Posts Tagged ‘Scott Hanna’

Wonder Woman #72 Review: A Colossal Minotaur, Laser Swords, and More!

June 13, 2019

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We’ve got lots of action and a potentially interesting cliffhanger in Wonder Woman this week, but I’ve gotta be honest, gang, and say this issue fell a little bit flat for me. The art certainly didn’t help matters, with some fill-in artists failing to reach the heights recently established by the series’ more regular pencilers. But the writing wasn’t all that exciting either. It was an issue that needed to get Wonder Woman, Maggie, and Atlantiades from Point A to Point B, which it did. Just not in a very engaging manner, and without the thoughtfulness and depth I’ve come to expect from the book since G. Willow Wilson became the writer.

This issue is technically the finale to the “Love is a Battlefield” arc, and it didn’t feel much like a finale at all. If anything, the last issue wrapped up most of that plotline quite nicely, and this one found us in a new space with new adventures. There were no further conclusions, and nothing really connected to the arc apart from a brief conversation between Aphrodite and Atlantiades and a quick reference to Atlantiades’ romantic fascination with Wonder Woman. It was an in-between story, needing to bridge the gap between “Love is a Battlefield” and Steve Orlando and Aaron Lopresti’s upcoming guest issue, and it very much felt like that. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

It wasn’t a whole lot, really!

But still, be wary nonetheless!

So when we last left our intrepid heroine, she and Maggie were facing off against a colossal minotaur statue brought to life. In my last review, I wondered about what it could be and what deeper mythological ties it had. Turns out, it was largely irrelevant, there for Maggie to defeat with ease thanks to Antiope’s sword. The battle was swift, and the importance of the sword was emphasized when the ground gave way and the weapon fell into an abyss. Maggie was distraught to lose it, but Atlantiades swooped in and grabbed it, their wings coming in very handy there. This led to another fight with some subterranean baddies that again served to showcase how awesome the sword is and how much Maggie likes wielding it.

It’s great to see Maggie growing in confidence, and emerging as a hero in her own right. Her rapid progression with the sword is starting to make me think something bigger is going on, that she isn’t just some random gal the mythological characters befriended but that she’s got some larger connection to the Amazons. We’ve certainly seen stories where the Amazons have been unknowingly hidden among the general population before. Perhaps there’s something similar happening now, with the collapse of the divine realm transporting so many people to the mundane plane of Earth? Time will tell. Maggie may very well be a perfectly normal person who’s just got an aptitude for swords. But that the sword is growing in power so quickly with her wielding it has me suspicious that something more may be at play.

In showcasing Maggie and the sword, though, I feel like the story took a bit of a misstep. The handling of the subterranean monster horde struck me as out of character for Wonder Woman. They all could have flown away with ease and avoided the battle, but Maggie insisted on fighting them. Then Wonder Woman joined her, and together they killed dozens if not hundreds of living creatures. It just felt wrong. Wonder Woman wouldn’t jump into a fight when there was a peaceful resolution available, nor would she wantonly kill these creatures, however nasty they may be, if she didn’t absolutely have to. Yes, they were mean and ugly and terrible all around, but they were quasi-sentient beings at the very least. This was all entirely avoidable, and everything about the scene seemed off to me. Not intentionally off either, like “Oh, maybe Wonder Woman’s under some sort of spell!” or some such. It just felt poorly thought out.

Like I said at the top, the art wasn’t much help in improving this issue either. Jesus Merino has done some fill-ins on the book recently, and while he’s a serviceable artist, he rarely wows me. His work in this outing was generally fine, and he did a nice job capturing the androgyny of Atlantiades in a way that was true to Xermanico’s stellar design of them. The early pages of this book are definitely better than the later ones, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. does a great job with some creative coloring and shading choices to make everything pop a bit more. But all together, the art is just okay.

Then Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna take over, and the quality drops noticeably. All the problems we saw two weeks ago continue here, starting with a decidedly feminine take on Atlantiades that really bugs me. Xermanico established the character SO WELL and Merino did such a nice job with them, and Derenick just doesn’t even seem to be trying here. No one else looks great either, the creature design is bland, and the fight’s not that exciting. None of it works, and not even Romulo Fajardo Jr. can save these pages from feeling dull and pedestrian.

We end on a bit of intrigue, though. The light of the sword, shining like a laser, leads them to Dimension Chi, and I have no idea what that is. I’ve read every issue of Wonder Woman, and while she’s been in all manner of weird dimensions, especially in the Silver and Bronze Ages, this one isn’t ringing a bell at first glance. The solicit for the next issues suggests Diana visited Dimension Chi when she was younger, and I’m very curious to see what Steve Orlando has cooked up. His brief few issues on the series a few months back demonstrated a deep appreciation for Wonder Woman lore, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s dug up something cool and obscure here that I’ve forgotten. I’m looking forward to checking it out!

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Wonder Woman #71 Review: A Colossal Discovery

May 22, 2019

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We’ve had a bit of a talky go of it lately with Wonder Woman. Atlantiades is not the sort of villain you stop with fisticuffs, or even a villain at all, really. More an interesting conundrum, a deity in a strange place doing what only comes natural to them, seeking worship. And toying with mortals, of course. The gods are always toying with mortals. It’s brought us an interesting glimpse into Wonder Woman’s love life, along with some cool discussions on free will and happiness, and it’s all been quite excellent. That plot is largely resolved this week, but with little in the way of awesome punching and action fun.

That’s why it’s handy that Maggie and Aphrodite went off exploring and found a new foe. One that’s definitely going to need some punching. There’ll be no thoughtful, introspective discussions with this adversary. Just a classic beat ‘em up. I love that Wonder Woman is a book that can give us both. G. Willow Wilson’s dug into some heavy subject matter since she took over the series, but she’s also made time to have Diana bust up some rock giants and now what appears to be a massive living statue of some sort. That’s just quality comic booking all around. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

We’re going to discuss everything that happened in this issue!

Turn away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, as always, you should be reading this book!

Before we get into all the fun, I don’t know who keeps telling Terry and Rachel Dodson that Steve Trevor is in the book, but he is not. And yet, he keeps showing up on the covers. He actually popped in for a scene or two a couple weeks back, but wasn’t on the cover then. And now he’s back on the cover once more, with nary a mention of the man inside the book. It’s such a nitpicky thing, I know, but I wonder about the disconnect. Was Steve supposed to be in the book at one point and plans got changed? Are the Dodsons just drawing what they think will look cool? I mean, their covers are always amazing. I’m not even annoyed. Just curious and confused.

Anyway, onto the story. We get a resolution of sorts with Atlantiades, as they realized what they’d hoped to achieve in the town had failed. They thought that letting people be free of the expectations of their ordinary lives and indulge in their desires would bring the town happiness, but it most definitely did not. Actions have consequences, and the weight of these consequences snapped the townsfolk out of Atlantiades’ spell. They got them back momentarily with a display of divine power, but Diana talked them out of continuing the experiment. Atlantiades is clearly dealing with a lot, including a strained relationship with their mother, and hopefully we can see some growth on that front moving forward. They’re a selfish character, but I think they have a good heart. They’re just a bit lost and hurt, and likely have been that way for centuries. I’m excited to see what they make of the opportunities in this new world, having learned from this experience, and I hope Wilson checks in on them from time to time if this town escapade is indeed wrapped up for now.

The only thing I didn’t like about the resolution was that Xermanico didn’t draw the last few pages of it. This is understandable. Bi-weekly comics are an insane grind and you’re going to get some fill-in pages. Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna stepped in to finish the scene, and while the artwork was serviceable, it failed to capture the characters well, especially Atlantiades. Xermanico brought a compelling androgyny to Atlantiades that befit their mythological background. Derenick and Hanna failed to replicate that, leaning much more into the feminine aspects of the character. Atlantiades ended up looking like a twin of Diana rather than the unique take Xermanico had obviously carefully developed.

