Posts Tagged ‘Karen Traviss’

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #42 Review: “Nine Days, Parts 2 and 3″ by Karen Traviss, Andres Guinaldo, and Raúl Fernández

July 23, 2015

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The three part “Nine Days” wrapped in today’s Sensation Comics, bringing to a close a story that never seemed to find its footing. There was a lot going on, with Strife and Eris, two sides of the same goddess, interfering in diplomatic relations between two hostile, neighbouring countries, with Wonder Woman in the middle trying to negotiate peace. Despite the many factors at play, the results were entirely predictable. The goddess of strife caused strife, the cartoonish leaders of each nation both reacted as you’d expect over one getting oil and not the other, and Wonder Woman literally had to throw them in a room together and make them sort out their differences. Oh, and there was sort of a fight in the middle.

When the reader knows how the broad strokes of a story are going to play out after the first installment, it’s not a particularly enjoyable read. If you’re going to follow an abundantly obvious formula, it better be the best version of that formula ever put to paper, or in this case to the screen, or the reader is going to be bored. We all know that superheroes are going to win in the end; that’s a given. But writers have to set up real stakes beyond that, invest the reader in the outcome of every character, and throw some twists and turns in along the way. “Nine Days” failed to do any of that.

The story’s awkward art only made things worse. It wasn’t terrible, but things never looked quite right to the point that it became a constant distraction, especially with Wonder Woman. For example, Guinaldo and Fernandez gave Diana oddly shaped glasses that never seemed to sit properly on her face. As Wonder Woman, her bangs shot off at odd angles in a way that gave her a bit of a mullet vibe. Little things like this added up to make the art an unpleasant reading experience. Combined with the obtrusive narration and a hit and miss colouring job, the book left a lot to be desired, visually.

I don’t want to keep going on about how this was a badly put together story because it’s not bad in an offensive way, just subpar across the board, so it’s nothing worth getting worked up over. I don’t really have anything nice to say about it, so I’m just not going to say anything more. The full story will be out in print form in September, so if you didn’t read it digitally, check out the book and see if you agree or disagree with my assessment! Sensation Comics will be back with a new storyline next week with what looks to be an Earth 3 crossover, the evil Superwoman vs. our favourite Amazon.

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Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #42 Review: “Nine Days, Part 1” by Karen Travis, Andres Guinaldo, and Raúl Fernández

July 9, 2015

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First off, things got busy last week and I didn’t have a chance to write a review of Sensation Comics #41, the finale to “Our Little Dance” by Adam Beechen and José Luis Garcia-López. It was fine. If you read the first issue, the second issue concluded about how you would expect. Wonder Woman had a big fight with the Cheetah, things got crazy for a bit, and ultimately Wonder Woman won. The tone at the end was perhaps a bit more cynical than you’d expect in a Wonder Woman comic, but the fight played to Garcia-López’s strengths and ultimately it was all a decent enough story.

Now we’re back on track, review-wise, with a new three-parter by Karen Travis, Andres Guinaldo, and Raúl Fernández. Three-parters are always tricky because if you don’t love it, you’re stuck with it for three weeks either way. With a bad one-shot, you’ll get something new next week. Not so with the lengthier tales. Unfortunately for me and my next two Thursdays, the first issue of “Nine Days” didn’t do much for me.

This issue had a lot of set-up, as one would expect from a part one, but it was lengthy and involved and barely showcased Wonder Woman at all. This version of Wonder Woman has a day job as the Themysciran ambassador at the United Nations, and she’s been asked to help settle a conflict between two bickering neighbour countries because Themyscira is a neutral party. Both countries have different things going on, and it’s even more complicated by an oddly dual Strife/Eris secretly getting involved in the process for yet to be disclosed reasons. This isn’t the whacky, cruel, yet delightful Strife from Azzarello and Chiang’s recent Wonder Woman run, but instead a completely different take on the character. I don’t know that it was wise to go this route with the fantastic job Azzarello and Chiang did with their Strife still fresh in everyone’s mind.

The structure of the book was a little offputting as well. Narration from the goddess Nyx runs through the entire story, often creating a bothersome back and forth where you read a panel’s narration, then the dialogue, then it’s a new panel and you’re now wrapped up in the dialogue and you go back to the narration and have to remember what she was talking about, and then back to the dialogue and you’ve got the same problem again. I find dual storytelling like that irksome unless very well handled, and this all came off a bit muddled.

