Posts Tagged ‘Darkseid’

Wonder Woman #45 Review: “Amazons Attacked” Stumbles to a Poor Conclusion

April 25, 2018

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Let’s start with some happy news: This run is going to end. We’ve always known this in the abstract, of course. Creative teams at the Big Two never last forever. But now we’ve got a date. On July 11, 2018, Wonder Woman #50 will come out and mark the end of James Robinson’s tenure writing the book. While it’s kind of a downer that they’re letting him write such a landmark issue after months of churning out terrible work, the bigger news is that it’s finally over. Steve Orlando and Laura Braga are taking over for a brief arc starting with Wonder Woman #51, and then a new, yet unnamed creative team will come in.

I’d be excited for anyone not named James Robinson to be writing the book, but Orlando is an especially good choice. I’ve enjoyed his work for a while now, and from his few comments on what’s to come it sounds like he’s got a good handle on Wonder Woman and why she’s amazing. Braga is a great choice, too. She’s done fantastic work on DC Comics Bombshells, and I’m looking forward to her drawing Wonder Woman in a more modern setting. It should all be a lot of fun. We’ve just got to slog through five more issues to get there!

Speaking of a slog, Wonder Woman #45 came out today, bringing the “Amazons Attacked” storyline to a close. The issue was bad, the arc was dumb, and damn near everything about this book continues to suck. So let’s talk about it, I guess? But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to ruin the conclusion of this foolish arc!

Look away if you don’t want to know how Darkseid loses because… love?

It doesn’t make any sort of sense.

As I just mentioned, in this grand finale to months of painful storytelling, Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid with love. More specifically, she uses her love for her brothers, sisters, and other divine relatives killed by Darkseid in his quest to repower himself, loving them so fiercely that she somehow pulls their souls from his body. Darkseid, now weakened, burns up and disappears.

So, yeah. The thing is, Wonder Woman and love go hand in hand. Her compassion and her kindness have been hallmarks of the character from the very beginning. When William Moulton Marston created her, he made her the embodiment of the loving authority of women. If any superhero is going to use love to defeat a villain, it’s going to be Wonder Woman. The problem is, it still has to make sense. There’s need to be a degree of logic. You can’t just say that Diana’s love is “bright and true” and then ta-dah, Darkseid is done. Wonder Woman is not some sort of loving necromancer. She cannot draw out the souls of the dead through sheer affection alone.

And even if Robinson and co. wanted to make this a new superpower for her, then okay, explain it. It’s a bad, silly idea, but make it work. Set it up in some fashion. Do a little bit of foreshadowing and table setting so it doesn’t come off like a bizarre deus ex machina. Love is a wonderful, powerful thing, but to use it to such a degree, entirely out of the blue, kind of ruins the entire ending. Well, “ruin” is the wrong word. That implies that there was something good to begin with. But it’s cheap, and unearned, and generally dumb.

On top of that foolishness, this issue continues one of my main frustrations with this run: Robinson’s focus on male characters. I’ve said it a million times, but this book is called Wonder Woman. She should be the main character. And, almost as importantly, women should play an important role in the series, across the board. In this issue, we start with opening narration from Steve Trevor. Then Jason, a man, goes to Themyscira to save the Amazons from Grail’s attack. And finally Grail, once captured by the Amazons, is imprisoned with Ares so that HE can teach her the values of love and peace that he has learned. Learned from women, I might add; his wokeness comes from submission to Aphrodite and the Amazons. That’s too many dudes doing too many things. All while Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid in the dumbest of ways.

This issue is basically the culmination of so many terrible ideas. Bringing back Grail. Giving Diana a brother. Ignoring every rad female supporting character in the Wonder Woman mythos. Letting James Robinson write a comic book after, I’m guessing, he traded his skills at storytelling to some sort of evil leprechaun for magic beans? I’m not exactly sure how his writing turned so bad so quickly, but the larger point stands: The dude is doing garbage work here. And all of that combines into this boring, nonsensical conclusion that lacks any excitement, heart, or reader investment.

At least it looks pretty good. So long as you’ve got Emanuela Lupacchino drawing Wonder Woman, even if it’s just for some of the pages, it’s going to be a book worth looking at. She captures the character so well, and Ray McCarthy does a great job inking her work. Marco Santucci is solid, too. I prefer Lupacchino, but he carries off his pages nicely. And of course, series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. holds everything together with his coloring. The dude’s a magician. When books go off the rails like Wonder Woman has as of late, often times it shows up in the artwork. You see rushed drawing, and everyone down the production line starts phoning it in. While we’ve had some instances of hasty linework over the past few months, Fajardo Jr. has been making everyone look better with every single issue he colors. Give the man a dang raise, DC.

So, Darkseid is done, and now we’ve just got to get through some sort of Metal tie-in for the next five issues. Then we get a new creative team and maybe we can enjoy the book again? Gosh, I hope so. I’m real tired of hating what should be my favourite book.

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Wonder Woman #44 Review: The Fight Rages On! And Remains Terrible/Nigh Unreadable!

April 11, 2018

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I had a really nice weekend, gang. I went to Chicago for C2E2, had a great time at the show, tried a poke bowl for the first time (it was DELICIOUS). It was excellent all around, and the fun started with a panel discussion about Catwoman at The Book Cellar with some super smart comic critics. Angelica Jade Bastien, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, Katie Schenkel, and I spent the bulk of the time discussing Catwoman, of course, but every now and again the conversation would turn to the current run of Wonder Woman. And with that turn came utter bewilderment at what a mess the book is right now, partly in relation to its brilliant “Rebirth” relaunch and partly just on its own, entirely lacking merits. Everyone was utterly flabbergasted at the horrible depths the series has sunk to as of late. It was a cathartic conversation, with the general consensus being that James Robinson should perhaps consider a different career path entirely.

Anyway, there’s a new Wonder Woman out this week, so let’s talk about it. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the secrets of yet another painfully subpar issue of Wonder Woman!

They don’t make a lick of sense in terms of current continuity, though!

This book is dumb.

So this issue is mostly fighting, which I appreciated. The brawling meant that there weren’t long, drawn out conversations that lacked any semblance to normal human speech and simply regurgitated previously established facts. I’ve had enough of that with the past few issues. Now, the fighting wasn’t particularly good, nor were the quips and banter therein. The structure of the battle on the page jumped around a lot, seemingly at random, and the core brawl between Wonder Woman and Darkseid was the only one that actually mattered. Jason and Grail’s faceoff didn’t really go anywhere, while Steve and his Howling Commandos appeared to be entirely ineffective.

Like most of Robinson’s run, the battle was largely filler to get us from Point A to Point B without actually adding anything new or interesting to the story, revealing anything about the characters, or otherwise enhancing our reading experience. It was just a bunch of punches to burn through pages until Darkseid’s machine could be powered enough to open a portal to Themyscira. I do like a good fight. This is a superhero comic book, after all. But I like the fights to say something beyond “oh, this will fill up the issue until the dramatic reveal at the end.” This fight was entirely perfunctory. Any reader with any sense of how the story was unfolding would know that there were no stakes here at all. Darkseid’s plan was going to work, and no amount of brawling was going to change that.

And about this dramatic reveal. So Grail gets to Themyscira and turns some Amazons into parademons. I have two big thoughts about this. First, those Amazons would have DESTROYED Grail. I know she’s half Darkseid or whatever, but Amazons are Amazons and there were a bunch of them. Even with a surprise attack, the gal would have been taken down and hastily so. You don’t mess with the Amazons.

Second, this was framed as a homecoming for Grail after leaving the island years earlier, but here’s the thing: THIS IS NOT GRAIL’S PARADISE ISLAND. Remember when the New 52 relaunch messed up Wonder Woman and the Amazons so badly that DC brought in Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott to fix it? And that their solution was to explain that the New 52 Amazons were a fiction? Grail was created before this fix. She is a product of the fake Amazons, not the real Amazons. This Themyscira is not her home. Technically, her home doesn’t even exist and she is some sort of bizarre anomaly. The folks behind Wonder Woman don’t seem to care about any of this, and have decided to ignore the change in continuity entirely.

Continuity needn’t be a prison, of course, but these things were changed for a reason. The Wonder Woman mythos was fundamentally broken, and Rucka and Scott set in right in a way that resonated with scores of fans. But now, this run is undoing all of that. Rucka and Scott danced around Wonder Woman’s New 52, daughter of Zeus origin, giving DC an out for ever mentioning it again. This arc has made it a centerpiece of the story. Rucka and Scott wiped away the New 52’s terrible depiction of the Amazons, and this arc has brought back one of its oddest, dumbest choices with Grail. It’s mind boggling. Everyone did a very good thing with Wonder Woman: Year One. It’s easily one of the best Wonder Woman stories ever told! And now DC is letting this trash fire of an arc toss it all aside.

One bit of good news from this issue is that Emanuela Lupacchino is back. Even when she’s working on a tight schedule, which I suspect she may have been here, her art is always dynamic and enjoyable. She’s got a great grasp on Wonder Woman herself, and it was very fun to see her draw the Amazons, however briefly. It’s a shame that someone with such an obvious penchant for Wonder Woman and her world is being used for such a terrible storyline. I hope that she’ll get another shot at the book with a writer that actually understands and appreciates Diana. Romulo Fajardo Jr. remains on top of his game as well, like always. The richness of colour and the breadth of texture he brings to his work is just remarkable. It’s all so subtle and seamless, and remains the one thing keeping this entire run afloat. Luckily with Lupacchino he’s got some nice line work to enhance, but he’s definitely elevated several lesser artists in past issues and has maintained a consistent look for the title.

So yeah, we’ve got Amazon parademons now and more fights ahead, I assume. Good grief. There’s a few more issues of this foolishness, and then Robinson is starting yet another storyline. When will the horrors end?! Not anytime soon, it seems. Ugh.

 

Wonder Woman #43 Review: Diana Takes a Backseat, Once Again

March 28, 2018

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At some point, I think that DC will eventually realize that people buy Wonder Woman for Wonder Woman. It’s a simple idea, and one they’re pretty good at with their other characters. Batman is mostly about Batman. Superman is mostly about Superman. And yet here we are once again, with another run of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman all too often feels like a side character. Such is the case this week, in which a significant portion of the book is dedicated to a lengthy conversation between Diana’s boyfriend, Steve Trevor, and her brother, Jason. Diana gets a few pages, fighting a couple of Furies for no good reason and to no gain, but the core of this issue is two dudes chatting away and doing a bit of macho posturing. What’s even more irksome is that the conversation is largely pointless, a rehash of past events and mysteries that remain unsolved. This is indicative of a larger problem with the book: In twenty pages of comics, only one significant event occurs, and it’s one we all knew was coming in some form or another. The rest feels like filler. So yeah, this garbage run continues to be garbage. We’ll discuss it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you the ONE SOLITARY THING that happens in this issue!

And it is neither good nor interesting!

Why must DC make us suffer so?

Hold onto your hats, gang, because I’m about to unleash the book’s big reveal. You know those artifacts that A.R.G.U.S. has? The ones that Darkseid has been jonesing for over the past few issues because they’re central to his big, evil plan? Well get a load of this: He attacked A.R.G.U.S. and got them all, and now his big evil plan can come to fruition. Your minds are blown, I know.

There was one almost interesting thing about this wholly expected development. I was waiting for a fight, some sort of major assault on A.R.G.U.S. with lots of action and drama, but for perhaps the first time in this entire run, James Robinson zigged when I thought he was going to zag. Instead of a battle, Darkseid just straight up steals the entire building, and I didn’t see that twist coming. It’s not a particularly good twist. Or a fun twist. But it is a twist, and for that I commend him.

And now I slowly walk that commendation back because lord knows there was a lot of space for a big battle on offer in this issue. Everything apart from the last handful of pages was useless conversation. Not to say that all conversation is useless in comics, of course. I like some banter. I like to learn about the characters and have them bounce off each other. Chatty books are fine with me. I don’t need loads of battles and action and whatnot.

The problem with this issue’s conversations, though, is that they were largely pointless. Steve and Jason just rehashed old stuff without adding anything new to the mix. Wonder Woman interrogated/fought the Furies and learned pretty much nothing from it. Darkseid said vague things about his evil plans. None of it added to the ongoing story or moved it forward in any real way. It just filled the pages until Darkseid attacked. That, combined with the fact that James Robinson seems to have lost the ability to write dialogue that resembles actual human speech in any way, made this issue quite a slog.

The art team did their best, however. I’m not terribly familiar with Marco Santucci’s work, but he acquited himself well here. The big test for every Wonder Woman artist is their ability to draw Wonder Woman, and he did a nice job from the very start, opening the book with a splash page that had a bit of a Phil Jimenez vibe. And Romulo Fajardo Jr. was amazing with the colors, as always. I know I say this all the time, but he really is the MVP of the series right now. We’ve had so many artists during this run, but his colors help give the title a consistent, high quality look. His steady excellence is the only thing stopping this runaway train of a series from barrelling into a ravine some months. Luckily with this issue, Santucci gave him a hand and we got some decent artwork throughout.

So we’ve got what, about seven more issues of this run, at least? Good gracious. It looks like Wonder Woman’s battle with Darkseid is coming sooner than later. A tie-in to DC’s big Metal event looms on the horizon as well, so that should mean that the Darkseid story will be sorted out before long. Wonder Woman looks to be playing a big role in the post-Metal DC universe, co-starring in the relaunched Justice League along with leading a new version of Justice League Dark. Perhaps her increased profile across the line will bring some creative changes to her solo title, finally. Not only is it long overdue, but these big changes present a fine opportunity to make the switch. I know I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Wonder Woman #42 Review: Jason Returns! From Where? And Why? Who Even Friggin’ Cares

March 14, 2018

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It’s the second Wednesday of the month so we’ve got a new issue of Wonder Woman to dig into, and boy am I not feeling it today. I’ve been ill since the weekend, flattened out with some nefarious strain of the flu. Talking about whatever new travesty James Robinson has inflicted upon us is not how I’d like to be using what little energy I have right now. And yet, here I am. Am I a masochist? A hero? So addled by the flu that I’m making poor life decisions? It’s hard to say. Anyway, let’s jump into this latest batch of stupidity, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

They are all so dumb.

So very, very dumb.

So Jason is back, with fancy new armor and new abilities, and he has no idea where he was or who gave them to him. Sure, that seems legit. No wonder Diana agrees to fly off together with him. There’s nothing sketchy about this situation at all. Someone needs to tell the entire creative team and editorial that Wonder Woman is actually quite smart. Kind and compassionate, yes, but not foolishly so. And literally everything having to do with Jason thus far has required her to act foolishly and put her trust in someone who has yet to earn it in the slightest. Now the dude shows up more powerful, after eight days away, with ZERO explanation? Those are some serious red flags. And Diana just rolls with it all.

Grail’s back too, off to kill another deity or some such, so Diana and Jason team up to take her down. As they fly there, we’re treated to a useless five page flashback about the time Jason fought the Deep Six and met Grail for the first time. What a waste of a quarter of the book. It added literally nothing to the story that we didn’t know already. The editors must be asleep at the wheel here, because this is the filleriest of filler. All terribly written, too. There is nothing less compelling than a monologue from Jason.

After that pointless diversion, the actual fight happens. Wonder Woman ensnares Grail in the lasso to try to learn Darkseid’s evil plan, but only gets a small piece of it before Grail escapes. Now Wonder Woman knows that Darkseid is going after Themyscira, at least, and she can go stop him or whatever. It sounds like he’s on his way to A.R.G.U.S. to steal a bunch of artifacts, so it looks like Steve’s going to have a rough issue in two weeks’ time.

