Posts Tagged ‘Atlantiades’

Wonder Woman #72 Review: A Colossal Minotaur, Laser Swords, and More!

June 13, 2019

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We’ve got lots of action and a potentially interesting cliffhanger in Wonder Woman this week, but I’ve gotta be honest, gang, and say this issue fell a little bit flat for me. The art certainly didn’t help matters, with some fill-in artists failing to reach the heights recently established by the series’ more regular pencilers. But the writing wasn’t all that exciting either. It was an issue that needed to get Wonder Woman, Maggie, and Atlantiades from Point A to Point B, which it did. Just not in a very engaging manner, and without the thoughtfulness and depth I’ve come to expect from the book since G. Willow Wilson became the writer.

This issue is technically the finale to the “Love is a Battlefield” arc, and it didn’t feel much like a finale at all. If anything, the last issue wrapped up most of that plotline quite nicely, and this one found us in a new space with new adventures. There were no further conclusions, and nothing really connected to the arc apart from a brief conversation between Aphrodite and Atlantiades and a quick reference to Atlantiades’ romantic fascination with Wonder Woman. It was an in-between story, needing to bridge the gap between “Love is a Battlefield” and Steve Orlando and Aaron Lopresti’s upcoming guest issue, and it very much felt like that. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

It wasn’t a whole lot, really!

But still, be wary nonetheless!

So when we last left our intrepid heroine, she and Maggie were facing off against a colossal minotaur statue brought to life. In my last review, I wondered about what it could be and what deeper mythological ties it had. Turns out, it was largely irrelevant, there for Maggie to defeat with ease thanks to Antiope’s sword. The battle was swift, and the importance of the sword was emphasized when the ground gave way and the weapon fell into an abyss. Maggie was distraught to lose it, but Atlantiades swooped in and grabbed it, their wings coming in very handy there. This led to another fight with some subterranean baddies that again served to showcase how awesome the sword is and how much Maggie likes wielding it.

It’s great to see Maggie growing in confidence, and emerging as a hero in her own right. Her rapid progression with the sword is starting to make me think something bigger is going on, that she isn’t just some random gal the mythological characters befriended but that she’s got some larger connection to the Amazons. We’ve certainly seen stories where the Amazons have been unknowingly hidden among the general population before. Perhaps there’s something similar happening now, with the collapse of the divine realm transporting so many people to the mundane plane of Earth? Time will tell. Maggie may very well be a perfectly normal person who’s just got an aptitude for swords. But that the sword is growing in power so quickly with her wielding it has me suspicious that something more may be at play.

In showcasing Maggie and the sword, though, I feel like the story took a bit of a misstep. The handling of the subterranean monster horde struck me as out of character for Wonder Woman. They all could have flown away with ease and avoided the battle, but Maggie insisted on fighting them. Then Wonder Woman joined her, and together they killed dozens if not hundreds of living creatures. It just felt wrong. Wonder Woman wouldn’t jump into a fight when there was a peaceful resolution available, nor would she wantonly kill these creatures, however nasty they may be, if she didn’t absolutely have to. Yes, they were mean and ugly and terrible all around, but they were quasi-sentient beings at the very least. This was all entirely avoidable, and everything about the scene seemed off to me. Not intentionally off either, like “Oh, maybe Wonder Woman’s under some sort of spell!” or some such. It just felt poorly thought out.

Like I said at the top, the art wasn’t much help in improving this issue either. Jesus Merino has done some fill-ins on the book recently, and while he’s a serviceable artist, he rarely wows me. His work in this outing was generally fine, and he did a nice job capturing the androgyny of Atlantiades in a way that was true to Xermanico’s stellar design of them. The early pages of this book are definitely better than the later ones, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. does a great job with some creative coloring and shading choices to make everything pop a bit more. But all together, the art is just okay.

Then Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna take over, and the quality drops noticeably. All the problems we saw two weeks ago continue here, starting with a decidedly feminine take on Atlantiades that really bugs me. Xermanico established the character SO WELL and Merino did such a nice job with them, and Derenick just doesn’t even seem to be trying here. No one else looks great either, the creature design is bland, and the fight’s not that exciting. None of it works, and not even Romulo Fajardo Jr. can save these pages from feeling dull and pedestrian.

We end on a bit of intrigue, though. The light of the sword, shining like a laser, leads them to Dimension Chi, and I have no idea what that is. I’ve read every issue of Wonder Woman, and while she’s been in all manner of weird dimensions, especially in the Silver and Bronze Ages, this one isn’t ringing a bell at first glance. The solicit for the next issues suggests Diana visited Dimension Chi when she was younger, and I’m very curious to see what Steve Orlando has cooked up. His brief few issues on the series a few months back demonstrated a deep appreciation for Wonder Woman lore, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s dug up something cool and obscure here that I’ve forgotten. I’m looking forward to checking it out!

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Wonder Woman #71 Review: A Colossal Discovery

May 22, 2019

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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!

Wonder Woman #70 Review: Love is a Battlefield

May 10, 2019

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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

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

February 28, 2019

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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!


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