Posts Tagged ‘The Truth’

Wonder Woman #23: The Truth is Finally Revealed

May 24, 2017

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With Greg Rucka’s time writing Wonder Woman nearing its end, all of the threads are starting to come together now. This week was the finale of “The Truth,” then we’ve got an annual next week, the finale of “Godwatch” two weeks later, and then one last issue that wraps everything up in Wonder Woman #25 two weeks after that. So basically, we’re a month away from the conclusion of one of the best Wonder Woman runs ever. It’s sad, but at the same time it’s always felt like a story that has a definite end. There were questions to be answered, and now that we’re getting the answers it’s clear that things will wrap up in a satisfying way that adds fascinating new dimensions to the Wonder Woman mythos. We’ll dig into the finale of “The Truth” momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss EVERYTHING that happens in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Wonder Woman #21 left us somewhat puzzled. The issue ended with Wonder Woman and Veronica Cale finding Ares, but he didn’t at all seem like the Ares we’d encountered in “Year One.” That first Ares was all angry bluster, decked out in armor while talking in fiery proclamations and demanding respect and obedience. This new Ares just looked like a pretty chill, friendly dude, so what was up? That mystery, and several others, were solved with this issue.

We quickly learned that the first Ares was Phobos and Deimos impersonating their father, and that the second Ares was the true Ares, who’d been imprisoned beneath Themyscira all along. After he was consumed by war and driven mad, Aphrodite had locked up Ares in chains forged by Hephaestus and tasked the Amazons with watching over his prison. This was the first step in what became “The Lies,” or Diana’s false memories of her home after she left Themyscira; the location of Ares’ prison was such an important secret that the gods not only wiped away all memories of her true home but also created a false reality lest she seek to understand the hole in her memory. Ensuring that Ares was never freed again was paramount, and keeping the location of Themyscira hidden was key to that, thus the deception.

But Wonder Woman isn’t a normal mortal, so of course she eventually realized that something was up. I like that despite all of the gods working together to create this elaborate ruse, Wonder Woman still found the truth. The gods feared her strength of purpose from the beginning and did their damnedest to keep her in the dark, and even against these odds she figured it out. Or, in short, nevertheless she persisted. Sounds like Diana to me.

The revelations in this issue brought everything from the past year of Wonder Woman together tremendously well, and looking back we can see Rucka’s full plan unfolding. The truth behind the lies was a clever, intricately plotted mystery, and I can appreciate why it took so long to finally get the answers we were so hungry for when the book began. All four arcs weave together to get us to this point where finally everything makes sense. It was very well executed and smartly done, but beyond all of that it’s a conclusion that pays respect to Wonder Woman’s history and sets her on a new path that embraces key elements of her past.

With Ares’s imprisonment and Wonder Woman’s handling of Phobos and Deimos, we see the Marston era’s focus on love and submission. Ares didn’t find peace through the binding of some magical chains; he found it through Aphrodite and her ability to see through his madness and love his true self. So too did love help Wonder Woman, as her compassion and forgiveness allowed her to overpower Phobos and Deimos, the embodiments of terror and panic. They came expecting a fight, and instead found an acceptance that they’d never known, which overwhelmed them and eventually freed them. And, just like their father wearing Aphrodite’s chains, this freedom came through binding, via the lasso in this instance.

Meanwhile, the notion of Themyscira as a gateway and the Amazons as its guardians dates back to the Perez era. Liam Sharp underscored this reference when he drew the Amazons coming out of the water, just as they were created in the second Wonder Woman #1 way back in 1987. Both Nicola Scott’s and Sharp’s take on Ares were clearly inspired by Perez’s designs as well, and we can see similar touchstones with both of their takes on the Amazons.

So we can see the Marston and see the Perez, yet at the same time this take on Wonder Woman is something new as well. Rucka’s borrowed old elements and reshaped them into a new status quo for Wonder Woman, the Amazons, and the mythos as a whole. We’ve still got a few issues to go, but at present it looks like the Amazons will remain separate and hidden from the outside world to keep Ares at bay. Phobos and Deimos may be defeated, but there is no shortage of fools who wish to unleash war upon the world. If the interaction between Diana and Hippolyta at the end of the issue is the last we see of them together for some time, it’s a heartbreaking and powerful moment to close on.

And yet, there is hope. Because she was split between our world and Ares’ prison, Veronica’s daughter Izzy can’t re-enter the world. But since Themyscira is connected to Ares’ prison, she can live there among the Amazons. The daughter of Wonder Woman’s greatest enemy living with her family when she can’t is a brilliant stroke on several levels: On the one hand, she has what Wonder Woman desires most, but on the other hand she’ll be away from her mother and raised by her mother’s nemesis’ family. It’s a move that stings both Wonder Woman and Veronica, yet at the same time one they seem to know is for the best. Wonder Woman knows that Themyscira must stay hidden, and it seems that Veronica knows that perhaps she’s not the best influence. Furthermore, having a human girl among the Amazons maintains a link to the outside world, one that could conceivably lead to a larger reconnection some day.

Overall, Rucka and Sharp have wrapped up “The Truth” very well and explained the major mysteries behind their run on Wonder Woman in an excellent fashion. There’s still a lot of story left to tell here, but the core question of the run has been solved in a clever, satisfying manner. I’m curious to see how everything shakes out over the next few issues before this run concludes. If this issue is any indication, Rucka and his fine artists will stick the landing nicely.

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Women at Marvel Comics Watch – July 2017 Solicits, 24 Women on 22 Books

May 19, 2017

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Marvel has more female creators in their solicits for the second straight month, but by the smallest amount possible. They gained one with the last round, and are up one more with the July solicits, in what can only be called progress-ish. Especially since the numbers remain far, far below their recent highs; since posting 37 different female creators in their March solicits, Marvel has yet to break out of the low 20s. It’s not been a great run. So let’s see who’s doing what at Marvel in July:

  • Amy Chu: Secret Empire: Brave New World #4 (co-writer)
  • Becky Cloonan: The Punisher #14 (writer)
  • Christina Strain: Generation X #4 (writer)
  • Elizabeth Torque: Captain America: Sam Wilson #24 (cover), The Mighty Captain Marvel #7 (cover)
  • Elsa Charretier: The Unstoppable Wasp #7 (cover)
  • Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #22 (interior art, cover)
  • G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #20 (writer)
  • Gabby Rivera: America #5 (co-writer)
  • Gurihiru: Gwenpool, the Unbelievable #18 (interior art, cover)
  • Irene Strychalski: Edge of Venomverse #2 (interior art)
  • Jen Bartel: America #5 (cover)
  • Jody Houser: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #4 (writer)
  • June Brigman: Jean Grey #4 (variant cover)
  • Kamome Kamiyama: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 (cover), Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10 (cover)
  • Kelly Thompson: America #5 (co-writer), Hawkeye #8 (writer)
  • Magdalene Visaggio: Secret Empire: Brave New World #3 (co-writer)
  • Margaret Stohl: The Mighty Captain Marvel #7 (writer)
  • Mariko Tamaki: Hulk #8 (writer)
  • Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #21 (interior art, cover)
  • Paulina Ganucheau: Star Wars: Poe Dameron #17 (variant cover)
  • Sara Pichelli: Spider-Men II #1 (cover, interior art)
  • Veronica Fish: The Unstoppable Wasp #7 (interior art)
  • Yusaku Komiyama: Zombies Assemble #4 (writer, interior art)

All together, there are 24 different female creators scheduled to work on 22 different books in July, 1 more woman than in June but 4 fewer books. The decline in books in unfortunate; there aren’t a ton of women working at Marvel to begin with, and putting them on fewer titles is a double whammy against representation at the publisher. And the creator numbers are just flummoxing. Marvel was solidly in the 30s for some time just a few months back, and now they’re employing women at about 2/3 the rate they’ve shown they are capable of. It’s bizarre.

In terms of new names at Marvel, I think that Magdalene Visaggio is the only brand new entry set for July. She’ll be writing a story in Secret Empire: Brave New World #4, which could bode well for future work. Marvel often likes to start new folks on a shorter story as a test run to see if they might be a good fit for bigger gigs. We’ve also got the return of a few people who we haven’t seen a while, including Amy Chu, Irene Strychalski, and Veronica Fish.

There aren’t many new series set for July, but one new team book looks to have a decent female presence. The new Astonishing X-Men is set to star Mystique, Psylocke, and Rogue, alongside a bunch of dudes I’ve already forgotten. Everything else new is male-centric, including a double dose of Spider-Mans with Spider-Men II and yet another Deadpool mini-series.

All together, July looks to be yet another month of underperformance from Marvel. The publisher hasn’t had more than 24 different female creators in the mix since their record-setting March numbers, and few new permanent gigs for women have been added since then. Marvel’s capable of much higher numbers than they’ve been posting as of late, and it might be a little while until things change. Perhaps post-Secret Empire we’ll get a new run of books with some new names in the mix, but for now things are flat.

Wonder Woman #21 Review: The Compassionate Core of Wonder Woman

April 28, 2017

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Yet again, I’m starting with an apology for a delayed review, with travel the culprit once more. But I’m back home now and should be settled here for the foreseeable future, so my reviews of Wonder Woman should be on the day of each issue’s release moving forward. This week’s issue was yet another outing that was worth the wait, as we see a lot of the key pieces that have been set up throughout “The Truth” thus far come together. With Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Barbara Ann Minerva/the Cheetah, and Veronica Cale all in the same spot for the first time, you knew something was going to happen. And a few somethings happened, all of them very interesting, but there was one moment that I loved best of all. We’ll dig into everything, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to dive into all of the twists and turns of this issue!

Look away if you have yet to read it!

So last issue’s cliffhanger, with Maru sniping Wonder Woman from afar, didn’t amount to much. What seemed to be a grievous issue last month was easily shaken off, a bit of audience manipulation that might have annoyed me if I didn’t appreciate the style with which it was executed so much. Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp ended Wonder Woman #19 in dramatic fashion and left us on the edge of ours seats, then began Wonder Woman #21 with a great action scene that had our heroine fighting through the pain, furiously deflecting bullets, and then nabbing Maru in impressive fashion. I particularly enjoyed the use of the sniper lens as a panel, and how it went from Maru seeing Wonder Woman from afar to Wonder Woman being right on top of her just a second later. It was a well executed sequence all around.

This led us to the Black Sea and the fake Paradise Island. Veronica and Barbara showed up with the still faceless Izzy and Veronica’s dogs, the imprisoned Phobos and Deimos, followed quickly by Wonder Woman and Steve. The small fight we got there was less innovative and visually inventive than what opened the book, but the emotions of the scene were the key focus here and that was very nicely done. Wonder Woman still believed in her friend and the humanity at the core of the Cheetah, even if Barbara felt that she’d lost herself fully in her feline form. And, of course, the true Barbara is still buried in there; the way she lashed out when Wonder Woman mentioned Etta made it clear that she still remembers and yearns for her other life.

Also, I’ve mentioned this before, but Liam Sharp’s redesign of the Cheetah is fantastic. For decades, the Cheetah has been very sexualized, drawn as a sexy cat lady rather than a dangerous creature. Sharp embraces the danger wholeheartedly. His Cheetah is fierce and frightening and more animal than human, and he does a good job marrying the feline traits to a female form that finds a balance between the two in ways we’ve never seen before. I really hope that this new look sticks around, because it’s so much cooler than past incarnations of the character.

The fight between Wonder Woman and the Cheetah served as a means to open the gate to, well, somewhere. The mysterious tree we’ve been seeing since this run began returned yet again, and Wonder Woman’s blood opened a portal through it. This was well depicted, especially the first reveal inside of it. Sharp’s swirly clouds and floating islands was all kinds of cool, but Laura Martin’s colours took the panel to the next level with her pinks and lavenders swirling about. It looked totally otherworldly. The way it was drawn on subsequent pages was somewhat less compelling; in general, I felt like Sharp was rushing things at times with this issue. But that opening shot to set the scene was gorgeous.

After Izzy ran into the portal, Wonder Woman and Veronica followed, and this led me to my favourite scene of the issue, and one of the best moments in Wonder Woman since “Rebirth” began. When Veronica explained that she was trying to find her daughter, Wonder Woman reached out her hand and replied, “We will seek her together.” This instantaneous compassion really captured the heart of Wonder Woman and who she is. Veronica Cale’s been working to destroy her for years. She turned her sweet friend Barbara into the vicious Cheetah, twice. She’s attempted to hurt or kill everyone Wonder Woman holds dear. And yet, the second Veronica needs help, Wonder Woman offered it. This doesn’t mean she’s forgiven, of course. But it shows that Wonder Woman saw the humanity in her, saw the woman who’s lost her daughter, not just in this bizarre realm but in a much deeper way, and decided that it was more important to help an enemy save an innocent girl than to exact any kind of revenge or even justice first. To me, the core of Wonder Woman has always been if someone needs help, she helps them, and then deals with whatever else may be going on after. Compassion comes first, and this issue illustrated that beautifully.

