Posts Tagged ‘Aphrodite’

Wonder Woman #62 Review: Making Peace with the God of War

January 16, 2019

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The first arc of G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman draws to a close this week, bringing the war in Durovnia to an end while leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions for our heroine and her divine associates moving forward. This was a storyline that raised a lot of heavy issues, for Wonder Woman herself but also for us as readers as we all grappled with the troubling shades of grey that characterize modern warfare. No matter how good someone’s intentions are, they can still cause harm when they decide to step in with force, and this is especially true in the arena of war. It’s almost impossible not to cause harm in a war, and Wonder Woman comes out of the conflict in Durovnia carrying the weight of that truth. We’ll get into the arc’s conclusion momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you all of the important things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, read it! This run has been GREAT so far!

Remember when Diana was the god of war? Oh, the New 52 days. So beautiful in its art, so increasingly troubling in its story choices. For all of that past run’s focus on Diana becoming the embodiment of war, it never really dug into the implications of what that could mean in a deeper, compelling way. War is inherently destructive and damaging. It harms innocents and profits the powerful. In short, it’s everything Wonder Woman hates. And yet, she often finds herself at the center of them. Fighting for peace, yes, but fighting nonetheless.

This arc dug into these contradictions, and fascinatingly so. By the end of this issue, Diana is shook. Yeah, she’s got some other stuff going on with the gods returning, a longing for home and a hope that the Amazons might be accessible again. But the war in Durovnia seems to have thrown her for quite the loop. Ares fashioning himself as a twisted version of her brand of heroism was disconcerting enough, and then the peace talks hit her hard. The president condemned the gods and empires that entered the fray, meaning Ares on the side of the rebels and American military assistance on the side of the government. Diana saw herself as beyond these sides, perhaps even above them, an impartial hero committed to protecting those caught in the middle. When she’s asked to leave with them, painted as part of the problem that exacerbated the conflict rather than part of the solution, it clearly stings.

Now, when an old, white dude whose government has been actively oppressing an ethnic minority calls you out like that, it’s a chastisement worth ignoring. I mean, that guy sucks. He’s blaming his own problems and the failings of his government on outside forces, admitting to past mistakes only once the entire nation nearly fell into chaos. This fool could have nipped all of this in the bud ages ago by not being such a terrible president. I feel like Diana should just brush off his dismissal of her and her efforts because, again, he sucks.

Also, so does Ares! Here’s another old, white dude misusing his power. And because of these two jerks, Diana is feeling a bit down on herself, a bit lost even. Not that there weren’t some interesting points raised over the course of their interactions. War is deeply, deeply terrible and it’s hard to be involved in it without hurting someone. But consider the source here. I’m very curious to see how Wonder Woman processes her feelings over the next few issues. It’s interesting that both men have her questioning herself, while Aphrodite and Etta are both telling her that she did a good job. Friggin’ patriarchy. Dudes tearing down women to make themselves feel better are the worst. What Diana needs right now are some more awesome ladies in her corner.

Which leads us to: AMAZONS. Wilson is teasing us at the end of this issue too much for this not to be happening, right? They’ve gotta be coming back! And I am very on board. First, the Amazons are the best and I miss them. And second, it feels like Diana is in a place where she could use some Amazon guidance. She’s been in man’s world for a while now. Their wars and aggressions are wearing on her, so much so that she’s starting to question herself. What she needs is some rad warrior women to remind her who she is, and to help her grapple with the disquieting questions that the harsh realities of modern warfare have raised for her.

Xermanico was back on art duties for this issue, and I liked it even better than his last one. I don’t know if it was him or Romulo Fajardo Jr. that brought in that Ben-Day Dot shading, but it looked super cool, especially in the night scenes with the battle. There was a bit of that two weeks back, but they really leaned into it here, for a nice effect. Xermanico is a good fit for this book, and I’ve enjoyed his two issues more than Cary Nord’s. His Diana feels more powerful and substantial, which is always good to see. And his art has actually improved from issue to issue, which we didn’t get with Nord owing to what appeared to be the time constraints of a bi-weekly book. I was wary when editorial had to swap artists so soon into the run, but they made a good choice here and I hope that we’ll see more of Xermanico in future issues. He carries on some of the cool style choices that Nord established, melding them well with his more conventional superhero comic style. I’m into it.

So we’re back in two weeks with Diana trying to deal with the successful but somewhat demoralizing outcome in Durovnia. Will there be Amazons? I sure hope so. And I’d love to see more of Aphrodite. That lady knows FAR more than she’s telling anybody, and that is definitely going to come into play in the issues to come. Plus, the search for Athena! She was name dropped this week and now I’m eager for her to join the mix as well. Something is up with the gods, and I’m keen for Wonder Woman to get to the bottom of that mystery. And find her mom! We have so much fun ahead of us, gang.

