Posts Tagged ‘Grail’

Wonder Woman #75 Review: The Battle for Themyscira

July 24, 2019

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I don’t usually start my reviews with a spoiler, but if you read last week’s issue then you knew this was coming: Diana, princess of the Amazons, has returned to Themyscira. Which at first glance doesn’t seem like a huge deal until you remember that, apart from “Year One,” she hasn’t been to her real home since the New 52 reboot nearly eight years ago. The Paradise Island of the Azzarello/Chiang run and the Finches’ tenure was an elaborate ruse, and she’s been kept apart from the true Themyscira ever since she discovered the truth in Rucka, Scott, and Sharp’s run. I’ve not figured out the numbers in any official capacity, but as a Wonder Woman historian I think I can confidently say that this is the longest she’s been separated from the Amazons, and probably by a wide margin. The mod era, with the Amazons departing to a different dimension, was only four years! And they’ve otherwise been a constant presence in Diana’s history.

So this was long overdue. The Amazons are a big part of what makes Wonder Woman such an amazing character, a powerful matriarchy that exudes female strength, power, and sisterhood. She’s amazing on her own, of course, but everything she is comes from this background and they’ve always been an essential part of her world. The community makes her stronger. To keep the true Amazons sidelined for so long was a mistake, one that’s finally been righted. We’ll dig into it all in detail, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Yes, the Amazons are back but you knew that was coming!

Other things happened as well, and I’m about to spoil them!

Look away if you haven’t read this issue yet!

So, quick recap, amid all the chaos in the divine realms, Grail escaped, took over Themyscira, and captured Hippolyta. She also turned some of the Amazons to her side, but Antiope escaped with a small band to Dimension Chi, where Wonder Woman met up with them last issue. In this outing, Wonder Woman leads her forces against Grail and ultimately defeats her. It’s a big, long issue, with extra pages on account of it’s Wonder Woman #75, but that’s the core of it.

The battle was pretty darn good, too. G. Willow Wilson and her artists Xermanico, Vicente Fuentes, and Jesus Merino have pulled off an impressive feat here. This wasn’t a quick skirmish. This was a lengthy combat sequence, with a whole host of characters. There were entire armies on both sides, of course, but we were also following multiple characters through the fight. The end result was clear, legible, and exciting, which is not something I can say about a lot of huge comic book battles. Usually it’s just chaos, and this was not. It was well-executed, and fittingly epic for an anniversary issue. If you’re gonna charge an extra buck for the book you better make it worth it, and they definitely did.

The reunion was lovely as well. Seeing Diana and Hippolyta together at the end of the issue was all kinds of heartwarming. I love their relationship and hate that it’s been sidelined for so long, so having them back together was a long awaited moment of joy for me. Plus it got me excited for what’s to come. We only see them together briefly, but I know there are conversations to be had and perhaps many adventures ahead. Hopefully this marks the beginning of a new era for them, and the Amazons will be brought into the DC universe again. It’s been poorer for their absence.

However, as much as this issue was generally well-executed and had some great moments, it was lacking in surprises and twists for me. Everything that I thought was going to happen ended up happening, making the whole experience feel a little flat. I don’t think I’m not some sort of Nostradamus either. At the end of the last issue, it was clear that Wonder Woman and Antiope were going to go back to Themyscira and fight Grail, and I was pretty sure they were going to win. There were some other obvious bets too, like that Hippolyta would be threatened and Isadore Cale would come into play. I suppose I was a little surprised that Nubia sided with Grail initially, but I was suspicious of that throughout the issue and then not terribly shocked when she eventually turned on Grail. The issue is technically a game changer in that the Amazons are back, and that’s great! But it changed the game in exactly the ways I expected it to, without any big shocks or unexpected turns along the way.

