Posts Tagged ‘Circe’

Wonder Woman #56 Review: The Witching Hour Continues!

October 11, 2018

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In Wonder Woman #56, we get Emanuela Lupacchino drawing Wonder Woman, Zatanna, AND Circe, and if that’s not worth four bucks then I don’t know what is. Luppachino’s drawn a bunch of issues of Wonder Woman over the past year, bringing some visual flair to several subpar stories, but this time she’s paired with writing worthy of her talents. James Tynion IV is putting together something cool here with “The Witching Hour” and I’m really enjoying it. The crossover is the perfect October treat thus far, and the stakes keep getting higher. Our pal Wonder Woman is playing with some dangerous powers here, and I’m worried that things might go sideways on her. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Also, you should buy this issue! And the other parts of the crossover!

It’s pretty rad!

I’m going to start by talking about a small, almost inconsequential part of the book, but it’s something done smoothly and well in a way that deserves recognition. Continuity is in a tricky spot right now in the DC universe. The New 52 relaunch was rocky, and the “Rebirth” books did some good course correction but confusion still remains. This is true most of all for Wonder Woman. Her continuity right now is a dang mess. Elements I thought were changed and sorted keep coming back, and parts of her past remain massive questions marks. It’s chaos.

But sometimes, there’s a simple fix to a problem. Case in point: Circe. In the New 52 era, she appeared in the deservedly maligned Superman/Wonder Woman series in classic scary witch form, wreaking all sorts of havoc. But in the “Rebirth” era, Bilquis Evely did a marvelous redesign of the character that modernized her for Greg Rucka’s more nuanced take. These contrary incarnations both exist in the same universe, so Tynion found an easy workaround. He brought out the first Circe, all pigtailed and black bodiced, to intimidate Wonder Woman and her friends, then when she realized what was happening she morphed into the newer, chiller Circe, explaining that the first look was just for theatrics. It’s an elegant way to clean up a continuity snafu, all while adding a little drama and humour to the story.

Speaking of humour, I really enjoyed the balance of the serious and the silly in this issue. Terrible things are happening for Wonder Woman and the gang, with our Amazon heroine plagued with a powerful curse and Hecate set to destroy all magic, violently and brutally. It’s a bad scene. But the book doesn’t languish in tense planning and argument. There’s a lot of that, sure. Wonder Woman’s got kind of a whacky plan here. But there are enough small, humorous moments to keep everything from feeling too heavy. Detective Chimp is always great comic relief, and it turns out Man-Bat is a good source for some unexpected laughs too. The tone is well managed throughout, maintaining the tension while not drowning in it.

Tynion’s done a nice job crafting an impossible situation, too. Wonder Woman and Zatanna’s argument over what to do in the face of the overwhelmingly powerful Hecate was so well done. It’s hard to craft an argument where both sides have totally valid points, but while reading this I kept flip flopping back and forth over whose side I was on. Diana wants to wield Hecate’s power with Circe’s help, tapping into it without being controlled by it. Zatanna thinks that channeling the power would be impossible and that Wonder Woman would slip under Hecate’s control again. And they’re both right! There’s no other power strong enough to challenge Hecate but her own, but it’s also a power that Hecate can control. It could work, but it could also go terribly awry. It’s also an argument that doesn’t get personal. This isn’t about trust. Zatanna doesn’t think that Diana is weak and Diana doesn’t think that Zatanna is cowardly. They’re facing an awesome power, and they just have different ideas and concerns.

In the end, Wonder Woman goes for it, of course. We’ve been seeing a lot of stories lately about Wonder Woman going above and beyond, taking on the weight of the world because she’s confident she can bear it. It’s a compelling theme, and one that’s especially apt in today’s political climate. And the fact remains that everyone has limits. There’s no one I would rather have try to wield Hecate’s power than Diana, but at the same time, that power is immense. Even Diana might not be able to keep control of it. Watching this all play out has made for great reading thus far, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here now that she’s taken this next step.

