Posts Tagged ‘Mark Morales’

Wonder Woman #32 Review: Children of the Gods Continues, Unfortunately

October 11, 2017

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Let’s start this review with a question: How many female characters other than Wonder Woman have speaking parts in this issue? During the initial “Rebirth” arcs, there were a wide variety of women in the mix, from allies like Etta Candy and Barbara Minerva to villains like Dr. Cyber and Veronica Cale. Plus Amazons. A whole lot of Amazons. Wonder Woman‘s last arc, “Heart of the Amazon,” was essentially a Diana/Etta team up story, and it featured an array of women in all sorts of different roles, good and bad, primary and incidental. There was even an entire team of female assassins, with several deep cut characters from DC’s history. So now with “Children of the Gods,” the story that’s introducing Diana’s brother to the world for whatever reason, how many women other than the title character are involved? For this issue, one. One woman in the entire book. Her role takes up about half a page, and she directs Diana to her brother. That is all, and I think that speaks volumes about this arc and it’s creative team. We’ll get into the issue as a whole, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So the lack of female characters is disheartening, especially since the book spent the last year and a bit building such a stellar cast of women around Wonder Woman. On top of that, it’s just not a very good comic book, on any level. The story is clunky, the writing is poor, the art is middling. It’s not an enjoyable read, and it’s so awkward that it’s hard to feel any connection to the story. Even the big emotional climax at the end of the issue when Diana sees her brother for the first time falls absolutely flat because it’s so painfully clichéd; they immediately recognize each other because they’re twins and feel their connection, and I rolled my eyes so hard that I may need to go see an optometrist.

James Robinson’s writing is unremarkable throughout the book. For example, there’s two pages of Diana and Hercules’ lawyer driving to his home to read his will that are an enormous waste of space, as well as a battle with parademons that reads like it was tacked on to add a bit of action to this otherwise lifeless issue. The whole thing felt like filler, as if Robinson knew he wanted to end this issue with the reveal of Jason and just threw a bunch of things together to fill up the nineteen pages before that. We get slightly more information on the dead gods, I suppose, but it’s nothing that we didn’t already know from Grail in the last issue.

The art didn’t help matters, either. Sergio Davila’s pencils, with inks from Scott Hanna and Mark Morales, were generic superhero fodder. I didn’t find much in the way of a unique style or artistic flair. It was standard cape comic art, and not particularly strong art at that. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but there was nothing interesting about it. It was serviceable at best. Though I did like how Davila drew Diana’s hair later in the issue in a sort of up-do thing with her tiara perched higher up. That was kind of a cool look. I’m always down for a creative use of the tiara.

There were also two story choices that rubbed me the wrong way as a Wonder Woman fan. First was the depiction of Hercules. Back in the 1940s, Hercules was a villain. His betrayal and imprisonment of the Amazons is what led Hippolyta to leave the world of men and take her warriors to Paradise Island to live in an all-female utopia. For William Moulton Marston, Hercules represented the worst of men’s aggression and dominance, and most incarnations of the character have followed suit. We don’t know what, if any, role Hercules played in this modern version of the Amazons; all of the New 52 stuff is up in the air after “The Lies” and “The Truth,” and our knowledge of the true Amazons is limited. But introducing Hercules as a dude who’s done some good stuff and some bad stuff, and who admired Diana, largely ignores what he’s represented in past incarnations of Wonder Woman. I don’t hate that he’s sorry for his past mistakes, since it’s always good to show how people can change. It’s more that Hercules carries a lot of baggage in terms of the history of the Amazons, and his depiction in this arc doesn’t acknowledge this in the least. He’s kind of a loaded character, and they’ve ignored that entirely.

Second, this issue introduces the Oddfellows, Steve’s tactical team that is comprised of modern versions of his associated from the Wonder Woman movie. We’ve got Sameer, Charlie, and Chief, all written much like their film counterparts, just jumped ahead a century and given some heavier artillery. This annoyed me, in part because this arc has been so bad thus far that I hate to see these characters that I quite enjoyed on the big screen put to such poor use here. I also found it very telling that the creative team borrowed a bunch of the fellows from the Wonder Woman film, and yet Etta Candy has been absent from both issues of this new arc. I mean, come on now.

So, I did not particularly care for this issue, and I am not enjoying the specter of five more months of this that lies ahead. It all feels fundamentally flawed across the board, like the creative team and the editors just don’t understand what a Wonder Woman comic should be. We’re only two in, of course, and it may well pick up eventually. But thus far, this arc has done nothing but confirm all of my worst fears from when the storyline was first announced.

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Wonder Woman #16 Review: A Calamitous Chimera Conflict

February 8, 2017

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The new “Godwatch” arc began in Wonder Woman #16 today, with Greg Rucka returning to write the book along with new artist Bilquis Evely (and some ink assists from Mark Morales, Andrew Hennessy, and Raul Fernandez). You’ll probably remember Evely from Wonder Woman #8, a special oneshot starring Barbara Ann Minerva that tied into “Year One.” It was a gorgeous book, and the news that she’d be taking over for Nicola Scott on the series’ even numbered issues has certainly lessened the blow of Scott’s departure somewhat. “Year One” will go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time, giving “Godwatch” a lot of live up to, but this debut issues suggests that we’ve got another enjoyable arc ahead of us. We’ll dive into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS from this issue!

Make sure you’ve read it first!

The main thing I was wondering about with “Godwatch” was when exactly it would take place. “The Lies” and “The Truth” are set in the present, while “Year One” was five years ago. With this first issue of “Godwatch,” it turns out the story starts six months after Wonder Woman left Themyscira, so shortly after “Year One” and well before “The Lies.” After this issue, I’m curious to see if we stay this deep in the past and slowly see how the Godwatch organization is formed, or if we jump ahead a bit. This first issue has certainly laid the groundwork for why Godwatch was created, and it’ll be interesting to see if Rucka goes for a slow build or not. Knowing Rucka, my money’s on slow build, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a time jump next month.

So the issue starts out with Veronica Cale being a semi-evil industrialist with a deep dislike of Wonder Woman, but she’s hardly a super-villain. But her path seems to change when Ares’ sons Phobos and Deimos steal her daughter and force her to use the technology she’s developing to fight Wonder Woman and try to find out the location of Themyscira. Things go sideways from there; Veronica’s chief scientist Adriana uses the dangerous Cyberwalk system to confront Wonder Woman, and gets defeated by both Wonder Woman’s chimera pal and the machine’s deadly imperfections. Cradling her seemingly deceased friend, Veronica promises, “You will all burn.”

This, we have to assume, is the beginning of Godwatch. As we saw back in “The Lies,” Veronica is still trying to figure out how to get to Themyscira, so I can see this going one of two ways. Either Phobos and Deimos still have Veronica’s daughter and she’s been working for years to free her OR they’ll be sorted in the next few issues but she’ll keep trying to find its location out of a hatred for Wonder Woman and anything divinely related in general. Either could be an interesting journey.

Also, I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but a trapped daughter is classic Wonder Woman villain motivation. Back in the Golden Age, Paula von Gunther worked for the Nazis because they has her daughter as a hostage, and after Wonder Woman learned of this and freed her, they became friends and allies and worked together to fight the Nazis from then on. Maybe Rucka is going in a similar direction, or is playing on this story in some way.

We also know that Adriana is still alive since we saw her in “The Lies.” Only in electronic form, though. My guess is that whatever happened at the end of this issue trapped Adriana in some king of machine, and while her body might be “dead” her mind lives on in a computer as Dr. Cyber. And perhaps in some sort of android, like we saw in this issue but one better suited for battles for battles in mythical beasts, because that would make for much cooler fight scenes down the road, of course.

Now, this is an issue of Wonder Woman without a lot of Wonder Woman, which usually irks me. But I thought it worked here. It set up Veronica Cale and her motivations very nicely, plus the brief moments we got of Wonder Woman were very good. The montage at the beginning was fun and nicely put together, and the battle between her, the chimera, and Cyberwalk showcased the best of Wonder Woman. I loved her talking to the chimera, trying to get her to calm down by connecting with her and explaining that she was new to this world too and yes, it’s a very strange place. I also liked that she tried to save everyone, both the chimera and Cyberwalk, not wanting either of them to harm the other. That’s how Wonder Woman should roll.

The art was quite good for most of the issue, but some of the inking let down Evely’s excellent pencils at times. Four different inkers rarely offers a cohesive look for a book, and is usually a sign that things were a bit rushed. I don’t know who did which pages, but a few of them were much rougher and lacked the detail that characterized the best of what the book had to offer. Still, the layouts were great, and I’ve seen some of Evely’s pencils for the issue online and they’re spectacular. If they can figure out the inking situation, it should be a gorgeous arc. I was also glad to see that Romulo Fajardo Jr. is staying on as colorist, because that dude is ridiculously good at what he does. I so enjoy the texture, smoothness, lushness, and light touch he brings to his work. It really makes the linework shine.

All together, this was a strong beginning to “Godwatch” and I’m excited to see where things go from here. It’d be nice to have more Wonder Woman in the future, but for this first issue the focus on the villains made a lot of sense and it set up a lot to deal with for our Amazon heroine. Wonder Woman‘s got a really nice one-two punch going right now, with intriguing new plotlines in both the odd and even numbered issues, and that makes for some fun reading.


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