Xermanico’s work on this arc has been exceptional, from character design to panel layout and beyond, and I’m sad that the strictures of the schedule prevented him from being able to close it out himself. As much as I love getting Wonder Woman twice a month, I deeply hate the onerous demands that bi-weekly books put on artists. This is a run that should be collected for years, even decades to come, and putting out subpar artwork now to fit this unreasonable schedule is a short term compromise that will lead to disappointment long term. I know nobody likes late books, but I feel like editorial could do a better job of planning out the artwork.

But I digress. There was a whole other story to this issue, with a dang colossus in it! At first I thought it was just a giant minotaur, but Aphrodite called it a colossus and the golden head confirms her words. This appears to be a massive statue brought to life somehow, perhaps with the same power that got us stone giants in the Rockies. As far as I can tell, this is an original invention by Wilson and not based on an existing statue or anything. There have been various colossal statues throughout history, most famously the Colossus of Rhodes, which was a statue of Helios, but none of them were a minotaur, I don’t think.

So yeah, we’ve got a fight on our hands now! I love that the sword has emboldened Maggie, and that she was prepared to take on the colossus by herself. She’s been a great addition to the cast, and I’ve enjoyed watching her trepidation give way to courage over the past few issues. Not even Aphrodite dared face off against the colossus, and she’s a dang god! Luckily Wonder Woman arrived just in the nick of time and now they can make a good fight of it. I’m excited to see them throw down in June, and to see what mysteries these underground pathways hold. Well, “underground.” I’m guessing there’s some dimensional travel at play or an underworld sort of situation. Either way, adventure awaits!

Wonder Woman #34 Review: The Worst Family Reunion, On Multiple Levels

November 8, 2017

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Although this is the 34th issue of the current incarnation of Wonder Woman, it’s also something more: When you add up all of the issues from past volumes together, this is actually the 700th issue of Wonder Woman! It’s a massive achievement. Apart from a few short breaks here and there, Wonder Woman has been published continuously since 1942, one of only a handful of titles with such a legacy. It’s fun to think back to all of the different versions of Wonder Woman we’ve seen in the series over the years, how she’s evolved and grown, overcome various setbacks, and continued to be an inspirational heroine for so many. While Wonder Woman’s status as a cultural icon often supersedes the ups and downs of her comic book adventures, those stories showcase one of the most fascinating and compelling journeys in the history of the medium. Hitting 700 issues is remarkable, and I’m glad that DC noticed the numbers and marked the occasion.

It’s too bad that the story inside is absolutely terrible. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal the foolish twists and turns inside this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or really, just read this instead! The issue is awful!

I’m going to start with something really nitpicky, because for some reason I just can’t stand bad versions of Wonder Woman’s tiara. Sergio Davila penciled this issue, and we saw him a couple issues back in Wonder Woman #32. His art wasn’t great then, but it was serviceable and he had the tiara about right. We’ve got a few versions of the tiara going across DC’s line right now so there’s really not a definitive take on it currently, and Davila was in the ballpark of these various designs. Then, in this issue, it got wonky. The red star seemed to get smaller as the issue progressed, while the tiara itself grew wider and bulkier. It just looked wrong. And I know it’s a small thing, but when the writing is so bad, you look to the art for a little bit of spark. Unfortunately, in this issue the art just annoyed me further.

Not as much as the writing, though. Good lord. I mean, DC Comics is a professional comic book company. They’ve been publishing a comic called Wonder Woman for 75 years and 700 issues now! You would think they’d all know how to put together an enjoyable issue by now. But no. This arc has been absolutely painful thus far, and it’s not any better here. Diana’s reunion with her brother Jason was beyond corny. So sappy and over the top and just cringeworthy most of the time. Their conversation took up the bulk of the book, and while it was nice to actually have Wonder Woman show up in Wonder Woman for a change, their mutual fawning and getting to know each other was not pleasant.

