Wonder Woman #23: The Truth is Finally Revealed

May 24, 2017

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With Greg Rucka’s time writing Wonder Woman nearing its end, all of the threads are starting to come together now. This week was the finale of “The Truth,” then we’ve got an annual next week, the finale of “Godwatch” two weeks later, and then one last issue that wraps everything up in Wonder Woman #25 two weeks after that. So basically, we’re a month away from the conclusion of one of the best Wonder Woman runs ever. It’s sad, but at the same time it’s always felt like a story that has a definite end. There were questions to be answered, and now that we’re getting the answers it’s clear that things will wrap up in a satisfying way that adds fascinating new dimensions to the Wonder Woman mythos. We’ll dig into the finale of “The Truth” momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss EVERYTHING that happens in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Wonder Woman #21 left us somewhat puzzled. The issue ended with Wonder Woman and Veronica Cale finding Ares, but he didn’t at all seem like the Ares we’d encountered in “Year One.” That first Ares was all angry bluster, decked out in armor while talking in fiery proclamations and demanding respect and obedience. This new Ares just looked like a pretty chill, friendly dude, so what was up? That mystery, and several others, were solved with this issue.

We quickly learned that the first Ares was Phobos and Deimos impersonating their father, and that the second Ares was the true Ares, who’d been imprisoned beneath Themyscira all along. After he was consumed by war and driven mad, Aphrodite had locked up Ares in chains forged by Hephaestus and tasked the Amazons with watching over his prison. This was the first step in what became “The Lies,” or Diana’s false memories of her home after she left Themyscira; the location of Ares’ prison was such an important secret that the gods not only wiped away all memories of her true home but also created a false reality lest she seek to understand the hole in her memory. Ensuring that Ares was never freed again was paramount, and keeping the location of Themyscira hidden was key to that, thus the deception.

But Wonder Woman isn’t a normal mortal, so of course she eventually realized that something was up. I like that despite all of the gods working together to create this elaborate ruse, Wonder Woman still found the truth. The gods feared her strength of purpose from the beginning and did their damnedest to keep her in the dark, and even against these odds she figured it out. Or, in short, nevertheless she persisted. Sounds like Diana to me.

The revelations in this issue brought everything from the past year of Wonder Woman together tremendously well, and looking back we can see Rucka’s full plan unfolding. The truth behind the lies was a clever, intricately plotted mystery, and I can appreciate why it took so long to finally get the answers we were so hungry for when the book began. All four arcs weave together to get us to this point where finally everything makes sense. It was very well executed and smartly done, but beyond all of that it’s a conclusion that pays respect to Wonder Woman’s history and sets her on a new path that embraces key elements of her past.

With Ares’s imprisonment and Wonder Woman’s handling of Phobos and Deimos, we see the Marston era’s focus on love and submission. Ares didn’t find peace through the binding of some magical chains; he found it through Aphrodite and her ability to see through his madness and love his true self. So too did love help Wonder Woman, as her compassion and forgiveness allowed her to overpower Phobos and Deimos, the embodiments of terror and panic. They came expecting a fight, and instead found an acceptance that they’d never known, which overwhelmed them and eventually freed them. And, just like their father wearing Aphrodite’s chains, this freedom came through binding, via the lasso in this instance.

Meanwhile, the notion of Themyscira as a gateway and the Amazons as its guardians dates back to the Perez era. Liam Sharp underscored this reference when he drew the Amazons coming out of the water, just as they were created in the second Wonder Woman #1 way back in 1987. Both Nicola Scott’s and Sharp’s take on Ares were clearly inspired by Perez’s designs as well, and we can see similar touchstones with both of their takes on the Amazons.

So we can see the Marston and see the Perez, yet at the same time this take on Wonder Woman is something new as well. Rucka’s borrowed old elements and reshaped them into a new status quo for Wonder Woman, the Amazons, and the mythos as a whole. We’ve still got a few issues to go, but at present it looks like the Amazons will remain separate and hidden from the outside world to keep Ares at bay. Phobos and Deimos may be defeated, but there is no shortage of fools who wish to unleash war upon the world. If the interaction between Diana and Hippolyta at the end of the issue is the last we see of them together for some time, it’s a heartbreaking and powerful moment to close on.

And yet, there is hope. Because she was split between our world and Ares’ prison, Veronica’s daughter Izzy can’t re-enter the world. But since Themyscira is connected to Ares’ prison, she can live there among the Amazons. The daughter of Wonder Woman’s greatest enemy living with her family when she can’t is a brilliant stroke on several levels: On the one hand, she has what Wonder Woman desires most, but on the other hand she’ll be away from her mother and raised by her mother’s nemesis’ family. It’s a move that stings both Wonder Woman and Veronica, yet at the same time one they seem to know is for the best. Wonder Woman knows that Themyscira must stay hidden, and it seems that Veronica knows that perhaps she’s not the best influence. Furthermore, having a human girl among the Amazons maintains a link to the outside world, one that could conceivably lead to a larger reconnection some day.

Overall, Rucka and Sharp have wrapped up “The Truth” very well and explained the major mysteries behind their run on Wonder Woman in an excellent fashion. There’s still a lot of story left to tell here, but the core question of the run has been solved in a clever, satisfying manner. I’m curious to see how everything shakes out over the next few issues before this run concludes. If this issue is any indication, Rucka and his fine artists will stick the landing nicely.

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Three: Pop Stars, Heists, and Wonder Woman

May 22, 2017

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My upcoming book, The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, will be out on July 1, and in advance of its publication I’ve been posting memorable moments from Catwoman’s history over on Tumblr. They’re all randomly assorted and run the gamut of her many appearances across various media over the years, and go up once a day, Monday to Friday. It’s a fun, bizarre assortment of stuff, and offers a look inside all of the interesting things that will be covered in the book.

Last week, the five moments we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite moment of the week! As you can see at the top of the post, it’s Catwoman facing off against a depowered Wonder Woman during her mod Diana Prince era in Wonder Woman #201 in July/August 1972. It was an odd time for both characters; the mod era was a well-intentioned but poorly executed attempt to make Wonder Woman a more relevant character, while Catwoman had been largely benched at this point after the collapse of Batmania in the late 1960s as DC moved away from the villains associated with the TV show. So the duo ended up paired together in the mountains of Eastern Asia, both of them looking for the same artifact and ultimately pitted against each other in a fight to the death after they were captured. But they decided to work together, freeing themselves from their perilous position over the fire pit and defeating their captors before heading off into a different dimension to rescue a friend of Diana’s.

You can check out all of the Catwoman moments here, and follow along for even more Catwoman fun in the weeks to come! The Many Lives of Catwoman, is coming soon, so be sure to pre-order it now!

Women at Marvel Comics Watch – July 2017 Solicits, 24 Women on 22 Books

May 19, 2017

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Marvel has more female creators in their solicits for the second straight month, but by the smallest amount possible. They gained one with the last round, and are up one more with the July solicits, in what can only be called progress-ish. Especially since the numbers remain far, far below their recent highs; since posting 37 different female creators in their March solicits, Marvel has yet to break out of the low 20s. It’s not been a great run. So let’s see who’s doing what at Marvel in July:

  • Amy Chu: Secret Empire: Brave New World #4 (co-writer)
  • Becky Cloonan: The Punisher #14 (writer)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #4 (writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: Captain America: Sam Wilson #24 (cover), The Mighty Captain Marvel #7 (cover)
  • Elsa Charretier: The Unstoppable Wasp #7 (cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #22 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #20 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #5 (co-writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #18 (interior art, cover)
  • Irene Strychalski: Edge of Venomverse #2 (interior art)
  • Jen Bartel: America #5 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #4 (writer)
  • June Brigman: Jean Grey #4 (variant cover)
  • Kamome Kamiyama: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 (cover), Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10 (cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: America #5 (co-writer), Hawkeye #8 (writer)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Secret Empire: Brave New World #3 (co-writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Mighty Captain Marvel #7 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Hulk #8 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #21 (interior art, cover)
  • Paulina Ganucheau: Star Wars: Poe Dameron #17 (variant cover)
  • Sara Pichelli: Spider-Men II #1 (cover, interior art)
  • Veronica Fish: The Unstoppable Wasp #7 (interior art)
  • Yusaku Komiyama: Zombies Assemble #4 (writer, interior art)

All together, there are 24 different female creators scheduled to work on 22 different books in July, 1 more woman than in June but 4 fewer books. The decline in books in unfortunate; there aren’t a ton of women working at Marvel to begin with, and putting them on fewer titles is a double whammy against representation at the publisher. And the creator numbers are just flummoxing. Marvel was solidly in the 30s for some time just a few months back, and now they’re employing women at about 2/3 the rate they’ve shown they are capable of. It’s bizarre.

In terms of new names at Marvel, I think that Magdalene Visaggio is the only brand new entry set for July. She’ll be writing a story in Secret Empire: Brave New World #4, which could bode well for future work. Marvel often likes to start new folks on a shorter story as a test run to see if they might be a good fit for bigger gigs. We’ve also got the return of a few people who we haven’t seen a while, including Amy Chu, Irene Strychalski, and Veronica Fish.

