Posts Tagged ‘Themyscira’

Wonder Woman #75 Review: The Battle for Themyscira

July 24, 2019

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I don’t usually start my reviews with a spoiler, but if you read last week’s issue then you knew this was coming: Diana, princess of the Amazons, has returned to Themyscira. Which at first glance doesn’t seem like a huge deal until you remember that, apart from “Year One,” she hasn’t been to her real home since the New 52 reboot nearly eight years ago. The Paradise Island of the Azzarello/Chiang run and the Finches’ tenure was an elaborate ruse, and she’s been kept apart from the true Themyscira ever since she discovered the truth in Rucka, Scott, and Sharp’s run. I’ve not figured out the numbers in any official capacity, but as a Wonder Woman historian I think I can confidently say that this is the longest she’s been separated from the Amazons, and probably by a wide margin. The mod era, with the Amazons departing to a different dimension, was only four years! And they’ve otherwise been a constant presence in Diana’s history.

So this was long overdue. The Amazons are a big part of what makes Wonder Woman such an amazing character, a powerful matriarchy that exudes female strength, power, and sisterhood. She’s amazing on her own, of course, but everything she is comes from this background and they’ve always been an essential part of her world. The community makes her stronger. To keep the true Amazons sidelined for so long was a mistake, one that’s finally been righted. We’ll dig into it all in detail, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Yes, the Amazons are back but you knew that was coming!

Other things happened as well, and I’m about to spoil them!

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

So, quick recap, amid all the chaos in the divine realms, Grail escaped, took over Themyscira, and captured Hippolyta. She also turned some of the Amazons to her side, but Antiope escaped with a small band to Dimension Chi, where Wonder Woman met up with them last issue. In this outing, Wonder Woman leads her forces against Grail and ultimately defeats her. It’s a big, long issue, with extra pages on account of it’s Wonder Woman #75, but that’s the core of it.

The battle was pretty darn good, too. G. Willow Wilson and her artists Xermanico, Vicente Fuentes, and Jesus Merino have pulled off an impressive feat here. This wasn’t a quick skirmish. This was a lengthy combat sequence, with a whole host of characters. There were entire armies on both sides, of course, but we were also following multiple characters through the fight. The end result was clear, legible, and exciting, which is not something I can say about a lot of huge comic book battles. Usually it’s just chaos, and this was not. It was well-executed, and fittingly epic for an anniversary issue. If you’re gonna charge an extra buck for the book you better make it worth it, and they definitely did.

The reunion was lovely as well. Seeing Diana and Hippolyta together at the end of the issue was all kinds of heartwarming. I love their relationship and hate that it’s been sidelined for so long, so having them back together was a long awaited moment of joy for me. Plus it got me excited for what’s to come. We only see them together briefly, but I know there are conversations to be had and perhaps many adventures ahead. Hopefully this marks the beginning of a new era for them, and the Amazons will be brought into the DC universe again. It’s been poorer for their absence.

However, as much as this issue was generally well-executed and had some great moments, it was lacking in surprises and twists for me. Everything that I thought was going to happen ended up happening, making the whole experience feel a little flat. I don’t think I’m not some sort of Nostradamus either. At the end of the last issue, it was clear that Wonder Woman and Antiope were going to go back to Themyscira and fight Grail, and I was pretty sure they were going to win. There were some other obvious bets too, like that Hippolyta would be threatened and Isadore Cale would come into play. I suppose I was a little surprised that Nubia sided with Grail initially, but I was suspicious of that throughout the issue and then not terribly shocked when she eventually turned on Grail. The issue is technically a game changer in that the Amazons are back, and that’s great! But it changed the game in exactly the ways I expected it to, without any big shocks or unexpected turns along the way.