And then we got a shocking turn of events. All of those insipid, boring pages we just sat through? They were a fake out! Jason is secretly evil, hates Wonder Woman, and has been working with Grail the whole time! Then Grail showed up and there was a big old fight and oh dear, a startling cliffhanger with Wonder Woman in a real bind. IT. WAS. SO. STUPID.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to dedicate half an issue to setting up a twist that then invalidates everything that came before, make those pages good. Make them interesting or fun or compelling in some way so that the reader gets emotionally invested. Sell me on this burgeoning sister/brother relationship! Give them an engaging dynamic, a connection that has me rooting for them and glad to have him be a part of a book! Whatever you do, don’t make these pages absurdly boring, because when you do that and your new good guy turns out to be a bad guy the only reaction you’re going to get is, “Well, that’s the first interesting thing he’s ever done.”

When the turn came, part of me was very much underwhelmed, but the other part of me was just glad that Diana’s bland, dull twit of a brother wasn’t going to be hanging around being a bore for the next few months. He’ll still be boring, I suppose. Being evil doesn’t make him any more interesting. But at least we don’t have to sit through another droning, hackneyed heart to heart conversation.

Anyway, this arc continues to be generally horrible. And the teaser at the end of the issue promised that the next outing is “The Story of Jason,” so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I prepare for this time of trial and tribulation. If I have to sit through another issue of Wonder Woman without Wonder Woman dedicated to the tedious backstory of some dumb ass side character I couldn’t possibly care less about, I’m going to lose my mind. Also, I know Jason’s backstory already. He blathered on about it in this issue, and while I’m sure some of it was lies, I’m guessing that the bulk of it is the same plus a couple of dark twists and some whiny brooding over his famous sister. And I don’t want to read 20 pages of that. Ugh.

Wonder Woman #32 Review: Children of the Gods Continues, Unfortunately

October 11, 2017

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Let’s start this review with a question: How many female characters other than Wonder Woman have speaking parts in this issue? During the initial “Rebirth” arcs, there were a wide variety of women in the mix, from allies like Etta Candy and Barbara Minerva to villains like Dr. Cyber and Veronica Cale. Plus Amazons. A whole lot of Amazons. Wonder Woman‘s last arc, “Heart of the Amazon,” was essentially a Diana/Etta team up story, and it featured an array of women in all sorts of different roles, good and bad, primary and incidental. There was even an entire team of female assassins, with several deep cut characters from DC’s history. So now with “Children of the Gods,” the story that’s introducing Diana’s brother to the world for whatever reason, how many women other than the title character are involved? For this issue, one. One woman in the entire book. Her role takes up about half a page, and she directs Diana to her brother. That is all, and I think that speaks volumes about this arc and it’s creative team. We’ll get into the issue as a whole, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss all of the dumb things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So the lack of female characters is disheartening, especially since the book spent the last year and a bit building such a stellar cast of women around Wonder Woman. On top of that, it’s just not a very good comic book, on any level. The story is clunky, the writing is poor, the art is middling. It’s not an enjoyable read, and it’s so awkward that it’s hard to feel any connection to the story. Even the big emotional climax at the end of the issue when Diana sees her brother for the first time falls absolutely flat because it’s so painfully clichéd; they immediately recognize each other because they’re twins and feel their connection, and I rolled my eyes so hard that I may need to go see an optometrist.

James Robinson’s writing is unremarkable throughout the book. For example, there’s two pages of Diana and Hercules’ lawyer driving to his home to read his will that are an enormous waste of space, as well as a battle with parademons that reads like it was tacked on to add a bit of action to this otherwise lifeless issue. The whole thing felt like filler, as if Robinson knew he wanted to end this issue with the reveal of Jason and just threw a bunch of things together to fill up the nineteen pages before that. We get slightly more information on the dead gods, I suppose, but it’s nothing that we didn’t already know from Grail in the last issue.

The art didn’t help matters, either. Sergio Davila’s pencils, with inks from Scott Hanna and Mark Morales, were generic superhero fodder. I didn’t find much in the way of a unique style or artistic flair. It was standard cape comic art, and not particularly strong art at that. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but there was nothing interesting about it. It was serviceable at best. Though I did like how Davila drew Diana’s hair later in the issue in a sort of up-do thing with her tiara perched higher up. That was kind of a cool look. I’m always down for a creative use of the tiara.

There were also two story choices that rubbed me the wrong way as a Wonder Woman fan. First was the depiction of Hercules. Back in the 1940s, Hercules was a villain. His betrayal and imprisonment of the Amazons is what led Hippolyta to leave the world of men and take her warriors to Paradise Island to live in an all-female utopia. For William Moulton Marston, Hercules represented the worst of men’s aggression and dominance, and most incarnations of the character have followed suit. We don’t know what, if any, role Hercules played in this modern version of the Amazons; all of the New 52 stuff is up in the air after “The Lies” and “The Truth,” and our knowledge of the true Amazons is limited. But introducing Hercules as a dude who’s done some good stuff and some bad stuff, and who admired Diana, largely ignores what he’s represented in past incarnations of Wonder Woman. I don’t hate that he’s sorry for his past mistakes, since it’s always good to show how people can change. It’s more that Hercules carries a lot of baggage in terms of the history of the Amazons, and his depiction in this arc doesn’t acknowledge this in the least. He’s kind of a loaded character, and they’ve ignored that entirely.

Second, this issue introduces the Oddfellows, Steve’s tactical team that is comprised of modern versions of his associated from the Wonder Woman movie. We’ve got Sameer, Charlie, and Chief, all written much like their film counterparts, just jumped ahead a century and given some heavier artillery. This annoyed me, in part because this arc has been so bad thus far that I hate to see these characters that I quite enjoyed on the big screen put to such poor use here. I also found it very telling that the creative team borrowed a bunch of the fellows from the Wonder Woman film, and yet Etta Candy has been absent from both issues of this new arc. I mean, come on now.

So, I did not particularly care for this issue, and I am not enjoying the specter of five more months of this that lies ahead. It all feels fundamentally flawed across the board, like the creative team and the editors just don’t understand what a Wonder Woman comic should be. We’re only two in, of course, and it may well pick up eventually. But thus far, this arc has done nothing but confirm all of my worst fears from when the storyline was first announced.

Wonder Woman #31 Review: It’s Going To Be A Long Six Months

September 27, 2017

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I just don’t understand why this is happening, gang. DC finally has Wonder Woman back on track after the New 52 reboot took her increasingly off course for five years, and her popularity is sky high following the massive success of the movie this summer. Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp re-established her beautifully with the first year of “Rebirth” and then Shea Fontana, Mirka Andolfo, David Messina, and Inaki Miranda made the most of the new status quo with their excellent, compelling “Heart of the Amazon” arc. And now we’ve got a story about Diana’s brother, tied to a pre-“Rebirth” event no one particularly cared about, with several elements that are technically no longer part of Wonder Woman’s continuity. It is the opposite of accessible, and it’s also the opposite of what anyone who’s loved the first thirty issues of the new Wonder Woman and/or the movie is looking for. I’m utterly flabbergasted that DC is dedicating six months and twelve whole issues to this story that next to no one is clamouring for.

Plus, most damningly, it’s just not good. This first issue is rough in a lot of ways, but here’s the big thing you need to know about it: It’s an issue of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman only appears on six pages. If Wonder Woman isn’t the star of your Wonder Woman, you’ve done screwed up. I was really hoping that, as much as I didn’t love the idea of this arc, it would turn out to be surprisingly good and interesting, but this first issue has squashed that hope considerably. It’s bad and dumb and seems destined to try my patience. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

It’s a first issue so I won’t be too spoilery moving forward!

However, a couple of plot points will be discussed!

Continue to read at your own discretion!

So let’s start with the elephant in the room that is James Robinson. Once a legend in the business because of Starman, his fame has dimmed in recent years after some gruesome and grotesque superhero outings and his transphobic indie book. His work over the past few years seems generally at odds with the message and tone of Wonder Woman, especially in her re-established “Rebirth” form. Furthermore, after Rucka’s fine work on the book, a lot of folks, myself included, were hoping that the writing reins would get passed on to one of the many amazing female writers working in the business today. Robinson taking over the book for an extended run is an all around bizarre choice by DC.

