Posts Tagged ‘Shea Fontana’

Women + NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, August 2018 Solicits: 25 Creators on 19 Books

May 30, 2018

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August looks like it’s going to be a relatively decent month for female creators at DC Comics, with the publisher posting its highest numbers since March. It’s a welcome change after an underwhelming spring and start to the summer. However, August is also a month of transition, with some big beginnings, endings, and returns, so the sustainability of these numbers is very much up in the air. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC Comics this August:

  • Adriana Melo: Plastic Man #3 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn/Gossamer Special #1 (co-writer, cover), Supergirl #21 (variant cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Teen Titans #21 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: The Sandman Universe #1 (interior art)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (writer)
  • Elena Casagrande: Batgirl Annual #2 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Batgirl Annual #2 (cover), Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (cover)
  • Gail Simone: Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (writer), Plastic Man #3 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #52 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #53 (variant cover)
  • Jill Thompson: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #6 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Catwoman #2 (writer, art, cover)
  • Julie Benson: Green Arrow #43 (co-writer)
  • Kat Howard: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Eternity Girl #6 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #26 (writer), Batgirl Annual #2 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #18 (writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Shade, the Changing Woman #6 (interior art)
  • Nalo Hopkinson: The Sandman Universe #1 (co-writer)
  • Rachel Dodson: Justice League Odyssey #2 (variant cover), Supergirl #21 (cover)
  • Sana Takeda: The Wild Storm #16 (variant cover)
  • Shawna Benson: Green Arrow #43 (co-writer)
  • Shea Fontana: Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 (writer, backup story)
  • Yasmine Putri: Scooby Apocalypse #28 (variant cover)

All together, there are 25 female creators scheduled to work on 19 different comics in August 2018, 4 more creators than in July and 3 more books. To the best of my knowledge, there are no non-binary creators set to work at DC Comics in August. Relative to the year thus far, this is a solid showing for female representation at DC. The numbers remain noticeably below the publisher’s past highs, but hitting the mid-20s is still a nice change after a consistent, lower stretch.

We’ve also got a major debut in August with The Sandman Universe #1. Not only is it more Sandman, which is always exciting, it’s also an introductory issue for four spinoff series that will begin this fall. The book has several female creators in the mix, including writers Kat Howard and Nalo Hopkinson, both new to DC, and artist Bilquis Evely, who you may remember from her excellent run on Wonder Woman. They’ll also be part of the spinoff books moving forward.

But we’ve got a lot of endings as well. Batwoman is drawing to a close after a very enjoyable run, and between that and the cancellation of Bombshells United I’ve got my fingers crossed that DC has something else lined up for Marguerite Bennett because she’s been doing fantastic work for them. August also marks the end of the “Young Animal” imprint, which will be a major blow to the numbers. “Young Animal” creators account for 5 of the 25 women listed above, and losing 20% of your female workforce in one fell swoop is not ideal. They’re all amazing creators, too, and I hope DC is wise enough to keep them in the fold with new work.

There are also a lot of oneshots and annuals in August, including a few Looney Tunes crossovers that sound amusing. These are one-off gigs, though, and combined those with a few random variant cover jobs and the cancellations I just mentioned, there are only 11 female creators in the list above that have long term jobs guaranteeing they’ll be back next month. Several of the 14 other women may return in some other capacity, but it’s no sure thing.

Overall, while August will be one of DC’s better months for representation so far this year, things are very much in flux right now. Barring a rash of one-shot gigs or major creative shake ups, reaching this level again in September could be tricky. Plus it’s not even that impressive a level to begin with. DC’s hired far more female and non-binary creators in the past. And they also hire about a couple hundred dudes each month, so women and non-binary creators remain a small minority regardless.

