Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Merino’

Wonder Woman #50 Review: IT’S! FINALLY! OVER!

July 11, 2018

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First of all, gang, congratulations. We made it. This has been an overly long, bizarrely terrible run of Wonder Woman comics, and now those dark days are at an end. We’ve got one extra-sized anniversary issue to chat about, and then we are free. Oh, there will be bad writers again. That’s inevitable. And ludicrous narratives that center a male character in a book called Wonder Woman, sure. Superhero comics are a weird game. But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that this particular awful era is over. The franchise is tarnished, but not destroyed. Wonder Woman’s endured some truly horrible arcs over the decades. If anyone can shake off a bad run, it’s her. So let’s dig into this final outing for James Robinson, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the ending to this foolish, boring arc!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Though, good call if you haven’t!

You aren’t missing anything, really!

When last we left our intrepid heroine, her brother had been turned by the Dark Gods and she was facing an uphill battle against her silly, poorly designed foes. But this issue doesn’t pick up there. No, this issue needed an awkward framing device. Something to give us stilted exposition as Wonder Woman looked back on the fight. We learned two things straight away: First, Wonder Woman survived. Big sigh of relief there. And second, Jason’s fate was far less pleasant. But what happened?

Basically, Jason played the Dark Gods by pretending to be in their thrall and using his bevy of divine powers. For some reason, Robinson thought it would be fun to point out each power and which deity it came from every time Jason used one? There were a lot, all of them awkwardly interjected. It’s nice to see some consistency, I suppose. The guy started out his run making some very questionable dialogue choices, and he ended his run doing the same.

In the end, Wonder Woman doesn’t do much of anything but punch some gods while Jason sacrifices himself to save the world. He allows the gods to possess him, and all of his divine powers, on the promise that they will leave Earth and return to their own dimension. Thus is the planet spared from their evil influence, and everything returns to normal.

First off, ugh. This entire run has been terrible at showcasing Wonder Woman, in general but as a hero specifically. She’s been sidelined again and again, and her few victories have been underwhelming to say the least. So to give the win in the SPECIAL FIFTIETH ANNIVERSAY ISSUE OF HER OWN BOOK to her big, dumb brother is just adding insult to injury. Wholly expected, frankly. This era has been far more about him than it has her. But still, gross. Wonder Woman is the last book where we need a man to save the day, and a big celebratory issue is the last place to do it. Robinson tries to frame it as Jason recognizing that Diana would never give up the fight, blah blah blah, but the end result is a) Jason does all the talking, b) Jason controls the narrative, and c) Jason ends up as the hero of the book. Wonder Woman ends up as a side character in her own series once again, and spends a significant chunk of the book having to rhapsodize about her brother’s sacrifice.

Second off, though, hooray! Jason is gone! To a whole other dimension, even. If the folks at DC Comics are smart, we’ll never have to see him again, though after this run I have little to no confidence in the intelligence of anyone at the publisher who thought that this book was worth printing. Still, he’s out of the picture for now, and maybe out of the picture forever. Wonder Woman can be about Wonder Woman again and we can all pretend that this run never happened. Such is the beauty of superhero comics. The good, important arcs live forever as iconic elements of a character’s past, deservedly referenced and celebrated for ages. The bad, pointless arcs just sort of disappear and we never ever bring them up again.

It truly is a shame that the writing on the book has been so bad, because so many artists have been working very hard to make the best of it. Two of my recent favourites, Emanuela Lupacchino and Stephen Segovia, returned for this final issue, and their pages were quite lovely, as always. Lupacchino draws an absolutely gorgeous Wonder Woman, while Segovia’s ability to capture action never fails to disappoint. And of course, the excellent colouring of Romulo Fajardo Jr. held it all together, as it has for months now. I do hope that the work of all of these artists is remembered fondly, even as we all try to forget the writing. It hasn’t been fun to read the words in Wonder Woman for a long while, despite Saida Temofonte laying them out quite nicely for us, but it’s often been a nice book to look at, and I really appreciate that.

