Posts Tagged ‘Mick Gray’

Wonder Woman #66 Review: Go Big or Go Home

March 14, 2019

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I’m a day late on my Wonder Woman review again. Making a movie is a lot of work, gang! There’s so much on the go. And incidentally, you can check out my short film’s Kickstarter if you want to learn more! But back to the book. When I was late to the party two weeks back, I wasn’t too sad about it. As much as I love the writing, the art for the recent two-parter was decidedly subpar. I was excited for this one, though! Cary Nord is back, and I was curious to see how things would look as he tries to adapt to a bi-weekly schedule. The first attempt went south on him pretty quick.

And the results are fine, I guess. Nord’s Wonder Woman is still a bit scrawny and inconsistent. I don’t think he’s quite got a handle on the character yet. At times, it feels like he’s trying to channel Frank Miller (not a compliment). And other times, it feels like a cartoon, but one of the cool new ones, like She-Ra (this one’s a compliment). I don’t know if it’s the hasty schedule or Wonder Woman herself, but I came away from the issue thinking that Nord’s art was okay but that he might not be the right fit for this book.

Luckily, the writing is still excellent, even if the art isn’t all that exciting. We’ll dig into all the details, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you everything that happened in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

But you should read it, even though I’m down on the art!

The writing is really good!

Whatever’s happened to Olympus and the divine realm continues to have reverberations on Earth, and this time quite literally so. Two giant rock monster titans duke it out in the Rockies, causing all manner of concussive destruction. And of course Wonder Woman arrives on the scene to sort it out, thanks to our mythological creature friends who have relocated to the wilderness. I’m glad to have Cadmus, Damon, and Eirene back in the mix. A little comic relief is always welcome, plus I just like them. G. Willow Wilson’s done a nice job integrating them into the series and giving them distinct personalities, allowing them to be an amusing diversion while also key to the larger plot.

Now, titans are very, very big. And Wonder Woman, while quite powerful, is very small, relatively speaking. No matter her strength, the mass just isn’t there to make her effective against towering rock monsters. The physics doesn’t work. Luckily, she’s got a friend. Or rather, not a friend at all, as Giganta makes quite clear. But she knows a gal, and she gets Giganta out of prison to help with the fight.

I love this relationship already. Wonder Woman’s got a history with Giganta, though not as much in this current continuity. Gail Simone wrote some good stuff with her and Wonder Woman back in the day if I’m recalling correctly, but the universe has been rebooted since then. Here, Giganta is leery of Wonder Woman, fearing that her entire plan is “some kind of earnest, dewy-eyed trick to get us to become best friends.” And honestly? Fair enough. That’s totally the sort of move that Diana would pull.

She swears she’s not, and that she just needs Giganta’s help to bust up the titans. And I believe her! She’s Wonder Woman. She’s not going to lie. Actually, let me amend that. I believe that Diana believes this isn’t some friend making scheme and that the mission is all that matters. But deep down, maybe so deep that she doesn’t even realize it, she wants to make friends with Giganta. It’s just in her nature. First off, she loves being pals with awesome, powerful ladies. And second, she loves getting to know a villain and helping them find a better path. Especially female villains. She totally wants to be besties with Giganta. She just hasn’t realized it.

But Giganta’s not having any of it. She’s glad to be out of prison, but if they’re going to keep titan hunting, she wants to get paid. Like, half a million dollars paid. Which seems like a lot, but fighting titans is a dangerous game. I can understand the high quote. Wonder Woman doesn’t have that kind of money, though. In this issue she’s basically just living this John Mulaney bit:

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And once Wonder Woman admits her general exasperation with her circumstances, not just the titans but EVERYTHING that’s going on in her life right now, Giganta decides to help. Because friendship?! Not quite yet, probably, but it’s totally on the way. And I look forward to watching it develop. These two are a fun pair. And now they’re on a road trip to track down more rock monsters. That’s just a recipe for enjoyable, relationship building hijinks.

So yeah, the story is a dang delight. I loved the writing in this issue. The artwork is just, I don’t know. It’s not objectively bad or anything. Nord and Mick Gray are telling the story in a clear, readable way. It’s just not enhancing the story, or showcasing it in a compelling way. It doesn’t capture the heart of it all, both in terms of the action and fun but also with emotion. Like when Diana admits to Giganta that she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed, Nord and Gray have her in silhouette. We can get the emotion from the text, because it’s well written, but the art isn’t conveying it. The pictures aren’t complementing the words, basically. They’re not bringing things down, but they’re not working together as well as this excellent writing deserves.

We have lots to look forward to nonetheless. Rock punching. Road tripping. Friendship! It’s going to be a good time. Whenever Wonder Woman teams up with another rad lady, even if she’s a villain, you know it’s going to be fun.

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Wonder Woman #60 Review: With War on the Sidelines, Will Love Enter the Fray?

December 12, 2018

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We’ll get to Wonder Woman in a moment but first, let’s talk about the new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. When Netflix announced that they were bringing back She-Ra with Noelle Stevenson as showrunner, I instantly had an idea of what the show could be. I’m a big fan of Stevenson, from Nimona to Lumberjanes to her early days of hilarious Tumblr comics. She’s got a delightful yet slightly dark sensibility that always comes through in her work. And when She-Ra debuted, it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s charming and hilarious and surprisingly heavy at times, and as queer as they let kid’s TV be these days. Basically, it was what I expected to get in a Noelle Stevenson project, in all of the best ways.

I feel the same way about this run of Wonder Woman. I’m a huge fan of G. Willow Wilson too, and I’ve enjoyed all of her comics and prose work. Her strengths lie in telling fun, action-packed stories that simultaneously dig into deeper, timely themes. I thought that he was the perfect choice to take over Wonder Woman right now, and she’s bringing everything I thought she would to the book. It’s an exciting story with lots of cool fights, but it’s also a deeper meditation on a whole host of issues, from the nature of war and heroism to the limitations and disappointments of supposed allies in these fraught times. Basically, it’s great, and exactly what I hoped it would be. Also, how awesome is it that we’ve got G. Willow Wilson on Wonder Woman in our comics and Noelle Stevenson on She-Ra on our televisions? Truly we live in a golden age of entertainment.

Let’s dig into the issue, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the rad things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And make sure you do read it! It’s so good!

So, Ares sucks. I think we all knew that deep down, but I was hoping he’d come around, that he would learn something from Wonder Woman and channel his newfound quest for justice into something actually productive. But no, he’s just a dope. And even when Wonder Woman shows him the error of his ways in the most blatant, impactful way, he still takes the wrong lesson from it. Instead of fixing his mistakes and finding a better way forward, he just decides to leave. Even though he started the war, even though all of these deaths are his own doing, he’s decided he wants no part of it any longer and just steps away.

It’s a fascinating turn. There are so many ways to read it, all of them compelling. The book has felt like it’s about the nature of war and justice over the past few issues, asking whether answering violence with violence is wise or if it’s just perpetuating a vicious cycle. We get more of that here, with a critique of the power structures behind war. So often, those who start wars leave them unfinished, walking away unscathed while scars and lingering tensions remain for those caught in the middle of it. Ares is a global superpower in and of himself, igniting a conflict for his own selfish reasons and then leaving it behind when it gets to bothersome. We’ve seen this too many times in the real world over the past few decades.

But I think there’s another interesting angle here as well. With Ares so inspired by Wonder Woman, I can’t help but see him through the lens of male feminists who position themselves as allies to the cause, only to ultimately prove themselves to be self-serving above all else. Ares wanted to be like Wonder Woman, but not only did he fundamentally misunderstand her from the beginning, he balked when she pushed back and then left full of anger and spite. How often have we seen this with allies for all sorts of causes? These white male saviors who saunter in and spout the lingo only to turn away when the people who have actually been doing the work deign to challenge them in any way? It’s painfully common, unfortunately, and I think we see something similar here with Ares. He’s trying to help a worthy cause, but in the wrong ways and only to make himself feel good. When it feels good no longer, he leaves. It’s a biting critique of male allyship.

And also, the fights are cool! It’s a comic book, after all. Between all of the deep philosophizing, Wonder Woman is battling Ares, deflecting a bunch of bullets, and just generally being her awesome self. It’s a fun read.

Plus Steve’s adventures with the mythological creatures continue, and lead us to a fun surprise. We meet the leader of these Olympian exiles, and it’s none other than Aphrodite. This should be VERY interesting. First, Aphrodite is key to Wonder Woman’s own history. In her earliest adventures, love was the core of the Amazonian worldview, and Aphrodite was its embodiment. I’m curious to see if Wilson delves into that. Second, the goddess of love is an obvious contrast with the god of war, and having them so near, with conflict abounding, should prove to be compelling. And third, Aphrodite and Ares have quite the history. They were lovers, and in Rucka’s run it was the love of Aphrodite that led Ares to accept his imprisonment in the first place. So yeah, now that he’s free there might be some serious drama here. I’m excited to see where this all goes.

The art, however, remains a bit underwhelming for me. Cary Nord’s work here seems even sparser than the last issue, and the detail is lacking. We see this a lot when people take on a book that ships twice a month. A lovely first issue leads to a rougher second issue and then a bit of a slapdash third. It’s a ludicrous schedule for artists, and editorial would be wise to consider other approaches to ensure that the quality stays high. I got a distinct later Frank Miller vibe from a lot of these pages, and not in a good way. Nord is successfully telling the story and is not bringing down the writing here, but he’s not exactly elevating it either, which is disappointing.

Still, the book remains a great read overall. Wilson is doing some fascinating things, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes next, especially with Aphrodite in the mix. She could be a very fun wild card moving forward.

Wonder Woman #59 Review: A Twisted Reflection

November 28, 2018

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In this issue of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor kicks a griffin in the face then gets head-butted by a satyr. So yeah, this run has been pretty dang fantastic so far. Also, that griffin is the best. She calls Steve a “beakless idiot,” which is a sick burn coming from a griffin. Then she talks about how she doesn’t trust human males at all and only trusts “egg layers.” And sure, fair point, awesome griffin. Plus she’s a key member of some sort of renegade group of mythological creatures. There’s the aforementioned satyr, a minotaur, a dryad, and more. It’s a cool crew. I’m all about whatever these creatures are up to.

Also, this issue raises compelling questions about war and justice, and if we are complicit in perpetuating a destructive cycle when we answer violence with violence. But first and foremost, Steve tries to fight some mythological beasts and it’s hilarious and great. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss the events in this very fine comic book!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And go pick it up if you haven’t! It’s super good!

G. Willow Wilson isn’t screwing around here, gang. She didn’t take over Wonder Woman just for a lark. She’s not that kind of a writer at all. If you’ve read Ms. Marvel (and if you haven’t, what are you even doing?! Go get on it! It’s phenomenal!), you know that Wilson has a knack for tackling big, complicated ideas through fun superhero adventures. Ms. Marvel is rip roaring fun, to be sure, but there’s always a lot of thoughtful, relevant themes at play.

And now Wilson is bringing a similar approach to Wonder Woman. Ares is back on Earth, and he’s styled himself as a hero, drawing inspiration from Wonder Woman herself. He’s defending an oppressed ethnic minority group in Durovnia from violent government forces, which is a noble stance. Definitely something Wonder Woman would do. Except that when they spot a Durovnian missile headed for them, instead of redirecting it into an empty field, Ares sends it to a home of Durovian government supporters, killing them all. Wonder Woman is furious, of course, but Ares is perplexed. Doesn’t she carry a sword? Hasn’t she killed her enemies?

Then the tables turn even more. American fighter jets streak overhead, allied with the Durovnian forces. Ares wants to destroy them, but Wonder Woman saves them. Now it’s Ares who feels angry and betrayed. Those fighter jets were targeting the oppressed people he was defending. In not stopping them, Wonder Woman essentially sided against him and his cause.

Wonder Woman vs. Ares should be the most black and white confrontation ever. A warrior for peace against the god of war and destruction. The right and wrong of it all should be clear as day. Except that now, it’s not. Modern warfare isn’t that simple. So much of it is shades of grey, and now Wonder Woman and Ares find themselves mired in this grey. As much as Wonder Woman is outraged at Ares’ actions, there’s an argument to be made that they are more the same than they are different. They’re not exactly the same, of course. Wonder Woman wouldn’t kill civilians, no matter who they supported. But she works with the Americans, who support the Durovnian military. She uses weapons of war against her foes. Her hands are not entirely clean.

Ares still sees things in black and white, but from the side of the oppressed now. Instead of glorying in military might above all else, he takes a moral stance and glories in turning that might against the tyrants who wield it. And yeah, tyrants are bad, right? Ares is doing some sketchy stuff, but he’s not entirely wrong here. Is he going too far, or is he just being realistic?

I’m still on Wonder Woman’s side, because of course. She’s Wonder Woman. And killing civilians is a step too far for me. But dang if this book isn’t raising some fascinating questions about war and where we decide to draw the line when it comes to defending what we believe in. There’s not a simple answer here either, and I’m excited to see how this arc continues to dig into it all. From her earliest days, Wonder Woman has been associated with war. She left Paradise Island in 1941 to go fight the Nazis, after all! But war has gotten far more complicated over the decades, and I’m glad to see the book diving into the messy complexities of it all.

Plus, there’s a cool griffin! The series is digging into heavy stuff with Wonder Woman and Ares, so the comic relief and intriguing mysteries of these mythological creatures is a welcome contrast. I’m intrigued by the cliffhanger, which suggests that the leader of the beasts is a woman of some sort. Perhaps a goddess? It looks like Olympus might be back, if in a rather damaged state. And if there’s a goddess in charge, is this divine return connected to Ares’ recent escape? There’s a lot of cool stuff at play here.

While the writing is great, I did find the art a bit hit and miss in this issue. Some of the pages are really nice; Cary Nord and Mick Gray are talented dudes, and they can do exciting action. But some of the pages feel super rushed. There’s a lack of detail in certain panels, with proportions that are off and simplistic linework that looks like it was hastily cobbled together. And honestly, that’s just how it goes these days with bi-monthly books. It’s hard to keep up a high level of quality at that pace. We’ve seen it several times before. Still, there are some rough moments in this issue. Writing this good deserves good, consistent art, and I hope that editorial can figure out a way to keep everyone on track and putting out quality work.

But this is a stellar issue nonetheless. The story is dealing with some big ideas in intriguing ways, plus it brings a huge dose of superhero spectacle and fun with each outing. I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Wonder Woman #58 Review: A New Era Begins with G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord

November 14, 2018

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I’m not even going to pretend to be chill about this. I LOVE G. Willow Wilson. Her Ms. Marvel has been my favourite comic on the stand for years now, her graphic novel Cairo is amazing, and her prose novel Alif the Unseen is spectacular. She’s not just one of the best writers working in comics today, she’s one of the best writers today, full stop, across multiple mediums. I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone I’d rather have writing Wonder Woman. So yeah, I’m pretty excited for this run.

I’m less familiar with Cary Nord. I know his name and I’ve undoubtedly seen his work over the years. You can’t consume as many comics as I do without seeing everybody’s work at some point or another. But I don’t remember the specifics of it, which is kind of fun. Going into a book without any artistic expectations is exciting, and rare for a comics nerd like me. And I certainly found a lot to like here.

So let’s dig into the first issue of this new era for Wonder Woman, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you haven’t read this issue yet!

Trust me, it’s good, you’ll want to buy it first!

G. Willow Wilson wrote it, for goodness sake!

That should be an automatic buy!

I can’t decide if bringing in Ares at the start of a new Wonder Woman run is a cliché or tradition, though I’m leaning toward tradition right now. Perez did it, Azzarello did it, Rucka did it, Patty Jenkins did it with the movie. Ares is Diana’s arch nemesis in a lot of ways, representing the antithesis of everything she stands for, plus he ties so well into her mythological heritage. It’s just a good fit.

And here we’ve got that same fit, with a twist. Ares is back once again, surprise surprise. But with a new mission. He is no longer focused on destruction, at least not for the its own sake. Now his focus is on justice. When he comes face to face with Wonder Woman at the end of the issue, he explains that he’s returned “to battle alongside you against tyranny and injustice.” And he’s kind of doing it, too.

The issue sets up an interesting conflict. The nation of Durovnia is a democratic country, allied closely with the United States and generally respected on the world stage. However, the government is actively suppressing an indigenous ethnic minority and their independence movement. That’s the tricky thing about democracy. It represents the will of the majority of the people, but when this majority has an unfavourable view of minorities, things can get bad. No obvious parallels spring to mind immediately, but it would be like if racist white people in America elected a demagogue who spouted false claims about African Americans and Latinos to rally his base. Can you even imagine? That would be terrible.

But back to the comic book. The independence movement in Durovnia has a new leader, one committed to a more aggressive, violent course of action, and now the nation is at war. When Steve gets caught in the conflict, Wonder Woman swoops in to save him. And, in pitch perfect Wonder Woman fashion, she ends up fighting both sides. Because of course. Wonder Woman doesn’t care what you’re fighting for. If you’re putting innocent people in danger, she’s going to bust you up. That bit, and Diana’s refusal to listen to Etta telling her to stay out of it, was all especially nicely done by Wilson.

Turns out, Ares is the new leader of the independence movement, which is fascinating. We’re used to him being evil, so of course our first instinct is to assume that these revolutionaries are bad guys. But once you think about it for a second, it gets real murky real quick. The Durovnian government clearly aren’t the good guys here, what with a majority suppressing a minority. And an ethnic minority’s desire for independence is an enormously sympathetic cause. So maybe Ares is on the right side here?

Even more interesting, he’s got this new dedication to justice and appears to be standing up for a noble cause, but he’s still the dang god of war. As much as he’s all about this new ideology, he’s using his old tricks, relying on conflict and bloodshed to accomplish change. And wow, I cannot wait to read Wonder Woman navigating this entire scenario. Ares making good choices in bad ways is going to present a real conundrum for Diana, and I’m curious to see how she proceeds. And doubly so how he reacts if she decides to take him under her wing and tries to teach him alternatives to violence. There’s so much to dig into with this new twist on Ares.

Cary Nord’s pencils and Mick Gray’s inks throughout the issue were solid, if perhaps middle of the pack relative to other artists we’ve seen in the post-Rebirth era. Wonder Woman has been blessed with some amazing artistic talent over the years, and Nord’s approach here has some ups and downs. I love how dynamic his Wonder Woman is. She hits a lot of cool poses at interesting angles, and he captures both her grace and fierceness. She seems a tad scrawny and doe-eyed, though, and is drawn a bit inconsistently. It feels like Nord’s maybe not quite settled into the book yet, and fair enough. It’s his first issue. There’s certainly a lot of nice stuff here, across the board, and I’m excited to see how he grows with the character as the run progresses.

Also, our favourite friend Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still on the book! With excellent colour work, yet again. As always, Fajardo shows that he’s able to adapt his colours to the style of the artist and melds flawlessly with Nord’s linework. They’re a good pair, with Fajardo adding depth to the background work and life to the characters where called for, but also pulling back a bit when Nord chooses to be more sparse.

Ultimately, I’m so looking forward to the next issue of this run. Wilson and Nord have set up quite an interesting situation for our amazing Amazon. Also, there’s more than just Ares going on here! Steve is captured, and we’ve got mythological creatures on the loose in Durovnia. This first issue has laid out a lot of fun and compelling elements, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

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.

DOUBLE REVIEW: Wonder Woman #30 & Batman And Wonder Woman #30 OR Dysfunctional Amazons

April 16, 2014

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Both Wonder Woman #30 and Batman and Wonder Woman #30 came out today, and on the surface they seem like very different books. In Wonder Woman, the reign of the First Born is underway and Wonder Woman is trying to rally her supporters to defeat him, while in Batman and Wonder Woman, Batman has landed on the shores of Paradise Island chasing Ra’s al Ghul and Damian’s body. The common thread through both of these books is Wonder Woman and the Amazons and how they don’t get along, continuing the unpleasant characterization of the Amazons we’ve seen since the New 52 began. It’s an Amazon-centric review this month, but first:

BEWARE SPOILERS!!

I am not spoiling one but TWO comic books today!

If you haven’t read either, turn away!

Carrying on, I find it odd that while the New 52’s depiction of Wonder Woman has been all over the place (the Wonder Woman of Wonder Woman and the Wonder Woman of Justice League or Superman/Wonder Woman seem like very different characters), the new universe has been rather cohesive in their harsh portrayal of the Amazons. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the New 52 has so embraced the degradation of these former symbols of female empowerment; the New 52’s track record with female characters generally is not so great. Nonetheless, it’s disheartening.

Wonder Woman #29 ended with Wonder Woman rallying her newly freed Amazon sisters, and I thought we might have turned a corner on the Amazons past disdain for Diana. The early issues of the series cast the Amazons as a sniping, spiteful group who never liked Diana and put her down at every turn. Aleka was the spokesperson for this sentiment, and clearly had no affection for Diana whatsoever.

In Wonder Woman #30, Wonder Woman’s rallying cry didn’t seem to take, and Aleka again represented the opposition. She questioned Wonder Woman’s choice of companions, her fitness to be queen, and stirred up talk of rebellion amongst her sisters (aided by what appeared to be an undercover Strife). When Wonder Woman tried to unite the Amazons in a vow to protect Zeke, Aleka and her cohorts shouted her down.

Aleka was front and center in Batman and Wonder Woman #30 as well, holding a sword to Batman’s throat and refusing him entry to the island even though, or perhaps maybe because, Wonder Woman vouched for him. Wonder Woman and Aleka ended up fighting over the matter, trading blows before Batman yelled at them to stop.

Later in the issue, there was a flashback to one of the Amazons’ regular raping and murdering ship hijackings. The attack was depicted in gruesome detail, and ended with the Amazons burning the ship on the shore of Paradise Island and celebrating their conquest.

Thus far in the New 52, the Amazons have absolutely no redeeming qualities. They’re rapists and murderers who revel in their brutality, which is just awful, and despite orchestrating these attacks with some frequency, they seem wholly incapable of working together to do anything else. All of their interactions are laced with conflict and animosity, and usually end in violence. They’re terrible people, and worst of all their depiction suggests that Wonder Woman is a kind and brave hero DESPITE the Amazons and not BECAUSE of them.

I’ve talked about this several times in the past, so I’ll spare you the full spiel, but for seven decades the Amazons were a peaceful, wise nation, and Wonder Woman grew up to be a great hero due largely to their positive influence. They taught her everything she knew, raised her to be led by love above all else, and always rallied behind her when she needed them. The Amazons were a rare bastion of female power and solidarity in a genre so dominated by men.

Today, Wonder Woman is who she is because she got superpowers from her father, Zeus, and training from Ares, the god of war, whose mantle she’s now inherited. Wonder Woman #0 implied that she even learned her compassion from Ares, when he spared her during a sword battle. On top of this all-male influence, her Amazons sisters never supported her and now reject her even though she is their rightful queen with Hippolyta still out of commission.

I’m not at all against the idea of dissention and discord among the Amazons. Utopias can be kind of boring, and differing opinions and factions could lead to some very interesting stories for the Amazon and add some colour and variety to Paradise Island. What I am against is turning a group of noble, powerful women into vicious, spiteful villains for no good reason, and then spreading this depiction through the wider comics universe. None of the changes have been at all necessary or particularly important to the story, and what little they’ve added to the narrative is nothing compared to how much they’ve devalued the Amazons. It’s just ridiculous.

Anyway, that is my Amazon rant, inspired by reading two unpleasant depictions of the Amazons back to back. Let’s quickly go through what else happened in these issues. In Wonder Woman #30, Hades contemplated his potential role in the war for too long and the First Born made a move against him instead, so that’s probably not going to end well for Hades. Speaking of the First Born, he remains gross and burnt up, plus he made Cassandra eat part of her former associate, Cheever, which was super gross. So yeah, forced cannibalism. Comics: They’re not for kids anymore!

In Batman and Wonder Woman #30, Batman almost got Damian back but not quite. I suspect this sort of thing will go on for a while until Damian returns this summer, if the rumours prove to be true. Also, Wonder Woman freed a dark creature that Zeus had imprisoned to guard a Lazarus Pit on Paradise Island, which was a nice moment for her. I like when she tries to help people instead of fighting them, perhaps because it’s so rare these days.

All told, I was pretty excited for a double dose of Wonder Woman this week but the result was a rant, so clearly my excitement didn’t last. I just don’t understand the decisions that are being made in regards to Wonder Woman, from the Amazons to the Superman relationship to pretty much everything else. They just don’t seem to get her and her mythos, at all.

Batman/Wonder Woman #30 Preview OR Batman Visits Paradise Island

April 11, 2014

The book that used to be called Batman and Robin has been touring the DC universe, filling Robin’s spot in the title with other characters in the wake of Damian Wayne’s death over a year ago. This month, Wonder Woman is the guest star, and Batman has chased Ra’s al Ghul to Paradise Island. Apparently Ra’s stole Damian’s body and is trying to bring the little bugger back to life; I haven’t been following the book, but that seems to be the gist of things. Wonder Woman’s issue is out next Wednesday, and 13th Dimension has posted a preview. You might want to click that double page spread so you can read it:

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This does not look great. I’m not super into Patrick Gleason’s art generally, but I remember not minding it too much when he and Tomasi were on Green Lantern Corps. That was the last time I’ve seen his stuff, and it seems far less good now. His anatomy is all jacked up, as is his perspective. Aleka looks like a grotesque giant, and his take on Wonder Woman is different, to say the least. Plus, he didn’t put pointy tops on the boots. That’s Wonder Woman 101. These are not an artistically pleasant assortment of pages, and three panels on a two page spread of people standing around talking is hardly great story structure.

Now, it’s only four pages. Maybe it picks up nicely from here. But this preview has actually lessened my interest in the book. I’m all about a Wonder Woman and Batman team-up, and was excited when the issue was announced, but what I’ve seen so far is quite a letdown. It just looks weird, both in terms of the art itself and the layout more broadly. Here’s hoping it gets better.

Batman/Wonder Woman #30 is out next Wednesday, online and in comic shops everywhere. If there’s anything fun or interesting to talk about, I may put up a review later in the week. There’ll definitely be a review of Wonder Woman #30, and look for that preview probably Monday or Tuesday; it’s not up yet.


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