rich’s costume. It seems that in the continuity of this television show inspired universe, Priscilla was the Cheetah originally, before the comic began, and now Barbara is the new Cheetah. Which is cool. The continuity works and they explained it all fairly well. Barbara even exclaimed “Time for a new Cheetah!” after her transformation at the end of the issue.

The book was a fun read, setting up the major conflict that should play out over the next two issues. The most dangerous thing Wonder Woman faces here is a couple of dopey thieves trying to make off with some paintings, and she subdues them quickly with a little lasso work. The bulk of the issue is dedicated to Barbara Minerva, who’s forced to close her museum exhibit to make room for a new Wonder Woman display. She’s irked by this, and when she accidentally pricks herself with an African artifact her anger turns to full on rage as the knife’s magical properties transform her into the Cheetah. Presumably, she and Wonder Woman will duke it out over the next two weeks now.

As far as introductory issues go, this was one was decent. I’m starting to notice a formula for three issue arcs in digital books that’s getting a little bit old, though: introduction issue, build to fight issue, full on fight issue. It’s a formula that works, clearly, but it’s getting stale. The first step is executed well here, and Andreyko has displayed a better feel for writing digital installments with each arc. I just would have liked to see the formula shaken up a bit.

The enjoyable if standard opening was elevated by excellent artwork from Drew Johnson. The issue is really lovely, and Johnson captures Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman beautifully. That’s the key for any issue of this series; everything else is secondary after getting Lynda Carter right. Johnson does a nice job with the Cheetah as well. His page layouts with Barbara’s panels are distinctive, interspersed with African artifacts and cheetahs. He also utilizes some smart techniques to save the full reveal of Barbara’s transformation, which takes place over several pages, until the final page. By zooming in very close on some panels and pulling out wide on others, we get a good sense of what’s happening to her and her progress through the museum, but the final panel unveils the Cheetah in all her glory. And quite nicely too; she looks ferocious.

The book was coloured by Romulo Fajardo Jr., who has a wonderful way with colours. His faces are especially impressive; his colouring almost seems heavy handed, with a lot of different shades and colours in the mix, but he blends everything beautifully and the end result is very striking. This panel in particular, the first appearance of Wonder Woman, is a good example of both Johnson and Fajardo’s fine work:

ww777a

He’s great with texture as well, especially with the old stone of the museum. There’s a lot of great, often subtle stuff going on with the colours throughout the book that combine to make for an enjoyable, immersive reading experience.

All together, this was a very nice first issue to a new arc of Wonder Woman ’77 and I’m excited for more over the next couple of weeks. Plus it’s got a killer Nicola Scott cover, and that’s always a treat. The print issue is scheduled for September 30, so mark your calendars for that if you’re waiting to pick it up on paper.

Wonder Woman Looney Tunes Variant Covers For November 2015

August 26, 2015

Generally speaking, I don’t care for variant covers. They’re a non-sustainable way to boost sales and confusing when you’re looking through the stacks. But I’ve really grown to love DC’s variant cover program because they’ve made a lot of fun choices. Plus, Wonder Woman’s main titles haven’t been particularly good for a while, and more often than not I find the variant covers far more enjoyable than the book itself. Broadly speaking, the variant covers across DC’s line each month are a little hit and miss, but the Wonder Woman ones tend to turn out pretty great.

Case in point, DC’s recently announced Looney Tunes variant line! Coming out this November, the covers for Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman are fantastic. Check out this variant cover for Wonder Woman #46 by Terry and Rachel Dodson:

looneyww46

It’s Wonder Woman dressed as a valkyrie singing “Kill the Wabbit” with Elmer Fudd, from the classic Looney Tunes cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?”. This is literally one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. I want this to be a poster and I want to hang it on my wall. Or maybe buy a hundred and wallpaper my room with it. It’s so cute and hilarious and gorgeously done. You know you’re guaranteed a good Wonder Woman when the Dodsons are involved, but they’ve outdone themselves this time. I absolutely love it.

Karl Kerschl’s cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #23 is also great:

looneysupww23

Much like the Dodsons, Karl Kerschl is a guaranteed good time as well. I love this cover and I don’t even know who the two Looney Tunes characters are. I just adore how he draws Wonder Woman and Superman. Sidenote: How amazing would Karl Kerschl be on a Wonder Woman comic interiors? Anyway, thanks to google I can tell you that the other character on the left if Witch Hazel, but I don’t know much about that green guy. Drop me a note in the comments if you know who he is.

