Posts Tagged ‘Aegeus’

Wonder Woman #45 Review OR Oh Fun, More Death and Anger

October 21, 2015

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Since the New 52 Relaunch four years ago, Wonder Woman hasn’t been the most upbeat series. Everyone’s mad all of the time, including Diana herself for big swathes of the series’ run thus far, folks are always getting killed, and the world around Wonder Woman is one of constant drama and betrayal. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang found a way to make the darkness work a lot of the time, turning the Olympian gods into a twisted horror story that was often unique and engaging. Meredith and David Finch have continued the darkness, but with none of the panache. Their stories are both bleak AND badly told, to the point that reading the book each month is a chore. At a time when there are so many fantastic comic books on the stands, I’m becoming increasingly annoyed at plunking down four bucks a month to not be entertained in the slightest. Anyway, let’s talk about this issue or whatever, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

The contents of this month’s Wonder Woman are about to be revealed!!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!!

Unless you’re one of the many folks who read these reviews instead of the comic!!

If you are, you’ve made a wise choice!!

So the reason I’m particularly down on the book this month, other than the fact that it remains joyless, is because they killed off a new character that I really liked. Last month saw the introduction of Violet, a blue haired London street urchin who befriended the newly escaped Donna Troy. There wasn’t much to the character, really. She hooked up Donna with a new costume, and in this month’s issue they toured London together and Violet gave her some much needed advice. But she was friendly and fun and had blue hair and she seemed like a kind person. In this book, a pleasant character is rare indeed.

And she got killed. She was a thief in the employ of a tough named Link, who slapped her around and then killed her when he threw her to the floor and split her head open. This was all done to further Donna Troy’s angry journey; she flipped out, beating Link soundly before Wonder Woman arrived to stop her from killing him. Wonder Woman tried to dissuade Donna from the violent life she continued to lead, but she was too furious to listen to her.

Even worse, Violet’s death came in an issue that was rife with women getting beaten up by men in graphic ways. The second and third pages of the books were a double page spread of Aegeus punching Wonder Woman in the face, with her head snapping back and blood flying out of her mouth. He continued to punch her on the next page, with similar gore. Then Violet got viciously backhanded by Link before being thrown to the ground. It’s all just so unpleasant. These aren’t things I want to see over and over, much less in a double page spread.

So Violet is dead and Donna is angrier than ever. Oh, and also turned to stone. Aegeus showed up at the end of the book and shot her with an arrow, trying to help Wonder Woman, oddly enough. She and Donna were fighting in the street, so Aegeus took down Donna because he’d realized the error of his ways and wanted Wonder Woman’s help in escaping the hold of the goddess he was working for.

As the book’s final page revealed, this goddess was Eirene, the goddess of peace. It’s a bit of a deep cut, Greek pantheon-wise. Eirene’s not an Olympian, though in some stories she’s the daughter of Zeus, and she doesn’t play a huge role in Greek mythology. She’s more a goddess that’s invoked because of her association with peace rather than a goddess that actually gets involved with the stories as a character. She was big in Athens, with a statue and everything, but again, that was mostly a symbolic thing about peace in Athens rather than a monument to any great Eirene story.

Anyway, she’s the big bad. The Finches seem to be setting up a connection between her and Ares, perhaps in a romantic way that plays on an “opposites attract” dynamic. And boy oh boy, is she ever mad that Wonder Woman killed Ares and took the mantle of god of war.

I don’t know if this is a coincidence of not, but Eirene played a key role in those terrible Futures End one-shots DC put out last September. After failing to beat the mythological foe Nemesis through her god of war tactics, Wonder Woman merged with the remnants of the dead goddess Eirene to become the goddess of peace herself, with a new white costume to go along with the change.

In that story, Eirene still represented peace. In the world of Meredith and David Finch, the goddess of peace seems to be all about anger, murder, and vengeance, because why not? Everybody else is.

At the very least, we got some story progress in this issue after the absolute standstill of a book we got last month. We know who’s behind Aegeus now, Donna’s got herself in a real pickle being turned to stone and such, and Wonder Woman is in the middle of it all. It’s never a good sign when the best thing you can say about a comic is, “Well, something happened.” But that’s a big plus for Wonder Woman. The plot moved forward! In extremely unpleasant ways, though. So long, Violet, one of the only not terrible people in this book! You’ll be missed.

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Wonder Woman #45 Preview OR Wonder Woman Fights An Angry Boy

October 20, 2015

Sometimes I forget that this story is still going. It’s been a month since the last issue came out, and I’ve been reading some really good Wonder Woman ’77 and Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman since then, plus DC announced Legends of Wonder Woman, which looks great. And DC Superhero Girls! I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyable Wonder Woman lately. So when I saw a preview for another Meredith and David Finch story today, my first reaction was, “Oh, they’re still making that?” It was kind of nice to forget that this storyline exists.

