Posts Tagged ‘David Finch’

Wonder Woman #52 Review: Finally, It’s Over

May 18, 2016

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It’s finally here, you guys. We made it to the end. This is the Finches’ last issue of Wonder Woman, and Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, and Nicola Scott are waiting in the wings to relaunch the title. Arguably the worst run in the history of Wonder Woman is now over, and we can move on, embrace the new creative team, and never ever speak of this era again. Not just the Finches, but any of it, really. Wonder Woman’s romance with Superman, her becoming the god of war, the rapist and murderous Amazons, the death of Hippolyta; all signs point to these horrible story choices going out in the window in favour of a new run much more in keeping with a traditional, heroic, inspiring Wonder Woman.

For those of you who, like me, stuck it out through all 52 issues of this series, what were we thinking? Why did we do this to ourselves? It’s been awful. The first few years of Wonder Woman were decent overall, largely because Cliff Chiang is like unto a god, but there were some ROUGH moments. Plus Wonder Woman was not well written anywhere else in the DC universe (RIP Superman/Wonder Woman, mercifully ending today as well, thank goodness). And then Meredith and David Finch took over Wonder Woman and turned the series into one of the worst comics on the stand for the past year and a half. Why did we keep reading it? I know I write about Wonder Woman professionally so I probably needed to keep abreast of current events, but I could’ve just waited, got trades from the library, and just not supported a book that I loathed reading each month. Valuable lesson learned, I suppose. If you don’t like a book, don’t read it even if it’s your very favourite character. That’s how I’m going to roll from now on. I predict a far happier life for myself moving forward.

However, since I’ve made it through this hellacious marathon all the way to the very last issue, I suppose I should say a few words about it. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

I am about to reveal everything that happened in this grand finale!

None of it is particularly good and/or interesting!

But still, if you don’t want it spoiled for you, look away!

So, this issue was a mess. It leaves everyone in an unpleasant spot, and undoes some of the good things about this era. First, shocking twist, Hera is the actual big bad. She’s been the one trying to kill Zeke, wanting to off him before he grows up to become Zeus again so that she can remain the Queen of Olympus and keep all of her new power. Hera’s evolution was one of the best things about the Azzarello/Chiang era; her friendship with Zola helped her grow as a person and learn compassion, and she went from the book’s villain to a key ally for Wonder Woman. It was all really beautifully done, an impressively orchestrated turn around that took three years of solid writing and art. And now that’s totally undone and Hera’s the bad guy again, so that’s irksome.

This made Hecate only a semi-villain, and her motivations were cringeworthy. She hooked up with Zeus way back and he’s the only one who saw the beauty beneath her frightening exterior, blah blah blah, so she tried to kidnap Zeke and return him to his original form so that they could be together again. It was all very clichéd and lame, and rather juvenile, “He’s the only one who understands me!” is a pretty weak motivation for a powerful witch and goddess who’s been around for millennia. Give the gal some depth, please.

The very best part of the early years of the new Wonder Woman was Zola, the gal who got caught up in the chaos of the gods after Zeus seduced her and essentially impregnated her with himself. She was hilarious and fun and tough, and always called everyone on their foolishness. Zola was a great character to have in the midst of all of these powerful beings. During the Finches’ tenure, she’s barely been featured, and as the book ends she’s still alive (last issue’s ending was a fake out) but ultimately devastated by the loss of her baby after Zeus returns, a move that snuffs out the light of what had been the series’ brightest character for some time.

As for Wonder Woman, well, she got duped again. This has been the hallmark of the New 52 era; Wonder Woman will fall for anyone’s lies and go along with any dumb plan that plays on her heart strings, and then have to deal with the fallout when she is inevitably betrayed. She’s been a wholly reactive, passive character for five years now, bounced around by the whims and machinations of others instead of driving the action herself. And this finale is no different. Hecate betrayed her a couple issues back, and Hera betrays her in this one, leaving her to protect Zeke all by herself as a temple comes crashing down around her. Plus, in the end she doesn’t save Zeke; Zeke turns into Zeus and saves her, because the power of her love or whatever causes him to return to his original form and save her from the rubble.

