Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, November 2018 Solicits: 29 Creators on 28 Books

September 19, 2018

womenatmarvelNOV.png

When the November solicits were released last month, it looked like Marvel was taking a big step in terms of representation and were moving toward finishing the year on a high note. Then things changed. The numbers didn’t crater by any means, but a big jump got noticeably smaller. It’s an odd set of circumstances, and we’ll dig into it all after we look at who was originally scheduled to do what at Marvel in November:

  • Afua Richardson: Shuri #2 (variant cover)
  • Amy Reeder: Ironheart #1 (cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #26 (cover), X-23 #6 (cover)
  • Aud Koch: The Vision #1 (interior art)
  • Chelsea Cain: The Vision #1 (co-writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: Captain America #5 (variant cover), Spider-Geddon #3 (variant cover)
  • Elsa Charretier: Star Wars: Han Solo – Imperial Cadet #1 (variant cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #38 (cover)
  • Eve Ewing: Ironheart #1 (writer)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #36 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Domino #8 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #2 (interior art)
  • Jen Bartel: Black Panther #6 (interior art), Ironheart #1 (variant cover), Uncanny X-Men #1 (variant cover)
  • Jenny Frison: X-Men Red #10 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Spider-Girls #2 (writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Mr. and Mrs. X #5 (writer), Uncanny X-Men #1 (co-writer), Uncanny X-Men #2 (co-writer), Uncanny X-Men #3 (co-writer), West Coast Avengers #4 (writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Life of Captain Marvel #5 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: The Life of Captain Marvel #5 (interior art)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Infinity Wars: Infinity Warps #1 (co-writer), X-23 #6 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Infinity Wars: Infinity Warps #1 (interior art), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #37 (cover)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Shuri #2 (writer)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #15 (writer)
  • Rosi Kampe: Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #2 (interior art)
  • Sara Pichelli: Fantastic Four #4 (interior art)
  • Seanan McGuire: Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Captain Marvel – Mealtime Mayhem #1 (co-writer), Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #2 (writer)
  • Stacey Lee: The Unstoppable Wasp #2 (cover)
  • Stephanie Hans: Ironheart #1 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Shatterstar #2 (cover), Spider-Girls #2 (cover)

All together, 29 female creators were scheduled to work on 28 different books at Marvel this November, 4 more creators than in October and 5 more books. As best as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators in this round of solicits. This is a very solid gain, and a good beginning to the end of a year that has seen some troubling lows at Marvel. But then Marvel decided to cancel The Vision, without releasing a single issue. Apparently the book didn’t fit with the publisher’s new plans for the character or some such. So while Chelsea Cain and Aud Koch are listed in the solicits, their book isn’t coming out and that 4 creator gain is now only 2. Now, 2 isn’t terrible; any gain is a plus in the superhero comic business. But wow, after an already very rough year for gender representation at Marvel, this cancellation is bizarre.

We do have a new name, though. Eve Ewing is writing the new Ironheart series, which should be rad. That’s about it, though. Everyone else we’ve seen before, last month or in the recent past. But shout out to my pal Kelly Thompson, who’s writing or co-writing FIVE books for Marvel this month. She’s blowing up and I’m loving it because she is super excellent at what she does.

In terms of female characters, we’ve got the aforementioned Ironheart series starring Riri Williams. And we’ve got some group books, too. It looks like every mutant ever is going to be in Uncanny X-Men, so look for your favourite ladies there, while Proxima Midnight is part of a new Black Order series. Everything else is dudes, though. The Vision would have featured Viv, but it is no more.

Overall, November’s looking to be kind of a weird month for Marvel. The Vision situation is just odd, and takes what looked to be some solid growth down to something a bit more humdrum. I suppose they’re not going backwards, at least. That’s good to see after the publisher’s disastrous performances earlier this year. Growth is growth, however slow. But dang, Marvel needs to learn to stop shooting themselves in the foot.

Advertisements

Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, November 2018 Solicits: 20 Creators on 21 Books

September 17, 2018

womenatdcNOV.png

DC is officially in a rut when it comes to female and non-binary creators. After losing mainstays on this list like Bombshells United and the “Young Animal” line, the bulk of those creators are no longer at DC while some creative changes and the debut of a new Vertigo slate have barely erased the losses. Reading the solicits every month, we see the same dudes cranking out books across the line, but retention for female and non-binary creators is pretty low. Growth requires both a stable group of creators and the addition of new voices. DC is middling at both when it comes to female and non-binary creators. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC this November:

  • Adriana Melo: Plastic Man #6 (interior art)
  • Agnes Garbowska: Teen Titans Go! #31 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: Old Lady Harley #2 (cover), Supergirl #24 (variant cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Raven, Daughter of Darkness #10 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Dreaming #3 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Hex Wives #2 (cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Wonder Woman #58 (writer), Wonder Woman #59 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Plastic Man #6 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #58 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #59 (variant cover)
  • Joelle Jones: Catwoman #5 (writer, interior art, cover)
  • Julie Benson: Green Arrow #46 (co-writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Nightwing #52 (variant cover)
  • Kat Howard: The Books of Magic #2 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #29 (writer), DC Nuclear Winter Special #1 (co-writer)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Hex Wives #2 (interior art)
  • Nalo Hopkinson: House of Whispers #3 (writer)
  • Nicola Scott: Justice League Dark #5 (cover)
  • Rachel Dodson: Justice League Odyssey #3 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #58 (cover), Wonder Woman #59 (cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Green Arrow #46 (co-writer)
  • Yasmine Putri: DC Nuclear Winter Special #1 (interior art), Red Hood and the Outlaws #28 (variant cover), Titans #29 (variant cover), Titans #30 (variant cover)

All together, there are 20 different female creators scheduled to work on 21 different books at DC this November, one fewer creator than in October an one more book. As best as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. The numbers are holding steady, more or less, which would be nice if the totals were at a solid level. But they are not. DC’s shown themselves to be capable of posting much higher numbers in the recent past, and they remain well below that now.

And that’s with a big addition! G. Willow Wilson is back at DC, writing Wonder Woman in what should be an excellent run. That’s a big get for DC, and it comes with Rachel Dodson inking covers and Jenny Frison continuing on her stellar variants. Elsewhere, we’ve got another Marvel regular popping over for a cover with Ashley Witter on Raven, Daughter of Darkness. The rest we’ve all seen in months past, though several of the creators are still relatively new to DC.

There’s not a lot going on for female characters this month. Wonder Woman‘s got a new direction, of course, but in terms of new series it’s mostly dudes. There are some team books with female characters in the mix, at least, with Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn on the cover of the DC Nuclear Winter Special and Amanda Waller, Enchantress, and Katana in the mix for Suicide Squad: Black Files.

Overall, apart from the excellent Wonder Woman news, it’s a pretty humdrum month at DC. Female creator numbers remain low, and the lack of non-binary creators is disappointing. This has been an underwhelming year for women and non-binary creators at DC, and barring a remarkable turnaround in December, we’ll have to see what 2019 will bring. There’s certainly lots of room to grow, at least.

Wonder Woman #54 Review: A Cold Welcome in Qurac

September 13, 2018

ww54.jpg

I’m a day late on this review because I’m off visiting my adorable niece and was busy having adventures yesterday. Amusingly, I was available and on the ball all the dang time with my reviews of that last, horrible run of Wonder Woman but now, when the book finally gets good again, I’m busy on half of the release days thus far! I can’t catch a break.

But happily, even though I’m a day late to this issue of Wonder Woman, it was an issue worth waiting for. Orlando just gets Wonder Woman, and it’s been a joy to read his take on her. A lot of folks have trouble with the character, but every time Wonder Woman does or says something in Orlando’s issues so far, it just feels right. I always find myself nodding along, like “Oh yeah, this is totally what Wonder Woman would do. This is awesome.” And this week it looks like Diana is fixing to take on two warring armies at once! Which, of course, is totally what Wonder Woman would do. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Read this book before you read this review!

I’m going to spoil all of the cool things that happened!

Treat yourself to this fine issue!

The issue begins with Diana, Artemis, and Atalanta flying to the Bana-Mighdall capitol in Qurac. It’s a simple beginning, but one laden with interesting tensions. Atalanta’s been away for centuries, and worries that her fellow Amazons in exile may have forgotten her. Artemis is a loyal warrior, but she’s bringing a Themysciran to the capitol and that could be a difficult situation. And Diana is that Themysciran, of course, there to extend a hand of friendship but unlikely to get one in return. All of this isn’t helped by the fact that the Bana-Mighdall appear to be mobilizing for war when they arrive, either.

Unsurprisingly, things go south pretty quickly. Queen Faruka II has teamed up with Rustam, a Quraci assassin, who has convinced the queen to go to war against Qurac. Before long, Wonder Woman is blasted out of the throne room, Atalanta is shot and locked up, and Artemis is sent to the front lines of the battle.

But you can only keep Wonder Woman down for so long, and the rest of the issue captures everything about why this run is so good. First, when she confronts the queen’s royal entourage, they meet her with guns. Diana’s response is perfection. She says, “Guns? Adapt the tools of patriarch’s world… and inherit their weaknesses.” She deflects all of the bullets, of course, and the entourage quickly surrenders. It’s a scene that gets to a major theme in this issue, namely how the Bana-Mighdall’s embracing of the tools and technologies of the world of men has taken them away from their Amazonian core. I mean, trying to stop Wonder Woman with bullets? That’s just foolishness.

Wonder Woman’s confrontation with Faruka is even more compelling. The fight itself is excellent, with lots of bobbing and weaving so that Diana can ensnare Faruka in the golden lasso. As she does so, she explains that the queen shouldn’t trust Rustam, and that she doesn’t need to fight the Quraci army. But here’s the kicker: Faruka knows this already. The lasso doesn’t lead to some startling revelation of a truth she’d hidden from herself. It reveals that she knows full well what she is doing, that this is some Machiavellian tactic to ensure that the Bana-Mighdall finally have a permanent, secure homeland. Faruka’s not being played. She’s embracing an opportunity, and using Rustam as much as he’s using her.

I love everything about how this throne room battle plays out. Wonder Woman’s trying to change hearts and minds, basically, aiming to show the queen the error of her ways and get Atalanta freed. But nope, Faruka knows exactly what she’s doing. I want to say something like, “This is how you write a villain,” but I’m not sure if I even think she’s a villain. She’s an adversary for Diana, sure, but she’s also a queen putting the security of her people above all else, if in ways Wonder Woman and I aren’t enthused about. I can definitely see her point of view, which is the best way to craft a villain, really.

And of course, we end with Wonder Woman standing between two armies. Because, heck yeah, that’s where she belongs. Diana is a peacemaker, but she’s also not afraid to jump into the fray and bust up some folks to get their attention first. De-escalate the fighting and THEN make peace. She’s totally got this. As does Orlando. It’s so much fun to read a Wonder Woman who does the most Wonder Woman thing she can at every single turn.

We’ve got some new artists in this issue, too, with Raul Allen and Patricia Martin drawing the book and Borja Pindado on colours. First things first, I really miss series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. here. Pindado does a decent job, but Fajardo can make a book sing and I don’t think that the colouring here is really showing the linework in the best light. As such, everything comes off just okay. There’s nothing bad about it, really, but nothing terribly exciting either. It’s fine, if a little flat, lacking the depth that great colouring can add to the mix.

I’m very excited to see how Orlando wraps things up in two weeks’ time. Diana is in a difficult spot on several fronts right now, with a queen against her and two angry armies on either side of her. It could all go very badly. But somehow, I think Wonder Woman will figure things out. There might be some fisticuffs in the process, maybe some more sniping with Artemis (which I am all for; their banter in this outing was so good), but it’ll all work out some way or another, I’m sure.

Wonder Woman #53 Review: Aw Yeah, Teamwork!

August 22, 2018

ww53

There’s something about Wonder Woman that just brings people together. Batman doesn’t have that quality. He can be kind of a jerk sometimes, honestly. Superman doesn’t necessarily need that quality. He’s an inspirational figure, sure, but he can handle a lot on his own. But with Wonder Woman, for all of her power and her iconic status, it just feels right when she’s got a group of friends alongside her. Especially when they weren’t friends before the story began, which is often the case. That’s one of the great things about Wonder Woman, her ability to turn a stranger into a friend and an enemy into an ally. She brings out the best in everyone around her, and has the ability to unite people in a common purpose. If you look back on how different writers have handled Wonder Woman over the decades, I think you’ll find that the bad ones have isolated her and the good ones have surrounded her with a team of some sort. Steve Orlando is a dang good writer, and he continues to capture the core of what makes Wonder Woman such a special character with this issue. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Also, go pick up this issue!

