Posts Tagged ‘Hephaestus’

Wonder Woman #41 Review OR A Bland, Backwards Looking Start To A New Arc

June 17, 2015

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When Meredith and David Finch took over the series with Wonder Woman #36 last fall, their first issue was an absolute mess. The writing was awkard, the art made Wonder Woman look like a sexy adolescent, and the whole book was just an extraordinarily unpleasant reading experience. I’ve read EVERY issue of Wonder Woman going back 75 years, and Wonder Woman #36 was easily one of the worst. So I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman #41 is better than that. Unfortunately, it’s still not very good. We’ll dig into why, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal every shocking revelation in this issue!

Just kidding, there really aren’t any!

But still, if you don’t want to be spoiled, look away!

Wonder Woman #41 is a chance for Meredith and David Finch to reintroduce their book to potential new readers. With the #DCYou mini-relaunch garnering a lot of attention, sales are sure to go up for returning books across the line, which means a lot of new eyes on Wonder Woman. The issue seems to be trying to address that, but they go way too far in doing so. The first three quarters of the book are basically a recap of the forty issues that came before, with nothing particularly new added to the mix. Plus it’s written in a weirdly stilted, expository fashion, with long internal monologue introductions for each new scene. It’s a bland, clunky read.

We start on Mount Olympus, where Wonder Woman visits Donna Troy to recap her crimes and offer her clichéd platitudes about how she can change and take control of her life. Wonder Woman is stern but caring, Donna is angry and pouty. It really adds nothing new if you’ve read the six issues beforehand, and I can’t imagine that it’s terribly intriguing if you haven’t.

Then Wonder Woman stops into visit Zola and Zeke, who appear to be living on Mount Olympus with Hera. This harkens back to the Azzarello and Chiang era, and is one of the few references the Finches have made to this run thus far. The Azzarello and Chiang run had its ups and downs, but one of the highlights was definitely the brash, spunky Zola and the evolution of her relationship with Hera. None of that is showcased here. Zola’s dialogue lacks her former folksy snark, while there are just hints of Hera’s amusingly snooty condescension. Neither character feels right.

Nor do they look right. Zola looks like a generic blonde woman, or rather like a generic blonde model. She’s sitting most of the time, but her limbs are long and slim, and her hair is fashionably cut. Cliff Chiang’s Zola was short with shaggy hair, and a very specific style. Finch has her in non-descript clothing even though Chiang always had her in redneck couture, with a lot of plaids and decorative t-shirts. She had a look with a lot of personality, and none of that is present here. I suppose it’s not particularly fair to compare Finch to Chiang, since they have completely different strengths. Chiang’s character design as epic, while Finch’s is… well, you’ve seen the new Wonder Woman costume. But even when Finch is channeling Chiang’s design, the result isn’t great. Chiang always drew Hera’s peacock cloak as voluminous and imposing, with detail in the feathers so you knew exactly what it was. Finch turns into a regular old cloak that sort of has a peacock feather design on it. She cuts a far less striking figure.

After that visit, Wonder Woman stops by to see Hephaestus, first to remind us that the Amazons who sided with Donna and killed the Manazons are now working at his forge, and second to get her new outfit. The costume supposedly shows her evolution form girl to woman and is “a reflection of everything I am now”, but neither the writing nor art explains exactly how or why. Wonder Woman calls it a “symbol” but the book offers no meaning behind her weird shoulder pads, thigh high boots, pointy skirt, and black unitard. Probably because it’s a #DCYou twist, and something resembling the old costume will be back sooner or later anyway. Big changes to the Wonder Woman costume never last.

The book ends with something new, a teen with a bomb. The teen is threatening to blow himself up if he doesn’t get to meet Wonder Woman, so she stops by to try to talk some sense into him. But the teen is no ordinary teen, and wants to fight even though Wonder Woman is not keen to do so. Ultimately, he jumps off a bridge and retreats to a secret lair. It’s an odd reveal because while there is a magic pool and a plot to have the teen replace Wonder Woman as the god of war is made very clear, we have no idea who either participant is.   Pegasus shows up at the end, which makes me think that the teen might be Perseus, but he could also just be any random dude with a dislike of Wonder Woman who craves power. Whoever’s in the pool is obviously mythologically based, but the details are few. I’m sure more will be revealed moving forward, but a little more information could have made this big reveal a lot more impactful. “Oh snap, it’s some random dude!” is far less compelling than “Oh snap, it’s Perseus!” or “Oh snap, it’s Icarus!” or whoever.

All together, it’s not a particularly well crafted issue, nor does it create a lot of excitement for the next issue. However, at least it’s just bland and not straight up awful. That’s a big step up from the Finches’ first issue back in November. It’s not an enjoyable issue. I wouldn’t say it’s in the ballpark of good yet. But it didn’t make me angry or sad, and I’m glad about that. I’ll take bored over furious any day of the week. While I hold little hope that Wonder Woman will ever be good again with the Finches at the helm, it’s always nice when an issue isn’t completely terrible. Well done, all involved, for clearing the lowest of bars.

Superman/Wonder Woman #6 Preview OR Teasing Some New Armour

March 7, 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman #6 comes out next Wednesday, and Newsarama has a preview of the book.  Now, I don’t much care for this series, but what I do like is new outfits.  It’s always fun when a superhero get a special suit for fighting in a particularly treacherous situation; we see them in their regular costumes all the time, so I enjoy when they mix it up.  Hephaestus has been working on some new armour for our title duo, but the preview cuts off at the very first time I was actually curious about what was on the next page of this series:

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Good work leaving me wanting more, I suppose.

So it looks like Zod and Faora are building something evil and terrible to take over the Earth, those nefarious buggers.  And Wonder Woman and Superman talk about their relationship and how much Superman just wants to protect her, which is super not interesting.  Hephaestus looks like Hellboy on the last panel of that fourth page, though.  That’s pretty fun.

And new outfits!  I’m curious to see their fancy, Hephaestean armour.  Really, that’s all I care about at this point.

Also, following up on some of my past criticism of this series, every page of this preview features multiple panels and several lines of dialogue, which is a very nice change of pace.  I’ve been unimpressed with the book’s, shall we say, Spartan approach to storytelling, so I’m glad to see some more effective use of page space.

Superman/Wonder Woman #6 is out Wednesday, March 12 online and in comic shops everywhere.

Superman/Wonder Woman #2 Review OR Not A Lot Of Bang For Your Buck

November 13, 2013

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I was hoping that having some of the Greek gods show up might make this issue more enjoyable than the first, but this felt like a lot of filler until the very last page when something actually happened.  Nothing of any real significance occurred in the 20 pages before that.  It’s only the second issue; they shouldn’t have run out of plot yet.  I’ll have more on the emptiness of this issue momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to ruin EVERYTHING that happens in this comic book!

Granted, it’s not a lot, but still!

Read it yourself first!

So we picked up where we left off, with Wonder Woman fighting Doomsday.  He beats her up for a bit and then disappears when Superman shows up.  Wonder Woman and Superman then visit the Fortress of Solitude to talk about the Phantom Zone and Doomsday, and Wonder Woman gives the Man of Steel a pep talk about how he can defeat that evil beast.  Because he’s so strong in so many ways; that is the theme of this issue, really.

As a sidenote, did Doomsday kill Superman in the New 52 universe?  The conversation he had with Wonder Woman was ridiculously vague.  I had no idea what sort of history Superman had with Doomsday, but Superman dying is a big deal.  If it had happened, Wonder Woman’s reaction probably would have been “Oh look, it’s that big creature who killed you” instead of “Hey, who’s that?”

Carrying on, the duo visits Hephaestus so Superman can get some armour to protect him if Doomsday comes back.  Hephaestus tests Superman strength by swinging his hammer at him, which Superman stops with ease.  See?  He’s so strong.  Then Apollo and Strife pop in, make some disparaging comments about Superman, and Wonder Woman’s taste in men, and then THEY fight.  And because Apollo is the sun, Superman gets turbo charged and tosses Apollo through the mountain.  Because, as you may recall, Superman is very, very strong.  Strife and Diana are all hot and bothered by this masculine display, and thus ends the main story of this issue.

Seriously, that’s it.  Oh, and a page with Cat Grant, trying to call Clark.

Then, in the last three pages of the book, there’s a disturbance in the Sahara Desert and General Zod appears, all red-eyed, blood-soaked, and furious.  I’m assuming that he will soon fight with Superman, which should be a good battle because, and I don’t know if you know this, Superman is quite strong.

Wonder Woman does nothing in this issue except get beat up by Doomsday, cheer up her boyfriend, and take him to visit her family.  Superman, on the other hand, lifts a massive navy ship and beats the hell out of the king of the gods.  I’m not sure why Wonder Woman is in this book, other than that she’s into big dudes who can beat up other dudes.  That they are both superheroes is the only thing they have in common and the entire basis of their relationship, so I suppose it’s good for them that she likes his assertive displays of power.   Lord knows they’ve got nothing else going for them other than dull, awkward conversing.

So the book wasn’t great.  It was kind of bad, really, both because a) nothing important happened until the end, and b) what did happen was dominant displays of aggression by Superman while Wonder Woman looked on and swooned dreamily.  Also, that big thing that happened at the end?  We knew it was coming from the solicits AND even if you didn’t, if you had a decent knowledge of Superman lore you probably guessed it was coming once the Phantom Zone was mentioned.  It was not a surprising reveal.  I mean, Man of Steel is out on Blu Ray this week.  Come on.

On top of these story (or lack thereof) issues, there was another problem: I read this book in about three minutes.  Part of the reason nothing happened in this book is because it’s such a quick read.  I mentioned in my review of the first issue that Tony S. Daniels was a little bit heavy with splashs and two page spreads, but he takes it to a whole new level here.  A full THIRTEEN of the book’s twenty pages contain three panels or less.  That doesn’t give you a lot of space for things to happen.  Wonder Woman gets punched across a ship, two page spread.  Superman picks up said ship, there’s a page.  Superman catches a hammer, full page for that.  Superman punches Apollo, better use up a whole page there.  ZOD!  Full page reveal, following a two page spread that exists solely to set up that reveal (I don’t think those poor Bedouins will come up again).  I’m a little worried that the next issue is just going to be picture book style, one image per page with a bit of text.

This annoying misuse of comic book real estate is exacerbated by the fact that this book costs four dollars.  Wonder Woman is $2.99 for the same amount of pages, with a reasonable number of panels per page, while Superman/Wonder Woman is $3.99 with less story.  Let’s do a quick comparison on how much you pay per panel for the last issue of each series:

Wonder Woman #24: 128 panels at $2.99 =  2.3 cents per panel

Superman/Wonder Woman #2: 67 panels at $3.99 = 6 cents per panel

Not all panels are created equal, of course, but you’re getting way more bang for your buck out of Wonder Woman.  You’re paying almost three times as more per chunk of story with Superman/Wonder Woman, and for about half as many panels.  It’s not a good deal.

All in all, I think this might be the last Superman/Wonder Woman review for now.  I’m going to keep buying it because it has “Wonder Woman” in the title and I’m a sucker like that, and I might post a few thoughts each month if any are warranted, but there’s just not much to talk about so far.  If it gets better, and I very much hope it does, I’ll start back up with full reviews again, but until then I don’t think these reviews are fun for anyone.  I don’t want to complain for a thousand words, and you probably don’t want to read that.  So from here on out, we’ll be following the series in a much less in depth manner.  I just don’t care for it.

Wonder Woman #8 Preview OR Oh Fun, New Armour!!

April 16, 2012

I have no idea what Redeye is, but today they posted a preview for Wonder Woman #8, which comes out this Wednesday.  Let’s take a look:

Hey, new outfit!!  New outfits are always fun.  It’s very reminiscent of the pre-DCnU era with the heavy use of gold.  It’s got kind of a Silver Age Wonder Girl vibe with the eagle on the chest too.  Also, it’s armour, which is fun to see.  Oddly sporadic armour I suppose… there’s still a lot exposed for potential attackers, but I like when Wonder Woman is practical and suits up to match the occasion.

As for last issue’s surprising and controversial Amazon reveal, it’s not addressed in the preview at all.  There’s a lot more book, of course, so maybe it will come up later.  From what we’ve got, Wonder Woman seems pretty focused on her mission and not really wrapped up in the shocking revelation.

I like the idea that Hell changes all the time in accorandance with the whims of Hades.  That’s sort of enjoyably messed up.  And that it’s built of souls is just creepy!!  Azzarello and Chiang are really making the gods and their world a dark and frightening thing, and I like this approach.  It’s a cool change from the togas and marble columns.

Wonder Woman #8 is out this Wednesday, April 18, so check it out if the last issue didn’t outrage you too badly.  I know a lot of people were upset, but I’m still going to get it.

Wonder Woman #7 Review OR That Was An Odd Choice

March 22, 2012

So I was RIDICULOUSLY jazzed for this issue.  Cliff Chiang is back and Hephaestus and Eros were going to be in it and they were going to plan a trip to Hades and it all sounded terribly exciting.  Then it took a very bizarre left turn that’s been perplexing me all night.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I don’t think I like it. 

But I can’t tell you about it without first saying SPOILER.

As always, I’m going to wreck everything that happens in this comic, so if you haven’t read it yet, go away!!

Seriously, it’s only three bucks… go get a copy.

Okay, onto the reviewing…

Cliff Chiang was back and killed it as always.  I loved barefoot hipster Eros and burnt arms, ogre-like Hephaestus.  That was all very fun and good.  But I’m pretty much only going to talk about one thing in this review.

In this issue, we learn that Hephaestus’ minions are the male children of Amazons, who they trade to Hephaestus in return for weapons.  Hephaestus takes them in and raises them as is own, and they’re one big happy family, working at the forge.  You see, thrice a century the Amazons go out looking for dudes to have sex with, seduce them with their feminine wiles, kill the dudes after they have sex with them, keep the female babies to be Amazons, and ditch the boys.  Apparently it’s been going on for a while.

I have a huge problem with this.

Let me preface this by saying that I love EVERYTHING Azzarello and Chiang have done with the series so far.  The new take on the gods is fantastic, I adore the new characters, and I think that Zeus as Wonder Woman’s father was a really interesting tweak to the mythos that’s been handled well so far.  I know a lot of Wonder Woman fans are up in arms about this new direction for the book, but I’m not one of them.  I’ve loved it all, and I think it’s the best book on the stands right now.

But this bothers me.  For a lot of reasons, some of them dully logistical even.  I mean, how does Wonder Woman not know about this?  Was she literally JUST born?  Or did she just not notice all the babies, and everyone ducking out every 33 years?  It’s not a big island.  Anyway, let’s get back on track.  The main reason this doesn’t sit well with me is because the Amazons have ALWAYS been better than us.

That’s their schtick.  Paradise Island is a feminist utopia and the Amazons are more advanced than everyone else on the planet in every possible way on account of they don’t spend all their time killing each other and taking other people’s stuff like we do.  And it’s been like that for seventy years, most blatantly in the Golden Age with William Moulton Marston but in every incarnation afterwards as well.  The Amazons can be warriors when they need to be, but left to their own devices they are a peaceful and prosperous people we could all learn something from.  That’s what makes them awesome.

And that’s what makes them important.  Wonder Woman and the Amazons have been representatives of feminism for decades, way before feminism was cool (though really, feminism still isn’t cool is vast swathes of the United States).  Yeah, there are lots of great other female characters in comics now, but no one’s been around for as long or been as spectacular as Wonder Woman.  Wonder Woman is who she is because she’s an Amazon, and Amazons have always represented the best that humanity can achieve.  They’re noble and brave and strong and heroic, which can’t be said about most other female characters without having to add “she’s also this headlining hero’s girlfriend” or “she’s a derivative of this more well known male hero” or “she’s got a big hole in her costume right over her cleavage”.  And they’re ladies!!  They’re better AND they’re ladies.  The Amazons are strong and independent women who have been a remarkably progressive and feminist presence in the DC universe since it began.

And now they’re jerks.  No, jerks is WAY too soft.  They’re killers.  Murderers.  You could actually call them feminazis is you wanted to… they’re certainly exterminating large numbers of a particular group of people they don’t like.  There’s no way to justify seducing and then killing random, innocent men.  I mean, you could get into a whole “no man is innocent in a patriarchal society” thing but that’s just a slippery slope and you’ll end up sounding like Valerie Solanas.

Plus, if it wasn’t for Hephaestus, they’d kill all the male babies too!!  Wonder Woman sees the whole set up as forced slavery for her brothers and she tries to set them free, but they all tell her thanks but no thanks.  Their Amazon mothers were cruel women who would have left them to die if it wasn’t for Hephaestus, and they were glad to stay with him.  This scene would actually be sweet if I wasn’t perplexed by everything that came before while I read it:

Hephaestus, the male, is caring and compassionate.  The Amazons, the females, are cold-hearted killers.  This is not how things are supposed to go.

And here’s the thing… if this had been the Amazons pre-Paradise Island, I’d be cool with it.  I could understand it.  An all female society is going to die out pretty quick if you don’t figure out some ways to make babies.  If they were plundering a Greek trireme or some such and killing all the dudes, I could see that.  It was a different time, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  But at a certain point, they go off to Paradise Island, become immortal, and build a utopia.  There’s no need to do that anymore, because a) they’re immortal so they won’t die out, b) they don’t want to have anything to go with men anymore… that’s sort of the ENTIRE goddamn point of the island, and c) having left the world of men because men are murderous, treacherous fiends, their main aim as a society was NOT TO BE LIKE THAT.

Also, why?  I know Azzarello has mad skills and I’m sure he has a plan, but I have NO idea why this was done.  It serves no purpose in the story, other than to make Wonder Woman look dumb repeatedly.  It feels like a twist just for the sake of being shocking and different.  Maybe it will play out into something interesting and, I sincerely hope, good and restorative for the Amazons, but so far there’s no discernible reason for it.

In earlier issues, I sort of enjoyed the man-hating bits with the Amazons because it felt like a joke, like they were teasing Diana for being out in the world with stupid dudes all the time.  But in actuality, they REALLY hate men.  It wasn’t a joke.  Thrice a century they’re going out to kill them and toss them off boats:

That is beyond screwed up.  If that is a sanctioned practice in Amazon society, what does that say about Amazon society?  Nothing good.  The Amazons were unimpeachable.  The Amazons were the ideal.  But now, they’re no better than the rest of us.

Now, this doesn’t ruin Wonder Woman or anything like that.  Much as Wonder Woman being the product of a feminist utopia is a fantastic story, Wonder Woman being a kind and noble hero despite what is now a pretty twisted history is still a positive message.  Wonder Woman herself remains awesome.  But something really great from DC’s history is now gone, and that’s kind of sad.  What the Amazons represented was so cool and so unique, especially in what has historically been a male-dominated and often sexist industry.  After seventy years, that’s now been done away with.

With this shift, Wonder Woman seems to be just like everyone else, a hero with a messed up past who’s trying to overcome the ever-present darkness that surrounds her.  She’ll overcome it, of course, and be a stronger hero for it, but Wonder Woman was never dark or tortured or trying to deal with a screwed up history.  That’s what made her different.  She wasn’t a hero to excise her demons or because of a psychological break cause by serious parental issues, she was a hero because she’s an Amazon and that’s just what they do.  But now she’s a hero despite being an Amazon, and that’s bumming me out some.

So yeah, this was not my favourite issue of the series.  And of course, it’s just a comic and the world hasn’t ended or anything.  I’m frustrated and perplexed by a change to the backstory of a fictional character I enjoy… there are people dying in Uganda.  Also, I feel a little bad about not liking this, because I’ve loved the book so far.  I know I just said it’s not a huge deal, but I’ve been thinking about it ALL night and yeah, it just doesn’t sit right with me.  Of course, I totally reserve the right to take this all back if the story restores all of the Amazon’s feminist awesomeness at some point, but for right now I’m confused and a little bit disappointed.


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