Posts Tagged ‘Darwyn Cooke’

The Comic Books To Read After You See Wonder Woman This Weekend

June 1, 2017

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Wonder Woman is hitting theaters tomorrow, with early showings tonight (I’M GOING TO SEE IT TONIGHT AND I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN DEAL WITH IT), and soon lots of new Wonder Woman fans are going to be wondering what to read next. While I definitely suggest my book Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, I’ve also put together this list of comic collections that I think best capture the history and the spirit of the character. Start here, new Wonder Woman enthusiasts! You’ve got so many fun comic book adventures head of you.

Here is the list, in chronological order:

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The Wonder Woman Chronicles, Volume 1, written by William Moulton Marston, art by H.G. Peter

It’s always good to start at the very beginning. While Wonder Woman’s early outings are also collected in Archive and Omnibus formats, the Chronicles line is the cheapest option. Marston and Peter imbued Wonder Woman with a unique brand of feminism that was central to the character from day one, and a lot of the core cast and elements in these comics have remained key to Wonder Woman for more than 75 years. The stories are often wacky and fantastical, but that’s part of the charm.

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Wonder Woman by George Perez, Volume 1, written and drawn by George Perez with others

We’re jumping a few decades here, but while Wonder Woman comics were interesting at times in the Silver and Bronze Age, they’re more deeper cuts than Wonder Woman 101. Perez’s relaunch of the character, though, was hugely influential, and remains a touchstone today. Even though it was a total reboot, in many ways it was a modern update of the original Wonder Woman that stayed true to her feminist core. And with fantastic art by Perez, these stories still hold up thirty years later.

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Wonder Woman: Paradise Lost, written and drawn by Phil Jimenez with others

While there were lots of good arcs in Wonder Woman in the 1990s and 2000s, this collection is my personal favourite. The “Gods of Gotham” storyline is just good fun; Batman, the Joker, and Poison Ivy get taken over by gods and Wonder Woman has to sort things out. It’s great. “Paradise Lost” is strong as well, but “She’s a Wonder!” is the best of the bunch, teaming up Diana and Lois Lane in a story that highlights the strengths of each character and shows the respect DC’s two leading ladies have for each other.

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DC: The New Frontier, written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke

This isn’t a Wonder Woman comic specifically; pretty near everyone in the DC universe stars in this story, which is set in the 1950s and explores the dawn of a new era of heroism. But Wonder Woman’s scenes in the book are ALL spectacular. She confronts both Superman and President Eisenhower, assembles a female army in Vietnam, and comes back from a major injury to lead the charge against a foe that threatens the entire Earth. Every single moment with Wonder Woman is fantastic and the rest of the book isn’t too bad either.

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, Volume 2, by too many folks to list but they’re all great

We’re getting into recent stuff now, because the past few years have been an embarrassment of riches in terms of great Wonder Woman stories. Any volume of Sensation Comics could be on this list, really. They’re all standalone stories by different creative teams, and the majority of them are great. But this volume is probably the best one. Standouts include James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson’s tale of a young Wonder Woman visiting the outside world for the first time, and Lauren Beukes and Mike Maihack’s adorable tale of make believe. They’re all pretty fun, though.

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DC Comics Bombshells, Volume 1: Enlisted, written by Marguerite Bennett, art by Marguerite Sauvage and more

This is another ensemble book, and it’s just so much fun. The series is a retelling of World War II with DC’s female superheroes fighting the evil magical forces of the Nazis. No male superheroes are involved at all, and heroines like Batwoman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman take center stage. It’s empowering and action packed and true to the characters, especially Wonder Woman, while being something totally unique and different. It’s also super queer, in all of the best ways. Few books capture the spirit of Wonder Woman as well as this.

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The Legend of Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Origins, written and drawn by Renae De Liz with Ray Dillon

I’m doubling up on recent World War II retellings here, but it can’t be helped. Both are just too good to pick only one. And this one is all about Wonder Woman, starting with young Diana growing up on Paradise Island and following her as she eventually leaves the island to save the world. It spends a lot of time with the Amazons, which is always fun, plus Etta Candy is a key player in the book, too. Also, it’s absolutely stunning. The art is lush and gorgeous and perfect for the era and the story. Do yourself a favour and check out this outstanding book.