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Women & NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, July 2018 Solicits: 21 Creators on 16 Books

May 1, 2018

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After some low numbers in the June solicits, DC’s underwhelming summer is set to continue into July. The publisher has a lot going on, what with the Brian Michael Bendis era beginning in Action Comics and Superman and new Justice League books debuting. However, few of the goings on seem to involve female or non-binary creators. The only exception is the upcoming Bat-Cat wedding, which will spin off into an exciting new title in July. But elsewhere, representation remains relatively poor. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what this July:

  • Adriana Melo: Plastic Man #2 (interior art)
  • Amanda Conner: DC Beach Blanket Bad Guys Special #1 (cover)
  • Babs Tarr: Teen Titans #20 (variant cover)
  • Becky Cloonan: Batman #50 (interior art), Shade, The Changing Woman #5 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: Plastic Man #2 (cover)
  • Cecil Castellucci: Shade, The Changing Woman #5 (writer)
  • Corinna Bechko: DC Beach Blanket Bad Guys Special #1 (co-writer)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Batgirl #25 (interior art)
  • Gail Simone: Plastic Man #2 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #50 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #51 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #5 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Batman #50 (interior art), Catwoman #1 (writer, interior art, cover)
  • Laura Braga: Wonder Woman #51 (interior art)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Eternity Girl #5 (writer)
  • Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #25 (co-writer), Green Arrow #42 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batgirl #25 (co-writer), Batwoman #17 (writer)
  • Marley Zarcone: Shade, The Changing Woman #5 (interior art)
  • Nicola Scott: Mera, Queen of Atlantis #6 (cover)
  • Rachel Dodson: Justice League Odyssey #1 (variant cover)
  • Sandra Hope: The Terrifics #6 (interior art)
  • Shea Fontana: DC Beach Blanket Bad Guys Special #1 (co-writer)

All together, there are 21 different female creators set to work on 16 different books in July, 2 more creators than in June though 1 fewer book. As best as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators working at DC Comics in July. These ups and downs even out to the slightest of gains, but the numbers remain noticeably below the publisher’s spring totals and far off of their past highs. At this point, female and non-binary creator representation is at just two thirds of what DC has shown themselves to be capable of achieving.

The continuing low numbers can be attributed to a lack of new talent. While the creators listed above are fantastic, we’ve seen all of them before at DC in some capacity or another. It’s encouraging to have a group of women getting steady work here, for sure. That kind of consistency is important. But the numbers remain relatively low, and they aren’t growing.

In terms of fictional women, the big news is that we’re getting a new Catwoman book, written and drawn by the wonderful Joelle Jones. That’s going to be excellent. Apart from that, female characters will also have some decent representation in two new Justice League titles set to premiere in July. Wonder Woman and Zatanna are part of Justice League Dark, accounting for 2 of the 5 characters on the team, while Jessica Cruz and Starfire will be in Justice League Odyssey, making up 2 of the 4 characters on the team. The male majority on the flagship Justice League title is substantial, so these new additions to the line are a big step toward better representation.

Overall, there are some positive signs at DC. The female creator ranks are stable, and fictional representation has improved. However, the creator numbers remain low. There just doesn’t seem to be a commitment at the publisher to improving the ranks of female and non-binary creators. We’ve been seeing a similar lack of effort from Marvel as well, which has added up to a rather disappointing string of solicits as of late. DC has reached much higher totals in the past, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be returning to those highs any time soon.

My Top 10 Superhero Comic Books of 2017

December 20, 2017

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It’s been an interesting year for superhero comic books. DC’s been trucking along with “Rebirth,” telling a lot of fun stories in the mix. Marvel’s been more split, with half the line spending a considerable part of the year embroiled in weird Nazi/Hydra antics while several of the titles that avoided Secret Empire put out some very enjoyable adventures. When I sat down to figure out my favourite superhero comics of the year, I was amused to see my list split down the middle, half DC and half Marvel! While I’d definitely say that DC had the better year overall, qualitywise, Marvel’s good books were VERY good.