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Wonder Woman #61 Review: Love Will Lead You Back

January 2, 2019

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After taking a break over the holidays last week, Wonder Woman is back and set to dominate January. Or rather, lovingly induce the willing submission of January. The point is, we’re going to get three issues of Wonder Woman this month, and that should be a lot of fun. This run has been great so far, and it’s nice to enter the New Year with a stretch of good comics ahead of us.

This issue brings us the return of Aphrodite, and more questions than answers so far. Something strange is obviously afoot in the realm of the gods, perhaps caused by Ares’ escape from his Themysciran prison, but no one seems to know exactly what is happening. Deities are being deposited on the Earth all hither and yon, fully powered yet unsure as to why they are there. Mysteries abound, the war is relentless, and Steve Trevor’s been running around shirtless for several issues now, so this book’s got something for everyone.

We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

You really should read it, though!

Add it to your pull list or subscribe through Comixology!

The book is good again, I promise!

So we begin where we left off three weeks ago, with Steve and Aphrodite. But a slightly different Aphrodite. She’s still a goddess with all of the powers and grandeur therein, but she’s grown tired of being the goddess of love specifically. Having observed humanity for centuries now, she’s come to the conclusion that love makes people do stupid things. Harmful things, even. All of this war and strife due to a fickle emotion is not something she wants to be associated with anymore.

I’m very much enjoying this identity crisis of the gods. First, we have Ares wanting to give up war for justice. That’s gone quite poorly so far, of course, due to his engrained toxic masculinity more than anything else, but it’s been a very interesting turn for the character. And now, Aphrodite wants to separate herself from love. She doesn’t seem to have a plan of where to go from there, what new cause to champion, if any. She’s just tired of being’s love representative.

And fair enough. What I like most about G. Willow Wilson’s new approach to the gods is that they each have a decent point to make. Ares, for all his foolishness, made some compelling arguments about the nature of war. He lacked the character or humility to back them up, but it was an understandable turn. With Aphrodite, I can again see her point. As much as love is wonderful and good, it’s an emotion that can make us act in unreasonable ways. Though, just like with Ares, I find myself agreeing with the mortal perspective. I sided with Wonder Woman’s arguments against Ares, and I’m in Steve’s camp now with his pro-love stance.

There’s a detachment to the perspective of the gods that I think befits their station. They’re separated from humanity, not just because of their status as deities but in a more literal fashion. Ares has been locked away for millennia, and Aphrodite has been comfortably housed in Olympus. They only see us from afar. They observe us rather than understand us, and this detachment has led them down some troublesome paths of thinking. At least Aphrodite hasn’t started a huge war with her new ideas. I’m curious to see what comes with her, whether she sticks to her new approach or finds her faith in love renewed by Diana and Steve. The latter might be hard to pull off without being corny, but if anyone can do it, it’s Wilson.

On art this issue we’ve got Xermanico, making what I think is his first appearance in a Wonder Woman comic book. He’s drawn the character, and the bulk of the DC universe, before in the ongoing Injustice: Gods Among Us series, but now he’s in the DC universe proper. And doing a decent job of it. It feels like he’s captured a little bit of the style Cary Nord had established in the first few issues, but with more of a conventional superhero angle. Everything certainly feels more polished and finished than the last issue, when it was pretty clear that Nord was racing against the clock to get the book done. This issue feels complete, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colouring does a great job of establishing a lovely through line for the differing art styles.

The art on Wonder Woman has been inconsistent for the last year or so, a bit of a revolving door after the carefully planned Evely/Scott/Sharp trifecta of the Rucka run. This is a problem that’s plagued DC’s double shipping books for a couple years now. If an artist stays on a book for a while, things end up looking hasty and rushed. If they sub in a new artist, it’s hard to match the tone and the quality can vary wildly. Very few titles can keep a consistent level of quality. Batman does it well, with stellar artists rotating in and out, and the planning on that must be considerable. Here, Xermanico was a late addition to the book. Nord was originally scheduled to draw it, but they subbed Xermanico in. And it worked pretty well. This time, anyway. That they needed to sub someone in so early on is not the best sign, and I hope that the editors can come up with a workable schedule full of great artists to give the phenomenal writing of this run the gorgeous look it deserves. Everything is better when the whole team has the space and time to do their best work.

But this one looked nice. Also, I don’t know whether Wilson or Nord came up with the idea for Aphrodite to be wearing an oversized t-shirt with a swan on it, but I love it. It’s such a funny, humanizing touch, and it’s played so well with no one even mentioning it. In contrast with the bombastic armour of Ares, Aphrodite presumably just finding a t-shirt somewhere and rolling with it is delightful.

And now we’ve got an interesting situation ahead of us. Ares has tricked the prime minister with some sham peace talks, and it looks like he’s spoiling for a fight. Wonder Woman’s pretty annoyed with him, so she might be keen to offer one. But his old beau Aphrodite might have some other plans. We’ll find out, in two weeks’ time!

Wonder Woman #60 Review: With War on the Sidelines, Will Love Enter the Fray?