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Wonder Woman, Volume 2: Year One, by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott

Greg Rucka has penned several excellent Wonder Woman stories, but this is far and away his best. It’s a modern retelling of Wonder Woman’s origins that draws from past incarnations of the character while simultaneously doing something fresh and exciting. And it’s straight up gorgeous, too. Nicola Scott was born to draw this book, and the heart and beauty she puts in every panel is an amazing thing to behold. This volume is the perfect gateway to the current Wonder Woman series, and is one of the best Wonder Woman stories ever told.

So definitely dig into all of these great collections! Most are still easy to find in print, and anything that’s not is available digitally (plus the bulk of them are on sale right now at Comixology!). And after you’ve checked out these books, keep digging! Wonder Woman’s got a fascinating history with more than 75 years of great comic books, and there are so many other fantastic volumes out there.

Sending Good Thoughts to Darwyn Cooke, One of the Best Wonder Woman Artists Ever

May 13, 2016

News broke today that legendary comic book writer and artist Darwyn Cooke is in palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer, and his colleagues and fans have been sending messages of love and support all day long. Cooke is known for many fantastic comics, from his run on Catwoman to DC: New Frontier to his more recent Parker graphic novels, but my favourite work of his is basically anytime he draws Wonder Woman. He always brings a joy and a regality to the character that captures her spirit beautifully. So let’s just look at a bunch of pretty pictures today and send some good thoughts his way.

Cooke first worked on Wonder Woman in DC: New Frontier, and here’s a cover from one of the issues:

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The story inside was even more fun, with Wonder Woman initially teaming up with Superman to fight on behalf of the American government before becoming disillusioned and doing her own thing instead. Here she is, with her fellow Amazons:

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And celebrating with the women of a Vietnamese village she’d helped defend:

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And then telling Superman to take off after he questioned her behaviour:

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Plus who can forget the stirring image of Wonder Woman heroically rallying her fellow superheroes for the final charge, with an appropriately inspiring message:

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More recently, Cooke returned to DC to do a line of variant covers, and there were a couple of Wonder Womans in the mix. First, his bad ass cover for Wonder Woman:

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And second, his cover for Superman/Wonder Woman that made their romance seem plausible in a way the insides of the book could never manage to do:

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Finally, one of my favourite things is Darwyn Cooke sketches of Wonder Woman. They seem so effortlessly lovely, and are so very fun. Let’s look at a few I particularly enjoy:

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EDITED TO ADD: Darwyn Cooke passed away early this morning, May 14. My thoughts are with his friends and family. The world has lost a great artist and storyteller.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Wonder Woman #1 Preview, Print Edition In Stores Today

August 5, 2015

The ramp up to the Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated film was substantial, including animated shorts and prequel comics, and now Wonder Woman’s comic has been collected in print form after coming out digitally a few weeks back. The timing is a little bit odd for a prequel comic, seeing as the film is out now, but the comic really has no bearing on the movie so it’s more of an extra story than anything key to the film itself. The movie provides a more detailed origin for Bekka that delves into her past on New Genesis, and the comic serves to fill some of the gap between the film’s past and present. Here’s a big preview of Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Wonder Woman #1, which hits comic stores in print form today:

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Here’s a variant cover by Darwyn Cooke that looks pretty nice too. Between this and the killer Jae Lee primary cover, I imagine folks are going to have a hard time picking which cover to go with:

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This is a book that takes some turns. I liked the first third the best, or what would have been the first digital issue, as Bekka explores her new world. After that she settles down into a commune scene and it’s fine but sort of predictable. The opening where she’s seeing the world was more fun, though I suppose it lacked much in the way of fights, supervillains, and the usual superhero flare after the dramatic beginning above. All together, it’s a decent comic with some cool, alternate universe takes on some classic Wonder Woman elements. It’s worth checking out.