Before we get to the list, though, I should point out that it’s been a great year for non-superhero comics, too. The cape books are my main focus here, of course, but I’ve been enjoying all sorts of other titles. More specifically, Bitch Planet: Triple Feature was excellent, as was the latest “season” of Sex Criminals from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I’ve also been enjoying Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams, the latest volume of George O’Connor’s Olympians was fantastic as always, and Paper Girls from Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang remains gorgeous if all over the place, storywise. I’m always down for Cliff Chiang art! There’s no lack of wonderful comics out there right now across all sorts of genres and styles.

But now, onto my favourite superhero comic books of the year! Check out the list, and let me know your favourites from the past year in the comments:

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10) Batman by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and more

I’m reading Batman in trade so I’m a little bit behind, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I was leery of it initially, since the premises didn’t grab me. Superpowered heroes in Gotham? More Bane shenanigans? I didn’t think it’d be for me. Then I read the books and was quickly proved wrong. King and his excellent array of artists make it all work beautifully. And of course, I love the prominent role that Catwoman has in the run. She’s become a major player here, and while she and Batman are bad ass and cool, as always, compassion seems to be the core of both characterizations. It’s good stuff, and often beautifully drawn.

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9) Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

This book has been amazing for a while now, and it showed no signs of slowing down on that front in 2017. Is Ryan North still writing it? Is Erica Henderson still drawing it? Is Squirrel Girl still eating nuts and kicking butts? Then it’s going to remain great. And it has! North and Henderson bring so much heart and humour to the comic. It’s just a joy to read, and served as a most welcome counter to the bleak storylines that took over a lot of Marvel books this year. If you like delightful things, then go start reading Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

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8) Green Arrow by Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt, and more

I’ve enjoyed the stories in Green Arrow over the past year well enough, but I’ll be honest: The book made my Top 10 for Otto Schmidt alone. His art is SO GOOD. His pages just sing. The art isn’t terribly out there for a superhero book, but it’s absolutely unique and different and stands out from everything else on the stands right now. I think part of it is that he colors it himself, and everything on the page feels so cohesive and complimentary. It’s really remarkable stuff. Green Arrow cycles through a variety of artists, like most DC books right now, and while they’re all pretty solid, Schmidt’s work is just next level. I want him to draw every superhero now.

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7) All New Wolverine by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk, Nik Virella, and more

Step aside, old Wolverine. You were fun while you lasted, but the new Wolverine is so much better. She’s got everything we expect from a Wolverine: claws, ferocity, a propensity for going after anyone who threatens her friends with a berserker rage. But instead of being a mopey guy who’s been around forever, she’s a cantankerous yet endearing young woman. Plus she’s assembled a great supporting cast over the course of this run. It’s a fun, exciting book, and I’m completely fine with never seeing the old Wolverine again now.

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6) Detective Comics by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Marcio Takara, and more

Team books can be a tricky thing. There are a lot of characters to manage, and a few always end up taking a backseat while a handful come to the fore. Tynion and his rotating teams of artists have struck an impressive balance here, largely by backseating the character you’d expect to see more than anyone else: Batman. He’s a key figure, but doesn’t dominate the book. Instead, Batwoman leads the team and the spotlight gets shared by Azrael, Batwing, Clayface, Orphan, and Spoiler. The degree of attention ebbs and flows, but no one goes too long without a good storyline or an important role. The book also manages to tell its own stories while weaving in and out of the bigger events at DC over the past year. It’s a solid Bat-team book that I always find myself looking forward to.

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5) Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and more

I’m a big fan of the classic Thor, but what Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have done with Jane Foster as Thor is far and away my favourite take on the character yet. It’s been a huge year for her, with an intergalactic war and darkness spreading through the nine realms, not to mention the return of Odinson and the emergence of the War Thor. But amid all of the epicness, the story of Jane battling cancer and sacrificing her well-being to be the hero the world, nay, the universe needs has been so beautifully told. The heart Aaron and Dauterman bring to their crazy action and adventure is what makes this one of the best books on the stands.

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4) Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka, Shea Fontana, Mirka Andolfo, Bilquis Evely, and more

Not right now, obviously. Wonder Woman has been garbage since James Robinson et al. took over a few months ago. But before that, the book was having a great year. The wrap up of the “Godwatch” and “The Truth” arcs was a powerful, well-executed conclusion to an excellent run that provided a much needed revitalization of Wonder Woman after a rough few years. Then we got “Heart of the Amazon,” which was an awesome team up between Diana and Etta Candy that pitted them against superpowered assassins and evil scientists. Now the book is about Wonder Woman and her brother and it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, but up until then it was a really great year of stories.

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3) Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads

People were raving about this book before the first issue even came out, and with all of that buzz building and building, I came into this with high expectations. Mister Miracle beat those expectations with ease. The first issue especially is just masterful storytelling. It’s intentionally disorienting yet it pulls you along, and when you finally realize what’s happening it’s a gut punch that is heartbreaking yet so perfect for the character. Subsequent issues have been fascinating in their own right. It’s a unique, compelling book that is a worthy vehicle for Mister Miracle and Big Barda, two of Jack Kirby’s best creations.

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2) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Takeshi Miyazawa, and more

Ms. Marvel has been stellar for years now. Introducing a Muslim, Pakistani-American, teen heroine was no mean feat, and yet the book has never taken a step wrong. And this year was no exception. Kamala went through a lot, both professionally and personally, and as the year went on the book began to echo a lot of the issues facing America as a whole in 2017. Ms. Marvel is grounded in our reality in a way most superhero books aren’t, and that led to some incisive storytelling that still paired beautifully with all of the usual fun and action we expect from the series.

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1) Hawkeye by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh, and more

The Fraction/Aja/Wu era of Hawkeye is easily one of the best superhero runs of the past decade, and set a massively high bar for any and all Hawkeye stories moving forward. Thompson, Romero, and Walsh have reached that bar and more with Kate Bishop’s new solo series. The book is an absolute joy, from Thompson’s sharp and hilarious dialogue to Romero and Walsh doing an amazing job with all of the archery action and comedic beats packed into each issue. Plus there’s some serious heart and pathos beyond all of the fun, with Kate dealing with some heavy stuff. Things are rarely cool and chill for a Hawkeye, as much as they may pretend otherwise. The book is a dang delight, each and every month, and I love it to bits.

Women and NB Creators at DC Comics Watch, December 2017 Solicits, 23 Creators on 25 Books

October 18, 2017

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As you may recall, DC’s November 2017 solicits featured their lowest total of female and non-binary creators in some time. While things have shifted around somewhat with the December solicits, with some past creators gone and some new creators added, the numbers have turned out exactly the same. It says a lot about representation at DC Comics that after posting their smallest numbers in some time, well below their recent highs, they do the exact same thing the following month. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at DC this December:

  • Amanda Conner: Harley Quinn #33 (co-writer, cover), Harley Quinn #34 (co-writer, cover), The Jetsons #2 (cover)
  • Bilquis Evely: DC Universe Holiday Special 2017 #1 (interior art), Scooby Apocalypse #20 (variant cover)
  • Carmen Carnero: Gotham City Garage #5 (interior art), Gotham City Garage #6 (interior art)
  • Eleanora Carlini: Suicide Squad #32 (interior art)
  • Emanuela Lupacchino: Bombshells United #7 (cover), Superwoman #17 (variant cover)
  • Gail Simone: The Kamandi Challenge #12 (co-writer), Wonder Woman/Conan #4 (writer)
  • Hope Larson: Batgirl #18 (writer)
  • Jenny Frison: Wonder Woman #36 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #37 (variant cover)
  • Jody Houser: Supergirl #16 (co-writer)
  • Julie Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17 (co-writer)
  • K. Perkins: Superwoman #17 (writer)
  • Kamome Shirahama: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17 (variant cover)
  • Laura Braga: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #3 (interior art)
  • Lea Hernandez: Teen Titans Go! #25 (interior art, cover)
  • Marguerite Bennett: Batwoman #10 (writer), Bombshells United #7 (writer), Bombshells United #8 (writer)
  • Michelle Delecki: Deathstroke #26 (variant cover)
  • Mirka Andolfo: Bombshells United #8 (interior art), Harley Quinn #33 (interior art)
  • Rachel Dodson: Bombshells United #8 (cover)
  • Sandra Hope: The Silencer #1 (inker)
  • Shawna Benson: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17 (co-writer)
  • Shea Fontana: DC Universe Holiday Special 2017 #1 (co-writer)
  • Stephanie Hans: Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #3 (variant cover)
  • Yasmine Putri: Gotham City Garage #6 (cover), Nightwing #35 (cover), The Hellblazer #17 (variant cover)

All together, there are 23 different women set to work on 25 different books at DC in December, replicating the November totals precisely; as best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators on the schedule at DC this month. That DC’s held steady at these lows is a bit of a surprise. They’d been comfortably in the mid-20s for a while, even jumping into the low 30s occasionally, but now they’ve leveled out into an ongoing lull.

Part of this may be due to a lack of new faces. We’ve seen every single creator listed above at DC before, if not last month than in the past few months. It’s an amazing list of creators to be sure, but all of them are mainstays at the publisher. The numbers can only grow if more creators are brought in, and that will require new and different people. This month, DC did not seem inclined to seek them out.

In terms of fictional characters, there’s only one new book with a female lead: The Silencer. The book is part of DC’s high profile artist-centric line in which their top artists are paired with writers to create new characters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost every creator involved is a man. But The Silencer features Sandra Hope inking, and it stars Honor Guest, a retired assassin who retired at the top of her game but is getting dragged back into the business. Technically the book’s not out until January; it’s an advanced solicit, for some reason. But hey, it’s on the list! And while DC only has a handful of other new titles scheduled for December, they all have male leads.

Ultimately, December looks like it’s going to be another subpar month for female and non-binary creator representation at DC Comics. On the plus side, the numbers holding steady means that the publisher’s downward trend over the past few months has come to an end. On the negative side, the skid’s landed them far from the considerably higher numbers they’d been posting only a year ago, when they had 10 more women and non-binary creators in the mix! DC’s capable of far better representation than they have right now.

Wonder Woman #30 Review: The Heart of the Amazon Shines

September 13, 2017

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Today’s issue of Wonder Woman brings us the finale of “Heart of the Amazon,” a story that has challenged Diana on multiple levels. There were the villains, of course, a multitude of assassins that she and Etta dispatched with relative ease. But there were also more existential threats as Diana contemplated her heroic purpose. Yes, she’s a divinely powered superhero who can take on more than anyone else can bear, but she’s also just one person. Perhaps the gifts inside her were meant for something more, something that required a great sacrifice. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Don’t read this review if you haven’t read the issue!

Also, go read the issue! And the whole arc! It’s great!

So, it turns out that no, the gifts inside her weren’t meant for something more. At least, not yet and certainly not under these circumstances. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hamilton Revere, the man who sent a group of assassins after Wonder Woman, is not a good dude and does not have the best interests of humanity at heart. After Diana willingly went to see him at the end of the last issue, curious if her divinely powered blood could help cure diseases like he claimed, things quickly took a dark turn. Revere wanted to develop an army of super soldiers, first and foremost, and use them to strike fear into the hearts of American enemies and compel global peace. Wonder Woman wasn’t into it because obviously that’s a terrible idea, and some enjoyable fighting ensued.

I think that anytime a Wonder Woman story ends with a message that men are bad and can’t be trusted with power, the writer is definitely doing things right. I mean, look around. Men ARE bad and CAN’T be trusted with power. That’s been true for time immemorial, and was also a key component of the original Wonder Woman in the 1940s; back then, she was straight up arguing for a matriarchal revolution. I loved Shea Fontana’s internal monologue for Diana in this issue as she fought back against Revere’s forces and reflected on the awesome responsibility of her powers and how she must be careful and judicious with how she uses them. Fontana also mentioned the golden lasso and the truths it reveals, which is key. Wonder Woman is, above all else, firmly rooted in the truth of things. She can’t lie to herself, or disguise selfish motivations with a benevolent facade. The lasso ensures that her motivations are pure, and thus she is best suited to the amazing gifts of the gods. Folks like military directors, world leaders, and soldiers don’t have a lasso, and thus should not be entrusted with such powers. The monologue is specific to the scene, but there’s also a larger implication that we as a society must be careful in selecting who we entrust with power, which is all sorts of timely.

On top of these deeper reflections, this issue also has Etta Candy pitching a bunch of grenades and using the lasso, which is just fun times. Steve Trevor’s reactions when Etta keeps pulling out grenades are priceless. Fontana’s done a wonderful job bringing Etta and her friendship with Diana to the fore throughout this arc, and I’m hoping that it’s something that sticks moving forward. They’re such a great pairing. And, again, their friendship harkens back to the 1940s as well. Fontana has tapped into some classic Wonder Woman here.

The art rotation continued this issue with the return of David Messina after Inaki Miranda drew the last outing, and he did a swell job again. Maybe even better than his first issue in some ways. His style felt a little looser this time around, which I enjoyed. He seemed to be channeling Mirka Andolfo somewhat as well, adding just a bit more of a cartoonish aspect to his work. Messina did well with all of the serious talking and discussion that kicked off the issue, and then really shone once the fighting began. The double page spread of Wonder Woman busting her way through multiple opponents is just gorgeously composed. And the colours by Romulo Fajardo Jr. add so much to that sequence. He captures the passage of time as Wonder Woman moves through her assailants by starting with pale colouring and making each image of her as she moves through her assailants brighter and more detailed until the final Wonder Woman is fully coloured in detail. Also, shout out to Messina for Diana’s swoopy hair in this spread. It’s so good.

Overall, “Heart of the Amazon” was an excellent Wonder Woman story, one that fully embraced her re-established status quo in the “Rebirth” era and captured the core of what makes her a great hero. It’s such a fundamentally good, enjoyable tale. It’s not a huge game changer like Rucka’s run, and it’s not some event tie-in or flashy crossover. It’s contained, stellar storytelling, and that’s so good to see. I hope we’ll get a lot more like this from Wonder Woman moving forward.

Well, after the next arc, anyway. For some reason, DC feels compelled to follow up on “Darkseid War” and the “Rebirth” special, stories from a Wonder Woman universe that is now drastically different. I have no idea why, but we’ve got six issues of stories about Wonder Woman’s brother ahead of us, so hold onto your hats. I’ll hope for the best, of course. You never know what could happen. But I’m not terribly optimistic about any part of what’s coming.

Wonder Woman #29 Review: A Bountiful Battle and a Bold Decision

August 30, 2017

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The first year of Wonder Woman in the “Rebirth” era was a major undertaking, with the creative team trying to reorient the character after a five year run that failed to capture the classic, empowering core of Diana and the Amazons. While they told a great story in the process, it was a huge, sprawling, universe altering tale that was all in service of establishing a new status quo for Wonder Woman that was more in line with who the character is and what she’s meant for decades. And they succeeded beautifully! Now, with all of that heavy lifting done, we can enjoy good Wonder Woman stories again. “Heart of the Amazon” hasn’t been as momentous or world shattering as the year of stories that preceded it, but that was the point of that year, to get Wonder Woman on a solid footing moving forward. Shea Fontana and her team of artists have made the most of this solid footing and the arc has been tremendously fun and well-crafted thus far. It’s captured everything good about the restored Wonder Woman while telling a great story and adding new depths to the characters. “Heart of the Amazon” was exactly what I was hoping for following Diana’s reorientation, and it’s been a blast to see the creative team do stellar work with each issue. Today’s penultimate outing is a particularly well-crafted book, and it sets us up for a very intriguing finale. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal major plot points from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s very good!

Now, before we get to the excellent insides of the book, let’s talk about the cover. I’ve been harping on these covers with every issue lately, but they’re just not good. This one at least offers a look at what’s going on inside the issue instead of the generic posing we’ve seen before. The problem is, it’s a bad cover. The art is kind of a mess, and if I saw this on a shelf I wouldn’t be tempted to pick it up at all. These covers just aren’t working, and I don’t understand why DC hasn’t promoted Jenny Frison to be the primary cover artist for this run because her variants have been stellar. Covers are how you advertise comic books; it’s kind of important that they look good and not like jumbled masses that fail to entice anyone.

Luckily, the story inside is super good. I was surprised to see that Inaki Miranda drew the issue, though! When David Messina took over with the last issue, I assumed that he’d be there for the rest of the arc, but not so much. And now, I have no idea who’ll be drawing the next issue. While I usually don’t like multiple artists on an arc and prefer a more consistent look, all three artists on “Heart of the Amazon” have been good, and despite their different styles I think it will come together well in the collected edition.

When we last left Diana, five assassins were after her, and Fontana and Miranda’s handling of the opening pages is very well done. Fontana’s given us all female villains, which is a fun touch, but she’s also made each of them distinct, starting with the last issue. Originally, we had a sniper. Now the five new assassins each have different specialities: Cat Eye is allegedly some sort of cat warrior goddess, Cheshire is a classic assassin, Abolith is a super soldier, Plastique is a bomber, and Baundo is a teleporter. It’s a unique assortment of villains that allows Miranda to showcase his skills as he depicts their varying personalities and power sets. The fight is nicely choreographed as well, very legibly laid out and easy to follow, which is always good to see. Plus they’ve got Etta Candy right in the middle of the action, fighting alongside Wonder Woman and taking out a few of the villains totally on her own.

Miranda does a solid job throughout the issue. First, he brought back the curl in Etta’s hair, which I’m very glad to see. Mirka Andolfo’s redesign of Etta was amazing, and Miranda seems to be embracing it here. While Miranda’s characters aren’t as expressive as Andolfo’s, his subtler approach works nicely for the seriousness of the story being told in this issue and he captures the emotions of each. His work is particularly strong in the flashback to young Diana on Themyscira, with the child wanting her mother to be proud of her and Hippolyta affirming how much she loves her. It’s a sweet, touching scene that everyone knocked out of the park. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s coloring has remained an artistic constant throughout this run, and he again does stellar work here adjusting to a new artist. There are some nice touches with fine colored lines and textures that add a lot to Miranda’s more sparse approach to linework. They make for a fine pairing.

While the fight that starts the issue is nicely done, it’s the ending that is the most compelling. When Wonder Woman learns that a biomedical researcher is behind the plot to kill her, hoping to use her divine/Amazon physiology to cure a wide array of diseases, she willingly submits to the researcher, not caring for his methods but nonetheless willing to help as many people as she can. It’s a sacrifice that is classic Wonder Woman, but also very fitting for this arc. “Heart of the Amazon” began with Wonder Woman admitting that she took on every problem, every hurt, every horror herself because she was the only one able to bear it all. Now she takes on the monumental task of curing diseases with a very sketchy researcher behind it all. I’m curious to see if this proves to be too much for Diana to handle all on her own. If it is, luckily she’s got some excellent friends who will have her back.

All together, this was another wonderful issue. Great action, great story, even great romance with Steve finally returning to the book, though only after Wonder Woman and Etta had taken out all of the assassins, of course. I’m sad to see this arc end, but I’m looking forward to finding out how it all comes together in two weeks’ time, as well as discovering who will be drawing the book this time around! So many mysteries to be solved.

Wonder Woman #28 Review: Assassination Rehabilitation

August 16, 2017

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“Heart of the Amazon” continues this week with Shea Fontana still writing but a new artist on board. Mirka Andolfo did the first two, and it looks like the rest of the arc will be by David Messina. It’s an interesting switch; Andolfo and Messina’s styles aren’t exactly similar, but the swap may capture a change in tone, intentionally or inadvertently. Andolfo’s art is bright and exuberant, which fit well with the wedding fun of the first issue and the further establishment of Diana and Etta’s friendship. Messina’s art is more grounded and realistic to a degree, which pairs well as the story continues to take a darker turn with assassins targeting Diana. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t read this issue yet, look away!

I am about to tell you most of what happens in it!

Let’s start with the cover again, because while the comics themselves have been quite enjoyable throughout this arc thus far, the covers have been uniformly bland. With the first two issues especially, the run of the mill covers failed to communicate the unique spark of the art inside in any real way. For this issue, the cover just feels paint by numbers. Wonder Woman deflecting bullets is always fun, but you could put this cover on any issue of Wonder Woman and it would be generally applicable. It’s a very generic image, and this isn’t a generic story. Nothing about Wonder Woman has been generic since the “Rebirth” relaunch, and the covers for the first 25 issues reflected that well. The covers since have failed to do so, and it just feels like poor advertising on the part of DC.

The story inside is fun, though. Etta’s recovered well from the bombing at the end of the first issue of the arc, and is able to go home from the hospital, whereupon she and Diana are again attacked by an assassin. These gals can’t catch a break! The action is nicely done, with a focus on Wonder Woman’s speed and reaction time throughout, even though it’s Etta who saves the day in the end. This is one of those big fight issues that can read a little quick because it’s got more punching than dialogue, but that’s what superhero comics are for. It can’t be all lengthy discussions and introspection and such. It’s good to have a full on brawl every now and again.

Beyond all of the action, though, Diana and Etta’s friendship shines through, and it seems to be the major focus of this arc. It was great to see Etta get to save the day, and have her military prowess highlighted throughout the issue. From a well timed and well aimed shot to Diana correcting a nurse to inform her that Etta should be addressed as “Commander” and not “Ms.,” Etta’s credentials are underscored and proven over the course of this outing.

The best moment comes near the beginning, though, when Diana signs Etta out of the hospital to be released into her care. Diana takes her signature very seriously, and is determined to care for Etta for the six weeks of her leave because she has signed an oath to do so. It’s all very cute and fun, and makes for an amusing scene with Diana doing the dishes because she is fully committed to taking care of Etta on every single level. Friendship plus Diana taking simple things very seriously is a delightful combination.

David Messina does a solid job with the art, especially once the fighting kicks off, and he draws a tough, powerful Wonder Woman. There’s a very cool quality to his work where he’s not super heavy on his inks that I quite enjoy. Rather than having his blacks be completely solid, he colors them in and the texture of whatever coloring method he’s using remains. It almost looks like markers or some such, and you can see gradients within his blacks in a lot of the panels. It’s a fun touch that captures how inked artwork actually looks rather than the processed sheen it tends to take on once it gets scanned, cleaned up, and published.

I did miss Mirka Andolfo a bit, though. This is no knock on Messina, who did nice work. I just really love the vitality that Andolfo brings to her characters. And the fashion! Diana and Etta were dressed okay in this issue, but Andolfo would have had them in something more rad. Also, Messina straightened Etta’s hair, and I missed the curly bounce that Andolfo gave her. I was glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. still in the mix, though! His coloring was strong as always, though I did notice a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes; elements of Wonder Woman’s belt were miscolored, while Etta was a few shades too light in one panel. Nonetheless, his work was excellent elsewhere and his rich, textured tones paired especially well with Messina’s inking style.

All together, things are ramping up with this assassination plot and I’m excited to see where it goes. Someone is after Wonder Woman and wants her body, presumably for some sort of bizarre experimentation, and given that last page reveal, things are going to be difficult in the next issue as well with even more folks after her. Kudos to Fontana for including so many female assassins in the mix, too. I’m guessing that we’ll find out who the big bad is by the end of the next outing, since we’ve only got two installments left. And Apollo’s intervention to warn her about the attack has me thinking it might be a villain with some mythological associations. I’m looking forward to learning more in two weeks’ time!


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