Anyway, across all of these twenty pages we learned not a dang thing about Jason’s disappearance other than he’s stronger now, and Wonder Woman knows a bit more about Darkseid’s plan. That’s it. This is really not effective comic booking. If you’re going to tell a story as pointless as the saga of Diana’s idiot brother, at least speed it up a bit so we can get onto something else. Or put in a modicum of effort to try to make it interesting or fun in some way. This issue is an entertainment vacuum. It has nothing enjoyable to recommend it.

Even the art is disappointing. Jesus Merino’s work is inconsistent throughout, with a few good panels and a lot of pages that look like they were hastily dashed off. Such is the reality of bi-weekly comics, I suppose. Merino’s a talented guy, and I’m guessing that some poor editorial management may have contributed to the sloppy look. Even the colors feel a little rough. Romulo Fajardo Jr. has been masterful with his coloring for nearly two years now, so an average issue from him suggests to me that there was a very short turnaround time for everyone involved in this outing. The result is an issue that’s not terribly appealing on any level.

All together, “Amazons Attacked” is a very good name for this arc. Longtime Wonder Woman readers will remember the Amazons Attack event from about a decade back, in which the Amazons invaded Washington, DC. It was TERRIBLE. Easily one of the worst Wonder Woman stories ever committed to paper. It was nonsensical, poorly written, and tied up in the fiendish machinations of Apokolips and the New Gods. “Amazons Attacked” shares all of the same poor qualities as its similarly named predecessor. My question is, did the editors name the arc this knowing it was going to be just as bad as the original? Or do they think they’re rehabilitating the name? If it’s the first, that’s hilarious, though said. If it’s the second, it’s not working out in the slightest.

Okay, I’m going to go lay down now. Happy Wednesday, everyone! Wonder Woman still sucks. The June solicits should be out next week though, so let’s all cross our fingers for an end to this horrible run.

Wonder Woman #41 Review: Failing at All of the Little Things

February 28, 2018

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I’m starting to worry that I may be trapped in Tartarus, the deepest depths of Hades where the dead are punished for eternity with cruel forms of poetic justice. Like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill, like Tantalus unable to reach the fruit above him or the water below, so too am I subjected to a terrible new issue of Wonder Woman every two weeks in a run that feels like it will never end. I’m not sure what I did to end up in Tartarus. Typically, you have to offend Zeus, so perhaps my intense and vocal dislike of his part in Wonder Woman’s current origin story played a part? Whatever the case, here do I suffer, again and again.

So that’s where I am with Wonder Woman right now.

We’ve got another issue this week and, well, it sure is a comic book. There are words and drawings. Multiple pages. All of the ingredients you need for superhero fun. And yet somehow it offers no fun whatsoever. This book is a mystery, one that keeps finding new ways to be so, so bad. We’ll dig into it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the details of this book!

Maybe that’s why I’m in Tartarus, for spoiling comics?

I always give a warning, Zeus! Every time!

Let’s start at the very beginning today with the cover. It’s not good, but it’s dramatic. We’ve got a crazed looking Wonder Woman, sword drawn in anger, standing over her fallen love. The title ominously proclaims, “For the Life of Steve Trevor!” This must be a doozy of an issue, right? No. Not even a little bit. Steve is in the issue, yes, but he’s totally fine. The only time he’s in any harm’s way is in a flashback. Nor are he and Wonder Woman exposed to any great danger in the present. The bulk of the issue consists of a conversation between the two of them as they fill each other in on what they’ve been up to. No blood, no angst, no destruction.

Also, and this is a silly nitpick, I know, but Steve’s hair doesn’t look like that in this issue. It’s longer and slicked back, not short. He doesn’t wear anything that resembles the outfit above either. All of this gets to the larger point I am trying to make here: It feels like the editorial oversight on this book is non-existent. The cover not matching the contents, both in story and appearance, is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything inside this book is a dang mess, and it’s been that way for months. The stories have been repetitive, undeveloped, and largely nonsensical. None of the characters feel right. So much of the writing is screaming for another draft following a lengthy list of editorial notes. I don’t know what the editors on Wonder Woman are doing other than sending the files off to the printer every couple of weeks. Do they not know their names go on the book too? This is a very embarrassing product to be associated with, guys.

