Posts Tagged ‘Duke of Deception’

The Legend of Wonder Woman #24 Review: One Foe Down as Another Rises

May 5, 2016

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After a two week break, The Legend of Wonder Woman has returned to its regular digital first schedule as it enters the final stretch of its run. Following this week’s outing, we’ve only got three installments left, which will comprise the final print edition of the book. And things are getting suitably exciting, with the board set for what should be an epic final confrontation between Wonder Woman and the Titan. Though the exact mechanics of how she’ll be able to take him on remain up in the air.

Wonder Woman was able to save her friends and even the Duke of Deception this week, despite the fact that her powers remain on the fritz since she gave up her role as Zeus’s champion. Her plane was destroyed but a voice told her to call for help, and doing so brought her a cloudlike Pegasus who nabbed Steve Trevor and the Holliday Girls, taking them safely to the ground after setting Diana near the Duke of Deception. The voice told her that her lasso still had some juice as well, so she used it on the Duke. The truths it showed him compelled him to give up his role as Ares’s champion, taking one villain off of Wonder Woman’s list at least.

I’m intrigued by the voice. I’m guessing it’s not Zeus, since he was such a jerk the last time we saw him. It may be something bigger than Zeus, like Gaea, but my current theory is that it’s Athena. We’ve seen that the gods can have champions to whom they grant certain powers; Wonder Woman was the champion of Zeus, and the Duke of Deception was the champion of Ares. So presumably, Athena could have a champion as well. Furthermore, the conjuring of a Pegasus might be a reference to Athena, since in most of the myths it’s Athena who gives Pegasus to Perseus in order to defeat Medusa. Also, it would just be rad to have Wonder Woman be the champion of a goddess, and it feels like something Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon might be building towards. The gods are destructive and capricious, so maybe the goddesses should step in. My guess is it’s Athena, but Aphrodite is traditionally associated with the Amazons as well. Time will tell. I’m just spitballing here.

However things shake out, Wonder Woman getting her powers back would come in very handy right about now. The Duke of Deception renouncing his role freed the baetylus, but then Priscilla Rich picked it up and was compelled to put it back in the Titan, awakening the beast. So yeah, things have gotten serious. Not only is Wonder Woman at risk, but so is the entire world. Wonder Woman’s got some skills even without her powers, but when you’re fighting a giant Titan, some additional strength and speed, plus the power of flight, would be quite useful.

So the stage for the grand finale is set, with a lot of question marks in the mix, Wonder Woman herself being first and foremost among them. It’ll be fun to see how everything unfolds, but I also love how things have played out to this point. For Wonder Woman, giving up her powers didn’t mean giving up on being a hero, and she was able to defeat the Duke of Deception without combat, felling him solely with the power of truth and appealing to his better nature. Her heroic spirit has also brought her the goodwill for someone mysterious, allowing her to save her friends. I really enjoy how Renae De Liz has stayed true to the core of the character in so many different, difficult situations over the run of the series. Diana’s been a wonder at every stage of the game, no matter where she is or what she’s doing.

The endgame starts next week, gang! Only three issues left of what has been the most delightful Wonder Woman series in ages. Be sure to pick up the print edition as well, and maybe some extra copies for your friends; The Legend of Wonder Woman #5 just hit shelves yesterday.

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The Legend of Wonder Woman #21 Review: The Wrath of Zeus

March 31, 2016

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The Legend of Wonder Woman is a mini-series, and one that is in the back stretch of its run. It’s scheduled to go for 27 digital installments, and we’re at 21 now, so things are coming to a close pretty soon. I’ve read enough comic book mini-series to know that at this point the story is usually on cruise control; everything’s been established, the twists and surprises are out of the way, and everything is escalating to the final conflict with the big bad in which the hero will emerge triumphant. There’s usually a formula to these things, and while there’s often a final twist or shock at some point, a mini-series this far into the game has it’s ending semi-telegraphed just by virtue of being so far into the story.

But it turns out that The Legend of Wonder Woman isn’t following this formula, and I am loving it. Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon, with two print issues still ahead of them, have thrown a massive wrench into things, leaving me totally unsure of how the story will wrap up. It could go any number of ways now, and I’ve got to assume we’ll end up with a triumphant heroine when the story is done, but how we get there? I’ve got no idea. It’s so much fun.

So last week’s issue ended with the Duke of Deception getting the best of Wonder Woman in a one-on-one battle. We pick up there for a couple of pages, with Wonder Woman using her visions of the young boy connected to the Duke’s past life to try to dissuade him from his villainous ways. He’s not having it, but then WHOOSH Wonder Woman is whisked away to some other realm where Alcippe is waiting, along with Zeus! Zeus delivers a lengthy spiel about the Titan (which is an alien!) and the gods splitting, with Ares and Hades teaming up to release the Titan, destroy the world, and remake their own. Zeus wants Wonder Woman to be his champion to challenge their evil plan, so cool right? Nope. He wants to destroy and then remake the world too, into something better, but now that Diana has seen the world, she refused to be part of its destruction. Cut to: Diana wakes up in her bed, her divine accessories now rendered powerless, with a very different life as a normal human potentially ahead of her.

I love the boldness of this move. First off, I am always on board for Zeus as a bad guy. One of the very few reservations I’ve had about the book is the Amazons’ devotion to Zeus and other male deities rather than just the female deities, as is their usual way. Zeus is always a questionable character to me. And it turns out, he still is. Moreover, Diana is wise enough to recognize this and to not be part of his genocidal plan. There’s nothing better than Wonder Woman staring down a god, and this time it’s extra powerful given that she’s been raised to respect Zeus above all of the gods. De Liz drawing Diana as a child at times during their conversation is a wonderful touch, and her switching back to being a grown woman as she defies Zeus is such a cool way to illustrate her personal growth.

Second, The Legend of Wonder Woman has been a distillation of Wonder Woman’s history in many ways, and now it seems like we might be getting a taste of what’s usually called her “mod era” from 1968-1972, in which she gave up her superpowers and became a normal human woman. This wasn’t a great time for Wonder Woman, but I’m fully confident that De Liz and Dillon will do something cool and interesting with it. Plus, the mod era was followed by Wonder Woman’s return to her powers and her emergence as a feminist icon, so if De Liz and Dillon follow that path then the ending should be amazing.

So the game has been changed, and with only six digital issues left we’re nearing the end of the series, but what will this ending be? I don’t have a clue. I see so many different ways it could go, but with Diana’s new status quo there’s no obvious path to any particular grand finale right now. I have a bunch of theories, and I can’t wait until next week to see where De Liz and Dillon are taking things!

The Legend of Wonder Woman #19 and #20 Review: Wonder Woman vs. the Duke of Deception!

March 24, 2016

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I had a great time last week in Chicago, doing a variety of book events for Investigating Lois Lane, but the busyness of the trip meant that I missed out on one of my favourite weekly activities: reading and reviewing The Legend of Wonder Woman! But I’m back at it again this week, with a double review of last week AND this week’s digital issues. It’s twice the fun!

When we last left our intrepid heroine two weeks ago, she had just emerged in her iconic costume and took to the battlefield as Wonder Woman, turning the tide against the Germans and their nefarious ally, the Duke of Deception. Last week’s issue opened with a montage of her exploits since then, including a role in the liberation of Paris and offering support in several key military missions (including fighting alongside Canadian forces in Dieppe! Wonder Woman and Canadians, working together!). Wonder Woman’s arrival threw the Axis forces for a real loop, including their newly revealed ally: Priscilla Rich!

This information will probably not surprise any of my regular readers, but I LOVE Priscilla Rich. Later incarnations of the Cheetah are fine and all, but Priscilla Rich is my favourite by far. Her original Golden Age adventures revealed a psychologically fascinating character; she wasn’t evil so much as misguided, warped by jealousy into a villainous split personality. Plus she was crafty and smart. Later versions of the Cheetah tend to focus on her feral power and make her a sort of cat/human hybrid. Priscilla Rich had catlike reflexes because of her training as a dancer, but she was also clever and sneaky and very difficult to defeat. And now she’s in The Legend of Wonder Woman, working with the Axis but throwing serious shade at the German generals and even the Duke of Deception. Her snarky attitude is so delightful, and I can’t wait to see what role she plays in the rest of the series.

