Still no Gilbert Hernandez! His story is in the print version of Sensation Comics that came out this Wednesday, but I haven’t gotten to my comic shop yet. What’s a guy got to do to get this story in a digital form? This week’s digital first issue is part one of a two parter, so I’m betting we don’t get Hernandez next week either. The ways of digital distribution are mysterious.
Luckily, we’ve got another good story this week so I can’t be too sad about the lack of Hernandez. I’m a sucker for a Hippolyta story, and doubly so when Phillipus is involved, so “Generations” by Michael Jelenic, Drew Johnson, and Ray Snyder is right up my alley. The issue has a dual narrative. In the first, Wonder Woman has tracked down the elusive phoenix just as it burns out before being reborn from its ashes. She’s there to recover the phoenix egg, which grants eternal life, but the Cheetah shows up to contest her for her prize. In the second, the Amazons are having a party and Phillipus is orchestrating the celebrations.
Jelenic does a good job of weaving the two separate stories together. Hippolyta is clearly missing her daughter’s at the party, while Diana is remembering her mother’s lessons about how Amazons engage in combat as she battles with the Cheetah. Both halves of the stories have very different tones. The party is light and fun, with some solid comedic moments. Phillipus’ play about the creation of the Amazons is particularly funny, with it quickly turning its focus to the Phillipus character. Some writers make the Amazons very serious and almost dour, but Jelenic has made them fun.
In the Wonder Woman half, it’s all action and excitement and blood. Wonder Woman yanks a spear out of her shoulder and throws it at the Cheetah; it’s hardcore stuff. But at the same time, the violence is tempered with Diana remembering to first seek peace before engaging in violence, which she does. Then when she’s rebuffed, it’s time to show her foe why peace was the better option. I really enjoyed how Jelenic framed the fight in this manner, using violence as a way to convince someone to try the peaceful route next time.
The art is great, though the layouts seemed a bit odd for a digital book. So I did some digging and apparently this story is an old one from the pre-New 52 era, created as a fill-in just in case the team on Wonder Woman was running late and DC had to publish something. It dates back to 2010 or so, and is set in the pre-New 52 continuity, but DC never had to use it so now it’s been repurposed for Sensation Comics. And I’m glad it has, because this is some of the best work I’ve seen from Drew Johnson.
Johnson was a regular on Wonder Woman in the mid-2000s, working with Greg Rucka during his run and popping up sporadically afterward. His work was always solid, but this issue is especially strong. His Amazons look fantastic, his Wonder Woman is regal, strong, and beautiful, and his Cheetah is fiendish and lithe. I’m excited to see the pages laid out as they were meant to be, in full page form, because I think they’ll be stunning. You can see a few of them as they were originally sized at Johnson’s DeviantArt page, if you are so inclined.
Ray Snyder’s inks are strong as well, and Lizzy John’s colouring is especially striking. Her use of warm reds and yellows in the Wonder Woman section and cooler blues and greens back with the Amazons create a nice contrast, and she’s achieved some lovely effects with her textures in a variety of areas, ranging from stones to skin tones. It’s a very pretty story all around.
And also, only part one! It was likely a 22 page story to begin with, so that’s more than 40 digital pages, and this week’s Sensation Comics comprises only half of it. It wasn’t created to be split up, but the artificial cliffhanger works well enough and the solid work throughout has me excited for the second half. The story is enjoyable and the art is wonderful.
If you’re waiting for the print version, it’s going to be a little while. This story, along with its second half, I assume, is scheduled for January’s print issue of Sensation Comics. It should be worth the wait, though. This is going to look great full sized.