And what’s especially morbidly fascinating about the series right now is how it’s bad in a different way with every issue. The structure of this issue actually isn’t an awful idea. Diana and Steve catching up after a rough week of fighting bad guys with flashbacks to their various encounters could be good. We’d get to see them as a couple, sharing feelings and perspectives on their unique lives. It’s a nice set up. The only problem is, the writer would need to be capable of writing dialogue that actual human people would say. The stilted, hackneyed conversation we get here is so awkward that the whole thing goes off the rails with the first page.

Moreover, the stories behind it all are both random and bad. First, the book starts with Darkseid speechifying about a plan that never gets mentioned again for the rest of the issue. Then we go to the Diana/Steve conversation, which honestly makes it look like Wonder Woman is losing control a bit. She’s taking down villains aggressively, and showing no concern for them. It’s wildly out of character. In one fight, she laments that destroying a mecha-creature crashed the brain of the woman powering it, not because she is presumably brain dead now, but because the women wouldn’t be able to explain the motive behind her attack. This is not how Wonder Woman rolls. Even at her lowest, laden with all the problems of the world, Wonder Woman still cares. It’s a defining trait of the character.

Diana then goes to confront Veronica Cale, which is another big left turn. Cale was behind the attacks, trying to earn some defense contracts, and fine. That sort of seems like her. But what does this have to do with anything? Cale hasn’t been in the book since Greg Rucka left. She’s had nothing to do with this storyline in the slightest. I suppose she reminds us that her daughter is in Themyscira with the Amazons, and it looks like Darkseid is going to attack there soon, but does that mention require an entire issue of brawls? That seems a bit much.

The book ends with everybody’s least favourite character in the world showing up. It’s Jason! And he’s got a new outfit. And presumably he and Diana are going to fight now or something. Whatever. Who cares. He’s the worst. Also, nothing in the story preceding this last page reveal had teased his return. He just shows up after this detour of an issue to get back to the Darkseid related stuff, I guess. It’s all such poor story crafting.

I should say, on a brighter note, that the art is decent. Stephen Segovia does a solid job here, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are gorgeous as always. Both artists feel like they are actually trying to make an enjoyable comic book, and I certainly appreciate that since I’m not sensing an ounce of effort or care from the writer or the editorial staff. Ugh. I still can’t believe we have months of this left. MONTHS, gang. Or, if I’m right about being in Tartarus, all of eternity.

Wonder Woman #37 Review: Thunderbolts of Jove, This Book is Bad

December 27, 2017

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For Christmas this year, Santa Claus left me some Funko Pops in my stocking, both of them from the Wonder Woman movie. One was Antiope in mid-leap, holding a bow and about to fire three arrows in a recreation of an iconic scene from the film. The other was Etta Candy, holding Wonder Woman’s shield and sword. They’re both awesome and adorable, and they also encapsulate what was so great about the movie. Wonder Woman was the star, of course, but the film was packed full of amazing female characters. Between the Amazons on Themyscira and Etta in England, Diana had female allies everywhere. Sisterhood was a core theme of the movie, and it showcased female strength in a variety of forms.

The film was a massive hit, and yet for some reason, DC Comics has decided to ignore everything that made it successful. We’ve got an arc focusing on Wonder Woman’s brother, Wonder Woman herself has been little more than an afterthought in several issues, and there are no female allies to be found. The only other woman in the book is Grail, a villain, and now Wonder Woman’s father has come to the fore with this issue. On top of all of that, the book is terribly written and just painful to read. So yeah, let’s talk about it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

But also, do yourself a personal favour and maybe don’t read it!

It’s quite awful!

