Posts Tagged ‘Chris Gugliotti’

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #51 Review: THE FINAL ISSUE! “Island of Lost Souls, Part 3” by Trina Robbins and Chris Gugliotti

October 29, 2015

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It’s a very sad day for Wonder Woman fans because we’ve reached the end of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, one of the best outlets that the character has had in some time. Print readers still have a couple of issues to go before the book is wrapped up for good, but today was the final digital installment of the series. It’s unfortunate that the series is over, because it was a heck of a lot of fun. There were so many great, different creators involved, telling a wide range of stories each with a different take on Diana. And the best part was that even if you didn’t like a particular story, soon you’d have another one with a completely new creative team and a new approach to Wonder Woman. The surprise of each new arc was one of my favourite things about this series. Plus, most of them were pretty enjoyable. I liked some better than others, but a lot of them were really great and there weren’t a lot of duds in the mix. An anthology series is a crapshoot, but Sensation Comics had a solid record.

The end of the book is particularly disheartening because it was an outlet for Wonder Woman fans to get away from the current incarnation of the character. Since the New 52 relaunch four years ago, Wonder Woman has been a fairly dark series, and her treatment elsewhere in the mainline books has left a lot to be desired, particularly her awkward romance with Superman. DC seems to have gotten away from the classic, iconic version of Wonder Woman, and Sensation Comics was an opportunity to have that character back via fun, out of continuity adventures.

And now it’s over. It had a solid run, and lasted about as long as DC’s character focused, digital first anthologies tend to go. The silver lining of the end of Sensation Comics is that it’s conclusion will make way for a new digital first series for Wonder Woman, Renae De Liz’s The Legend of Wonder Woman. The new book will run for 27 digital issues, 9 print, and tell stories about Diana’s childhood as she learns what it means to be an Amazon. It sounds fantastic, and I’m glad that we’ll continue to have a weekly dose of digital Wonder Woman fun.

Sensation Comics also ended strong, with a quirky arc by Trina Robbins and Chris Gugliotti. It was a fitting conclusion to the book with Wonder Woman doing what she does best, fostering compassion in others and helping them find their better self. After locating the source of the Urzkatarga cult, the Cheetah became overwhelmed with malicious power and attacked Wonder Woman, but Wonder Woman encouraged Barbara to fight the evil influence and, with the help of their new kitten friend, Molly, set her free from its control. I loved that this story arc centered on Wonder Woman helping her biggest enemy, because that’s such a Wonder Woman thing to do. The final page revealed that their rivalry may not be over forever, but the story nonetheless showed the core of who Wonder Woman is.

Chris Gugliotti’s art has been a lot of fun. It’s a little bit unconventional, and I’ve been seeing mixed reactions online, but I’ve enjoyed it. I think this is what Sensation Comics is all about, trying something new and out of the mainstream; this book looks nothing like Wonder Woman’s New 52 adventures, and I think that’s very cool. Gugliotti’s got his own style that fit the story well and that, along with his superb colouring, made this story one of Sensation Comics‘ more interesting outings, visually. I was into it.

Anyway, I’ve had a blast reading and reviewing Sensation Comics each week, and I’m glad it went out with a legend at the helm in Trina Robbins, and with the promise of more Wonder Woman digital stories on the horizon. That takes away a lot of the sting of it ending. For you print fans, this story will be collected in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #17, the book’s final print issue, on December 2, so keep your eyes peeled for that and its gorgeous cover. My thanks and compliments to all of the wonderful creators who have worked on the book, and editors Kristy Quinn and Jessica Chen for putting together such a great series; it’s been a blast. Now I’m counting down the days until The Legend of Wonder Woman begins!

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #50 Review: “Island of Lost Souls, Part 2” by Trina Robbins and Chris Gugliotti

October 22, 2015

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Usually a fiftieth issue is cause for celebration. Lasting fifty issues in the comic book business, even digitally, is a rare achievement these days in a jam packed market full of constant relaunches and reboots. But while this is a impressive milestone for Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, it’s also the series’ penultimate issue. Next week, we’ll be saying goodbye to Sensation Comics for good. That tamps down the celebratory mood somewhat.