But yes, it’s still coming out, and for a long time to come if yesterday’s January 2016 solicits are any indication. So let’s see what Wonder Woman is up to in DC’s main universe with this preview of Wonder Woman #45:

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Oof. Here’s the thing: I feel like Meredith Finch is trying. She’s going for a cycle of violence thing where Aegeus’ dad hit his mom so now he hits women too. I get it, and while it’s not the most original approach to a character, it could be decent if it was done subtly or in an interesting way. But this is just a million percent on the nose, with characters outright stating what’s happening. It’s tough to read because everything is so painfully obvious in how it’s presented. When I reviewed last month’s issue I went on and on about showing and not telling, and it looks like this month’s Wonder Woman is going to continue the telling to the max.

Anyway, Wonder Woman #45 is a comic book that will be available in stores and digitally tomorrow. Do with that information what you will. Here’s one potential reason to pick it up, though: Claire Wendling’s done a fantastic variant cover for the book for this month’s “Monsters of the Month” variant theme:

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It’s very cool. I love the Medusa aspect, the bandages as bracelets look, the black and white, and how the lasso illuminates her. It’s just lovely and fun all around, and might be worth picking up if you can find one. Open the book at your own peril.

Wonder Woman #44 Preview OR Aegeus’ Rough Luck

September 14, 2015

Wonder Woman #44 is set to hit comic shops this Wednesday, and David Finch is back on art duties. I’m shocked to say that this is a good thing, but Ian Churchill’s fill-in last month was pretty rough, and Finch has improved his art on the book over his run from god awful at the beginning to not that bad as of late. I’d much rather Finch’s bland renderings than Churchill’s pursed lips and big hair. I’m totally damning Finch with faint praise here, I know. He really has made some smart adjustments to make the book less creepily “sexy”, and he deserves credit for that.

Both Finches are on deck for Wonder Woman #44 this week, and Comic Vine has a preview:

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As you may recall, last month Aegeus shot Wonder Woman with a golden arrow that made her eyes bleed and ultimately knocked her out. It seems she’s shaken that off. I don’t know if she’s going after Aegeus or continuing her search for Donna Troy now, but I suppose we’ll find out on Wednesday.

Speaking of Aegeus, we’ve got more of his backstory here and boy oh boy could I not care less about that. A petulant and entitled villain is annoying enough without having to slog through his backstory every month. These flashbacks really haven’t added much to the story other than confirming that Aegeus is a jackass, which has already been well established in the present. Aegeus-centric pages make my eyes glaze over, which isn’t great because I’m already struggling pretty hard to keep some degree of interest in this book each month.

Wonder Woman #44 is available in stores and online this Wednesday. If every issue of the book that the Finches have done before this are any indication, it’s probably not going to be a very good read. But hey, Terry and Rachel Dodson did a variant cover, so there’s that! They’re always a good time. If you don’t enjoy the inside, at least you can get this lovely cover outside:

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Wonder Woman #43 Review OR Donna Troy On The Lam!

August 20, 2015

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I was out of town yesterday so I’m a day late getting to read this month’s Wonder Woman, but going through the issue today tells me I really didn’t miss much of anything. This issue is kind of a mess, and honestly at this point I’m not sure how the editors at DC Comics think this book is something worth putting on the shelves. It’s harsh to say, I know, but this is such sub-par comic booking. I know DC puts out a ton of books each month and some of them are going to fall through the cracks, but this is WONDER WOMAN. She’s the most famous female superhero ever, plus she’s going to play a key part in the upcoming film universe. You might want to put her in a book that’s not so aggressively bad each month. Before we dig into the issue, first I need to say:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal everything that happened in this comic!

If you haven’t read it yet, look away!

If you have read it, my condolences! It’s rough stuff!

Let’s start with the writing. The writing on the series hasn’t been great as a whole since Meredith Finch took the helm, but this issue is a special kind of bad. It just doesn’t work on any level at all. First, her use of space is bizarre. The book opens with four pages of Wonder Woman finding out Donna Troy has escaped and trying to figure out what’s happened when Strife is RIGHT THERE. It’s so drawn out, and largely unnecessary. The book could have started with Wonder Woman meeting Milan to look for Donna and added a quick paragraph explaining Donna is gone and she can’t find her and the book wouldn’t lose anything. We know from last issue that Strife was getting into Donna’s head. There’s absolutely no new information presented in these pages.