The film itself was okay for me. I was thinking about writing a full review, but I don’t really have much more to say about it than that it was fine and I enjoyed it well enough. Wonder Woman was pretty cool, and though it was all a little dark for my taste, I liked it better than any of DC’s recent New 52 styles animated movies. That may be largely because Wonder Woman actually had a decent role in this one, even if it was a completely different version of the character. I’m split on whether to watch the follow up series when it begins because while I enjoy seeing new takes on characters, the movie didn’t leave me particularly keen to learn more about this new universe. Again, it was all fine. But there was nothing that I really got excited about.

Anyway, Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Wonder Woman #1 is in stores today, and is still available digitally in three parts if you prefer to get your comics that way. For print buyers, I don’t envy you the cover choice! I have no idea which way I’m going to go.

Wonder Woman’s December 2014 Comic Covers And Solicits

September 16, 2014

DC Comics’ full December solicits came out yesterday, so it’s time to check in on what we’ll be seeing from Wonder Woman as we count down the days until Santa comes to bring us more Wonder Woman goodies. Also, for Jewish readers, Hanukkah is very well timed this year and you can get the new issue of Wonder Woman on the second night. Speaking of which, let’s start there.

Here’s what is coming up in Wonder Woman #37:

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WONDER WOMAN #37
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE
1:50 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
1:100 Variant cover by DAVID FINCH
On sale DECEMBER 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Superman arrives on Paradise Island to support Wonder Woman in her darkest hour, but their bond may be breaking apart! No time for Diana to think, though, as a mythological force seemingly tied to Wonder Woman’s role as War attacks the Amazons!

I’m usually a very nice person, but I’ll admit that when I read “Superman arrives on Paradise Island to support Wonder Woman,” I definitely flipped double birds at my computer screen. Wonder Woman has been a refuge from their dull and ridiculous relationship during Azzarello and Chiang’s tenure on the book, but now with the Finches in charge it’s only taken two issues to get Superman not only into the book but on Paradise Island. I am not pleased about this.

Apart from that, we don’t have a lot of information here concerning this issue. Something is going to attack the Amazons, and based on the cover it’s presumably a flock of Clash of the Titans looking birds, but other than that we’re in the dark. Maybe those birds will cart off Superman and Wonder Woman can have her book back.

On to Superman/Wonder Woman #14:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #14
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE
On sale DECEMBER 10 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
It’s no surprise that after recent events, Superman and Wonder Woman are cautious about the appearance of the new hero who calls himself Wonderstar. But this mysterious hero seems to be asking for nothing more than their guidance in dealing with his strange, erratic powers – and for their help in protecting his loved ones and his secret identity! The only problem is that his past is a blank slate. He doesn’t know who he is, where he comes from – or why is feels a strange connection to the Man of Steel and the Amazon Warrior!

What kind of world are we living in where I am more interested in the new issue of Superman/Wonder Woman than the new Wonder Woman? This actually sounds sort of good. I’m really digging Mahnke’s art; the covers we’ve seen thus far seem like a cool break from his usual style, and I’m very curious to see how that plays out inside the book. And we’ve got a mystery! So Wonder Woman and Superman can actually go investigate together instead of blathering on about their relationship. I mean, obviously Lois and Superman would be the better team up for solving a mystery, but that’s not going to happen. Regardless, I’m intrigued by this new creative team. It’s going to be hard to overcome the lameness of this relationship, but everything I’ve seen so far has me more interested in the book than I’ve ever been.

And finally, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #5:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #5
Written by CORINNA BECHKO and GABRIEL HARDMAN
Art by GABRIEL HARDMAN
Cover by LAWRENCE REYNOLDS
On sale DECEMBER 17 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Wonder Woman has accepted a covert mission from Queen Hippolyta: infiltrate Apokolips, find a group of Amazons imprisoned there by Darkseid, and bring them home alive. But a battle with the Female Furies almost proves fatal and throws Diana’s plans into chaos!

This cover looks like a Superman/Wonder Woman back up cover that DC had kicking around and decided to stick on Sensation Comics. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but that’s what it looks like. It’s all very New 52, and Superman is on it despite not being mentioned in the solicit.