As I mentioned at the top, Emanuela Lupacchino drew this issue, with inks from Ray McCarthy, and I am always glad to have her in the pages of Wonder Woman. She’s got such an ease with the character, capturing her power and beauty with aplomb in every panel. It was fun to see her draw some other DC mainstays as well. Lupacchino’s got a knack for female characters, so Zatanna and Circe were super cool, but the rest of the gang were nicely done as well. She captured the growing tension of the issue, while also nailing the smaller comedic moments. And she was joined by colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr., who always brings the heat. I know I go on and on about him all the time, but seriously, flip through this comic book. Look at the textures and the colour choices and see how everything beautifully compliments the line art. The dude is so good.

“The Witching Hour” continues next week in Justice League Dark, so be sure to let your local comic book shop know you’re on board for the entire crossover. These first two issues have been really good, and I think the whole event will be worth picking up. It’s spooky and enjoyable and I honestly have no idea how they’re going to win this one, which is the sign of an excellent story.

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Wonder Woman #20 Review: A Late Look at the New Circe’s Debut

April 18, 2017

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First off, apologies for the late review. I was gallivanting around Amsterdam last week and am only getting around to reading the latest issue of Wonder Woman today. It was an issue worth the wait, though; between Greg Rucka reinventing a villain that he created more than a decade ago and Bilquis Evely providing gorgeous, expressive art, “Godwatch” has been a great read thus far. I particularly enjoy that it’s so different from every other arc of the “Rebirth” Wonder Woman we’ve seen so far. We’re four arcs into this new era, and each has a different feel and style, which is very cool. Let’s dig into what happened in Wonder Woman #20, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the major plot points of this issue!

It came out nearly a week ago, though!

You should have read it by now!

So the ongoing saga of Veronica Cale and her captured daughter Izzy continues, with Cale going to extreme lengths to try to get her daughter back. This month, that means enlisting the help of the ancient witch Circe, who comes up with a plan to trap Phobos and Deimos and thus get Cale one step closer to her daughter. However, things don’t go quite as expected. The brothers get captured and turned into the dogs that we’ve seen Cale command in the present day “The Lies” and “The Truth,” but it turns out that their father Ares has Izzy, and even a fiendish witch like Circe has no desire to go up against him. Cale, though, is more than willing to unleash war on the world if it means getting her daughter back, and the issue ends with what appears to be the first step toward a sinister new plan.

Usually when an arc of Wonder Woman focuses so little on Wonder Woman herself, it very quickly gets on my nerves. She’s in just a handful of pages in this issue, and “Godwatch” as a whole has been rather light on Wonder Woman in its first three installments. And yet, I’m really enjoying it. Rucka’s constructed a compelling narrative for Cale and he’s turned her into one of the most interesting, well fleshed out villains I’ve read in some time. She’s a terrible person, sure, but there’s a humanity behind all of that rooted in her love for her daughter that makes her so much more than just some evil cardboard cut out. And Evely absolutely embraces the complicated nature of the character. I follow Evely on Twitter, and it seems clear that she really loves to draw Veronica Cale and capture both her arrogant snark and her softer emotional core. What she does with Cale’s expressions and body language is so enjoyable to read each month. Rucka’s writing her well, but Evely is really elevating her into a sensational, fascinating character.

Evely is doing an amazing job with designs for the arc as well. This issue introduced Circe, and she looks ridiculously cool. Circe’s been a Wonder Woman villain for decades, and her many incarnations have followed a similar theme: she’s generally rather sexualized, and her costumes tend to have a classic Greek myth aesthetic skewed through the lens of the male gaze. This new Circe is very different. She shows up sporting a rad short haircut that nonetheless attains impressive height, wearing a sharp outfit that includes black slacks and a vest, a collared shirt, and a cream blazer. This Circe is modern and fun and clearly mischievous. She makes me think of a sort of malevolent Sue Perkins, really.

We get a bit of the ancient Greek vibe when Circe’s doing her magic binding, and again it’s unique. Rather than a bodice that exposes ample cleavage, as we so often get with Circe, Evely equips her with a full, ornately crafted chestplate that fits nicely over her well tailored shirt and pants. It’s a simple, elegant design that conveys so much about this new take on the character, combining her ancient power with a fresh, contemporary look in manner that works so well. It feels like Circe even though it’s unlike any Circe we’ve ever seen before. I love her and I want an action figure, please.

