Wonder Woman #39 Review: Let’s Talk About The One Good Thing This Book Has Going For It

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It’s tough to come up with new and creative ways to say a comic book is terribly written every two weeks, and James Robinson is doing me no favours by continually churning out one of the worst Wonder Woman runs in recent memory. And that’s saying something. Remember the Finches? This might be even worse than that. Point being, I can only talk about this horrendous storyline so much before I lose my mind. It’s just too terrible. So today, let’s turn a negative into a positive. Yes, today’s new issue of Wonder Woman is still hot garbage and everyone at DC should feel bad about themselves for putting out such a bad book. However, today is also Colorist Appreciation Day, when comic book fans take to social media to celebrate the pivotally important, criminally overlooked artists who make the comics look good (#ColoristAppreciationDay). So let’s do that instead! But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m gonna run through the stupid contents of this issue real quick first!

But then I’m going to tell you how rad Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s coloring is!

So basically, Wonder Woman is still fighting Silver Swan, the most underdeveloped villain in the history of villains. Apparently there’s some sort of nanobot situation behind her transformation? Anyway, she’s evil and angry and spending most of her time rehashing literally everything we learned last issue, in typical Robinson fashion. Also, Darkseid and Grail are hanging out in the Amazon rain forest, and Darkseid sends the Female Furies after Steve Trevor and his knockoff Howling Commandos. Oh, and Jason tries to get into the fighting mix and uses some dumb wind power or something. Surprising no one, it proves ineffective. So yeah, it’s all very bad.

Apart from the art! Before I get to the colorist, I should again praise the fine work of Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy, who are making some horrible writing at least nice to look at. This week they’re joined by Carmen Carnero, who does some fine work as well. It’s a good looking book. You’d be better served to look at the pretty pictures and make up your own story and dialogue, really.

The lovely art is, of course, brought to life by the marvelous coloring of Romulo Fajardo Jr. He’s been the only real constant on Wonder Woman since it’s “Rebirth” relaunch, and has been doing great work on the title for over a year and a half now. After sharing duties with Laura Martin, who colored Liam Sharp’s art, for the first year, he’s been the sole colorist since. It’s been a remarkable run for several reasons.

First, by my count, he’s worked with over eleven different line art teams during that span. That’s a lot of change, and with each new artist he’s adapted his style to fit their artwork. Fajardo Jr. could have just colored them all exactly the same, but he doesn’t. When the art is more realistic, his colors are more subtle and textured to bring out the realism. When the art is more cartoonish, he goes a bit brighter and bolder and sells the style. There’s definite consistency throughout his work, too. The man’s blending in his shading, especially with skin tones, is impeccable, and the dude does amazing work with different textures. His ability to adapt to his artists while putting out high quality work is impressive, and it gives the series a cohesiveness that counters the constant upheaval of the line art changes.

Second, it’s hard to be a colorist under the best of circumstances. If a script is late or the artist gets behind, the colorist is the last line of defense to ensure that the book comes out on time. This often involves working on crazy deadlines to pick up the slack for everyone else. It’s a thankless, high pressure job, and is doubly so on a bi-weekly series like Wonder Woman. The book is coming out every two weeks come hell or high water, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. is the person that has to carry the baton for the final stretch of the race with each and every issue. And he nails it! Every two weeks, we get a gorgeously colored comic book. No matter who’s writing or drawing it, the coloring is smooth and uniform and pulls the whole issue together.

With every issue of Wonder Woman, whether I’m engrossed in the story and devouring it or appalled at the story and trudging my way through, there’s always at least one moment where I stop and marvel at something Fajardo Jr. has done. Often it’s something small, like the texture of a rock. An inconsequential bit that you could slap a bit of grey on and be fine, saving your time to make sure Wonder Woman herself looks good and fancy. But he always adds a little something to it to make it feel a bit more real, to make the comic book reading experience more immersive. I mean, look at this splash page from the last issue:

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The linework is gorgeous, but he takes it to new heights. The smooth skin tones, the shine on the metal armor, the glow of the lasso, the texture in the stone, the grit on the girl trapped in the rubble. Everything pops. The man’s got an epic arsenal of skills at his disposal, and he uses them with aplomb. His attention to detail adds so much to the book.

Romulo Fajardo Jr. has been a key part of Wonder Woman’s comic book adventures for years now, not just with Wonder Woman itself but dating back to Wonder Woman ’77 as well. His coloring really brought Lynda Carter to life in the early issues of that series, and it’s been exciting to follow his career since then. I’m glad he’s remained part of the Wonder Woman family, and it’s been so fun to see him color some of my favourite artists, including Mirka Andolfo, Bilquis Evely, Emanuela Lupacchino, and Nicola Scott. The man is going to go down in history for “Year One” alone; Scott killed it, obviously, but his colors paired with her linework beautifully, and that collection is going to be a classic for as long as comic books exist. So my thanks go out to Romulo Fajardo Jr., the MVP of Wonder Woman! I hope he gets to color her and her adventures for years to come!

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