Posts Tagged ‘Steve Trevor’

Wonder Woman #70 Review: Love is a Battlefield

May 10, 2019

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Our gal Diana has been through a lot recently. Ares is back, and being a real jerk. Veronica Cale is up to her usual tricks. Olympus is destroyed and the Amazons are missing. Giant rock monsters are roaming through the mountains of Colorado. She’s been put through the wringer ever since G. Willow Wilson took over writing the book, and very enjoyably so. She’s Wonder Woman, after all. No one is better suited to handle an avalanche of enemies trying to break her down.

And she’s dealt with it well. Each villain she’s encountered has tried to dig into her a little bit, poking at her insecurities and exposing the complications and even some of the hypocrisies inherent in who she is and what she does. They’ve all made some good points, too, and given Diana a lot to think about it. But she’s held true to herself and continued on.

Until this week, that is. Atlantiades, another Olympian, has thrown her for a loop. Not even intentionally or maliciously this time, just through the sheer force of their unique power. The child of Aphrodite wields the power of truth in some unexpected ways that catch Diana by surprise. The result is a compelling, more introspective issue that examines a relationship that’s been a staple at DC Comics for nearly eighty years. We’ll dig into all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

I am about to reveal its many secrets!

Also, go read it! It’s good and gorgeous!

So Atlantiades is an intriguing foe. I’m not sure what their plan is here, or if there even is a plan or purpose to what they’re doing. Having been cast out of Olympus, they find themself with an opportunity to regain some of their past glory, to rekindle the thrill of ancient cults worshipping them, and they go for it. In part to get back at their mother, it seems, and in part because it just felt like a fun thing to do. There is both petulance and cunning to Atlantiades, naiveté and wisdom. Which makes sense, given the dual nature of the character. I’m guessing we’ll never know quite what we’re going to get from them.

As I suspected based on their mythological origins, Atlantiades is presented as non-binary and uses gender neutral pronouns. They are literally two beings combined into one, Aphrodite’s son merged with a female water nymph to make one person. Now, this is not how most non-binary people come to be these days. It’s more to do with not feeling like they fit within the limiting bounds of a traditional binary approach to gender and finding an identity outside of these strictures that better matches their sense of self. Still, it’s very cool to see some non-binary representation in a mainstream superhero comic book. And now that we have Atlantiades, I’d love to see them interact with some more modern non-binary characters. The discussions they could have would be fascinating.

Atlantiades’ mythological origins give them both powers and a special sort of insight into those around them. They’ve captivated this town with ease, promising them freedom and their heart’s desire, and their divine allure quickly got everyone on board. Even Maggie, who has some familiarity with non-earthly folks, is immediately smitten. But not Wonder Woman. She is tempted, to be sure. There is a like calling to like dynamic between Diana and Atlantiades that is quite interesting. The Amazons are all about love and truth, and that is the very core of Atlantiades’ power. The connection between them is palpable.

But then Steve shows up, and the conversation he and Diana have is heartbreaking. They admit their insecurities and fears, with Steve telling Diana that he sometimes thinks he would be happier with a mortal woman and Diana acknowledging that she has thought the same thing. It’s all a ruse of course, but in a clever twist it’s not some attempt by Atlantiades to upset Diana. Instead, it’s her own fears manifesting in the aura of Atlantiades’ truthful power. It’s a nightmare of her own making, a shade created by her own anxieties.

Knowing that, Diana’s able to face it head on. Yes, she feels all of these things. She has concerns and fears about her relationship with Steve. But at the end of the day, she loves him, and that is enough. Love is central to Wonder Woman, and has been since her very first appearance n 1941. It’s why she’s strong. It’s why she’s brave. And it’s why she’s able to tackle her anxieties and work through them.

The scene is viscerally real and beautifully written by Wilson, who presents the complexities of the unusual relationship between Diana and Steve in an honest, gripping way. I was totally sold on the twist, and thought Atlantiades had brought Steve there to mess with Diana. It was a raw, powerful interaction, and one that made even more sense when the truth was revealed. Of course Diana has anxieties about their relationship. There are sacrifices and compromises on both sides, as in any relationship, and that gets exacerbated even further when superpowers and godhood enter the mix. But the conclusion felt just as real and true. She loves Steve enough to work through her concerns and carry on together.

