Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Wonder Woman #68 Review: The Big Friendly Giganta

April 10, 2019

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As often happens with superhero comic books, this cover is not necessarily an accurate reflection of what’s going on inside the book. Yes, Wonder Woman and Giganta get into a bit of a precarious scrap with some rock monsters. That much is true. But the tone here is all wrong. First, I’d say it’s wrong for Wonder Woman generally. She’s not going to be sarcastic like that, especially in a combat situation, no matter who she’s with. I don’t know who did this dialogue, but I feel like it may not have been G. Willow Wilson. Second, at no point in the book is Wonder Woman annoyed with Giganta like this. While there’s a degree of conflict, it’s subtler and far more interesting than this cover conveys. I mean, it’s a fun cover. The Dodsons are always a good time. It’s just not capturing what is compelling and excellent about the insides of the book. Which we’ll dig into now, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you all of the things that happen in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, be sure to read it!

This run is very good!

One of the things I like most about this run so far is that G. Willow Wilson didn’t come to play. Yeah, she’s got rad action and some enjoyable comedy and all of the things that make a superhero comic entertaining. But beyond that, she is digging into some heavy stuff. The word I keep coming back to when I review her issues is “interrogation.” The first arc with Ares was an interrogation of what it means to be a hero, and whether answering violence with violence is just perpetuating a damaging system. It was an arc that didn’t land on any firm answer, and it feels like we’re picking up on that theme again here, but with a slight, more specific alteration. Now we’re interrogating what it means to be a superhero.

With the realization that the rock giants aren’t sentient, Wonder Woman doesn’t need to hold back anymore. She can push her strength and her powers further, full on demolishing the creatures without fear of killing someone. And Giganta notices, because Giganta is smart. She’s seen through Wonder Woman from day one, noting the deeper motivations behind her actions. And now she’s got some thoughts. Namely, that Wonder Woman is scared of her own powers, and that if she wanted to she could use her powers to run the world. And, more incisively, in that holding back to supposedly protect the weak, Wonder Woman is lying to herself. Giganta suggests that Wonder Woman’s morality is a smoke screen to hide from her fear of herself, of what she could be if she embraced the depths of her powers. Wonder Woman disagrees, of course, but it’s clear that she’s a bit rattled. The comments resonate with her on some level.

Now, Giganta is hardly trustworthy here. Like Ares and Veronica Cale before her, Giganta is not someone with Wonder Woman’s best interests at heart. This is hardly a critique that is meant to encourage Wonder Woman to be her best self. If anything, it’s a reflection of Giganta’s own sense of powerlessness, of her yearning for what she could do with more power. Being in the Suicide Squad can’t be terribly fun, and seeing someone free yet holding back what they can do must be irksome to her.

And yet, Giganta gets to the heart of things in a way no one else has yet. Ares is all bluster and bloviating. Veronica Cale is all anger and blame. They don’t see Diana for who she is. Giganta does, though, in her own way. When Wonder Woman insists that her morality is not fake, Giganta replies, “Oh yeah? Then why aren’t you happy?” The line made me stop for a second, in part because it was very unexpected but also because it rang surprisingly true. Yeah, Diana’s got Steve and her friends and a swell gig saving the world, but there hasn’t been a lot of joy to this run. Even beyond the drama surrounding the Amazons, there’s a dearth of happiness. She’s not unhappy, really. It’s sort of a neutral. She’s purposeful in her actions, staying true to her beliefs and what makes her who she is. There’s just no buoyancy to it. Not to go all Marie Kondo on her, but Diana’s life doesn’t seem to be sparking a lot of joy for her right now.

What that means for her, I have no idea. And again, Giganta’s most definitely not trying to help Wonder Woman here. This may not be an observation Diana needs to take to heart. I thought it resonated, though, and I’m curious to see how it plays out. The finding of Antiope’s sword seems to have lifted Diana’s spirits, and we’ve got a fun new quest ahead of us now. But Giganta’s comments run deeper than the Amazon issue. Diana doesn’t need to find her family so much as she needs to find herself. And maybe finding her family is a necessary step on that journey.

