Posts Tagged ‘Romulo Fajardo Jr.’

Wonder Woman #50 Review: IT’S! FINALLY! OVER!

July 11, 2018

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First of all, gang, congratulations. We made it. This has been an overly long, bizarrely terrible run of Wonder Woman comics, and now those dark days are at an end. We’ve got one extra-sized anniversary issue to chat about, and then we are free. Oh, there will be bad writers again. That’s inevitable. And ludicrous narratives that center a male character in a book called Wonder Woman, sure. Superhero comics are a weird game. But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that this particular awful era is over. The franchise is tarnished, but not destroyed. Wonder Woman’s endured some truly horrible arcs over the decades. If anyone can shake off a bad run, it’s her. So let’s dig into this final outing for James Robinson, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the ending to this foolish, boring arc!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Though, good call if you haven’t!

You aren’t missing anything, really!

When last we left our intrepid heroine, her brother had been turned by the Dark Gods and she was facing an uphill battle against her silly, poorly designed foes. But this issue doesn’t pick up there. No, this issue needed an awkward framing device. Something to give us stilted exposition as Wonder Woman looked back on the fight. We learned two things straight away: First, Wonder Woman survived. Big sigh of relief there. And second, Jason’s fate was far less pleasant. But what happened?

Basically, Jason played the Dark Gods by pretending to be in their thrall and using his bevy of divine powers. For some reason, Robinson thought it would be fun to point out each power and which deity it came from every time Jason used one? There were a lot, all of them awkwardly interjected. It’s nice to see some consistency, I suppose. The guy started out his run making some very questionable dialogue choices, and he ended his run doing the same.

In the end, Wonder Woman doesn’t do much of anything but punch some gods while Jason sacrifices himself to save the world. He allows the gods to possess him, and all of his divine powers, on the promise that they will leave Earth and return to their own dimension. Thus is the planet spared from their evil influence, and everything returns to normal.

First off, ugh. This entire run has been terrible at showcasing Wonder Woman, in general but as a hero specifically. She’s been sidelined again and again, and her few victories have been underwhelming to say the least. So to give the win in the SPECIAL FIFTIETH ANNIVERSAY ISSUE OF HER OWN BOOK to her big, dumb brother is just adding insult to injury. Wholly expected, frankly. This era has been far more about him than it has her. But still, gross. Wonder Woman is the last book where we need a man to save the day, and a big celebratory issue is the last place to do it. Robinson tries to frame it as Jason recognizing that Diana would never give up the fight, blah blah blah, but the end result is a) Jason does all the talking, b) Jason controls the narrative, and c) Jason ends up as the hero of the book. Wonder Woman ends up as a side character in her own series once again, and spends a significant chunk of the book having to rhapsodize about her brother’s sacrifice.

Second off, though, hooray! Jason is gone! To a whole other dimension, even. If the folks at DC Comics are smart, we’ll never have to see him again, though after this run I have little to no confidence in the intelligence of anyone at the publisher who thought that this book was worth printing. Still, he’s out of the picture for now, and maybe out of the picture forever. Wonder Woman can be about Wonder Woman again and we can all pretend that this run never happened. Such is the beauty of superhero comics. The good, important arcs live forever as iconic elements of a character’s past, deservedly referenced and celebrated for ages. The bad, pointless arcs just sort of disappear and we never ever bring them up again.

It truly is a shame that the writing on the book has been so bad, because so many artists have been working very hard to make the best of it. Two of my recent favourites, Emanuela Lupacchino and Stephen Segovia, returned for this final issue, and their pages were quite lovely, as always. Lupacchino draws an absolutely gorgeous Wonder Woman, while Segovia’s ability to capture action never fails to disappoint. And of course, the excellent colouring of Romulo Fajardo Jr. held it all together, as it has for months now. I do hope that the work of all of these artists is remembered fondly, even as we all try to forget the writing. It hasn’t been fun to read the words in Wonder Woman for a long while, despite Saida Temofonte laying them out quite nicely for us, but it’s often been a nice book to look at, and I really appreciate that.

So now that it’s all over, let’s do a quick post-mortem. How did this even happen?! We got the tease of a brother in the “Darkseid War” event, presumably planted by Geoff Johns, who is kind of a big deal at DC. The general response was that this was a very bad idea, but I think we all assumed that it must be important since it was one of the big reveals at the end of a major event series. And then we get this. An utterly pointless, inconsequential arc that derailed what had been the strongest run on Wonder Woman in some time. At a time when Wonder Woman has never been more popular thanks to the movie, even! I don’t understand it. Not in the least. This was all so unnecessary. So counter to what fans were clamouring for. So poorly written and put together. So contrary to the renewed spirit of the character and her focus on female strength and power. Honestly, it felt like the folks in charge of Wonder Woman decided to take a nine month vacation and just put out whatever. This run was an embarrassment. DC squandered the perfect opportunity to make Wonder Woman a huge book by churning out this absolute dreck, and I’ll never understand what they were thinking.

But now it’s done with! And we’ve got what looks to be some fun issues on the horizon. Steve Orlando is stepping in to write the book for the next five issues, and he’s always a good time. We’ll see Laura Braga on art in two weeks time, which is an excellent choice. She’s wonderful, and familiar with the character from her fine work on DC Comics Bombshells. Then we’ve got ACO, a solid artist and a frequent collaborator of Orlando’s, and Raul Allen, someone who’s work I’m not familiar with but who a quick Google image search tells me looks to have a cool style. I’m looking forward to all of it. And then, here is some breaking news, G. Willow Wilson of Ms. Marvel fame is taking over the book, with art from Cary Nord! G. WILLOW. WILSON. She’s amazing. This is the best news. What a fantastic announcement to add to the joy of this run being over! Things are going to get good, gang. SO GOOD.

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Wonder Woman #49 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang. Just One More Issue.

June 27, 2018

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This week’s issues of Wonder Woman takes “The Dark Gods” one step closer to its conclusion, and one step closer to the long-needed introduction of a new creative team. On the plus side, Wonder Woman is actually in this one, a nice change from the utter lack of her two weeks back. On the negative side, everything else is about the same, i.e. not at all good. This entire run has been weak, but “The Dark Gods” is especially bland. James Robinson used to be known for innovative superhero narratives. Starman is a classic, and even more recently his Scarlet Witch book was enjoyably outside the norm for Marvel. But his Wonder Woman run has just fallen flat, time and again. As we near the conclusion of his run, nothing feels fresh or interesting. It’s superhero paint-by-numbers, with every move telegraphed and every turn expected, especially this issue’s cliffhanger. It’s just boring. Even so, we’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal everything that happens in this issue!

Though if you’ve ever read a superhero story, you can pretty much predict how this one is going!

It’s mind-numbingly straight forward stuff!

So Wonder Woman is back from Zamaron, and that is good. Wonder Woman is always better when Wonder Woman herself is in it, even if that improvement only takes the overall quality from awful up to very bad. The Dark Gods are doing terrible things across the Earth, and she and Jason are focusing on their leader, the oddly named King Best, a giant stone monster with red eye beams. He’s a weird villain. The other four Dark Gods have powers that compel people to behave in certain ways en masse, whether it’s starting large scale wars, getting lost in a thrall, inspiring suicides, or a nationwide extreme orgy. It’s all very gruesome, but destructive in a way that’s mildly interesting at least. And then the Big Bad is just a rock man with laser eyes. It feels like a step down in creative villainy. He absorbed the Justice League in the last issue, I suppose. That’s something. But compared to the twisted powers of the other Dark Gods, King Best seems a little humdrum.

Anyway, Wonder Woman and Jason beat up the dude for most of the issue, pulling the old “knock him down but he’s not finished yet” cliché as the issue nears its end. Then Diana meets up with Steve while Jason flies off to fight with one of the lesser Dark Gods on his own, and you’ll never guess what happens next. Oh wait, you’ve guessed it already? It’s an obvious twist that we’ve all been expecting for weeks? That plays out pretty much exactly how we thought it would? Okay then. Yes, Jason has been turned to the dark side. Gasp. I’ll be on the edge of my seat for the next two weeks, waiting for the epic conclusion to this mind blowing cliffhanger.

I mean, this is just some ridiculously lazy writing. I do appreciate that Robinson actually tried for half a second with the lesser Dark Gods and made them somewhat intriguing. Those are frightening power sets that, in the hands of a writer that actually seemed at all invested in telling a cool story, could have been really interesting. But this Jason twist is just weak. Literally everybody on the planet has just been waiting for him to turn bad, even the billions of people not reading this comic book. If you explained the gist of this run to a random stranger on the street, their first reaction would be, “Oh, that brother is going to turn evil, FOR SURE.” And now he has, in another shrug of a final page reveal.

The artwork in the issue isn’t exactly elevating the uninspiring story, either. Jesus Merino’s work is fine, if somewhat standard superhero fare. It lacks the beauty of Emanuela Lupacchino’s linework, or the exciting action of what Stephen Segovia’s shown us lately. Merino is a solid, reliable artist, very much in the wheelhouse of DC’s generic house style. There’s nothing bad about it, but there’s nothing particularly fun or compelling either. It’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a mid-tier superhero book nearing the end of an lackluster run. Actually, no. It’s slightly better than that. I’ve seen some bad arcs peter out with rough art, and Merino’s a step above that. He does the job, and tells the story. It’s not his fault that the story is terrible.

Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still in the mix though, laying down those good, good colours that make this book exciting every two weeks. The story and the linework rarely do much for me, but Fajardo’s always got something cool on the go. This week, it’s his subtle progression of time through the opening fight scene. It begins late in the day, with a sky that’s starting to darken. And it darkens more as the fight goes on, until Wonder Woman is flying in front of a full moon after the fight ends. The dude even takes the time to add a nice sunset effect when King Best gets thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. I love the effort we get from Fajardo with each issue. The man is top notch. As is letterer Saida Temofonte, who makes the bad words read well. The story might not be good, but dang if it isn’t laid out perfectly for easy reading.

And now the best thing of all: We’ve only got one issue left, gang. It’s going to be a big one, a special fiftieth issue shindig with some extra pages, but then we are free! Steve Orlando is coming in with Laura Braga on art, and the old era will pass away as a new one begins. I’m so ready. I’ve been ready since Robinson’s first issue, really, and now we are finally at the end. Gosh, it would be fun to write a positive review again. And I’ve got a good feeling about this creative team. ONE MORE ISSUE LEFT. Thank the gods, Old and New and Dark.

Wonder Woman #48 Review: All Jason, All The Time. I Could Not Be Less Interested In This.

June 13, 2018

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Nope. Nope nope nope.

I’m not going to waste an hour of my life writing a review of a Wonder Woman comic that stars her stupid brother for the whole dang thing.

We’ll get into it all, briefly, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you don’t want to know what happens in this Wonder Woman comic book that barely has Wonder Woman in it!

Ugh, this run.

THE WORST.

So basically, while Wonder Woman’s whisked off to Zamaron for the events of last week’s annual, Jason is left behind to fight the Dark Gods on his own. He uses a magic spear that I’m pretty sure is a rip off of the Chance Lance from Adventure Zone. And also he instantly knows everything about the Dark Gods because of the Athena powers in his special suit and he painstakingly tells us all about them via lengthy narration. Then the Justice League shows up to help for a bit. They lose. Wonder Woman is on the first and last page, and that’s it for her.

The Dark Gods look goofy. Jason is terrible. This issue is dumb and bad.

The end.

We’ll be back in two weeks, with Wonder Woman actually in the mix this time. Two more issues until this is over, gang. We’re almost there.