This entire issue was wonderfully illustrated by Xermanico, who is just doing a stellar job on this book. They need to lock him down on Wonder Woman for a while because his artwork is exceptional. Diana’s emotional journey is shown so well, and that scene with Steve is especially strong. He also captures the androgynous beauty of Atlantiades, giving them a unique and captivating look that well suits the character. And of course, the colors of Romulo Fajardo Jr. add so much to the equation, elevating the already lovely linework. Xermanico needs to be the primary artist for this series moving forward. The dude is just too good.

The issue ends with some drama. The townsfolk are not so happy with getting everything they want because it turns out being selfish can backfire after a while. Decisions have consequences, and they’re starting to add up. It looks like we’ve got a revolt coming, and while Diana and Atlantiades are strong enough to handle the angry mortals without any real fear of harm, I’m curious to see how this entire situation gets resolved. Atlantiades has made a real mess, and it’s going to be tough to clean up, if that’s what they even want to do! Should be fun.

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Wonder Woman #61 Review: Love Will Lead You Back

January 2, 2019

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

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

We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

You really should read it, though!

Add it to your pull list or subscribe through Comixology!

The book is good again, I promise!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder Woman #59 Review: A Twisted Reflection

November 28, 2018

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In this issue of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor kicks a griffin in the face then gets head-butted by a satyr. So yeah, this run has been pretty dang fantastic so far. Also, that griffin is the best. She calls Steve a “beakless idiot,” which is a sick burn coming from a griffin. Then she talks about how she doesn’t trust human males at all and only trusts “egg layers.” And sure, fair point, awesome griffin. Plus she’s a key member of some sort of renegade group of mythological creatures. There’s the aforementioned satyr, a minotaur, a dryad, and more. It’s a cool crew. I’m all about whatever these creatures are up to.

Also, this issue raises compelling questions about war and justice, and if we are complicit in perpetuating a destructive cycle when we answer violence with violence. But first and foremost, Steve tries to fight some mythological beasts and it’s hilarious and great. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss the events in this very fine comic book!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And go pick it up if you haven’t! It’s super good!

G. Willow Wilson isn’t screwing around here, gang. She didn’t take over Wonder Woman just for a lark. She’s not that kind of a writer at all. If you’ve read Ms. Marvel (and if you haven’t, what are you even doing?! Go get on it! It’s phenomenal!), you know that Wilson has a knack for tackling big, complicated ideas through fun superhero adventures. Ms. Marvel is rip roaring fun, to be sure, but there’s always a lot of thoughtful, relevant themes at play.

And now Wilson is bringing a similar approach to Wonder Woman. Ares is back on Earth, and he’s styled himself as a hero, drawing inspiration from Wonder Woman herself. He’s defending an oppressed ethnic minority group in Durovnia from violent government forces, which is a noble stance. Definitely something Wonder Woman would do. Except that when they spot a Durovnian missile headed for them, instead of redirecting it into an empty field, Ares sends it to a home of Durovian government supporters, killing them all. Wonder Woman is furious, of course, but Ares is perplexed. Doesn’t she carry a sword? Hasn’t she killed her enemies?

Then the tables turn even more. American fighter jets streak overhead, allied with the Durovnian forces. Ares wants to destroy them, but Wonder Woman saves them. Now it’s Ares who feels angry and betrayed. Those fighter jets were targeting the oppressed people he was defending. In not stopping them, Wonder Woman essentially sided against him and his cause.

Wonder Woman vs. Ares should be the most black and white confrontation ever. A warrior for peace against the god of war and destruction. The right and wrong of it all should be clear as day. Except that now, it’s not. Modern warfare isn’t that simple. So much of it is shades of grey, and now Wonder Woman and Ares find themselves mired in this grey. As much as Wonder Woman is outraged at Ares’ actions, there’s an argument to be made that they are more the same than they are different. They’re not exactly the same, of course. Wonder Woman wouldn’t kill civilians, no matter who they supported. But she works with the Americans, who support the Durovnian military. She uses weapons of war against her foes. Her hands are not entirely clean.

Ares still sees things in black and white, but from the side of the oppressed now. Instead of glorying in military might above all else, he takes a moral stance and glories in turning that might against the tyrants who wield it. And yeah, tyrants are bad, right? Ares is doing some sketchy stuff, but he’s not entirely wrong here. Is he going too far, or is he just being realistic?

I’m still on Wonder Woman’s side, because of course. She’s Wonder Woman. And killing civilians is a step too far for me. But dang if this book isn’t raising some fascinating questions about war and where we decide to draw the line when it comes to defending what we believe in. There’s not a simple answer here either, and I’m excited to see how this arc continues to dig into it all. From her earliest days, Wonder Woman has been associated with war. She left Paradise Island in 1941 to go fight the Nazis, after all! But war has gotten far more complicated over the decades, and I’m glad to see the book diving into the messy complexities of it all.

Plus, there’s a cool griffin! The series is digging into heavy stuff with Wonder Woman and Ares, so the comic relief and intriguing mysteries of these mythological creatures is a welcome contrast. I’m intrigued by the cliffhanger, which suggests that the leader of the beasts is a woman of some sort. Perhaps a goddess? It looks like Olympus might be back, if in a rather damaged state. And if there’s a goddess in charge, is this divine return connected to Ares’ recent escape? There’s a lot of cool stuff at play here.

While the writing is great, I did find the art a bit hit and miss in this issue. Some of the pages are really nice; Cary Nord and Mick Gray are talented dudes, and they can do exciting action. But some of the pages feel super rushed. There’s a lack of detail in certain panels, with proportions that are off and simplistic linework that looks like it was hastily cobbled together. And honestly, that’s just how it goes these days with bi-monthly books. It’s hard to keep up a high level of quality at that pace. We’ve seen it several times before. Still, there are some rough moments in this issue. Writing this good deserves good, consistent art, and I hope that editorial can figure out a way to keep everyone on track and putting out quality work.

But this is a stellar issue nonetheless. The story is dealing with some big ideas in intriguing ways, plus it brings a huge dose of superhero spectacle and fun with each outing. I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

Wonder Woman #58 Review: A New Era Begins with G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord

November 14, 2018

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I’m not even going to pretend to be chill about this. I LOVE G. Willow Wilson. Her Ms. Marvel has been my favourite comic on the stand for years now, her graphic novel Cairo is amazing, and her prose novel Alif the Unseen is spectacular. She’s not just one of the best writers working in comics today, she’s one of the best writers today, full stop, across multiple mediums. I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone I’d rather have writing Wonder Woman. So yeah, I’m pretty excited for this run.

I’m less familiar with Cary Nord. I know his name and I’ve undoubtedly seen his work over the years. You can’t consume as many comics as I do without seeing everybody’s work at some point or another. But I don’t remember the specifics of it, which is kind of fun. Going into a book without any artistic expectations is exciting, and rare for a comics nerd like me. And I certainly found a lot to like here.

So let’s dig into the first issue of this new era for Wonder Woman, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Trust me, it’s good, you’ll want to buy it first!

G. Willow Wilson wrote it, for goodness sake!

That should be an automatic buy!

I can’t decide if bringing in Ares at the start of a new Wonder Woman run is a cliché or tradition, though I’m leaning toward tradition right now. Perez did it, Azzarello did it, Rucka did it, Patty Jenkins did it with the movie. Ares is Diana’s arch nemesis in a lot of ways, representing the antithesis of everything she stands for, plus he ties so well into her mythological heritage. It’s just a good fit.

And here we’ve got that same fit, with a twist. Ares is back once again, surprise surprise. But with a new mission. He is no longer focused on destruction, at least not for the its own sake. Now his focus is on justice. When he comes face to face with Wonder Woman at the end of the issue, he explains that he’s returned “to battle alongside you against tyranny and injustice.” And he’s kind of doing it, too.

The issue sets up an interesting conflict. The nation of Durovnia is a democratic country, allied closely with the United States and generally respected on the world stage. However, the government is actively suppressing an indigenous ethnic minority and their independence movement. That’s the tricky thing about democracy. It represents the will of the majority of the people, but when this majority has an unfavourable view of minorities, things can get bad. No obvious parallels spring to mind immediately, but it would be like if racist white people in America elected a demagogue who spouted false claims about African Americans and Latinos to rally his base. Can you even imagine? That would be terrible.

But back to the comic book. The independence movement in Durovnia has a new leader, one committed to a more aggressive, violent course of action, and now the nation is at war. When Steve gets caught in the conflict, Wonder Woman swoops in to save him. And, in pitch perfect Wonder Woman fashion, she ends up fighting both sides. Because of course. Wonder Woman doesn’t care what you’re fighting for. If you’re putting innocent people in danger, she’s going to bust you up. That bit, and Diana’s refusal to listen to Etta telling her to stay out of it, was all especially nicely done by Wilson.

Turns out, Ares is the new leader of the independence movement, which is fascinating. We’re used to him being evil, so of course our first instinct is to assume that these revolutionaries are bad guys. But once you think about it for a second, it gets real murky real quick. The Durovnian government clearly aren’t the good guys here, what with a majority suppressing a minority. And an ethnic minority’s desire for independence is an enormously sympathetic cause. So maybe Ares is on the right side here?

Even more interesting, he’s got this new dedication to justice and appears to be standing up for a noble cause, but he’s still the dang god of war. As much as he’s all about this new ideology, he’s using his old tricks, relying on conflict and bloodshed to accomplish change. And wow, I cannot wait to read Wonder Woman navigating this entire scenario. Ares making good choices in bad ways is going to present a real conundrum for Diana, and I’m curious to see how she proceeds. And doubly so how he reacts if she decides to take him under her wing and tries to teach him alternatives to violence. There’s so much to dig into with this new twist on Ares.

Cary Nord’s pencils and Mick Gray’s inks throughout the issue were solid, if perhaps middle of the pack relative to other artists we’ve seen in the post-Rebirth era. Wonder Woman has been blessed with some amazing artistic talent over the years, and Nord’s approach here has some ups and downs. I love how dynamic his Wonder Woman is. She hits a lot of cool poses at interesting angles, and he captures both her grace and fierceness. She seems a tad scrawny and doe-eyed, though, and is drawn a bit inconsistently. It feels like Nord’s maybe not quite settled into the book yet, and fair enough. It’s his first issue. There’s certainly a lot of nice stuff here, across the board, and I’m excited to see how he grows with the character as the run progresses.

Also, our favourite friend Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still on the book! With excellent colour work, yet again. As always, Fajardo shows that he’s able to adapt his colours to the style of the artist and melds flawlessly with Nord’s linework. They’re a good pair, with Fajardo adding depth to the background work and life to the characters where called for, but also pulling back a bit when Nord chooses to be more sparse.

Ultimately, I’m so looking forward to the next issue of this run. Wilson and Nord have set up quite an interesting situation for our amazing Amazon. Also, there’s more than just Ares going on here! Steve is captured, and we’ve got mythological creatures on the loose in Durovnia. This first issue has laid out a lot of fun and compelling elements, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Wonder Woman #45 Review: “Amazons Attacked” Stumbles to a Poor Conclusion

April 25, 2018

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Let’s start with some happy news: This run is going to end. We’ve always known this in the abstract, of course. Creative teams at the Big Two never last forever. But now we’ve got a date. On July 11, 2018, Wonder Woman #50 will come out and mark the end of James Robinson’s tenure writing the book. While it’s kind of a downer that they’re letting him write such a landmark issue after months of churning out terrible work, the bigger news is that it’s finally over. Steve Orlando and Laura Braga are taking over for a brief arc starting with Wonder Woman #51, and then a new, yet unnamed creative team will come in.

I’d be excited for anyone not named James Robinson to be writing the book, but Orlando is an especially good choice. I’ve enjoyed his work for a while now, and from his few comments on what’s to come it sounds like he’s got a good handle on Wonder Woman and why she’s amazing. Braga is a great choice, too. She’s done fantastic work on DC Comics Bombshells, and I’m looking forward to her drawing Wonder Woman in a more modern setting. It should all be a lot of fun. We’ve just got to slog through five more issues to get there!

Speaking of a slog, Wonder Woman #45 came out today, bringing the “Amazons Attacked” storyline to a close. The issue was bad, the arc was dumb, and damn near everything about this book continues to suck. So let’s talk about it, I guess? But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to ruin the conclusion of this foolish arc!

Look away if you don’t want to know how Darkseid loses because… love?

It doesn’t make any sort of sense.

As I just mentioned, in this grand finale to months of painful storytelling, Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid with love. More specifically, she uses her love for her brothers, sisters, and other divine relatives killed by Darkseid in his quest to repower himself, loving them so fiercely that she somehow pulls their souls from his body. Darkseid, now weakened, burns up and disappears.

So, yeah. The thing is, Wonder Woman and love go hand in hand. Her compassion and her kindness have been hallmarks of the character from the very beginning. When William Moulton Marston created her, he made her the embodiment of the loving authority of women. If any superhero is going to use love to defeat a villain, it’s going to be Wonder Woman. The problem is, it still has to make sense. There’s need to be a degree of logic. You can’t just say that Diana’s love is “bright and true” and then ta-dah, Darkseid is done. Wonder Woman is not some sort of loving necromancer. She cannot draw out the souls of the dead through sheer affection alone.

And even if Robinson and co. wanted to make this a new superpower for her, then okay, explain it. It’s a bad, silly idea, but make it work. Set it up in some fashion. Do a little bit of foreshadowing and table setting so it doesn’t come off like a bizarre deus ex machina. Love is a wonderful, powerful thing, but to use it to such a degree, entirely out of the blue, kind of ruins the entire ending. Well, “ruin” is the wrong word. That implies that there was something good to begin with. But it’s cheap, and unearned, and generally dumb.

On top of that foolishness, this issue continues one of my main frustrations with this run: Robinson’s focus on male characters. I’ve said it a million times, but this book is called Wonder Woman. She should be the main character. And, almost as importantly, women should play an important role in the series, across the board. In this issue, we start with opening narration from Steve Trevor. Then Jason, a man, goes to Themyscira to save the Amazons from Grail’s attack. And finally Grail, once captured by the Amazons, is imprisoned with Ares so that HE can teach her the values of love and peace that he has learned. Learned from women, I might add; his wokeness comes from submission to Aphrodite and the Amazons. That’s too many dudes doing too many things. All while Wonder Woman defeats Darkseid in the dumbest of ways.

This issue is basically the culmination of so many terrible ideas. Bringing back Grail. Giving Diana a brother. Ignoring every rad female supporting character in the Wonder Woman mythos. Letting James Robinson write a comic book after, I’m guessing, he traded his skills at storytelling to some sort of evil leprechaun for magic beans? I’m not exactly sure how his writing turned so bad so quickly, but the larger point stands: The dude is doing garbage work here. And all of that combines into this boring, nonsensical conclusion that lacks any excitement, heart, or reader investment.

At least it looks pretty good. So long as you’ve got Emanuela Lupacchino drawing Wonder Woman, even if it’s just for some of the pages, it’s going to be a book worth looking at. She captures the character so well, and Ray McCarthy does a great job inking her work. Marco Santucci is solid, too. I prefer Lupacchino, but he carries off his pages nicely. And of course, series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. holds everything together with his coloring. The dude’s a magician. When books go off the rails like Wonder Woman has as of late, often times it shows up in the artwork. You see rushed drawing, and everyone down the production line starts phoning it in. While we’ve had some instances of hasty linework over the past few months, Fajardo Jr. has been making everyone look better with every single issue he colors. Give the man a dang raise, DC.

So, Darkseid is done, and now we’ve just got to get through some sort of Metal tie-in for the next five issues. Then we get a new creative team and maybe we can enjoy the book again? Gosh, I hope so. I’m real tired of hating what should be my favourite book.

Wonder Woman #43 Review: Diana Takes a Backseat, Once Again

March 28, 2018

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

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

And it is neither good nor interesting!

Why must DC make us suffer so?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder Woman #41 Review: Failing at All of the Little Things

February 28, 2018

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I’m starting to worry that I may be trapped in Tartarus, the deepest depths of Hades where the dead are punished for eternity with cruel forms of poetic justice. Like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill, like Tantalus unable to reach the fruit above him or the water below, so too am I subjected to a terrible new issue of Wonder Woman every two weeks in a run that feels like it will never end. I’m not sure what I did to end up in Tartarus. Typically, you have to offend Zeus, so perhaps my intense and vocal dislike of his part in Wonder Woman’s current origin story played a part? Whatever the case, here do I suffer, again and again.

So that’s where I am with Wonder Woman right now.

We’ve got another issue this week and, well, it sure is a comic book. There are words and drawings. Multiple pages. All of the ingredients you need for superhero fun. And yet somehow it offers no fun whatsoever. This book is a mystery, one that keeps finding new ways to be so, so bad. We’ll dig into it, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the details of this book!

Maybe that’s why I’m in Tartarus, for spoiling comics?

I always give a warning, Zeus! Every time!

Let’s start at the very beginning today with the cover. It’s not good, but it’s dramatic. We’ve got a crazed looking Wonder Woman, sword drawn in anger, standing over her fallen love. The title ominously proclaims, “For the Life of Steve Trevor!” This must be a doozy of an issue, right? No. Not even a little bit. Steve is in the issue, yes, but he’s totally fine. The only time he’s in any harm’s way is in a flashback. Nor are he and Wonder Woman exposed to any great danger in the present. The bulk of the issue consists of a conversation between the two of them as they fill each other in on what they’ve been up to. No blood, no angst, no destruction.

Also, and this is a silly nitpick, I know, but Steve’s hair doesn’t look like that in this issue. It’s longer and slicked back, not short. He doesn’t wear anything that resembles the outfit above either. All of this gets to the larger point I am trying to make here: It feels like the editorial oversight on this book is non-existent. The cover not matching the contents, both in story and appearance, is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything inside this book is a dang mess, and it’s been that way for months. The stories have been repetitive, undeveloped, and largely nonsensical. None of the characters feel right. So much of the writing is screaming for another draft following a lengthy list of editorial notes. I don’t know what the editors on Wonder Woman are doing other than sending the files off to the printer every couple of weeks. Do they not know their names go on the book too? This is a very embarrassing product to be associated with, guys.

And what’s especially morbidly fascinating about the series right now is how it’s bad in a different way with every issue. The structure of this issue actually isn’t an awful idea. Diana and Steve catching up after a rough week of fighting bad guys with flashbacks to their various encounters could be good. We’d get to see them as a couple, sharing feelings and perspectives on their unique lives. It’s a nice set up. The only problem is, the writer would need to be capable of writing dialogue that actual human people would say. The stilted, hackneyed conversation we get here is so awkward that the whole thing goes off the rails with the first page.

Moreover, the stories behind it all are both random and bad. First, the book starts with Darkseid speechifying about a plan that never gets mentioned again for the rest of the issue. Then we go to the Diana/Steve conversation, which honestly makes it look like Wonder Woman is losing control a bit. She’s taking down villains aggressively, and showing no concern for them. It’s wildly out of character. In one fight, she laments that destroying a mecha-creature crashed the brain of the woman powering it, not because she is presumably brain dead now, but because the women wouldn’t be able to explain the motive behind her attack. This is not how Wonder Woman rolls. Even at her lowest, laden with all the problems of the world, Wonder Woman still cares. It’s a defining trait of the character.

Diana then goes to confront Veronica Cale, which is another big left turn. Cale was behind the attacks, trying to earn some defense contracts, and fine. That sort of seems like her. But what does this have to do with anything? Cale hasn’t been in the book since Greg Rucka left. She’s had nothing to do with this storyline in the slightest. I suppose she reminds us that her daughter is in Themyscira with the Amazons, and it looks like Darkseid is going to attack there soon, but does that mention require an entire issue of brawls? That seems a bit much.

The book ends with everybody’s least favourite character in the world showing up. It’s Jason! And he’s got a new outfit. And presumably he and Diana are going to fight now or something. Whatever. Who cares. He’s the worst. Also, nothing in the story preceding this last page reveal had teased his return. He just shows up after this detour of an issue to get back to the Darkseid related stuff, I guess. It’s all such poor story crafting.

I should say, on a brighter note, that the art is decent. Stephen Segovia does a solid job here, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours are gorgeous as always. Both artists feel like they are actually trying to make an enjoyable comic book, and I certainly appreciate that since I’m not sensing an ounce of effort or care from the writer or the editorial staff. Ugh. I still can’t believe we have months of this left. MONTHS, gang. Or, if I’m right about being in Tartarus, all of eternity.


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