The art was fine, with hints of something better that never really went anywhere. There were big, cosmic scenes with lovely bits to them, but they didn’t add up to anything particularly wowing. Also, how an artist draws Wonder Woman is usually a big factor in how I judge their work, seeing as she’s the star of the book, and while we got a fair amount of Diana, Wonder Woman didn’t have a lot to do here. I did like what little I saw, and I’m hoping that we’ll get to see Wonder Woman in action next week.

The art wasn’t at all helped by the colouring, which alternated between flat and sort of garish. The everyday scenes were dully coloured, while anything more colourful often involved unpleasant contrasts and a colour palette that just didn’t work. Excellent colour work can often elevate average art, but bad colouring can really bring down a book, and there was too much of that here.

Ultimately, nothing was really terrible in this issue, but nothing was particularly good. There are two more issues to come in this storyline, and while I hope that things pick up I’m also somewhat concerned that it’ll all play out rather expectedly. I feel like the first issue telegraphs how the rest of the plot will unfold; things will go bad for Wonder Woman in the second issue and probably end in a dramatic cliffhanger, and then she’ll fix everything up in the finale. Fingers crossed for twists and turns and some fun surprises, though. Two issues is a lot of space to turn things around after a ho-hum start.

Women At DC Comics Watch – September 2015 Solicits: 19 Different Female Creators On 16 Different Comics

June 22, 2015

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Since June’s #DCYou initiative and mini-relaunch, DC Comics has certainly been consistent in its hiring, posting the same number of female creators in 3 of the 4 months we have solicit information for thus far. However, in doing so they remain consistently below the number of women they were hiring before #DCYou, and by a considerable margin. #DCYou remains a step forward compared to the launch of the New 52, but a step backwards compared to where they were just a few months ago. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what in September:

  • Amanda Conner: All Star Section 8 #4 (cover), Harley Quinn #20 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn and Power Girl #4 (co-writer, cover), Starfire #4 (co-writer, cover)
  • Annie Wu: Black Canary #4 (cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Batgirl #44 (art and cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Gotham Academy #10 (co-writer)
  • Bilquis Evely: DC Comics Bombshells #2 (interior art)
  • Chrissie Zullo: Fables: The Wolf Among Us #9 (cover)
  • Corin Howell: Bat-Mite #4 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Catwoman #44 (variant cover), Starfire #4 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Secret Six #6 (writer)
  • Genevieve Valentine: Catwoman #44 (writer)
  • Karen Traviss: Sensation Comics #14 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: DC Comics Bombshells #2 (writer)
  • Meredith Finch: Wonder Woman #44 (writer)
  • Ming Doyle: Constantine: The Hellblazer #4 (co-writer)
  • Nei Ruffino: Sensation Comics #14 (cover)
  • Pia Guerra: Black Canary #4 (interior art)
  • Rachel Dodson: Wonder Woman #44 (variant cover)
  • Ricken: Teen Titans #12 (art and cover)
  • Vanesa Del Rey: Constantine: The Hellblazer #4 (interior art)

All together, there are 19 different female creators set to work on 16 different comic books at DC in September. It’s the same number of women as August and June, but ties July for the lowest number of different titles this year. Earlier in 2015, DC had 30 different female creators or more multiple times, so it’s disheartening to see them unable to escape the teens currently. Moreover, in February of this year there were women working on 35 different comics; now that’s more than halved.

On the positive side, there are some new and returning names in this month’s solicits. I think that Bilquis Evely is new to DC, and while Nei Ruffino has done a lot of jobs there as a colorist, I believe this is her first time doing line art for them. It’s also nice to have Pia Guerra back inside of a comic book; she’s done some covers here and there, and sporadic interiors, so it’ll be cool to see her do a full issue of Black Canary. She’s a great choice for the book. Ricken is back as well, after a two year absence from DC. Her art should fit very well with Teen Titans.

On the negative side, there are 6 female creators in the September solicits who weren’t there in August. That may sound like a plus, but the overall number didn’t change so that means that there were 6 women in the August solicits who didn’t return in September. New names and returning favourites are great, but not at the expense of other female creators. We want growth, not a revolving door.

There’s not much new for female characters in September, with no new titles as DC continues to settle into their mini-relaunch.

Overall, this is another disappointing month for DC Comics. Consistently underperforming compared to earlier in the year is both frustrating and nonsensical; where did all those women go? DC is hiring female writers and artists at less than 2/3 the rate they used to, and have done so for four straight months. They are capable of a lot better than this.

Wonder Woman’s September 2015 Covers and Solicits, Plus Green Lantern Variants

June 19, 2015

Wonder Woman is keeping busy yet again in September. It’s nice to have Wonder Woman showing up in a variety of books as of late. While the quality of these books may be hit and miss, more books means a higher likelihood of good stories. A couple years ago, Wonder Woman had just one book, and if you didn’t like it you were hosed for the month. Now she’s got four books, and every fan should be able to find something they like in at least one of them. So let’s see what Wonder Woman is up to in September.

First up is Wonder Woman #44; here’s the regular cover and a variant cover celebrating Green Lantern’s 75th anniversary:

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WONDER WOMAN #44
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and JONATHAN GLAPION
GREEN LANTERN 75 Variant cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Wonder Woman is on the trail of Donna Troy, who seeks refuge in London from both Diana and her past. But a new friend may be more trouble than help for the fleeing Amazon outcast!

Strife! I enjoy Strife, so to see her shadow on the cover is a good sign. Whether the Finches’ can do her justice is a whole other question, but Strife brings some potential for fun, at least. Also, Donna Troy is on the lam and Diana makes a new friend, which isn’t a terribly exciting solicit, but hey, Strife!

What I really want to talk about is how rad the Dodsons’ variant cover is. I love that it’s Green Lantern month but the Dodsons stuck him way in the back and just focused on Wonder Woman looking cool in her invisible jet. The Dodsons drawing Wonder Woman is always a good time, and I’m glad that DC’s constant variant lines bring them back to the character on a regular basis.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #21 and it’s Green Lantern variant:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #21
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by PAULO SIQUEIRA
GREEN LANTERN 75 Variant cover by JOE QUINONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US RATED T
The epic “Truth” arc hits close to the heart as dark secrets come to light, forcing Superman and Wonder Woman to question whether their relationship can work in this new world of identities revealed and questionable actions.

That costume doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I feel like the god of war’s outfit should be cooler; more bad ass than warrior hobo. The solicit isn’t giving us a lot to go on, which has been the case ever since the “Truth” storyline began. They keep teasing us with a possible break up, but it’s turning into the boy who cried wolf at this point.

However, the variant cover is a lot of fun! Sometimes the variant covers are the only enjoyable part of Wonder Woman’s mainline books. A lot of times, lately. It’s been fun to watch Joe Quinones blow up over the past year, and I like his Wonder Woman a lot.

We’ve also got Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #14:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #14
Written by KAREN TRAVISS
Art by ANDRES GUINALDO and RAUL FERNANDEZ
Cover by NEI RUFFINO
On sale SEPTEMBER 16 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
It takes “Nine Days,” the gods say, for an anvil to fall to Earth from Olympus. But what happens when it strikes the world of men? Nyx, primordial goddess of night, is indifferent to the fate of the mortals below when she decides to teach her daughter Strife a lesson. Diana has nine days to step between two warring factions of godhood and stave off a disaster for those caught in the crossfire.

It looks like we’ve got another three parter digitally, which will comprise a whole print issue. That’s always a bit of a risk for an anthology book. If the story isn’t great, it’s all you’re getting! But Sensation Comics has been far more hit than miss, and Karen Traviss is a really good writer. The story sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m excited to check it out.

Finally, Wonder Woman co-stars in DC Comics Bombshells #2:

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DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #2
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by BILQUIS EVELY and STEPHEN MOONEY
Cover by ANT LUCIA
1:25 Variant cover by KEVIN WADA
On sale SEPTEMBER 2 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
Wonder Woman defies her mother’s orders and attempts to break Captain Steve Trevor out of his prison cell on Themyscira. But to accomplish this, she’s going to summon a little help from the deep in the form of Mera, Princess of Atlanta. Meanwhile, in Russia, two new heroes are about to be created to serve the Soviet Union: Supergirl and Stargirl!

Wonder Woman and Mera are teaming up for a prison break, so this issue sounds like the best thing ever. Also, I’m assuming that Mera is the Princess of Atlantis, not the Princess of Atlanta like the solicit suggests, unless they’ve radically changed her origin story. I’m intrigued that there are new artists on board. I love Marguerite Sauvage, but rotating artists could be cool too. I’m looking forward to this book a lot.

Look for all of these comics this September in comic shops and online!

Women At DC Comics Watch – November 2013 Solicits

August 14, 2013

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I was a little bit worried that we’d see a big drop this month after we had so many female creators on a Vertigo one-shot anthology in October, but it seems that my concerns were ill founded.  There are female creators all over the place in November, and a new book with a female lead character as well.  Let’s go through the solicits:

  • For writers in the New 52 books, Marguerite Bennett is on Batgirl #25, Christy Marx pens Birds of Prey #25, Ann Nocenti writes Katana #9, Amanda Conner co-writes Harley Quinn #0, and Gail Simone is on The Movement #6 (she should be back on Batgirl in December).
  • For New 52 artists, Amanda Conner is drawing the covers for Batwing #25 and Harley Quinn #0, Rachel Dodson inks the cover for Catwoman #25, Emanuela Lupacchino is doing the cover of Worlds’ Finest #17, and Nicola Scott pencils the interior of Earth 2 #17.
  • Amusingly, the official solicits actually listed “Emanual Lupaccino” and “Nicolas Scott”, but we know who they meant.
  • Outside of the New 52, Colleen Coover is drawing a story in Batman ’66 #5, Karen Traviss writes Batman: Arkham Unhinged #20, Cat Staggs is doing the cover to Smallville Season 11 #19, and Heather Nuhfer is writing Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #39.
  • At Vertigo, Caitlin Kittredge writes Coffin Hill #2 and Meghan Hetrick-Murante is doing the interior art on Fairest #21The Unwritten isn’t in the solicits, so we’re missing Yuko Shimizu.
  • As you probably saw above, Harley Quinn has her own book starting in November.  And it’s got a team of superstar artists as well, ostensibly competing to get the job of regular artist.  It looks like it could be fun.  Another new title is Scooby-Doo Team-Up #1, which I assume will feature Daphne and Velma.  The only other new title in November is Dead Boy Detectives #1, which doesn’t seem to feature any female leads.

All together, there are 14 different women set to work on 15 different books in November, one female creator less than in October, but two books more.  These are some really good numbers, and it’s great to see two strong months after the weak showing in September for Villains Month.

It’s also nice to see a bit more representation across the board.  Gail Simone may have gotten bumped from Batgirl for a “Zero Year” tie-in, but the fill-in writer replacing her is up the up and coming Marguerite Bennett.  It’s also great to have Amanda Conner back writing again, and to have new (to DC) names like Heather Nuhfer and Meghan Hetrick-Murante.  Colleen Coover is a well-established artist who’s done some work at Marvel (and on Bandette, of course), but I think this is only her second book at DC, and her first in a couple of years; she’s a perfect choice fit for Batman ’66.  Plus many female creators from last month are back again in what I hope continue to be regular gigs.

With only three new titles in November, a solo Harley Quinn book stands out especially well.  She’s a fan favourite, so hopefully people are excited and will check it out.  While it does continue the trend I find irksome of having female creators working primarily on female characters, Amanda Conner is a great choice for the book, which she’ll co-write with Jimmy Palmiotti.

So November is looking very good for women at DC.  There’s still a long way to go, with male creators outnumbering female creators by at least 10 to 1, but we’ve had months with only 4 or 5 female creators and no new female characters at all, so this is pretty decent.  Hopefully DC can keep it going in December.

Women At DC Comics Watch – October 2013 Solicits

July 11, 2013

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After a rather humdrum September that was brought down by a lack of female participation in the Forever Evil villains month titles, October is looking a lot better for DC in terms of female characters and creators.  While a lot of the action is temporary, specifically from a new Vertigo one-shot anthology, the numbers are solid even without the temporary gains and we’ve got some new series to be excited about.  Let’s go through the solicits:

  • For writers in the New 52, Ann Nocenti writes Catwoman #24 and Katana #8, Gail Simone is on Batgirl #24 and The Movement #5, and Christy Marx pens Birds of Prey #24.
  • On New 52 art, Nicola Scott is penciling Earth 2 #16, Emanuela Lupacchino does the cover for Worlds’ Finest #16, and Rachel Dodson inks the cover of Catwoman #24.
  • For licensed, video game, and digital first properties, Karen Traviss writes Batman: Arkham Unhinged#19 and Cat Staggs draws the covers for Smallville Season 11 #18 and Smallville Season 11 Special #3.
  • Over at Vertigo, we’ve got Caitlin Kittredge writing the all new series Coffin Hill #1, along with Yuko Shimizu on the cover of The Unwritten #54.  The one-shot anthology The Witching Hour #1 includes work from Kelly Sue DeConnick, Lauren Beukes, Annie Mok, Emily Carroll, and Jenny Frison.
  • There’s a ton of new books in October, with some decent female character representation here and there.
  • First, there are three Forever Evil tie-in titles, none of which feature any female creators.  However, 5 of the 10 characters on Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. are women, as are about a third of the massive crowd on Forever Evil: Arkham War.  Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion has no ladies, real or fictional, though.
  • We’ve got some other New 52 series, none with female creators, but Justice League 3000 #1 co-stars a futuristic Wonder Woman as one of the 5 main characters and Wonder Woman co-stars in the much-dreaded Superman/Wonder Woman #1Damian: Son of Batman #1 seems to be lacking women of any sort.
  • There were also a bunch of annuals, but none with female leads.
  • Finally, we’ve got three new books from Vertigo.  While Sandman: Overture #1 doesn’t look to have much in the way of ladies upfront, both Coffin Hill #1 and Hinterkind #1 have female leads, which is very exciting.

So that’s a lot of stuff!  All told, there are 15 female creators scheduled for 13 different books in October, more than double the number of female creators DC had in the September solicits.  Both numbers would be in double digits even without the one-shot anthology, which bodes well for next month.  Hopefully everyone else sticks around for November.

There’s a lot of female character representation across the board as well, popping up all over the place in the superhero titles.  And while I have yet to come across anyone excited for Superman/Wonder Woman #1, it’s a new book with Wonder Woman in it, which is good to see.  Plus, two new series with female leads at Vertigo is fantastic.  Vertigo’s been suffering from a lack of ladies, real and fictional, as of late.

So October looks pretty great for women at DC, and they bounced back strong from a lackluster September.  A good number of female creators should hopefully carry over into November as well, and it would be great to see more female characters popping up in new books then too.

Women At DC Comics Watch – September 2013 Solicits

June 12, 2013

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I had high hopes for September, what with Villain Month bringing in 52 new leading characters and some opportunities for DC to mix it up creatively.  The results were disappointing, as I chronicled over at Bleeding Cool.  For the mainline DC books, there were both fewer female characters and creators then there had been the month before.  So that’s a bad start, but there’s lots more solicits along with the New 52.  Let’s take a look:

  • For the New 52, Marguerite Bennett is writing Justice League Dark #23.2: Lobo, Gail Simone is penning Batman: The Dark Knight #23.1: The Ventriloquist, and Ann Nocenti is writing Justice League Dark #23.1: The Creeper and Batman: The Dark Knight #23.4: The Joker’s Daughter.
  • There are no female artists, cover or interior, in the mainline books.
  • However, we’ve got Cat Staggs doing the cover for Smallville Season 11 #17, along with Karen Traviss writing Batman: Arkham Unhinged #18 and Maris Wicks writing a story in Batman Black and White #1.
  • Over at Vertigo, Yuko Shimizu is holding down the fort with the cover for The Unwritten #53.
  • Of the 52 Villain Month lead characters, only 8 are women.  There are a handful of mixed teams as well, and then a ton of dudes.
  • The only new book outside of Villain Month is Batman Black and White #1, an anthology mini-series that looks like it’s going to be gorgeous.  Only 1 of the 10 creators listed is a woman, however.
  • On the plus side, DC is releasing a nice hardcover called Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years that reprints some great Lois stories from her many decades.

All together, DC has 7 different female creators scheduled on 8 different books.  Last month I decided that double digits is the minimum for an acceptable month at DC, seeing as DC’s hit that bar several times recently and thus CAN do so, and we’re definitely below the mark here.

The lack of female characters in the Villain Month books is disheartening.  There are most definitely more than 8 great female villains at DC, and it was a real missed opportunity for them to share the spotlight.  I’m not saying we need to have 26 male leads and 26 female leads, but it would be nice to feel like DC is making an effort of some sort.  Being down from the previous month in terms of female creators AND characters is just weak sauce.  I’d be glad to just see slightly more than usual.  At least I’d feel like they were trying, or that they were in some way cognizant of where their company stands with women, real and fictional.  But a big event month with less of both makes me feel like the issue of women in comics just isn’t crossing their minds.

Anyway, that Lois Lane book sounds cool.  And Batman Black and White should be quite lovely.  But September isn’t looking too good for women at DC, generally.


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