We’re in the middle of a GREAT run!

First things first, I’m glad that Wonder Woman and the gang defeated Tezcatlipoca in this issue because that is a very hard name to spell. I have to double check my writing against the comic every time I type it. Using him is a great deep cut from Orlando, but Tezcatlipoca is Urzkartaga all over again. I never feel like I’ve spelled it right.

But the way in which they defeat Tezcatlipoca is what makes this issue great. Fighting a god is hard work, especially a god whose very nature is destruction. Wonder Woman, Artemis, and Aztek do their best against him for the bulk of the issue, taking the fight to him in their own individual ways, but it doesn’t get them anywhere.

And the ways in which they fail are very telling. Aztek is a new superhero, still getting used to her divine power, and Tezcatlipoca is able to get into her head about the supposedly “true” nature of the gods and throw her off her game a bit. Tezcatlipoca doesn’t even have to do anything against Artemis, because her zeal for battle is so strong that she’s willing to potentially destroy herself by using the Bow of Ra. And when she does so, Wonder Woman is concerned about her and gets distracted from her thus far successful fight with Tezcatlipoca, allowing him to land a powerful blow. Their core traits of inexperience, foolhardy fury, and concern for others turn out to be their downfall.

Initially, anyway. The only way to defeat Tezcatlipoca is for all three of them to work together. And the story does a good job of showing us what an unlikely team up this is. Aztek seems overwhelmed, and Artemis has been sniping at her throughout the issue. Artemis has been sniping at Diana as well, and doesn’t seem to trust either woman. But Diana believes in them all. Tezcatlipoca found their individual weaknesses, but by bringing them all together Diana is able to enhance their strengths. With a combination of Aztek hacking the Bow of Ra and them anchoring it with the lasso of truth, the three women are able to use the weapon against Tezcatlipoca together and finally defeat him. It is a perfectly Wonder Woman conclusion. Bring a bunch of ladies together to defeat a loud, overbearing dude? That’s what you want out of Wonder Woman.

Orlando continues to display that he’s got a deep, fundamental understanding of Diana. The single issue story that began his run was stellar, and now he’s delving into the core of what makes the character great in a longer arc. This arc is set to take a turn now as all three women, plus Atalanta, head for the Bana-Mighdall camp in Qurac. The final page suggests they won’t get a warm welcome, though I don’t recognize the queen at first glance.

As I said last week, I have no idea what’s up with Artemis and the Bana-Mighdall in current continuity. I haven’t been reading the books she’s in, and maybe this queen has been a part of them. I do have a couple of guesses, just from my past understanding of the Bana-Mighdall in the pre-New 52 era, but none I’m terribly confident about. If you’ve got a good guess, or better knowledge of the Amazon splinter group’s current situation (it wouldn’t take much to know more than me!), let me know in the comments.

Along with a great story and an ominous cliffhanger, the art was better in this issue, too. I was a bit underwhelmed with ACO and David Lorenzo last time, and felt like they put more effort into the admittedly gorgeous setting rather than the characters. That balance was a bit more even this time, and the addition of Hugo Petrus in the middle of the book gave us a fun, new dimension to everything. He brought a lot of action and expression to the fight, and really communicated the struggles of each woman when the fight went poorly as well as their confident triumph. Plus he continued ACO and Lorenzo’s offbeat layouts in his own way. The style was a bit different, but I thought it melded all together quite nicely, with Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s excellent colours as a great unifier.

All together, this was another fantastic issue of Wonder Woman and I’m very curious to see what happens next. Obviously, things are going to go poorly for our gang. That queen’s not happy to have them, and we’ve got an ominous Quraci terrorist mentioned in the solicits so that will be a problem. One that they can all solve together, hopefully. I love this team-up, and I hope that Wonder Woman is able to keep them all united no matter what dangerous circumstances arise. She’s good like that.

