Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman Review: “VIP, Part 2″ by Sara Ryan and Christian Duce

March 26, 2015

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I really enjoyed the first part of this story last week, with its non-linear narrative and various mysteries, but the conclusion this week was a little more straight forward and telegraphed. However, this is a comic where Wonder Woman says, “The lasso compels truth, but it can’t stop mansplaining,” and that’s just fantastic. All together, this was a decent issue of a story that I think will read very well all together. While the opening was stronger than the close, it’s still a lot of fun.

Everything worked out like I thought it would in this issue. After last week’s story, I was worried about the fans getting VIP passes, and it turns out they could have died were it not for Wonder Woman. I was also pretty sure the skeevy head of security was up to something shady, and today we find out that he’s the one behind the VIPs near-death dilemmas. There really wasn’t much in the way of surprises or twists in this conclusion.

It’s also a much quicker read than last week’s issue. Part one had a lot for the reader to unpack and put together as they went through the book and figured out who was who and how they were connected. It was all very cleverly structured. The structure this week is a lot simpler and far more linear. There are no time jumps and the scene changes are much more organic. It’s also less dense, with far less dialogue and no real mystery to the words being spoken. Several of the scenes last week started not just mid-conversation but mid-sentence. Everything about this issue is much more straight forward.

That’s not to say that this issue was bad in any way. It was just put together differently than I expected, and it was still a lot fun. I particularly enjoyed the head of security’s speech about why he sabotaged the concert. There was a bit of nuance to it where he ALMOST had a decent point to make about how our culture sexualizes and objectifies young stars and how he didn’t want Esperanza to go in that direction, but then it turned into a weird puritanical angle where he wanted girls to stay girls so that men could stay men and it got gross again. I enjoyed that Sara Ryan gave him a slight smidge of a halfway decent point to make before taking the turn into him just being a patronizing ass with antiquated ideas about gender. Then Esperanza punched him out, which was fun.

Christian Duce’s art was solid again. This may seem like a weird, random thing to focus on, but I like that Duce make’s the star on Wonder Woman’s tiara big. I find a lot of artists make it too small or too skinny; I am bizarrely particular about her tiara, and Duce does a very nice job keeping the star prominent.

Ultimately, this week’s Sensation Comics is a decent end to a great beginning. Once all of the pieces were set up in part one, it makes sense that part two would be less twisty as everything came to a close. One fun thing to come out of this issue is that I’ve got a new author to check out! Sara Ryan’s written a bunch of comics as well as some YA novels, and her work here has me intrigued so I’m definitely going to check out some of her other stuff.

For all of you print folks, this story will be available in comic shops on May 20. It’s a fun one; I recommend checking it out.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – June 2015 Solicits: 14 Different Female Creators On 16 Different Books

March 25, 2015

womenatmarvelJUNE

Yesterday we looked at DC’s June solicits, and I was disappointed that DC had only 19 female creators because they hit 32 female creators just a couple of months earlier. Today we turn to Marvel, and they’re just trailing way behind. June is actually a decent month for women at Marvel, relative to their recent output, but they’re still far back of DC’s lowest month of the year. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in June 2015:

  • Alti Firmansyah: Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (interior art)
  • Erica Henderson: Secret Wars #4 (variant cover), The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: A-Force #2 (co-writer), Ms. Marvel #16 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Weirdworld #1 (variant cover)
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick: Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps #1 (co-writer)
  • Kelly Thompson: Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps #1 (co-writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1 (co-writer), A-Force #2 (co-writer), Max Ride: First Flight #4 (writer), Years of Future Past #1 (writer), Years of Future Past #2 (writer)
  • Marguerite Sauvage: 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1 (interior art), Secret Wars #3 (variant cover)
  • Noelle Stevenson: Runaways #1 (writer)
  • Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – House of Cards #4 (co-writer)
  • Stacey Lee: Silk #5 (interior art)
  • Stephanie Hans: 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1 (interior art, cover), Max Ride: First Flight #4 (cover)
  • Vanesa Del Rey: Armor Wars #1 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Amazing Spider-Man #19.1 (cover), Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (cover)

All together, there are 14 different women set to appear in 16 different books in June, one more female creator than in May but one less book. It’s not a great number when compared to other publishers, not just DC but independent publishers with smaller outputs too. At the same time, with Secret Wars on the go and so many new tie-in series, I’m a little bit impressed that the number of female creators ticked up, however slightly. The Big Two tend to fall back on the same old for events, but both DC’s “Convergence” and Marvel’s Secret Wars have had a solid number of female creators in the mix.

There are some new names in the June solicits as well. Alti Firmansyah is making what I think is her first Marvel appearance drawing Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, while Kelly Thompson is co-writing Captain Marvel’s Secret Wars tie-in, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. Noelle Stevenson and Marguerite Sauvage, who recently did a story in a Thor annual, are back with bigger gigs in June as well.

In terms of female characters, there’s a lot going on with new and altered series in June. Thor is part of Thors, Runaways has several female characters including some favourites from the original run, Kitty Pryde is co-headlining a book with Star-Lord, Angela is going back in time with 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, Mary Jane Watson is back married to Peter Parker in Amazing-Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Shiklah the queen of the monster metropolis below Manhattan is starring in Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos, and Captain Marvel is now Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. Plus, there are lots of women in various new team books as well. It’s a very strong month for female characters across the board.

Ultimately, Marvel is making a bit of progress in female creator representation in June, but remains far behind many other publishers. I’m anticipating a spate of new books and relaunches once Secret Wars wraps up, though, so it’ll be very interesting to see if things improve then. It’s encouraging to see some new names and women returning to Marvel for bigger gigs, and hopefully that bodes well for the future. Only time will tell.

Women At DC Comics Watch – June 2015 Solicits: A Disappointing Month For DC’s Mini-Relaunch, 19 Different Female Creators on 21 Different Books

March 24, 2015

womenatdcJUNE

I was very excited for the June solicits to come out, because DC has been having a great 2015 thus far. They’ve bested their previous highs for female creators on multiple occasions, and even maintained high numbers through their “Convergence” event. Events have rarely seen DC’s strongest effort when it comes to female creators, so that the numbers stayed relatively steady was very encouraging. Moreover, their June mini-relaunch looks to be an exciting new direction for the publisher in terms of the style and tone of their books. Unfortunately, June also has the fewest female creators at DC thus far this year. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what and where for DC’s June 2015 comics:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #17 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1 (co-writer, cover), Section 8 #1 (cover), Starfire #1 (co-writer, cover)
  • Amy Wolfram: Teen Titans Go! #10 (co-writer)
  • Annie Wu: Black Canary #1 (interior art, cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Batgirl #41 (interior art), Black Canary #1 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy #7 (co-writer, cover), The Kitchen #8 (cover)
  • Caitlin Kittredge: Coffin Hill #19 (writer)
  • Celia Calle: Strange Sports Stories #4 (cover)
  • Chrissie Zullo: Fables: The Wolf Among Us #6 (cover)
  • Corin Howell: Bat-Mite #1 (interior art, cover)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Starfire #1 (interior art, variant cover)
  • Gail Simone: Secret Six #3 (writer)
  • Genevieve Valentine: Catwoman #41 (writer)
  • Georgia Ball: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #58 (writer)
  • Kai Yu Wu: The Flash Season Zero #9 (co-writer)
  • Lauren Cento: The Flash Season Zero #9 (co-writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Effigy #6 (interior art)
  • Meredith Finch: Wonder Woman #41 (writer), Wonder Woman Annual #1 (writer)
  • Ming Doyle: Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 (writer, variant cover), The Kitchen #8 (interior art)
  • Mingjue Helen Chen: Gotham Academy #7 (interior art)

All together, there are 19 different female creators set to work on 21 different books in June, a big drop from May’s 26 and 25 and a far cry from the 32 different female creators DC had in April, their biggest month to date. I was hoping that with this mini-relaunch, DC would make a big statement and top their best yet again, but instead June is their lowest month of the year thus far.

When DC cancelled a slew of books in March to make way for this mini-relaunch, they lost many of the female creators working on those books. Some other titles outside of the superhero line have come to an end as well. That means that female creators like Ann Nocenti, Cat Staggs, Christy Marx, K. Perkins, Marguerite Bennett, Meghan Hetrick, Tula Lotay, and Sandra Hope are not in the mix this month.

Furthermore, DC’s hit highs this year by regularly having women in one-off appearances through variant covers or anthology series, and June doesn’t have the usual assortment of female creators we expect in this regard. That bodes well for July; June just may be a randomly off month for these avenues, and the numbers could bounce back next month. However, right now the numbers are pretty poor, comparatively.

There are some new names in the mix, though. Annie Wu is fairly new to DC after a stint on Marvel’s Hawkeye, Corin Howell is drawing Bat-Mite, and Mingjue Helen Chen is drawing Gotham Academy. While these few new faces aren’t exactly compensating for the many female creators DC has lost through their mini-relaunch, it’s always great to see different names in the mix.

June also looks to be a good month for female characters. Black Canary, Power Girl (with Harley Quinn), and Starfire are all launching new series, and the lead of the new Prez series is a teenage girl. There are a few female characters sprinkled in some of the new team books as well.

But in the end, these posts are a numbers game. June not only has DC’s lowest number of female creators for the year, it’s the lowest number since October 2014. To hit a low at a time when they’re set to launch several new series and get a lot of attention and sales is particularly disheartening. The mini-relaunch is certainly better than the New 52 relaunch where there were only 2 female creators in the mix, but DC has proven they’re capable of hitting much higher numbers since then. Only 19 different women in June is a disappointment given how high DC has moved their bar this year.

Janelle Asselin Launches Rosy Press And It’s Debut Series, Fresh Romance, With New Kickstarter OR Give Her Your Money!

March 23, 2015

rosy

Romance comics used to be a huge part of the comic book industry. In the 1950s and 1960s, almost every publisher had several ongoing romance titles and they were wildly popular with young female readers. Romance comics died out in the 1970s as the industry underwent some massive changes, and the industry lost a lot of its female readership as it transitioned into primarily superhero and humour titles.

But over the past decade or so, female comic readers have been making a massive comeback in the North American market (after previously playing a key role in the rise of manga). They’re a quickly rising demographic for superhero books, and are a big part of the recent successes of indie publishers with more stylistically diverse books in a variety of genres. However, romance comics have yet to stage a comeback, until now.

Janelle Asselin, formerly an editor at DC Comics and Disney and now the senior editor of Comics Alliance, has launched Rosy Press to bring back romance comics. The Kickstarter campaign for the publisher’s first series, Fresh Romance, debuted today and the book sounds fantastic. Here’s the cover for the first issue, drawn by Kevin Wada:

rosy2

The stories inside include:

  • A high school lesbian romance story written by Kate Leth (my pal! WOOHOO KATE!) with art by Arielle Jovellanos and colours by Amanda Scurti.
  • An old school Regency romance with a couple set to wed despite not being terribly fond of each other by Sarah Vaughn and Sarah Winifred Searle.
  • A tale of a supernatural barista helping others find love written by Sarah Kuhn, drawn by Sally Jane Thompson, and coloured by Savanna Ganucheau.

At least in this initial wave, Rosy Press seems committed to stories about women BY women and marketed TO women, which is all kinds of fun. Asselin created Rosy Press as a response to the massive growth in women reading comics, and I think the market is definitely set for this to be a massive success. And of course, you don’t have to be a woman to enjoy romance stories. Anyone can read the comics; they’ll just be free of the one-dimensionality and objectification that so often plagues female comic book characters.

That doesn’t mean that the books won’t be sexy, though. Rosy Press’ stories will be R-rated and have sexual content, just not in an exploitive way.  Telling great romance stories is the series’ focus, and the comic isn’t erotica, but they’re not steering away from sex either.  Because of the adult content, Asselin suggests that readers be at least 17.

The Kickstarter for Fresh Romance is up now, and you can get on board on a variety of levels. After the Kickstarter, Fresh Romance will be released monthly, with three ongoing stories in each issue, and after each individual story wraps up you’ll be able to buy it all together in an ebook as well. The plan is for Rosy Press to be completely digital, tapping into yet another growing market in the comic industry.

So yeah, all of this sounds fantastic! I’m very excited that romance comics are coming back, and with such a smart and savvy editor like Janelle Asselin at the helm. Plus the first creative teams are awesome, and the stories sound like a lot of fun. The Kickstarter will run for the next month, so get on board now, and Fresh Romance is set to debut its first issue in May. If you want to learn even more about Rosy Press and Fresh Romance, there are interviews with Asselin at the Washington Post and Comic Book Resources. You should definitely get behind this project, gang! I think it’s going to be great.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #29 Review: “VIP, Part 1″ by Sara Ryan and Christian Duce

March 19, 2015

sensation29

The description for this issue says that Wonder Woman is “going undercover as a pop-country starlet’s trainer”, so I thought that this might be a Wonder Woman meets Taylor Swift sort of thing, which would have been fun. I was expecting something light and breezy, but this issue went in the opposite direction in some very interesting ways. It’s a first issue that really drew me in and left me curious and excited to find out what happens next week.