There aren’t many new series set for July, but one new team book looks to have a decent female presence. The new Astonishing X-Men is set to star Mystique, Psylocke, and Rogue, alongside a bunch of dudes I’ve already forgotten. Everything else new is male-centric, including a double dose of Spider-Mans with Spider-Men II and yet another Deadpool mini-series.

All together, July looks to be yet another month of underperformance from Marvel. The publisher hasn’t had more than 24 different female creators in the mix since their record-setting March numbers, and few new permanent gigs for women have been added since then. Marvel’s capable of much higher numbers than they’ve been posting as of late, and it might be a little while until things change. Perhaps post-Secret Empire we’ll get a new run of books with some new names in the mix, but for now things are flat.

Cat Grant, President Marsdin, and Elizabeth Holloway Marston All Went to the Same College

May 16, 2017

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Last night’s Supergirl was one of the best episodes of the year, in no small part due to Lynda Carter guest starring as President Marsdin and the long awaited return of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. They even got to share the screen together before the Daxamite queen Rhea, played by Teri Hatcher, shot Air Force One out of the sky. Luckily Supergirl was there to save Cat, and the President was able to save herself when she revealed that she was actually an alien. It was all a lot of fun; one of the things that makes Supergirl special is its depth of amazing female characters, both heroes and villains, and they were out in full force last night.

After the plane crash, everyone was wondering how Cat Grant got on the plane in the first place. It turns out that she was old friends with the president, and that they’d gone to college together. Marsdin was her RA in the dorms of Radcliffe College, and that choice of university is a very fitting one.

Supergirl has been making sly references to the history of Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter’s President Marsdin, and fittingly so. When you’ve got Lynda Carter on board, you’ve got to have some Wonder Woman fun! Her name seems to be a double reference: Marsdin is reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, while Olivia appears to reference Olive Byrne, Marston’s partner and a major inspiration for Wonder Woman. With tonight’s episode, we got a shout out to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, the third member of the Marstons’ polyamorous relationship, co-inspiration for Wonder Woman, and a graduate of Radcliffe College.

Having already earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from Boston University, Elizabeth went to Radcliffe College in 1919 to get a master’s degree in psychology. At the time, Radcliffe was a women’s college; women weren’t yet allowed to attend Harvard itself, so Radcliffe was Harvard’s sister school. While at Radcliffe, Elizabeth worked with her husband researching systolic blood pressure and helped create the lie detector test, and eventually graduated in 1921 with her third degree.

Having Cat Grant and President Marsdin go to Radcliffe too is a delightful deep cut reference to Wonder Woman’s history, and that the writers at Supergirl took the time to make it speaks of their respect not just for their titular character but for Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman, and the women of the superhero world generally. William Moulton Marston didn’t create Wonder Woman on his own; Elizabeth and Olive contributed to the character in ways we’ll probably never fully know, and they deserve to be remembered as a key part of her history. With last night’s episode, Supergirl did just that in a small, enjoyable way. It was a cool moment in what was an absolutely great episode that has me so excited to watch next week. Did you guys see that ending? It’s crazy! Such a good cliffhanger!

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Two: Reformation, Crises, and Bombshells

May 15, 2017

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My new book, The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, is coming out on July 1, and I’ve been posting peeks at the key moments in Catwoman’s history over on Tumblr. There’s one a day, Monday to Friday, all randomly assorted; in this second week of Catwoman moments we went from 1951 to 1989 to 1948 to 1985 to 2016! Each post discussed a different era of Catwoman, delving into her bizarre and intriguing past and offering a little snippet of what you’ll get when the book comes out in July.

Last week, the five moments we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite moment of the week! The image at the top of the post is classic 1940s supervillain Catwoman. It’s from Batman #47, published in June/July 1948, written by Bill Finger with art that’s allegedly by Bob Kane but probably drawn by Lew Schwartz. We see Catwoman lounging in a chaise with her cat Hecate by her side, casually smoking as she discusses her latest elaborate plan to rob the wealthy citizens of Gotham. In this outing, she posed as a fashion magazine editor in order to throw a soiree that would bring all of the rich women of the city together for an easy thieving opportunity. Catwoman was forever coming up with clever schemes throughout the decade, with Batman always on her tail.

You can check out all of the posts here, and follow along for more Catwoman fun in the weeks to come! And The Many Lives of Catwoman is coming soon, so be sure to pre-order it now!

Wonder Woman #22 Review: A Modern Take on an Iconic Character

May 10, 2017

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I got a big surprise when I sat down to read Wonder Woman #22: Mirka Andolfo drew this one! I had no idea she was doing the issue. Andolfo is set to draw a couple of issues in July when Shea Fontana takes over writing the book, but as far as I knew, we were getting Bilquis Evely for the duration of “Godwatch.” Now, I LOVE Bilquis Evely. She’s been killing it so far. But I also love a fun surprise, and I’m a huge fan of Andolfo from her artwork on DC Comics Bombshells (a fantastic book with a great take on Wonder Woman that you should be reading if you’re not already). I was really looking forward to seeing her on Wonder Woman in July, and now we’re getting a peek at her take on a modern Wonder Woman a couple of months early. And good news, gang: It’s fantastic. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to delve into all of the details of this issue!

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

Also, go read the comic! It’s very pretty!

The last installment of “Godwatch” was a real corker, with Veronica Cale teaming up with Circe to use Wonder Woman to defeat Phobos and Deimos and get one step closer to getting her daughter back. This issue picks up a year and a half later, and explores the first meeting between Wonder Woman and Veronica. For some reason, I’d assumed that they’d met before; maybe it was all of the stories set in the present in which Wonder Woman knows about Veronica and her nefarious plans. I mean, they were hanging out in “The Truth” two weeks ago. My mental timeline probably got a bit screwy with all of the back and forth. Regardless, this is their actual first meeting, and it’s a very enjoyable one.

Between Veronica losing her daughter and the travails of Barbara/the Cheetah, there have been some very heavy moments recently in Wonder Woman. This is a much lighter outing, with a comedic set up, some excellent banter, and a nicely executed action scene. The heavy issues remain; Veronica’s daughter is still in peril and Barbara is the Cheetah. But the focus narrows in on Veronica and Diana engaging with each other for the first time on almost friendly terms. I loved that their meeting began at an auction in which Veronica outbid the likes of Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor to nab a date with Wonder Woman (all for charity, of course). I also enjoyed that the extravagant event was followed by a more casual outing between the two as they got burgers in their street clothes. It was all quite cute. Well, as cute as a meeting between a heroine and her secret arch nemesis can be, I suppose.

The issue also further fleshed out Veronica Cale, who Rucka is turning into an absolutely fascinating villain. Generally speaking, Veronica seems like kind of an amazing person. She’s a big supporter of the DC universe’s version of Amnesty International, a philanthropist generally, and a champion for the poor as well as gender and sexual equality. The more we learn about her, the more she becomes a fascinating tragic figure, a good woman turned to darkness because of the meddling of the gods. Before that, she was a tough businesswoman and not a big fan of Wonder Woman, but Phobos and Deimos interfering in her life and taking away her daughter is what turned her into a villain. Everything she’s doing is to get her daughter back, and it’s hard not to sympathize with that, even when she’s facing off against our favourite heroine. I’m hoping that she gets a happy resolution by the time “Godwatch” and “The Truth” wrap up. I know she’s done terrible things, but I feel like Wonder Woman would understand her motivations and try to help her fix them and start a new path rather than punish her. Time will tell.

Now, onto Mirka Andolfo. The art in this issue is just great. Much like Bilquis Evely, Adolfo is excellent at crafting expressive characters, albeit with a very different style. There’s a lot of heart in this issue, and that works extremely well with the story it tells. “Two people getting to know each other when one is a secret adversary yet they both have an odd respect for each other” is a hard thing to communicate, but it comes across. Wonder Woman and Veronica’s issue-long conversation is a complicated dance from start to finish, and Andolfo hits all of the notes needed to make it work.

Furthermore, she finally gives a modern take on Wonder Woman that feels young and fresh. We haven’t seen a lot of Diana in everyday clothes since “Rebirth” launched, and when we have it’s been fairly bland. Andolfo doesn’t go for anything extravagant or trendy here either, but by simply putting Wonder Woman in a tank top, jeans, and sneakers, her incarnation of the character feels like the most modern version of her we’ve seen in ages (and it’s of course beautifully colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.; the guy just slays it with every single issue). Her outfit is what young women look like today, and that’s something I’d really like to see in Wonder Woman properties moving forward. Yes, she’s a superhero and that’s awesome, but when she’s not I think it’s good to see her as a modern woman so that fans, young and old, can better identify with her. As much as I am over the moon excited for the Wonder Woman movie, Gal Gadot’s fancy dresses in Batman v Superman and 1910s garb in Wonder Woman hardly scream “identifiable.” Part of making Wonder Woman modern and relevant is having her look modern and relevant, and I hope we see more of that soon, both in comics and on the big screen.