This week’s issue brings back the rest of the Holliday Girls, who come to Paris to perform with Etta at a gala celebration. Today’s release of the first look at the Amazons in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie illustrates yet again why this is such a special comic: It’s set in the 1940s and could have used any dumb excuse to be homogenously white, from history to the old comics, but Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon have chosen to present different ethnicities in their world. And at every level, from the Amazons on Themyscira to the American military to the Holliday Girls. The book contains people of all colours, while the upcoming film is all white Amazons thus far.

The issue ends with a dramatic confrontation between Wonder Woman and the Duke of Deception, and it does not go well for our stalwart heroine. The Duke is, unsurprisingly, deceptive. While Wonder Woman dispatches his dead souls with ease, their direct battle proves to be much more difficult. The Duke is never where he seems to be, and is constantly disappearing and popping up behind Diana to land a powerful strike, and the issue ends with the Duke clearly having the upper hand. Looking at the simple issue math, we’ve got seven digital installments yet, so I’m guessing the victor of this battle, whoever it may be, will not have won the war. Hopefully Wonder Woman can get away and recover, and perhaps mount another strike at her foes with Steve and the Holliday Girls in tow; I feel like Lita Little driving a soldier’s tank earlier in the issue (and crashing it!) might be a bit of a Chekhov’s tank, and the gals may take to the battlefield for real before the series is done.

It was another two great issues for The Legend of Wonder Woman, with De Liz and Dillon moving the story forward and approaching their conclusion while still adding fun new surprises into the mix. We’re into the last third of the series, and I’m sad it’s nearly done, but this is also shaping up to be one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time and I’m excited to see how it comes together in the end.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #18 Review OR The Costume Comes Together!

March 10, 2016

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Etta Candy has had Diana’s back from the second she arrived in America, helping out the confused Diana just because she’s friendly, aiding her in tracking down news on the Duke of Deception, and following her to the front lines of the war in Europe.  Etta’s done this all without knowing very much about Diana; despite Etta’s many kindnesses, Diana’s remained tight-lipped about her true origins.  But Etta has a line, and apparently it’s watching her pal fly out of a window.  So in today’s digital issue of The Legend of Wonder Woman, Diana finally lays her cards on the table with Etta.  And, of course, Etta is super on board.

But first,  the book picked up where it left off last week, with Diana on the battlefield fighting the Duke of Deception’s twisted army.  Diana won, of course.  That’s what she does.  But the method in which she won was noteworthy for the way that it captured the essence of Wonder Woman.  Rather than punching her way through the undead soldiers, Diana took out her magic lasso and used its truth powers to disperse the hordes.  The Duke of Deception harnessed the souls of the dead to animate the corpses of the battlefield, but the lasso’s truth reminded the souls that they belonged to the land of the dead, not the living, and so they returned to where they belonged.  The fight was won, with no punching, just the power of truth!

Diana returned home to find Etta waiting for her, and Etta made Diana spill all of the beans about who she really was.  And Etta believed “every cock-a-mamie, deranged word of it,” in part because she’s a good friend and in part because she’s always up for an adventure and Diana’s kookiness certainly promised a lot of that.  I’m glad that everything is out in the open now, save for Diana’s encounter with Steve, which she kept to herself.  The women’s friendship, while fun and endearing, has been a little one-sided, with a lot of give from Etta and a lot of take from Diana.  But now they’re on the level, and can be partners in what comes next.  In fact, it was Etta who came up for the idea of the dowdy Diana Price taking on the new, flamboyant identity of Wonder Woman.