Wonder Woman’s also part of the Justice League #46 cover, by Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, and Warner Animation:

looneyjl46

Yes, that’s Lola Bunny from Space Jam as Wonder Woman. So fun. Also, Looney Tunes are sort of terrible in terms of well known female characters, huh? Lola Bunny is probably their most iconic female character, apart from Tweety’s granny or that cat Pepe le Pew is always harrassing, and she wasn’t created until 1996.

Finally, Wonder Woman is a part of this JLA #6 cover by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi:

looneyjla6

It’s fine, but I like the other ones a lot better. They’re far more clever and fun.

Look for all of these covers this November, and be sure to ask ahead at your local comics retailer if there are any specifics ones you’re keen to pick up!

Wonder Woman’s November 2015 Covers and Solicits

August 25, 2015

November is looking like another busy month for Wonder Woman, with a variety of books that could be a lot of fun. Of course, her main series isn’t great, but the rest of her titles sound intriguing. Yes, even Superman/Wonder Woman. I know, I’m surprised too. So let’s see what Wonder Woman will be up to this November, starting with Wonder Woman #46:

novww46

WONDER WOMAN #46
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH
LOONEY TUNES Variant cover by TERRY DODSON, RACHEL DODSON and Warner Bros. Animation
On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Diana finds herself trapped between Donna Troy and Aegeus in a battle that will redefine the role of the Amazon queen!

I really hope that this isn’t the cover, because it’s not great. Finch has used this style for covers before, though, I think. I seem to recall something like this on one of his Batman books. Anyway, I’m not feeling it.

The solicit is very vague, but also predictable. Since Donna Troy and Aegeus are the two primary side characters in the book’s current arc, it would make sense that things come to a head with the both of them in the mix. This issue is the sixth since the DC mini-relaunch began in June, which often marks the end of an arc, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Usually DC’s previews hype up a big finale more. Perhaps the current story will wrap in December, and maybe in January the book will be onto something new.

Next up, Superman/ Wonder Woman #23:

novsupww

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #23
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
LOONEY TUNES variant cover by KARL KERSCHL and Warner Bros. Animation
On sale NOVEMBER 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Clark Kent must go to extreme measures to try to restore his power, while Diana, Lois and Lana team up to learn exactly who is behind a new threat to Superman!

I’m kind of looking forward to this? Given the book’s track record, this issue could be absolutely terrible. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it sucked. But a team up of Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and Lana Lang has epic fun potential. It’ll be hard to screw up a story with that much awesomeness in the mix. Plus it doesn’t say anything about the overarching “Truth” storyline, which is a good sign, because that whole scene has been uniformly dull thus far. So yeah, this could be cool! I’m mildly optimistic.

Now to Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #16:

novsensation16

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #16
Written by CAITLIN KITTREDGE and JASON BADOWER
Art by SCOTT HAMPTON and JASON BADOWER
Cover by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY
On sale NOVEMBER 4 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The streets of Gotham City are dangerous at night, but not for Diana of Themyscira. When she sees Echidna, Mother of Monsters, attacking a local thug, she jumps into the fray—though she never expected to take Echidna’s side. And stick around as Clark Kent’s exposé “A Day in our Lives” hits the Daily Planet!

This is going to be a really good issue. The Kittredge/Hampton story is creepy but fun, with a good, moody Gotham City and some excellent guest appearances. The Badower story is a well done day in the life of Wonder Woman, with a smart take on Wonder Woman’s approach to avoiding violence. Together, this is one of the better one-two punches in Sensation Comics in a while, and I highly recommend picking it up, even though the Mahnke cover is a little gruesome and doesn’t at all reflect anything inside the book. I really don’t understand how they decide on covers for this series.

Finally, DC Comics Bombshells #5:

novbombshells5

DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #5
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by BILQUIS EVELY, LAURA BRAGA and MIRKA ANDOLFO
Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale NOVEMBER 25 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Shipping twice in November! While Wonder Woman leads an American infantry division in an attack on an Axis battalion, Harley makes a none-too-graceful landing in France, where she encounters a woman with a strange affinity for plants. Plus, Supergirl and Stargirl fly home to protect their parents, only to be attacked by a fearsome forest spirit known as the Swamp Thing.

As the solicit points out, this book is double shipping in November. This issue has Wonder Woman on the cover, though, so that’s the one we care about more. Wonder Woman in the middle of the second World War was fun in the 1940s and it’s still fun now! Plus it sounds like they’re bringing in Poison Ivy, which is very cool. This should be an enjoyable read all around.

Look for all of these comics this November! Though if you’re jonesing for those Sensation Comics stories, you can just read them now digitally at Comixology.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 685 other followers

%d bloggers like this: