Archive for the ‘WW Comics’ Category

Wonder Woman #71 Review: A Colossal Discovery

May 22, 2019

ww71

We’ve had a bit of a talky go of it lately with Wonder Woman. Atlantiades is not the sort of villain you stop with fisticuffs, or even a villain at all, really. More an interesting conundrum, a deity in a strange place doing what only comes natural to them, seeking worship. And toying with mortals, of course. The gods are always toying with mortals. It’s brought us an interesting glimpse into Wonder Woman’s love life, along with some cool discussions on free will and happiness, and it’s all been quite excellent. That plot is largely resolved this week, but with little in the way of awesome punching and action fun.

That’s why it’s handy that Maggie and Aphrodite went off exploring and found a new foe. One that’s definitely going to need some punching. There’ll be no thoughtful, introspective discussions with this adversary. Just a classic beat ‘em up. I love that Wonder Woman is a book that can give us both. G. Willow Wilson’s dug into some heavy subject matter since she took over the series, but she’s also made time to have Diana bust up some rock giants and now what appears to be a massive living statue of some sort. That’s just quality comic booking all around. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

We’re going to discuss everything that happened in this issue!

Turn away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, as always, you should be reading this book!

Before we get into all the fun, I don’t know who keeps telling Terry and Rachel Dodson that Steve Trevor is in the book, but he is not. And yet, he keeps showing up on the covers. He actually popped in for a scene or two a couple weeks back, but wasn’t on the cover then. And now he’s back on the cover once more, with nary a mention of the man inside the book. It’s such a nitpicky thing, I know, but I wonder about the disconnect. Was Steve supposed to be in the book at one point and plans got changed? Are the Dodsons just drawing what they think will look cool? I mean, their covers are always amazing. I’m not even annoyed. Just curious and confused.

Anyway, onto the story. We get a resolution of sorts with Atlantiades, as they realized what they’d hoped to achieve in the town had failed. They thought that letting people be free of the expectations of their ordinary lives and indulge in their desires would bring the town happiness, but it most definitely did not. Actions have consequences, and the weight of these consequences snapped the townsfolk out of Atlantiades’ spell. They got them back momentarily with a display of divine power, but Diana talked them out of continuing the experiment. Atlantiades is clearly dealing with a lot, including a strained relationship with their mother, and hopefully we can see some growth on that front moving forward. They’re a selfish character, but I think they have a good heart. They’re just a bit lost and hurt, and likely have been that way for centuries. I’m excited to see what they make of the opportunities in this new world, having learned from this experience, and I hope Wilson checks in on them from time to time if this town escapade is indeed wrapped up for now.

The only thing I didn’t like about the resolution was that Xermanico didn’t draw the last few pages of it. This is understandable. Bi-weekly comics are an insane grind and you’re going to get some fill-in pages. Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna stepped in to finish the scene, and while the artwork was serviceable, it failed to capture the characters well, especially Atlantiades. Xermanico brought a compelling androgyny to Atlantiades that befit their mythological background. Derenick and Hanna failed to replicate that, leaning much more into the feminine aspects of the character. Atlantiades ended up looking like a twin of Diana rather than the unique take Xermanico had obviously carefully developed.

Xermanico’s work on this arc has been exceptional, from character design to panel layout and beyond, and I’m sad that the strictures of the schedule prevented him from being able to close it out himself. As much as I love getting Wonder Woman twice a month, I deeply hate the onerous demands that bi-weekly books put on artists. This is a run that should be collected for years, even decades to come, and putting out subpar artwork now to fit this unreasonable schedule is a short term compromise that will lead to disappointment long term. I know nobody likes late books, but I feel like editorial could do a better job of planning out the artwork.

But I digress. There was a whole other story to this issue, with a dang colossus in it! At first I thought it was just a giant minotaur, but Aphrodite called it a colossus and the golden head confirms her words. This appears to be a massive statue brought to life somehow, perhaps with the same power that got us stone giants in the Rockies. As far as I can tell, this is an original invention by Wilson and not based on an existing statue or anything. There have been various colossal statues throughout history, most famously the Colossus of Rhodes, which was a statue of Helios, but none of them were a minotaur, I don’t think.

So yeah, we’ve got a fight on our hands now! I love that the sword has emboldened Maggie, and that she was prepared to take on the colossus by herself. She’s been a great addition to the cast, and I’ve enjoyed watching her trepidation give way to courage over the past few issues. Not even Aphrodite dared face off against the colossus, and she’s a dang god! Luckily Wonder Woman arrived just in the nick of time and now they can make a good fight of it. I’m excited to see them throw down in June, and to see what mysteries these underground pathways hold. Well, “underground.” I’m guessing there’s some dimensional travel at play or an underworld sort of situation. Either way, adventure awaits!

Advertisements

Wonder Woman #70 Review: Love is a Battlefield

May 10, 2019

ww70

Our gal Diana has been through a lot recently. Ares is back, and being a real jerk. Veronica Cale is up to her usual tricks. Olympus is destroyed and the Amazons are missing. Giant rock monsters are roaming through the mountains of Colorado. She’s been put through the wringer ever since G. Willow Wilson took over writing the book, and very enjoyably so. She’s Wonder Woman, after all. No one is better suited to handle an avalanche of enemies trying to break her down.

And she’s dealt with it well. Each villain she’s encountered has tried to dig into her a little bit, poking at her insecurities and exposing the complications and even some of the hypocrisies inherent in who she is and what she does. They’ve all made some good points, too, and given Diana a lot to think about it. But she’s held true to herself and continued on.

Until this week, that is. Atlantiades, another Olympian, has thrown her for a loop. Not even intentionally or maliciously this time, just through the sheer force of their unique power. The child of Aphrodite wields the power of truth in some unexpected ways that catch Diana by surprise. The result is a compelling, more introspective issue that examines a relationship that’s been a staple at DC Comics for nearly eighty years. We’ll dig into all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Turn away if you haven’t read this issue yet!

I am about to reveal its many secrets!

Also, go read it! It’s good and gorgeous!

So Atlantiades is an intriguing foe. I’m not sure what their plan is here, or if there even is a plan or purpose to what they’re doing. Having been cast out of Olympus, they find themself with an opportunity to regain some of their past glory, to rekindle the thrill of ancient cults worshipping them, and they go for it. In part to get back at their mother, it seems, and in part because it just felt like a fun thing to do. There is both petulance and cunning to Atlantiades, naiveté and wisdom. Which makes sense, given the dual nature of the character. I’m guessing we’ll never know quite what we’re going to get from them.

As I suspected based on their mythological origins, Atlantiades is presented as non-binary and uses gender neutral pronouns. They are literally two beings combined into one, Aphrodite’s son merged with a female water nymph to make one person. Now, this is not how most non-binary people come to be these days. It’s more to do with not feeling like they fit within the limiting bounds of a traditional binary approach to gender and finding an identity outside of these strictures that better matches their sense of self. Still, it’s very cool to see some non-binary representation in a mainstream superhero comic book. And now that we have Atlantiades, I’d love to see them interact with some more modern non-binary characters. The discussions they could have would be fascinating.

Atlantiades’ mythological origins give them both powers and a special sort of insight into those around them. They’ve captivated this town with ease, promising them freedom and their heart’s desire, and their divine allure quickly got everyone on board. Even Maggie, who has some familiarity with non-earthly folks, is immediately smitten. But not Wonder Woman. She is tempted, to be sure. There is a like calling to like dynamic between Diana and Atlantiades that is quite interesting. The Amazons are all about love and truth, and that is the very core of Atlantiades’ power. The connection between them is palpable.

But then Steve shows up, and the conversation he and Diana have is heartbreaking. They admit their insecurities and fears, with Steve telling Diana that he sometimes thinks he would be happier with a mortal woman and Diana acknowledging that she has thought the same thing. It’s all a ruse of course, but in a clever twist it’s not some attempt by Atlantiades to upset Diana. Instead, it’s her own fears manifesting in the aura of Atlantiades’ truthful power. It’s a nightmare of her own making, a shade created by her own anxieties.

Knowing that, Diana’s able to face it head on. Yes, she feels all of these things. She has concerns and fears about her relationship with Steve. But at the end of the day, she loves him, and that is enough. Love is central to Wonder Woman, and has been since her very first appearance n 1941. It’s why she’s strong. It’s why she’s brave. And it’s why she’s able to tackle her anxieties and work through them.

The scene is viscerally real and beautifully written by Wilson, who presents the complexities of the unusual relationship between Diana and Steve in an honest, gripping way. I was totally sold on the twist, and thought Atlantiades had brought Steve there to mess with Diana. It was a raw, powerful interaction, and one that made even more sense when the truth was revealed. Of course Diana has anxieties about their relationship. There are sacrifices and compromises on both sides, as in any relationship, and that gets exacerbated even further when superpowers and godhood enter the mix. But the conclusion felt just as real and true. She loves Steve enough to work through her concerns and carry on together.

This entire issue was wonderfully illustrated by Xermanico, who is just doing a stellar job on this book. They need to lock him down on Wonder Woman for a while because his artwork is exceptional. Diana’s emotional journey is shown so well, and that scene with Steve is especially strong. He also captures the androgynous beauty of Atlantiades, giving them a unique and captivating look that well suits the character. And of course, the colors of Romulo Fajardo Jr. add so much to the equation, elevating the already lovely linework. Xermanico needs to be the primary artist for this series moving forward. The dude is just too good.

The issue ends with some drama. The townsfolk are not so happy with getting everything they want because it turns out being selfish can backfire after a while. Decisions have consequences, and they’re starting to add up. It looks like we’ve got a revolt coming, and while Diana and Atlantiades are strong enough to handle the angry mortals without any real fear of harm, I’m curious to see how this entire situation gets resolved. Atlantiades has made a real mess, and it’s going to be tough to clean up, if that’s what they even want to do! Should be fun.

Wonder Woman #69 Review: Insert Hilarious Joke Here

April 25, 2019

ww69

Let’s just deal with the obvious right away. This is the sixty-ninth issue of the latest Wonder Woman series, and the story is about a small town that’s gone mad with lust. Well played, everyone. A few other DC books have hit #69 recently, or they will shortly, but I don’t know if they’ve leaned into the joke as well as Wonder Woman has. It’s not a dirty issue by any means. The exuberant lust is largely off-panel, and the story really only addresses its ramifications. But still, they went for it, and I was amused.

Aside from all the lusting, this was a bit of a table setting issue. There was a new character to introduce, a powerful weapon to tease, and the entire story built to a final page reveal that I think we all knew was coming. Still, it was entertaining, and I’m very curious to see what happens in two weeks’ time. The idea that coming to our mortal realm changes the Olympian deities in some way is a fascinating one, and I like how they’ve explored it thus far. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the details from this issue!

A very revealing issue, if you know what I mean!

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!

Actually, it’s really not like that so much!

I’m just joking around!

I will start with the dumbest nitpick, because it’s a thing that always irks me: Steve Trevor is on the cover and he doesn’t appear in this issue at all. He’s not even mentioned, I don’t think. So sorry to all you Steve enthusiasts out there who picked up this issue excited for some Diana/Steve adventures. There were none. This disconnect may speak to a larger editorial issue, though, in that it looks like the book is the middle of changing hands.

Chris Conroy and Dave Wielgosz have been editing the series for ages now, and the credits suggest it’s now passing on to Brian Cunningham and Brittany Holzher. It’s an interesting switch. On the one hand, Wonder Woman is a book that definitely benefits from a female presence in editorial, I think, and Holzher is a smart, well-respected assistant editor at DC. On the other hand, when I ran the numbers a couple years back, Cunningham hired the fewest number of female creators of any editor at DC except Eddie Berganza (who wasn’t allowed to work directly with women and has since been fired for sexual harassment). So a bit of a mixed bag here. I’ll keep an eye on things to see if there are any noticeable changes to the book once this transition is complete.

But onto the issue itself! So much lusting, lusting. So little trusting, trusting. Antiope’s sword leads the gang to Summergrove, Connecticut, where an entire town has been overcome by a need to act on their deepest desires. And, in a perfectly executed moment, Wonder Woman is totally cool with it. She’s not there to kink-shame anyone, and would be happy to leave them to their bacchanal except for the fact that she has to step in to stop an aggrieved husband from striking his wife. And then the murder cupids show up, and we know something’s gone very wrong here.

(The murder cupids are a fantastic idea, by the way. A+ execution on this amazing concept by the entire creative team.)

It’s largely a light outing, with some jokes in the mix and hilarious villains with the murder cupids, but G. Willow Wilson does dig into some heavier subjects. Domestic violence is touched on briefly, and there’s also a discussion of whether being honest with yourself and following your heart absolves you of your responsibilities or from hurting others. Most of Wilson’s issues thus far have subtly raised deeper questions related to the bombastic superhero antics at hand, which is a move I quite enjoy. And this week’s installment was no exception. These questions also give us a glimpse of Wonder Woman’s mindset. She’s fine with the town’s sexual escapades, so long as everyone is having fun, but once people begin to hurt each other, physically or emotionally, she feels compelled to step in.

Her involvement leads us to the murder cupids, and finally to Atlantiades, the child of Aphrodite (my Comixology issue has them as Antlantiades, but I think that might be a typo?). I’ve been excited for this reveal because, based on the mythology, Atlantiades could be a non-binary character. There’s certainly an androgyny to their appearance here, and Xermanico does a really cool thing with the panel layouts on the pages leading up their introduction. The panels on one page combine into a distinctly female form, while the panels on the next page show a male form. This speaks to Atlantiades’ past, in which their originally male form was merged with the naiad Salmacis to become a being of both sexes. Atlantiades is also known as Hermaphroditus, from whom we get the term hermaphrodite.

We didn’t learn anything about Atlantiades gender preferences in this issue. The solicits refer to them as Aphrodite’s “son” but the comics have been more vague in past issues and used the word “child.” I feel like those panel layouts are telling as well. We’ll probably know more with the next issue, now that they’re officially in the mix. But what we do know now is that Atlantiades is using the murder cupids to be the ruler of lust town, and that their mother is not at all pleased by this. Love is a very powerful force, and to use it in such a coercive and even violent way is blasphemy to her.

The art throughout the issue is great. I’m glad to see Xermanico back. He’s got a classic superhero style but he’s good at not indulging in the hyper-sexualization that style can bring. His Wonder Woman is powerful and kind, his Aphrodite is beautiful and fierce, and he can draw the heck out of a pegasus. He does a good job with the lustful citizens as well, showing a wide range of people and body types and not lingering on the shenanigans in a salacious way. Romulo Fajardo Jr. does an excellent job with the colors, too. It’s a bright issue, generally, outdoors on a sunny day, but he does dark and ominous as necessary with the murder cupids in ways that really sell their menacing traits.

So, Atlantiades is in the mix now! That’s going to be a situation in two weeks’ time. And Antiope’s sword is going to do something cool at some point! They keep talking about how powerful and rad it is, and while Maggie’s not feeling it yet, she’s got to at some point. They’ve got it all teed up for us. Should be fun!

Wonder Woman #68 Review: The Big Friendly Giganta

April 10, 2019

ww68

As often happens with superhero comic books, this cover is not necessarily an accurate reflection of what’s going on inside the book. Yes, Wonder Woman and Giganta get into a bit of a precarious scrap with some rock monsters. That much is true. But the tone here is all wrong. First, I’d say it’s wrong for Wonder Woman generally. She’s not going to be sarcastic like that, especially in a combat situation, no matter who she’s with. I don’t know who did this dialogue, but I feel like it may not have been G. Willow Wilson. Second, at no point in the book is Wonder Woman annoyed with Giganta like this. While there’s a degree of conflict, it’s subtler and far more interesting than this cover conveys. I mean, it’s a fun cover. The Dodsons are always a good time. It’s just not capturing what is compelling and excellent about the insides of the book. Which we’ll dig into now, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you all of the things that happen in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, be sure to read it!

This run is very good!

One of the things I like most about this run so far is that G. Willow Wilson didn’t come to play. Yeah, she’s got rad action and some enjoyable comedy and all of the things that make a superhero comic entertaining. But beyond that, she is digging into some heavy stuff. The word I keep coming back to when I review her issues is “interrogation.” The first arc with Ares was an interrogation of what it means to be a hero, and whether answering violence with violence is just perpetuating a damaging system. It was an arc that didn’t land on any firm answer, and it feels like we’re picking up on that theme again here, but with a slight, more specific alteration. Now we’re interrogating what it means to be a superhero.

With the realization that the rock giants aren’t sentient, Wonder Woman doesn’t need to hold back anymore. She can push her strength and her powers further, full on demolishing the creatures without fear of killing someone. And Giganta notices, because Giganta is smart. She’s seen through Wonder Woman from day one, noting the deeper motivations behind her actions. And now she’s got some thoughts. Namely, that Wonder Woman is scared of her own powers, and that if she wanted to she could use her powers to run the world. And, more incisively, in that holding back to supposedly protect the weak, Wonder Woman is lying to herself. Giganta suggests that Wonder Woman’s morality is a smoke screen to hide from her fear of herself, of what she could be if she embraced the depths of her powers. Wonder Woman disagrees, of course, but it’s clear that she’s a bit rattled. The comments resonate with her on some level.

