Posts Tagged ‘James Robinson’

Wonder Woman #40 Review: Still With This Foolishness?

February 14, 2018

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There’s a line in today’s issue of Wonder Woman that perfectly captures the quality of writing we’ve been dealing with for the past several months. The woefully underdeveloped villain Silver Swan is flying through the night sky, stinging from her recent battle with Wonder Woman, and as she sees the moon shining she notes, “The moon reflects the cold silver of my dead heart.” Friends, I laughed out loud. The unfortunate thing is, I don’t think writer James Robinson was trying to be funny here. He’s constructed what he must imagine is a serious villain, given the swath of bodies left in her wake, yet her internal monologue reads like a bad goth parody. And, unsurprisingly given how poor this run has been, the rest of the writing in this issue is not much better. I remain flabbergasted that DC Comics is allowing such a terrible story for one of their marquee characters. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Do not read this review unless you want to know all of the big reveals from this issue!

I mean, most of these reveals are very dumb!

And badly written!

But still!

Reviewing this series lately just feels like making a list of complaints, which is something I do not care for. And yet, here we are again. I’d much rather be celebrating a fine comic book than criticizing a bad one, but this book just keeps finding new ways to be unpleasant every other week. It’s like compounded interest, except with terribleness instead of money. And I’m not at all shocked to see a new array of dumb decisions in this issue, on top of the already asinine storyline.

Let’s start with the art. It was fairly solid, as always. Emanuela Lupacchino and Carmen Carnero are quite good at their craft, and there was a lot of nice work in this outing. Throughout this run, the art has been the one decent thing we can count on, even when these fine artists are drawing the dumbest of stories. However, there was an odd choice that I didn’t much like. Lupacchino drew Jason towering over Diana, making him a full head taller than her in several panels. She often looked like a little pixie when next to his imposing frame. First, this is new. Jason was drawn only slightly taller than Diana initially. And second, Wonder Woman is tall. She is an imposing figure herself. To make her look small, you have to be a dang giant, or at the very least some sort of basketball star.

Moreover, the juxtaposition made her look not weak, but lesser, to a degree. There’s nothing at all wrong with being shorter, of course. Strength is not relative to size. But Diana and Jason are twins, and I think it’s a poor choice to make the male twin so much bigger. Especially in a genre where the men are typically behemoths and the women are tiny. They should be equals, and they’ve not been drawn as such here.

We’ve also got a condescending Steve Trevor moment in this issue that felt very out of character. If you’re not writing Steve Trevor as a good dude, you’re not writing him well. He is a fundamentally decent, respectful person, especially when it comes to women. So I found it a bit during when, during his battle with the Furies, he patronizingly called Lashina “sweetheart.” It’s a small thing, to be sure. But it’s a small thing that’s indicative of a writer who’s just doesn’t seem that interested in getting the characters right. That’s not something Steve would say. And since he’s only in two pages this issue, and has been an afterthought for a lot of this run, such a glaring error stands out especially sharply.

This outing also sees the introduction of another villain, and I’m not excited about it. Why would DC give Robinson the chance to screw up another classic Wonder Woman villain? It’s mind boggling. The revelation comes near the end of the issue, when a reflection reveals that the kindly Dr. Edward Carne looks to in fact be Dr. Psycho. Now, I’m not great at predicting plots and twists, in part because I don’t like to. I’d rather just follow along with where the story’s going. But the second the book introduced a short, friendly doctor talking about “the power of the mind,” my immediate thought was “well, that’s probably Dr. Pyscho then.” I was very amused when the next page revealed just that. It’s a weak twist, and I really don’t want Robinson to screw up this character too. Haven’t we been subjected to enough already? I have zero faith that he’ll do something interesting with him.

Elsewhere, the arc continued in its usual underwhelming way. Diana and Jason argued about proper heroing. There was another fight with the Silver Swan, and ultimately Wonder Woman captured here. Then Jason decided to run away because he’s so bad at being a superhero. Except that when he went to leave, he was swept up in some type of malevolent purple force. My fingers are crossed that he’d dead and gone, but that seems unlikely. Chances are, Grail and Darkseid have him now and we’ll see him again sooner than later.

So the overarching story is still plodding along. The Silver Swan tale is done for now, and it sounds like we’ve got Darkseid vs. the Amazons coming up next. And then, hopefully, a new creative team that knows what they’re doing. But after all of this complaining, let’s take a moment to recognize something amazing about this series. Jenny Frison has been doing variant covers for Wonder Woman for well over a year now, and they are consistently fantastic. I usually put up the main cover at the start of my review, but DANG did Frison outdo herself this week and I had to post that instead. That cover is stunning, and one of her best yet. I don’t know why DC isn’t making her covers the main ones, because they are gorgeous. Though really, I don’t know why DC isn’t doing a lot of things differently with Wonder Woman these days. Nonetheless, what a stellar piece of art. She’s been doing phenomenal work.

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Wonder Woman #39 Review: Let’s Talk About The One Good Thing This Book Has Going For It

January 24, 2018

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It’s tough to come up with new and creative ways to say a comic book is terribly written every two weeks, and James Robinson is doing me no favours by continually churning out one of the worst Wonder Woman runs in recent memory. And that’s saying something. Remember the Finches? This might be even worse than that. Point being, I can only talk about this horrendous storyline so much before I lose my mind. It’s just too terrible. So today, let’s turn a negative into a positive. Yes, today’s new issue of Wonder Woman is still hot garbage and everyone at DC should feel bad about themselves for putting out such a bad book. However, today is also Colorist Appreciation Day, when comic book fans take to social media to celebrate the pivotally important, criminally overlooked artists who make the comics look good (#ColoristAppreciationDay). So let’s do that instead! But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m gonna run through the stupid contents of this issue real quick first!

But then I’m going to tell you how rad Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s coloring is!

So basically, Wonder Woman is still fighting Silver Swan, the most underdeveloped villain in the history of villains. Apparently there’s some sort of nanobot situation behind her transformation? Anyway, she’s evil and angry and spending most of her time rehashing literally everything we learned last issue, in typical Robinson fashion. Also, Darkseid and Grail are hanging out in the Amazon rain forest, and Darkseid sends the Female Furies after Steve Trevor and his knockoff Howling Commandos. Oh, and Jason tries to get into the fighting mix and uses some dumb wind power or something. Surprising no one, it proves ineffective. So yeah, it’s all very bad.

Apart from the art! Before I get to the colorist, I should again praise the fine work of Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy, who are making some horrible writing at least nice to look at. This week they’re joined by Carmen Carnero, who does some fine work as well. It’s a good looking book. You’d be better served to look at the pretty pictures and make up your own story and dialogue, really.

The lovely art is, of course, brought to life by the marvelous coloring of Romulo Fajardo Jr. He’s been the only real constant on Wonder Woman since it’s “Rebirth” relaunch, and has been doing great work on the title for over a year and a half now. After sharing duties with Laura Martin, who colored Liam Sharp’s art, for the first year, he’s been the sole colorist since. It’s been a remarkable run for several reasons.

First, by my count, he’s worked with over eleven different line art teams during that span. That’s a lot of change, and with each new artist he’s adapted his style to fit their artwork. Fajardo Jr. could have just colored them all exactly the same, but he doesn’t. When the art is more realistic, his colors are more subtle and textured to bring out the realism. When the art is more cartoonish, he goes a bit brighter and bolder and sells the style. There’s definite consistency throughout his work, too. The man’s blending in his shading, especially with skin tones, is impeccable, and the dude does amazing work with different textures. His ability to adapt to his artists while putting out high quality work is impressive, and it gives the series a cohesiveness that counters the constant upheaval of the line art changes.

Second, it’s hard to be a colorist under the best of circumstances. If a script is late or the artist gets behind, the colorist is the last line of defense to ensure that the book comes out on time. This often involves working on crazy deadlines to pick up the slack for everyone else. It’s a thankless, high pressure job, and is doubly so on a bi-weekly series like Wonder Woman. The book is coming out every two weeks come hell or high water, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. is the person that has to carry the baton for the final stretch of the race with each and every issue. And he nails it! Every two weeks, we get a gorgeously colored comic book. No matter who’s writing or drawing it, the coloring is smooth and uniform and pulls the whole issue together.

With every issue of Wonder Woman, whether I’m engrossed in the story and devouring it or appalled at the story and trudging my way through, there’s always at least one moment where I stop and marvel at something Fajardo Jr. has done. Often it’s something small, like the texture of a rock. An inconsequential bit that you could slap a bit of grey on and be fine, saving your time to make sure Wonder Woman herself looks good and fancy. But he always adds a little something to it to make it feel a bit more real, to make the comic book reading experience more immersive. I mean, look at this splash page from the last issue:

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The linework is gorgeous, but he takes it to new heights. The smooth skin tones, the shine on the metal armor, the glow of the lasso, the texture in the stone, the grit on the girl trapped in the rubble. Everything pops. The man’s got an epic arsenal of skills at his disposal, and he uses them with aplomb. His attention to detail adds so much to the book.

Romulo Fajardo Jr. has been a key part of Wonder Woman’s comic book adventures for years now, not just with Wonder Woman itself but dating back to Wonder Woman ’77 as well. His coloring really brought Lynda Carter to life in the early issues of that series, and it’s been exciting to follow his career since then. I’m glad he’s remained part of the Wonder Woman family, and it’s been so fun to see him color some of my favourite artists, including Mirka Andolfo, Bilquis Evely, Emanuela Lupacchino, and Nicola Scott. The man is going to go down in history for “Year One” alone; Scott killed it, obviously, but his colors paired with her linework beautifully, and that collection is going to be a classic for as long as comic books exist. So my thanks go out to Romulo Fajardo Jr., the MVP of Wonder Woman! I hope he gets to color her and her adventures for years to come!

Wonder Woman #38 Review: This Silver Swan Tale is an Ugly Duckling

January 10, 2018

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It’s a New Year, gang, and after spending the latter part of last year slogging through some truly horrendous Wonder Woman comic books, this first issue of 2018 offers us an opportunity for a fresh start. James Robinson remains the writer of the book, of course, for reasons no one seems to completely understand. But still, we’ve got the beginning of a brand new arc! Wonder Woman’s brother and all of the shenanigans with Darkseid and Grail are so 2017. Now it’s time for a different story, courtesy of the introduction of Silver Swan. Will it be a fun, new start for the book? (Spoiler alert: No). Will Robinson leave the sins of the past behind and tell a compelling story? (Spoiler alert: Also no). Will Wonder Woman finally get to take center stage in her own title? (Spoiler alert: Still, no). Let’s dig into it all and find out, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you have not read it yet!

But also, just don’t read it. It’s still so bad. I’ve read it for you. Spare yourself the pain.

I have to say, the first eight pages of this issue aren’t terrible. They aren’t good by any means, but there’s potential. We’ve got Emanuela Lupacchino pencilling the book, with inks from Ray McCarthy, and that’s a very fine start indeed. Lupacchino draws a great Wonder Woman, and the book opens with a lovely full page spread of our favourite heroine, beautifully coloured as always by Romulo Fajardo Jr. The fight scene with Major Disaster that follows is nicely done as well, even as the girl Diana saved, a new version of Vanessa Kapatelis, takes over the narrative. The writing’s still iffy, laden with Robinson’s bizarre punctuation choices and his utter inability to craft words that Wonder Woman would conceivably say. But the story as a whole is decent. Wonder Woman saves Vanessa, who is paralyzed during Major Disaster’s attack, visits her regularly in the hospital, and the two become friends. It’s a nice start. Easily the best eight pages of Wonder Woman we’ve seen since Robinson became the book’s writer.

Then he drives the issue right off a cliff. Wonder Woman visits Vanessa less and less, because she’s busy, you know, saving the dang world, and Vanessa gets bitter and angry. The senseless death of her mother compounds these feelings, and hate begins to set in. Meanwhile, Jason throws a party at Diana’s beach house and she has to give him a talking to, which means a) that her dope of a brother is still around, and b) Diana’s role in the back half of this issue consists solely of scolding the dope.

Let me just pause for a second here. WHO WANTS TO READ THAT?! I cannot understand how the writer and editors in charge of Wonder Woman thought that it would be a good idea to dedicate FIVE PAGES, a full QUARTER of the book, to Diana chastising her brother for partying it up and not properly dedicating himself to heroism. Granted, they’ve been making terrible story decisions for several months now. But still, NOBODY WANTS THIS. Nobody wants to read about her brother in the first place, much less her having to babysit him and try to keep him in line. When people buy Wonder Woman, they expect some Wonder Woman fun. Superheroing. Saving the world. Fun sisterhood. Smash the patriarchy a bit. Not this foolishness. Argh.

So after the scolding, a family Wonder Woman recently saved ends up dead. It turns out that Vanessa has become the Silver Swan and, fueled by her anger at Wonder Woman for abandoning her, flies into a jealous rage and murders them, then waits for Wonder Woman to show up so she can make a dramatic proclamation that she is her worst enemy.

This is all terrible, for several reasons. First, can Wonder Woman get a decent female friend at some point please? This is Wonder Woman. Sisterhood is kind of a big deal. We spent the last arc with her battling Grail, now she’s going to be battling Silver Swan, all the while the only people she talks to are Steve and her brother. Where’s Etta Candy? Where are her female superhero pals? Why is this book a sea of dudes, evil women, and occasionally, but only occasionally, Wonder Woman? It makes no sense.

Second, this is a very quick turn for Vanessa. To have her go from loving Wonder Woman to hating Wonder Woman in the span of an issue feels entirely unearned, doubly so because this is a revamp of a key character in the Wonder Woman mythos. During the George Perez relaunch in the late 1980s, Julia Kapatelis was Diana’s first friend in America, and she and her daughter Vanessa became like family to her. Vanessa’s relationship with Diana was lengthy and well fleshed out, and they went through a lot together. When Vanessa eventually became a new version of the villainous Silver Swan, it was after well over a decade of stories, and various fiendish machinations from other villains to brainwash her into the role. There was a deep history there by the time it occurred.

Here, Robinson bypasses all of that. He borrows the name but not the backstory, manufacturing a slapdash relationship between Diana and Vanessa that does no justice whatsoever to her past prominence. And then he turns it entirely halfway through, making her a villain because she was angry that Wonder Woman was too busy to visit her. That origin is a) weak sauce, and b) quite the change. Going from a brave teen persevering through her injuries to a stone cold murderer all in one issue is too fast a turnaround for it to have any emotional impact.

Also, we’ve had three villain origin stories in this run: Grail, Jason, and now Silver Swan. Each one featured a scene in which they see Wonder Woman on television and get angry over her being out and about and saving the day. It’s such lazy writing. All three villains thus far have been rage-fueled, jealous narcissists. Now, this could be interesting if the book served as a reflection on these traits and why Wonder Woman in particular sparks such anger, perhaps delving into how both men and women are conditioned to try to tear down strong women in our patriarchal society. That might be compelling. But this is not that. This is just lazy, hacky writing, recycling the same few notes and doing nothing new or interesting with any of it.

So basically, things aren’t any better now despite the new arc and the New Year. Shocking, I know. Being negative all the time brings me down; seriously, I’d much prefer to be gushing over how great Wonder Woman is and all of the little things I love about it. But the fact is, this run is awful and it’s just not going to get any better. We have to wait it out and hope for a better creative team and better editors when it’s done.

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 #35 Review: Please, Someone Make This Stop

November 22, 2017

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: In this issue of Wonder Woman, Diana appears only fleetingly and never speaks, and instead the book focuses on the backstory of a villain, the bulk of which we already knew. It sounds familiar because that’s what happened two issues ago with an outing that was all about Grail. Now we’ve got an issue that’s all about Diana’s brother, Jason. So basically, two of the last three issues of Wonder Woman have barely featured Wonder Woman at all. Yeah, that’s the ticket, DC. Wonder Woman’s never been more popular, so now’s a great time to sideline her in her own book in favour of subpar villains. Who thought this was a good idea? Who is letting this stupid story drone on? It’s mind bogglingly terrible. We’ll talk about it all in a moment, but first:

SPOILER ALERT… actually, never mind.

There is literally no new information in this book.

Jason monologued all of this stuff in the last issue.

It’s an utterly pointless, useless, boring regurgitation of a comic book.

Carry on.

Before we get to the comic book itself, let’s chat about the cover. Bryan Hitch’s covers for the arc thus far have been a bit bland, to be honest, but this one had me intrigued for a second. I feared that we would get what we got, an issue that was all Jason and no Diana, but the cover showed me otherwise. Teen Diana! Doing some rad Amazon training! That looks fun. Also, there’s Hippolyta with some bad, ancient Greek style bangs; that was less interesting. But teen Diana, that could be cool! Turns out, there is absolutely no teen Diana in this issue. There’s barely any adult Diana. So thanks for that cruel tease. If you haven’t got the book yet and, like me, are too much of a completist to drop Wonder Woman from your pull list even though it’s straight up garbage right now, I suggest you try to get the Justice League variant cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson. You can never go wrong with the Dodsons drawing Wonder Woman.

In terms of the inside of the issue, where to even start? Let’s go with something I’ve mentioned already, the fact that pretty much everything in this issue is information we already knew. Jason blathered on about his life two weeks ago, and nothing here adds to that. It’s even more blatant than the Grail issue from last month, which did basically the same thing but added a fight scene in the middle, at least. We got no real action in this issue, apart from the tease of an upcoming battle with some aquatic creatures because, god help us, this issue was only part one of this redundant exploration of Jason’s past. James Robinson must be laughing all the way to the bank, telling a story in one issue and then retelling that story again two weeks later. The dude is getting two comic books out of one story, and he’s done it twice now. That’s one way to manage the bi-weekly schedule, I suppose.

Another way is to churn out horrendous dialogue and then just leave it, I guess. Because there’s no way any degree of thought or effort was put into Glaucus’ narration of Jason’s tale. It is PAINFUL. So annoyingly folksy, with its countless dropped letters. It’s not his, it’s ‘is. It’s not and, it’s ‘n’. Every ing is an in’. An of is an o’. To is t’. It is so laboured and irksome and, most annoyingly, not even consistent. Robinson replaces the with th’, but only occasionally. Why? There is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s so bad. There are few things that are less enjoyable to read than a bad story poorly narrated. No one needs that double dose of unpleasantness. Then Glaucus just disappears for no good reason apart from some sort of bicentennial migration, because Robinson is putting as much effort into the plot as he is the dialogue.

The book’s one redeeming quality is the art, and even that is frustrating. Emanuela Lupacchino is an excellent penciller, and Ray McCarthy inks her well. And do you know what they’re particularly great at? Drawing Wonder Woman. And do you know what they’ve barely done at all in their last two issues of Wonder Woman? Drawn Wonder Woman. The few panels in which she appears are gorgeous, and they would do an amazing job on an issue that actually had Wonder Woman in it for any length of time. But no, DC’s chosen to waste this talent on some annoying boy that no one cares about. Meanwhile, the artists on the issues Wonder Woman actually does show up in are middling at best. Come on, now.

Finally, in the midst of this truly terrible outing, we’ve also got additional confirmation that Diana is still the daughter of Zeus in current continuity. This was a New 52 development, along with a horrible take on the Amazons, but the “Rebirth” arcs “The Lies” and “The Truth” reset that and erased those Amazons as a fiction crafted by the gods. Greg Rucka and company never addressed Diana’s birth directly, however, and it seems that it remains unchanged. The real Hippolyta also hooked up with Zeus, as this issue shows, and it looks like that’s just going to be the standard origin going forward. It was bound to stick after they used it in the movie and all, but it’s still dumb and antithetical to the very nature of the character.

Ultimately, this issue was very bad indeed and I would suggest buying literally any other comic book instead. There are lots of good ones. Hell, there are lots of bad ones that are still better than this foolishness. You can’t go wrong. Come back to Wonder Woman in four months. After Justice League‘s subpar box office performance, DC’s got to realize that Wonder Woman is their biggest character right now and they’ll put a great team on the book then. Right? I hope so, because what they’re churning out now is just embarrassing.

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

November 8, 2017

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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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