Posts Tagged ‘Antiope’

Wonder Woman #75 Review: The Battle for Themyscira

July 24, 2019

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I don’t usually start my reviews with a spoiler, but if you read last week’s issue then you knew this was coming: Diana, princess of the Amazons, has returned to Themyscira. Which at first glance doesn’t seem like a huge deal until you remember that, apart from “Year One,” she hasn’t been to her real home since the New 52 reboot nearly eight years ago. The Paradise Island of the Azzarello/Chiang run and the Finches’ tenure was an elaborate ruse, and she’s been kept apart from the true Themyscira ever since she discovered the truth in Rucka, Scott, and Sharp’s run. I’ve not figured out the numbers in any official capacity, but as a Wonder Woman historian I think I can confidently say that this is the longest she’s been separated from the Amazons, and probably by a wide margin. The mod era, with the Amazons departing to a different dimension, was only four years! And they’ve otherwise been a constant presence in Diana’s history.

So this was long overdue. The Amazons are a big part of what makes Wonder Woman such an amazing character, a powerful matriarchy that exudes female strength, power, and sisterhood. She’s amazing on her own, of course, but everything she is comes from this background and they’ve always been an essential part of her world. The community makes her stronger. To keep the true Amazons sidelined for so long was a mistake, one that’s finally been righted. We’ll dig into it all in detail, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Yes, the Amazons are back but you knew that was coming!

Other things happened as well, and I’m about to spoil them!

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

So, quick recap, amid all the chaos in the divine realms, Grail escaped, took over Themyscira, and captured Hippolyta. She also turned some of the Amazons to her side, but Antiope escaped with a small band to Dimension Chi, where Wonder Woman met up with them last issue. In this outing, Wonder Woman leads her forces against Grail and ultimately defeats her. It’s a big, long issue, with extra pages on account of it’s Wonder Woman #75, but that’s the core of it.

The battle was pretty darn good, too. G. Willow Wilson and her artists Xermanico, Vicente Fuentes, and Jesus Merino have pulled off an impressive feat here. This wasn’t a quick skirmish. This was a lengthy combat sequence, with a whole host of characters. There were entire armies on both sides, of course, but we were also following multiple characters through the fight. The end result was clear, legible, and exciting, which is not something I can say about a lot of huge comic book battles. Usually it’s just chaos, and this was not. It was well-executed, and fittingly epic for an anniversary issue. If you’re gonna charge an extra buck for the book you better make it worth it, and they definitely did.

The reunion was lovely as well. Seeing Diana and Hippolyta together at the end of the issue was all kinds of heartwarming. I love their relationship and hate that it’s been sidelined for so long, so having them back together was a long awaited moment of joy for me. Plus it got me excited for what’s to come. We only see them together briefly, but I know there are conversations to be had and perhaps many adventures ahead. Hopefully this marks the beginning of a new era for them, and the Amazons will be brought into the DC universe again. It’s been poorer for their absence.

However, as much as this issue was generally well-executed and had some great moments, it was lacking in surprises and twists for me. Everything that I thought was going to happen ended up happening, making the whole experience feel a little flat. I don’t think I’m not some sort of Nostradamus either. At the end of the last issue, it was clear that Wonder Woman and Antiope were going to go back to Themyscira and fight Grail, and I was pretty sure they were going to win. There were some other obvious bets too, like that Hippolyta would be threatened and Isadore Cale would come into play. I suppose I was a little surprised that Nubia sided with Grail initially, but I was suspicious of that throughout the issue and then not terribly shocked when she eventually turned on Grail. The issue is technically a game changer in that the Amazons are back, and that’s great! But it changed the game in exactly the ways I expected it to, without any big shocks or unexpected turns along the way.