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 #43 Review: Diana Takes a Backseat, Once Again

March 28, 2018

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At some point, I think that DC will eventually realize that people buy Wonder Woman for Wonder Woman. It’s a simple idea, and one they’re pretty good at with their other characters. Batman is mostly about Batman. Superman is mostly about Superman. And yet here we are once again, with another run of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman all too often feels like a side character. Such is the case this week, in which a significant portion of the book is dedicated to a lengthy conversation between Diana’s boyfriend, Steve Trevor, and her brother, Jason. Diana gets a few pages, fighting a couple of Furies for no good reason and to no gain, but the core of this issue is two dudes chatting away and doing a bit of macho posturing. What’s even more irksome is that the conversation is largely pointless, a rehash of past events and mysteries that remain unsolved. This is indicative of a larger problem with the book: In twenty pages of comics, only one significant event occurs, and it’s one we all knew was coming in some form or another. The rest feels like filler. So yeah, this garbage run continues to be garbage. We’ll discuss it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you the ONE SOLITARY THING that happens in this issue!

And it is neither good nor interesting!

Why must DC make us suffer so?

Hold onto your hats, gang, because I’m about to unleash the book’s big reveal. You know those artifacts that A.R.G.U.S. has? The ones that Darkseid has been jonesing for over the past few issues because they’re central to his big, evil plan? Well get a load of this: He attacked A.R.G.U.S. and got them all, and now his big evil plan can come to fruition. Your minds are blown, I know.

There was one almost interesting thing about this wholly expected development. I was waiting for a fight, some sort of major assault on A.R.G.U.S. with lots of action and drama, but for perhaps the first time in this entire run, James Robinson zigged when I thought he was going to zag. Instead of a battle, Darkseid just straight up steals the entire building, and I didn’t see that twist coming. It’s not a particularly good twist. Or a fun twist. But it is a twist, and for that I commend him.

And now I slowly walk that commendation back because lord knows there was a lot of space for a big battle on offer in this issue. Everything apart from the last handful of pages was useless conversation. Not to say that all conversation is useless in comics, of course. I like some banter. I like to learn about the characters and have them bounce off each other. Chatty books are fine with me. I don’t need loads of battles and action and whatnot.

The problem with this issue’s conversations, though, is that they were largely pointless. Steve and Jason just rehashed old stuff without adding anything new to the mix. Wonder Woman interrogated/fought the Furies and learned pretty much nothing from it. Darkseid said vague things about his evil plans. None of it added to the ongoing story or moved it forward in any real way. It just filled the pages until Darkseid attacked. That, combined with the fact that James Robinson seems to have lost the ability to write dialogue that resembles actual human speech in any way, made this issue quite a slog.

The art team did their best, however. I’m not terribly familiar with Marco Santucci’s work, but he acquited himself well here. The big test for every Wonder Woman artist is their ability to draw Wonder Woman, and he did a nice job from the very start, opening the book with a splash page that had a bit of a Phil Jimenez vibe. And Romulo Fajardo Jr. was amazing with the colors, as always. I know I say this all the time, but he really is the MVP of the series right now. We’ve had so many artists during this run, but his colors help give the title a consistent, high quality look. His steady excellence is the only thing stopping this runaway train of a series from barrelling into a ravine some months. Luckily with this issue, Santucci gave him a hand and we got some decent artwork throughout.

So we’ve got what, about seven more issues of this run, at least? Good gracious. It looks like Wonder Woman’s battle with Darkseid is coming sooner than later. A tie-in to DC’s big Metal event looms on the horizon as well, so that should mean that the Darkseid story will be sorted out before long. Wonder Woman looks to be playing a big role in the post-Metal DC universe, co-starring in the relaunched Justice League along with leading a new version of Justice League Dark. Perhaps her increased profile across the line will bring some creative changes to her solo title, finally. Not only is it long overdue, but these big changes present a fine opportunity to make the switch. I know I’ve got my fingers crossed.


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