Posts Tagged ‘Tom Derenick’

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

June 13, 2019

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

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

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

It wasn’t a whole lot, really!

But still, be wary nonetheless!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder Woman #71 Review: A Colossal Discovery

May 22, 2019

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

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

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Turn away if you haven’t read it yet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wonder Woman’s September 2016 Covers and Solicits

June 21, 2016

DC Comics’ solicits for September were released yesterday, and it looks like Wonder Woman’s got some fun adventures ahead of her, as well as a new series in which she co-stars. How lovely it is to be looking forward to all of the Wonder Woman comics coming out in a given month; it’s been so long since that’s been the case. So let’s see what Wonder Woman will be up to in September, starting with her eponymous series:

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WONDER WOMAN #6
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Variant cover by FRANK CHO
“WONDER WOMAN YEAR ONE” part 3! Diana brings Steve back home, but the reception is not what either of them expected. Amid suspicion and a looming threat, the Patrons pay a visit, and new friendships are forged.
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #7
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by LIAM SHARP
Variant cover by TBD
“THE LIES” part 4! One god down—how many more to go? Diana takes another step closer to the truth, and Steve Trevor confronts his past!
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

The cover this month (we’re still only getting one of the two for some reason) is by Nicola Scott, and it’s fun to see Wonder Woman with her animal pals. Perhaps they’re planning an adorable prison escape? I’d be down for that. It sounds like the Amazons don’t love that Wonder Woman has brought Steve to their home, seeing as she’s in jail and all. But the world’s cutest jail break is on the way.

In the present, well, the solicit is very vague. It sounds like a bad time for the gods, since one of them is down and all, but we don’t know in what capacity they are down. Or if they’re even the real gods, I suppose. Everything is in question! Nothing is true! The gods sit on a throne of lies! It’s all very mysterious, but it should be a lot of fun.

Wonder Woman is co-starring in a new book, too:

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TRINITY #1
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Variant cover by TBD
“BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World’s Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

Team up! It’s just like Batman v Superman, but hopefully not so terrible. With Francis Manapul at the helm, it could be pretty cool. It’ll be gorgeous for sure, at least. His art is always spectacular. Plus we’ve got the good Superman back now since the New 52 Superman is dead; I’m optimistic, and I’m going to have to check this one out. We’ve got another pretty vague solicit here, but “superheroes teaming up for an adventure” is something I can always get behind if it looks bright and fun.

Finally, we’ve got another Wonder Woman ’77 special, though no cover yet:

WONDER WOMAN ’77 SPECIAL #4
Written by MARC ANDREYKO, AMY CHU, TRINA ROBBINS and AMANDA DEIBERT
Art by TOM DERENICK, DARIO BRIZUELA, TESS FOWLER and CHRISTIAN DUCE
Cover by CAT STAGGS
After narrowly escaping Wonder Woman (and the law) once before, Gault (actually his disembodied brain!) plots revenge…and seeks a new body to house his evil! Plus, “Worlds Collide” when a tape full of government secrets gets swapped for some excellent Super Funk! We peek at “The Man Behind the Curtain” when a dictator tries to fulfill his daughter’s final wish. And in “Seeing Stars,” Wonder Woman proves herself not a just the protector of Earth…but of the universe.
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST

Just look at this line up of creators! There are so many amazing people in the mix here, both writers and artists. It should be a fantastic issue. Plus with that last story, “Seeing Stars”, is Wonder Woman going to space? That would be rad. Lynda Carter in space sounds like an exciting time, and exactly what the series is for, i.e. cool things the show could never have afforded to do. Looking forward to this one.

Be sure to pick up all of these books in September! It looks like it’s going to be a great month for Wonder Woman.


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