It was very well drawn, though. Three artists can be a bad sign sometimes, and a few of the transitions from one to the other were a bit bumpy. They really scattered all three throughout the issue seemingly at random. But it hung together pretty well, and was strong throughout. I’ve been raving about Xermanico for months now, so I’ll not spend too much time on him other than to say that he’s a spectacular fit on the book and should draw every issue. Cifuentes was solid as well, matching the style of the book and fitting seamlessly into this world with some lovely pages. And finally, Jesus Merino. I’ve been very critical of his work lately. Underwhelmed, to say the least. But he was decent here! This is definitely the best art I’ve seen from him in some time, and he handled the bulk of the battle to good effect. Fingers crossed that this bodes well for future outings, because he’s scheduled on a lot of issues coming up. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr. for his always amazing coloring! Tying three different artists together so the book feels cohesive is tricky work, and he did a fantastic job, as always. The dude’s a legend, and has been with the book for most, if not all, of the last 75 issues. It’s dang impressive.

So the Amazons are back! In expected ways, but that’s okay. I’m glad to have them back in the fold regardless. And now we’ve got that to explore, plus “Year of the Villain” shenanigans on the horizon. The Cheetah’s got a nasty sword, and that will of course mean trouble for Wonder Woman and her pals. But with her mother and her sisters at her side again, I’m more than confident that Diana can handle whatever comes her way.

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Wonder Woman #74 Review: Reunited, And It Feels So Good

July 10, 2019

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Some major things are happening in this week’s issue of Wonder Woman, leading to even more major things for Wonder Woman #75 in two weeks’ time, presumably. Quarter century issues are a big deal these days, maybe because so few comic books make it to a 25th issue, much less a 50th or a 75th. Publishers like to save up big moments for these books and make them special, and the ending of this issue is definitely promising that. Significant developments are afoot.

Also, if you follow G. Willow Wilson on Twitter, she’s been teasing this month’s issues lately. Apparently Wonder Woman #75 is going to be 38 pages long, with an assortment of artists and a lot of double page spreads. Plus, various twists and reveals! It sounds like it’s going to shake up the status quo of Wonder Woman’s world quite a bit, and we’ll dig into what that could mean, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you have not read it yet!

Also, you should be reading this book!

Hit your LCS or get it on Comixology! It’s a dang good series!

So should we do the big reveal first? Sure, let’s dive right in. The Amazons are back! Or rather, some Amazons are back. General Antiope and Philippus lead an escaped band of Amazons hidden in Dimension Chi, because Themyscira has fallen to its foes. The prisoners on the island escaped and took over, and now Grail is in charge and Hippolyta is in chains. I could happily live the rest of my life without ever seeing Grail again, but the good news is, the veil between the worlds is torn. Diana can go rescue her mother and save her sisters, which is what I assume the Wonder Woman #75 mega-issue will be all about.

With some surprises, of course. I doubt it’s going to be a straight forward beat the bad guys, save the good guys situation. There will probably be complications. But I’m even more interested in what comes next. If Diana can save Themyscira AND keep a path open to it, will the Amazons finally be part of her world again? Because I would love that. It’s been so long since we’ve had proper Amazons able to interact with the DC universe as a whole. The New 52 Amazons were trash, and the Rebirth Amazons have been sequestered. I miss the old days, when Themyscira was part of the United Nations and the Amazons could join in on major comic events. Remember in the Perez run when they opened Themyscira to the world and Lois Lane was among the first group of visitors? That was so cool. The DC universe is a better place with an awesome matriarchy in it, and I really hope that they come back in some capacity. Preferably a full on, move Themyscira into this plane of existence sort of thing.

Returning to this issue, though, I will say that the lead up to the Amazon reveal was a bit underwhelming. Part of it was the art. Jesus Merino just doesn’t do it for me. His stuff is straight forward, average superhero art. There’s no interesting flair or style to it. When Xermanico took over for the last six pages, things improved dramatically. Merino’s stuff was flat before that, and Xermanico brought everything to life just in time for the big reveal.