Now, all of this villainous focus is enjoyable, but I also love how Evely draws Wonder Woman and I’m hoping we’ll get some more of that in the next few issues. The saga of Veronica Cale is a great read, but it seems that Evely is only going to be on Wonder Woman for the one arc, and I’d love to see her go to town with Wonder Woman as well. When you’ve got a great, unique talent like Evely, you should try to make her draw as much awesome stuff as possible!

Finally, while I was away, Greg Rucka announced that he will be leaving the book after Wonder Woman #25, and the art crew on both arcs seem to be moving on as well. It was sad news, to be sure, but ultimately I think it could be good for the book. I like Rucka a lot, but I’m also ready for a new take on the character, preferably from someone young with a unique perspective. Rucka was a great choice for “Rebirth” because Wonder Woman was very much adrift and DC needed someone to right the course. Rucka, Evely, Scott, and Sharp have done that admirably, and established a take on Wonder Woman that is both true to her roots and relevant to the world today. They had to fix a huge mess, and they did a great job. The end of the currents arcs seems like a good spot to pass the baton, and I’m excited to see what comes next. Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo have been announced as the new team on the book, with Fontana writing it for at least five issues, and that’s a very fun first step. We’ll find out soon if Fontana is staying with the book or we’re getting a new team after that, and here’s hoping that this great run for Wonder Woman continues.

Superman/Wonder Woman #16 Preview OR One Seriously Messed Up Double Date

February 17, 2015

It’s a busy week for Wonder Woman enthusiasts. Yesterday I posted the preview for Wonder Woman #39, and today we’ve got a look at Superman/Wonder Woman #16, both of which come out tomorrow. The print version of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #7 hits stores tomorrow as well, so at least there’ll be one good Wonder Woman book. This month’s issue of Superman/Wonder Woman pits the eponymous duo against Magog and Circe in pretty much the worst double date of all time. SIDENOTE: How fun would this book be if it was a legit double date with Superman/Wonder Woman and Magog/Circe? What Silver Age style convolutions could bring that together? Now that’s a comic I’d want to read.

Anyway, let’s take a peek at Superman/Wonder Woman #16, courtesy of AV Club:

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The art breakdown appears to be the same as the last issue, with Doug Mahnke handling the present while Ed Benes draws Magog’s past. Benes has drawn the cover as well. Mahnke and Benes strike me as somewhat of an odd pairing, since their styles are fairly different, but I suppose it’s nice to have a contrast.

This is the sort of preview that annoys me because now we’re already a full quarter into the book and we have barely any new information at all. The three page flashback adds very little to what we already know about Magog. Basically the only progress we’ve made from the end of the last issue is that where that ended with Circe attacking, now we’ve hastily reached a standoff. I don’t want to sound like a grousing pennypincher, but this comic book costs four dollars. If you’re going to spend the first five pages on a superfluous flashback and an overblown double page spread, people are going to take their business elsewhere to books that give them more comic bang for their buck.

Superman/Wonder Woman #16 is available in comic shops and online tomorrow, but so is Sensation Comics #7. It’s fun and has some lovely art and well-constructed stories. If you’re going to buy one Wonder Woman book this week, pick up Sensation Comics. If you’re going to buy two or three, you’ll probably end up disappointed. But hey! You can get this lovely Francis Manapul variant cover at least:

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It’s very nice. Though isn’t it sad when a variant cover is better and more interesting than anything in the actual book?

Superman/Wonder Woman #15 Preview OR The Secret Origin Of Magog

January 13, 2015

Here’s how underwhelmed I was by the last issue of Superman/Wonder Woman: I read it just three weeks ago, yet when I went to read this preview I was very confused because I had entirely forgotten how the previous issue ended. It was not a particularly compelling or memorable book. But now I remember! And, SPOILER ALERT, Wonderstar is Magog and he’s here to save the world from Superman and Wonder Woman.

Today, with this preview of Superman/Wonder Woman #15 from Comic Vine, we go back in time a bit and explore the origin of Magog:

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First up, we’ve got a new artist on the book. These pages look like they’re drawn by Ed Benes, though the cover says that regular series artist Doug Mahnke is involved as well. My guess is that the book will jump to the present at some point, and perhaps Mahnke will be handling those pages while Benes does those set in the past. I’m fairly indifferent on Benes, and these pages do little to change my mind in that regard.