Nonetheless, this is a very good issue. The book is going out with a bang as Trina Robbins and Chris Gugliotti continue to tell a weird and enjoyable story with mad scientists and talking animals. The last issue ended with Wonder Woman teaming up with the Cheetah, an unusual pairing brought on by the Cheetah being near death because of a lack of urzkatarga berries, the source of her powers. Wonder Woman and the Cheetah crash landed on an island where a scientist was experimenting on animals with the berries, and in this week’s issue the duo met the scientist behind the island’s bizarre creatures.

Robbins continues to throw twists into the narrative by again discarding the assumed villain. When the Cheetah showed up last week, it looked like she was the villain before the circumstances quickly changed. With this issue, it looked like the scientist would be the arc’s big bad. He’s experimenting on animals with the funding of Lex Luthor; he’s severely misguided at best, and a full on villain at worst. Plus he’s got a talking attack dog and captured Wonder Woman and the Cheetah. But he’s not the arc’s big bad either. Luthor wasn’t pleased with his lack of scientific process, and the doctor doesn’t survive the issue. The fun of it is, now Luthor looks like the big bad, but we’ve been down this road before. With one issue left, we can’t really assume anything about how the story will end because the rug has been pulled out from under us twice already.

I enjoy that Robbins is totally doing her own thing, and that the usual conventions of superhero comics are sort of out the window here. There’s not a lot of time dedicated to superhero brawls, in this issue or last week’s. Today’s issue does end in an action packed way, but it’s fairly brief. Instead of pages and pages of fighting, we get story that lets us get to know the characters. It also makes for a longer read; you’re absolutely getting your money’s worth with this arc, because there’s a lot going on. It’s not a book you breeze through in just a minute.

You’re also getting your money’s worth from the art in the book, which continues to be unique and expressive. Plus Gugliotti’s animals are super cute; the ferret computer expert is particularly fun. But it’s not just all adorable animals. Gugliotti does a nice job with the action as well, adding a lot of drama and suspense to the issue’s conclusion. On top of all of that, his colouring remains absolutely gorgeous. I’d recommend the book on the colouring alone, because Gugliotti is doing some great stuff with texture and light that I’m finding very visually compelling.

Overall, this story continues to be a good read. If Sensation Comics has to end, I’m glad it’s ending with this creative team telling this weird, fun story. “Island of Lost Souls” really captures what Sensation Comics was all about, enjoyable Wonder Woman stories that don’t fit in today’s dark world of mainline Wonder Woman comics. I’m excited for next week’s conclusion, in a very melancholy way.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #49 Review: “Island of Lost Souls, Part 1” by Trina Robbins and Chris Gugliotti

October 16, 2015

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman began its final arc yesterday, marking the beginning of the end one of the best showcases for Wonder Woman in recent memory. These digital first series are rarely long for the world; Adventures of Superman and Legends of the Dark Knight lasted about the same length. But the loss of Sensation Comics is more significant, seeing as Wonder Woman has never had the many series that Superman and Batman regularly star in. Usually she’s just got her eponymous title. Even more unfortunate, lately that main title and her co-starring series, Superman/Wonder Woman, have been pretty terrible. The end of Sensation Comics is a huge blow for fans of Wonder Woman.

But on the plus side, Sensation Comics is going out with a bang. Trina Robbins is writing the final arc, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a better choice. Robbins is a legend, from her underground comix to her fantastic historical work on women in comics to her past Wonder Woman stories. Joining her on art is Chris Gugliotti, a newcomer to DC with a unique style. The combination of the two makes the start of this finale something special.

The story is an unlikely team up between Wonder Woman and her nemesis, the Cheetah. The urzkatarga berries that turn Barbara Minerva into the Cheetah are disappearing, and Minerva is getting weaker after each transformation as she rations her limited supplies. Her situation is so desperate that she turns to Wonder Woman for help, betting that her compassion will make her help her enemy. And she’s right, of course. Wonder Woman can’t not help someone, especially someone who’s life is in peril.

