Posts Tagged ‘Saida Temofonte’

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 #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!

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #32 Review: “Return to Gaia, Part 2” by Derek Fridolfs and Tom Fowler

April 30, 2015

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Well, that was a lot of fun. I absolutely loved this week’s conclusion of “Return to Gaia”, and I rank it among my favourite Sensation Comics stories thus far. Top five easy, maybe even top three. This finale is straight up bonkers monster fighting awesomeness. I have no idea how Sensation Comics is selling digitally because DC Comics doesn’t release those numbers, but it’s a real shame that the print version is selling so much less than Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman. The stories we’re getting in Sensation Comics are orders of magnitude better than Wonder Woman’s current New 52 adventures, and it bums me out that some stories that could go down as all-time Wonder Woman classics might be getting missed by a lot of readers. If you love Wonder Woman, you should read “Return to Gaia” because it totally takes advantage of the inherent potential mythological fun of Wonder Woman and just goes bananas with it. It’s so great.

Derek Fridolfs does a great job capturing the epicness of the Amazons’ battle with Typhon, even with the limited space of a digital book. The book begins with the Amazons mid-battle, fighting giants, cyclopes, a huge crazy leopard thing, and massive crab creatures. It’s an all out war on Themyscira as the father of monsters calls forth all of his grotesque creations. And it’s a battle that’s been going on for four days, because that’s how long Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy have been falling into the underworld to face Typhon head on. I love that detail SO MUCH. Nothing says mythic adventure like a FOUR DAY freefall just to get to the monster you need to fight.

Tom Fowler’s art continues to be excellent, and even better than the first issue because he has so much cool stuff to dig into. His monsters are fantastic, all varied and dangerous looking, and he captures the scope of the Themysciran battle very well. His Typhon is great too, just a massive creature with a beard of snakes and tentacles for legs. He’s just nasty and mean in all the right ways, and the fight with Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy is appropriately brutal.

One detail I really enjoyed was that early in the fight, Typhon smashes Wonder Woman and she bears the brunt of it with her shield, causing the shield to buckle. The shield them remains dented for the rest of the issue.   It’s such a minor detail, but I like how such a small thing communicates the fierceness of the fight and the danger they’re in. It’s a constant reminder of how strong their foe is. I find that it’s much more powerful when heroes get dinged up in battle than when they come out of a fight all pristine and unscathed.

Colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick does wonderful work throughout the issue not going overboard with the color while still mixing it up enough that it’s not monochromatic. The fiery fight with Typhon could have just been all red, but instead there’s green fog at the beginning, Poison Ivy’s pink mist, and lots of blues and greys in the background. Even the fire isn’t only red; oranges and purples get mixed in to add some variety. It’s some lovely work all around.

Also, kudos to letterer Saida Temofonte for her choices with Typhon’s dialogue. She goes with a big, chunky but slightly messy font to capture what felt to me like a deep, gravelly, monstrous voice. I also like the choice to color the text green; I don’t know if that was Fitzpatrick or Temofonte, but it works really well with the coloring of the panels as a whole.

All together, this was a big, crazy, fun issue, and a fantastic conclusion to a great story. I love how Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy worked together to defeat Typhon in the end, and how they even ended up on friendly terms despite Poison Ivy’s villainous past. There’s a nice moment of recognizing actions over reputation that I think very much gets to the heart of who Wonder Woman is. This is a great, epic story in general, but also a really good Wonder Woman story that gives her and the Amazons lots of fun action and excitement. Both digital issues are available now, and the print issue will be out on July 15. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Smallville Season 11 #18 Review OR All Hell Breaks Loose, Literally

October 10, 2013

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Well, that escalated quickly.  What started out as a few easily stopped shenanigans from Felix Faust has turned into the hordes of Hades invading Washington, DC.  Oh, and zombies.  There are zombies in there too.  Things are pretty bonkers, so let’s discuss after the usual warning:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t read this comic, don’t read any further!

And if you aren’t reading this comic, go check it out!

It’s really quite good.  I think you’ll like it.

So Faust has successfully released Hades, who is none too impressed with the progresses of humanity since he was last free and immediately sets about tearing it all down.  Faust accomplished what Bones was loathe to do, a failure that resulted in his bizarre skeletal state.  While Bones is hardly the good guy here, at least he’s not as evil as Faust, who quite literally made a deal with the devil in return for long life.  Hades is unleashed, his zombie army is roaming Washington, DC, the Washington monument is crumbling, and a giant monster is bursting out of the ground at the National Mall.  It’s a bad scene.

Luckily for the world, someone else has been unleashed as well.  It turns out Hippolyta wasn’t captured by Faust, as I thought when I read the last issue, but rather was held by Bones and the DEO in their secret base.  Clark Kent infiltrated the base, scanning it with his X-ray vision while pretending to take notes for a Daily Planet story, and found Hippolyta hidden in the Black Room in some sort of suspended animation.  Once freed, she wanted to go home with Diana, but Diana chose to stay and fight alongside her new friends, donning her mother’s armor to take on Hades:

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This book is just so bonkers.  In between all of that overarching plot, Faust broke into DEO headquarters with a giant sea monster, Superman saved Lois and Steve from some zombies, and a new, Asian Cameron Chase showed up.  They really do pack a lot of stuff into these digital first books.

The Superman stuff was fine, and I liked Clark infiltrating the DEO base in plain sight, but Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez’s take on Diana is what I love most about this book.  After she surrendered to Bones last issue, he had her placed in some sort of torture apparatus meant to electrocute her so he could test her powers.  The machine barely tickled Diana, who chatted amiably with Bones and found out the full story of what was going on with Faust and his connection to Hades.  When Diana hears that her mother has been found and that Faust is attacking the base, she busts out of the apparatus with ease and rushes to help.  Then, with Hades rampaging through Washington, she armors up to go fight him.

This Diana is tough and determined, ferocious but clear-headed, and smart to boot.  When her mother just wants to return home, Diana sees that Hades won’t stop with Washington and that Paradise Island would soon be a target.  She decides to deal with him now, and help millions of innocents in the process, rather than just waiting for the inevitable attack at home.

Her New 52 counterpart is presumably much older and more experienced, but it’s this Smallville Wonder Woman who comes off as the more mature and together hero.  The New 52 Wonder Woman is all over the place, making poor decisions and getting duped at nearly every turn, while the Smallville Wonder Woman is perpetually in control.  Even things that seem like a setback, like Bones taking her into custody in the previous issue, are well-managed and ultimately beneficial.  The torture has no effect, she learns what she needs to know from Bones, breaks free when she wants to, and gets her mother back.  This Wonder Woman knows what she’s doing.

Smallville Season 11 continues to impress me on every level.  Bryan Q. Miller’s writing is sharp and the story is entertaining and moves along quickly.  Jorge Jimenez’s art is fantastic, and he seems more interested in having his own take on the characters than rigidly adhering to resembling the actors from the show.  Carrie Strachan’s colouring and Saida Temofonte’s lettering are solid, and work in the best way possible: You don’t notice them.  It’s an odd compliment, but the best colouring and lettering is seamless, showcasing and elevating the art and moving the story along with ease so that each page flows and works like it should.  Poor colouring and lettering is jarring, sticking out like a sore thumb and disrupting the reading experience while in a well put together book, like this one, everything works together beautifully.

I’m excited to see how the story concludes next month, but I’m also very sad that it’s going to be over.  I really enjoy this Wonder Woman, and it’s one of my favourite versions of the character I’ve ever seen.  I’d love to read a book about her every month, and it’s a bummer that the most we’ll get is sporadic guest appearances in future Smallville issues.  It’s a Superman series, but Wonder Woman absolutely steals the book, which is a refreshing change of pace from the New 52 where Wonder Woman is often overshadowed by her enjoyably colourful supporting cast.  If someone has the power to give Bryan Q. Miller a regular Wonder Woman series, please do so.


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