Posts Tagged ‘Dexter Vines’

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

April 20, 2016

ww51

“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.

Advertisements

Wonder Woman #47 Review OR The Cheetah Never Prospers

December 30, 2015

ww47.jpg

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.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #38 Review: “A Moment of Peace” by Matthew K. Manning, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, and Dexter Vines

June 11, 2015

sensation38

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about today’s digital first issue of Sensation Comics. It’s a decent story that’s well told, but I have mixed feelings about its take on Wonder Woman. The issue digs into some interesting territory, exploring what happens after Wonder Woman’s had a particularly bad day. I just don’t know if I’m on board with the conclusion.

The story is fairly straight forward, in a good way. Matthew K. Manning does solid job of not overstuffing this one-shot story and allowing some necessary room for quiet as Wonder Woman deals with a rough case. Dr. Destiny had kidnapped and linked tons of people, many of which appeared to be children and teens, into some sort of apparatus that fed him their dreams like a drug. When Wonder Woman finds the scene, the prisoners look like dead eyed zombies, grimacing and emaciated. It’s a horrible sight that hits Wonder Woman hard. Batman can tell she’s upset about it, so he suggests a vacation in a mountain retreat. There she finds Solomon Grundy, who has been terrorizing the local town. She tries to deal with him politely, but has to throw some punches when he refuses to leave. It turns out that excising her frustrations through a supervillain brawl was exactly what Wonder Woman needed to move past her Dr. Destiny encounter, and that Batman had sent her there specifically so she could do so.

Manning does a nice job telling the story. It’s not verbose at all, but there’s a lot going on in the silence. You can tell that Wonder Woman is very much in her own head and sort of suffering for it. I found the set up a little odd; Batman is there at the beginning of the story, but waits for Wonder Woman and lets her handle Dr. Destiny. I’m not sure why he just didn’t do it himself, but perhaps we were meant to assume this was a case she was investigating, thus the impact of finding all of those missing people like that hit her even harder.

The art is good too. Jeanty, Story, and Vines convey Wonder Woman’s shock and pain well, and also capture her fury upon finding Dr. Destiny in an interesting way. She only gets to hit him once, because after that he’s out and Wonder Woman’s not the sort to beat an unconscious man, but there’s a coiled rage to her that suggests that just one punch was not enough for her.

This, of course, leads to the cathartic Solomon Grundy fight at the end, which is where my mixed feelings begin. I understand the story the creative team was telling, and I think it all comes together fine as a story. I just don’t know if Diana is the type to need to beat the hell out of something to feel better. She’s clearly beating up Grundy because she couldn’t beat up Dr. Destiny, and beating up Grundy is fine because a) the dude’s a beast and can take it, and b) he was busting up a local town and needed to be brought in. But to me, Wonder Woman isn’t the sort of person who carries a rage inside her like that. While the issue is striking in its silences, I feel like Wonder Woman would recognize that she was upset and go talk to someone about it, Etta or her mother or whoever, and then channel that negative energy into something more positive. “I’m angry and so I need to hit something” strikes me as a little bit primitive for her. She’s a warrior, yes, but she’s much more than that.  I just think she’d have a variety of better releases instead of more violence.

That’s just my opinion on the character, of course, and doesn’t change the fact that this is a well told story and a good read. The story will be out in print on July 15 in Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #12, along with the awesome Wonder Woman/Poison Ivy team up from a few weeks ago. That’s going to be a great issue all around, so definitely pick that up if for some odd reason you’re reading detailed reviews of a digital comic you haven’t read yet.


%d bloggers like this: