Posts Tagged ‘Carlo Pagulayan’

Wonder Woman #31 Review: It’s Going To Be A Long Six Months

September 27, 2017

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I just don’t understand why this is happening, gang. DC finally has Wonder Woman back on track after the New 52 reboot took her increasingly off course for five years, and her popularity is sky high following the massive success of the movie this summer. Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp re-established her beautifully with the first year of “Rebirth” and then Shea Fontana, Mirka Andolfo, David Messina, and Inaki Miranda made the most of the new status quo with their excellent, compelling “Heart of the Amazon” arc. And now we’ve got a story about Diana’s brother, tied to a pre-“Rebirth” event no one particularly cared about, with several elements that are technically no longer part of Wonder Woman’s continuity. It is the opposite of accessible, and it’s also the opposite of what anyone who’s loved the first thirty issues of the new Wonder Woman and/or the movie is looking for. I’m utterly flabbergasted that DC is dedicating six months and twelve whole issues to this story that next to no one is clamouring for.

Plus, most damningly, it’s just not good. This first issue is rough in a lot of ways, but here’s the big thing you need to know about it: It’s an issue of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman only appears on six pages. If Wonder Woman isn’t the star of your Wonder Woman, you’ve done screwed up. I was really hoping that, as much as I didn’t love the idea of this arc, it would turn out to be surprisingly good and interesting, but this first issue has squashed that hope considerably. It’s bad and dumb and seems destined to try my patience. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

It’s a first issue so I won’t be too spoilery moving forward!

However, a couple of plot points will be discussed!

Continue to read at your own discretion!

So let’s start with the elephant in the room that is James Robinson. Once a legend in the business because of Starman, his fame has dimmed in recent years after some gruesome and grotesque superhero outings and his transphobic indie book. His work over the past few years seems generally at odds with the message and tone of Wonder Woman, especially in her re-established “Rebirth” form. Furthermore, after Rucka’s fine work on the book, a lot of folks, myself included, were hoping that the writing reins would get passed on to one of the many amazing female writers working in the business today. Robinson taking over the book for an extended run is an all around bizarre choice by DC.

And one that has resulted in a very bad first issue. There’s the fact that Wonder Woman is barely in it, of course, but more than that it’s a clumsy, awkwardly expository outing. The book takes twelve pages to set up the villain, with more than half of the story dedicated to a character who’s quickly taken off the board. I don’t want to get too into the details for folks who haven’t read it, but essentially Grail is taking the power of gods to repower Darkseid, and a huge portion of the book is dedicated to setting that up. The execution of this both sidelines Wonder Woman and drags on with shrug-inducing reveals and painful dialogue.

The dialogue especially is a constant problem throughout the issue. Not only are characters over explaining everything, but there’s no natural flow to any of it. It’s stilted and drawn out, laden with rough transitions, and it all combines to take the reader out of the story again and again. It’s so clunky that I kept thinking, “Nobody talks like this. Why is this so awkward?” and it makes for an unpleasant read.

The art, however, was quite strong throughout. Penciller Carlo Pagulayan and his inkers Sean Parsons, Jason Paz, and Scott Hanna do a nice job with every aspect of the book, bringing some life to the weak script and saving the issue from being a complete disaster. Wonder Woman’s fight with Giganta is particularly well done, and they’ve got an excellent handle on Wonder Woman herself. I can see some of Nicola Scott’s take on the character, with a little bit of Gal Gadot mixed in too, all rendered in Pagulayan’s own style to add up to quite a good Wonder Woman. Their action scenes are enjoyable as well, and quite compelling if you ignore the dialogue and just focus on the visual storytelling. I’m curious to see more from them, and have my fingers crossed that they’ll end up with fun things to draw as the story progresses. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr.! He’s back again colouring the book, and doing an amazing job as always. The man has an uncanny ability to pair seamlessly with any artist he works with in a complimentary way that elevates the art even higher, and he’s at it again with this issue. I’m so glad to see he’s sticking with the book.

So we’ve got good art and terrible writing, but the scales tip decidedly to the negative all together when we consider the ridiculous premise. The primary antagonist Grail is a product of the New 52 Amazons who have since been revealed as a fabrication by the gods, so basically she should not exist. But because of her prominent role in “The Darkseid War” event and the fact that she’s Darkseid’s daughter, she somehow carries on to plague Wonder Woman. And Wonder Woman’s brother, which is also a thing that is happening. He was teased in the “Rebirth” special, but seemingly forgotten for the next 15 months and never mentioned at all in the new Wonder Woman as much better stories were told instead. But here we are, picking up on some very dumb loose threads and tying it all together. At a time when everyone is in love with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and wants more Diana, more Amazons, more bad ass female characters generally, and more women in charge of these feminist icons, the comic’s got a male writer telling a story centered on Wonder Woman’s brother. And, if the first issue is any indication, a really bad story at that. I have no idea why DC is doing this. All I know is that it looks like it’s going to be a very long six month for Wonder Woman enthusiasts.

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