However, I enjoy Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, and Wonder Woman vs. the Female Furies on Apokolips is definitely a story I am interested in reading. And seeing as we’ve only got one creative team listed here, it looks like it will be a big tale, spanning three digital issues. I’m optimistic that Bechko and Hardman will make it suitably epic. You can’t go wrong with the evil hordes of Darkseid.

Look for all three books this December, and don’t forget that Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman both have pretty swell Darwyn Cooke variant covers that you might want to pre-order so you don’t miss out.

Check Out Darwyn Cooke’s Four Wonder Woman-Centric Variant Covers Coming This December

September 10, 2014

Continuing their now regular variant cover themes for each month, DC has announced that their December variant theme will be widescreen Darwyn Cooke art. Cooke is the acclaimed multi-award winning artist of DC: The New Frontier and more recently his Parker adaptations, and his superhero art is often a gorgeous Silver Age homage combined with his own tweaks to the characters.

Of the 23 covers Cooke is drawing, 4 feature part of the Wonder Woman mythos in some capacity, mainly Wonder Woman herself but also another fun gal. So let’s take a look at what we’ll be searching frantically for in December because they’ve all sold out instantaneously. I’ve gotten the covers from Comics Alliance, who in turn got the covers from the variety of sites where DC debuted them.

First up, here’s Cooke’s cover for Wonder Woman #37:

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The covers will fold out, thus their odd shape as compared to normal cover size. I like this cover a lot; I’m always up for cool changes to Wonder Woman’s costume so long as she still looks like Wonder Woman, and she most definitely does here. And what’s more fun than Wonder Woman fighting a bunch of minotaurs? I don’t love the lasso, though. The hard black line and the lack of glow and detail is leaving me a bit cold. But that’s just being nitpicky.

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #14:

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The variant covers for this series have sold me more on this relationship than the contents of the book ever have. Last month’s selfie variant was just adorable, and this is a lovely, cozy depiction with more warmth and charm than DC has yet been able to muster out of these two in the comics. Using Superman’s cape as an intergalactic picnic blanket is an especially nice touch. Wonder Woman’s bracelets are the wrong colour but again, nitpicky.

Wonder Woman is also part of the cover for Justice League #37:

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It’s a nice group portrait, and it’s good to see Wonder Woman in a prominent position. And smiling; a lot of the guys are trying to look like tough dudes. As a Justice League portrait, it would’ve been nice to see Zatanna or another female character to add more ladies to the mix, seeing as 8 of the 10 characters are male. But yet again, a nitpick.

Finally, Wonder Girl shows up in Cooke’s Teen Titans #5 variant:

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Remember when the Teen Titans were fun and not angsty and dark all the time? I miss those days. As does Darwyn Cooke, apparently. Wonder Girl, also missed in the current New 52 universe, is front and center on the cover, rocking out with the rest of the team. Plus the bracelets are the right colour and everything! No nitpicks here.

All of these covers will be available throughout the month of December. If you want to pick them up, I’d recommend talking to your local comic shop now about getting them set aside for you, because I wouldn’t be surprised if the demand was through the roof.

Before Watchmen Is Coming OR This Is Just Dumb

February 1, 2012

So they’re doing some Watchmen prequels.  Seven of them in fact, starting in Summer 2012.  Now, we all knew this was coming… this was the worst kept secret in comics.  We even knew a bunch of the creative teams.  But now it’s officially here and we can talk about it like it a real thing.

First off, and this is a completely random and not at all deep point, you do a prequel to the most famous graphic novel of ALL time and the best name you can come up with is Before Watchmen?  That’s just super boring.  You should have done some more brainstorming on that one, DC.

Second, I don’t like this.  I mean, I’m not going to cry to the heavens for Glycon to come and rain vengeance upon the folks at DC.  I’m not angry about it.  It just seems entirely uncalled for, and I’m sort disappointed in DC and, if I’m being totally honest, in the creators too.

These aren’t stories that need to be told.  The Watchmen prequels were IN Watchmen.  I’ve read the book a million times… I know what happened to everyone before the main story because it’s in there.  I really don’t need to know anything more about Rorshach or Nite Owl or anyone else.  I’ve got a rather well-rounded sense of them as characters.  I don’t know how much of the new series are going to be rehashes that expand on things already shown in the original, but I know the important bits of each character’s story.  I don’t need four issues of Dr. Osterman doing fun physics work or whatever they’re going to do.  The relevant bits of all of their stories have been told.  The idea of Watchmen prequels is just dumb.