It was very well drawn, though. Three artists can be a bad sign sometimes, and a few of the transitions from one to the other were a bit bumpy. They really scattered all three throughout the issue seemingly at random. But it hung together pretty well, and was strong throughout. I’ve been raving about Xermanico for months now, so I’ll not spend too much time on him other than to say that he’s a spectacular fit on the book and should draw every issue. Cifuentes was solid as well, matching the style of the book and fitting seamlessly into this world with some lovely pages. And finally, Jesus Merino. I’ve been very critical of his work lately. Underwhelmed, to say the least. But he was decent here! This is definitely the best art I’ve seen from him in some time, and he handled the bulk of the battle to good effect. Fingers crossed that this bodes well for future outings, because he’s scheduled on a lot of issues coming up. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr. for his always amazing coloring! Tying three different artists together so the book feels cohesive is tricky work, and he did a fantastic job, as always. The dude’s a legend, and has been with the book for most, if not all, of the last 75 issues. It’s dang impressive.

So the Amazons are back! In expected ways, but that’s okay. I’m glad to have them back in the fold regardless. And now we’ve got that to explore, plus “Year of the Villain” shenanigans on the horizon. The Cheetah’s got a nasty sword, and that will of course mean trouble for Wonder Woman and her pals. But with her mother and her sisters at her side again, I’m more than confident that Diana can handle whatever comes her way.

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Wonder Woman #74 Review: Reunited, And It Feels So Good

July 10, 2019

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Some major things are happening in this week’s issue of Wonder Woman, leading to even more major things for Wonder Woman #75 in two weeks’ time, presumably. Quarter century issues are a big deal these days, maybe because so few comic books make it to a 25th issue, much less a 50th or a 75th. Publishers like to save up big moments for these books and make them special, and the ending of this issue is definitely promising that. Significant developments are afoot.

Also, if you follow G. Willow Wilson on Twitter, she’s been teasing this month’s issues lately. Apparently Wonder Woman #75 is going to be 38 pages long, with an assortment of artists and a lot of double page spreads. Plus, various twists and reveals! It sounds like it’s going to shake up the status quo of Wonder Woman’s world quite a bit, and we’ll dig into what that could mean, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!

Look away if you have not read it yet!

Also, you should be reading this book!

Hit your LCS or get it on Comixology! It’s a dang good series!

So should we do the big reveal first? Sure, let’s dive right in. The Amazons are back! Or rather, some Amazons are back. General Antiope and Philippus lead an escaped band of Amazons hidden in Dimension Chi, because Themyscira has fallen to its foes. The prisoners on the island escaped and took over, and now Grail is in charge and Hippolyta is in chains. I could happily live the rest of my life without ever seeing Grail again, but the good news is, the veil between the worlds is torn. Diana can go rescue her mother and save her sisters, which is what I assume the Wonder Woman #75 mega-issue will be all about.

With some surprises, of course. I doubt it’s going to be a straight forward beat the bad guys, save the good guys situation. There will probably be complications. But I’m even more interested in what comes next. If Diana can save Themyscira AND keep a path open to it, will the Amazons finally be part of her world again? Because I would love that. It’s been so long since we’ve had proper Amazons able to interact with the DC universe as a whole. The New 52 Amazons were trash, and the Rebirth Amazons have been sequestered. I miss the old days, when Themyscira was part of the United Nations and the Amazons could join in on major comic events. Remember in the Perez run when they opened Themyscira to the world and Lois Lane was among the first group of visitors? That was so cool. The DC universe is a better place with an awesome matriarchy in it, and I really hope that they come back in some capacity. Preferably a full on, move Themyscira into this plane of existence sort of thing.

Returning to this issue, though, I will say that the lead up to the Amazon reveal was a bit underwhelming. Part of it was the art. Jesus Merino just doesn’t do it for me. His stuff is straight forward, average superhero art. There’s no interesting flair or style to it. When Xermanico took over for the last six pages, things improved dramatically. Merino’s stuff was flat before that, and Xermanico brought everything to life just in time for the big reveal.

But another part of it was that the story wasn’t very compelling. The fight with Empress Hippolyta (the villainous Hippolyta from the last issue) seemed rote and uninspired. Again, the art didn’t really make anything cool of it, but I don’t know that there was a lot to it in the first place. It felt like fifteen pages of filler leading to Antiope. While there was some stuff about having a goddess as a mother that gave us a bit of bonding between Diana and Atlantiades, that was about it. Also, Maggie figuring out how to defeat Empress Hippolyta instead of trained Amazon warrior Diana was hard to buy. As much as I get that Maggie is rad, and that the sword is maybe imparting some sort of skill or knowledge to her, she’s not Wonder Woman. Figuring out how to stop the bad guys is Wonder Woman’s job.

I’ve got a theory that Wonder Woman’s world is too small right now. When Wilson was on Ms. Marvel, there was a huge cast of characters with different plotlines on the go. Not a single page felt wasted. There was so much to do and so many people to check in with! But with Wonder Woman, it’s really just Diana. Atlantiades and Maggie are cool, but there’s not a lot to them apart from coming along on Diana’s journey. Or rather, they’re compelling characters in want of subplots that aren’t so intertwined with Diana. Maybe bringing the Amazons back will change this dynamic and give Wilson more to work with. I’m used to far more engaging storytelling from her than a ten page fight that doesn’t really add anything to the book.

One last note on the art, because those final few pages are just top notch stuff. Xermanico puts so much texture into his drawings to start with, which is awesome, especially on the costumes, but with the shading I don’t know if it’s him or colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. but there’s this Ben-Day dot shadow technique that I love. It’s an old school style on Xermanico’s modern artwork and it looks so good. I want Xermanico to do every issue. He and Fajardo Jr. work beautifully together.

So we’ve got a big fight ahead of us in two weeks’ time! And Antiope in the midst of it all, which is super cool. She’s never been a major player in the comics before, but after Robin Wright’s amazing depiction of her in the Wonder Woman movie I’ve been waiting for someone to bring her into the comics in a big way. Now it’s happened, and between Diana, Antiope, and Philippus, the foes of the Amazons should be very frightened indeed.

Wonder Woman #44 Review: The Fight Rages On! And Remains Terrible/Nigh Unreadable!

April 11, 2018

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I had a really nice weekend, gang. I went to Chicago for C2E2, had a great time at the show, tried a poke bowl for the first time (it was DELICIOUS). It was excellent all around, and the fun started with a panel discussion about Catwoman at The Book Cellar with some super smart comic critics. Angelica Jade Bastien, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, Katie Schenkel, and I spent the bulk of the time discussing Catwoman, of course, but every now and again the conversation would turn to the current run of Wonder Woman. And with that turn came utter bewilderment at what a mess the book is right now, partly in relation to its brilliant “Rebirth” relaunch and partly just on its own, entirely lacking merits. Everyone was utterly flabbergasted at the horrible depths the series has sunk to as of late. It was a cathartic conversation, with the general consensus being that James Robinson should perhaps consider a different career path entirely.

Anyway, there’s a new Wonder Woman out this week, so let’s talk about it. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the secrets of yet another painfully subpar issue of Wonder Woman!

They don’t make a lick of sense in terms of current continuity, though!

This book is dumb.

So this issue is mostly fighting, which I appreciated. The brawling meant that there weren’t long, drawn out conversations that lacked any semblance to normal human speech and simply regurgitated previously established facts. I’ve had enough of that with the past few issues. Now, the fighting wasn’t particularly good, nor were the quips and banter therein. The structure of the battle on the page jumped around a lot, seemingly at random, and the core brawl between Wonder Woman and Darkseid was the only one that actually mattered. Jason and Grail’s faceoff didn’t really go anywhere, while Steve and his Howling Commandos appeared to be entirely ineffective.

Like most of Robinson’s run, the battle was largely filler to get us from Point A to Point B without actually adding anything new or interesting to the story, revealing anything about the characters, or otherwise enhancing our reading experience. It was just a bunch of punches to burn through pages until Darkseid’s machine could be powered enough to open a portal to Themyscira. I do like a good fight. This is a superhero comic book, after all. But I like the fights to say something beyond “oh, this will fill up the issue until the dramatic reveal at the end.” This fight was entirely perfunctory. Any reader with any sense of how the story was unfolding would know that there were no stakes here at all. Darkseid’s plan was going to work, and no amount of brawling was going to change that.

And about this dramatic reveal. So Grail gets to Themyscira and turns some Amazons into parademons. I have two big thoughts about this. First, those Amazons would have DESTROYED Grail. I know she’s half Darkseid or whatever, but Amazons are Amazons and there were a bunch of them. Even with a surprise attack, the gal would have been taken down and hastily so. You don’t mess with the Amazons.

Second, this was framed as a homecoming for Grail after leaving the island years earlier, but here’s the thing: THIS IS NOT GRAIL’S PARADISE ISLAND. Remember when the New 52 relaunch messed up Wonder Woman and the Amazons so badly that DC brought in Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott to fix it? And that their solution was to explain that the New 52 Amazons were a fiction? Grail was created before this fix. She is a product of the fake Amazons, not the real Amazons. This Themyscira is not her home. Technically, her home doesn’t even exist and she is some sort of bizarre anomaly. The folks behind Wonder Woman don’t seem to care about any of this, and have decided to ignore the change in continuity entirely.

Continuity needn’t be a prison, of course, but these things were changed for a reason. The Wonder Woman mythos was fundamentally broken, and Rucka and Scott set in right in a way that resonated with scores of fans. But now, this run is undoing all of that. Rucka and Scott danced around Wonder Woman’s New 52, daughter of Zeus origin, giving DC an out for ever mentioning it again. This arc has made it a centerpiece of the story. Rucka and Scott wiped away the New 52’s terrible depiction of the Amazons, and this arc has brought back one of its oddest, dumbest choices with Grail. It’s mind boggling. Everyone did a very good thing with Wonder Woman: Year One. It’s easily one of the best Wonder Woman stories ever told! And now DC is letting this trash fire of an arc toss it all aside.

One bit of good news from this issue is that Emanuela Lupacchino is back. Even when she’s working on a tight schedule, which I suspect she may have been here, her art is always dynamic and enjoyable. She’s got a great grasp on Wonder Woman herself, and it was very fun to see her draw the Amazons, however briefly. It’s a shame that someone with such an obvious penchant for Wonder Woman and her world is being used for such a terrible storyline. I hope that she’ll get another shot at the book with a writer that actually understands and appreciates Diana. Romulo Fajardo Jr. remains on top of his game as well, like always. The richness of colour and the breadth of texture he brings to his work is just remarkable. It’s all so subtle and seamless, and remains the one thing keeping this entire run afloat. Luckily with Lupacchino he’s got some nice line work to enhance, but he’s definitely elevated several lesser artists in past issues and has maintained a consistent look for the title.

So yeah, we’ve got Amazon parademons now and more fights ahead, I assume. Good grief. There’s a few more issues of this foolishness, and then Robinson is starting yet another storyline. When will the horrors end?! Not anytime soon, it seems. Ugh.

 

Wonder Woman #42 Review: Jason Returns! From Where? And Why? Who Even Friggin’ Cares

March 14, 2018

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It’s the second Wednesday of the month so we’ve got a new issue of Wonder Woman to dig into, and boy am I not feeling it today. I’ve been ill since the weekend, flattened out with some nefarious strain of the flu. Talking about whatever new travesty James Robinson has inflicted upon us is not how I’d like to be using what little energy I have right now. And yet, here I am. Am I a masochist? A hero? So addled by the flu that I’m making poor life decisions? It’s hard to say. Anyway, let’s jump into this latest batch of stupidity, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you all of the things that happened in this issue!

They are all so dumb.

So very, very dumb.

So Jason is back, with fancy new armor and new abilities, and he has no idea where he was or who gave them to him. Sure, that seems legit. No wonder Diana agrees to fly off together with him. There’s nothing sketchy about this situation at all. Someone needs to tell the entire creative team and editorial that Wonder Woman is actually quite smart. Kind and compassionate, yes, but not foolishly so. And literally everything having to do with Jason thus far has required her to act foolishly and put her trust in someone who has yet to earn it in the slightest. Now the dude shows up more powerful, after eight days away, with ZERO explanation? Those are some serious red flags. And Diana just rolls with it all.

Grail’s back too, off to kill another deity or some such, so Diana and Jason team up to take her down. As they fly there, we’re treated to a useless five page flashback about the time Jason fought the Deep Six and met Grail for the first time. What a waste of a quarter of the book. It added literally nothing to the story that we didn’t know already. The editors must be asleep at the wheel here, because this is the filleriest of filler. All terribly written, too. There is nothing less compelling than a monologue from Jason.

After that pointless diversion, the actual fight happens. Wonder Woman ensnares Grail in the lasso to try to learn Darkseid’s evil plan, but only gets a small piece of it before Grail escapes. Now Wonder Woman knows that Darkseid is going after Themyscira, at least, and she can go stop him or whatever. It sounds like he’s on his way to A.R.G.U.S. to steal a bunch of artifacts, so it looks like Steve’s going to have a rough issue in two weeks’ time.

Anyway, across all of these twenty pages we learned not a dang thing about Jason’s disappearance other than he’s stronger now, and Wonder Woman knows a bit more about Darkseid’s plan. That’s it. This is really not effective comic booking. If you’re going to tell a story as pointless as the saga of Diana’s idiot brother, at least speed it up a bit so we can get onto something else. Or put in a modicum of effort to try to make it interesting or fun in some way. This issue is an entertainment vacuum. It has nothing enjoyable to recommend it.

Even the art is disappointing. Jesus Merino’s work is inconsistent throughout, with a few good panels and a lot of pages that look like they were hastily dashed off. Such is the reality of bi-weekly comics, I suppose. Merino’s a talented guy, and I’m guessing that some poor editorial management may have contributed to the sloppy look. Even the colors feel a little rough. Romulo Fajardo Jr. has been masterful with his coloring for nearly two years now, so an average issue from him suggests to me that there was a very short turnaround time for everyone involved in this outing. The result is an issue that’s not terribly appealing on any level.

All together, “Amazons Attacked” is a very good name for this arc. Longtime Wonder Woman readers will remember the Amazons Attack event from about a decade back, in which the Amazons invaded Washington, DC. It was TERRIBLE. Easily one of the worst Wonder Woman stories ever committed to paper. It was nonsensical, poorly written, and tied up in the fiendish machinations of Apokolips and the New Gods. “Amazons Attacked” shares all of the same poor qualities as its similarly named predecessor. My question is, did the editors name the arc this knowing it was going to be just as bad as the original? Or do they think they’re rehabilitating the name? If it’s the first, that’s hilarious, though said. If it’s the second, it’s not working out in the slightest.

Okay, I’m going to go lay down now. Happy Wednesday, everyone! Wonder Woman still sucks. The June solicits should be out next week though, so let’s all cross our fingers for an end to this horrible run.

Wonder Woman #37 Review: Thunderbolts of Jove, This Book is Bad

December 27, 2017

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For Christmas this year, Santa Claus left me some Funko Pops in my stocking, both of them from the Wonder Woman movie. One was Antiope in mid-leap, holding a bow and about to fire three arrows in a recreation of an iconic scene from the film. The other was Etta Candy, holding Wonder Woman’s shield and sword. They’re both awesome and adorable, and they also encapsulate what was so great about the movie. Wonder Woman was the star, of course, but the film was packed full of amazing female characters. Between the Amazons on Themyscira and Etta in England, Diana had female allies everywhere. Sisterhood was a core theme of the movie, and it showcased female strength in a variety of forms.

The film was a massive hit, and yet for some reason, DC Comics has decided to ignore everything that made it successful. We’ve got an arc focusing on Wonder Woman’s brother, Wonder Woman herself has been little more than an afterthought in several issues, and there are no female allies to be found. The only other woman in the book is Grail, a villain, and now Wonder Woman’s father has come to the fore with this issue. On top of all of that, the book is terribly written and just painful to read. So yeah, let’s talk about it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal everything that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

But also, do yourself a personal favour and maybe don’t read it!

It’s quite awful!