Now, Giganta is hardly trustworthy here. Like Ares and Veronica Cale before her, Giganta is not someone with Wonder Woman’s best interests at heart. This is hardly a critique that is meant to encourage Wonder Woman to be her best self. If anything, it’s a reflection of Giganta’s own sense of powerlessness, of her yearning for what she could do with more power. Being in the Suicide Squad can’t be terribly fun, and seeing someone free yet holding back what they can do must be irksome to her.

And yet, Giganta gets to the heart of things in a way no one else has yet. Ares is all bluster and bloviating. Veronica Cale is all anger and blame. They don’t see Diana for who she is. Giganta does, though, in her own way. When Wonder Woman insists that her morality is not fake, Giganta replies, “Oh yeah? Then why aren’t you happy?” The line made me stop for a second, in part because it was very unexpected but also because it rang surprisingly true. Yeah, Diana’s got Steve and her friends and a swell gig saving the world, but there hasn’t been a lot of joy to this run. Even beyond the drama surrounding the Amazons, there’s a dearth of happiness. She’s not unhappy, really. It’s sort of a neutral. She’s purposeful in her actions, staying true to her beliefs and what makes her who she is. There’s just no buoyancy to it. Not to go all Marie Kondo on her, but Diana’s life doesn’t seem to be sparking a lot of joy for her right now.

What that means for her, I have no idea. And again, Giganta’s most definitely not trying to help Wonder Woman here. This may not be an observation Diana needs to take to heart. I thought it resonated, though, and I’m curious to see how it plays out. The finding of Antiope’s sword seems to have lifted Diana’s spirits, and we’ve got a fun new quest ahead of us now. But Giganta’s comments run deeper than the Amazon issue. Diana doesn’t need to find her family so much as she needs to find herself. And maybe finding her family is a necessary step on that journey.

We’ve got Cary Nord and Mick Gray back on art to start out the issue, but just when I was getting into their style and starting to enjoy their work, we only get them for half the book. Ronan Cliquet takes over in the second half, and his work is generally unremarkable. If he’s trying to do a Cary Nord impression, he’s not great at it. And what we end up with is run of the mill superhero fare. We’ve got Xermanico back in two weeks, however, and he was great last time around.

Also, a fun team up with a triumvirate of awesome ladies! There’s Wonder Woman leading the charge, Aphrodite and her cool swan, and Maggie with Antiope’s sword atop the pegasus Cadmus. They look super cool, and I can’t wait to see what kind of adventure they’re about to get into. Plus, Antiope’s got to show up sometime soon now! You can’t give us her sword and then no Antiope. She’s not been a huge part of Wonder Woman comics in the past, and I’m excited to see how G. Willow Wilson and the art team bring her to life in the wake of Robin Wright’s spectacular take on the character in the Wonder Woman movie. Should be fun!

Wonder Woman #67 Review: Swords, Stones, and an Arthurian Twist

March 27, 2019

ww67

This issue was everything I wanted it to be. Fun banter between Wonder Woman and Giganta? Yes. Busting up rock giants in awesome fight scenes? Yes. Enemies becoming friends as they worked together toward a common purpose? YES. It was all such a good time, epic in scope yet intimate in terms of its subtle relationship building. Road trips with Wonder Woman should be a thing from now on. Like a requirement for every run. Have her team up with one of her foes against a bigger foe, go off on an adventure, and before you know it they’re pals sharing a meal at a diner in Colorado. Make it a thing, DC! It doesn’t have to be rock monsters or Colorado every time either. Though the rock monsters were cool. Big things that Wonder Woman and her pals can beat on make for enjoyable comic books.

Let’s dig into all of the friendship fun, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this excellent issue!

It’s a delight, and you should go in unspoiled!

Invest your $3.99 in a good time!

So, the titans are a big problem. Or rather, not the titans? As Wonder Woman observes by the issue’s end, they’re not acting like gods, or even properly sentient beings. They certainly don’t have the faculties one would expect from the world’s original deities. Something else seems to be happening, something involving the sword that Maggie finds in the lake. Which I loved. Any time a story veers into lady + lake + sword, things are going right up my alley. I’m all about Arthurian lore, and I’m curious to see how much G. Willow Wilson is steering into it here. I suspect not too much, since we’ve got enough going on with the Olympians all cast down to Earth. But a little taste and a touch of borrowed iconography could definitely be a nice additional to this already great storyline.