The story centers on Esperanza, a young music star who is on tour and getting some creepy and dangerous threats. Her teacher/bodyguard has a past connection with Wonder Woman, and so she asks for Diana’s help in handling the situation. Wonder Woman decides to pitch in and help, joining Esperanza’s team as a “trainer” while she’s secretly there to protect the starlet. There’s also a sketchy record company executive in the mix, as well as a couple of teens who get upgraded to VIP status, though I fear that may have some ominous implications for them.

The plot doesn’t sound too complex on paper, but the structure of the story is very cool. It jumps around a lot, visiting several characters and going back in time to explain their relationships with each other and to tease their role in the situation with Esperanza. Unlike some past issues of Sensation Comics that you can fly through in a minute or so, this issue requires you to pay attention and keep track of who’s who, which is a nice change of pace. New scenes often start mid-conversation, without a lot of explanation. It is both sparse and detailed, and the non-linear structure isn’t confusing so much as it keeps you engaged as you start to put the pieces together. I really like how Sara Ryan constructed the story here.

I also love how Ryan set up Wonder Woman’s relationship with Esperanza’s teacher (who I don’t think is named in this issue?). They met ten years ago at a women’s shelter where Wonder Woman was teaching self defense, and it seems that they kept in touch over the years. The issue doesn’t go into the details of the teacher’s situation back then, nor does it have some sort of on the nose soliloquy about the importance of women’s shelters and such. Instead, through simply showing Wonder Woman’s relationship with the teacher and the changes in her life from where she was then to where she is now, it subtly demonstrates the importance of women’s shelters as well as her strength in overcoming whatever her situation may have been.

The relationship captures Wonder Woman beautifully as well. Of course she teaches self defense at a women’s shelter, and of course she stays in touch with her students and jumps to help them if they need it, even a decade later. That is exactly what Wonder Woman would do with her spare time, and exactly how she would react when a friend is in need.

The art is good, and does a nice job of communicating each new setting and time period. The jumping narrative could have gotten muddled with poor art, but Christian Duce keeps things focused and moving along well. Plus there are fun little moments interspersed through the story that he nails. In particular, a two page scene where Wonder Woman is on the phone with Esperanza’s teacher could have been dull, but instead Wonder Woman is fighting some bad guy while talking on the phone, nailing him with a sweet tiara boomerang shot. It’s a fun scene, and Duce does a great job capturing the bad assness of Wonder Woman.

The issue doesn’t end with a dramatic cliffhanger so much as it just stops and says “To Be Continued” but I was definitely intrigued by the story and am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. I don’t trust that executive guy, and I’m worried about the teens at the concert, though I also know that it’s a Wonder Woman comic and she’ll sort it out all out because that’s what she does. I’m excited to see how she does it, though. If it’s anywhere near as interesting and clever as this issue, it should be a very fun finale.

If you’re waiting to read this story on paper, the print issue will be out May 20. You should definitely pick this one up.

Wonder Woman Sales Rise In February, Probably For Reasons Other Than The Finches

March 18, 2015

ww39sales

The comic book sales figures for February 2015 are out now, and Wonder Woman #39 had a decent month. After Wonder Woman #37 dropped 27% from the debut issue of Meredith and David Finch and Wonder Woman #38 fell an additional 8%, sales for Wonder Woman #39 actually rose to 42,634 copies sold, an increase of about 7%. This is a pretty sizeable jump, given how the book was trending, and I think that it had a lot more to do with what was on the outside of the book than what was in it.

Several of DC’s February comics had a Harley Quinn variant cover, and Harley Quinn is ridiculously popular right now. She’s in the middle of an impressive renaissance, with her own title selling gangbusters and a spin-off on the way. While at first glance it might seem like the Finches are catching on with readers and thus sales improved, I think that the Harley Quinn variant cover is a much larger factor, largely because sales went up for most of the titles who were part of the variant line.

Last time we checked the sales of Superman/Wonder Woman, it had dropped 6% and then 11% since the new creative team took over in November. In February, sales of Superman/Wonder Woman #16 rose to 38,550, an increase of 4%. That’s a big jump for a book that was on a steady decline.