So now that it’s all over, let’s do a quick post-mortem. How did this even happen?! We got the tease of a brother in the “Darkseid War” event, presumably planted by Geoff Johns, who is kind of a big deal at DC. The general response was that this was a very bad idea, but I think we all assumed that it must be important since it was one of the big reveals at the end of a major event series. And then we get this. An utterly pointless, inconsequential arc that derailed what had been the strongest run on Wonder Woman in some time. At a time when Wonder Woman has never been more popular thanks to the movie, even! I don’t understand it. Not in the least. This was all so unnecessary. So counter to what fans were clamouring for. So poorly written and put together. So contrary to the renewed spirit of the character and her focus on female strength and power. Honestly, it felt like the folks in charge of Wonder Woman decided to take a nine month vacation and just put out whatever. This run was an embarrassment. DC squandered the perfect opportunity to make Wonder Woman a huge book by churning out this absolute dreck, and I’ll never understand what they were thinking.

But now it’s done with! And we’ve got what looks to be some fun issues on the horizon. Steve Orlando is stepping in to write the book for the next five issues, and he’s always a good time. We’ll see Laura Braga on art in two weeks time, which is an excellent choice. She’s wonderful, and familiar with the character from her fine work on DC Comics Bombshells. Then we’ve got ACO, a solid artist and a frequent collaborator of Orlando’s, and Raul Allen, someone who’s work I’m not familiar with but who a quick Google image search tells me looks to have a cool style. I’m looking forward to all of it. And then, here is some breaking news, G. Willow Wilson of Ms. Marvel fame is taking over the book, with art from Cary Nord! G. WILLOW. WILSON. She’s amazing. This is the best news. What a fantastic announcement to add to the joy of this run being over! Things are going to get good, gang. SO GOOD.

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Wonder Woman #49 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang. Just One More Issue.

June 27, 2018

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This week’s issues of Wonder Woman takes “The Dark Gods” one step closer to its conclusion, and one step closer to the long-needed introduction of a new creative team. On the plus side, Wonder Woman is actually in this one, a nice change from the utter lack of her two weeks back. On the negative side, everything else is about the same, i.e. not at all good. This entire run has been weak, but “The Dark Gods” is especially bland. James Robinson used to be known for innovative superhero narratives. Starman is a classic, and even more recently his Scarlet Witch book was enjoyably outside the norm for Marvel. But his Wonder Woman run has just fallen flat, time and again. As we near the conclusion of his run, nothing feels fresh or interesting. It’s superhero paint-by-numbers, with every move telegraphed and every turn expected, especially this issue’s cliffhanger. It’s just boring. Even so, we’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Though if you’ve ever read a superhero story, you can pretty much predict how this one is going!

It’s mind-numbingly straight forward stuff!

So Wonder Woman is back from Zamaron, and that is good. Wonder Woman is always better when Wonder Woman herself is in it, even if that improvement only takes the overall quality from awful up to very bad. The Dark Gods are doing terrible things across the Earth, and she and Jason are focusing on their leader, the oddly named King Best, a giant stone monster with red eye beams. He’s a weird villain. The other four Dark Gods have powers that compel people to behave in certain ways en masse, whether it’s starting large scale wars, getting lost in a thrall, inspiring suicides, or a nationwide extreme orgy. It’s all very gruesome, but destructive in a way that’s mildly interesting at least. And then the Big Bad is just a rock man with laser eyes. It feels like a step down in creative villainy. He absorbed the Justice League in the last issue, I suppose. That’s something. But compared to the twisted powers of the other Dark Gods, King Best seems a little humdrum.

Anyway, Wonder Woman and Jason beat up the dude for most of the issue, pulling the old “knock him down but he’s not finished yet” cliché as the issue nears its end. Then Diana meets up with Steve while Jason flies off to fight with one of the lesser Dark Gods on his own, and you’ll never guess what happens next. Oh wait, you’ve guessed it already? It’s an obvious twist that we’ve all been expecting for weeks? That plays out pretty much exactly how we thought it would? Okay then. Yes, Jason has been turned to the dark side. Gasp. I’ll be on the edge of my seat for the next two weeks, waiting for the epic conclusion to this mind blowing cliffhanger.

I mean, this is just some ridiculously lazy writing. I do appreciate that Robinson actually tried for half a second with the lesser Dark Gods and made them somewhat intriguing. Those are frightening power sets that, in the hands of a writer that actually seemed at all invested in telling a cool story, could have been really interesting. But this Jason twist is just weak. Literally everybody on the planet has just been waiting for him to turn bad, even the billions of people not reading this comic book. If you explained the gist of this run to a random stranger on the street, their first reaction would be, “Oh, that brother is going to turn evil, FOR SURE.” And now he has, in another shrug of a final page reveal.

The artwork in the issue isn’t exactly elevating the uninspiring story, either. Jesus Merino’s work is fine, if somewhat standard superhero fare. It lacks the beauty of Emanuela Lupacchino’s linework, or the exciting action of what Stephen Segovia’s shown us lately. Merino is a solid, reliable artist, very much in the wheelhouse of DC’s generic house style. There’s nothing bad about it, but there’s nothing particularly fun or compelling either. It’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a mid-tier superhero book nearing the end of an lackluster run. Actually, no. It’s slightly better than that. I’ve seen some bad arcs peter out with rough art, and Merino’s a step above that. He does the job, and tells the story. It’s not his fault that the story is terrible.

Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still in the mix though, laying down those good, good colours that make this book exciting every two weeks. The story and the linework rarely do much for me, but Fajardo’s always got something cool on the go. This week, it’s his subtle progression of time through the opening fight scene. It begins late in the day, with a sky that’s starting to darken. And it darkens more as the fight goes on, until Wonder Woman is flying in front of a full moon after the fight ends. The dude even takes the time to add a nice sunset effect when King Best gets thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. I love the effort we get from Fajardo with each issue. The man is top notch. As is letterer Saida Temofonte, who makes the bad words read well. The story might not be good, but dang if it isn’t laid out perfectly for easy reading.

And now the best thing of all: We’ve only got one issue left, gang. It’s going to be a big one, a special fiftieth issue shindig with some extra pages, but then we are free! Steve Orlando is coming in with Laura Braga on art, and the old era will pass away as a new one begins. I’m so ready. I’ve been ready since Robinson’s first issue, really, and now we are finally at the end. Gosh, it would be fun to write a positive review again. And I’ve got a good feeling about this creative team. ONE MORE ISSUE LEFT. Thank the gods, Old and New and Dark.

Wonder Woman #48 Review: All Jason, All The Time. I Could Not Be Less Interested In This.

June 13, 2018

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Nope. Nope nope nope.

I’m not going to waste an hour of my life writing a review of a Wonder Woman comic that stars her stupid brother for the whole dang thing.

We’ll get into it all, briefly, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you don’t want to know what happens in this Wonder Woman comic book that barely has Wonder Woman in it!

Ugh, this run.

THE WORST.

So basically, while Wonder Woman’s whisked off to Zamaron for the events of last week’s annual, Jason is left behind to fight the Dark Gods on his own. He uses a magic spear that I’m pretty sure is a rip off of the Chance Lance from Adventure Zone. And also he instantly knows everything about the Dark Gods because of the Athena powers in his special suit and he painstakingly tells us all about them via lengthy narration. Then the Justice League shows up to help for a bit. They lose. Wonder Woman is on the first and last page, and that’s it for her.

The Dark Gods look goofy. Jason is terrible. This issue is dumb and bad.

The end.

We’ll be back in two weeks, with Wonder Woman actually in the mix this time. Two more issues until this is over, gang. We’re almost there.

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

March 14, 2018

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

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

They are all so dumb.

So very, very dumb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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