We’ve got Cary Nord and Mick Gray back on art to start out the issue, but just when I was getting into their style and starting to enjoy their work, we only get them for half the book. Ronan Cliquet takes over in the second half, and his work is generally unremarkable. If he’s trying to do a Cary Nord impression, he’s not great at it. And what we end up with is run of the mill superhero fare. We’ve got Xermanico back in two weeks, however, and he was great last time around.

Also, a fun team up with a triumvirate of awesome ladies! There’s Wonder Woman leading the charge, Aphrodite and her cool swan, and Maggie with Antiope’s sword atop the pegasus Cadmus. They look super cool, and I can’t wait to see what kind of adventure they’re about to get into. Plus, Antiope’s got to show up sometime soon now! You can’t give us her sword and then no Antiope. She’s not been a huge part of Wonder Woman comics in the past, and I’m excited to see how G. Willow Wilson and the art team bring her to life in the wake of Robin Wright’s spectacular take on the character in the Wonder Woman movie. Should be fun!

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Wonder Woman #67 Review: Swords, Stones, and an Arthurian Twist

March 27, 2019

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This issue was everything I wanted it to be. Fun banter between Wonder Woman and Giganta? Yes. Busting up rock giants in awesome fight scenes? Yes. Enemies becoming friends as they worked together toward a common purpose? YES. It was all such a good time, epic in scope yet intimate in terms of its subtle relationship building. Road trips with Wonder Woman should be a thing from now on. Like a requirement for every run. Have her team up with one of her foes against a bigger foe, go off on an adventure, and before you know it they’re pals sharing a meal at a diner in Colorado. Make it a thing, DC! It doesn’t have to be rock monsters or Colorado every time either. Though the rock monsters were cool. Big things that Wonder Woman and her pals can beat on make for enjoyable comic books.

Let’s dig into all of the friendship fun, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this excellent issue!

It’s a delight, and you should go in unspoiled!

Invest your $3.99 in a good time!

So, the titans are a big problem. Or rather, not the titans? As Wonder Woman observes by the issue’s end, they’re not acting like gods, or even properly sentient beings. They certainly don’t have the faculties one would expect from the world’s original deities. Something else seems to be happening, something involving the sword that Maggie finds in the lake. Which I loved. Any time a story veers into lady + lake + sword, things are going right up my alley. I’m all about Arthurian lore, and I’m curious to see how much G. Willow Wilson is steering into it here. I suspect not too much, since we’ve got enough going on with the Olympians all cast down to Earth. But a little taste and a touch of borrowed iconography could definitely be a nice additional to this already great storyline.

But the sword wasn’t the focus of this issue. We’ll get into that in two weeks time. This week was about friendship! And it came together in a very cool way. The last issue was all about setting the parameters. Giganta was up front about her desire not to be friends, and Diana said that’s not why she brought her (though we all know it was, even if Diana doesn’t fully realize it). It was discussed directly and, apart from a nice moment at the end of the book, Giganta was adamant they were not going to become pals.

What I especially liked about this issue is that they don’t really talk about being friends. It just sort of happens through what they’re experiencing together and by the end they’ve developed a degree of trust and camaraderie that can’t help but bring them closer together. Things start off with Giganta still a bit snarky, being sarcastic about their situation and making fun of Diana’s attempts at humour. Then the fights start, and things quickly get out of hand, as battles with rock giants are wont to do. Giganta is a valiant warrior, but she can’t handle the rock giant alone. And when she needs help, Diana is there, instantly and with all her might, even if she is tiny and little more than an annoyance to these massive creatures.

Between the lines of all of this is where their relationship starts to grow. By working together they begin to trust each other, especially on Giganta’s end. She knows she’s there to be the muscle, since she’s the only one big enough to have any effect against the rock giants. And yet, Diana is there alongside her, totally outclassed but rushing in nonetheless to help her out and buy her the time she needs to get back into the fight. That’s how everyone makes friends, really. Not in rad fights against rock giants usually, but in that you meet someone with a common interest or goal and you have each other’s backs and learn to trust and appreciate each other.