The issue ended with the big reveal that they’d stumbled upon Ares’ prison, as well as what appears to be a fully restored Izzy. I’m curious to see if this is a permanent restoration or a momentary reunification in this mysterious realm; we know from two weeks back that Ares had Izzy’s spirit/soul/what have you with him, so perhaps she really is whole again. Whatever the case, Ares is back in the mix again. Or, perhaps for the first time? We saw Ares back in “Year One,” but Wonder Woman doesn’t recognize him nor does he bear much resemblance to the cruel, bloviating deity we saw then. He doesn’t have fancy word balloons here, either. Could that first Ares have been a false Ares? Or maybe this Ares is false? Or maybe Wonder Woman just doesn’t recognize him without the armour and I’m reading way too much into this. I’m excited to see how this all shakes out, and given the interconnectedness we’re starting to see between “The Truth” and “Godwatch,” I’m hoping that we’ll at least get some hints in a couple of weeks with Wonder Woman #22. Everything is coming together, and it’s all very intriguing!

Wonder Woman #19 Review: Back in Action

March 22, 2017

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It’s going to be an abbreviated review this week because your faithful reviewer is in the middle of an absolutely bananas week; so it goes, sometimes. We’ll still get to all the fun of the issue, just more succinctly. First, some good news: The reveal at the end of Wonder Woman #17 was everything we thought it was and Wonder Woman is totally back. The return of Ferdinand sparked her memory and she left the asylum to take on Godwatch. However, things went steadily downhill for her from there. We’ll get into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Details of this issue will soon be revealed!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So Wonder Woman’s joyful return quickly took a dark turn when she learned that Barbara Ann had given herself up to Veronica Cale and became the Cheetah again. She also learned that nearly everyone from the Picket was killed. Oh, and that several of her top villains are working together against her. It was a bevy of bad news. Plus Dr. Cyber called her a “self-righteous, arrogant, simplistic little airhead,” which was rude. Then the issue ended with Wonder Woman getting shot through the chest, so yeah. It was a rough twenty pages for our favourite heroine.

It wasn’t the most action packed issue, with a lot of it dedicated to Dr. Cyber’s bloviating, but there were some key developments. There was Wonder Woman’s return, of course, but Etta found Sasha Bordeaux as well, which could mean that another member of the team will be back in action soon. That’s good news, because they need all the help they can get.

There’s also some exciting developments on Themyscira. Initially, the Amazons are unsure if Diana is still alive or not, but the appearance of the Greek gods in their animal form, just as we saw them back in “Year One,” sparked hoped in everyone. My guess is that rather than Wonder Woman returning to her true home for the first time, Hippolyta and a delegation of Amazons may go find her first. Again, she needs all the help she can get, especially after how this issue ended.

The art for this issue was a bit hit and miss for me. Liam Sharp had some great moments; there’s a panel with Diana wearing a red cloak that is just gloriously detailed, for example. But Sharp did this sort of morphing thing with Dr. Cyber where her appearance was constantly shifting and it was a bit odd. Some of them looked cool, but some of them looked a bit messy and overdone. There was also one incarnation of her that was a full body shot where she had metallic balloon breasts for some reason; it reminded me of Cyber-Cat from Jim Balent’s Catwoman run, which is never the best thing to hark back to. Still, when Dr. Cyber looked cool, she looked really cool, and Laura Martin’s colours added a great mood and style to the pages, and to the book as a whole.

Overall, this was a decent issue, if not the best one the team’s done lately. It was more a table setter, bringing Diana back into the mix, moving some pieces around, and closing with a dramatic cliffhanger. You need to have issues like this from time to time, and it was still an enjoyable read. The Amazon bits in particular continue to be great, and Etta’s love for Barbara and her fury over losing her again was really powerful stuff. Things look like they’re going to get intense in the next few issues, and I’m looking forward to it.

Wonder Woman #17 Review: Free Your Minotaur

February 22, 2017

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Things remain bleak for Wonder Woman and the gang. Etta and Steve are on the lam, Barbara is in the clutches of Godwatch and Veronica Cale, and Diana doesn’t know who she is and remains in an asylum. While there is progress on one of those fronts in this second part of “The Truth,” there is a heartbreaking setback in another. All told, it is an issue about balance, about trading life for life and friend for friend, and in the end the gains and losses even out to leave the team no further ahead, except for one key element: Wonder Woman. It was a good issue and we’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I mean, if you’re reading this review then you’ve probably read the issue!

But if you haven’t look away!

I’m going to spoil it all!

So, balance. There was a lot going on in this issue, and it all felt like a scale tipping back and forth with each major action that ultimately ended up just as balanced at the end as it was at the beginning. Everything had its opposite, and Barbara Ann Minerva’s sacrifice was the lynchpin to it all.

Barbara’s been one of the most compelling character’s of this current run of Wonder Woman, and a key player in all four arcs thus far. Her transition from the villainous Cheetah to regaining her role as a trusted ally has been a great story, and her relationship with Etta only made the story better. She even got her own solo issue during “Year One” that dug into her backstory. I’m now very invested in Barbara, which is probably what Rucka wanted; he’s gotten us all attached to her so that this issue would hurt all the more. Veronica Cale forced her to become the Cheetah again in order to save her friends, a sad but noble moment that juxtaposed poignantly with the rest of the issue.

First, we got the return of an old friend, Ferdinand the minotaur from Rucka’s original run on Wonder Woman. Steve and Etta sought him out to help Diana, hoping that her seeing a long lost, friendly face might spur her memory and remind her of who she is. Plus it’s always good to have a minotaur on the team; I think he’ll prove useful in the months ahead. But this joyful return had to have its opposite: The loss of an old friend as Barbara returned to her Cheetah guise and gave up her newfound humanity.

Next up, Etta, Ferdinand, and Steve survived a serious attack from Colonel Maru’s troops. They got blasted with a minigun and explosions; Poison wasn’t screwing around. They made it out alive but, again, there had to be balance. Their lives were spared because Barbara gave up hers to become the Cheetah again. She’s not dead per se, but being the Cheetah means that her true self is buried as her animalistic urges take over.

Finally, it looks like bringing in Ferdinand did the trick. On the issue’s final page, Diana appears to recognize Ferdinand, which would be an excellent sign that she remembers she’s Wonder Woman and is set to return to her heroic role. However, opposites. The return of a hero in Wonder Woman had to be balanced with the return of a villain in the Cheetah. The parallels run deeper as well; both women were trapped in a prison of their own making because they chose to return to their pasts. Diana was mentally shattered because of her journey to Themyscira while Barbara was ensnared because she went back to Godwatch. Moreover, an old ally led to their transformations, with Ferdinand bringing back Wonder Woman and Veronica Cale bringing back the Cheetah. And, of course, all of this action was shown in back and forth panels over the last few pages to underscore the dichotomy of the situation.

All of these gains being countered with losses should leave the team in about the same bleak spot where they began the issue, but there’s one key factor here. Yes, while the return of Wonder Woman is tempered by the return of the Cheetah, if Wonder Woman is back for real then it’s a whole new ballgame. The Cheetah’s a decent villain, but Wonder Woman is an amazing superhero. The scales don’t quite balance; with Wonder Woman fully back, she and her allies clearly have the upper hand now and can begin to move against Godwatch instead of playing defense.

This was a solid issue all around, and “The Truth” continues to weave a compelling tale in ways “The Lies” never seemed able to. I also like that we keep checking in on Themyscira; the Amazons are clearly going to play a part at some point in this story, and I’m excited to see what it is. I’m hoping for a reunion more joyous and less damaging than Diana’s last attempt to return to her family.

Liam Sharp continues to employ different styles for each part of the story, and it’s working well. His Nicola Scott impression on Themyscira is fun, the grit he brings to Etta and Steve’s adventures is fitting, and the combination of clarity and confusion in Diana’s scenes is well done, though I will say that I find the cartoon snake a little goofy. I much preferred that one panel with the skeleton snake; that was way cooler. Laura Martin’s colors remain great, as always, and match each style well. And Jodi Wynne continues to excel with the lettering. This issue in particular had a lot going on in terms of distinctive word balloons and speech; the Amazon language, Ferdinand, the snake, and Dr. Cyber are all unique, and Wynne integrated them seamlessly into the book. She’s done stellar work on Wonder Woman all through this run.

So, Wonder Woman seems to be back? Final page reveals can be tricky, but this one seemed pretty clear. Woe to Godwatch if she’s returned to her full power. And fingers crossed that she can save Barbara and bring her back! If anyone can do it, it’s Wonder Woman.


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