The issue ends with Wonder Woman weeping over the loss of Zeke, who she calls “the closest I may come to a child of my own.” First, why? If she wants to have kids, she can have kids. Right now she’s focusing on her superhero career, but if she decides that she wants to be a mother at some point there’s no reason that she can’t do so. Second, ugh. Another dang cliché. To slot Wonder Woman into this maternal role when she’s basically just been a Cool Aunt feels so forced. I get her loving the kid, but this whole baby she’ll never have angle is both dumb and hacky.

And so it ends. Zeus is back on the throne of Olympus, order is restored, and please dear god let us move on from all of this with the greatest of haste. I’m hoping that the upcoming “Rebirth” special explains how and why everything is about to take a sharp left turn, and when Wonder Woman relaunches a couple of weeks later we can just jump right in with some cool new stories. The sooner we forget this era, the better. All I want to remember from the past five years is the pretty Cliff Chiang art, how rad Hermes looked, and maybe keep Zola around because she’s delightful. Pitch the rest of it and move on, please.

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Wonder Woman #51 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang

April 20, 2016

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“Rebirth” is so close now. Today’s Wonder Woman #51 is the penultimate issue of the series. The Finches will wrap up their run next month, and then Greg Rucka’s coming in with Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott to relaunch the book and hopefully make it not terrible anymore. Yes, another relaunch is sort of ridiculous, but I’m very much looking forward to it because a) Rucka knows how to write comics, b) Sharp and Scott are great artists, and c) there’s no way that they could make a worse Wonder Woman than what we’ve been getting over the past year and a half.

Case in point, this month’s issue. It serves as both a tour through the unpleasant missteps DC’s made with Wonder Woman throughout the New 52 era and as just a bad comic that’s part of a dumb arc. Wonder Woman’s in Tartarus because Hecate sent her there through a variety of painfully obvious lies and manipulations that sailed right over Diana’s head, and so she’s stuck dealing with some troubling manifestations of her subconscious mind or whatever. It’s not great stuff. We’ll discuss it all for as long as I can handle it (you’ll notice I didn’t even review last month’s issue; I was out of town visiting family and just couldn’t muster the energy to engage with the fiftieth issue “special”), but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS that happen in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or don’t! Whatever! I don’t care anymore!

So Wonder Woman is in Tartarus because she’s an idiot, basically. Or rather, because she’s being written as such. Everything about Hecate screams “SHE’S A VILLAIN!”, from the spiky horns coming out of her head to her telling Diana that she needed to steal from her friends and not tell anyone what she was doing or who she was working with. I mean, come on now. Those are some red flags. This is the issue where Wonder Woman figures out that she’s been duped, but it’s several issues too late. She should have put the pieces together on this one as soon as she met Hecate, just like every reader did.

The attempted emotional reveal of Wonder Woman realizing the mistakes she’s made falls completely flat. Having Wonder Woman look stupid never makes for a fun read. Furthermore, this astoundingly poor characterization of Wonder Woman takes you right out of the story. Instead of engaging with what’s going on, the reader is left wondering why Diana is even in this situation in the first place, and why a writer would do this to the character, and how an editor could possibly let this story be published.

While in Tartarus, Wonder Woman has some visions related to her past. First, we get her Amazon foe Aleka making fun of a young Diana, a reminder of how the Amazons have been the worst in the New 52. It was really interesting to hear Greg Rucka talk about the Amazons on the Word Balloon podcast after his return to Wonder Woman was announced, because he made the point that the Amazons are all about love, support, and trust. Jealousy and bitterness just aren’t how the Amazons should roll, yet that’s been the core of the Amazons since the New 52 relaunch. Rucka didn’t call out any of the New 52 books specifically because he’s a classy dude, but you got the sense that he saw the current depiction of the Amazons as a big misstep by DC.

Wonder Woman also has a vision of Superman, another of the New 52’s poorest choices. Their relationship never made much sense, nor did they have a lick of chemistry. Several writers took a stab at it too, across a variety of books, but it never landed in any real way. In fact, most of the time it was poorly handled and offputting. So this conversation, in which Diana talks about how she thought about settling down and starting a family with Clark, is an unpleasant reminder of their ill-fated relationship as well as not particularly believable. Their entire relationship was DC telling us they love each other without ever showing it or selling it, and this was more of the same.

Then Hera shows up and she and Wonder Woman fight, and Wonder Woman realizes that she was dumb to trust Hecate. After making up, they escape Tartarus and head back to Olympus to check on Zola’s baby Zeke, whose illness was the genesis of all of this foolish subterfuge. We don’t learn what’s up with Zeke but, shocking twist, it looks like Zola is dead.

This had better be a fake out, because Zola has been a great character and one of the consistent bright spots in what’s been a very up and down five years for Wonder Woman. I like Zola a lot, even though the Finches never seemed to get her right at all; she was so much fun during Azzarello and Chiang’s tenure, and I like what she adds to the Wonder Woman mythos. She’s sort of a charming, redneck Etta Candy, and serves the important role of keeping Diana grounded with a human friend. So if she’s actually dead, I’m going to be pretty upset.

I suppose we’ll find out next month with the series finale. Given the entirety of what’s preceded it during the Finches’ run, I have no hope that it will be good, but it will be the end. And then “Rebirth”! One issue to go, gang. We can do it.

Wonder Woman’s May 2016 Covers and Solicits

February 23, 2016

May is going to be another busy month for Wonder Woman, and will mark the end of her two mainline series. Wonder Woman is set to relaunch in June with a new #1 issue, while Superman/Wonder Woman will be done forever, thank goodness; that book never even got close to decent, despite three years of trying. But that’s June. In May, both series are wrapping up, plus Wonder Woman’s got a few other things in the mix, including a very cool surprise. Let’s take a look at what she’ll be up to in May, starting with Wonder Woman #52 and its two covers:

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WONDER WOMAN #52
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by MIGUEL MENDOÇA
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
Variant cover by DAVID FINCH and MATT BANNING
On sale MAY 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Hecate’s true motivations are revealed and Wonder Woman’s dream of a happy ending is called into question by the Amazon warrior herself. You can’t afford to miss the epic conclusion of the quest to save baby Zeke and the Olympians.

While we don’t have official confirmation on the new Wonder Woman creative team, all signs point to this being the last issue for Meredith and David Finch. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land. Their final outing wraps up the storyline of Zeke’s illness, and it sounds like Hecate might be up to no good. Really? The creepy looking witch goddess with the spikes coming out her head doesn’t have the purest of intentions? I did not see that coming (I actually did, in my review of the start of this arc last week. I think I was sarcastic about her then, too. That sounds like me).

Anyway, the Finches will be done and maybe the series will be good for a change from now on. Here’s hoping!

Onto Superman/Wonder Woman #29:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #29
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by KARL KERSCHL
On sale MAY 18 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
It’s the penultimate chapter of “Super League”! When all the Supermen have fallen, it’s Supergirl to the rescue! But can Kara and Wonder Woman stop a villain who wants to end Clark’s hope for future Supermen?

This is a whole big crossover scene with all of the other Super-books, and seeing as I don’t buy any of those than I’m guessing this issue won’t make a lick of sense to me. But it’s a Wonder Woman/Supergirl team-up, and that could be fun. Plus a Karl Kerschl cover! This issue has some stuff going for it, certainly. Though it also sounds like a fitting end to this series that has consistently focused on Superman over Wonder Woman, with a Super-crossover that’s yet again all about the Man of Steel.

We’ve also got a double shipping Legend of Wonder Woman in May:

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THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #5
Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
Cover by RENAE DE LIZ
On sale MAY 4 • 40 pg, FC, 5 of 9, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Double shipping in May! In issue #5, the Holliday Girls are off to Boston! But while the girls go shopping, Etta and Diana have more dangerous errands to run. Diana visits the newspaper that published tales of the Duke of Deception…and discovers a new mission—perhaps she can save Themyscira by saving the people of Man’s World from him!

THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #6
Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
Cover by RENAE DE LIZ
On sale MAY 18 • 40 pg, FC, 6 of 9, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Double shipping in May! There’s a war devastating the outside world, and while Diana tries not to care, she cannot help but want to protect the many who are suffering. As she finally confronts the Duke of Deception and his minions, she must decide whether to chase her answers of home, or use her new strengths to defend the outsiders.

Double the shipping, double the fun! Two issues of the Legend of Wonder Woman sounds like a good deal to me. This book is so good, I’d gladly pay for it twice in one month. It’s the best Wonder Woman comic in years, by a considerable margin. We’ve seen the contents of the fifth issue already in digital form, and it’s super good; Diana and Etta hijinks are the best. And the next issue will finally have Diana going off to the war to battle the Duke of Deception, which should be an excellent time. It’s the best comic, gang. Buy it!

Finally, a fun surprise: A Wonder Woman coloring book!

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COLORING DC: WONDER WOMAN TP
Art by GEORGE PEREZ, PHIL JIMENEZ, DAVID FINCH and others
Cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
On sale JUNE 29 • 96 pg, B&W, $15.99 US
DC’s Amazon princess stars in a new coloring book focusing on her greatest covers, splash pages and more by some of comics’ top artists!

This sounds SO cool. Wonder Woman art by her classic artists will be so much fun to color, plus the book is 96 pages long! That’s a lot of coloring bang for your buck. I’m excited to see what pages and covers they include in the book, and I’m definitely going to pick this one up.

The solicits also listed several new Wonder Woman figures. We’ve discussed most of them before elsewhere on the site, but here are the details of when you can get them:

  • The DC Comics Icons Wonder Woman figure designed by Ivan Reis is out in September 2016 for $28 US.
  • The DC Designer Series: Greg Capullo line Wonder Woman figure is also out in September 2016 and also sells for $28 US.
  • The September 2016 fun continues with a Wonder Woman 3-pack of figures that includes her first Golden Age appearance, the Terry Dodson figure, and the New 52 figure. It sells for a surprisingly steep $75US.

Look for all of the comics in May, the coloring book in June, and the figures in September. Also, maybe start saving your pennies now because that’s a lot of things to buy!

Wonder Woman #49 Review OR What the Hecate is Wrong with Zeke?

February 17, 2016

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Here’s the good news: “Rebirth” is coming. If the rumours prove true, DC is going to relaunch a bunch of their books in June or July, and apparently the top contender for taking over Wonder Woman is Marguerite Bennett. I am all for it. Bennett is a fantastic writer who’s been doing great work on a variety of different series lately, including writing Wonder Woman in DC Comics Bombshells, and I think she’d be a great fit. No artists have been announced yet, and nothing’s been officially confirmed in any way other than that “Rebirth” is some sort of thing that is going to happen this summer, but it seems like Wonder Woman will be heading in a new direction with new creators at the helm.

Until then, Meredith and David Finch are still on the book, running out the clock with a new storyline about Zeke, i.e. Zeus in the form of a child, suffering from a mysterious ailment caused by the chaos surrounding the Olympian gods. If this first issue is any indication, it’s not going to be a great arc. It may, however, be a fitting end to the Finch’s tenure, a nonsensical tale with offputting art and the lamest of twists and turns. We’ll discuss the issue momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or if you hate reading about poorly crafted stories!

So here’s the scoop on what’s happening. Zeke is sick, and Hera sends Wonder Woman to find Gaia to try to get her to cure him. But Gaia won’t respond, and instead Hecate shows up; she’s a goddess of magic and witchcraft who’s all creepy looking with weird spikes coming out of her head. Despite Hecate being the sketchiest looking character ever, Wonder Woman decides to secretly work with her to help Zeke, and agrees to steal some orbs from the bottom of Hera’s pool, after which she gets knocked out by a cyclops and the issue ends with the one-eyed monster carrying her away.

There’s some other stuff in the mix, too: Hera seems to be doping Zola magically and may be up to something mysterious and/or nefarious, Ares and Eirene are maybe back together, and Apollo is on the prowl for a new lady. None of it is particularly interesting.

Wonder Woman working with Hecate AND not telling her friends about it is just straight up dumb. Stories like these drive me crazy; I hate it when characters who are supposed to be smart, sensible people do stupid things to add drama to the narrative. Such stories always reflect a lack of understanding of the character. Wonder Woman would never team up with such an obvious villain, much less keep her closest friends in the dark about it, no matter the circumstances. I get that she’s trying to save Zeke, but she’s not an idiot. It’s obvious that this team up isn’t going to end well for her, yet she launches herself into it and steals from Hera, who’s become one of her closer allies over the years. And now she’s captured by a cyclops and no one even knows because she was skulking through Olympus on the sly. This is why you always go with the buddy system, gang.

Also, Wonder Woman could take a cyclops, even if it snuck up on her. Cyclops are hardly good sneakers, anyway. They’re huge! She’d hear him coming and take him out accordingly. I mean, she’s Wonder Woman.

So the plot is silly and makes Wonder Woman look bad, which is uncool. Even worse, the design of Hecate is just pure David Finch. He’s actually done a solid job through this run of reining in his art some; his Diana started out looking like a weirdly sexualized teen, and he evolved her look so that she’s now more mature. Kudos to him for that. But before Wonder Woman, Finch was known for some bad, super sexualized artwork. His Catwoman in Justice League of America had her zipper undone to her navel. He created a character in Batman: The Dark Knight who was basically a playboy bunny. Historically, his work with female characters hasn’t been great.

Such is the case with Hecate. First off, the gal is barely covered, which is irksome. Any new female character design that is basically just some version of a bikini is hot garbage. It’s 2016; give her an actual costume. Also, this hot girl with evil tweaks aesthetic is played out. Finch draws Hecate’s face in his usual style; his range with female faces isn’t great, so her features are generically attractive. On top of this, he adds weird horns and tattoos and snake eyes to make her more gruesome, but it just doesn’t come together. It’s not a complete design. It’s a standard Finch face with evil accoutrement. Finch is actually really good at drawing monsters and creepy creatures, and I’d be mildly curious to see what direction he’d take a more monstrous version of Hecate that embrace the evil bits a little more. But a pretty gal with spiky horns is just boring.

Frankly, “boring” is a good word for this issue as a whole. The Finches are setting up lots of things, putting a bunch of balls in the air as the arc begins, but it’s all so dull. Nor does any of it feel true to the character, nor is any of it particularly well drawn. It’s yet another issue of this run where I find myself asking who thought that this story was a good idea, on any level but particularly with editorial. It’s just such a poor product all around.

Wonder Woman’s April 2016 Covers and Solicits

January 25, 2016

DC’s April 2016 solicits went up last week, and we’ve got the usual assortment of Wonder Woman fun plus a fairly surprising collection that’s due out in May. Of all the classic Wonder Woman runs that are currently out of print, I wasn’t expecting to see a spotlight shone on this one. We’ll get to that momentarily, but let’s start out with Wonder Woman #51:

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WONDER WOMAN #51
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by MIGUEL MENDONÇA
Cover by DAVID FINCH
Variant cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and SCOTT HANNA
On sale APRIL 20 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island and the Tartarus Pit in her quest to save baby Zeke. But as she betrays those she loves in her struggle to save Olympus, she slips closer to an abyss in which she may lose Wonder Woman entirely!

Sigh. Still the Finches. Though with the rumours of a DC relaunch in June making the internet rounds as of late, my hopes are up that we’ll see a new team on Wonder Woman soon. But for now, this Zeke story is still rolling along with the Finches at the helm.

I actually don’t mind the cover, if only because it promises a dragon or a basilisk or some such, and Finch is pretty good at drawing that sort of thing. If there’s a big dragon fight in this issue, I might be on board. We’ll see what happens.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #28:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #28
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by ED BENES
Cover by PAUL RENAUD
Variant cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and SCOTT HANNA
On sale APRIL 27 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
In part four of “Super League,” Wonder Woman and Superman encounter the being that was discovered in BATMAN/SUPERMAN #31. But will this person be Superman’s savior—or destroyer? And what is Ulysses’s role in all of this?