But the sword wasn’t the focus of this issue. We’ll get into that in two weeks time. This week was about friendship! And it came together in a very cool way. The last issue was all about setting the parameters. Giganta was up front about her desire not to be friends, and Diana said that’s not why she brought her (though we all know it was, even if Diana doesn’t fully realize it). It was discussed directly and, apart from a nice moment at the end of the book, Giganta was adamant they were not going to become pals.

What I especially liked about this issue is that they don’t really talk about being friends. It just sort of happens through what they’re experiencing together and by the end they’ve developed a degree of trust and camaraderie that can’t help but bring them closer together. Things start off with Giganta still a bit snarky, being sarcastic about their situation and making fun of Diana’s attempts at humour. Then the fights start, and things quickly get out of hand, as battles with rock giants are wont to do. Giganta is a valiant warrior, but she can’t handle the rock giant alone. And when she needs help, Diana is there, instantly and with all her might, even if she is tiny and little more than an annoyance to these massive creatures.

Between the lines of all of this is where their relationship starts to grow. By working together they begin to trust each other, especially on Giganta’s end. She knows she’s there to be the muscle, since she’s the only one big enough to have any effect against the rock giants. And yet, Diana is there alongside her, totally outclassed but rushing in nonetheless to help her out and buy her the time she needs to get back into the fight. That’s how everyone makes friends, really. Not in rad fights against rock giants usually, but in that you meet someone with a common interest or goal and you have each other’s backs and learn to trust and appreciate each other.

Another great thing about this issue is that I felt like the art was much improved from the last outing. Not that Cary Nord and Mick Gray did a bad job by any means two weeks back, but I felt like the art and the writing weren’t meshing together well. Nord just wasn’t capturing the spirit of the script, or adding much to help tell the story apart from the essentials. This issue felt much more engaged and connected. For one thing, his characters were expressive in a whole spectrum of ways. Last time, I had to get everything from the dialogue. The art wasn’t telling me much at all. This time, I could see what the scene felt like before I even got to the words. He was communicating the emotions of each moment very clearly.

Also, the fights were nicely done. Everything felt suitably epic and cool. The scope of it was clear, with the massive rock giant against Giganta’s sizeable frame, and a little Wonder Woman darting in and out. Plus smaller moments like the way Giganta towered over the trees sold the scale of it beautifully. There was one small moment in particular that I loved, a panel where Giganta had been knocked down and Wonder Woman rushed in to help. She zooms in and punches the giant repeatedly, to no real damage. But you can get that sense of her racing in to assist her new friend, trying to do something to slow it down and help her out:

ww67a

It’s not the clearest, most detailed panel ever, but it communicates so much. I know I’ve been down on Nord a lot during this run, but he and Gray really hit it out of the park with this issue. It’s the best we’ve seen of them so far, for sure. And of course, series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. makes it all just sing. That dude is the best in the biz.

So in two weeks we’ve got the mystery of the sword to dig into! The rock giants are after it, so that could be a pickle for Maggie and the gang of Olympian creatures. And if it’s an Olympian sword of some sort, I’m wondering if it will give her special powers or abilities? That could be fun. We’ll see how it all unfolds!

Wonder Woman #66 Review: Go Big or Go Home

March 14, 2019

ww66

I’m a day late on my Wonder Woman review again. Making a movie is a lot of work, gang! There’s so much on the go. And incidentally, you can check out my short film’s Kickstarter if you want to learn more! But back to the book. When I was late to the party two weeks back, I wasn’t too sad about it. As much as I love the writing, the art for the recent two-parter was decidedly subpar. I was excited for this one, though! Cary Nord is back, and I was curious to see how things would look as he tries to adapt to a bi-weekly schedule. The first attempt went south on him pretty quick.

And the results are fine, I guess. Nord’s Wonder Woman is still a bit scrawny and inconsistent. I don’t think he’s quite got a handle on the character yet. At times, it feels like he’s trying to channel Frank Miller (not a compliment). And other times, it feels like a cartoon, but one of the cool new ones, like She-Ra (this one’s a compliment). I don’t know if it’s the hasty schedule or Wonder Woman herself, but I came away from the issue thinking that Nord’s art was okay but that he might not be the right fit for this book.