Another great thing about this issue is that I felt like the art was much improved from the last outing. Not that Cary Nord and Mick Gray did a bad job by any means two weeks back, but I felt like the art and the writing weren’t meshing together well. Nord just wasn’t capturing the spirit of the script, or adding much to help tell the story apart from the essentials. This issue felt much more engaged and connected. For one thing, his characters were expressive in a whole spectrum of ways. Last time, I had to get everything from the dialogue. The art wasn’t telling me much at all. This time, I could see what the scene felt like before I even got to the words. He was communicating the emotions of each moment very clearly.

Also, the fights were nicely done. Everything felt suitably epic and cool. The scope of it was clear, with the massive rock giant against Giganta’s sizeable frame, and a little Wonder Woman darting in and out. Plus smaller moments like the way Giganta towered over the trees sold the scale of it beautifully. There was one small moment in particular that I loved, a panel where Giganta had been knocked down and Wonder Woman rushed in to help. She zooms in and punches the giant repeatedly, to no real damage. But you can get that sense of her racing in to assist her new friend, trying to do something to slow it down and help her out:

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It’s not the clearest, most detailed panel ever, but it communicates so much. I know I’ve been down on Nord a lot during this run, but he and Gray really hit it out of the park with this issue. It’s the best we’ve seen of them so far, for sure. And of course, series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. makes it all just sing. That dude is the best in the biz.

So in two weeks we’ve got the mystery of the sword to dig into! The rock giants are after it, so that could be a pickle for Maggie and the gang of Olympian creatures. And if it’s an Olympian sword of some sort, I’m wondering if it will give her special powers or abilities? That could be fun. We’ll see how it all unfolds!

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.

Wonder Woman #64 Review: Angry Neighbourhood Spider-God

February 13, 2019

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This run of Wonder Woman has been excellent so far, bringing back some old divine favourites while asking interesting questions about the nature of heroism in the modern world. Plus it’s been all sorts of entertaining, with high drama, cool action, and comic relief from a crew of mythological creatures. There’s also been a mystery running through these issues, the question of where did the gods come from, and what happened to Olympus? And, more importantly for our heroine, what happened to Themyscira? We get some answers this week, but I don’t know that I trust the source. If I’ve learned anything in my decades of reading superhero comics, it’s to never believe what a villain tells you. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

We are about to discuss its revelations!

In great detail!

I’ll be honest with you, gang, this is the weakest issue of the current run thus far. Now, this run has been super good, so it’s a high bar, but even setting aside that comparison, this issue is okay at best. A lot of it is due to the art. What I’d feared a few weeks back has come to pass. Fill-in artists are a hit or miss game, and Jesus Merino and Andy Owens have missed with this one. The entire issue falls flat visually, with bland design choices that left me feeling like I was reading a comic from the mid-90s. Wonder Woman was drawn inconsistently, the design for Nemesis was uninspired (she’s a spider, I guess?), and everything just seemed out of sync with the rest of the run.

So many little things were noticeably off. Veronica Cale’s hair, for example. It’s a small, insignificant matter, really, but she didn’t have bangs two weeks ago and now she does. It’s a continuity failing that’s exacerbated by the fact that Merino and Owens are not particularly good at drawing bangs, either. Her hair looked terrible, and there was nothing else in the book to counter the many poor artistic choices.

I wish the editors would put more effort into the book’s art, especially with G. Willow Wilson writing such a good run. Double shipping has been the bane of the artistic world for years now at DC, with so many books looking subpar because of the breakneck schedule. But DC makes it work for some titles! Batman always looks good. If it’s not Mikel Janin, it’s Joelle Jones, or Tony Daniel, or Clay Mann, or Lee Weeks. They find artists who fit each step of the story, and clearly plan things out well.

There doesn’t seem to be that level of planning with Wonder Woman. Cary Nord obviously got overwhelmed by the schedule quickly, and we haven’t seen him in a while now. Xermanico was a great fill in, and Emanuela Lupacchino’s issue was a delight, but this outing has some bad art that just doesn’t match the caliber of what we’ve seen before, nor does it feel like it’s part of the same story.

The writing this week wasn’t as enjoyable either. It was better than the art made it look, certainly, but the story felt a bit repetitive. We’ve got Wonder Woman fighting a god, again. We’ve got a villain trying to make her feel bad for being a superhero while making some interesting points, again. As much as I love the interrogation of heroism we’ve seen in this run so far, Veronica Cale’s angle was less compelling than Ares’ approach earlier on. Also, we know how angry Cale is. With Ares, there was a bit of mystery. We didn’t know why he was there or what his angle was. Cale’s just super mad at Wonder Woman, and trying to tear her down because of the powerful grudge she’s held since her daughter was taken from her. Knowing all of that, it’s hard to put much stock in her critique.

Nemesis reveals that the realm of the gods has been destroyed as well, which is why Cale is extra upset. No gods means no Amazons means no daughter, so she’s understandably angry. Both Nemesis and Cale tell Wonder Woman that the Amazons are gone, and for some reason she just accepts it? I know we need to end the issue on a dramatic moment, and Diana flying off with tears streaming down her face offers us that, but I feel like our gal is smarter than this. Wonder Woman’s all about hope and, more importantly, the truth. I don’t think she’d just take the word of two villains at face value, even if one was wrapped up in the lasso of truth. What Nemesis believes to be true isn’t necessarily what happened, and Wonder Woman should be wise enough to know that. Instead, she seems to be shaken to her core.

I’m no Wonder Woman, but I do know that if Veronica Cale told me anything, I’d automatically believe the opposite to be true. So from my perspective, the goods news here is that the Amazons must still be around. Themyscira might be in trouble, but the Amazons are resilient. I think they’re somewhere, if not in Themyscira than elsewhere, with Veronica’s daughter, too. If Wonder Woman won’t have hope, then I will!

The story continues in two weeks’ time, with Jesus Merino and Andy Owens on art again. I’m not terribly excited for that after seeing this issue, but Cary Nord is set to be back in March. After a couple months off, I’m optimistic that he’ll return with some high quality art. And I’m confident that Diana will shake off her sadness and resume her search for the Amazons. Veronica Cale can’t be right! They’re somewhere, and Wonder Woman will find them, I’m sure.

Wonder Woman #62 Review: Making Peace with the God of War

January 16, 2019

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The first arc of G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman draws to a close this week, bringing the war in Durovnia to an end while leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions for our heroine and her divine associates moving forward. This was a storyline that raised a lot of heavy issues, for Wonder Woman herself but also for us as readers as we all grappled with the troubling shades of grey that characterize modern warfare. No matter how good someone’s intentions are, they can still cause harm when they decide to step in with force, and this is especially true in the arena of war. It’s almost impossible not to cause harm in a war, and Wonder Woman comes out of the conflict in Durovnia carrying the weight of that truth. We’ll get into the arc’s conclusion momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, read it! This run has been GREAT so far!

Remember when Diana was the god of war? Oh, the New 52 days. So beautiful in its art, so increasingly troubling in its story choices. For all of that past run’s focus on Diana becoming the embodiment of war, it never really dug into the implications of what that could mean in a deeper, compelling way. War is inherently destructive and damaging. It harms innocents and profits the powerful. In short, it’s everything Wonder Woman hates. And yet, she often finds herself at the center of them. Fighting for peace, yes, but fighting nonetheless.

This arc dug into these contradictions, and fascinatingly so. By the end of this issue, Diana is shook. Yeah, she’s got some other stuff going on with the gods returning, a longing for home and a hope that the Amazons might be accessible again. But the war in Durovnia seems to have thrown her for quite the loop. Ares fashioning himself as a twisted version of her brand of heroism was disconcerting enough, and then the peace talks hit her hard. The president condemned the gods and empires that entered the fray, meaning Ares on the side of the rebels and American military assistance on the side of the government. Diana saw herself as beyond these sides, perhaps even above them, an impartial hero committed to protecting those caught in the middle. When she’s asked to leave with them, painted as part of the problem that exacerbated the conflict rather than part of the solution, it clearly stings.

Now, when an old, white dude whose government has been actively oppressing an ethnic minority calls you out like that, it’s a chastisement worth ignoring. I mean, that guy sucks. He’s blaming his own problems and the failings of his government on outside forces, admitting to past mistakes only once the entire nation nearly fell into chaos. This fool could have nipped all of this in the bud ages ago by not being such a terrible president. I feel like Diana should just brush off his dismissal of her and her efforts because, again, he sucks.

Also, so does Ares! Here’s another old, white dude misusing his power. And because of these two jerks, Diana is feeling a bit down on herself, a bit lost even. Not that there weren’t some interesting points raised over the course of their interactions. War is deeply, deeply terrible and it’s hard to be involved in it without hurting someone. But consider the source here. I’m very curious to see how Wonder Woman processes her feelings over the next few issues. It’s interesting that both men have her questioning herself, while Aphrodite and Etta are both telling her that she did a good job. Friggin’ patriarchy. Dudes tearing down women to make themselves feel better are the worst. What Diana needs right now are some more awesome ladies in her corner.

Which leads us to: AMAZONS. Wilson is teasing us at the end of this issue too much for this not to be happening, right? They’ve gotta be coming back! And I am very on board. First, the Amazons are the best and I miss them. And second, it feels like Diana is in a place where she could use some Amazon guidance. She’s been in man’s world for a while now. Their wars and aggressions are wearing on her, so much so that she’s starting to question herself. What she needs is some rad warrior women to remind her who she is, and to help her grapple with the disquieting questions that the harsh realities of modern warfare have raised for her.

Xermanico was back on art duties for this issue, and I liked it even better than his last one. I don’t know if it was him or Romulo Fajardo Jr. that brought in that Ben-Day Dot shading, but it looked super cool, especially in the night scenes with the battle. There was a bit of that two weeks back, but they really leaned into it here, for a nice effect. Xermanico is a good fit for this book, and I’ve enjoyed his two issues more than Cary Nord’s. His Diana feels more powerful and substantial, which is always good to see. And his art has actually improved from issue to issue, which we didn’t get with Nord owing to what appeared to be the time constraints of a bi-weekly book. I was wary when editorial had to swap artists so soon into the run, but they made a good choice here and I hope that we’ll see more of Xermanico in future issues. He carries on some of the cool style choices that Nord established, melding them well with his more conventional superhero comic style. I’m into it.

So we’re back in two weeks with Diana trying to deal with the successful but somewhat demoralizing outcome in Durovnia. Will there be Amazons? I sure hope so. And I’d love to see more of Aphrodite. That lady knows FAR more than she’s telling anybody, and that is definitely going to come into play in the issues to come. Plus, the search for Athena! She was name dropped this week and now I’m eager for her to join the mix as well. Something is up with the gods, and I’m keen for Wonder Woman to get to the bottom of that mystery. And find her mom! We have so much fun ahead of us, gang.

Wonder Woman #61 Review: Love Will Lead You Back

January 2, 2019

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After taking a break over the holidays last week, Wonder Woman is back and set to dominate January. Or rather, lovingly induce the willing submission of January. The point is, we’re going to get three issues of Wonder Woman this month, and that should be a lot of fun. This run has been great so far, and it’s nice to enter the New Year with a stretch of good comics ahead of us.

This issue brings us the return of Aphrodite, and more questions than answers so far. Something strange is obviously afoot in the realm of the gods, perhaps caused by Ares’ escape from his Themysciran prison, but no one seems to know exactly what is happening. Deities are being deposited on the Earth all hither and yon, fully powered yet unsure as to why they are there. Mysteries abound, the war is relentless, and Steve Trevor’s been running around shirtless for several issues now, so this book’s got something for everyone.

We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

You really should read it, though!

Add it to your pull list or subscribe through Comixology!

The book is good again, I promise!