And one that has resulted in a very bad first issue. There’s the fact that Wonder Woman is barely in it, of course, but more than that it’s a clumsy, awkwardly expository outing. The book takes twelve pages to set up the villain, with more than half of the story dedicated to a character who’s quickly taken off the board. I don’t want to get too into the details for folks who haven’t read it, but essentially Grail is taking the power of gods to repower Darkseid, and a huge portion of the book is dedicated to setting that up. The execution of this both sidelines Wonder Woman and drags on with shrug-inducing reveals and painful dialogue.

The dialogue especially is a constant problem throughout the issue. Not only are characters over explaining everything, but there’s no natural flow to any of it. It’s stilted and drawn out, laden with rough transitions, and it all combines to take the reader out of the story again and again. It’s so clunky that I kept thinking, “Nobody talks like this. Why is this so awkward?” and it makes for an unpleasant read.

The art, however, was quite strong throughout. Penciller Carlo Pagulayan and his inkers Sean Parsons, Jason Paz, and Scott Hanna do a nice job with every aspect of the book, bringing some life to the weak script and saving the issue from being a complete disaster. Wonder Woman’s fight with Giganta is particularly well done, and they’ve got an excellent handle on Wonder Woman herself. I can see some of Nicola Scott’s take on the character, with a little bit of Gal Gadot mixed in too, all rendered in Pagulayan’s own style to add up to quite a good Wonder Woman. Their action scenes are enjoyable as well, and quite compelling if you ignore the dialogue and just focus on the visual storytelling. I’m curious to see more from them, and have my fingers crossed that they’ll end up with fun things to draw as the story progresses. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr.! He’s back again colouring the book, and doing an amazing job as always. The man has an uncanny ability to pair seamlessly with any artist he works with in a complimentary way that elevates the art even higher, and he’s at it again with this issue. I’m so glad to see he’s sticking with the book.

So we’ve got good art and terrible writing, but the scales tip decidedly to the negative all together when we consider the ridiculous premise. The primary antagonist Grail is a product of the New 52 Amazons who have since been revealed as a fabrication by the gods, so basically she should not exist. But because of her prominent role in “The Darkseid War” event and the fact that she’s Darkseid’s daughter, she somehow carries on to plague Wonder Woman. And Wonder Woman’s brother, which is also a thing that is happening. He was teased in the “Rebirth” special, but seemingly forgotten for the next 15 months and never mentioned at all in the new Wonder Woman as much better stories were told instead. But here we are, picking up on some very dumb loose threads and tying it all together. At a time when everyone is in love with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and wants more Diana, more Amazons, more bad ass female characters generally, and more women in charge of these feminist icons, the comic’s got a male writer telling a story centered on Wonder Woman’s brother. And, if the first issue is any indication, a really bad story at that. I have no idea why DC is doing this. All I know is that it looks like it’s going to be a very long six month for Wonder Woman enthusiasts.

Wonder Woman #18 Review: Who Watches the Godwatch?

March 9, 2017

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I’m a day late to this review after being busy all day yesterday with some family things, but I got to read the issue yesterday and having an extra day to think back on it has only increased my appreciation of it. “Godwatch” is clearly a different kind of story than “The Lies,” “Year One,” or “The Truth,” and I like that about it very much. The arc is keeping a dual focus on Veronica Cale and Wonder Woman, having them circle each other without meeting yet as they both grow into their new roles, Wonder Woman as a superhero and Veronica as the woman trying to learn her secrets. It’s made for some excellent storytelling so far, and we’ll dive into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to disclose all of the things that happen in this issue!

Read no further if you haven’t picked up this issue yet!

First things first, we’ve got a time jump. I love a good time jump. It can be a really effective storytelling technique when done well, and I think it was nicely executed here in a very sensible way. At the end of Wonder Woman #16, everything had gone wrong for Veronica; Deimos and Phobos had her daughter, her best friend was dead, and her plan to capture Wonder Woman had failed on every level. This issue begins a year later, with Veronica having festered in this defeat for a year. Wonder Woman’s reknown and power has only grown, meanwhile Veronica’s daughter remains creepily faceless, Deimos and Phobos are still around, and she’s only just figured out how to bring back Adrianna’s consciousness as Dr. Cyber. The time jump gives us a sense of Veronica’s pain, and shows us the steps to her becoming the hard-edged villain we see in the present day arcs. All of this horror has been her life for a full year, a crucible forging her into what we know she’ll become.

The story almost shouldn’t work. We already know Veronica Cale is a villain who hates Wonder Woman. This arc adds backstory to that, but not a lot else as of yet, and it would be really easy for this to be a flat, unessential tale. Luckily for us, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely know what they’re doing. The characterizations are so strong and the emotions so clear that it makes for a very compelling read. I even feel sorry for Veronica and the terrible situation she’s in, and I’m Team Wonder Woman a billion percent! Seeing the joy of her getting her friend back and the sorrow of not having her daughter, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for the difficult spot she’s in, even though she does horrible things to characters we love.

Barbara Ann Minerva is both a good example of Veronica’s terrible acts and of presenting backstory in a powerful way. We all know she’s going to become the Cheetah, and that Veronica has something to do with that. That’s been well established earlier in the series. But getting a glimpse into how Barbara’s relationship with Diana has developed in the year since she became Wonder Woman adds more emotional heft to the story, and seeing the ways Veronica manipulates the situation so Wonder Woman can’t save her friend is genuinely upsetting. The scene when Wonder Woman finally arrives to find a bitter Barbara in her new Cheetah form is just heartbreaking. And we all knew it was coming!

Also, kudos to Rucka for his symmetry. Having Barbara become the Cheetah again in an emotionally brutal scene two weeks back in “The Truth” in Wonder Woman #17 and following it with her original transformation this week is quite the one-two punch. Tough on my poor heart; I’ve really grown to love Barbara. But so well executed and structured.

A key part of this arc being so effective is Bilquis Evely’s stellar artwork and what she’s able to bring to all of the characters. We know the broad strokes of this story already, and while Rucka’s doing a swell job writing the book, it’s all on Evely to communicate the emotions of the scenes that make filling in this backstory worthwhile. And she’s hitting it out of the park. The look of horror on Diana’s face when she realizes that she was too late to save her friend is so powerful that it sells the entire scene from the get-go. Similarly, she brings so much to Veronica, humanizing someone we could easily see as a monster. Again, Rucka’s writing her well, but it could feel hollow in the wrong hands. With Evely, each beat plays out true. The final page of the issue, in which Veronica is ashamed of the magnitude of horror she’s perpetrated to save her daughter, is particularly compelling. Evely captures the human side of her so well that you can’t help but sympathize with her despite all she’s done.

Evely’s helped by Scott Hanna on inks, and I’m glad to see that they were able to have just one inker for this outing. It was much stronger than last month’s issue, when several different inkers contributed to the books and the differences were clear and somewhat jarring. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours remain stellar as well. That man has a deft touch. Evely’s linework pairs best with a muted colour palette, which could be limiting, but he’s able to find vibrancy and contrast within this somewhat subdued range that makes the book look absolutely gorgeous. It’s a different set of skills that Fajardo showed us with “Year One” and it’s just as lovely.

Overall, this issue was a heartbreaker, and a very well executed one at that. We knew the bulk of what was coming and it not only still hurt, it conjured up some sympathy for the villain of the piece! That’s kind of remarkable. This arc has been great so far, and I can’t wait to see how Rucka and Evely toy with our emotions again in a month’s time.

Wonder Woman’s April 2016 Covers and Solicits

January 25, 2016

DC’s April 2016 solicits went up last week, and we’ve got the usual assortment of Wonder Woman fun plus a fairly surprising collection that’s due out in May. Of all the classic Wonder Woman runs that are currently out of print, I wasn’t expecting to see a spotlight shone on this one. We’ll get to that momentarily, but let’s start out with Wonder Woman #51:

aprilww51

WONDER WOMAN #51
Written by MEREDITH FINCH
Art by MIGUEL MENDONÇA
Cover by DAVID FINCH
Variant cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and SCOTT HANNA
On sale APRIL 20 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island and the Tartarus Pit in her quest to save baby Zeke. But as she betrays those she loves in her struggle to save Olympus, she slips closer to an abyss in which she may lose Wonder Woman entirely!

Sigh. Still the Finches. Though with the rumours of a DC relaunch in June making the internet rounds as of late, my hopes are up that we’ll see a new team on Wonder Woman soon. But for now, this Zeke story is still rolling along with the Finches at the helm.

I actually don’t mind the cover, if only because it promises a dragon or a basilisk or some such, and Finch is pretty good at drawing that sort of thing. If there’s a big dragon fight in this issue, I might be on board. We’ll see what happens.

Next up, Superman/Wonder Woman #28:

aprilsww28

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #28
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by ED BENES
Cover by PAUL RENAUD
Variant cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and SCOTT HANNA
On sale APRIL 27 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
In part four of “Super League,” Wonder Woman and Superman encounter the being that was discovered in BATMAN/SUPERMAN #31. But will this person be Superman’s savior—or destroyer? And what is Ulysses’s role in all of this?

Hooboy, this sounds not great. Tomasi’s run on Superman/Wonder Woman has been rough stuff, and Superman is currently the WORST; he’s such a jerk right now. So an event written by Tomasi with Superman at the center does not make this sound like an issue I am keen to read. Plus, the fourth part of a crossover I’m not going to read the rest of is never a great time.

Also out in April, the fantastic Legend of Wonder Woman #4:

aprillegends4

THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #4
Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
Cover by RENAE DE LIZ
On sale APRIL 13 • 40 pg, FC, 4 of 9, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The seas have extracted a harsh price for Diana’s rescue of the outsider, casting her adrift upon the shores of Man’s World! A kind woman introduces her to this strange new home, and a new friend bolsters her confidence, but throughout the early days of her adventure, strange dreams of violence plague her nights.

I love this book! The digital issues are way ahead of the print, so I’ve already read two of the three digital installments that will be included in this print issue. And they’re GREAT. Etta Candy is in it in all of her classic, Golden Age glory, and it’s so much fun. This title is the best Wonder Woman comic on the stands, and if you’re not reading it, you’re missing out.

And finally, the aforementioned surprising collection:

aprildeodato

WONDER WOMAN BY MIKE DEODATO TP
Written by WILLIAM MESSNER-LOEBS
Art and cover by MIKE DEODATO
On sale MAY 11 • 376 pg, FC, $24.99 US
Collecting Mike Deodato’s run on WONDER WOMAN from issues #85, 0 and 90-100! In her mother’s eyes, Diana has not lived up to the task of being Wonder Woman, and now the Queen of the Amazons sets in motion a contest where a new Wonder Woman will be crowned. But Diana sees things differently and decides take on any and all comers—until she is bested by Artemis!

This seems like an odd choice. There are so many other books I’d rather see new collections of. Maybe some of Rucka’s run, or Jimenez. But Deodato’s been a pretty hot artist at Marvel lately, so it makes sense that DC would reprint some of his early work. It’s not the best stuff, though. He’s pretty solid now, and I loved his recent Avengers work, but Deodato’s old Wonder Woman art makes me cringe. It’s the embodiment of 1990s hyper-sexualization, plus Wonder Woman ends up with a really dumb costume, even worse than that high collared thing she’s been sporting lately. It’s more an amusing relic than a classic run, though Artemis is kind of fun. Also, the page count seems very long for only 13 issues, so I’d expect a lot of extras with this one.

Look for all of these books this April (and May for the Deodato book) at comic shops everywhere!


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