A makeover ensued, with hilarious results in perfect montage form.  Etta’s first idea for a costume involved shoulder pads and a lot of pouches, a clear shout out to superhero outfits of the 90s, but Etta discarded it for being “maybe a bit before its time.”  Diana rejected Etta’s suggestion of high heels in a fun nod to the never-ending debate over whether its practical for female superheroes to fight in heels.  They both agree that Diana should start to wear glasses to further conceal her identity, though.

After hours of work, the costume was finally finished.  And it was a mess!  Eagle wings under the arm, Diana’s hair in a bun, a weird red vest.  Etta was distraught at her failure.  Luckily, she spied the American flag that Diana was given when she first landed in America and stayed with the older couple who found her and nursed her back to health.  Inspired anew, Etta designed yet another costume, and the issue ended with hints of Wonder Woman’s iconic look but not a full reveal just yet.

The whole design scene was a blast.  I love a good makeover montage, and all of the in-jokes and references were funny and on point.  Wonder Woman rarely gets this kind of fun in her origins; she typically just shows up in costume and starts superheroing, so it was an enjoyable change to have her and Etta work to design her look from scratch.  Plus it’s so cool that it’s the two of them who come up with the idea and look for Wonder Woman, a melding of the perspectives of an Amazon woman and an American woman to create an icon of female power.

Also, we get confirmation that there’s a Justice Society, which is rad!  I’m all about the World War Two era Justice Society, fighting Nazis and saving the world.  I don’t know if we’ll see much of them in this book, but hopefully we’ll get a sequel that will expand Wonder Woman’s world to include some superhero pals.

So yeah, Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon have done it yet again.  From the battlefields of France to a fun makeover, this issue really does have everything.  Etta also says the line, “I’d be angrier than a barn cat on a corn griddle,” which is delightful.  It’s just the best book!  Go check out this issue now, and be sure to pick up the third print issue of The Legend of Wonder Woman, which hit stores yesterday!

The Legend of Wonder Woman #16 Review: Diana Prince, Volunteer Nurse

February 25, 2016

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Diana Prince and her pal Etta Candy have made the long trek across the Atlantic Ocean and are now set up in Normandy, France. Diana’s just finished her nurse training and Etta is preparing for her first big solo show to entertain the troops, but there’s a darkness hanging over everything. There’s the war itself, of course, but more than that there is the Duke of Deception, stalking the battlefields of Europe and sending untold soldiers to their graves as he marches across the continent.

The legions of casualties are certainly keeping Diana busy at her new nursing gig. I really like that Renae De Liz has made Diana a nurse again; I’m all about a Golden Age callback, and when Diana first arrived in America in 1941 she became a nurse to take care of her charge, Steve Trevor, before becoming his secretary after he was well enough to leave the hospital. The original Diana was stateside with a fairly leisurely post, but De Liz stays true to the classic stories while adding some more excitement to the mix by posting Diana in Normandy, near the front lines.

Historically speaking, it was certainly a chaotic time to be in France. The date at the start of today’s installment of The Legend of Wonder Woman is July 3, 1944, about a month after the D-Day landings brought Allied troops to the shore of Normandy to begin the push back against Nazi forces. While D-Day was a roaring success, the Allies didn’t just march straight to Berlin. Months of arduous battle followed. Today, you can drive from Normandy to Berlin in about twelve hours; it’s a pretty easy trip. The Nazis didn’t surrender until May 1945, and the toll was high over those eleven months of conflict across the continent.

The comic makes what was a terrible situation even worse with the addition of the Duke of Deception. Few who face him survive to tell the world about it, which is why Diana wants to be near the front lines. Those who do survive rarely live for long, but being in the nursing unit allows her to gather information on the Duke from the injured soldiers before they succumb to their wounds. It’s an unpleasant place for Diana to be, and having to view the brutality of war and see people die clearly takes a toll on Diana.

This too is a departure from Wonder Woman’s original Golden Age adventures. Back then, the price of war never really came up. Wonder Woman was constantly in the thick of battle, but was breezy and carefree, throwing around quips as she defeated enemy soldiers with ease. She even sunk an entire fleet of Axis ships in one issue. In the middle of the war itself, there wasn’t much in the way of reflecting on the cost of the conflict and the horrible loss of life; it was all “Rah rah, beat the Axis!” I like that, from the get-go, De Liz is keeping Diana away from that kind of patriotic propaganda and is exploring the harsh reality of war.

