Posts Tagged ‘Rebirth’

New Wonder Woman Arc to Focus on her Brother OR No One Wants This

June 20, 2017

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DC Comics announced a new creative team for their Wonder Woman comic yesterday, with James Robinson coming on board to write the book alongside Carlos Pagulayan and Emanuela Lupacchino on art. They’re going to do a six-issue arc that will run bi-monthly from September through December, and it will pick up on threads first introduced in DC’s “Rebirth” special a year ago. The solicit for the first issue says:

Who is Wonder Woman’s brother? Taken away from Themyscira in the dead of night, the mysterious Jason has been hidden somewhere far from the sight of gods and men…but his life and Wonder Woman’s are about to intersect in a terrifying way, bringing them face to face with a cosmic threat they never imagined!

I am underwhelmed, to say the least. Wonder Woman has been stellar since its “Rebirth” relaunch, with Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp revitalizing the character and setting her on a good path after several rough years following the book’s previous relaunch in 2011. Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo are set to take over the book in July for five issues, and that sounds like it’s going to be a fun run. I was pleased to see a female writer take over the series, and Mirka Andolfo’s art is always a treat. But now we’ve got a male writer at the helm again (and one with a problematic writing record at that). We do have Emanuela Lupacchino on art, and she’s marvelous, but the solicit is all about “legendary writer James Robinson,” along with credits over a decade old, and doesn’t mention the art at all. Robinson is also focusing on Wonder Woman’s mysterious brother, a bizarre turn that shows DC seems to have learned nothing from the success of the Wonder Woman movie.

First, with so many amazing female writers working in comics right now, DC should be handing over the reins of Wonder Woman to one of them long term. The book has had some great male writers over the years, and Rucka’s tenure over the past year was fantastic, but it’s time for a new perspective on the book. Men have written Wonder Woman for the vast majority of her seventy-six year history. Meanwhile, giving the Wonder Woman film to Patty Jenkins gave Warner Bros. its first critically acclaimed superhero film in years because she brought something new to the table. DC should do the same with the book and bring in one of the many amazing women working in comics right now.

Second, a brother? Has DC not seen any of the responses from folks coming out of the Wonder Woman movie? No one left the theater thinking that there needed to be more men in the mix. They wanted more Diana, more Amazons, more Etta, more of all of the amazing women that made up the film. Introducing Diana’s brother is the last thing anyone wants right now. Long term fans of the comic have been loving the female-centric storyline of the “Rebirth” era thus far, while potential new fans curious about the character after the movie are going to have no interest whatsoever in some new dude.

The brother angle was a weird idea from the start. When the “Rebirth” special came out a year ago, the tease struck me as a fundamentally dumb move. Diana is a unique creation, the only child of the Amazons. To introduce a sibling is unnecessary enough (unless they brought back Nubia, which could be cool if done right), but to make it a male sibling just totally misses the point of having Amazons in your universe. They let you tell cool stories about women! DC doesn’t need to stick a man in there; they can do fun things with the amazing women that they already have.

The people inside DC Comics can be dopes sometimes. Wonder Woman has never been more popular. The movie is a smash hit! And they’re putting out a comic book that’s going to appeal to few if any of her fans, new or old. It reminds me of 1973, when DC returned Wonder Woman to her Amazon roots after she appeared on the first cover of Ms. Magazine and became a mascot of the women’s lib movement. Just like today, Wonder Woman was hugely famous outside of the comics, but DC handed the book to Robert Kanigher, an old white guy who ignored her new status and wrote a bunch of lazy, subpar issues that failed to capitalize on her popularity. Four decades later, DC is making the same mistakes.

Part of me is hoping that this is some ill-considered cleanup operation, that editorial is thinking, “Let’s deal with this seed we planted a year ago and then get on to a cool, different creative team in the New Year.” Maybe they’re just burning off three months of comics to follow up on this story that absolutely no one is clamoring for and they’ve got a great team lined up after that. That would be a dumb plan; better to just let the seed die. But at least it would be a plan with something better in the future. As is, this is just dumb and ill-timed, as well as a big missed opportunity to make the most of a huge moment for Wonder Woman. Even if this somehow turns out to be a decent story, which seems very unlikely but you never know, it’s just the wrong direction for the book right now. Put women in charge of Wonder Woman with women on the pages, please.

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Women in Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, August 2016 in Review

October 20, 2016

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My latest “Gendercrunching” column is up now on Bleeding Cool, and August 2016 was a decent month for DC and Marvel, with both publishers posting some of their betters totals for the year.

DC’s overall percentage of female creators dipped down slightly, landing at 17.2%, but that’s still a relatively strong total for the publisher. Marvel gained a couple of percentage points, hitting 17.9% female creators overall, one of their best totals in months.

We also took a look at DC’s new “Rebirth” line and how the numbers for female creators compared to DC’s superhero books before their latest round of relaunches. “Rebirth” has a slightly higher percentage of female creators, but women still account for only 11.3% of the creators on the books, a small percentage on its own and very low compared to DC’s wider output.

Head on over to Bleeding Cool for the full stats and charts!

Wonder Woman Comic Sales Stay Strong With Highest Sustained Run In 20 Years

September 27, 2016

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There have been several relaunches of Wonder Woman over the past few years, along with significant creative revamps that didn’t change the numbering, and each came with a sales bump. However, few of these sales bumps lasted for long. Generally speaking, every comic book series drifts down the chart each month without big events or creative changes to bump up sales, but Wonder Woman in particular has quickly slid back down do a midlist level after every bump. Until now. The numbers for the “Rebirth” relaunch are doing quite well, and mark Wonder Woman‘s best sales run over the course of the last 20 years (the timeframe for which we have sales data).

Here are the new Wonder Woman‘s numbers thus far, along with the book’s place on the charts:

  • Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 – 15) 94,458
  • Wonder Woman #1 – 9) 107,737
  • Wonder Woman #2 – 12) 103,759
  • Wonder Woman #3 – 21) 94,465
  • Wonder Woman #4 – 19) 85,329
  • Wonder Woman #5 – 29) 77,860

This is an extremely impressive run. The numbers are starting to decline, but that’s normal. What’s not normal is the slow rate of decline. Usually, the second issue drop off is massive; shops order lots of the first issue because a) they have a bunch of variant covers and whatnot, b) folks will be keen to check out a new series, and c) some collectors pick up every first issue in hopes they’ll be worth something some day. Then the second issue drops off huge, and things taper down until the book finds its level.

Wonder Woman #2 barely dropped at all, partly because retailers underestimated the appeal of Wonder Woman #1 (they ended up ordering another 11,870 copies of the book the next month) and perhaps also because of the series dual storyline. Wonder Woman #2 was essentially a #1 issue for the new “Year One” arc. Whatever the reason, the book saw a remarkably small second issue drop.

And while things have continued to drop from there, it’s still doing extremely well relative to past performance. With the New 52 relaunch, Wonder Woman #5 was down to 57,675 copies sold, so “Rebirth” is ahead by 20,000 copies. The 2006 relaunch from Allan Heinberg, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson was a bit higher, with 64,410 copies sold for their Wonder Woman #5, but “Rebirth” is still well ahead AND that run’s #1 issue sold considerably higher, coming in at 132,586 issues sold. So by five issues in, it was down more than half. Now, the “Rebirth” Wonder Woman is down only about a quarter with five issues out.

On top of this stellar sustained print run, digital sales are higher than they’ve ever been. DC doesn’t release their digital numbers, but the print numbers are only part of the story. However well the book is doing in comic shops, there are even more sales elsewhere.

“Rebirth” is general has been great for DC, and it’ll be interesting to see how long it holds. Focusing on core characters and double shipping is a bold gambit that’s been paying off so far, and the gradual roll out has helped things. But there’s a new Marvel NOW! line coming this fall that’s aiming to bite into DC’s increased market share. The numbers may shift in the months to come.

But for now, Wonder Woman is doing spectacularly well. Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp are crafting a book with a broad appeal, and the adventures of the Amazing Amazon are in more hands than they’ve been in over the last two decades. It’s nice to see Wonder Woman finally getting the attention she deserves.

Wonder Woman #1 Preview: Hitting the Ground Running

June 20, 2016

Following up on Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 from two weeks back, the new Wonder Woman series is set to officially launch this Wednesday. Yes, I know it’s confusing to have a Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 followed by Wonder Woman #1. It seems like a dumb strategy to me, too. Everything would be a lot simpler if the special was the first issue, but DC wanted to make a whole big thing of it. Regardless, here we are, with the book debuting for real this time.

The first issue picks up where the “Rebirth” special left off, with Wonder Woman trying to understand the discrepancies in her past. It’s set in the present, and written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp. The next issue will be set in the past, with art by Nicola Scott, and the two stories will alternate for the next six months. Comic Book Resources has a preview of the first issue, so let’s take a look:

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So first off, this is pretty gorgeous stuff. Sharp’s been super enthusiastic about his Wonder Woman gig since it was first announced, and you can see that in his art. It’s lush and detailed and just lovely all around. The starless tiara annoys me a bit, just because I’m a traditionalist that way, but everything else looks very nice.

While we’ve got five pages of the book here, we don’t have a lot of story. It seems that Rucka and Sharp just decided to open the issue with a bunch of rad shots of Wonder Woman, and I’m cool with that. I’m sure the rest of the book will have some more meat to it and dig into the mysteries surrounding Wonder Woman. All we know so far is that she’s in an African jungle and that she’s looking for some answers. From the scratch marks on the tree on the final two page spread, I think that she might be looking for the Cheetah; plus the jungle seems a logical place for the Cheetah to hang out. We’ll find out in a couple of days!

Wonder Woman #1 is out this Wednesday online and in comic shops everywhere. Check it out! It’s going to be pretty, and should be a good read. This is a stellar creative team, and I’m very excited to see what they do with Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 Review: A Tale of Two Wonder Women?

June 8, 2016

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It’s finally here, gang. A much needed new direction for Wonder Woman. The New 52 version of the book had its ups and downs, but it’s been mostly downs lately. And it looks like Greg Rucka knows this. His first issue back writing Diana, with artists Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp, serves as a definite turnaround from what’s been going on for the past few years. What exactly is going on is a bit murky right now; the issue is more a tease of what’s to come than a statement of a new status quo. But it’s certainly very intriguing, and suggests that a lot of the past might not be quite what we thought it was. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you don’t want to know what happens in this issue!

Wonder Woman is good again so go actually read it first before you read this review!

This “Rebirth” special presents two possible narratives for Wonder Woman’s history: The New 52 origin with a blonde Hippolyta hooking up with Zeus and terrible Amazons, and a brunette Hippolyta who crafted Diana out of clay and happy Amazons, which seems to be rooted in the pre-New 52 DC universe. DC’s big “Rebirth” introductory issue a couple of weeks back revealed that the New 52 universe isn’t actually a different world, but rather the previous universe with some tweaks and a lot of lost time. Wonder Woman seems to be realizing this here, and is confused by the dual memories she now has.

To sort out what’s really going on, Wonder Woman uses the lasso of truth to interrogate herself. It’s a clever move by Rucka, and a cool way to get at the heart of what’s happening. She doesn’t know exactly what’s up, but she does know that she’s been deceived, though she’s unsure who is behind it. When she smashes her mirror in frustration, we see a variety of scenes from her past, some of the New 52 and some of the previous universe, including the Medusa storyline from Rucka’s first run.

Wonder Woman then goes to Olympus for answers, but realizes it’s not the true Olympus. Hephaestus’ automatones attack her, and everything begins to break up in whirlpools of destruction around her. This might mark some massive changes for Wonder Woman moving forward. If Olympus, and thus perhaps the gods themselves, aren’t real, that’s a rather epic level of deception. And if the blonde Hippolyta and the New 52 Amazons aren’t her true family, where are her mother and the real Amazons? The creative team has certainly set themselves up with a lot to work through when the book officially launches in two weeks.

So right now, it looks like the entirety of her adventures in the New 52 Wonder Woman were with impostors and that something resembling the old DC universe is her true past. If this is how things play out, that’s a really smart way to bring back classic elements of the Wonder Woman mythos and return her to a more iconic depiction without invalidating the past five years. It seems that everything that happened to her has happened to her; they are events and people that she remembers. Wonder Woman lived it, but everything around her was a facade.

Presumably everything we saw outside of Wonder Woman took place as well, including her romantic relationship with Superman. He is, rather conveniently, dead now, allowing for a clean break from that part of her past. I’m curious to see how this might play out, whether Diana will grieve the loss or if uncovering the lies that surround her may lead her to reject the entirety of her recent years and start over fresh. Perhaps there’ll be a bit of both.

While this issue was mostly a tease for what’s to come, there was one moment that appeared to be a mission statement for this new run, a reassertion of who Wonder Woman really is. As Diana pondered over her true history, she picked up her God of War helmet and crushed it in her hands, almost absentmindedly. Of all of the elements of her New 52 origin to destroy, her status as the God of War is a telling, symbolic choice. It suggests a renunciation of the past few years, and all of the violence and darkness that’s come with it. Wonder Woman is a warrior, yes, but that’s just part of who she is. In his first comments on Wonder Woman after landing the gig, Rucka pointed out several times that his Wonder Woman will smile more, and undoing her role as the God of War further suggests that a more joyful path lies ahead.

Plus, it’s going to look great. Matthew Clark does a fine job on the bulk of the story, but Liam Sharp, who will be one of the regular artists on the book moving forward, takes over for the last few pages, and it’s lovely stuff. His Wonder Woman is powerful and regal, his linework is detailed and expressive, and he’s got some killer hair in the mix too. Laura Martin’s coloring is excellent as well, and I particularly loved the little sparkle that she put in Wonder Woman’s eyes on the final page. It’s little things like that that make me optimistic about this run.

So, things are in a state of flux right now. Wonder Woman’s New 52 life might’ve just been a series of lies, and the old Wonder Woman might be coming back. Or rather, her old world might be coming back, and it may be up to Wonder Woman herself to navigate what aspects of her new self to keep and what to leave behind should it return in full force. It’s a fascinating premise, and if it’s executed well it could be an interesting counterpart to the more typical cycle of full on reboots we’ve seen in superhero comics as of late.

I’m excited to find out what happens next, and luckily we won’t have to wait too long! Wonder Woman #1 comes out in two weeks with “The Lies”; drawn by Liam Sharp and set in the present, it examines the deceptions mentioned in this “Rebirth” special. Then on July 13 we’ve got Wonder Woman #2 and the start of “Year One”; drawn by Nicola Scott, it’s set in the past and digs into Wonder Woman’s early days and her true origins. The storylines will alternate from there. I’m really looking forward to it, and boy is it nice to be excited about Wonder Woman again!

A Big Change for Wonder Woman in DC Universe Rebirth #1 (And Why the Special Irks Me)

May 25, 2016

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DC Comics new initiative “Rebirth” is now underway, with the oversized special issue DC Universe Rebirth #1 hitting comic shops at midnight last night. DC titles will begin to relaunch starting in June, allegedly bringing a new tone to the DC universe that will focus on hope and inspiration rather than the darkness and cynicism that characterized the bulk of DC’s New 52 run over the past five years. It’s a big change for the publisher, and hopefully one that will lead to some better comic books as these new titles unfold.

So what does DC Universe Rebirth #1 hold for Wonder Woman? Not a lot. She gets one page. Or rather, her potential future story gets one page that she’s not even on and then she appears in a group shot on a different page, and that’s about it. The special reveals that Diana has a twin brother named Jason who is out in the world somewhere, and that he has powers. A twin means that DC is probably sticking with the new Wonder Woman origin story in which she’s the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and not crafted from clay by her mother. This is a bummer, because that’s a dumb origin and parthenogenesis is so much more fun.

I’m curious to see if the existence of Diana’s mysterious twin is part of the “Lies” that make up the present day story arc of Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp’s upcoming run on Wonder Woman. A secret twin would certainly be quite a lie that would shake things up for Wonder Woman. If I’m being honest, this reveal strikes me as sort of dumb; we’ve seen secret siblings for Wonder Woman a bunch of times already, and it never turns out particularly interesting.

Even more dumb is the way in which it’s revealed in DC Universe Rebirth #1: Grail tells it to baby Darkseid. “Who is Grail and why is Darkseid a baby?” you might ask. Excellent questions. Grail is the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazon who’s been appearing in the recent “Darkseid War” story in Justice League, and Darkseid is a baby because he was destroyed in said war but has now been reborn; I think he was Superwoman’s kid? I haven’t been paying super close attention. The larger point here is that to understand this scene, and the special in general, you have to be very up-to-date on what’s been going on in DC’s comics as of late. It’s really not a book for casual or new readers.

This is exemplified by the core story of the book, the return of Wally West. “There’s already a Wally West in the current DC Universe!” you might say. Excellent point. He’s been in a bunch of comics, is a black kid like he is on The Flash television show, and he’s got super speed like his uncle Barry. But as it turns out, THAT Wally is a totally different dude and not an updated version of the character, the son of a different brother of Iris who happens to also be named Wally. The REAL Wally West is the newly returned Wally, a white guy who was a speedster from the 1950s on until he got erased and replaced (momentarily) by the new Wally when DC rebooted their line in 2011. Are you confused yet? The old Wally has come back to reveal the malevolent force behind the 2011 reboot and restore his rightful place in continuity because lord knows we can’t ever replace a white character with a black one without the white guy having to come back sooner than later.

The malevolent force is Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, who apparently has been phunking with the DC Universe. “Isn’t Watchmen set in a completely different universe, and a classic that DC should stop screwing around with after the mess that was Before Watchmen?” you might ask. Excellent observations. But they’re doing it. And presumably it’s all going to lead up to DC heroes vs. Watchmen characters and I have no idea how that’s not going to suck.

So, to have a half decent understanding of DC Comics Rebirth #1 you have to a) be up to date on DC’s recent comics, b) have a solid understanding of DC’s continuity, particularly the history of Wally West, c) also have a solid understanding of DC’s publishing history and it’s various reboots and relaunches, and d) have read Watchmen because the ending will make literally zero sense if you haven’t. It’s a super inaccessible book. If you’re not steeped in DC comic books on multiple fronts, you’re going to miss out on a lot. And that’s a dumb way to make a comic book that’s supposed to introduce a fresh, NEW relaunch.

I should also add that the special is edited by known sexual harasser Eddie Berganza, a man who remained at the publisher after the slightest of slaps on the wrist following his misconduct a few years back and remains a key architect of the DC Universe as a whole. The guy is in charge of the Superman books specifically, which is ironic and gross. Just as the special’s focus on past continuity celebrates the “good old days” of comics, so too does Berganza’s involvement reflect the insular “good old boys” network of comic book editors and creators who turn a blind eye to sexual harassment and couldn’t care less about women in general. Incidentally, there’s not a single woman in the credits page; fifteen different people worked on the book, all of them men. So yeah, Berganza’s continued role at DC Comics may be enough to put you off of “Rebirth” and the publisher as a whole, a very understandable stance that seems like the best option more and more.

Anyway, we were talking about Wonder Woman. She’s got a brother. It sounds kind of dumb, but Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, and Nicola Scott are all ridiculously good at comics and I trust them to do an excellent job with Diana. I’m excited for the new Wonder Woman, intrigued by the two new Batgirl titles and a superpowered Lois Lane in Superwoman, and I might try Detective Comics for Batwoman and Cassandra Cain. Other than that, not much is grabbing me. The lack of new reader friendliness in DC Universe Rebirth #1 hasn’t sold me on this new direction well at all. Hopefully some fun things come of it, but this first big outing felt like a misstep to me. The only thing I really liked was this ad at the end, which looks amazing:

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Check Out these Liam Sharp Pages from Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, Plus a Tease from Nicola Scott

May 4, 2016

We’re getting ever closer to the debut of DC’s “Rebirth” relaunch in June, so close that we’re starting to get more concrete teases now. Among them is a peek inside Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, the special issue that will come out in early June before Wonder Woman officially relaunches  with a new first issue later in the month. As a sidenote, this seems like a bizarre way to do things; why not just relaunch the book right off? I’m curious to see what’s the point of these “Rebirth” specials.

But regardless of my confusion at how DC is going about their business, we’ve got pretty art! So enjoy these unlettered, colored pages from Liam Sharp:

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So we’ve got Wonder Woman fighting a minotaur, what appears to be a Cerberus-style three headed dog (that double page spread image is a little small, so I’m not 100% sure on it), and a centaur. Or perhaps animated statues thereof. Either way, I’m into it. I’m always up for Wonder Woman vs. mythological creatures, and Sharp’s art looks great here. His Diana is powerful, lovely, and regal, and I love the layouts and the flow of the pages. Laura Martin is coloring the series, and she does a fantastic job here as well. It’s going to be a really pretty book, that’s for sure.

Also, earlier today Nicola Scott released a tease of one of her pages for her half of Wonder Woman; Sharp will be drawing the odd numbered issues, set in the present, while Scott will be drawing the even numbered issues, set in the past in a “Year One” storyline. She posted this preview of Diana and Hippolyta sharing a lovely mother/daughter moment:

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I’m so excited to see what Scott does with Wonder Woman. Sharp’s work looks like it’ll be great too, but Scott’s been killing it lately with Black Magick and such, and I can’t wait to see what she does in her return to the world of the Amazons.

Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp and Paulo Siqueira, hits comic shops on June 8, with the new Wonder Woman #1 following two weeks later. Wonder Woman might finally be good again, gang! It’s exciting times.


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