Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #39 Review: “Both Ends of the Leash” by Carla Speed McNeil4


Today’s digital first edition of Sensation Comics was a bit of an odd read for me. I actually had to read it twice to try to fully understand what was happening in the story, and even then it still doesn’t make a ton of sense. There’s a lot of filling in the gaps required, but not in a cool, puzzle this out sort of way. The comic isn’t set up in a complicated way or anything, it’s just missing a few key pieces of information that would make this a much better read. A couple of tweaks to the script would have done this issue a world of good.

So here’s the story as I understand it: There’s this guy who has a lion. I’m not entirely sure why; it seems like he thinks it would be a fun pet. Also, he names the lion Rommel, who was a Nazi general, so that’s weird. Is this dude some sort of neo-Nazi? We don’t know, because the Rommel thing goes by without comment. Anyway, he raised the lion and things were going swell for a while, but then the lion started to get mean and the dude got bit and ultimately the dude decides to get rid of the lion and sells it to one of those fake safari things where they tie up the lion and let an idiot shoot him. I don’t know if this dude lives in Africa, or if they’re shipping the lion from where the dude lives, presumably America, to Africa, or even how this guy got a lion in the first place. But yeah, he’s fixing to sell the lion, and starving the lion to make him weak enough that he can take him out of the house. Wonder Woman shows up and gives him a talking to, telling him about her feline pals from Paradise Island and how she didn’t fight back when a lion bit her because he wasn’t really trying to hurt her. She teaches him a valuable lesson about being a good trainer, and stops the safari guys who were coming to buy the lion. The end.

That’s what I got out of this issue, but I’m filling in a lot of information there, and there are several things that don’t really make much sense. Frustratingly, it could all have been fixed with a few changes: A location tag at the start of the story, not calling the lion Rommel because that was weird and confusing, a quick explanation of why this dude has a lion and why the lion bit him would be handy. Even with all that, this wouldn’t have been a great story, but it would have been mildly pleasant and made some sense. As is, it’s a very confusing read.

There were certainly enjoyable elements in the mix. I’m not a big fan of Wonder Woman talking to animals, but I liked that the lion calls the dude “skinny-screamy-bald-guy.” The whole Paradise Island sequence was fun too; having Hippolyta send a young Diana off on errands so the rambunctious child wouldn’t interrupt the Amazons’ daily business was a cool idea that resulted in some nicely done scenes.

The art was strong throughout as well, particularly in the Paradise Island sequences. McNeil captured the lush beauty of the island in vibrant, lively way. Her lions were quite strong, too. I find that animals can be hit and miss for comic artists, who are so used to drawing people, but McNeil did a nice job with the animals in this story. I also liked her take on Wonder Woman all around, both the writing and art. She’s serious and on point, but not too worked up and easy to laugh and understand the situation. Plus her young Diana is just adorable. I’d love to see McNeil back on Sensation Comics again with a story about young Diana having adventures as she explores Paradise Island. That part of the book was great.

Overall, there’s a lot to like throughout this issue, but the story just didn’t make a lot of sense and it was a confusing read. The key lesson for today is don’t name a character after a Nazi and not explain why. Also, establish a setting and a clear progression of events. I’m not sure when this story will be out in print. The fantastic Jenny Frison cover is new to me, and it looks like the earliest it could come out is October, barring a change to the already solicited issues. So keep your eyes peeled for this sometime in the fall, probably.

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