Overall, this was an entertaining issue all around that sets us up well moving forward. First, the stage is set for the climax of “Godwatch” as the last page shows that Wonder Woman knows about Veronica’s more nefarious dealings. Second, the layers the issue adds to Veronica should make the climax of Rucka’s larger story all the more interesting; she’s a villain, but it’s hard to be too mad at her! And third, when Fontana and Andolfo take over Wonder Woman in July, I think we’re in for a treat. I can’t wait to see more of Andolfo drawing Wonder Woman! She’s a great talent, and the book looks to be in very good hands moving forward.

Women at DC Comics Watch – July 2017 Solicits, 27 Women on 23 Books

May 9, 2017

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July looks to be a bit of a drop for female creator representation at DC, though not a particularly steep one. The June solicits had their strongest numbers of 2017 thus far, so a decline is hardly unexpected. Growth is rarely a steady thing in the comic book world. Plus DC’s totals for July are in the upper end of their range as of late, which is encouraging despite the drop. Let’s take a look at who is scheduled to do what at DC in July 2017:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #23 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn #24 (co-writer, cover)
  • Aneke: DC Comics Bombshells #30 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #31 (interior art)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #11 (co-writer), Shade, the Changing Girl #10 (cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: DC Comics Bombshells #30 (interior art), DC Comics Bombshells #31 (interior art)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, the Changing Girl #10 (writer)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Green Lanterns #26 (variant cover), Green Lanterns #27 (variant cover)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #13 (writer)
  • Jan Duursema: Scooby Apocalypse #15 (interior art)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #26 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #27 (variant cover)
  • Jill Thompson: Scooby Apocalypse #15 (variant cover), Shade, the Changing Girl #10 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic #9 (writer)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #12 (co-writer)
  • K. Perkins: Superwoman #12 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #12 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: DC Comics Bombshells #30 (cover), DC Comics Bombshells #31 (interior art)
  • Leila Del Duca: Shade, the Changing Girl #10 (interior art)
  • Lilah Sturges: Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #11 (co-writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #5 (co-writer), DC Comics Bombshells #30 (writer), DC Comics Bombshells #31 (writer), The Kamandi Challenge #7 (writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Shade, the Changing Girl #10 (interior art)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Wonder Woman #26 (interior art), Wonder Woman #27 (interior art)
  • Msassyk: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #11 (interior art)
  • Sandra Hope: Gotham Academy: Second Semester #11 (inker)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #12 (co-writer)
  • Shea Fontana: Wonder Woman #26 (writer), Wonder Woman #27 (writer)
  • Stephanie Hans: Batwoman #5 (interior art, cover)
  • Tula Lotay: Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #11 (cover), The Hellblazer #12 (cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Detective Comics #960 (cover), Detective Comics #961 (cover), Nightwing #24 (variant cover), Nightwing #25 (variant cover), The Hellblazer #12 (variant cover)

All together, there are 27 different female creators set to work on 23 different book at DC this July, 4 fewer women than last month though 1 more book. While the decline in creators isn’t great to see, the high 20s is a fairly solid showing for DC relative to their past performances, and is slightly above par for the course for the year thus far. And having women on more books despite the decline in creators is nice; it’s good to see female creators being spread through the ranks more. Publishers often group women together on a few select titles, so any growth in representation throughout the line itself is encouraging.

Speaking of the line, it looks like it’s going to stay stagnant yet again in July. The only new books recently are preludes to DC’s big Metal event and the print version of a new digital first mini-series, Batman ’66/Legion of Superheroes; the latter has a couple of ladies in the Legion, at least. Apart from some shifting here and there as a few bi-monthly series switch to monthly, things remain steady. I expect some new books will be on the way sooner than later, perhaps some sort of push in the fall, but things are quiet right now.

Despite the constant line, however, we’ve got some new names in the mix. Shea Fontana is taking over the writing duties on Wonder Woman, and Mirka Andolfo, who we know from DC Comics Bombshells, is joining her on art. We’ve also got Leila Del Duca on some interior art for Shade, the Changing Girl, Stephanie Hans pitching in on art duties for Batwoman, and Jill Thompson is back to do a couple variant covers, which is always a good time.

Overall, July looks to be a pretty average month for female representation at DC Comics. They’re capable of higher, as they showed last month and even more so at times last year, but they’ll be near the upper range of their numbers in July. An influx of new books and new creators seems a bit off yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if DC maintains this level through the summer.


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