As with most first issues, part one of the story is a lot of set up. Robbins explains the origins of the Cheetah and her reliance on the urzkatarga berries, and sets up the quest to find more. But it’s also an unconventional start. I’ve written a lot about the three part arc formula in my recent digital reviews because so many creators seem to be following the same basic pattern of establishing a villain, having a small fight, then finishing with a final fight. Everything is built to move toward that end battle, and the stories are rather predictable.

This story is different. There’s a scuffle between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah at the beginning, and the reveal of a potential villain at the issue’s end, but the focus is on helping the Cheetah rather than building to a fight. There’s a lot of ambiguity; the Cheetah isn’t the most trustworthy companion, and that guy at the end in charge of the reverse Dr. Moreau scene on the island the duo visits could be a friend or a foe. The story sets up a lot of fun stuff with potential to go in a variety of different directions, and I’m excited to see where Robbins takes it.

Gugliotti’s art is a treat as well. I’m not familiar with his work, but I’m absolutely going to check it out now. He’s got a cartoony style that will appeal to both children and adults, and his characters are wonderfully expressive. Gugliotti seems unconsidered with the typical superhero aesthetic of beautiful women carefully posed to be as lovely as possible. There are a variety of panels where Wonder Woman and the Cheetah do look very pretty; I mean, look at how gorgeous this opening page is all around:

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But he plays to the emotion of each story beat above all else, trying to capture something real in their expressions rather than maintain a posed facade. It’s good stuff. His colouring elevates the artwork even further. It’s rich and textured, but varied as well. Gugliotti doesn’t rely on any one technique or style with his colours. Instead, it’s sometimes smooth and sometimes rough, sometimes blocked out and sometimes detailed, but all of it carefully rendered in a beautiful way.

Also, DANG that Anna Dittman cover. That’s all I have to say about it, DANG DANG DANG DANG DANG. It’s killer.

If Sensation Comics has to end, at least it’s ending on a high, with a legend at the helm writing the book and lovely, innovative art throughout. There’s almost an air of defiance to the book, like it’s saying to the comics market, “We may be going out, but here’s what you’re going to be missing and you’ll be sorry when we’re gone.” I’m looking forward to the next two weeks. If you’re waiting for the print version of this story, it’ll be compiled in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #17, on sale on December 2.

Wonder Woman’s December 2015 Covers and Solicits

September 21, 2015

Let’s jump into the books straight away because Wonder Woman stars or appears prominently in about 843 different comics in December. Actually, now that I look at the list again, it’s 7. But still, it’s a lot of books! So let’s see what she’s doing to be up to during the festive season, starting with Wonder Woman #47:

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WONDER WOMAN #47
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by MIGUEL MENDONÇA
Cover by DAVID FINCH and JONATHAN GLAPION
Variant covers by AMANDA CONNER
On sale DECEMBER 30 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
As her duties as God of War draw Wonder Woman into battle, the Cheetah resurfaces to strike!

The Finches are still here, so that’s disappointing. But David’s got the month off for interior art. I’m not familiar with Miguel Mendonca, but it looks like a lot of his work has been done at Zenescope, which isn’t a terribly encouraging sign. But you never know; he could be great! We’ll find out in December.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #24:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #24
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
It’s the team-up you never expected, as Superman and Parasite take on those other energy suckers, the Pale Riders, to free Firestorm! Meanwhile, Wonder Woman fights an unstoppable behemoth that can contain—and consume—her powers!

Firestorm is still in the book? He just showed up last week. He must be sticking around for a while. I’m glad to see Superman and Wonder Woman on separate adventures this month. I’m totally on board for keeping them apart.

Superman/Wonder Woman has an annual out in December too:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #2
Written by KEITH CHAMPAGNE and PETER J. TOMASI
Art by YANICK PAQUETTE, CHRISCROSS, MATTHEW CLARK and others
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Forged in the fires of battle, their union is one the world fears and hates—and some have tried to tear it asunder! Now witness the trials of the romance of Kal and Diana, and how it all came to be. See the first kiss and last breath of Superman and Wonder Woman in this epic tale that recounts the most dangerous love story of all.

Hooboy, this sounds awful. Highlights of one of the lamest romances of all time seems like a terrible idea for a comic. But Yanick Paquette is drawing some of it, so it should like nice, at least. I’m going to be so annoyed shelling out $5 for this.

Next up, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #17:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #17
Written by TRINA ROBBINS
Art by CHRIS GUGLIOTTI
Cover by ANNA DITTMAN
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST • FINAL ISSUE
Diana’s compassion is tested when Dr. Barbara Minerva appears, begging for assistance as she seeks out the last remaining source of urzkatarga, the plant that supplies the serum that transforms her into the Cheetah. And if she can’t use it to replenish her supply, she’ll die. But when the Amazon princess/super-hero and the scientist/super-villain make their way to the “Island of Lost Souls,” they find more is at stake than expected!

The final issue!! I’m so upset. I know that these digital books never last that long so I expected that the ax would be falling on Sensation Comics soon, but I love this book! It’s Wonder Woman’s only decent regular showcase, and so many great stories have come out of it. I’m glad to see that Trina Robbins is writing the final installment. She’ll bring it, for sure, and end the book with a bang.

Now we move to some non-Wonder Woman books that feature her prominently, starting with Harley’s Little Black Book #1:

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HARLEY’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK #1
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by AMANDA CONNER and a bunch of people who owe her favors
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
Variant covers by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+
It’s the sensational debut of a bimonthly, overstuffed, oversized team-up series in which Harley meets (and almost certainly annoys) the greatest heroes and villains of the DC Universe! First up? The incredible Wonder Woman! There’s a plot to assassinate Wondy, and Harley is convinced that only she could possibly stop it! (Hey, you want to tell her about all the other options? We tried.)

Harley Quinn’s got a new series and Wonder Woman is the first guest star! I don’t love them putting Wonder Woman in a tiny outfit on the cover, but the inside of the book will probably be fun. Harley Quinn is an odd but enjoyable book, and I’m sure this new title will carry on in the same vein. And Amanda Conner drawing Wonder Woman could be a good time.

Wonder Woman’s front and center on Justice League #47 as well:

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JUSTICE LEAGUE #47
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JASON FABOK
Variant covers by JIM LEE
On sale DECEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Super-star artist Jason Fabok returns as the second act of “DARKSEID WAR” begins! As the members of the Justice League struggle with their new Godhood abilities, Wonder Woman must turn to the beings that have fought the Anti-Monitor before: the Crime Syndicate! Plus, what secret does Grail hold that will change Diana’s world forever?

The Anti-Monitor is in this? I haven’t been following “Darkseid War” at all, though I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s collected because I really like how Jason Fabok draws Wonder Woman. Plus, Fourth World stuff is usually pretty fun. Isn’t Batman now Metron or something? The occasional tidbits I hear about this storyline always sound super weird, but sort of intriguingly so.

Finally, Donna Troy is stopping by to visit Titans Hunt #3:

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TITANS HUNT #3
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by PAOLO SIQUEIRA
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale DECEMBER 2 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 12, $3.99 US RATED T
Haunted by a past they no longer recognize, Dick Grayson and Roy Harper hunt for the truth. Somehow, somewhere, there must be someone who can explain the memories that obsess them but don’t belong to them. Their search has unleashed the rage of Atlantis, but that’s nothing compared to the fury of the Amazonian outcast waiting for them in the shadows.

I’m not 100% on what the premise of this book is. Is it that the New 52 versions of the old Teen Titans are being haunted by memories of themselves in the old universe, or are the old universe Teen Titans back somehow? Whatever the case, Donna Troy’s in this one, wearing her rad new costume. And it sounds like she’s going to be angry because Amazons are always angry these days. Man, Yanick Paquette’s having a busy month!

Look for all of these titles this December in comics shops and online! Or ask Santa to bring them to you.


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