The bulk of this issue centered on Zeus fighting Darkseid, a battle of two titans that could have been interesting but turned out rather humdrum. The men bloviated the entire time, crowing about their own superior power as they traded blows. I don’t buy Wonder Woman to see two dudes duking it out while bragging about how big and strong they are, so I didn’t particularly care for this focus. I also don’t buy Wonder Woman to see a man fighting Diana’s battles for her, as Zeus did here, so that angle wasn’t great either. The battle itself was drawn capably, but there was nothing really interesting or compelling about the depiction of it all. The choreography was pretty straight forward superhero brawling, really. I do still enjoy Zeus’ glowing cape, though; that’s a nice stylistic touch that colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. makes look super cool. The rest was generally unexciting.

Also, I found it odd that Diana seemed so accepting of having her father back. She’s never met the man, ever, apart from perhaps in animal form during Year One. He’s not been a part of her life in any meaningful way, and owing to Rucka’s revamp we don’t know how she learned that Zeus was her father or what her perspective on her parentage is. Yet here, she’s instantly on board with him, calling him “Father” from the get-go. I understand her trying to save him from Darkseid; she’s Wonder Woman, after all, and would do her best to save anyone from Darkseid. But her instant acceptance of him felt very unearned to me.

I suppose they had to fast forward the relationship, seeing as Darkseid kills Zeus by the end of the issue in an entirely unsurprising twist. Turns out, Darkseid was killing Zeus’ kids partly to get their slices of divine power but partly to get Zeus to show up so that he could take his immense power and regain all of his strength. With Zeus not long for the world, there wasn’t much time to create a relationship with Diana or delve into their complicated past.

The execution highlights a key flaw of the book right now: None of this is really about Diana. The return of Zeus could have brought up a lot of stuff for her, and let her reckon with her past, her power, and her currently estranged relationship with her Amazon family. This development was potentially full of fascinating angles to examine and ways to dig into Wonder Woman’s character. But instead, it had nothing to do with her. Zeus’ return served as a shocking cliffhanger for the last issue, and a means to bring Darkseid back to his full strength in this issue. Diana’s feelings about her father’s return got minimal attention, and now he’s gone.

The issue also left me wondering where this arc is going. Darkseid is repowered back to his former self, and he and Grail escaped at the end of the issue. The solicits suggest that they’ll be back after the Silver Swan arc that’s set to begin in two weeks time, returning to vex the Amazons, but to what end? I’m still hoping that Darkseid will Omega Beam Jason and rid us of his pointless presence, but now that Darkseid’s back to full strength I can’t see him ending up defeated or captured. He’s not a normal villain. He’s a major player in the larger comic book universe. Grail could end up properly defeated, but Darkseid is.

Ultimately, this is another bad issue in a terrible arc that has failed to center Wonder Woman in any meaningful way. It’s also a bizarre sequel to an event no on particularly cared for, tied into outdated continuity, and it just doesn’t make a lick of sense in general. And now we’re letting James Robinson have a crack at the Silver Swan too? Who okayed that plan? Silver Swan is a classic Wonder Woman villain, and she deserves to be in the hands of someone who’s actually demonstrated an understanding of Diana and her world. At least Grail won’t be around for a while? That’s something to look forward to. I’ll take that break.

Wonder Woman #36 Review: Can We Just Not, With Any Of This?

December 13, 2017

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Let’s begin with a story. Last Wednesday, I woke up prepared to begin my usual bi-weekly Wonder Woman review routine. Buy the comic. Read it a couple of times. Think about it a bit and formulate some opinions. Then sit down and write out my review. However, I was mistaken. Yes, it had been two weeks since the last issue of Wonder Woman came out, but November was a five-Wednesday month. The issue wouldn’t be out until the following week, because Wonder Woman comes out on the second and fourth weeks of each month. I was amused at my error, and tremendously relieved. I didn’t have to read Wonder Woman! It felt like a reprieve.

Anyway, now it’s the correct week and here we are. Let’s dig into this nonsense, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

This review reveals key plot points from this issue!

Don’t read this if you haven’t read the comic yet!

Though I can’t in good conscience recommend that you read this comic book!

So we’re in a bit of a catch-22 here!

