Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Cyber’

Wonder Woman #18 Review: Who Watches the Godwatch?

March 9, 2017

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I’m a day late to this review after being busy all day yesterday with some family things, but I got to read the issue yesterday and having an extra day to think back on it has only increased my appreciation of it. “Godwatch” is clearly a different kind of story than “The Lies,” “Year One,” or “The Truth,” and I like that about it very much. The arc is keeping a dual focus on Veronica Cale and Wonder Woman, having them circle each other without meeting yet as they both grow into their new roles, Wonder Woman as a superhero and Veronica as the woman trying to learn her secrets. It’s made for some excellent storytelling so far, and we’ll dive into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to disclose all of the things that happen in this issue!

Read no further if you haven’t picked up this issue yet!

First things first, we’ve got a time jump. I love a good time jump. It can be a really effective storytelling technique when done well, and I think it was nicely executed here in a very sensible way. At the end of Wonder Woman #16, everything had gone wrong for Veronica; Deimos and Phobos had her daughter, her best friend was dead, and her plan to capture Wonder Woman had failed on every level. This issue begins a year later, with Veronica having festered in this defeat for a year. Wonder Woman’s reknown and power has only grown, meanwhile Veronica’s daughter remains creepily faceless, Deimos and Phobos are still around, and she’s only just figured out how to bring back Adrianna’s consciousness as Dr. Cyber. The time jump gives us a sense of Veronica’s pain, and shows us the steps to her becoming the hard-edged villain we see in the present day arcs. All of this horror has been her life for a full year, a crucible forging her into what we know she’ll become.

The story almost shouldn’t work. We already know Veronica Cale is a villain who hates Wonder Woman. This arc adds backstory to that, but not a lot else as of yet, and it would be really easy for this to be a flat, unessential tale. Luckily for us, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely know what they’re doing. The characterizations are so strong and the emotions so clear that it makes for a very compelling read. I even feel sorry for Veronica and the terrible situation she’s in, and I’m Team Wonder Woman a billion percent! Seeing the joy of her getting her friend back and the sorrow of not having her daughter, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for the difficult spot she’s in, even though she does horrible things to characters we love.

Barbara Ann Minerva is both a good example of Veronica’s terrible acts and of presenting backstory in a powerful way. We all know she’s going to become the Cheetah, and that Veronica has something to do with that. That’s been well established earlier in the series. But getting a glimpse into how Barbara’s relationship with Diana has developed in the year since she became Wonder Woman adds more emotional heft to the story, and seeing the ways Veronica manipulates the situation so Wonder Woman can’t save her friend is genuinely upsetting. The scene when Wonder Woman finally arrives to find a bitter Barbara in her new Cheetah form is just heartbreaking. And we all knew it was coming!

Also, kudos to Rucka for his symmetry. Having Barbara become the Cheetah again in an emotionally brutal scene two weeks back in “The Truth” in Wonder Woman #17 and following it with her original transformation this week is quite the one-two punch. Tough on my poor heart; I’ve really grown to love Barbara. But so well executed and structured.

A key part of this arc being so effective is Bilquis Evely’s stellar artwork and what she’s able to bring to all of the characters. We know the broad strokes of this story already, and while Rucka’s doing a swell job writing the book, it’s all on Evely to communicate the emotions of the scenes that make filling in this backstory worthwhile. And she’s hitting it out of the park. The look of horror on Diana’s face when she realizes that she was too late to save her friend is so powerful that it sells the entire scene from the get-go. Similarly, she brings so much to Veronica, humanizing someone we could easily see as a monster. Again, Rucka’s writing her well, but it could feel hollow in the wrong hands. With Evely, each beat plays out true. The final page of the issue, in which Veronica is ashamed of the magnitude of horror she’s perpetrated to save her daughter, is particularly compelling. Evely captures the human side of her so well that you can’t help but sympathize with her despite all she’s done.

Evely’s helped by Scott Hanna on inks, and I’m glad to see that they were able to have just one inker for this outing. It was much stronger than last month’s issue, when several different inkers contributed to the books and the differences were clear and somewhat jarring. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours remain stellar as well. That man has a deft touch. Evely’s linework pairs best with a muted colour palette, which could be limiting, but he’s able to find vibrancy and contrast within this somewhat subdued range that makes the book look absolutely gorgeous. It’s a different set of skills that Fajardo showed us with “Year One” and it’s just as lovely.

Overall, this issue was a heartbreaker, and a very well executed one at that. We knew the bulk of what was coming and it not only still hurt, it conjured up some sympathy for the villain of the piece! That’s kind of remarkable. This arc has been great so far, and I can’t wait to see how Rucka and Evely toy with our emotions again in a month’s time.

