Posts Tagged ‘David Messina’

Wonder Woman #30 Review: The Heart of the Amazon Shines

September 13, 2017

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Today’s issue of Wonder Woman brings us the finale of “Heart of the Amazon,” a story that has challenged Diana on multiple levels. There were the villains, of course, a multitude of assassins that she and Etta dispatched with relative ease. But there were also more existential threats as Diana contemplated her heroic purpose. Yes, she’s a divinely powered superhero who can take on more than anyone else can bear, but she’s also just one person. Perhaps the gifts inside her were meant for something more, something that required a great sacrifice. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Don’t read this review if you haven’t read the issue!

Also, go read the issue! And the whole arc! It’s great!

So, it turns out that no, the gifts inside her weren’t meant for something more. At least, not yet and certainly not under these circumstances. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hamilton Revere, the man who sent a group of assassins after Wonder Woman, is not a good dude and does not have the best interests of humanity at heart. After Diana willingly went to see him at the end of the last issue, curious if her divinely powered blood could help cure diseases like he claimed, things quickly took a dark turn. Revere wanted to develop an army of super soldiers, first and foremost, and use them to strike fear into the hearts of American enemies and compel global peace. Wonder Woman wasn’t into it because obviously that’s a terrible idea, and some enjoyable fighting ensued.

I think that anytime a Wonder Woman story ends with a message that men are bad and can’t be trusted with power, the writer is definitely doing things right. I mean, look around. Men ARE bad and CAN’T be trusted with power. That’s been true for time immemorial, and was also a key component of the original Wonder Woman in the 1940s; back then, she was straight up arguing for a matriarchal revolution. I loved Shea Fontana’s internal monologue for Diana in this issue as she fought back against Revere’s forces and reflected on the awesome responsibility of her powers and how she must be careful and judicious with how she uses them. Fontana also mentioned the golden lasso and the truths it reveals, which is key. Wonder Woman is, above all else, firmly rooted in the truth of things. She can’t lie to herself, or disguise selfish motivations with a benevolent facade. The lasso ensures that her motivations are pure, and thus she is best suited to the amazing gifts of the gods. Folks like military directors, world leaders, and soldiers don’t have a lasso, and thus should not be entrusted with such powers. The monologue is specific to the scene, but there’s also a larger implication that we as a society must be careful in selecting who we entrust with power, which is all sorts of timely.

On top of these deeper reflections, this issue also has Etta Candy pitching a bunch of grenades and using the lasso, which is just fun times. Steve Trevor’s reactions when Etta keeps pulling out grenades are priceless. Fontana’s done a wonderful job bringing Etta and her friendship with Diana to the fore throughout this arc, and I’m hoping that it’s something that sticks moving forward. They’re such a great pairing. And, again, their friendship harkens back to the 1940s as well. Fontana has tapped into some classic Wonder Woman here.

The art rotation continued this issue with the return of David Messina after Inaki Miranda drew the last outing, and he did a swell job again. Maybe even better than his first issue in some ways. His style felt a little looser this time around, which I enjoyed. He seemed to be channeling Mirka Andolfo somewhat as well, adding just a bit more of a cartoonish aspect to his work. Messina did well with all of the serious talking and discussion that kicked off the issue, and then really shone once the fighting began. The double page spread of Wonder Woman busting her way through multiple opponents is just gorgeously composed. And the colours by Romulo Fajardo Jr. add so much to that sequence. He captures the passage of time as Wonder Woman moves through her assailants by starting with pale colouring and making each image of her as she moves through her assailants brighter and more detailed until the final Wonder Woman is fully coloured in detail. Also, shout out to Messina for Diana’s swoopy hair in this spread. It’s so good.

Overall, “Heart of the Amazon” was an excellent Wonder Woman story, one that fully embraced her re-established status quo in the “Rebirth” era and captured the core of what makes her a great hero. It’s such a fundamentally good, enjoyable tale. It’s not a huge game changer like Rucka’s run, and it’s not some event tie-in or flashy crossover. It’s contained, stellar storytelling, and that’s so good to see. I hope we’ll get a lot more like this from Wonder Woman moving forward.

Well, after the next arc, anyway. For some reason, DC feels compelled to follow up on “Darkseid War” and the “Rebirth” special, stories from a Wonder Woman universe that is now drastically different. I have no idea why, but we’ve got six issues of stories about Wonder Woman’s brother ahead of us, so hold onto your hats. I’ll hope for the best, of course. You never know what could happen. But I’m not terribly optimistic about any part of what’s coming.