Luckily, the writing is still excellent, even if the art isn’t all that exciting. We’ll dig into all the details, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you everything that happened in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

But you should read it, even though I’m down on the art!

The writing is really good!

Whatever’s happened to Olympus and the divine realm continues to have reverberations on Earth, and this time quite literally so. Two giant rock monster titans duke it out in the Rockies, causing all manner of concussive destruction. And of course Wonder Woman arrives on the scene to sort it out, thanks to our mythological creature friends who have relocated to the wilderness. I’m glad to have Cadmus, Damon, and Eirene back in the mix. A little comic relief is always welcome, plus I just like them. G. Willow Wilson’s done a nice job integrating them into the series and giving them distinct personalities, allowing them to be an amusing diversion while also key to the larger plot.

Now, titans are very, very big. And Wonder Woman, while quite powerful, is very small, relatively speaking. No matter her strength, the mass just isn’t there to make her effective against towering rock monsters. The physics doesn’t work. Luckily, she’s got a friend. Or rather, not a friend at all, as Giganta makes quite clear. But she knows a gal, and she gets Giganta out of prison to help with the fight.

I love this relationship already. Wonder Woman’s got a history with Giganta, though not as much in this current continuity. Gail Simone wrote some good stuff with her and Wonder Woman back in the day if I’m recalling correctly, but the universe has been rebooted since then. Here, Giganta is leery of Wonder Woman, fearing that her entire plan is “some kind of earnest, dewy-eyed trick to get us to become best friends.” And honestly? Fair enough. That’s totally the sort of move that Diana would pull.

She swears she’s not, and that she just needs Giganta’s help to bust up the titans. And I believe her! She’s Wonder Woman. She’s not going to lie. Actually, let me amend that. I believe that Diana believes this isn’t some friend making scheme and that the mission is all that matters. But deep down, maybe so deep that she doesn’t even realize it, she wants to make friends with Giganta. It’s just in her nature. First off, she loves being pals with awesome, powerful ladies. And second, she loves getting to know a villain and helping them find a better path. Especially female villains. She totally wants to be besties with Giganta. She just hasn’t realized it.

But Giganta’s not having any of it. She’s glad to be out of prison, but if they’re going to keep titan hunting, she wants to get paid. Like, half a million dollars paid. Which seems like a lot, but fighting titans is a dangerous game. I can understand the high quote. Wonder Woman doesn’t have that kind of money, though. In this issue she’s basically just living this John Mulaney bit:

John Mulaney Comeback Kid GIF - JohnMulaney Mulaney ComebackKid GIFs

And once Wonder Woman admits her general exasperation with her circumstances, not just the titans but EVERYTHING that’s going on in her life right now, Giganta decides to help. Because friendship?! Not quite yet, probably, but it’s totally on the way. And I look forward to watching it develop. These two are a fun pair. And now they’re on a road trip to track down more rock monsters. That’s just a recipe for enjoyable, relationship building hijinks.

So yeah, the story is a dang delight. I loved the writing in this issue. The artwork is just, I don’t know. It’s not objectively bad or anything. Nord and Mick Gray are telling the story in a clear, readable way. It’s just not enhancing the story, or showcasing it in a compelling way. It doesn’t capture the heart of it all, both in terms of the action and fun but also with emotion. Like when Diana admits to Giganta that she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed, Nord and Gray have her in silhouette. We can get the emotion from the text, because it’s well written, but the art isn’t conveying it. The pictures aren’t complementing the words, basically. They’re not bringing things down, but they’re not working together as well as this excellent writing deserves.

We have lots to look forward to nonetheless. Rock punching. Road tripping. Friendship! It’s going to be a good time. Whenever Wonder Woman teams up with another rad lady, even if she’s a villain, you know it’s going to be fun.

Wonder Woman #65 Review: The Nemesis of My Nemesis is My Friend

February 28, 2019

ww65

I’m a day late on this review after being out and about yesterday, but I’ll be honest with you all and admit I wasn’t hugely looking forward to this issue regardless. The art two weeks back was pretty rough, with Jesus Merino and Andy Owens giving me a distinctly mid-90s vibe, and they’re back for this outing as well. Predictably, things look the same. As much as I’m enjoying G. Willow Wilson’s writing, this throwback art is bringing me down.