Speaking of which, when we finally catch up with Donna in London, we’re met with three pages where Donna recounts her entire life story. Literally, all of it. Granted, she’s only a few weeks old at this point, but it’s nonetheless a lengthy recounting of things we already know. I understand the need to remind people of what happened, and even to make the book accessible for new readers; every issue is someone’s first issue. But three pages is beyond excessive and, yet again, adds nothing new to the story.

Donna is in London to find the Fates, and Finch writes them like Yoda but more incomprehensible. I had to read several of their panels more than once because in her attempt to make them sound mystical and mysterious, Finch made their dialogue just a straight up mess. One of the lines is, “Your thread, spun not have these hands.” What the Fate is trying to say here is, “These hands have not spun your thread,” and putting the words in a blender to make them sound fancier just doesn’t work.

After Donna’s visit with the Fates, Wonder Woman shows up, but here’s how she found them: Milan explained his vision to her and it was all vague and such, and Wonder Woman picked up on one of the words, “fate”, and made a list of all of the places in London with the word “fate” in the name. She then checked them out, and wouldn’t you know it, she found them at the very last place on the list. It’s so dumb. She literally flies to this place, holding the dang list. What this means is that Wonder Woman went to the trouble to get this mystical vision from Milan, sat down with the London phonebook, and wrote out every place with the word “Fate” in the name. At least that wasn’t a three page scene in the book. It’s all such a bizarrely basic and silly way for the god of war to interpret a divine vision.

Then a random street urchin shows up, followed by Aegeus (we know it’s Aegeus because he tells Wonder Woman “and the name’s Aegeus”) and his golden arrows. He shoots Wonder Woman and causes her to bleed out of the eyes before she collapses in the street. Cliffhanger! Oh, plus someone kills the Fates and in a classic Frasier-style mix up, Wonder Woman thinks it was Donna when it was actually someone else who has yet to be revealed to us. What hijinks that misunderstanding should cause. It’s all just such bad writing.

I also read Superman/Wonder Woman #20 today and while I really don’t enjoy that series in the slightest, it was a well constructed issue. The story flowed logically, it wasn’t mired in redundant information, there was a dual narrative that worked well and unobtrusively, and no one did anything blatantly ridiculous. Peter J. Tomasi knows how to put together a story that makes sense and doesn’t make me shake my head every other page. Even if I don’t like the story he’s telling, he knows how to construct the bones of a story in a way that works and isn’t structurally problematic. This is probably because he’s written a ton of comics. With this issue, her tenth on Wonder Woman counting the annual, Meredith Finch has written a grand total of eleven comic books, and it really shows.

I expected that this review would be more about the art, because Ian Churchill replaces David Finch for this issue, but then the writing was so bad that I had a lot to say about that. The art doesn’t help the writing, though. There’s a lot of pursed lips and tall hair; it all felt very early 2000s to me, more so than some of Churchill’s previous work that I remember from the actual early 2000s. The whole thing seemed very dated. Also, all of the women looked about the same. The pursed lips and big hair was part of this, but even with the Fates, who were supposed to be old, it just looked like Churchill drew his usual female facial structure and added a bunch of wrinkle lines on top of it. This was most telling with the Fate with the mad cleavage. This busty Fate wore a revealing dress, and it was wrinkle lines all the way down until her balloonish, smooth breasts. It was a bizarre artistic choice in a variety of ways. I did like Churchill’s Donna Troy, though. He nailed the costume, which I love anyway, and because her hair is a little different he couldn’t draw her quite in the same way he drew everyone else, and the result was some decent work.

Overall, this is a very bad comic book. I hoped that Wonder Woman would get better at some point, but it’s just treading water at this point. Thus far, this second arc has presented a less terrible take on Wonder Woman herself, at least, but the structure of the book is such a redundant mess that it’s just painful to read. Also, I’ve been hard on Meredith Finch here, but the editorial team really needs to step up and help shape this book into something more readable. They’re falling down on the job massively, because with some tweaks this book could be a lot more bearable. Not good, but better. Inoffensively bland instead of full on awful. A lot of this stuff is fixable at the script stage. When there’s an unnecessary three page flashback, maybe someone should say, “There are perhaps better ways to spend our time.” That might help things.

Wonder Woman #42 Review OR It’s Got A Dang Pegasus In It And It’s Still Not Very Good

July 22, 2015

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Remember when Wonder Woman Annual #1 came out and it wasn’t terrible, and I was mildly optimistic that the Finches’ second arc might be not too bad? Well, that optimism was ill placed. We’re two issues in and while this new arc isn’t as aggressively terrible as the first, it doesn’t have a lot going for it. It’s traded being offensively bad for just being boring, which isn’t much better. The Finches have fixed a lot of the problems of the first arc; the Justice League isn’t around, Wonder Woman isn’t complaining all the time, and she isn’t drawn like a sexy adolescent anymore. But the poor storytelling remains, and that’s really the most important element. Let’s discuss the issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS that happen in this comic!