It was very well drawn, though. Three artists can be a bad sign sometimes, and a few of the transitions from one to the other were a bit bumpy. They really scattered all three throughout the issue seemingly at random. But it hung together pretty well, and was strong throughout. I’ve been raving about Xermanico for months now, so I’ll not spend too much time on him other than to say that he’s a spectacular fit on the book and should draw every issue. Cifuentes was solid as well, matching the style of the book and fitting seamlessly into this world with some lovely pages. And finally, Jesus Merino. I’ve been very critical of his work lately. Underwhelmed, to say the least. But he was decent here! This is definitely the best art I’ve seen from him in some time, and he handled the bulk of the battle to good effect. Fingers crossed that this bodes well for future outings, because he’s scheduled on a lot of issues coming up. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr. for his always amazing coloring! Tying three different artists together so the book feels cohesive is tricky work, and he did a fantastic job, as always. The dude’s a legend, and has been with the book for most, if not all, of the last 75 issues. It’s dang impressive.

So the Amazons are back! In expected ways, but that’s okay. I’m glad to have them back in the fold regardless. And now we’ve got that to explore, plus “Year of the Villain” shenanigans on the horizon. The Cheetah’s got a nasty sword, and that will of course mean trouble for Wonder Woman and her pals. But with her mother and her sisters at her side again, I’m more than confident that Diana can handle whatever comes her way.

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The Legend of Wonder Woman #4 Review OR You’ve Got to Love a Book with a Mare of Diomedes In It

December 3, 2015

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The Legend of Wonder Woman continues its stellar run today with its fourth issue, available now digitally though print readers won’t see it until February. I’ve really been enjoying what Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon are doing with this book. The digital issues aren’t very long, but after only four installments they’ve built a vibrant, layered world around their young Diana, and I especially love what they’ve done with the Amazons thus far.

Diana’s relationships with her fellow Amazons are complicated. Past weeks have shown that she doesn’t fit in with girls her age, partly because she’s the princess but partly because her mind is elsewhere. She loves her mother, but also has to hide things from her, while her mother loves her in return but to an overprotective degree that Diana chafes under. This week, we get to learn more about Diana’s relationship with Alcippe, the Amazons’ chief warrior.

Alcippe agreed to train Diana last week, but their relationship is a frosty one. Diana’s not much for beating around the bush, though, and calls out Alcippe on her bad attitude. It turns out, Alcippe’s coolness is rooted in her love for her queen; she’s worried that Hippolyta having a mortal daughter could harm the kingdom if, when Diana inevitably dies, Hippolyta no longer wants to live either. It’s a valid concern, and a heavy one to put on a child, but Diana understands it. She’s also got the perspective to know that there are more immediate concerns, with a dark force infecting Themyscira.

What I like most about the Amazons so far is that they are motivated by love, at all times. Diana loves her mother, her Amazon sisters, and her home, and strives to protect them all. Hippolyta loves Diana, even if she doesn’t show it well. And Alcippe loves her queen, but that love had turned into anger at Diana. So what does she do? Alcippe realizes the error of her ways and finds something to love in Diana’s warrior spirit, putting her issues behind her and continuing to train Diana. That’s how Amazons should be. It’s hard to capture the loving nature of the Amazons without losing conflict or complexity, but De Liz has found a great balance here. There are a variety of different, complex relationships, and all of them are rooted in the Amazons caring for each other.

Plus, on top of all of this fine character work, there was a Mare of Diomedes, the man-eating horses of Greek mythology, in this issue! What more could you ask out of a comic book? There’s also a great scene where Alcippe explains to Diana that the Mare isn’t all bad, once you understand her, and that trying to understand your opponent instead of lashing out at them is always the best path.

It looks like there’s going to be a time jump with the next issue, because this issue ends with a montage and Diana looking several years older. I will admit that I’m a little disappointed, just because the adventures in the montage looked really fun and I would have loved to see more of them. Young Diana exploring a cave of treasures or climbing a mountain to find golden eggs are stories I would definitely want to read. Plus I love little Diana; she’s super adorable. But I’m also excited about what’s next! We seem to be building up to the reveal of the dark force that’s infecting Themyscira and, with the passage of time, Diana is now trained enough to face it.

So what will the dark force be? Based on the trailer from a few weeks back, my best guess is that is has something to do with World War Two. Perhaps Ares is stoking the fires of war, and all of the hate and anger therein are bleeding into the usually tranquil Themyscira. But it could also just be something Themyscira-based, some sort of ominous force loosed from the bits of Hades that the Amazons have to vanquish. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1 Premiered Digitally Today, And It’s Great!