To stay in Wilson’s wheelhouse, Ms. Marvel always looks fresh and special and different, meant for readers of all sorts but not your standard comic book fare. There was care put into the selection of artists to achieve that look. These past two issues of Wonder Woman scream “fill-in artist on a generic superhero comic” to me. There’s nothing visually that sets it apart, nothing that makes it compelling or different. Which is a shame, because Wilson’s writing is great and it deserves artwork that can keep up with it. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this comic yet!

I am about to delve into its various plot points!

I don’t want to keep harping on the art for too long, but I’m struck by the juxtaposition this series presents. Months back, when James Robinson was writing the book and it was a tough slog to read, there were some good artists that made the book enjoyable. As much as I hated the story, at least when Emanuela Lupacchino or Stephen Segovia was drawing the pictures there was something interesting to focus on and engage with. I could skim the terrible text and enjoy the artwork. Comics are a visual medium after all. Good art can make up for bad writing, at least to some degree.

However, it doesn’t work as well the other way. Wilson’s writing is solid, but instead of soaring above the poor art, the artwork drags it down. Emotional beats that should read well suddenly fall flat when the text is next to artwork that’s not conveying that emotion well. Action that should be exciting becomes boring when poorly executed by the artist.

There’s a panel in this issue where Wonder Woman, upset over the revelation that the Amazons could be gone forever, flies through the rain weeping. It’s not the most original idea, but there are ways to make it work. As executed, though, it’s almost laughable. The pained expression on her face borders on the ridiculous. The pose, with her fists clenched, doesn’t help matters. Plus her body is positioned in such a way that we’re looking down her chest and thus her breasts dominate the frame. It’s just poorly done on every level, and there are so many other panels throughout the issue that are in the same boat. Aphrodite’s weird throwback bikini, for example, which seems to aim for titillation and lands on boring when neither choice would be ideal. Or Veronica Cale, angrily pointing at Diana in a pose that is the epitome of cliché. Or everything about Nemesis’ design. It’s just a rough outing the whole way through that distracts from what is an interesting story.

So let’s get into that story. Wonder Woman starts out the issue pretty down, what with Cale suing her and the Amazons perhaps gone, but after a bit of a pep talk from Aphrodite she takes off to confront Nemesis. That’s where we get the twist! Veronica Cale isn’t controlling Nemesis. Nemesis is controlling Veronica Cale! The weird angry venom angle wasn’t my favourite, but I did like the turn as a whole. I’ll admit I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Veronica Cale. I mean, yeah, she’s pretty much evil on the best of days. But she lost her daughter to some jerk gods and she’s got a right to be upset with anything associated with the divine.

I also like a conflict that resolves in a hug. Sure, a big old brawl is a good time, but with Wonder Woman specifically I’m always happy when she can end a conflict in a kind, loving way. The fact of the matter is, Diana’s got a soft spot for Veronica Cale too. She doesn’t want to fight her. And a story in which Wonder Woman shakes off the effects of a nefarious venom AND breaks that venom’s hold on someone else through sheer love is the sort of Wonder Woman story I am all about. Wilson wrote the scene beautifully, too. It could have easily been corny, and the lack of subtlety in the art was no help, but the strength of the writing makes it work. It’s a lovely scene that ties well into the larger history that these characters share.

With Cale and Nemesis sorted, the issue ends with the set up for what comes next: The search for Aphrodite’s child, Atlantiades! First off, great name. That’s super fun to say. Give it a try at home: at-lan-tie-ah-dees. Ancient Greek names are a good time. Second, it looks like we’re going to have a non-binary character in Wonder Woman shortly.

Aphrodite refers to Atlantiades as them, a gender neutral pronoun, and that checks out mythologically. As the comic points out, Atlantiades is also known as Hermaphroditus, from which we get the term hermaphrodite. Atlantiades was born male, but then the female nymph Salmacis fell in love with him and they were united together by the gods in one body, male AND female, forever. I’m curious to see how Wilson rolls with this all, merging this ancient story with the language and growing understanding we have today about non-binary gender identity. I trust she’ll handle it well. Also, the design could be fun. Atlantiades is traditionally an androgynous character, with much of the artwork of them reflecting that, and I hope the comic book design comes up with a cool way to incorporate that. I’m excited to see where it all goes in the weeks to come!


%d bloggers like this: