Posts Tagged ‘Greg Rucka’

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!

Wonder Woman’s April 2017 Covers and Solicits

January 24, 2017

DC’s solicits were a little bit late this month, but when they finally arrived yesterday they brought a bevy of new Wonder Woman comic books for us to look forward to this April. So let’s take a look at what Wonder Woman will be up to in a few months’ time, starting with her own series:

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WONDER WOMAN #20
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY • Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“Godwatch” part three! Cale launches a desperate gambit to take control of Godwatch, but her plan hinges on two factors she cannot control: the witch Circe, and Wonder Woman!
On sale APRIL 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #21
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by LIAM SHARP • Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“The Truth” part four! As the reality of Themyscira is revealed, Wonder Woman is forced to make a decision: defy the will of the gods or betray her Amazon sisters to Godwatch!
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

The dual narrative continues this April, with Wonder Woman facing off against Godwatch in the even numbered issues and learning the truth about Themyscira in the odd books. Circe’s going to be in Wonder Woman #20, which should be a lot of fun. After her poor portrayal in Superman/Wonder Woman a couple of years back, I’m looking forward to what can only be a better spin on her from Rucka and Evely.

Now onto Trinity:

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TRINITY #8
Written by CULLEN BUNN • Art by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO and RAY McCARTHY • Cover by CLAY MANN • Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
A “Superman: Reborn Aftermath” tie-in! In this essential chapter of the “Superman Reborn Aftermath” epic, Kal-El reveals to Batman and Wonder Woman what had happened to him—and how they all may be in danger!
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T

I’ve been enjoying Trinity, but honestly I’m picking it up for the amazing Francis Manapul art and there just hasn’t been much of it. Now eight issues in, it looks like he’ll have drawn half of them at most, and we’re getting a tie-in issue with a Superman event? Not what I’m looking for. Hopefully Manapul is back in full force in May, because otherwise I might be ready to move on, especially with the $1 price hike.

Next up, some Amazon fun:

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THE ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #4
Written by KEVIN GREVIOUX
Art by RYAN BENJAMIN and RICHARD FRIEND
Cover by RYAN BENJAMIN
The Amazons are taken to Valhalla, heavenly home of warriors who have fallen in combat. Hessia learns where the Amazons originated and why their numbers have come to be spread throughout the world. But she’s also determined to find a way back to Earth, to rescue her comrades who have been taken by the Storm Giants. As for the Giants, they are getting ready to go to war.
On sale APRIL 19 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

This series starts TOMORROW, so we’ll know pretty soon if this is going to be worth picking up in April. While the buzz for it seems to be minimal/non-existent, a lot of great titles fly under the radar so we’ll see what happens. It still just sounds like a Thor book to me, but I’m curious to see what Grievoux, Benjamin, and Friend do. I’ll be checking out the first issue tomorrow and will report back if I have anything interesting to say about it.

Now some classic TV fun:

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BATMAN ’66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN ’77 #4
Written by MARC ANDREYKO and JEFF PARKER • Art by DAVID HAHN and KARL KESEL • Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Ra’s al Ghul has discovered the Amazons’ Elysian Well…better known to Man’s World as a Lazarus Pit! Wonder Woman takes Batman and Robin (and Catwoman!) to confront him, but strange creatures live in the same maze, which the Amazons have used for centuries as a prison!
On sale APRIL 26 • 32 pg, FC, 4 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST

I’m so down for Catwoman on Paradise Island. You had me there, and you don’t have to sell me on anything else, DC. I’m super on board.

We’ve also got a few Wonder Woman collections announced. They include:

  • WONDER WOMAN VOL. 2: YEAR ONE TP: Collects WONDER WOMAN #2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. On sale MAY 3 • 168 pg, FC, $16.99 US. If you didn’t read this in single issues, BUY THIS. It’s phenomenal. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott hit this one out of the park.
  • WONDER WOMAN BY JOHN BYRNE BOOK ONE HC: Collects WONDER WOMAN #101-114. On sale MAY 24 • 328 pg, FC, $39.99 US. A nice big collection of Byrne’s work on Wonder Woman, which I found moderately enjoyable when I read it. It’s Byrne before he went full on Internet wacko, which is usually worth checking out.
  • WONDER WOMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE OMNIBUS VOL. 2 HC: Collects COMIC CAVALCADE #6-13, SENSATION COMICS #25-48 and WONDER WOMAN #8-15. On sale JULY 5 • 768 pg, FC, $75.00 US. Early Marston/Peter Wonder Woman comics are always a good choice, and this HUGE new collection comes with a gorgeous Darwyn Cooke cover.

So we’ve got a nice selection of books to choose from this April, and some fine collections on the way as well. Should be fun!

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.

Wonder Woman’s March 2017 Covers and Solicits

December 30, 2016

DC’s March 2017 solicits came out a while back, but with the holidays and all I’ve just got around to going through them now. March looks to be another busy month for Wonder Woman and the Amazons, so let’s see what the gang will be up to, starting with Wonder Woman itself:

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WONDER WOMAN #18
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY
Variant covers by JENNY FRISON
“GODWATCH” part two! Godwatch grows, and Diana has her first encounter with the ghost in the machine known as Dr. Cyber!
On sale MARCH 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #19
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by LIAM SHARP
Variant cover by JENNY FRISON
“The Truth” part three! Diana, Steve and Etta come face-to-face with their newest foes—the deadly group known as Poison! But what do they have to do with the plot to unravel Wonder Woman’s life?
On sale MARCH 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

We’ve got Dr. Cyber in one book and Poison (i.e. a group inspired by the classic Wonder Woman villain Dr. Poison) in another, giving us a greatest hits of iconic Wonder Woman villains. Throw in the Cheetah and they’re all doctors too, a web of villainy that reflects poorly on academia but makes for an enjoyable read nonetheless. One has to assume that Dr. Psycho will show up at some point and give us a quartet of dastardly doctors. Wonder Woman‘s been a fun book since Rucka and company relaunched it, and these March issues look like they should be a good time.

Onto Trinity:

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TRINITY #7
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Art and cover by CLAY MANN
Variant cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
“DIVIDED WE FALL” prelude! America is divided! And now a hero has fallen and it may split the country even more. Can Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman stand against riots while defending a bigoted enemy? Don’t miss the beginning of an epic adventure that will test the ideals of our three heroes!
On sale MARCH 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

I’ve been enjoying this book thus far, but it’s got a lot less Francis Manapul art than I anticipated. It looked like he was going to be two on, one off, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now? Clay Mann is decent and all, but Manapul is AMAZING. He brings so much style and heart to the book. DC needs to set him up on a schedule without fill-ins. It’ll take a little longer, but the end result would be so gorgeous. Anyway, it looks like we’re on to a new arc here. I’m not totally sold on the premise, but we’ll see how the execution goes. The book’s been really good, so I’m optimistic.

Now some Bombshells:

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DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #23
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by MATIAS BERGARA, LAURA BRAGA and MIRKA ANDOLFO
Cover by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Wonder Woman is back! Take a quick trip to Themyscira where Wonder Woman and Supergirl are mourning the loss of Stargirl. Then, it’s back to the action in Zambesi as Wonder Woman crashes into the fight between the Bombshells and Cheetah, who’s leading the mechanical gods!
On sale MARCH 1 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

I don’t usually post the DC Comics Bombshells solicits, especially lately since Wonder Woman’s been on the backburner, but she’s front and center in this new issue and I wanted to remind everyone to mark it on their calendar and pick it up. This series is SO GOOD, and if you’ve not been reading it you’re really missing out. Plus it’s set to have a lot more Wonder Woman soon, which is even more exciting!

We’ve got some classic TV antics coming too:

marchbat66

BATMAN ’66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN ’77 #3
Written by JEFF PARKER and MARC ANDREYKO
Art by DAVID HAHN and KARL KESEL
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
Among the world’s greatest secrets is the location of Paradise Island, mythic home of the legendary Amazon warrior women where no man may visit! But what about a BATman? In 1966, the search for Ra’s al Ghul’s trail heats up, and the Caped Crusaders fly to warn Wonder Woman that her hidden home is the villain’s goal!
On sale MARCH 22 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST

Batman is going to Paradise Island and I can’t wait. What a fantastic premise, to send the 1960s Batman and Robin to the home of Amazons. This should be hilarious and delightful. I love that this series exists.

Finally, the adventures of the Amazons:

marchodyssey

THE ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #3
Written by KEVIN GREVIOUX
Art and cover by RYAN BENJAMIN and RICHARD FRIEND
It’s Amazons versus Valkyries! Hessia and her warriors are closing in on the Storm Giants who are holding their comrades prisoner when a group of fierce Nordic female warriors misinterpret their intent and launch an all-out assault. Will even the Amazons’ new Viking allies be able to help them against these god-like beings?
On sale MARCH 15 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+

I remain very much unsold on this mini-series, but the first issue isn’t even out yet so I’ll reserve judgment and hope for the best. The covers haven’t been giving me a lot to look forward to, and Storm Giants and Vikings and Valkyries sounds like a Thor rip-off but again, we’ll see. This could be a surprise treat. It’s got Amazons in it, after all! The potential is certainly there.

Look for all of these comics in March 2017! It’s going to be a busy one!

Wonder Woman #13 Review: A Steve Trevor Interlude Between “The Lies” and “The Truth”

December 28, 2016

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While the end of Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp’s “The Lies” arc didn’t end with a big surprise for readers, it was certainly a shock for Wonder Woman. By that point in the run, it was quite clear that the New 52 Paradise Island was being retconned as a fiction, given how drastically different everything about the Amazons was in Rucka and Nicola Scott’s “Year One,” so the reveal at the end of Wonder Woman #11 was somewhat obvious. But not for Wonder Woman. The knowledge that her memories of her home and her interactions with the Amazons over the past few years were all a lie and the realization that she’s never been back home since she left the first time seems to have shattered her. So with Wonder Woman out of commission, Steve Trevor takes over the narrative lead in this standalone issue that bridges “The Lies” and “The Truth.” We’ll dig into it momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you EVERYTHING that happens in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Get yourself a post-Christmas treat and go pick it up!

I’ve read a lot of Wonder Woman comic books and very few of them put the focus on Steve Trevor, largely because he’s always been a tricky character to make interesting. Part of the problem is that he’s usually next to Wonder Woman and she’s the best; it’s hard for any dude to look cool when compared to the amazingness of Wonder Woman. Steve’s not a bad character by any means, just a little generic and better in small doses. There’s no strong, compelling characterization of him, no real hook for readers to latch onto other than that he loves Wonder Woman. We all love Wonder Woman too so I suppose we’re all on the same page as Steve, but compared to other non-superhero romantic interests, like Lois Lane for example, he’s not so exciting.

Rucka and guest artist Renato Guedes’ solution to this problem is to make Steve Trevor a total bad ass, and it works pretty well. We’ve seen a tougher Steve throughout the New 52 era, leading special ops teams and whatnot, but much like his Wonder Woman adventures, he was often overshadowed by his superhero companions. Wonder Woman #13 is wholly without superheroes; Wonder Woman’s on the fritz, and it’s just Steve versus a revamped Dr. Poison leading an assault team to nab Diana. These are enemies that Steve can handle, and he does with aplomb.

The issue is nicely put together. Steve is stuck on a barren island in the middle of nowhere with no way to get off it (Wonder Woman was his ride home), and the Picket is compromised and Etta Candy’s on the run, so support from the mainland isn’t coming any time soon. He’s got to use what little he has to fight a well-trained assault troop, making use of his environment and his combat skills to do so. Rucka and Guedes give Steve some clever solutions out of these limited options, and watching him set up and execute his plan makes for a fun read. We’re often told that Steve is a good soldier, but Wonder Woman usually ends up doing most of the heavy lifting, so it’s cool to see how well he can handle things when he’s on his own.

It’s also great to see a new take on Dr. Poison. Her doctorate isn’t specified, but Marina Maru is clearly connected to the classic Golden Age character in some way, and she’s a pleasant change from the horrible take on the character we got during the Finches’ run on Wonder Woman. And with the reference to Maru poison in Wonder Woman #12, it seems that the Maru(s?) are set to play a key role in the story moving forward. Rucka is slyly assembling a team of Wonder Woman’s classic villains, and it should make for some good times as these new arcs begin.

Renato Guedes is a good fit for the story, and he illustrates the action well. There’s a lot more show than tell in Steve’s plans to fight the incoming soldiers, so instead of the text telling us what Steve is up to, Guedes draws it all and does an excellent job communicating what he’s getting up to. The subsequent action is clearly rendered and easy to follow, and his work makes for an enjoyable issue all around. Guedes’ artwork isn’t as lovely as Nicola Scott or Bilquis Evely’s, but his sharper lines and sharper tone are a good fit for a Steve Trevor story in the same way Scott and Evely match well with Wonder Woman.

All together, this was a fun outing, and puts us in an interesting spot to start “The Truth.” Wonder Woman is shut down, housed in a hospital in London, while Steve is set to track down Etta. “The Lies” was a slow, somewhat unexciting arc, not bad by any means but not great either. I’m curious to see what we get out of “The Truth,” and I’m hopeful that Rucka and Sharp will a) make the book more fun and compelling and b) actually give us some answers this time around. This interlude was a positive start, and I’m looking forward to where things go from here.

Wonder Woman #12 Review: The Penultimate Issue of “Year One”

December 14, 2016

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Unsurprisingly, “Year One” continues to be a joy to read. Between the four previous main issues and the special Barbara Ann Minerva outing, this storyline has resulted in one of the best Wonder Woman runs in recent memory, and perhaps of all time. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are in top form, and they’ve captured something in Diana that’s been missing for several years, even before the New 52 relaunch. While Wonder Woman #12 is perhaps the least exciting or interesting issue of “Year One” thus far, that’s only because it’s been preceded by such amazing issues; it’s still extremely good. Let’s dig into it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Go read it first!

You’ll like it!

Let’s start with how this issue didn’t work as well as past outings for me. It was chock full of discussions of the Sear Group, what their objective might be, and who is behind them. Like, in depth. It took up most of the issue. Wonder Woman even interrogated the terrorists with her lasso to find the real truth of what was going on. It was all fine, but it was also a lengthy, involved set up. Then the book ended with the reveal that Ares and his destructive ways were behind it all. The thing is, of course he was. Dudes are wantonly killing innocent people in a Wonder Woman origin comic book? It’s going to be Ares.

Also, and more annoyingly, he’s on the cover. That’s what you call a dead giveaway. I don’t mind the cover revealing who the issue’s villain is going to be; it’s nice to know who your hero will be facing off against. But when you’ve got 19 pages of your characters wringing their hands over who this villain could possibly be and then you set up you final page like it’s some kind of shocking reveal, maybe don’t put the bad guy on the cover. Because when you put him on the cover, the issue’s investigation becomes less of a compelling putting together of the puzzle pieces and more of a “Dang, when are these dopes going to figure this out. We already know it’s Ares.” Devoting an entire issue to characters figuring out something the reader already knows and making it seem like this is a rad cliffhanger is not the best storytelling.

But despite the anticlimactic conclusion, this was still a good, enjoyable issue. I mean, it’s as gorgeous as ever. Nicola Scott is doing the best work of her career, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s color work is just spectacular. I’ve enjoyed his work for years; he brings such texture and depth to the page. And with this detailed coloring on top of Scott’s fantastic, clean linework, the pages just sing. In particular, the double page spread of Wonder Woman flying, lifting tanks, and deflecting bullets is so joyous and lovely. It all looks amazing.

Scott excels at expression as well, especially in subtle moments. There’s a scene in which Barbara Minerva and Etta Candy discuss the poetry of Sappho, an ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos who is the root of the terms “sapphic” and “lesbian.” When Etta mentions that she’s “quite familiar” with this poetry, there’s a glance between the woman that is small but so telling. There’s a sense of a secret being communicated between them, along with a hint of flirtation. The text suggests it, but the looks we get from Etta really sell it.

Also, I think we’ve got a queer Etta Candy? How fantastic! And perhaps a queer Barbara Minerva, if her flustered response to Etta’s flirtation is any indication. But a queer Etta seems pretty clear here. Which is very cool, and fitting for the character. If you go way back to the Golden Age, Etta was the head of a bondage-heavy sorority that, given William Moulton Marston’s association of bondage with sexual pleasure, had queer implications between the lines. She was straigt throughout the Modern Age, and was with Steve Trevor for most of it, but the New 52 Etta is a completely different character and they seem to be taking her in a new direction.

We also get a confirmation of Wonder Woman’s queerness that was very good to see. Much has been made of the article in which Greg Rucka confirmed that his Wonder Woman was queer, but many fans, myself included, noted that while it’s great to publicly say so, it needs to be in the text as well. If it’s not canon, it can easily be ignored or undone. This issue gives us that canonical confirmation when Steve asks Diana if she left anyone “special” behind when she left her home, and Diana responded that she’d left someone named Kasia. It’s not the bold confirmation that some folks were hoping for, but the implication is pretty clear. Still, great as this is, I hope that Rucka continues to keep Wonder Woman’s queerness part of her story. Something a bit more direct wouldn’t hurt to help cement this aspect of her character.

Overall, this was an enjoyable outing that, while not perfectly executed, was still a delight to look at and a fun read despite its overly telegraphed conclusion. It also sets the arc up for what should be an exciting finale next month. Ares seems to be spoiling for a fight, and Wonder Woman’s been exploring her powers with Steve, so this could be quite a battle. I’m curious to see what form as takes. As much as the issue dug through the Sear Group and what they were up to, we still don’t know much about Ares other than that he doesn’t care for Amazons. Perhaps there’s something larger at play that will tie into “The Lies” and “The Truth” or perhaps the dude’s just a straight up hater and Wonder Woman will punch him out. Whatever the case, we’ll find out next month!


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