Hooboy, this sounds not great. Tomasi’s run on Superman/Wonder Woman has been rough stuff, and Superman is currently the WORST; he’s such a jerk right now. So an event written by Tomasi with Superman at the center does not make this sound like an issue I am keen to read. Plus, the fourth part of a crossover I’m not going to read the rest of is never a great time.

Also out in April, the fantastic Legend of Wonder Woman #4:

aprillegends4

THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #4
Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
Cover by RENAE DE LIZ
On sale APRIL 13 • 40 pg, FC, 4 of 9, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The seas have extracted a harsh price for Diana’s rescue of the outsider, casting her adrift upon the shores of Man’s World! A kind woman introduces her to this strange new home, and a new friend bolsters her confidence, but throughout the early days of her adventure, strange dreams of violence plague her nights.

I love this book! The digital issues are way ahead of the print, so I’ve already read two of the three digital installments that will be included in this print issue. And they’re GREAT. Etta Candy is in it in all of her classic, Golden Age glory, and it’s so much fun. This title is the best Wonder Woman comic on the stands, and if you’re not reading it, you’re missing out.

And finally, the aforementioned surprising collection:

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WONDER WOMAN BY MIKE DEODATO TP
Written by WILLIAM MESSNER-LOEBS
Art and cover by MIKE DEODATO
On sale MAY 11 • 376 pg, FC, $24.99 US
Collecting Mike Deodato’s run on WONDER WOMAN from issues #85, 0 and 90-100! In her mother’s eyes, Diana has not lived up to the task of being Wonder Woman, and now the Queen of the Amazons sets in motion a contest where a new Wonder Woman will be crowned. But Diana sees things differently and decides take on any and all comers—until she is bested by Artemis!

This seems like an odd choice. There are so many other books I’d rather see new collections of. Maybe some of Rucka’s run, or Jimenez. But Deodato’s been a pretty hot artist at Marvel lately, so it makes sense that DC would reprint some of his early work. It’s not the best stuff, though. He’s pretty solid now, and I loved his recent Avengers work, but Deodato’s old Wonder Woman art makes me cringe. It’s the embodiment of 1990s hyper-sexualization, plus Wonder Woman ends up with a really dumb costume, even worse than that high collared thing she’s been sporting lately. It’s more an amusing relic than a classic run, though Artemis is kind of fun. Also, the page count seems very long for only 13 issues, so I’d expect a lot of extras with this one.

Look for all of these books this April (and May for the Deodato book) at comic shops everywhere!

Wonder Woman #48 Review OR A Boring, Whitewashed Revamp of Doctor Poison

January 20, 2016

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I’ve been having a very nice but busy day so far. I’m still amped up from the Wonder Woman footage in last night’s “Dawn of the Justice League” special, and pleasantly surprised to have a bit of optimism about the film now. A couple of work things have come together in cool ways that I wasn’t expecting, with fun things working out on multiple fronts. Plus I had left over three cheese ravioli for lunch. Everything’s coming up Tim today.

So after that very busy morning and late lunch break, I sat down to read today’s Wonder Woman #48. Now, I never expect this book to be good. “Not actively unpleasant” would be a win when it comes to this run. But here, on this day that has been lovely thus far, Meredith and David Finch went and did the most boring, clichéd revamp of one of my favourite Wonder Woman characters. And now I’ve got to write about it! It’s killing my mood, gang, and I don’t appreciate it. Luckily, I didn’t get a chance to watch Agent Carter last night so my spirits will be rebuoyed soon enough when I dig into that. But for now, let’s chat about this issue after the requisite…

SPOILER ALERT!!!

I am about to reveal how the Finches turned a super cool character into something painfully dull!!

Look away if you haven’t read the book yet!!

Or if bad Wonder Woman comics make you sad!!