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Wonder Woman #28 Review: Assassination Rehabilitation

August 16, 2017

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“Heart of the Amazon” continues this week with Shea Fontana still writing but a new artist on board. Mirka Andolfo did the first two, and it looks like the rest of the arc will be by David Messina. It’s an interesting switch; Andolfo and Messina’s styles aren’t exactly similar, but the swap may capture a change in tone, intentionally or inadvertently. Andolfo’s art is bright and exuberant, which fit well with the wedding fun of the first issue and the further establishment of Diana and Etta’s friendship. Messina’s art is more grounded and realistic to a degree, which pairs well as the story continues to take a darker turn with assassins targeting Diana. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t read this issue yet, look away!

I am about to tell you most of what happens in it!

Let’s start with the cover again, because while the comics themselves have been quite enjoyable throughout this arc thus far, the covers have been uniformly bland. With the first two issues especially, the run of the mill covers failed to communicate the unique spark of the art inside in any real way. For this issue, the cover just feels paint by numbers. Wonder Woman deflecting bullets is always fun, but you could put this cover on any issue of Wonder Woman and it would be generally applicable. It’s a very generic image, and this isn’t a generic story. Nothing about Wonder Woman has been generic since the “Rebirth” relaunch, and the covers for the first 25 issues reflected that well. The covers since have failed to do so, and it just feels like poor advertising on the part of DC.

The story inside is fun, though. Etta’s recovered well from the bombing at the end of the first issue of the arc, and is able to go home from the hospital, whereupon she and Diana are again attacked by an assassin. These gals can’t catch a break! The action is nicely done, with a focus on Wonder Woman’s speed and reaction time throughout, even though it’s Etta who saves the day in the end. This is one of those big fight issues that can read a little quick because it’s got more punching than dialogue, but that’s what superhero comics are for. It can’t be all lengthy discussions and introspection and such. It’s good to have a full on brawl every now and again.

Beyond all of the action, though, Diana and Etta’s friendship shines through, and it seems to be the major focus of this arc. It was great to see Etta get to save the day, and have her military prowess highlighted throughout the issue. From a well timed and well aimed shot to Diana correcting a nurse to inform her that Etta should be addressed as “Commander” and not “Ms.,” Etta’s credentials are underscored and proven over the course of this outing.

The best moment comes near the beginning, though, when Diana signs Etta out of the hospital to be released into her care. Diana takes her signature very seriously, and is determined to care for Etta for the six weeks of her leave because she has signed an oath to do so. It’s all very cute and fun, and makes for an amusing scene with Diana doing the dishes because she is fully committed to taking care of Etta on every single level. Friendship plus Diana taking simple things very seriously is a delightful combination.

David Messina does a solid job with the art, especially once the fighting kicks off, and he draws a tough, powerful Wonder Woman. There’s a very cool quality to his work where he’s not super heavy on his inks that I quite enjoy. Rather than having his blacks be completely solid, he colors them in and the texture of whatever coloring method he’s using remains. It almost looks like markers or some such, and you can see gradients within his blacks in a lot of the panels. It’s a fun touch that captures how inked artwork actually looks rather than the processed sheen it tends to take on once it gets scanned, cleaned up, and published.

I did miss Mirka Andolfo a bit, though. This is no knock on Messina, who did nice work. I just really love the vitality that Andolfo brings to her characters. And the fashion! Diana and Etta were dressed okay in this issue, but Andolfo would have had them in something more rad. Also, Messina straightened Etta’s hair, and I missed the curly bounce that Andolfo gave her. I was glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. still in the mix, though! His coloring was strong as always, though I did notice a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes; elements of Wonder Woman’s belt were miscolored, while Etta was a few shades too light in one panel. Nonetheless, his work was excellent elsewhere and his rich, textured tones paired especially well with Messina’s inking style.

All together, things are ramping up with this assassination plot and I’m excited to see where it goes. Someone is after Wonder Woman and wants her body, presumably for some sort of bizarre experimentation, and given that last page reveal, things are going to be difficult in the next issue as well with even more folks after her. Kudos to Fontana for including so many female assassins in the mix, too. I’m guessing that we’ll find out who the big bad is by the end of the next outing, since we’ve only got two installments left. And Apollo’s intervention to warn her about the attack has me thinking it might be a villain with some mythological associations. I’m looking forward to learning more in two weeks’ time!

