I have no idea what’s going on with Sensation Comics right now. The first part of this story, Sensation Comics #20, came out on Christmas day and I was busy with festive activities so I decided that since it’s a two-parter, I’d just review it all at once next Thursday. That Thursday came with no new Sensation Comics, and then the following Thursday was the debut of Wonder Woman ’77! Now, on a Tuesday, we’ve finally got a new Sensation Comics and the second part of the story. Will Sensation Comics be out next Tuesday? I couldn’t tell you. All I know for sure right now is that the book is going to come out when it comes out.
But onto the story! “Venus Rising” by Alex de Campi and Neil Googe finds Wonder Woman representing the Justice League on a space shuttle travelling to the first human settlement on the planet Venus. Things quickly go awry, resulting in Wonder Woman fighting massive monsters in a cool spacesuit and ultimately saving the day when she realizes that the monsters aren’t actually their enemies at all.
The story is okay, but not particularly subtle. The real villain of the piece is the mission’s unrelentingly sexist leader, who was hoping they’d get Superman and not Wonder Woman. He’s a straight up caricature, with no real depth other than thinking that women aren’t as good as men. Some of the scenes are similarly on the nose, like when de Campi devotes three pages to Wonder Woman and the only female astronaut talking about how people take pictures of Wonder Woman’s butt and how Superman never gets asked what it’s like being a male hero. There are some panels that are fun individually, and are ideal for posting on tumblr and the like, but strung all together in the middle of a story in a digital medium where space is a priority, it all feels a little over the top.
The twist at the end is clever, though. De Campi reveals that the monsters attacking the ship are actually astronauts who were lost earlier in the story and gained a new form in the gases of Venus. They liked their new forms so much that they wanted their friends to join in the fun, and Wonder Woman talks them down instead of fighting and allows the astronauts to choose whether to return to Earth or live on Venus in this new form. One astronaut chooses to stay, the sexist captain, but his about face at the end rings rather hollow. He tells Wonder Woman, “I’m glad I met you,” but he’s only happy to have met her because it served his ultimate goal, being on the forefront of exploration, albeit in a way he never imagined. “Gals are okay because look I achieved my dreams!” is not really learning his lesson.
The art on the book is fun. Googe’s characters are very expressive, and his style reminded me a little bit of Rob Guillory on Chew, which is never a bad thing. I particularly like the outfits he puts Wonder Woman in. She never wears the classic costume. Instead, she shows up on the space shuttle wearing star spangled robes, including a hijab, after a trip to the Punjab, and then immediately changes into her fancy spacesuit. He also does an excellent job with the Venusian monsters, and illustrating the battle scene as they tear apart the space station. Those scenes have a great, epic feel.
I also love the effect on the space helmets, and I don’t know whether it was the colourists or Googe himself that did it. There’s a slight blur on the clear face masks, but it’s not actually a blur. Instead, it’s dots. I blathered on about halftone dots a few issues ago, too; people have been using it to great effect in Sensation Comics as of late! Check out how cool these helmets look:
Such a nice touch. I love when people mix it up in such interesting, subtle ways.
All together, this story was just okay for me. The writing was a bit on the nose throughout, but the ending was decent and the art had strong moments. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means, just not quite as compelling as some of the highs this series has reached thus far. Still, it was fun. Wonder Woman fought giant monsters attacking a space station on Venus; that’s just a good time.
For those of you who wait for the print version, this story should be in Sensation Comics #7 along with Amy Chu and Bernard Chang’s story from a few weeks back. The book will hit comic shops on February 18!