Women & NB Creators at Marvel Comics Watch, October 2018 Solicits: 25 Creators on 23 Books

August 16, 2018

womenatmarvelOCT.png

Marvel has A LOT going on in October. A ton of new series and minis, an array of one-shots, a big “Spider-geddon” event, plus all of their usual fare. Their output is in the ballpark of 85 new comic books for the month, about 10 more than they usually release. The increase in production hasn’t come with an increase in representation, though. Female and non-binary creator numbers are set to hold steady at a level that, while better than their recent lows, remains well off their recent highs. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at Marvel this October:

  • Amy Reeder: Spider-Girls #1 (variant cover)
  • Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #25 (cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Moon Knight #200 (cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37 (cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #35 (writer)
  • Gail Simone: Domino #7 (writer)
  • Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #1 (interior art, cover)
  • Jen Bartel: The Life and Times of Captain Marvel #4 (variant cover)
  • Jenny Frison: X-Men Red #9 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Spider-Girls #1 (writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Mr. and Mrs. X #4 (writer), West Coast Avengers #3 (writer)
  • Leah Williams: What If? Magik #1 (writer), X-Men Black – Emma Frost #1 (writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Life and Times of Captain Marvel #4 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: X-23 #5 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #36 (interior art, cover)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Shuri #1 (writer)
  • Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #14 (writer)
  • Rosi Kampe: Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider #1 (interior art)
  • Sara Pichelli: Fantastic Four #3 (interior art)
  • Seanan McGuire: Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider #1 (writer), X-Men Black: Mystique #1 (writer)
  • Stephanie Hans: Asgardians of the Galaxy #2 (variant cover)
  • The Soska Sisters: Avengers Halloween Special #1 (co-writers)
  • Yasmine Putri: Shatterstar #1 (cover), Spider-Girls #1 (cover), The Unstoppable Wasp #1 (variant cover)

All together, there are 25 different female creators scheduled to work on 23 different books at Marvel in October, 1 fewer creator than in September but 2 more books. To the best of my knowledge, there are no non-binary creators in this round of solicits. Now, holding steady in the mid-20s isn’t a terrible place for Marvel to be. We’ve seen terrible earlier this year, when the publisher’s numbers were in the low teens. But we’ve also seen them in the high 30s before, so Marvel is still pretty far behind the level they’re capable of hitting. Plus, with a slew of new books, you’d hope for a bit of a jump overall. None is a little disappointing.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some new names in the mix, though. We’ve got Seanan McGuire writing a new Spider-Gwen series and a Mystique one-shot, and the Soska Sisters (Jen and Sylvia) co-penning a story in the Avengers Halloween Special. There are some returning favourites, too: I think it’s been a couple years since we’ve seen Rosi Kampe, who’s doing interior art for the Spider-Gwen book, and Nnedi Okorafor is back with a new Shuri series that should be super cool.

Also, I should point out that the publisher is doing a bunch of Marvel Battle Lines variant covers in October, many of which feature Korean artists who seem to have little to no English web presence. While I did my best to track each of them down, I’ve still got a couple of question marks, and those folks could possibly be female or non-binary creators.

In terms of fictional characters, ladies are set to have a big month with this October bonanza. Spider-Geddon is set to feature Spider-Gwen and “every Spider-Woman ever,” plus we’ve got new minis like Spider-Force with Jessica Drew and Ashley Barton, Spider-Girls with Mayday, Spiderling, and two Spider-Girls, and the new Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider series. Elsewhere, Shuri has a new book, The Unstoppable Wasp is back, and we’ve got a What If? oneshot starring Magik and two X-Men Black oneshots that focus on Emma Frost and Mystique. It’s a busy month!

Overall, while there are some new names at Marvel and that’s always fun, the new names aren’t enough to counter the lack of holdovers from last month and the numbers are remaining relatively steady. Less than steady, frankly, when you consider how many new books there are in October, each of them an opportunity to introduce new creative teams. Marvel’s picked themselves up from their poor start to 2018, but now they’ve been treading water for a few months at a level far below what they’re capable of achieving, establishing given the breadth of talent from female and non-binary creators out there making comics right now.

Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, October 2018 Solicits: 21 Creators on 20 Books

August 15, 2018

womenatdcOCT

After a dismal round of solicits for September, female creator representation is on the rise at DC Comics this October. Not to any impressive levels, though. September’s numbers were terrible and thus does October look much better, but October’s numbers in and of themselves are nothing to crow about. DC remains well below their recent highs, continuing what has become a disappointing year for the publisher in terms of female and non-binary creators. Any potential for growth we saw in the winter months has fizzled out into a long stretch of under achievement. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at DC this October:

  • Adriana Melo: Plastic Man #5 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: Old Lady Harley #1 (variant cover), Supergirl #23 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1 (co-writer, interior art)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Dreaming #2 (interior art)
  • Cheryl Lynn Eaton: Batman Secret Files #1 (co-writer)
  • Elena Casagrande: Batman Secret Files #1 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Superman/Top Cat Special #1 (variant cover), The Terrifics Annual #1 (cover), Wonder Woman #56 (interior art), Wonder Woman #57 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Plastic Man #5 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Hex Wives #1 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #56 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #57 (variant cover)
  • Joelle Jones: Hex Wives #1 (cover), Catwoman #4 (writer, cover)
  • Jordie Bellaire: Batman Secret Files #1 (co-writer)
  • Julie Benson: Green Arrow #45 (co-writer)
  • Kat Howard: The Books of Magic #1 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #28 (writer)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Hex Wives #1 (interior art)
  • Nalo Hopkinson: House of Whispers #2 (writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Justice League Odyssey #2 (variant cover)
  • Sandra Hope: Sideways Annual #1 (cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Green Arrow #45 (co-writer)
  • Tess Fowler: Plastic Man #5 (cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound Special #1 (variant cover), Red Hood and the Outlaws #27 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #56 (cover),Wonder Woman #57 (cover)

All together, there are 21 different female creators set to work on 20 different comic books at DC in October, 6 more creators and 6 more books than in September. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators scheduled for this month. The gains are good, of course. Being in the teens in this day and age is just embarrassing, what with the scores of talented women and non-binary creators working in comics now. But DC is barely out of the teens now, and that’s not a great look either. Creators lost in a string of recent cancellations have yet to come back elsewhere, and no new creators have taken their place. Thus this current unimpressive run.

Speaking of, we don’t have much in the way of new faces scheduled for October, but there are a few notable additions. Cheryl Lynn Eaton is brand new to DC, and she’s writing a story in the Batman Secret Files oneshot. Jordie Bellaire, who is a colorist by trade, is also penning a tale for the book, so that’s exciting to see. And Kat Howard is starting her Books of Magic series for the “Sandman Universe” line, and thus we should be seeing her for a while. In terms of returning favourites, we haven’t seen Tess Fowler in a while, or Elena Casagrande, and both are back this month with a cover and art for a short story respectively.

While representation for real women is somewhat lacking this month, fictional women have some things going on. Wonder Woman is the star of a crossover event that will see her regular series tie into Justice League Dark and a couple of special issues. We’ve also got the debut of Old Lady Harley, which I presume is a humorous take on Marvel’s Old Man Logan, and the debut of the new Vertigo series Hex Wives. There’s also a sort of Halloween special with Cursed Comics Cavalcade that will feature stories about Wonder Woman and Zatanna.

So there are two ways to look at DC’s October. First, it’s a lot better than September, so hooray for that. But second, it’s well below what the publisher is capable of achieving. If DC is trying to bring in female and non-binary creators, then they’re really struggling at it. And if they’re not trying, well that’s an even bigger problem. Whatever the case, the numbers remain weak.

Wonder Woman #52 Review: A Terrific Team Up to Take On Tezcatlipoca

August 8, 2018

ww52

Wonder Woman teaming up with other women to have adventures and fight villains and whatnot is exactly what I want out of Wonder Woman, and with this week’s issue Steve Orlando, ACO, and David Lorenzo have delivered that in spades. What starts as a fun partnership turns into a trio and then ultimately a quartet as Diana and her friends, new and old, battle the evil plans of the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. It’s an enjoyable start to a new arc, as well as a modern update of some classic tales from across the DC universe. Orlando’s definitely done his research with this one, with very entertaining results. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss all of the things that happen in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And seriously, go read it! Wonder Woman is good again!

The book starts with something I always enjoy: Wonder Woman meeting someone new and immediately making a friend. In this case it’s Aztek, a new version of the 1990s hero that Orlando recently introduced in his Justice League of America run. Aztek is a woman named Nayeli Constant now, and she’s inherited her predecessor’s spiky costume and divine powers. When she gets a message that an Amazon is locked in battle with Tezcatlipoca, she immediately seeks out the world’s most famous Amazon, Wonder Woman. And Diana is on board straight away, of course. A new friend and an Amazon in need of help? Diana is up for that adventure any day of the week.

And she brings in a second friend, too. Well, sort of a friend. They tolerate each other. It’s Artemis, famed usurper of Wonder Woman’s mantle in the pre-New 52 days and a warrior of the Bana-Mighdall, a splinter Amazon group. To be honest with you, I have no idea what Artemis is like now. I’m familiar with the old version, but it’s a whole new universe now and I haven’t been keeping up with Red Hood and the Outlaws, Artemis’ primary series. Based on this issue, she does seem like her old self, aggressive and arrogant and generally disdainful of Diana. But Diana seems to respect her, and once she realizes that the trapped Amazon is Atalanta, hero of the Bana-Mighdall, she knows she should bring Artemis with them.

I really like the juxtaposition of the two relationships in this issue. Wonder Woman and Aztek don’t know each other well at all, but they find common ground early on through their similarly divine heritages and become friends almost immediately. Wonder Woman and Artemis do know each other, but their situation is much more fraught. Artemis sneers at Wonder Woman throughout the issue, and joins their group only for the sake of Atalanta. And not only does Wonder Woman invite Artemis along, knowing full well how she’ll behave, but she finds a way to make it all work. She’s able to balance establishing trust with a new friend and working productively with an old adversary, all while battling mythological hounds in an ominously elaborate labyrinth. The issue showcases Wonder Woman’s strengths in a multitude of ways.

The women ultimately find Atalanta, and the issue ends with the four of them as the last line of defense against an invading horde of evil beasts. It should make for another rad outing in two weeks time, but here’s the really fun thing: While this issue sets up Atalanta as Diana’s great-aunt, an earlier version of Wonder Woman already encountered Atalanta more than thirty years ago, and Tezcatlipoca was involved in that as well.

In Wonder Woman #316 from June 1984, written by Dan Mishkin with art by Don Heck, Wonder Woman defeated Tezcatlipoca and freed a group of Amazons the fiendish god had enslaved. In the following issue, they took Diana back to their home on the Amazon river, and introduced her to their queen, Atalanta:

ww52a

Much like the Bana-Mighdall a decade later, the Amazonian Amazons were a splinter group. After Hippolyta secluded the Amazons on Paradise Island, Atalanta and her followers grew tired of the isolation, and more specifically the lack of men, so they set out on their own and ended up in South America.

This new Atalanta has a different origin. Instead of being hot for dudes and frustrated at not having any nearby, she is now a travelling warrior who left her royal position millennia ago to impart truth, balance, and justice to the world. Which is a much awesomer origin, in my opinion. I love that Orlando’s dug into the archives and found a deep cut character to revitalize in such a cool way. Now that Wonder Woman’s found her, it will be interesting to see how the two get along in the issues to come, and whether any of the old Atalanta’s frustrations with Hippolyta carry on in this new incarnation of the character.

As much as I enjoyed this story and it’s fresh take on some classic yarns, I must admit that the art didn’t do a lot for me. It wasn’t bad in any way, but the style and layouts left me underwhelmed. ACO and Lorenzo seem better at designs than characters. Their labyrinth was gorgeous and complex, and they did some interesting things with Aztec designs in their page structures, but their depictions of the women fell flat. The characters lacked the details that were so well shown in the settings, and I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of life to them. This combined with their penchant for silhouettes made me think they were less interested in the women than in the fantastical scenes that surrounded them. And the simplicity of their characters didn’t give Romulo Fajardo Jr. a lot to work with when it came to colours. When the line art is this simple, coming in strong with texture and shading just looks weird and so he had to match their simplicity. Fajardo did hit it out of the park with the Aztec imagery and fancy backgrounds, though. Those really shone, for all of the artists involved.

Despite my art quibbles, this was a very fun issue with team ups on top of team ups on top of team ups. A bunch of warrior ladies working together to fight against the evil machinations of a nefarious god is always a good time, and I’m excited to see where this story goes in the weeks to come!


%d bloggers like this: