Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Wonder Woman #47 Review: At Least the Art is Decent

May 23, 2018

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We’ve got four issues of this mess left, gang. An annual next week, then three more issues to get us to Wonder Woman #50 and the end of this god awful run. After that, new creators! And a writer who is actually good at both dialogue and plotting. I’m so looking forward to it. These past few months have been a real slog, and I’m optimistic that Wonder Woman will be readable once again come late July. Maybe enjoyable, even? I’ve got a good feeling about Steve Orlando, and Laura Braga and ACO on art should be a lot of fun.

But for now, we’re still in the middle of James Robinson’s foolishness. And dang, is it hard to care about this story. It’s just bad, and is building on all of the bad arcs that preceded it. It’s terrible all the way down. Jason’s still around, and he’s both the worst character AND the worst idea for a character I’ve seen in some time. And there are some Dark Gods that are doing something or other? We’re two issues in now, and we still don’t know much about them. It’s all so underwhelming. So let’s talk about it! But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this issue yet!

Unless you, unlike me, are sensible and have dropped the series and are just reading this to keep yourself in the loop of what’s going on!

I can understand that!

And I envy you your spare $3.99!

This issue is centered mainly on a fight between Wonder Woman and Supergirl, as we can see from the main cover. Kudos to Emanuela Lupacchino and the cover gang for the old school word balloons here. That’s a nice, classic touch. However, you should take a peek at Jenny Frison’s lovely variant cover for the issue:

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Ice cream fun with Diana and Kara! And you know they’re having a good time because a) they’re smiling and laughing, and b) they splurged on waffle cones, the most delicious form of cone. This is the story I’d much rather be reading, two superheroines out having a fun day, enjoying some ice cream. Something will inevitably go awry, of course, and they’ll shoot off to save the day. It sounds like a delightful issue! And I appreciate Jenny Frison giving me the opportunity to imagine such a pleasant story.

The actual issue is less pleasant. It begins with Supergirl, crazed by the Dark Gods, picking a fight with a flummoxed Wonder Woman. Much like the Cheetah battle two weeks back, Stephen Segovia does a solid job with the fight choreography, with some breakdown help from Rick Leonardi. The scene is dynamically rendered, with lots of action and velocity. And style, as well. I really like how he draws Supergirl’s heat rays with a bit of flair, and the entire flying battle is a master class in cape crumpling as she whips through the air. The whole thing is a good time.

Well, a good time until you read the words. Also much like last issue’s Cheetah battle, the fine visuals are undercut by some embarrassingly poor writing. The dialogue and narration are poor, and any sort of explanation for the fight is non-existent.

I will say, though, kudos to Saida Temofonte. Yes, most of the words are quite bad, but she does an excellent job laying them out on the page. I don’t talk about her lettering skills enough, partly because I spend most of my time rolling my eyes at the story and partly because when a letterer is good their work is so seamless that you almost don’t notice it. Temofonte is excellent, and has been doing a fine job on the book for months now. Her skills are on display particularly well during the fight scene. She stays out of the way of the action while still following along with the direction of the art, even across several two pages spreads. It makes everything easy to read and follow, which is exactly what you want in lettering.

If only they’d let her put in good words, instead of the bad ones James Robinson keeps choosing. He’s come up with an interesting fight scene here, and then sucks all the fun out of it with his writing. Every word he puts in Wonder Woman’s mouth, every caption that shows her thoughts, rings absolutely false. She just doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman. Supergirl’s got the excuse of being wacky with the Dark Gods’ influence; her dialogue should be wonky. But Wonder Woman’s in her right mind, yet she hasn’t seemed like herself for months.

Then we cut to Jason, who’s hanging out with the Fates because, I don’t know? Glaucus knows them, I guess? Anyway, we learn that his fancy new armor was meant for Diana, not him, and he still dons the armor anyway to go face the bizarre stone monoliths that have appeared in the sky. Kind of a jerk move, really. If Zeus wanted Diana to have it, he should probably stop using it.

I will say, I was mildly amused by the issue’s conclusion. Star Sapphires appear out of nowhere to take Wonder Woman off to Zamaron for next week’s Wonder Woman Annual #2, just as the battle with the Dark Gods is about to begin. The annual is going to suck, most likely, since James Robinson is writing it, but that ending is such a classic comic book move that I almost have to respect it a little bit. I love an out of the blue whisk away for a special issue.

This leaves us with a bigger problem, though. It sounds like the next issue of Wonder Woman proper is going to be Jason vs. the Dark Gods, and I do not want to spend four dollars on that shizz. When I go to buy Wonder Woman and her dopey brother is the star of the book instead, I get very, very, very annoyed. If we get little to no Wonder Woman in that issue, my review might just be “Nope. Nope nope nope.” Time will tell. But next week, Zamaron!

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Wonder Woman #46 Review: Try To Care About The Dark Gods

May 10, 2018

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A new issue of Wonder Woman came out yesterday and I’ll be honest with you, gang: I completely forgot about it. The book comes out every two weeks like clockwork, so it shouldn’t be hard to remember. And yet here we are, a day late. I’ve been reviewing Wonder Woman for years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever been accidentally late. Sometimes I’ll be travelling or have other things on the go on Wednesday, but I plan accordingly. This time, I just forgot, and it was kind of inevitable. This run is terrible, and I haven’t looked forward to a new issue of Wonder Woman in months. I’ve remembered in time up until now, but there were some close calls. This is a telling turn of events, really. I mean, I love Wonder Woman so much that I wrote an entire book about her. I am a Wonder Woman enthusiast through and through. So if I can’t muster up enough interest in Wonder Woman to remember when it comes out, how bad must this book be? I used to wake up on Wonder Woman Wednesdays, excited to dig into the new issue. It hasn’t been like that for a while. Hopefully it will be again soon, once this god awful run ends. Anyway, there’s a new arc now, with James Robinson still writing the dang series, so let’s get into it. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m about to tell you everything that happens in this issue!

A day late, but still!

It wasn’t worth the wait, unsurprisingly!

Let’s start with something positive! The art in this issue is quite good. Stephen Segovia does a fine job with the line art, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. colors it beautifully, as always. Segovia draws Wonder Woman well, and there were some sequences in this issue that I really enjoyed. Wonder Woman has a fight scene with the Cheetah that is very nicely choreographed and rendered, with cool angles and a real sense of motion. It’s stylish and exciting, and one of the better fights I’ve seen in Wonder Woman lately. You have to ignore the dialogue to enjoy it fully, of course, but that goes without saying in this run.

So yeah, the Cheetah is back. And Veronica Cale, Dr. Cyber, and Dr. Poison, all key players from Greg Rucka’s time on the book. That first year of “Rebirth” was fantastic, with great writing and fabulous art from Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp. Having a different team on the characters feels weird, especially in terms of the writing. It’s like night and day. Saying it feels wrong to have Robinson putting words in the mouth of the Cheetah and Veronica Cale is probably taking things a step too far, but it certainly doesn’t feel right. Rucka brought so much life to these characters, and they just fall flat here. While Segovia does a nice job drawing everyone, especially with the ferocity he brings to the Cheetah, the writing can’t keep up. The dialogue is awkward and stilted, and the characters just don’t feel like themselves. I’ve had that problem with Wonder Woman herself since this run began, and seeing so many characters I know well in the same boat really hammers that disconnect home.

Also, I know I mention this with every dang issue, but Wonder Woman isn’t in this book much. I hate to keep harping on it, but I also hate that it keeps happening in a book called Wonder Woman. By my count, she only appears on 7 of the 20 pages in this issue. The Cheetah is on 11 pages here, and it’s not even her book! And of course, we’ve got our regular check in with Jason that no one in the world cares about.

Speaking of that terrible character, it seems like the source of his mysterious new powers might be the Dark Gods everyone in this issue is all fired up about. This new arc follows up on DC’s recent Metal event, which opened up the mainline universe to a dark multiverse with all sorts of frightening worlds. The Dark Gods seem to come from there, and now that the Darkseid arc is all wrapped up, that leaves these new deities as the most likely source of Jason’s powers. Whoever they are, a lot of folks are concerned about their arrival. We don’t see them in this issue, but the Cheetah is all in a tizzy because they’re on the way. Supergirl is out of sorts as well, so much so that she shows up at the end of the issue to fight Wonder Woman to the death. She looks like her normal self, but I have to assume she’s possessed in some capacity? Or otherwise not herself. Whatever the case, the Darks Gods are coming.

I’m not entirely sure why, though. The end of the Darkseid arc two weeks back seemed like the perfect place to end this run, but it’s still going through July with this new story. Maybe it plays into the upcoming relaunch of the Justice League titles? Or maybe DC is really bad at making Wonder Woman and are just letting Robinson roll on while they scramble to figure out what to do next? Time will tell.

Whatever the case, this is an odd introductory issue to a new arc. It harkens back to old stories, but only to tease the new one, it seems. And while we know that the big bad Dark Gods are coming, Supergirl is the problem right now. It’s a slow build, and I couldn’t be less interested. I mean, obviously. I forgot that this issue was even out! Here’s a bit of good news, though: Stephen Segovia is scheduled to draw the next issue, and if this week’s fight between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah is any indication, her upcoming brawl with Supergirl might look really cool. Hopefully I’ll remember to read it.

Wonder Woman #45 Review: “Amazons Attacked” Stumbles to a Poor Conclusion

April 25, 2018

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Let’s start with some happy news: This run is going to end. We’ve always known this in the abstract, of course. Creative teams at the Big Two never last forever. But now we’ve got a date. On July 11, 2018, Wonder Woman #50 will come out and mark the end of James Robinson’s tenure writing the book. While it’s kind of a downer that they’re letting him write such a landmark issue after months of churning out terrible work, the bigger news is that it’s finally over. Steve Orlando and Laura Braga are taking over for a brief arc starting with Wonder Woman #51, and then a new, yet unnamed creative team will come in.

I’d be excited for anyone not named James Robinson to be writing the book, but Orlando is an especially good choice. I’ve enjoyed his work for a while now, and from his few comments on what’s to come it sounds like he’s got a good handle on Wonder Woman and why she’s amazing. Braga is a great choice, too. She’s done fantastic work on DC Comics Bombshells, and I’m looking forward to her drawing Wonder Woman in a more modern setting. It should all be a lot of fun. We’ve just got to slog through five more issues to get there!

Speaking of a slog, Wonder Woman #45 came out today, bringing the “Amazons Attacked” storyline to a close. The issue was bad, the arc was dumb, and damn near everything about this book continues to suck. So let’s talk about it, I guess? But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to ruin the conclusion of this foolish arc!

Look away if you don’t want to know how Darkseid loses because… love?

It doesn’t make any sort of sense.

As I just mentioned, in this grand finale to months of painful storytelling, Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid with love. More specifically, she uses her love for her brothers, sisters, and other divine relatives killed by Darkseid in his quest to repower himself, loving them so fiercely that she somehow pulls their souls from his body. Darkseid, now weakened, burns up and disappears.

So, yeah. The thing is, Wonder Woman and love go hand in hand. Her compassion and her kindness have been hallmarks of the character from the very beginning. When William Moulton Marston created her, he made her the embodiment of the loving authority of women. If any superhero is going to use love to defeat a villain, it’s going to be Wonder Woman. The problem is, it still has to make sense. There’s need to be a degree of logic. You can’t just say that Diana’s love is “bright and true” and then ta-dah, Darkseid is done. Wonder Woman is not some sort of loving necromancer. She cannot draw out the souls of the dead through sheer affection alone.

And even if Robinson and co. wanted to make this a new superpower for her, then okay, explain it. It’s a bad, silly idea, but make it work. Set it up in some fashion. Do a little bit of foreshadowing and table setting so it doesn’t come off like a bizarre deus ex machina. Love is a wonderful, powerful thing, but to use it to such a degree, entirely out of the blue, kind of ruins the entire ending. Well, “ruin” is the wrong word. That implies that there was something good to begin with. But it’s cheap, and unearned, and generally dumb.

On top of that foolishness, this issue continues one of my main frustrations with this run: Robinson’s focus on male characters. I’ve said it a million times, but this book is called Wonder Woman. She should be the main character. And, almost as importantly, women should play an important role in the series, across the board. In this issue, we start with opening narration from Steve Trevor. Then Jason, a man, goes to Themyscira to save the Amazons from Grail’s attack. And finally Grail, once captured by the Amazons, is imprisoned with Ares so that HE can teach her the values of love and peace that he has learned. Learned from women, I might add; his wokeness comes from submission to Aphrodite and the Amazons. That’s too many dudes doing too many things. All while Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid in the dumbest of ways.

This issue is basically the culmination of so many terrible ideas. Bringing back Grail. Giving Diana a brother. Ignoring every rad female supporting character in the Wonder Woman mythos. Letting James Robinson write a comic book after, I’m guessing, he traded his skills at storytelling to some sort of evil leprechaun for magic beans? I’m not exactly sure how his writing turned so bad so quickly, but the larger point stands: The dude is doing garbage work here. And all of that combines into this boring, nonsensical conclusion that lacks any excitement, heart, or reader investment.

At least it looks pretty good. So long as you’ve got Emanuela Lupacchino drawing Wonder Woman, even if it’s just for some of the pages, it’s going to be a book worth looking at. She captures the character so well, and Ray McCarthy does a great job inking her work. Marco Santucci is solid, too. I prefer Lupacchino, but he carries off his pages nicely. And of course, series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. holds everything together with his coloring. The dude’s a magician. When books go off the rails like Wonder Woman has as of late, often times it shows up in the artwork. You see rushed drawing, and everyone down the production line starts phoning it in. While we’ve had some instances of hasty linework over the past few months, Fajardo Jr. has been making everyone look better with every single issue he colors. Give the man a dang raise, DC.

So, Darkseid is done, and now we’ve just got to get through some sort of Metal tie-in for the next five issues. Then we get a new creative team and maybe we can enjoy the book again? Gosh, I hope so. I’m real tired of hating what should be my favourite book.

Wonder Woman #44 Review: The Fight Rages On! And Remains Terrible/Nigh Unreadable!

April 11, 2018

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I had a really nice weekend, gang. I went to Chicago for C2E2, had a great time at the show, tried a poke bowl for the first time (it was DELICIOUS). It was excellent all around, and the fun started with a panel discussion about Catwoman at The Book Cellar with some super smart comic critics. Angelica Jade Bastien, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, Katie Schenkel, and I spent the bulk of the time discussing Catwoman, of course, but every now and again the conversation would turn to the current run of Wonder Woman. And with that turn came utter bewilderment at what a mess the book is right now, partly in relation to its brilliant “Rebirth” relaunch and partly just on its own, entirely lacking merits. Everyone was utterly flabbergasted at the horrible depths the series has sunk to as of late. It was a cathartic conversation, with the general consensus being that James Robinson should perhaps consider a different career path entirely.

Anyway, there’s a new Wonder Woman out this week, so let’s talk about it. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the secrets of yet another painfully subpar issue of Wonder Woman!

They don’t make a lick of sense in terms of current continuity, though!

This book is dumb.

So this issue is mostly fighting, which I appreciated. The brawling meant that there weren’t long, drawn out conversations that lacked any semblance to normal human speech and simply regurgitated previously established facts. I’ve had enough of that with the past few issues. Now, the fighting wasn’t particularly good, nor were the quips and banter therein. The structure of the battle on the page jumped around a lot, seemingly at random, and the core brawl between Wonder Woman and Darkseid was the only one that actually mattered. Jason and Grail’s faceoff didn’t really go anywhere, while Steve and his Howling Commandos appeared to be entirely ineffective.

Like most of Robinson’s run, the battle was largely filler to get us from Point A to Point B without actually adding anything new or interesting to the story, revealing anything about the characters, or otherwise enhancing our reading experience. It was just a bunch of punches to burn through pages until Darkseid’s machine could be powered enough to open a portal to Themyscira. I do like a good fight. This is a superhero comic book, after all. But I like the fights to say something beyond “oh, this will fill up the issue until the dramatic reveal at the end.” This fight was entirely perfunctory. Any reader with any sense of how the story was unfolding would know that there were no stakes here at all. Darkseid’s plan was going to work, and no amount of brawling was going to change that.

And about this dramatic reveal. So Grail gets to Themyscira and turns some Amazons into parademons. I have two big thoughts about this. First, those Amazons would have DESTROYED Grail. I know she’s half Darkseid or whatever, but Amazons are Amazons and there were a bunch of them. Even with a surprise attack, the gal would have been taken down and hastily so. You don’t mess with the Amazons.

Second, this was framed as a homecoming for Grail after leaving the island years earlier, but here’s the thing: THIS IS NOT GRAIL’S PARADISE ISLAND. Remember when the New 52 relaunch messed up Wonder Woman and the Amazons so badly that DC brought in Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott to fix it? And that their solution was to explain that the New 52 Amazons were a fiction? Grail was created before this fix. She is a product of the fake Amazons, not the real Amazons. This Themyscira is not her home. Technically, her home doesn’t even exist and she is some sort of bizarre anomaly. The folks behind Wonder Woman don’t seem to care about any of this, and have decided to ignore the change in continuity entirely.

Continuity needn’t be a prison, of course, but these things were changed for a reason. The Wonder Woman mythos was fundamentally broken, and Rucka and Scott set in right in a way that resonated with scores of fans. But now, this run is undoing all of that. Rucka and Scott danced around Wonder Woman’s New 52, daughter of Zeus origin, giving DC an out for ever mentioning it again. This arc has made it a centerpiece of the story. Rucka and Scott wiped away the New 52’s terrible depiction of the Amazons, and this arc has brought back one of its oddest, dumbest choices with Grail. It’s mind boggling. Everyone did a very good thing with Wonder Woman: Year One. It’s easily one of the best Wonder Woman stories ever told! And now DC is letting this trash fire of an arc toss it all aside.

One bit of good news from this issue is that Emanuela Lupacchino is back. Even when she’s working on a tight schedule, which I suspect she may have been here, her art is always dynamic and enjoyable. She’s got a great grasp on Wonder Woman herself, and it was very fun to see her draw the Amazons, however briefly. It’s a shame that someone with such an obvious penchant for Wonder Woman and her world is being used for such a terrible storyline. I hope that she’ll get another shot at the book with a writer that actually understands and appreciates Diana. Romulo Fajardo Jr. remains on top of his game as well, like always. The richness of colour and the breadth of texture he brings to his work is just remarkable. It’s all so subtle and seamless, and remains the one thing keeping this entire run afloat. Luckily with Lupacchino he’s got some nice line work to enhance, but he’s definitely elevated several lesser artists in past issues and has maintained a consistent look for the title.

So yeah, we’ve got Amazon parademons now and more fights ahead, I assume. Good grief. There’s a few more issues of this foolishness, and then Robinson is starting yet another storyline. When will the horrors end?! Not anytime soon, it seems. Ugh.

 

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

March 14, 2018

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

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

They are all so dumb.

So very, very dumb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder Woman #41 Review: Failing at All of the Little Things

February 28, 2018

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I’m starting to worry that I may be trapped in Tartarus, the deepest depths of Hades where the dead are punished for eternity with cruel forms of poetic justice. Like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill, like Tantalus unable to reach the fruit above him or the water below, so too am I subjected to a terrible new issue of Wonder Woman every two weeks in a run that feels like it will never end. I’m not sure what I did to end up in Tartarus. Typically, you have to offend Zeus, so perhaps my intense and vocal dislike of his part in Wonder Woman’s current origin story played a part? Whatever the case, here do I suffer, again and again.

So that’s where I am with Wonder Woman right now.

We’ve got another issue this week and, well, it sure is a comic book. There are words and drawings. Multiple pages. All of the ingredients you need for superhero fun. And yet somehow it offers no fun whatsoever. This book is a mystery, one that keeps finding new ways to be so, so bad. We’ll dig into it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the details of this book!

Maybe that’s why I’m in Tartarus, for spoiling comics?

I always give a warning, Zeus! Every time!

Let’s start at the very beginning today with the cover. It’s not good, but it’s dramatic. We’ve got a crazed looking Wonder Woman, sword drawn in anger, standing over her fallen love. The title ominously proclaims, “For the Life of Steve Trevor!” This must be a doozy of an issue, right? No. Not even a little bit. Steve is in the issue, yes, but he’s totally fine. The only time he’s in any harm’s way is in a flashback. Nor are he and Wonder Woman exposed to any great danger in the present. The bulk of the issue consists of a conversation between the two of them as they fill each other in on what they’ve been up to. No blood, no angst, no destruction.

Also, and this is a silly nitpick, I know, but Steve’s hair doesn’t look like that in this issue. It’s longer and slicked back, not short. He doesn’t wear anything that resembles the outfit above either. All of this gets to the larger point I am trying to make here: It feels like the editorial oversight on this book is non-existent. The cover not matching the contents, both in story and appearance, is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything inside this book is a dang mess, and it’s been that way for months. The stories have been repetitive, undeveloped, and largely nonsensical. None of the characters feel right. So much of the writing is screaming for another draft following a lengthy list of editorial notes. I don’t know what the editors on Wonder Woman are doing other than sending the files off to the printer every couple of weeks. Do they not know their names go on the book too? This is a very embarrassing product to be associated with, guys.

And what’s especially morbidly fascinating about the series right now is how it’s bad in a different way with every issue. The structure of this issue actually isn’t an awful idea. Diana and Steve catching up after a rough week of fighting bad guys with flashbacks to their various encounters could be good. We’d get to see them as a couple, sharing feelings and perspectives on their unique lives. It’s a nice set up. The only problem is, the writer would need to be capable of writing dialogue that actual human people would say. The stilted, hackneyed conversation we get here is so awkward that the whole thing goes off the rails with the first page.

Moreover, the stories behind it all are both random and bad. First, the book starts with Darkseid speechifying about a plan that never gets mentioned again for the rest of the issue. Then we go to the Diana/Steve conversation, which honestly makes it look like Wonder Woman is losing control a bit. She’s taking down villains aggressively, and showing no concern for them. It’s wildly out of character. In one fight, she laments that destroying a mecha-creature crashed the brain of the woman powering it, not because she is presumably brain dead now, but because the women wouldn’t be able to explain the motive behind her attack. This is not how Wonder Woman rolls. Even at her lowest, laden with all the problems of the world, Wonder Woman still cares. It’s a defining trait of the character.

Diana then goes to confront Veronica Cale, which is another big left turn. Cale was behind the attacks, trying to earn some defense contracts, and fine. That sort of seems like her. But what does this have to do with anything? Cale hasn’t been in the book since Greg Rucka left. She’s had nothing to do with this storyline in the slightest. I suppose she reminds us that her daughter is in Themyscira with the Amazons, and it looks like Darkseid is going to attack there soon, but does that mention require an entire issue of brawls? That seems a bit much.

The book ends with everybody’s least favourite character in the world showing up. It’s Jason! And he’s got a new outfit. And presumably he and Diana are going to fight now or something. Whatever. Who cares. He’s the worst. Also, nothing in the story preceding this last page reveal had teased his return. He just shows up after this detour of an issue to get back to the Darkseid related stuff, I guess. It’s all such poor story crafting.

I should say, on a brighter note, that the art is decent. Stephen Segovia does a solid job here, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are gorgeous as always. Both artists feel like they are actually trying to make an enjoyable comic book, and I certainly appreciate that since I’m not sensing an ounce of effort or care from the writer or the editorial staff. Ugh. I still can’t believe we have months of this left. MONTHS, gang. Or, if I’m right about being in Tartarus, all of eternity.

Wonder Woman #40 Review: Still With This Foolishness?

February 14, 2018

ww40

There’s a line in today’s issue of Wonder Woman that perfectly captures the quality of writing we’ve been dealing with for the past several months. The woefully underdeveloped villain Silver Swan is flying through the night sky, stinging from her recent battle with Wonder Woman, and as she sees the moon shining she notes, “The moon reflects the cold silver of my dead heart.” Friends, I laughed out loud. The unfortunate thing is, I don’t think writer James Robinson was trying to be funny here. He’s constructed what he must imagine is a serious villain, given the swath of bodies left in her wake, yet her internal monologue reads like a bad goth parody. And, unsurprisingly given how poor this run has been, the rest of the writing in this issue is not much better. I remain flabbergasted that DC Comics is allowing such a terrible story for one of their marquee characters. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Do not read this review unless you want to know all of the big reveals from this issue!

I mean, most of these reveals are very dumb!

And badly written!

But still!

Reviewing this series lately just feels like making a list of complaints, which is something I do not care for. And yet, here we are again. I’d much rather be celebrating a fine comic book than criticizing a bad one, but this book just keeps finding new ways to be unpleasant every other week. It’s like compounded interest, except with terribleness instead of money. And I’m not at all shocked to see a new array of dumb decisions in this issue, on top of the already asinine storyline.

Let’s start with the art. It was fairly solid, as always. Emanuela Lupacchino and Carmen Carnero are quite good at their craft, and there was a lot of nice work in this outing. Throughout this run, the art has been the one decent thing we can count on, even when these fine artists are drawing the dumbest of stories. However, there was an odd choice that I didn’t much like. Lupacchino drew Jason towering over Diana, making him a full head taller than her in several panels. She often looked like a little pixie when next to his imposing frame. First, this is new. Jason was drawn only slightly taller than Diana initially. And second, Wonder Woman is tall. She is an imposing figure herself. To make her look small, you have to be a dang giant, or at the very least some sort of basketball star.

Moreover, the juxtaposition made her look not weak, but lesser, to a degree. There’s nothing at all wrong with being shorter, of course. Strength is not relative to size. But Diana and Jason are twins, and I think it’s a poor choice to make the male twin so much bigger. Especially in a genre where the men are typically behemoths and the women are tiny. They should be equals, and they’ve not been drawn as such here.

We’ve also got a condescending Steve Trevor moment in this issue that felt very out of character. If you’re not writing Steve Trevor as a good dude, you’re not writing him well. He is a fundamentally decent, respectful person, especially when it comes to women. So I found it a bit during when, during his battle with the Furies, he patronizingly called Lashina “sweetheart.” It’s a small thing, to be sure. But it’s a small thing that’s indicative of a writer who’s just doesn’t seem that interested in getting the characters right. That’s not something Steve would say. And since he’s only in two pages this issue, and has been an afterthought for a lot of this run, such a glaring error stands out especially sharply.

This outing also sees the introduction of another villain, and I’m not excited about it. Why would DC give Robinson the chance to screw up another classic Wonder Woman villain? It’s mind boggling. The revelation comes near the end of the issue, when a reflection reveals that the kindly Dr. Edward Carne looks to in fact be Dr. Psycho. Now, I’m not great at predicting plots and twists, in part because I don’t like to. I’d rather just follow along with where the story’s going. But the second the book introduced a short, friendly doctor talking about “the power of the mind,” my immediate thought was “well, that’s probably Dr. Pyscho then.” I was very amused when the next page revealed just that. It’s a weak twist, and I really don’t want Robinson to screw up this character too. Haven’t we been subjected to enough already? I have zero faith that he’ll do something interesting with him.

Elsewhere, the arc continued in its usual underwhelming way. Diana and Jason argued about proper heroing. There was another fight with the Silver Swan, and ultimately Wonder Woman captured here. Then Jason decided to run away because he’s so bad at being a superhero. Except that when he went to leave, he was swept up in some type of malevolent purple force. My fingers are crossed that he’d dead and gone, but that seems unlikely. Chances are, Grail and Darkseid have him now and we’ll see him again sooner than later.

So the overarching story is still plodding along. The Silver Swan tale is done for now, and it sounds like we’ve got Darkseid vs. the Amazons coming up next. And then, hopefully, a new creative team that knows what they’re doing. But after all of this complaining, let’s take a moment to recognize something amazing about this series. Jenny Frison has been doing variant covers for Wonder Woman for well over a year now, and they are consistently fantastic. I usually put up the main cover at the start of my review, but DANG did Frison outdo herself this week and I had to post that instead. That cover is stunning, and one of her best yet. I don’t know why DC isn’t making her covers the main ones, because they are gorgeous. Though really, I don’t know why DC isn’t doing a lot of things differently with Wonder Woman these days. Nonetheless, what a stellar piece of art. She’s been doing phenomenal work.


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