Wonder Woman #16 Review: A Calamitous Chimera Conflict

February 8, 2017

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The new “Godwatch” arc began in Wonder Woman #16 today, with Greg Rucka returning to write the book along with new artist Bilquis Evely (and some ink assists from Mark Morales, Andrew Hennessy, and Raul Fernandez). You’ll probably remember Evely from Wonder Woman #8, a special oneshot starring Barbara Ann Minerva that tied into “Year One.” It was a gorgeous book, and the news that she’d be taking over for Nicola Scott on the series’ even numbered issues has certainly lessened the blow of Scott’s departure somewhat. “Year One” will go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time, giving “Godwatch” a lot of live up to, but this debut issues suggests that we’ve got another enjoyable arc ahead of us. We’ll dive into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS from this issue!

Make sure you’ve read it first!

The main thing I was wondering about with “Godwatch” was when exactly it would take place. “The Lies” and “The Truth” are set in the present, while “Year One” was five years ago. With this first issue of “Godwatch,” it turns out the story starts six months after Wonder Woman left Themyscira, so shortly after “Year One” and well before “The Lies.” After this issue, I’m curious to see if we stay this deep in the past and slowly see how the Godwatch organization is formed, or if we jump ahead a bit. This first issue has certainly laid the groundwork for why Godwatch was created, and it’ll be interesting to see if Rucka goes for a slow build or not. Knowing Rucka, my money’s on slow build, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a time jump next month.

So the issue starts out with Veronica Cale being a semi-evil industrialist with a deep dislike of Wonder Woman, but she’s hardly a super-villain. But her path seems to change when Ares’ sons Phobos and Deimos steal her daughter and force her to use the technology she’s developing to fight Wonder Woman and try to find out the location of Themyscira. Things go sideways from there; Veronica’s chief scientist Adriana uses the dangerous Cyberwalk system to confront Wonder Woman, and gets defeated by both Wonder Woman’s chimera pal and the machine’s deadly imperfections. Cradling her seemingly deceased friend, Veronica promises, “You will all burn.”

This, we have to assume, is the beginning of Godwatch. As we saw back in “The Lies,” Veronica is still trying to figure out how to get to Themyscira, so I can see this going one of two ways. Either Phobos and Deimos still have Veronica’s daughter and she’s been working for years to free her OR they’ll be sorted in the next few issues but she’ll keep trying to find its location out of a hatred for Wonder Woman and anything divinely related in general. Either could be an interesting journey.

Also, I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but a trapped daughter is classic Wonder Woman villain motivation. Back in the Golden Age, Paula von Gunther worked for the Nazis because they has her daughter as a hostage, and after Wonder Woman learned of this and freed her, they became friends and allies and worked together to fight the Nazis from then on. Maybe Rucka is going in a similar direction, or is playing on this story in some way.

We also know that Adriana is still alive since we saw her in “The Lies.” Only in electronic form, though. My guess is that whatever happened at the end of this issue trapped Adriana in some king of machine, and while her body might be “dead” her mind lives on in a computer as Dr. Cyber. And perhaps in some sort of android, like we saw in this issue but one better suited for battles for battles in mythical beasts, because that would make for much cooler fight scenes down the road, of course.

Now, this is an issue of Wonder Woman without a lot of Wonder Woman, which usually irks me. But I thought it worked here. It set up Veronica Cale and her motivations very nicely, plus the brief moments we got of Wonder Woman were very good. The montage at the beginning was fun and nicely put together, and the battle between her, the chimera, and Cyberwalk showcased the best of Wonder Woman. I loved her talking to the chimera, trying to get her to calm down by connecting with her and explaining that she was new to this world too and yes, it’s a very strange place. I also liked that she tried to save everyone, both the chimera and Cyberwalk, not wanting either of them to harm the other. That’s how Wonder Woman should roll.

The art was quite good for most of the issue, but some of the inking let down Evely’s excellent pencils at times. Four different inkers rarely offers a cohesive look for a book, and is usually a sign that things were a bit rushed. I don’t know who did which pages, but a few of them were much rougher and lacked the detail that characterized the best of what the book had to offer. Still, the layouts were great, and I’ve seen some of Evely’s pencils for the issue online and they’re spectacular. If they can figure out the inking situation, it should be a gorgeous arc. I was also glad to see that Romulo Fajardo Jr. is staying on as colorist, because that dude is ridiculously good at what he does. I so enjoy the texture, smoothness, lushness, and light touch he brings to his work. It really makes the linework shine.

All together, this was a strong beginning to “Godwatch” and I’m excited to see where things go from here. It’d be nice to have more Wonder Woman in the future, but for this first issue the focus on the villains made a lot of sense and it set up a lot to deal with for our Amazon heroine. Wonder Woman‘s got a really nice one-two punch going right now, with intriguing new plotlines in both the odd and even numbered issues, and that makes for some fun reading.