Here’s a positive thing to start with: I like the new corner box on the cover. It’s an old school affectation brought back with a modern feel. I’m into it. That “Rebirth” bar was getting tiresome after a year and a half, and this is a lot cleaner and more compact. I think it might hint at some coming changes for the line, too. DC’s been doing a lot of multiverse stuff lately, and that “Universe” designation might be significant. Spinning out of “Metal,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see new books set in different universes, with corner boxes that marked them as such. Could be cool. But whether that’s coming or not, I think it’s a good look.

And here’s even more good news: Wonder Woman is actually in this issue of Wonder Woman! On nearly every page, even. You wouldn’t think that’d be something we’d even have to celebrate, but there’s been a substantial lack of Wonder Woman in this run thus far.

That’s where the good news ends, though. The book is still really bad. The story is still really dumb. There are a few twists in this issue, none of them good or particularly unexpected. I will say, the art is nicer than it’s been lately. While Emanuela Lupacchino’s done fine work on her villain backstory issues, a misuse of her talents but excellent art nonetheless, the main story has been decidedly subpar. Carlo Pagulayan’s pencils with inks from Jason Paz and Sean Parsons are a definite step up, and of course Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are fantastic, as always. While the story remains a trash fire, at least it’s nicer to look at this time around.

So let’s dive into the story itself. Grail and Jason have Wonder Woman trapped, and the issue begins with them all yelling at each other. Jason is bitter about his upbringing for no good reason, Grail just wants to kill folks, and Diana wants her brother to see reason. No one really breaks through with anyone, largely because all the speechifying is just there to lay the groundwork for Wonder Woman busting free and starting a big fight scene. I will say this for Robinson: I did enjoy the reveal that Diana could have broken out of her bonds at any time, but she stayed trapped and took Grail’s abuse to try to reach Jason. I mean, Jason sucks and all, but that’s a very Wonder Woman thing to do.

The fight takes a turn with the inevitable arrival of Darkseid, who has now grown to be a young man. Grail’s god killing seems to be feeding him well. Then we get the not at all shocking turn in which Jason finds out that Grail has been lying to him. Combined with Darkseid’s brutal treatment of his sister, Jason’s no longer sure he’s on the right team here and tries to stop him. This will likely lead to Diana and Jason teaming up to defeat Grail and Darkseid later on which, ugh, of course it will. I don’t know about you all, but I was cheering for Darkseid to blast Jason with an Omega Beam and free us from his tedious presence. No such luck this time around, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for future outings.

Then finally, the twistiest twist of them all! Hercules’ weirdo lawyer is actually Zeus in disguise! Gasp. A story about two children of Zeus features an appearance from Zeus. Who saw that coming? Anyway, he’s in the mix now, threatening Darkseid to close out the issue. And he’s got an all new design, too. It’s not great, though I do enjoy the glowing white cape. That’s kind of cool. His armour bits are a little too Magogy for me, and I don’t care for him copying Wonder Woman’s bracelets. Also, that crown could be better. Still, on the larger spectrum of Zeus designs in Wonder Woman, I’d say this is one of the better ones. Zeus has never looked particularly cool. I mean, the dude showed up in a space unitard at one point

(HOT TIP: For an excellent take on Zeus, and the Greek gods in general, go read the Olympians series by George O’Connor! They are excellent comic books with really smart, clever takes on all of the gods, and it’s got far and away my favourite Zeus ever.)

So a bunch of things happened, none of them particularly interesting, all of them poorly written. The art was a little bit nicer, at least. And it looks like we’ve got a big fight coming, with Zeus and Darkseid set to battle it out in an Old God versus New God showdown. That could be a good thing, if only because the brawl might take up a lot of the next issue and thus cut down on the words therein. I’m all for anything that will make this book a quicker read and spare me from Robinson’s horrible dialogue.

Anyway, there’s some encouraging news for us to end on: We’re halfway through, gang. This ridiculousness is scheduled to last for twelve issues, and this was this sixth. By this time in March, we’ll have reached the grand finale and will be eagerly anticipating whoever is set to take over next. Will we get returning favourites? Will it be an up and coming team with a fresh voice for Wonder Woman? Will it be some random people they just grab off the street? Whoever they choose, it can’t be worse than this run.


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