As for Magog’s origin, it seems he’s an angry young boy who gets transformed by Circe into a superpowered villain. You can tell he’s angry because he’s smacking his fist into his palm like all angry people do. Seriously, though, have you ever seen someone do that in real life? Much less a child? It strikes me as an odd art choice, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I don’t know a ton about the pre-New 52 Magog offhand, but I do know that while he was named David Reid, just as the boy is here, he was a grown man in the military or some such before he got his powers. I think they did the origin in JSA, and not in Kingdom Come where he first appeared. Either way, this is something different, a new take on the character for the New 52. While he looks about the same in costume, it seems that everything else is changed.

Look for Superman/Wonder Woman #15 in stores and online tomorrow.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3 Review: “Defender Of Truth” By Amanda Deibert And Cat Staggs

August 28, 2014

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Before we get into this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, first we’ve got a programming note. While the first two issues came out on a Wednesday, it looks like the book has moved to Thursday now; I’m not sure if this is just for this week or for the foreseeable future, but what we do know is that it won’t necessarily come out at the same time each week. But when it does, I’ll be here with a review.

Today’s story, “Defender of Truth” by Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs, appeared in last week’s print issue of Sensation Comics, so this week’s digital release might feel a bit anticlimactic if you’ve already purchased the paper version. This will probably be the last time the paper book is ahead of the digital, though. With 4-5 weeks in a month and the print version collecting only 3 stories each month, before long there will be quite the backlog of digital stories waiting to see print.

Having the print version out first gives us an interesting comparison for this particular story. While I enjoyed it on paper, I found that the art was a little muddled and a lot of the subtler things Cat Staggs was doing seemed to get lost. The digital version was a lot crisper, and the bigger size and simpler page layout made the art look even better.

Staggs is no stranger to Wonder Woman, having illustrated the covers for Wonder Woman’s appearances in Smallville Season 11. She’s also done interior art for the series, but this is the first time she’s drawn a Wonder Woman story and she did a great job. Whereas the first two issues of Sensation Comics left me feeling like the artist didn’t bring his A-game, Staggs’ art in “Defender of Truth” is some of the best art I’ve seen from her. Her Wonder Woman is powerful and lovely without being sexualized, the costume looks like it’s made of real fabric and not painted on, and the action is well choreographed. While the story appears to be set in the New 52 universe, Staggs streamlines the costume somewhat and achieves a nice blend of her current incarnation and elements from her past costumes.

The story takes place in Washington, DC, where Circe is wreaking havoc, bringing gargoyles to life and turning mounted policemen into centaurs. Wonder Woman shows up to sort things out, and saves the day with aplomb. Amanda Deibert’s writing moved the story along and for the first few pages, as Wonder Woman takes down her foes, I thought that her work was fine if unremarkable. But then Deibert absolutely stuck the landing with a couple of great scenes to finish off the issue.

In the first, Wonder Woman has captured Circe and is playfully chiding her:

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The bit about “getting tied up” is obviously a reference to the bondage imagery that pervaded the early years of Wonder Woman comics back in the 1940s, but the way this panel is presented says a lot of things. On one level it’s a simple chastisement, with the classic “pick on someone your own size” reprimand. But Wonder Woman’s smile, nicely drawn by Staggs, suggests that yeah, Wonder Woman might be up for some bondage games with Circe. There’s a hint of flirtation there that we don’t usually see in Wonder Woman comics but that is very fitting given Wonder Woman’s Amazon heritage.

In the issue’s final scene, some young boys tease their friend for being a fan of Wonder Woman. As a guy who spent his vacation wearing a blue bathing suit with white stars, I very much identified with the young boy wearing Wonder Woman-inspired bracelets. Wonder Woman showing up to tell the boy he can like whatever he wants and to be true to himself is a lovely ending to the issue, as is the rest of the boys immediately changing their tune once they meet Wonder Woman.

All together, this story is a very good example of what Sensation Comics can, and what I hope it will, be. These stories, while short, can nonetheless showcase different facets of Wonder Woman, pairing strong character moments with enjoyable action scenes. Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs each did great work, with the art and writing complimenting each other well. I’m glad this story got to be in the premiere print issue of the series, and I hope that Deibert and Staggs will get to do another Sensation Comics story in the future.


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