The bulk of this issue centered on Zeus fighting Darkseid, a battle of two titans that could have been interesting but turned out rather humdrum. The men bloviated the entire time, crowing about their own superior power as they traded blows. I don’t buy Wonder Woman to see two dudes duking it out while bragging about how big and strong they are, so I didn’t particularly care for this focus. I also don’t buy Wonder Woman to see a man fighting Diana’s battles for her, as Zeus did here, so that angle wasn’t great either. The battle itself was drawn capably, but there was nothing really interesting or compelling about the depiction of it all. The choreography was pretty straight forward superhero brawling, really. I do still enjoy Zeus’ glowing cape, though; that’s a nice stylistic touch that colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. makes look super cool. The rest was generally unexciting.

Also, I found it odd that Diana seemed so accepting of having her father back. She’s never met the man, ever, apart from perhaps in animal form during Year One. He’s not been a part of her life in any meaningful way, and owing to Rucka’s revamp we don’t know how she learned that Zeus was her father or what her perspective on her parentage is. Yet here, she’s instantly on board with him, calling him “Father” from the get-go. I understand her trying to save him from Darkseid; she’s Wonder Woman, after all, and would do her best to save anyone from Darkseid. But her instant acceptance of him felt very unearned to me.

I suppose they had to fast forward the relationship, seeing as Darkseid kills Zeus by the end of the issue in an entirely unsurprising twist. Turns out, Darkseid was killing Zeus’ kids partly to get their slices of divine power but partly to get Zeus to show up so that he could take his immense power and regain all of his strength. With Zeus not long for the world, there wasn’t much time to create a relationship with Diana or delve into their complicated past.

The execution highlights a key flaw of the book right now: None of this is really about Diana. The return of Zeus could have brought up a lot of stuff for her, and let her reckon with her past, her power, and her currently estranged relationship with her Amazon family. This development was potentially full of fascinating angles to examine and ways to dig into Wonder Woman’s character. But instead, it had nothing to do with her. Zeus’ return served as a shocking cliffhanger for the last issue, and a means to bring Darkseid back to his full strength in this issue. Diana’s feelings about her father’s return got minimal attention, and now he’s gone.

The issue also left me wondering where this arc is going. Darkseid is repowered back to his former self, and he and Grail escaped at the end of the issue. The solicits suggest that they’ll be back after the Silver Swan arc that’s set to begin in two weeks time, returning to vex the Amazons, but to what end? I’m still hoping that Darkseid will Omega Beam Jason and rid us of his pointless presence, but now that Darkseid’s back to full strength I can’t see him ending up defeated or captured. He’s not a normal villain. He’s a major player in the larger comic book universe. Grail could end up properly defeated, but Darkseid is.

Ultimately, this is another bad issue in a terrible arc that has failed to center Wonder Woman in any meaningful way. It’s also a bizarre sequel to an event no on particularly cared for, tied into outdated continuity, and it just doesn’t make a lick of sense in general. And now we’re letting James Robinson have a crack at the Silver Swan too? Who okayed that plan? Silver Swan is a classic Wonder Woman villain, and she deserves to be in the hands of someone who’s actually demonstrated an understanding of Diana and her world. At least Grail won’t be around for a while? That’s something to look forward to. I’ll take that break.

Wonder Woman #36 Review: Can We Just Not, With Any Of This?

December 13, 2017

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Let’s begin with a story. Last Wednesday, I woke up prepared to begin my usual bi-weekly Wonder Woman review routine. Buy the comic. Read it a couple of times. Think about it a bit and formulate some opinions. Then sit down and write out my review. However, I was mistaken. Yes, it had been two weeks since the last issue of Wonder Woman came out, but November was a five-Wednesday month. The issue wouldn’t be out until the following week, because Wonder Woman comes out on the second and fourth weeks of each month. I was amused at my error, and tremendously relieved. I didn’t have to read Wonder Woman! It felt like a reprieve.

Anyway, now it’s the correct week and here we are. Let’s dig into this nonsense, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

This review reveals key plot points from this issue!

Don’t read this if you haven’t read the comic yet!

Though I can’t in good conscience recommend that you read this comic book!

So we’re in a bit of a catch-22 here!

Here’s a positive thing to start with: I like the new corner box on the cover. It’s an old school affectation brought back with a modern feel. I’m into it. That “Rebirth” bar was getting tiresome after a year and a half, and this is a lot cleaner and more compact. I think it might hint at some coming changes for the line, too. DC’s been doing a lot of multiverse stuff lately, and that “Universe” designation might be significant. Spinning out of “Metal,” I wouldn’t be surprised to see new books set in different universes, with corner boxes that marked them as such. Could be cool. But whether that’s coming or not, I think it’s a good look.

And here’s even more good news: Wonder Woman is actually in this issue of Wonder Woman! On nearly every page, even. You wouldn’t think that’d be something we’d even have to celebrate, but there’s been a substantial lack of Wonder Woman in this run thus far.

That’s where the good news ends, though. The book is still really bad. The story is still really dumb. There are a few twists in this issue, none of them good or particularly unexpected. I will say, the art is nicer than it’s been lately. While Emanuela Lupacchino’s done fine work on her villain backstory issues, a misuse of her talents but excellent art nonetheless, the main story has been decidedly subpar. Carlo Pagulayan’s pencils with inks from Jason Paz and Sean Parsons are a definite step up, and of course Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are fantastic, as always. While the story remains a trash fire, at least it’s nicer to look at this time around.

So let’s dive into the story itself. Grail and Jason have Wonder Woman trapped, and the issue begins with them all yelling at each other. Jason is bitter about his upbringing for no good reason, Grail just wants to kill folks, and Diana wants her brother to see reason. No one really breaks through with anyone, largely because all the speechifying is just there to lay the groundwork for Wonder Woman busting free and starting a big fight scene. I will say this for Robinson: I did enjoy the reveal that Diana could have broken out of her bonds at any time, but she stayed trapped and took Grail’s abuse to try to reach Jason. I mean, Jason sucks and all, but that’s a very Wonder Woman thing to do.

The fight takes a turn with the inevitable arrival of Darkseid, who has now grown to be a young man. Grail’s god killing seems to be feeding him well. Then we get the not at all shocking turn in which Jason finds out that Grail has been lying to him. Combined with Darkseid’s brutal treatment of his sister, Jason’s no longer sure he’s on the right team here and tries to stop him. This will likely lead to Diana and Jason teaming up to defeat Grail and Darkseid later on which, ugh, of course it will. I don’t know about you all, but I was cheering for Darkseid to blast Jason with an Omega Beam and free us from his tedious presence. No such luck this time around, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for future outings.

Then finally, the twistiest twist of them all! Hercules’ weirdo lawyer is actually Zeus in disguise! Gasp. A story about two children of Zeus features an appearance from Zeus. Who saw that coming? Anyway, he’s in the mix now, threatening Darkseid to close out the issue. And he’s got an all new design, too. It’s not great, though I do enjoy the glowing white cape. That’s kind of cool. His armour bits are a little too Magogy for me, and I don’t care for him copying Wonder Woman’s bracelets. Also, that crown could be better. Still, on the larger spectrum of Zeus designs in Wonder Woman, I’d say this is one of the better ones. Zeus has never looked particularly cool. I mean, the dude showed up in a space unitard at one point

(HOT TIP: For an excellent take on Zeus, and the Greek gods in general, go read the Olympians series by George O’Connor! They are excellent comic books with really smart, clever takes on all of the gods, and it’s got far and away my favourite Zeus ever.)

So a bunch of things happened, none of them particularly interesting, all of them poorly written. The art was a little bit nicer, at least. And it looks like we’ve got a big fight coming, with Zeus and Darkseid set to battle it out in an Old God versus New God showdown. That could be a good thing, if only because the brawl might take up a lot of the next issue and thus cut down on the words therein. I’m all for anything that will make this book a quicker read and spare me from Robinson’s horrible dialogue.

Anyway, there’s some encouraging news for us to end on: We’re halfway through, gang. This ridiculousness is scheduled to last for twelve issues, and this was this sixth. By this time in March, we’ll have reached the grand finale and will be eagerly anticipating whoever is set to take over next. Will we get returning favourites? Will it be an up and coming team with a fresh voice for Wonder Woman? Will it be some random people they just grab off the street? Whoever they choose, it can’t be worse than this run.