Wonder Woman #15 Review: “The Truth” Is Out There

January 25, 2017

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Today marks the beginning of “The Truth,” a new arc of Wonder Woman that picks up where “The Lies” left off and finds all of our heroes in various sorts of predicaments. Between the revelation that Diana’s memories of Paradise Island were false and Godwatch’s attack on the Picket, everything’s a mess for everyone right now. Add in the fact that Godwatch is a league of some of Wonder Woman’s most fearsome adversaries, and yeah, things are bad. Wonder Woman #15 sets the table for what Wonder Woman and her friends will be facing going forward, and it looks like it’s going to be quite the adventure. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss key plot points from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s good!

So this issue starts with Wonder Woman out of commission, housed in an asylum in England after the revelations about her memory shattered her psyche. Steve, Etta, and Barbara are on the lam after Picket was compromised and destroyed by Godwatch. No one’s in a good spot, and things go from bad to worse over the course of this issue, which was an interesting read that has me excited about where things are going moving forward.

There are dangers in so many areas right now. First, there’s a clear supernatural component going on. Diana’s mental fragility appears to be tied to her snake bite from way back in Wonder Woman #2, as underlined by both her vision/hallucination of a snake coming out of her arm and talking to her and the reappearance of the ominous tree that housed the snake on Themyscira. Something especially sinister is at work, as Hippolyta’s reaction to the tree shows. She was so alarmed that it had me wondering if she knew more about the tree and the snake then she’s letting on. It might just be that it’s the tree that nearly killed her daughter and so she’s being extra cautious, but Hippolyta’s been around for a long time, she knows a lot of things, and she’s been through a lot of stuff. There might be something deeper at play here, perhaps connected to the history of the Amazons.

Back home in America, Godwatch is after Steve, Etta, and Barbara. I love that the story is picking up on the romance between Etta and Barbara that we saw in “Year One” now that Barbara has left the Cheetah behind. They are super cute together. But that fun didn’t last for long. Barbara revealed a past link to Godwatch, and gave herself up to its soldiers to be taken in. She did so in order to allow Steve and Etta to escape and also presumably to get inside the organization and learn what she can about their plans. Etta trusts her, but Steve clearly doesn’t. We don’t yet know her connection to Godwatch, and after years of villainy he seems to be unwilling to put his faith in her yet. But I’m with Etta. Etta’s a good judge of character, and if she thinks Barbara’s on the up and up then I’ll have faith as well.

Speaking of Godwatch, it seems to not just be a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes, but a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest female foes. We’ve got Veronica Cale, Colonel Maru and Poison, Dr. Cyber, and hints that the Cheetah and Circe (I assume that’s who they meant when they mentioned “the witch”) are or have been a part of the group. It’s so much fun. I mean, not fun for Wonder Woman. She’s having a terrible time of it. But as a reader, Wonder Woman facing off against her most fearsome female foes is going to be a blast.

Adding even more fun to the book, the last page of the issue appears to be show the return of an old friend, Ferdinand. He’s a minotaur who worked at the Themysciran embassy during Rucka’s first run on Wonder Woman; he was the chef, and quickly became a fan favourite character, but he’s been benched since Rucka left. If it truly is Ferdinand, he’s either fallen on hard times or is laying low intentionally. Either way, there’s a story to be told here, and it’s going to be advantageous to the team to have a minotaur on board. There’s really no situation not improved by having a minotaur on your side, unless perhaps you have to maneuver through a tightly packed china shop.

Greg Rucka pulls together a lot of the strings he introduced in “The Lies” and “Year One” in this issue, picking up on plot points from each and uniting the two arcs into this new story moving forward. Liam Sharp returns after his work on “The Lies,” and his use of different styles mirrors this unification. On Themyscira, he’s clearly aiming for a Nicola Scott vibe, and while his art isn’t quite as lush and gorgeous as Nicola Scott’s, it’s a decent facsimile. With Diana, he continues his style from “The Lies,” and largely does the same with the villains, though there’s a harshness and lack of detail in those pages that makes it the weakest section of the book, visually. With Steve, Etta, and Barbara on the lam, Sharp goes grittier, with a scratchy feel and heavier shadows that creates a moody atmosphere. Laura Martin colors these distinct looks well, adapting her palette and the texture of her colors to fit each situation. The different styles work well and make for a more interesting read, which each reflecting its setting well.

Overall, this was a very solid first issue. “The Lies” was ultimately only okay for, a bit dragged out and underwhelming compared to the spectacular “Year One.” Here, “The Truth” is off to a roaring start with several balls in the air from the get-go, all of them entertaining and exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing where it all goes, and I’m extremely curious to find out how the dual arcs are going to work moving forward. We’ll find out in two weeks when Bilquis Evely joins the team for “Godwatch;” should be fun!


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