Let’s begin by jumping in the wayback machine for a quick history lesson about the original, Golden Age Dr. Poison. She first appeared in Sensation Comics #2, only the third Wonder Woman comic book ever made. The fiendish doctor was working with the Nazis, trying to poison American soldiers with the drug “Reverso” that made them do the opposite of what their officers commanded them. Doctor Poison wore a bulky green suit and a black mask, and was sort of grotesque. The villain’s creepy toothy grin was accompanied by bulged out eyeballs; it was a grim, unnerving countenance of a sinister man. Then, at the end of the issue, Wonder Woman ripped off the fiend’s costume and mask to reveal that Doctor Poison was actually the lovely Princess Maru, a chemical genius bent on destroying America:

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This was awesome for a couple of reasons. First, she was essentially a crossdresser. The comics never dug too deep into the mind of Princess Maru so we don’t know whether her male identity was a simple disguise, a way to get ahead in a man’s world, or something that was a deeper part of her. She could certainly be read as one of the first trans characters in superhero comics, and at the very least the gender ambiguity of the character was unique and surprising for the time.

She was also Asian, a Japanese princess. The Japanese were fairly common in early Wonder Woman comics, but they were often oafish, racist caricatures. Princess Maru was different. She was both brilliant and beautiful, plus her villainous guise was a costume that turned her into a white man. The existence of Princess Maru doesn’t excuse William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter for their awful depiction of Asian men, of course, but again she’s definitely an absolutely fascinating character, especially for 1942. A later version of Doctor Poison retained the gender ambiguity, as well as the grotesque appearance, in a handful of issues in the Modern Age.

So now let’s return to the present to look at Meredith and David Finch’s Doctor Poison. She’s a white woman, Russian instead of Japanese. She also dresses like a doctor; no fun, crossdressing costume or creepy mask, just a lab coat. She’s not a princess of anything either. Thanks to some clunky exposition, we learn that she was the daughter of Russians scientists who were branded as terrorists by the Russian government after American spies approached them to learn about their research. Take a moment to pause and think about the most clichéd, stereotypical thing that could happen to Russian scientists when the government is after them. Do you have it? Was it “They got sent to the gulag in Siberia and tortured and killed”? If you did, well done! And now, for some reason, Doctor Poison is mad at the Americans instead of the Russians and tries to kill the President at a G8 meeting in London. Wonder Woman stops her, of course.

This Doctor Poison is SO. VERY. BORING. The original Doctor Poison is bizarre and fascinating and has so many interesting things going on with her. Or him? It’s hard to say. That’s why she, or he, is so cool. This Doctor Poison is just tediously generic. We’ve seen villains just like this countless times. Plus the whitewashing isn’t cool either. Why swap a bad ass Japanese princess for yet another boring Russian? What is the story value in that? Simplifying a character so enjoyably complex is just the worst.

Plus, even her plan is lame. Poison the President? Whatever happened to rad drugs like Reverso? Make it complicated and fun. All Wonder Woman had to do was suppress Doctor Poison’s dumb drone and the President was saved. Easy peasy. Her escape plan was nothing fancy either. Doping up some civilians to turn them into violent zombies is yet another plotpoint we’ve seen several times, IN Wonder Woman comics, even. Wonder Woman ’77 did it twice already, just last year.

So yeah, not a great issue. What a dull revamp, and such a waste of a cool character. Furthermore, the story just seems to be filler. The book ends with a reveal that should form the backbone of the series for the next few issues, Zeke being ill, but that’s got nothing to do with Doctor Poison and the 18 pages of story before it. Unless Doctor Poison somehow got to Mount Olympus and poisoned Zeke. That seems unlikely. It would be fun, though; they should do something weird like that instead of whatever they’ve got planned. I’d be into it. Anyway, urgh. This book exhausts me.

Wonder Woman #47 Review OR The Cheetah Never Prospers

December 30, 2015

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We’ll close out the year properly tomorrow on a high note, with a review of the latest two issues of The Legend of Wonder Woman, far and away the best Wonder Woman series being produced currently. But for now, we’ll spend the penultimate day of the year in the doldrums of Wonder Woman’s mainline continuity, pondering what deities we must have offended to continue to be subjected to this series. Meredith and David Finch have been on Wonder Woman for over a year, with several months to come yet, at least, and the book continues to be mediocre comic booking. I’m starting to run out of ways to say “This book is bad.” I’ll try to come up with some more for today’s issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

I am about to reveal every plot point in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Not that this story has any real consequence, but still!

No one likes to be spoiled!

Many recent issues of Wonder Woman haven’t had much going on in the way of a plot. There’s a lot of conversation and a fight or two, but the story doesn’t move forward in any real way; by the issue’s end, we’re no further ahead with things than we were a month ago. This is a book that likes to tread water and then have a million things happen at once. Last month’s comic was such an issue, and that flurry of revelations has been followed by a meandering tale that seems to add nothing to the overarching plot in any sort of story or character way. Ares and Apollo returned and Donna Troy is now the Fates personified, so Wonder Woman has a lot of balls in the air right now, but none of that played much of a role in today’s issue.

Instead, we get an entirely inconsequential Cheetah story. The Cheetah came to Paradise Island to steal the Eye of Antiope, a jewel that’s key to the Amazons’ immortality. Wonder Woman goes to stop her, they fight for a couple of pages, the ghost of Hippolyta tells Wonder Woman she can’t enter the temple of Hera because she’s the god of war and Hera would be offended, Cheetah gets the jewel from the temple but then has to throw it back because the deity who is the source of her powers is offended and was starting to take them back. None of this is terrible, really. It’s not particularly compelling or well-written, either. It’s just bland, and sort of pointless, a limp heist story for no good reason.

Furthermore, it doesn’t even take up the full page count. The story gets fleshed out with bits meant to make Wonder Woman feel bad, because constantly highlighting Wonder Woman’s failings has been a hallmark of this series since the dawn of the New 52. First, an Amazon named Dessa tells Wonder Woman that her mood affects the whole island because the Amazons are all linked, and so Wonder Woman worries that her internal discord over being the god of war may have infected her sisters and led them to follow Donna Troy and kill all of the male Amazons. Then, while running through the jungle to find Cheetah, she comes across the last surviving Manazon, battered and furious, who blames her for the attack and yells at her for not saving the men. It’s a real morale boost all around for our heroine.

It’s also done in Meredith Finch’s tell and not show fashion, with lengthy conversations explaining the ins and outs of every plot point in detail. Were you wondering about the Eye of Antiope and the specific benefits and limits of its powers? Fear not, because the book spends two full pages running through ALL of that. Were you wondering how Cheetah knew where to find the Eye of Antiope? Look no further than this poetic dialogue: “According to this old map I stole from A.R.G.U.S. before I left, I’m almost at the temple, and then the Eye of Antiope, and the key to Amazon immortality will be mine!” What a handy reminder of the information we learned in the earlier Eye of Antiope report, too.

Finch then hammered home the moral of the story as blatantly as possible, as if this were a comic book for a five year old. It was hardly anything deep; the Cheetah showed that getting what you want can come with a price, in a very obvious fashion. Nonetheless, the book ended with Wonder Woman underscoring the moral just in case as she declared, “Sometimes getting what we want comes at the price of sacrificing who and what we really are. Today, that’s a price even Cheetah wasn’t willing to pay.” This series would be at least 20% better if Finch realized that the readers can fill in some of the blanks and don’t need every little thing spoon fed to us.

The other half of the Finches, artist David Finch, was off this month, which may explain the issue’s inconsequential feel. It may have been written to serve as a fill-in issue, and the main story will continue next month when David returns. Replacement penciller Miguel Mendonça was fine, if fairly straight forward. Everything looked okay and the story read well enough, but the art felt a bit static and lacked much in the way of unique style or pizzazz. It was all very middle of the road for me. The old costume is back, though! I was glad for that. The new costume they’re trying to make work is just god awful. Hopefully the change here marks the end of the outfit, and wasn’t just a miscommunication.

Overall, this issue wasn’t terribly good, which isn’t much of a surprise at this point. I suppose we can be glad that it wasn’t actively bad, because we’ve certainly been there before. There’s nothing here to get upset or offended about, so much as it’s just a very bland, kind of pointless issue. Actually, all of the blaming and shaming Wonder Woman stuff was sort of terrible; that’s worth getting bothered. This book needs to cool it with constantly trying to tear her down. But the main plot was all just boringly below average, which is disappointing because the Cheetah can be cool when done well. But not today.


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