I understand why Alan Moore is irked about it, though I’m not against the prequels on his behalf.  Alan Moore is amazing and pretty much the best comic book writer of all time so maybe we shouldn’t be doing shitty things with his awesome books all the damn time, but he doesn’t own Watchmen nor did he originate the characters.  They’re Charlton characters that he repurposed… none of them are his original creation.  Plus Moore’s done stories with tons of other creators’ characters, and these creators have gotten screwed over way worse than he has.  I mean, Moore’s written Superman… Siegel and Shuster had it FAR worse than Moore ever did.  Other people getting to play with the cool stuff you build is what happens when you do work for hire at a major publisher.

But what most bothers me about Before Watchmen is that it’s so obviously a money grab.  Yeah, I know all us nerds are freaking out on Twitter and forums and such, but they’re going to sell like hotcakes.  I think it’s a completely ridiculous idea, but I’ll probably still check out a couple of them.  The sales are going to be HUGE.  And then huger still when they’re released as collections.  Which on the one hand is smart… companies need to make money.  But on the other hand, is it the right kind of money?

Here’s what I mean: Lots of cities and states have been facing some harsh budget shortfalls lately during the recession, so they’ve started selling stuff.  Parks, building, parking meters… they’re cleaning everything out to balance the budget for THIS year.  In a lot of cases, they’re trading long term guaranteed income for a short term windfall (like with parking meters).  The result is that the budget will work out this year, but then next year you’ve got the same problems and nothing left to sell.

I feel like DC is doing the same thing.  They’re going after a short term money grab instead of a long term investment.  Before Watchmen is a limited bunch of series.  They’ll sell well as single issues and as trades, but it’ll peter off pretty quick after that.  There are a lot of good creators on the books, to be sure, but let’s face it: There’s not going to be a second Watchmen here.  The prequels won’t have anywhere near the longevity of the original.  But DC will make a lot of money right now. 

Here’s the thing: SO much effort is going to go into these prequels… these are big name creators, and you know DC is going to advertise like mad.  It’ll be a pricey big push on their end to put the books out there, which they’ll easily recoup.  But then what?  They make some money this year and that’s the end of it.

So what if they got big name creators to come up with new ideas that target new readers, and put some solid money behind that instead?  That could pay off for ages, with new characters and series and a broader audience.  Don’t put Brian Azzarello on some Rorshach prequel… put the advertising money behind the next 100 Bullets.  Don’t have Darwyn Cooke write a Silk Spectre book… invest in a cool and interesting take on a side character that gets you the new Catwoman.  Do new things and grow the brand instead of putting so much effort into a limited cash windfall.

I know that sounds very pie in the sky, but remember this: Watchmen wasn’t created to be the most famous graphic novel of all time.  It was just some maxi-series they did in the 80s, with no real expectations.  It came out of an environment where talented creators were given room to try out new things, with the support of their publisher.  And now, because of that, a) DC’s been making money for AGES off of it, b) comics have become a respected medium, and c) the bar was set higher for everyone, resulting in better comics.  Everybody wins!!

DC hasn’t been thinking long term lately.  Their recent relaunch was a lot like these prequels, a momentary burst aimed at the people who buy their stuff already, and the relaunch is already losing steam only five months in.  There are other examples too (PUT YOUR SHOWS ON NETFLIX, DC!!  GET THE KIDS HOOKED NOW!!) but I’ve blathered on long enough.  My point is that short term money grabs are not a sustainable way to run things.  It’s exciting to have something new and crazy every few months, with a flurry of discussion and anticipation and all of that, but slow and steady wins the race.  Before Watchmen is unnecessary as a story, and their money and support could be much better used elsewhere.

Finally, these books are going to be SUPER late, right?  Lee Bermejo, Jae Lee, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones, and Amanda Conner are all fantastic artists, but they aren’t known for their speed.  The final issues of some of these minis might be coming out in 2014.


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