December 12, 2018

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We’ll get to Wonder Woman in a moment but first, let’s talk about the new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. When Netflix announced that they were bringing back She-Ra with Noelle Stevenson as showrunner, I instantly had an idea of what the show could be. I’m a big fan of Stevenson, from Nimona to Lumberjanes to her early days of hilarious Tumblr comics. She’s got a delightful yet slightly dark sensibility that always comes through in her work. And when She-Ra debuted, it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s charming and hilarious and surprisingly heavy at times, and as queer as they let kid’s TV be these days. Basically, it was what I expected to get in a Noelle Stevenson project, in all of the best ways.

I feel the same way about this run of Wonder Woman. I’m a huge fan of G. Willow Wilson too, and I’ve enjoyed all of her comics and prose work. Her strengths lie in telling fun, action-packed stories that simultaneously dig into deeper, timely themes. I thought that he was the perfect choice to take over Wonder Woman right now, and she’s bringing everything I thought she would to the book. It’s an exciting story with lots of cool fights, but it’s also a deeper meditation on a whole host of issues, from the nature of war and heroism to the limitations and disappointments of supposed allies in these fraught times. Basically, it’s great, and exactly what I hoped it would be. Also, how awesome is it that we’ve got G. Willow Wilson on Wonder Woman in our comics and Noelle Stevenson on She-Ra on our televisions? Truly we live in a golden age of entertainment.

Let’s dig into the issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the rad things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And make sure you do read it! It’s so good!

So, Ares sucks. I think we all knew that deep down, but I was hoping he’d come around, that he would learn something from Wonder Woman and channel his newfound quest for justice into something actually productive. But no, he’s just a dope. And even when Wonder Woman shows him the error of his ways in the most blatant, impactful way, he still takes the wrong lesson from it. Instead of fixing his mistakes and finding a better way forward, he just decides to leave. Even though he started the war, even though all of these deaths are his own doing, he’s decided he wants no part of it any longer and just steps away.

It’s a fascinating turn. There are so many ways to read it, all of them compelling. The book has felt like it’s about the nature of war and justice over the past few issues, asking whether answering violence with violence is wise or if it’s just perpetuating a vicious cycle. We get more of that here, with a critique of the power structures behind war. So often, those who start wars leave them unfinished, walking away unscathed while scars and lingering tensions remain for those caught in the middle of it. Ares is a global superpower in and of himself, igniting a conflict for his own selfish reasons and then leaving it behind when it gets to bothersome. We’ve seen this too many times in the real world over the past few decades.

But I think there’s another interesting angle here as well. With Ares so inspired by Wonder Woman, I can’t help but see him through the lens of male feminists who position themselves as allies to the cause, only to ultimately prove themselves to be self-serving above all else. Ares wanted to be like Wonder Woman, but not only did he fundamentally misunderstand her from the beginning, he balked when she pushed back and then left full of anger and spite. How often have we seen this with allies for all sorts of causes? These white male saviors who saunter in and spout the lingo only to turn away when the people who have actually been doing the work deign to challenge them in any way? It’s painfully common, unfortunately, and I think we see something similar here with Ares. He’s trying to help a worthy cause, but in the wrong ways and only to make himself feel good. When it feels good no longer, he leaves. It’s a biting critique of male allyship.

And also, the fights are cool! It’s a comic book, after all. Between all of the deep philosophizing, Wonder Woman is battling Ares, deflecting a bunch of bullets, and just generally being her awesome self. It’s a fun read.

Plus Steve’s adventures with the mythological creatures continue, and lead us to a fun surprise. We meet the leader of these Olympian exiles, and it’s none other than Aphrodite. This should be VERY interesting. First, Aphrodite is key to Wonder Woman’s own history. In her earliest adventures, love was the core of the Amazonian worldview, and Aphrodite was its embodiment. I’m curious to see if Wilson delves into that. Second, the goddess of love is an obvious contrast with the god of war, and having them so near, with conflict abounding, should prove to be compelling. And third, Aphrodite and Ares have quite the history. They were lovers, and in Rucka’s run it was the love of Aphrodite that led Ares to accept his imprisonment in the first place. So yeah, now that he’s free there might be some serious drama here. I’m excited to see where this all goes.

The art, however, remains a bit underwhelming for me. Cary Nord’s work here seems even sparser than the last issue, and the detail is lacking. We see this a lot when people take on a book that ships twice a month. A lovely first issue leads to a rougher second issue and then a bit of a slapdash third. It’s a ludicrous schedule for artists, and editorial would be wise to consider other approaches to ensure that the quality stays high. I got a distinct later Frank Miller vibe from a lot of these pages, and not in a good way. Nord is successfully telling the story and is not bringing down the writing here, but he’s not exactly elevating it either, which is disappointing.

Still, the book remains a great read overall. Wilson is doing some fascinating things, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes next, especially with Aphrodite in the mix. She could be a very fun wild card moving forward.


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