Superman/Wonder Woman #16 also had a Harley Quinn variant cover. In fact, when you look at all of the other DC titles in the same range of the sales charts as Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, they all sold a few thousand more issues in February and they all had Harley Quinn variant covers too. It’s a very consistent trend, with Harley as the only common denominator for all of the titles.

Sales jumps for both Wonder Woman books due to outside factors makes it hard to ascertain how the titles are going over with readers. Both books were declining, but the February numbers are just a big question mark because we can’t know how big an impact the variant covers had. We’ll have to wait for the March numbers to see where things stand; the movie themed variants DC is putting out this month look cool, but I doubt they’ll have the impact of Harley Quinn and so we’ll likely get more accurate numbers for March’s comics. The only conclusive fact we can pull out of the February numbers is that folks sure do love Harley Quinn.

Wonder Woman’s June 2015 Covers And Solicits

March 17, 2015

June is a big month for DC Comics, with 25 new series debuting and surprising changes for the rest of their ongoing series. We’ve already seen Wonder Woman’s new costume, which has gotten mixed reviews thus far, but let’s take a look at the solicits for Wonder Woman’s comics and find out what is up with the Amazing Amazon this June.

First up is Wonder Woman #41:

wwoutfit

WONDER WOMAN #41
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and
JONATHAN GLAPION
THE JOKER Variant cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
On sale JUNE 17 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US RATED T
A daring new direction begins with the arrival of a brand-new villain! But while he may be new to us, he’s not new to the world he seeks to tame. And speaking of villains, Donna Troy’s quest to destroy Wonder Woman ratchets up another gear (if that’s even possible!), while the games of the Gods bring dark portents to the ultimate Amazon!

So apparently Wonder Woman is $3.99 now. I hope that’s a misprint; Wonder Woman has been $2.99 since the New 52 relaunch.

We’re getting a new villain, and it sounds like it’s an original creation from the Finches with the whole “new to us” bit. That’s sort of ominous. Given how poorly they’ve done with beloved, established characters, I’m worried about what sort of new character the Finches will bring into Wonder Woman’s world. It also sounds like the gods will have a bigger role, which will be a big change. After being a constant presence in the Azzarello/Chiang run, the gods haven’t been much of a role since the Finches took over.

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #18:

wwoutfit2

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #18

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and others
Cover by PAULO SIQUEIRA
THE JOKER Variant cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale JUNE 17 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
The epic new storyline “TRUTH” continues! As the pressure mounts, a relationship is tested!

While I don’t love the idea of Superman just wearing a t-shirt, I really like the t-shirt. I’d definitely wear that. The Fleischer’s Superman is all sorts of fun.

As for the story, this is a very vague solicit! The “Truth” storyline is running through Action Comics, Superman, and Batman Superman as well, and none of those solicits give any hints as to what this truth may be. Superman’s got some sort of secret, and that’s all we know. I’m not at all surprised to have Superman/Wonder Woman focusing on Superman and tying into the other Super-books again, though. God forbid they focus on Wonder Woman for any length of time.

We’ve also got Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #11:

sensation11

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #11
Written by JOSH ELDER
Art by JAMAL IGLE and JUAN CASTRO
Cover by STEPHANE ROUX
On sale JUNE 17 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Wonder Woman has always been both warrior and diplomat. Now she must stand against Ares, the god of war himself, if she is to bring peace to the central African nation of Itari, where a centuries-old tribal “Vendetta” threatens to plunge the nation into a bloody civil war.

It looks like we’ve got another three-part digital story that will become one full issue of the print version of Sensation Comics. That can be fun, if the story is able to carry the whole book. It worked great for Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Apokalips story; that was great, and definitely warranted a full issue for itself. Hopefully this new story is similarly good. The creative team is decent, and a trip to Africa to fight Ares could be fun.

Finally, here are a couple of scheduling notes. First, Wonder Woman Annual #1, originally scheduled for April 1, has been moved to June 3. The annual is set to wrap up the current arc on Wonder Woman, but it looks like it won’t be done in time to be published before “Convergence” takes over DC for a couple of months.

Second, the Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Volume 1 has been solicited, though it’s not out until August 19. It’s 640 pages for $75, and includes the first 24 issues of Perez’s legendary run. I’m also encouraged to see it listed as the first volume; it would be great to get more of Perez’s run in omnibus form. I’m really looking forward to this beast of a book!


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