Wonder Woman #34 Review: The Worst Family Reunion, On Multiple Levels

November 8, 2017

ww34

Although this is the 34th issue of the current incarnation of Wonder Woman, it’s also something more: When you add up all of the issues from past volumes together, this is actually the 700th issue of Wonder Woman! It’s a massive achievement. Apart from a few short breaks here and there, Wonder Woman has been published continuously since 1942, one of only a handful of titles with such a legacy. It’s fun to think back to all of the different versions of Wonder Woman we’ve seen in the series over the years, how she’s evolved and grown, overcome various setbacks, and continued to be an inspirational heroine for so many. While Wonder Woman’s status as a cultural icon often supersedes the ups and downs of her comic book adventures, those stories showcase one of the most fascinating and compelling journeys in the history of the medium. Hitting 700 issues is remarkable, and I’m glad that DC noticed the numbers and marked the occasion.

It’s too bad that the story inside is absolutely terrible. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the foolish twists and turns inside this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or really, just read this instead! The issue is awful!

I’m going to start with something really nitpicky, because for some reason I just can’t stand bad versions of Wonder Woman’s tiara. Sergio Davila penciled this issue, and we saw him a couple issues back in Wonder Woman #32. His art wasn’t great then, but it was serviceable and he had the tiara about right. We’ve got a few versions of the tiara going across DC’s line right now so there’s really not a definitive take on it currently, and Davila was in the ballpark of these various designs. Then, in this issue, it got wonky. The red star seemed to get smaller as the issue progressed, while the tiara itself grew wider and bulkier. It just looked wrong. And I know it’s a small thing, but when the writing is so bad, you look to the art for a little bit of spark. Unfortunately, in this issue the art just annoyed me further.

Not as much as the writing, though. Good lord. I mean, DC Comics is a professional comic book company. They’ve been publishing a comic called Wonder Woman for 75 years and 700 issues now! You would think they’d all know how to put together an enjoyable issue by now. But no. This arc has been absolutely painful thus far, and it’s not any better here. Diana’s reunion with her brother Jason was beyond corny. So sappy and over the top and just cringeworthy most of the time. Their conversation took up the bulk of the book, and while it was nice to actually have Wonder Woman show up in Wonder Woman for a change, their mutual fawning and getting to know each other was not pleasant.

And then we got a shocking turn of events. All of those insipid, boring pages we just sat through? They were a fake out! Jason is secretly evil, hates Wonder Woman, and has been working with Grail the whole time! Then Grail showed up and there was a big old fight and oh dear, a startling cliffhanger with Wonder Woman in a real bind. IT. WAS. SO. STUPID.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to dedicate half an issue to setting up a twist that then invalidates everything that came before, make those pages good. Make them interesting or fun or compelling in some way so that the reader gets emotionally invested. Sell me on this burgeoning sister/brother relationship! Give them an engaging dynamic, a connection that has me rooting for them and glad to have him be a part of a book! Whatever you do, don’t make these pages absurdly boring, because when you do that and your new good guy turns out to be a bad guy the only reaction you’re going to get is, “Well, that’s the first interesting thing he’s ever done.”

When the turn came, part of me was very much underwhelmed, but the other part of me was just glad that Diana’s bland, dull twit of a brother wasn’t going to be hanging around being a bore for the next few months. He’ll still be boring, I suppose. Being evil doesn’t make him any more interesting. But at least we don’t have to sit through another droning, hackneyed heart to heart conversation.

Anyway, this arc continues to be generally horrible. And the teaser at the end of the issue promised that the next outing is “The Story of Jason,” so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I prepare for this time of trial and tribulation. If I have to sit through another issue of Wonder Woman without Wonder Woman dedicated to the tedious backstory of some dumb ass side character I couldn’t possibly care less about, I’m going to lose my mind. Also, I know Jason’s backstory already. He blathered on about it in this issue, and while I’m sure some of it was lies, I’m guessing that the bulk of it is the same plus a couple of dark twists and some whiny brooding over his famous sister. And I don’t want to read 20 pages of that. Ugh.


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