The book isn’t all dark and dreary, though! Far from it. Etta’s there with Diana to cheer her up and take her out to her show, where they promptly run into their old friend Steve Trevor. Etta slyly leaves the two of them together to get to know each other better while she heads on stage to try to top Pamela Smuthers. Yes, friggin’ Pamela Smuthers is there too! They thought they’d left her in London, but nope. They can’t get away from her. So yeah, there’s a lot of fun in the mix, and perhaps the blossoming of some romantic feelings between Diana and Steve. They almost got to dance together before more casualties from the Duke of Deception had Diana rushing back to the nursing station.

All together, it was yet another great issue of this fantastic series. After the light fun of America, we’re now in the thick of the war itself and moving toward what should be an epic confrontation between Diana and the Duke of Deception. Having seen the horrors of war firsthand now, I very much doubt that Diana will be able to remain on the sidelines for long.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #13 Review: A Crossover Guest Star!

February 4, 2016

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So far in The Legend of Wonder Woman, we’ve seen the return of some classic Golden Age Wonder Woman characters who have been shelved or altered from their original form in DC’s comics for some time. We’ve got an iconic, fun loving Etta Candy, cracking wise and hanging out with the Holliday Girls. We’ve got the Duke of Deception with a creepy new look, stalking the battlefields of Europe and stirring up horrors. But now, in this week’s digital first issue of The Legend of Wonder Woman, we’ve got a guest star we’re used to seeing In Metropolis, not Boston.

After Diana and the Holliday Girls headed into Boston for a day of errands and shopping, Diana and Etta stopped by the National Discoverer offices so that Diana could ask about the Duke of Deception story she and Etta read in last week’s issue. The editor pointed her towards the story’s writer, and it turned out to be none other than Perry White! Usually the editor of the Daily Planet, sending Lois Lane and Clark Kent out to cover big stories, here Perry is still a reporter, and the only one at the National Discoverer who’s serious enough about his job to actually go to the front lines in Europe and do proper research.

Perry gives Diana some additional information about the Duke of Deception, confirming her suspicion that the Duke has her mother’s amulet and that some ill has befallen Hippolyta and the Amazons. Perry also talked about his desire to leave the National Discoverer in order to “break out of the tabloids and start a respectable newspaper of my own,” a likely reference to his future at the Daily Planet. Because I’m a super huge nerd who likes to overthink things, I’m now wondering what the superhero scene might be in Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon’s world? Is there a Superman in Metropolis, with Clark Kent working at the Daily Star? Is there a Batman in Gotham? Are the Justice Society fighting the Nazis?

I know it’s a Wonder Woman book, and she’ll be the focus throughout; I’m just curious about the wider world. As a big fan of what De Liz and Dillon have done with this story, it would be fun to see more of this universe. In particular, I’d love to see a classic Justice Society team up! Wonder Woman’s role in the 1940s Justice Society was kind of lame; she was their secretary, and didn’t participate in many adventures (largely because William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter were busy doing Wonder Woman stories for three different series, and were too protective of their character to let anyone else write and draw her in All Star Comics). Given the fantasticness of De Liz and Dillon’s Golden Age revamp so far, rectifying this missed opportunity from 75 years ago would be a lot of fun.

But I digress. After the fun Perry White cameo, Diana is more adamant than ever that she needs to go to Europe to track down the Duke of Deception. Etta, of course, does her best to convince her that this is a horrible idea, and her new plan is to scare Diana straight with some newsreels at the local theater, which we’ll see next week. I doubt that will go well for Etta, but it’s sweet that she cares.

