It’s tricky to review half of a story, especially when that first part amounts to only ten full pages of comic book material. It’s not a lot to go on, plus the more exciting bits of a comic tend to come toward the end of a story and you get to see how bits of the first part pay off. So let’s call this a tentative review, because a lot could change once part two comes out next week.
That being said, I definitely have some thoughts about this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics regardless of how it ends later. On pretty much every level, it didn’t do much for me. I didn’t dislike it, but it was a decidedly average outing from a book that’s had a very strong beginning.
Let’s start with what I did like, which was the overall premise of the issue. Because Wonder Woman is an accepting and open-minded person, she states in a television interview that while she believes in the Greek gods, she’s not here to proselytize on their behalf. The gods, quick to anger as always, feel like Wonder Woman has denounced them and thus take away her powers. That’s a solid premise, and I’m curious to see how it plays out in the story’s finale.
However, the execution of this premise was fairly mundane. Ivan Cohen’s done a lot of great kids books for DC Comics, so maybe I was expecting more humour and fun from the story, but the writing was a little bit flat. Wonder Woman’s interview seemed unnecessarily long, with odd turns and no real pep, despite a bit of a cliffhanger that I assume will come up in some capacity next week. Wonder Woman’s interaction with an armed hostage taker was similarly uneventful. Cohen makes the gunman sexist, but in a very obvious way, and the scene’s attempt at a joke was mildly amusing at best. The dialogue throughout was okay, but there was no snap; there was no fire to Wonder Woman’s outrage, no cleverness from anyone, no real fun to any of it.
Wonder Woman’s loss of powers was also very telegraphed. She doesn’t realize that it’s happened until the last page, but earlier in the story when she wonders if there will be any repercussions from the gods for her statement, it’s clear that there will be. When she gets confused about where she’s going to stop a shooting and then fails to deflect a bullet, it’s obvious what is happening, though confirmation doesn’t come until the last page when Wonder Woman figures out what any reader could have put together pages before.
Marcus To’s art didn’t add a lot to the story, either. I’m a fan of To, but his work here matched Cohen’s writing in its middle of the roadness. Part of the reason the dialogue read so flat was because the characters didn’t have a lot of expression. The art felt very static and posed, lacking a sense of action and dynamism. Even when Wonder Woman fought some drakons at the end of the issue in a scene that felt needlessly tacked on to add a fight to the book, it was a fairly lifeless battle that was not helped by a white light that increasingly washed out the panels. The overwhelming light is on the colorist, but the rote art that accompanied it is on To.
The art also failed at a key moment in the issue’s cliffhanger ending. Wonder Woman realizes that the gods have forsaken her by looking in a mirror and seeing that her beauty, one of her gifts from the gods, is gone. The trouble is, in that panel she looks pretty much exactly like she did throughout the rest of the book. The only difference is a slight indication of bags under her eyes. She doesn’t look ugly, or even just average. She looks like a somewhat tired version of herself. It’s a pivotal moment in the story that the art doesn’t sell, at all.
Now, this isn’t a bad comic book at all. It’s okay albeit unexciting, and it’s failings are hardly catastrophic. It is, however, firmly average. Nothing’s terrible, but nothing is great or stands out as a really strong bit of writing or art. I’m hoping that next week’s finale will remedy this, and offer a good conclusion to a fun premise that just lacked a solid execution. Ideally, some of the things that read as mundane or dull in this first part will pay off in clever ways in part two, and my opinion of the story as a whole will shift firmly to the positive. I’ll be back next week to talk all about it, with the highest of hopes.