My Top 10 Favourite Comic Books of 2015

December 29, 2015

Now that the year is almost over, it’s a good time to look back at the comic books I most enjoyed this year. Usually I like to do an all new Top 10, focusing on my new favourites, but so many books stayed ridiculously good this year that my pull list hasn’t changed a lot. So we’ll go for a split, with half returning favourites and half new books that I’m all about. We’ll start with the former!

MY FIVE FAVOURITE COMIC BOOKS

It’s been a fantastic year for comics, and several of my best books from 2014 remain at the top of my list here at the end of 2015. My top books, in order, are:

 bestCRIMINALS

5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky: The book is hilarious and great and surprisingly heartwarming, but what I love more than anything is the letter column. It’s the funniest thing I read each month, comics or otherwise.

 bestTHOR

4) The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman: The series was a blast all year as Thor, and now that it’s been relaunched as The Mighty Thor the fun continues. I liked the initial mystery aspect of the book, but the reveal of Thor’s identity has led to some interesting angles and new storylines that are even more compelling.

 bestODYC

3) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward: It’s a gender swapped take on The Odyssey in space. This concept could not be more up my alley, and the execution has been fascinating and gorgeous. And also informative! The essays in the backmatter are great, and are a fantastic compliment to the trippy main story.

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2) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro: Feminism in space again. What can I say, I have a type. The Mighty Thor sort of fits that theme too, now that I think about it! Last year, I compared the first issue of Bitch Planet to a punch in the stomach but in the best way, and the series has continued as such throughout the year. While it’s often brutal, there’s a fury to the book that I love and that is much needed.

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1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and others: This was my top pick last year, and it’s my top pick this year too. It’s just so good! I LOVE Kamala Khan, I love the world they’ve built around her in Jersey City, and I love that the book is classic superhero fun in a very fresh and new way. And now, Kamala’s made it through Secret Wars and is back in a relaunched title that continues her story in enjoyable new ways. Plus she’s an Avenger! 2015 was the year of Kamala, for sure.

MY FIVE FAVOURITE NEW COMIC BOOKS

The year also saw a bunch of new great books, from multiversal destructions to gals across various eras to a modern day crime lord. These were my favourite new books/revamps of 2015:

 bestSECRETWARS

5) Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic: This book is bananas, and I love it. I’ve been following Hickman since he relaunched Avengers and New Avengers a few years back, and while the buildup was impressive, the payoff is epic. This is the first event series in ages that I’ve really enjoyed, plus it’s also led to some great tie-ins, including A-Force, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, and Runaways.

 bestCATWOMAN

4) Catwoman by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, and David Messina: This storyline began in 2014, but it ran for most of this year and it was ridiculously good. Selina Kyle took over a crime family and tried to keep Gotham from falling into a gang war, with often tragic results. It was dark and tense and an absolutely fascinating new take on the character, and I was so disappointed when DC brought in a new creative team at the end of the year.

 bestPAPERGIRLS

3) Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang: It’s just so gorgeous. Regular readers will know that Cliff Chiang is my favourite artist, hands down, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Plus that Vaughan fellow is pretty good too, and he’s crafted a weird, mysterious story; we’re a few issues in, and I’m still not 100% sure what’s happening. I just know that it’s rad.

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2) The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon: The print edition of the book doesn’t start until January, but the digital version has been coming out for weeks and it’s GREAT. It’s a classic take on Wonder Woman and the Amazons but with several new, fun twists, and the first few issues have spent a lot of time establishing Themyscira and introducing us to a young Diana. Simultaneously cute and ominous, this is the best Wonder Woman book in years.

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1) DC Comics Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, and more: When DC did their World War Two era “Bombshell” variant covers a while back, I thought it was kind of silly and unnecessary. But they were a hit, and now this series fleshes out the story behind the new designs, reimagining the war with scores of DC’s female heroes in the mix, and nary a male hero in sight. It’s so much fun and delightfully bad ass to see DC’s ladies working together to bust up Nazis, and I love how Bennett and her team of artists have added so much depth to what began as a line of pin-ups.

And those are my favourite books of the year! It’s all so much awesome. The comic book industry is an embarrassment of riches right now.


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