Posts Tagged ‘Godwatch’

Wonder Woman #20 Review: A Late Look at the New Circe’s Debut

April 18, 2017

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First off, apologies for the late review. I was gallivanting around Amsterdam last week and am only getting around to reading the latest issue of Wonder Woman today. It was an issue worth the wait, though; between Greg Rucka reinventing a villain that he created more than a decade ago and Bilquis Evely providing gorgeous, expressive art, “Godwatch” has been a great read thus far. I particularly enjoy that it’s so different from every other arc of the “Rebirth” Wonder Woman we’ve seen so far. We’re four arcs into this new era, and each has a different feel and style, which is very cool. Let’s dig into what happened in Wonder Woman #20, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the major plot points of this issue!

It came out nearly a week ago, though!

You should have read it by now!

So the ongoing saga of Veronica Cale and her captured daughter Izzy continues, with Cale going to extreme lengths to try to get her daughter back. This month, that means enlisting the help of the ancient witch Circe, who comes up with a plan to trap Phobos and Deimos and thus get Cale one step closer to her daughter. However, things don’t go quite as expected. The brothers get captured and turned into the dogs that we’ve seen Cale command in the present day “The Lies” and “The Truth,” but it turns out that their father Ares has Izzy, and even a fiendish witch like Circe has no desire to go up against him. Cale, though, is more than willing to unleash war on the world if it means getting her daughter back, and the issue ends with what appears to be the first step toward a sinister new plan.

Usually when an arc of Wonder Woman focuses so little on Wonder Woman herself, it very quickly gets on my nerves. She’s in just a handful of pages in this issue, and “Godwatch” as a whole has been rather light on Wonder Woman in its first three installments. And yet, I’m really enjoying it. Rucka’s constructed a compelling narrative for Cale and he’s turned her into one of the most interesting, well fleshed out villains I’ve read in some time. She’s a terrible person, sure, but there’s a humanity behind all of that rooted in her love for her daughter that makes her so much more than just some evil cardboard cut out. And Evely absolutely embraces the complicated nature of the character. I follow Evely on Twitter, and it seems clear that she really loves to draw Veronica Cale and capture both her arrogant snark and her softer emotional core. What she does with Cale’s expressions and body language is so enjoyable to read each month. Rucka’s writing her well, but Evely is really elevating her into a sensational, fascinating character.

Evely is doing an amazing job with designs for the arc as well. This issue introduced Circe, and she looks ridiculously cool. Circe’s been a Wonder Woman villain for decades, and her many incarnations have followed a similar theme: she’s generally rather sexualized, and her costumes tend to have a classic Greek myth aesthetic skewed through the lens of the male gaze. This new Circe is very different. She shows up sporting a rad short haircut that nonetheless attains impressive height, wearing a sharp outfit that includes black slacks and a vest, a collared shirt, and a cream blazer. This Circe is modern and fun and clearly mischievous. She makes me think of a sort of malevolent Sue Perkins, really.

We get a bit of the ancient Greek vibe when Circe’s doing her magic binding, and again it’s unique. Rather than a bodice that exposes ample cleavage, as we so often get with Circe, Evely equips her with a full, ornately crafted chestplate that fits nicely over her well tailored shirt and pants. It’s a simple, elegant design that conveys so much about this new take on the character, combining her ancient power with a fresh, contemporary look in manner that works so well. It feels like Circe even though it’s unlike any Circe we’ve ever seen before. I love her and I want an action figure, please.

Now, all of this villainous focus is enjoyable, but I also love how Evely draws Wonder Woman and I’m hoping we’ll get some more of that in the next few issues. The saga of Veronica Cale is a great read, but it seems that Evely is only going to be on Wonder Woman for the one arc, and I’d love to see her go to town with Wonder Woman as well. When you’ve got a great, unique talent like Evely, you should try to make her draw as much awesome stuff as possible!

Finally, while I was away, Greg Rucka announced that he will be leaving the book after Wonder Woman #25, and the art crew on both arcs seem to be moving on as well. It was sad news, to be sure, but ultimately I think it could be good for the book. I like Rucka a lot, but I’m also ready for a new take on the character, preferably from someone young with a unique perspective. Rucka was a great choice for “Rebirth” because Wonder Woman was very much adrift and DC needed someone to right the course. Rucka, Evely, Scott, and Sharp have done that admirably, and established a take on Wonder Woman that is both true to her roots and relevant to the world today. They had to fix a huge mess, and they did a great job. The end of the currents arcs seems like a good spot to pass the baton, and I’m excited to see what comes next. Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo have been announced as the new team on the book, with Fontana writing it for at least five issues, and that’s a very fun first step. We’ll find out soon if Fontana is staying with the book or we’re getting a new team after that, and here’s hoping that this great run for Wonder Woman continues.

Wonder Woman #17 Review: Free Your Minotaur

February 22, 2017

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Things remain bleak for Wonder Woman and the gang. Etta and Steve are on the lam, Barbara is in the clutches of Godwatch and Veronica Cale, and Diana doesn’t know who she is and remains in an asylum. While there is progress on one of those fronts in this second part of “The Truth,” there is a heartbreaking setback in another. All told, it is an issue about balance, about trading life for life and friend for friend, and in the end the gains and losses even out to leave the team no further ahead, except for one key element: Wonder Woman. It was a good issue and we’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I mean, if you’re reading this review then you’ve probably read the issue!

But if you haven’t look away!

I’m going to spoil it all!

So, balance. There was a lot going on in this issue, and it all felt like a scale tipping back and forth with each major action that ultimately ended up just as balanced at the end as it was at the beginning. Everything had its opposite, and Barbara Ann Minerva’s sacrifice was the lynchpin to it all.

Barbara’s been one of the most compelling character’s of this current run of Wonder Woman, and a key player in all four arcs thus far. Her transition from the villainous Cheetah to regaining her role as a trusted ally has been a great story, and her relationship with Etta only made the story better. She even got her own solo issue during “Year One” that dug into her backstory. I’m now very invested in Barbara, which is probably what Rucka wanted; he’s gotten us all attached to her so that this issue would hurt all the more. Veronica Cale forced her to become the Cheetah again in order to save her friends, a sad but noble moment that juxtaposed poignantly with the rest of the issue.

First, we got the return of an old friend, Ferdinand the minotaur from Rucka’s original run on Wonder Woman. Steve and Etta sought him out to help Diana, hoping that her seeing a long lost, friendly face might spur her memory and remind her of who she is. Plus it’s always good to have a minotaur on the team; I think he’ll prove useful in the months ahead. But this joyful return had to have its opposite: The loss of an old friend as Barbara returned to her Cheetah guise and gave up her newfound humanity.

Next up, Etta, Ferdinand, and Steve survived a serious attack from Colonel Maru’s troops. They got blasted with a minigun and explosions; Poison wasn’t screwing around. They made it out alive but, again, there had to be balance. Their lives were spared because Barbara gave up hers to become the Cheetah again. She’s not dead per se, but being the Cheetah means that her true self is buried as her animalistic urges take over.

Finally, it looks like bringing in Ferdinand did the trick. On the issue’s final page, Diana appears to recognize Ferdinand, which would be an excellent sign that she remembers she’s Wonder Woman and is set to return to her heroic role. However, opposites. The return of a hero in Wonder Woman had to be balanced with the return of a villain in the Cheetah. The parallels run deeper as well; both women were trapped in a prison of their own making because they chose to return to their pasts. Diana was mentally shattered because of her journey to Themyscira while Barbara was ensnared because she went back to Godwatch. Moreover, an old ally led to their transformations, with Ferdinand bringing back Wonder Woman and Veronica Cale bringing back the Cheetah. And, of course, all of this action was shown in back and forth panels over the last few pages to underscore the dichotomy of the situation.

All of these gains being countered with losses should leave the team in about the same bleak spot where they began the issue, but there’s one key factor here. Yes, while the return of Wonder Woman is tempered by the return of the Cheetah, if Wonder Woman is back for real then it’s a whole new ballgame. The Cheetah’s a decent villain, but Wonder Woman is an amazing superhero. The scales don’t quite balance; with Wonder Woman fully back, she and her allies clearly have the upper hand now and can begin to move against Godwatch instead of playing defense.

This was a solid issue all around, and “The Truth” continues to weave a compelling tale in ways “The Lies” never seemed able to. I also like that we keep checking in on Themyscira; the Amazons are clearly going to play a part at some point in this story, and I’m excited to see what it is. I’m hoping for a reunion more joyous and less damaging than Diana’s last attempt to return to her family.

Liam Sharp continues to employ different styles for each part of the story, and it’s working well. His Nicola Scott impression on Themyscira is fun, the grit he brings to Etta and Steve’s adventures is fitting, and the combination of clarity and confusion in Diana’s scenes is well done, though I will say that I find the cartoon snake a little goofy. I much preferred that one panel with the skeleton snake; that was way cooler. Laura Martin’s colors remain great, as always, and match each style well. And Jodi Wynne continues to excel with the lettering. This issue in particular had a lot going on in terms of distinctive word balloons and speech; the Amazon language, Ferdinand, the snake, and Dr. Cyber are all unique, and Wynne integrated them seamlessly into the book. She’s done stellar work on Wonder Woman all through this run.

So, Wonder Woman seems to be back? Final page reveals can be tricky, but this one seemed pretty clear. Woe to Godwatch if she’s returned to her full power. And fingers crossed that she can save Barbara and bring her back! If anyone can do it, it’s Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman #14 Review: The Grand Finale of “Year One”

January 11, 2017

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It’s been so long since we’ve had an in-continuity Wonder Woman story that was this good. Outside of continuity, there have been some great Wonder Woman tales over the past few years; The Legend of Wonder Woman was amazing, while there were some absolutely stellar issues of Sensation Comics over the course of its run. But in terms of the proper mainline Wonder Woman title itself, things haven’t been great for a while now. There were cool moments here and there, but the book has lacked a sustained start to finish arc that tells a good story and captures the essence of who Wonder Woman is, what she means, and why she’s important. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott have given us such a tale, and it’s been a joy to read each issue. Today’s finale was a fitting close to the arc, one that stands on its own as a distillation of the heart of the character while also tying into everything else going on in “The Lies,” “The Truth,” and “Godwatch.” Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the details in this exciting conclusion!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s really good!

When we last left our intrepid heroine, the god of war had appeared at the military installation where Wonder Woman was staying, and he seemed to be in a bad mood. His poor attitude wasn’t terribly surprising; Ares is known to have a rather foul disposition. But now we know what he was after: He wanted the location of the home of the Amazons, and he was going to take it by force if he had to.

Wonder Woman wasn’t interested in force, however. She battered Ares around a bit initially, but then took a different tack, and the scene that ensued captured everything I love about Rucka and Scott’s approach to Wonder Woman. First, she realized that fighting the god of war WITH war, i.e. confronting him directly and violently, wasn’t going to end well for anyone. He’s war incarnate, after all. He’s very good at it. So instead, she decided to talk to him, and supplicated herself before him.

Second, she then appealed to what is best in Ares. She didn’t insult him or try some kind of trickery. Instead, she gave him an honourable out when she told him, “Show us thine courage in mercy.” Wonder Woman recognized his power and offered him a way to use it that would make him look good while avoiding any bloodshed. It was a tactical move on her part, to be sure, but it also showed how Wonder Woman sees the best in everyone, understands their potential for good, and tries to help them achieve that. She met Ares on his own terms, and tried to turn him onto a path that would be for the good of all, himself included. And she was willing to humble herself to do so.

Third, Wonder Woman gave herself up for her friends. Kneeling before Ares is kind of a terrible idea. Exposing herself to the god of war, defenseless, could easily have taken a grisly turn. But she was willing to take that risk, put herself on the line, and trade whatever she could in order to find a peaceful solution to what could have been a violent conflict that endangered her friends. Her new friends, at that, and beyond. She barely knew Steve, Etta, and Barbara, and she’d been exposed to the evils of this outside world, and still she was willing to give herself up to keep them, and the wider world, safe.

Fourth, when all else failed and Ares didn’t get what he wanted, Wonder Woman knew how and where to hit him. She didn’t punch him, thus avoiding playing the game on his terms. Instead, she wrapped him in the lasso of truth and used its power to defeat him. Interestingly, while the lasso has retained its classic truth revealing elements in this incarnation of Wonder Woman, its added something new: Understanding. Wrapping themselves in the lasso is how Diana, Steve, Etta, and Barbara overcame their language barrier. It united them in a manner that allowed them to understand each other perfectly, despite their many differences. It may seem a little corny, but I absolutely love a story in which truth and understanding is the weapon the hero uses to defeat hate and war.

The rest of the issue was fun as well. Athena stepped in and revealed Ares’ fiendish master plan, so Wonder Woman and Steve went off and took care of that with ease. This resulted in another great scene for Diana; she was overcome with anger while fighting a group of terrorists and almost gave into a murderous impulse, but then she wrapped herself in her own lasso and the truth steeled her against the power of Ares’ lies. The fun continued in other ways as well, with the Etta/Barbara romantic subplot developing nicely, and for readers interested in some male eye candy, Nicola Scott had a lot of shirtless Steve Trevor in this issue. There was something for everyone, really. And the issue ended with a nice nod to Wonder Woman’s past, with an array of newspapers naming her “Wonder Woman” using different fonts that harkened back to the scripts used on the covers of Wonder Woman over the course of the series’ history.

All together, it was an excellent conclusion to a fantastic run that will go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time. It was well written and absolutely gorgeous, and it set the tone for who Wonder Woman is and what she means in today’s world. With such a good beginning, I can’t wait to see what’s next. Bilquis Evely, who drew the wonderful Barbara Ann Minerva standalone issue, is taking over the art for Scott on the new arc, “Godwatch,” a transition so perfect that it lessens the blow of Scott’s departure considerably. Wonder Woman‘s going to be good for a while, gang. It’s exciting times.


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