I’ve enjoyed this pause in the action as Diana acclimates to America, and having Etta around is the best; her confrontation with the National Discoverer‘s editor over a mysterious ad in which she’s featured was hilarious. Nonetheless, the news of the Duke of Deception wreaking havoc in Europe has me as antsy as Diana for her to go over and take him down. Quite fittingly, too. It’s fun to be in the same boat as Diana, and I like that De Liz is building the anticipation. Plus, as keen as I am for Diana to emerge as Wonder Woman, I don’t want to leave Etta and the Holliday Girls behind quite yet. Though they could come to Europe too, as they did in the Golden Age! There are so many fun ways this story could go.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #12 Review: More Fantastic Golden Age Deep Cuts

January 28, 2016

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The Legend of Wonder Woman has been a delightful remix of Wonder Woman’s Golden Age adventures thus far, a new take on her original stories that references the classic tales while telling its own story. It’s great on its own, a fantastic introduction to the character for new readers, but for those of us familiar with Wonder Woman’s 1940s beginnings, there are all sorts of fun references and tweaks. We’ve seen kangas, a tournament to determine the Amazons’ champion, and last week we met Etta Candy. Any comic book that includes an Etta Candy that’s true to her original incarnation is aces in my book..

If Etta was the only classic Golden Age character De Liz and Dillon brought back, I would have been a happy man. But with this week’s issue they’ve gone even more obscure with a rad deep cut, bringing back an old character in a new way, and I am beyond delighted. The Duke of Deception is back!

For those of you not steeped in old timey Wonder Woman comics, the Duke of Deception was an underling of Mars, the God of War. He was part of a triumvirate; there was the Earl of Greed, Lord Conquest, and the Duke of Deception, but the Duke was the only one who really caught on. The characters were classic William Moulton Marston feminist zaniness, personifications of the worst aspects of patriarchal society who encouraged men to do terrible things. For example, the Duke essentially created Doctor Psycho, preying on his hatred of women to lead him to become a supervillain.

The original Duke of Deception was a sniveling little weasel in an over-sized Roman helmet. He also lived on the planet Mars, where he kept legions of female slaves. In short, he was a ridiculous character, but in that amusing, Golden Age way. And very much cemented in that time period; he was SO Marston, and H.G. Peter’s design fit his unique style but really hasn’t stood the test of time. I mean, look at this dude:

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There’s a reason he hasn’t been around much since, relegated to only a handful of appearances over the past several decades.

But De Liz and Dillon are bringing him back! They’ve updated the character in a cool frightening way; he now stalks the battlefields of Europe, raising dead Nazis to fight Allied soldiers. Here is a sketch of the new Duke of Deception, in a tabloid newspaper that Etta only picks up for the romance stories:

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First, a sidenote; Ray Dillon did the art for this sketch, and it’s gorgeous, as are the newspaper sketches on the previous page. There’s one of a Nazi sasquatch that’s just spectacular. Dillon inks De Liz’s pencils throughout the book, and does a great job, but it’s fun to see his own art too. I like that they worked him in this way, and I’d be glad to see some more of it in the future.

It remains to be seen who or what this Duke of Deception is. He may be a minion of the God of War again, or his own evil presence. Diana dreamed of him, briefly, at the start of the issue in another of her ominous nightmares, connecting him to the darkness that threatens Themyscira and the world. I don’t even know if the Duke of Deception moniker will stick, or if he goes by another name and this was just a fun throwback reference; it’s certainly a very tabloidy name. We’ll find out all of that soon, but what I do know is that he’s ominous and I am very intrigued.

Aside from all the Duke of Deception fun, this issue has some KILLER Etta Candy moments. At one point, she declared her destiny: “I’m to travel the world, dazzling the masses with my dulcet tones and savvy entrepreneurial instinct!” She’s a delight, and there’s pages and pages of gold like this. Just go read the book, gang. It’s worth getting this series for Etta alone.

So the villain is starting to become clear, though many questions remain, and Diana is keen to get to the warfront; the Duke is reportedly wielding an amulet that belonged to Hippolyta, which may mean disaster has befallen the Amazons! Things are getting serious! Plus Diana and Etta are heading into Boston next issue, so that should be a lot of fun. This book is so enjoyable.


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