But another part of it was that the story wasn’t very compelling. The fight with Empress Hippolyta (the villainous Hippolyta from the last issue) seemed rote and uninspired. Again, the art didn’t really make anything cool of it, but I don’t know that there was a lot to it in the first place. It felt like fifteen pages of filler leading to Antiope. While there was some stuff about having a goddess as a mother that gave us a bit of bonding between Diana and Atlantiades, that was about it. Also, Maggie figuring out how to defeat Empress Hippolyta instead of trained Amazon warrior Diana was hard to buy. As much as I get that Maggie is rad, and that the sword is maybe imparting some sort of skill or knowledge to her, she’s not Wonder Woman. Figuring out how to stop the bad guys is Wonder Woman’s job.

I’ve got a theory that Wonder Woman’s world is too small right now. When Wilson was on Ms. Marvel, there was a huge cast of characters with different plotlines on the go. Not a single page felt wasted. There was so much to do and so many people to check in with! But with Wonder Woman, it’s really just Diana. Atlantiades and Maggie are cool, but there’s not a lot to them apart from coming along on Diana’s journey. Or rather, they’re compelling characters in want of subplots that aren’t so intertwined with Diana. Maybe bringing the Amazons back will change this dynamic and give Wilson more to work with. I’m used to far more engaging storytelling from her than a ten page fight that doesn’t really add anything to the book.

One last note on the art, because those final few pages are just top notch stuff. Xermanico puts so much texture into his drawings to start with, which is awesome, especially on the costumes, but with the shading I don’t know if it’s him or colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. but there’s this Ben-Day dot shadow technique that I love. It’s an old school style on Xermanico’s modern artwork and it looks so good. I want Xermanico to do every issue. He and Fajardo Jr. work beautifully together.

So we’ve got a big fight ahead of us in two weeks’ time! And Antiope in the midst of it all, which is super cool. She’s never been a major player in the comics before, but after Robin Wright’s amazing depiction of her in the Wonder Woman movie I’ve been waiting for someone to bring her into the comics in a big way. Now it’s happened, and between Diana, Antiope, and Philippus, the foes of the Amazons should be very frightened indeed.

Wonder Woman Film Review: A Movie Worthy of its Heroine

June 2, 2017

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Well it’s finally happened, gang. After decades of watching the boys get movie after movie, we’ve finally got a Wonder Woman solo film. And here’s the good news: It’s really, really good. Great even. Full of heart and action and excitement. It’s far and away the best film from the DC cinematic universe so far and, more importantly, it does Wonder Woman justice and captures the heart of the character well. Let’s dig into it all, first with some spoiler-free general thoughts, and then with full on spoilers after a jump so anyone who hasn’t seen it yet won’t have anything ruined for them.

So gosh, where to start? With Wonder Woman herself, probably. Gal Gadot is pretty much a perfect Wonder Woman. We got to see her for a few minutes in Batman v Superman and she totally stole the show, and now with a show all of her own, she absolutely shines. Gadot captures the heroism and compassion of Wonder Woman so well; she’s fierce when she needs to be, kind when she needs to be, and just has so much heart. She smiles a lot, which is a lovely contrast with the grim darkness that’s dominated other DC movies, and it’s the most earnest and charming smile. It’s Wonder Woman’s smile, really. It’s something that could easily turn corny, but Gadot makes it utterly genuine, sincere, and believable. And while Diana’s got an interesting journey throughout the film, a sort of loss of innocence as she leaves her utopian home and experiences the horrors of war, Gadot does a fantastic job playing this evolution and it’s darker, questioning moments without losing the heart of the character. She’s just so good. I want to see her continue to play Wonder Woman again and again and again.