So we begin where we left off three weeks ago, with Steve and Aphrodite. But a slightly different Aphrodite. She’s still a goddess with all of the powers and grandeur therein, but she’s grown tired of being the goddess of love specifically. Having observed humanity for centuries now, she’s come to the conclusion that love makes people do stupid things. Harmful things, even. All of this war and strife due to a fickle emotion is not something she wants to be associated with anymore.

I’m very much enjoying this identity crisis of the gods. First, we have Ares wanting to give up war for justice. That’s gone quite poorly so far, of course, due to his engrained toxic masculinity more than anything else, but it’s been a very interesting turn for the character. And now, Aphrodite wants to separate herself from love. She doesn’t seem to have a plan of where to go from there, what new cause to champion, if any. She’s just tired of being’s love representative.

And fair enough. What I like most about G. Willow Wilson’s new approach to the gods is that they each have a decent point to make. Ares, for all his foolishness, made some compelling arguments about the nature of war. He lacked the character or humility to back them up, but it was an understandable turn. With Aphrodite, I can again see her point. As much as love is wonderful and good, it’s an emotion that can make us act in unreasonable ways. Though, just like with Ares, I find myself agreeing with the mortal perspective. I sided with Wonder Woman’s arguments against Ares, and I’m in Steve’s camp now with his pro-love stance.

There’s a detachment to the perspective of the gods that I think befits their station. They’re separated from humanity, not just because of their status as deities but in a more literal fashion. Ares has been locked away for millennia, and Aphrodite has been comfortably housed in Olympus. They only see us from afar. They observe us rather than understand us, and this detachment has led them down some troublesome paths of thinking. At least Aphrodite hasn’t started a huge war with her new ideas. I’m curious to see what comes with her, whether she sticks to her new approach or finds her faith in love renewed by Diana and Steve. The latter might be hard to pull off without being corny, but if anyone can do it, it’s Wilson.

On art this issue we’ve got Xermanico, making what I think is his first appearance in a Wonder Woman comic book. He’s drawn the character, and the bulk of the DC universe, before in the ongoing Injustice: Gods Among Us series, but now he’s in the DC universe proper. And doing a decent job of it. It feels like he’s captured a little bit of the style Cary Nord had established in the first few issues, but with more of a conventional superhero angle. Everything certainly feels more polished and finished than the last issue, when it was pretty clear that Nord was racing against the clock to get the book done. This issue feels complete, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colouring does a great job of establishing a lovely through line for the differing art styles.

The art on Wonder Woman has been inconsistent for the last year or so, a bit of a revolving door after the carefully planned Evely/Scott/Sharp trifecta of the Rucka run. This is a problem that’s plagued DC’s double shipping books for a couple years now. If an artist stays on a book for a while, things end up looking hasty and rushed. If they sub in a new artist, it’s hard to match the tone and the quality can vary wildly. Very few titles can keep a consistent level of quality. Batman does it well, with stellar artists rotating in and out, and the planning on that must be considerable. Here, Xermanico was a late addition to the book. Nord was originally scheduled to draw it, but they subbed Xermanico in. And it worked pretty well. This time, anyway. That they needed to sub someone in so early on is not the best sign, and I hope that the editors can come up with a workable schedule full of great artists to give the phenomenal writing of this run the gorgeous look it deserves. Everything is better when the whole team has the space and time to do their best work.

But this one looked nice. Also, I don’t know whether Wilson or Nord came up with the idea for Aphrodite to be wearing an oversized t-shirt with a swan on it, but I love it. It’s such a funny, humanizing touch, and it’s played so well with no one even mentioning it. In contrast with the bombastic armour of Ares, Aphrodite presumably just finding a t-shirt somewhere and rolling with it is delightful.

And now we’ve got an interesting situation ahead of us. Ares has tricked the prime minister with some sham peace talks, and it looks like he’s spoiling for a fight. Wonder Woman’s pretty annoyed with him, so she might be keen to offer one. But his old beau Aphrodite might have some other plans. We’ll find out, in two weeks’ time!

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

December 12, 2018

ww60

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.


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