November 12, 2015

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Well that was not a long wait at all. Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman ended its digital run just a couple of weeks ago, and already the new Wonder Woman digital-first series has begun! The Legend of Wonder Woman #1 went up on Comixology today, a couple of months before it’s due to appear in print form. Written by Renae De Liz, with art by De Liz and Ray Dillon, the series explores the early days of Diana’s life on Themyscira. Also, it looks like it’s going to be really, really good.

One of my favourite things is to see how someone reinterprets the legend of the Amazons and how they came to be. William Moulton Marston created something weird and involved yet fun and powerful nearly 75 years ago, and attempts to retell this story in new ways have been interesting. George Perez did a nice job, going bigger and more dramatic with it with reincarnated souls and whatnot. More recently, Brian Azzarello turned the Amazons into horrible people, murdering rapists seemingly without any redeeming qualities. That one I did not care for so much.

De Liz has gone a more upbeat route. Her Amazons were such great rulers that Zeus granted Hippolyta and her sisters immortality so that they could rule forever, but Hippolyta inadvertently led the Amazons to war when she fell for Theseus. Nonetheless, her sisters welcomed her back and when the gods left the world to live in peace elsewhere, they brought along the Amazons to remember their ways and worship them on Themyscira. Immortal beings can’t have children, but something “ancient and forgotten” granted Hippolyta a baby made from clay, Diana.

I love the mix of the old and the new here. De Liz sticks to the classic Amazon/Diana origin but adds new wrinkles and details that make it unique. I also enjoy the deep mythological cuts; it’s fun to have Hippolyta’s sisters in the mix, and Theseus’ part in Hercules’ attack on the Amazons is something that I’ve always thought would be an interesting avenue to explore. It’s a bummer that Penthesilea got killed in the war again Hercules, because she’s one of my favourite mythological Amazons, but having her other sisters still in play is very cool.

The main story gets going with a turn to the present day, where young Diana seems to be somewhat of an outsider among the other Amazon children. In this world, the gods grant children to the mortal Amazons, so that their society can continue on. But Diana seems different, more grim and serious than her peers. She’s adorable, though. De Liz does a great job with all the kids, but her big eyed young Diana is particularly cute:

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Diana thinks something ominous is on the way, so I’m guessing that will begin to play out next week as we dive more into her world now that all of the backstory is established.

I really enjoyed this issue, and I’m excited to explore more of this world. De Liz does a fine job with the writing, going with a degree of archaic formality in her writing style to capture a mythological vibe without going too far with it. It’s a tough line to walk, and she does it well. I like that the gods and the Amazons have a good, almost symbiotic relationship. The current DC universe has the gods and the Amazons perpetually at odds, which is tiresome. I also enjoyed what little we’ve seen on Amazon society, with each Amazon specializing in service to a specific deity. That’s a smart way to organize such a world.

If I had any complaints, it would be that Hippolyta’s desire for a baby was a touch over the top. I know that having kids is cool and all, but a woman desperately wanting a baby is a bit of a cliché, and calling her thousands of years of ruling a bad ass Amazon society a “hollow existence” because she was childless is kind of harsh. That all could have been played down a little bit. But that’s just me being nitpicky; the book is great.

And the art is fantastic. I love De Liz’s choice of style here. It’s a little bit cartoony in a Disney sort of way, with everything slightly exaggerated, and it works really well. The kids are cute, the adults are clearly different characters with different features instead of just cardboard cutouts, and the armor and clothing fits the setting without being too much. I think younger readers will be all over this book, which is not something that can be said of pretty much every other Wonder Woman comic book that’s come out over the past several years.

So yeah, go check this out! You can get the book digitally now, or wait for the first three digital issues to be collected in print form this January. If you’re a Wonder Woman fan at all, I highly recommend picking it up. It’s a new take on the character that’s simultaneously fresh and classic, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where De Liz takes the book.

Smallville Season 11 #16 Review OR A Fantastic New Take On Wonder Woman

August 16, 2013

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I am definitely out of the Smallville loop.  I watched the last season of the TV show after losing interest in it a few seasons before, just waiting to see him finally put on the suit, but I haven’t been following the comics at all.  From the solicits, it’s looked like a lot was going on, with Batman showing up and the return of the Legion of Super-Heroes and whatnot.  The book seems quite eventful.  Luckily, you don’t need to know much about Smallville to enjoy this issue, and you can pick up what’s going on if you read closely.  This is a good thing, because you should DEFINITELY check out this comic.  It’s absolutely fantastic.

I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t read it yet, so I’ll save spoilery thoughts until the end, where they’ll be well-marked.  Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez’s approach to Wonder Woman is exactly what I want in a re-imagined character: It does new things while maintaining a clear influence from what’s come before.  It’s a new take on Diana, made to fit within the Smallville universe, but it retains key elements of the Wonder Woman mythos as well as several nods to past incarnations.

The biggest change (in the first issue, at least; more will probably come) is Diana’s connection to Steve Trevor.  The way Miller and Jimenez have changed up their first meeting is very clever and enjoyable, and the flashbacks are some of the most fun Wonder Woman scenes I’ve read in years.  Themyscira and the Amazons are still at the core of Wonder Woman’s origin, but we get a different Diana than we’re used to seeing.  You know when you enjoy something so much that you won’t tell your friends ANYTHING about it other than that they have to check out?  Trust me, gang, you HAVE to check this out.

In man’s world, Diana has yet to take the mantle of Wonder Woman and is in street clothes instead of a costume, though as we just saw with the November solicits, the costume is coming.  Her all-white outfit here is a clear nod to the mod era, though it’s been updated to more modern clothing:

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Diana is everything you’d expect; she saves the good guys, fights the bad guys, and calls the ladies “sister.”  She’s new to Washington, D.C., and isn’t overly impressed with it, but she and Lois seem to get along pretty well.

The villain is Felix Faust, and I’m glad to see they’ve changed his outfit to something less ridiculous.  He leads a cult with an unspecified nefarious plan, though it seems to involve Diana, the DEO, and a promise made to Faust by a dark master.  He’s got ties to some seriously unpleasant folks, like a horde of nasty valkyries.

The writing is great, and made me realize how much I’ve missed Bryan Q. Miller.  His Batgirl series was such a good time, and the New 52 is sorely lacking the vibe that Miller brings to a book.  The story moves along at a good clip while still having lots of nice, smaller moments.  Clark grabbing a girl’s teddy bear for her was a particularly pleasant little beat.  All together, the issue is just a blast to read.

Plus, the art is fantastic.  I don’t think I’ve seen much of Jorge Jimenez’s art before, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for it now.  The life and fun he brings to the Themyscira scenes is some of the most enjoyable art I’ve seen in ages (seriously, gang, you should buy the book just to check out those scenes), and his work with the other characters is reminiscent of the actors we’re used to while he brings his own style to the table as well.

Overall, I LOVED this comic.  It’s so much fun, and I can’t wait to read the next issue.  I might have to just get the digital editions weekly to spare myself the month-long torture until the next book is out.  It’s a great take on Diana, and a really solid read all around.  This is what a Wonder Woman/Superman team-up book should be like.

SPOILER SECTION!!

Seriously, don’t read this if you haven’t read the comic yet!

I’ll be mad at you if you do!

Do yourself a personal favour and just go enjoy the book first!

Young Diana and Steve!  It’s such a great idea, and so completely adorable.  The execution on both the writing and art are perfect, and I love this idea like crazy.  I want a book that’s all young Diana running around Themyscira, breaking the rules while smug, bratty Artemis tries to spoil her fun.  She kept Steve as a pet!  And made a football!  Good lord, I love it so much.

I’m curious to see how connected Diana is to Steve and the DEO.  She seemed surprised to see him at the end of the issue, so my guess is that they’re not working together, but that Faust is going after the DEO and Diana suggests that there must be some sort of connection.

I’m also wondering about Diana’s blood, and the “godhood” Faust could feel surging through it.  Might Diana be the daughter of Zeus, like in New 52 continuity?  Or is something else going on?  In most Wonder Woman origins, Diana is a baby made of clay brought to life by the gods, but I don’t know if that would add godhood to her blood.  My suspicion is that there’s a more direct connection.

Anyway, what a great issue!  I’m excited to see what happens next.


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