If you haven’t read it, turn away!

Okay, carrying on. We’ve got a couple of new developments in this issue. The first ten pages are devoted to Diana and Hessia living it up at a dance club and Diana then chasing that new dude who’s trying to kill her through London. Nothing actually happens; the dude tries to kill her, misses, and ultimately gets away. He rides a pegasus, which is pretty rad, I suppose.

SIDENOTE: Pegasus is the classic winged horse, but I don’t know if this is THE Pegasus or another winged horse, or if we call all winged horses pegasuses or just Pegasus. I’m going to go with calling it a pegasus for now, and you can correct me in the comments if I’m wrong.

Anyway, not a lot goes on in the first half of the issue, but then we get a flashback and learn that the mysterious would-be assassin is Aegeus, a descendant of Thesus and thus Poseidon, and he’s trying to claim what he thinks is his rightful place as a god. We still don’t know who he’s working with, but there are hints that it might be Strife. Speaking of Strife, she shows up a little later to free Donna Troy after Wonder Woman has a long and boring conversation with her imprisoned sister about forgiving herself. Strife convinces Donna to go see the Fates.

And that’s about all that happens. In terms of changes from where we were at the end of last month’s issue, Wonder Woman knows Aegeus is after her, we know Aegeus’ backstory, and Donna Troy is free.

Rather than dig into various aspects of a story I don’t particularly care about, I’m going to focus on one scene to try to articulate why I find this comic so bland. It’s the opening scene, with Diana and Hessia at a dance club. When I posted the preview for this issue on Monday, I talked a bit about the cliché of the woman who’s harassed by a guy and then decks her harasser. It’s been done a bunch of times, with diminishing returns, and this is one of the most clichéd versions I’ve seen. The actual scene in the book is longer than the preview, with the dude hitting on Diana for a page beforehand and Diana clearly stating she’s not interested. The guy is a walking caricature, Diana’s reaction is exactly what you’d expect, and her speech afterwards aims for empowered anger but just reads as tacky. I understand what Meredith Finch was going for here, but it all just comes off as stale.

Apart from the harassment bit, the writing in the scene feels incredibly flat on several levels. There are more clichés with Diana spouting the usual “This was just what I needed”, dancing her troubles away line that you can see in pretty much any scene sat at a dance club in any form of media. Moreover, the club is in London, and you can’t tell at all. Nothing captures the locale in the slightest. I’m not saying that there should be Union Jacks everywhere and that Diana’s fellow dancers should be talking about tea and crumpets and the queen, but there should be some sense of setting and instead there’s none. It’s all just generic. In Azzarello and Chiang’s run, when Diana needed to blow off steam she went to a punk club. It had atmosphere and a sense of place and said something about the character. Meanwhile, this scene is just completely nondescript.

The art doesn’t help matters. David Finch dresses Diana and Hessia in generic club dresses. There are no designs, no textures, nothing unique about them. They are a red and a grey dress of the same construction. Also, Diana’s only got one move: hands in the air, hips sticking out to one side or another. She does it over and over. Plus there are actual music notes in the background to let the reader know that music is playing:

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It is all so very bland and nonspecific. Finch is not good at investing clothing and settings with any kind of mood or characterization. Because of this, he fails to set a scene properly, and also fails to communicate anything about the character and who she is through his art. This scene is like the clip art version of a dance club, everything boiled down to a simple, dull, non-detailed version of things.

I suppose we should be thankful that Finch didn’t try to come up with more creative outfits for Diana and Hessia, because he does so for Hera later in the issue and the result is a belly top and a loin cloth. It’s not great. His Zola is much improved, though! I’ll give him credit for that. He’s got her back in plaid and looking a bit more like herself.

Ultimately, this hopelessly bland and generic club scene is indicative of the Finches’ run as a whole. They’re not investing the characters with unique attributes that make them more than cardboard cutouts, and they’re not putting them in situations that speak to who they are in some way. Plus, they’re spending four pages on a clichéd dance club scene that really adds nothing to the book when they’ve got a dang pegasus in the mix. Pegasuses are SO COOL. How do you not have four pages of rad pegasus fun instead?

I feel like everyone in this book needs to push a little more. Dig into each scene, figure out why it’s in the book, what it’s saying about the characters, how you can bring out a bit more of everyone, add some excitement to the book, or do something unexpected. It all just feels boringly surface level and shallow, without much thought put into it. A pointless club scene, unfruitful chase, hints of backstory, and a moderately shocking ending is a really dull formula, doubly so when poorly executed. It’s hard to get invested in a book when there’s so little to get invested in.


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