Holding his own with such a stunning take on Wonder Woman was a tall order for Chris Pine, but his Steve Trevor was excellent. I’m steeped in Wonder Woman comics and very familiar with every incarnation of Steve Trevor, and this was my favourite version of him ever, by a considerable margin. He was written really well; it’s a sidekick/love interest role that keeps the focus squarely on Wonder Woman, and Pine plays it spot on. He’s a tough guy with some skills, but he very quickly realizes he’s no Wonder Woman and is totally okay with that, in part because he’s just kind of in awe of her. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry together is delightful, Pine’s got charm to spare and is also hilarious, and the two of them made for a really winning partnership.

The supporting cast is pretty solid, too. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright do great work as Hippolyta and Antiope, guiding the film well through it’s early scenes with young Diana. Wonder Woman’s crew in Europe are all fun too, but Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy is a total scene stealer. She’s so funny and enjoyable, albeit underused. I could have done with a lot more Etta Candy! The bad guys were suitably evil, as they should be, if somewhat underdeveloped, but such is the case with most superhero films.

In terms of the directing, Patty Jenkins did a remarkable job. While Wonder Woman had a lot of the beats you expect from a superhero movie, it also had its own unique style and tone. The action was especially spectacular; I’ve never seen fighting like that in a superhero movie, particularly some of the amazing acrobatics we got from the Amazons. They were astonishingly good. I also loved the little touches throughout the film, like the gorgeous, sweeping establishing shots we got for Themyscira, London, and the front. There was a real flair to the film that set it apart from other superhero movies. Jenkins also smoothly married the action and stunning visuals with the emotional aspects of the film. All of the humourous, romantic, and quiet reflective moments rang true, and everything flowed together nicely.

It was just fun to look at, too. Themyscira was so epic and cool, uniquely ancient and breathtaking in its scenery. I want to go to there. A lot of the movie was spent in the cramped confines of London or on the front, all of which was nicely done, but there was a good amount of time spent outdoors in lovely, natural settings that were shot exquisitely. On top of the settings, the costumes were quite striking. Wonder Woman wore an updated version of her Batman v Superman outfit, one that actually had colour this time, and it looked fantastic. All of the Amazons got cool costumes, with everyone wearing something a little bit different but yet thematically similar to the each other. The costumes in the outside world were a little bit drab in comparison, of course, but all of the major supporting characters had their own special look that suited them well.

If I wanted to nitpick, there are a few things I would change. For me, the final fight scene wasn’t quite as cool as the earlier ones and got a bit messy with all of the fire and chaos and CGI. Also, some of the supporting characters got outshone by the leads. To be fair, Gadot and Pine were ridiculously good, but a few folks did fall a bit flat. And there were a few changes to the Wonder Woman mythos I didn’t love, but we’ll save that for the spoilers section.

All in all, though, it was a great movie. Well executed on every level, so much fun, and most importantly, true to who Wonder Woman is and what she means to so many fans. I loved it. Now, that being said, I’m not sure that this is the movie they should have made. Setting the film in World War I was a big change that made a lot of elements very different from what we usually get with Wonder Woman, and while it was all done well and a lot of those changes were interesting, I don’t think it was the best showcase for what is great about Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent showcase for Wonder Woman, but in an intriguing alternate universe way rather than a relevant, modern way. An origin set in the present day could have been more resonant and more reflective of the character, her past, and what she means, especially in terms of tackling modern women’s issues rather than poking fun at sexist attitudes that are a century past. I get that the film is what it has to be given the existing framework of the DC cinematic universe, and it succeeds triumphantly at that, capturing the heart of the character beautifully. I just think that setting up Wonder Woman as this older, wise superhero who predates Batman and Superman limits her in certain ways, and I’d rather see this young, plucky Wonder Woman dealing with the modern world, rather than the more experienced, somewhat world-weary Wonder Woman we seem to be getting with Batman v Superman, the framing device of Wonder Woman, and what we’ve seen from Justice League thus far. But so long as Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, it’s absolutely a Wonder Woman worth watching, and Patty Jenkins and the whole team did an amazing job making this new setting and backstory work for the character and stay true to who she is.

Let’s move on to some spoilers now, after the jump!

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