Posts Tagged ‘Veronica Cale’

Wonder Woman #16 Review: A Calamitous Chimera Conflict

February 8, 2017

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The new “Godwatch” arc began in Wonder Woman #16 today, with Greg Rucka returning to write the book along with new artist Bilquis Evely (and some ink assists from Mark Morales, Andrew Hennessy, and Raul Fernandez). You’ll probably remember Evely from Wonder Woman #8, a special oneshot starring Barbara Ann Minerva that tied into “Year One.” It was a gorgeous book, and the news that she’d be taking over for Nicola Scott on the series’ even numbered issues has certainly lessened the blow of Scott’s departure somewhat. “Year One” will go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time, giving “Godwatch” a lot of live up to, but this debut issues suggests that we’ve got another enjoyable arc ahead of us. We’ll dive into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS from this issue!

Make sure you’ve read it first!

The main thing I was wondering about with “Godwatch” was when exactly it would take place. “The Lies” and “The Truth” are set in the present, while “Year One” was five years ago. With this first issue of “Godwatch,” it turns out the story starts six months after Wonder Woman left Themyscira, so shortly after “Year One” and well before “The Lies.” After this issue, I’m curious to see if we stay this deep in the past and slowly see how the Godwatch organization is formed, or if we jump ahead a bit. This first issue has certainly laid the groundwork for why Godwatch was created, and it’ll be interesting to see if Rucka goes for a slow build or not. Knowing Rucka, my money’s on slow build, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a time jump next month.

So the issue starts out with Veronica Cale being a semi-evil industrialist with a deep dislike of Wonder Woman, but she’s hardly a super-villain. But her path seems to change when Ares’ sons Phobos and Deimos steal her daughter and force her to use the technology she’s developing to fight Wonder Woman and try to find out the location of Themyscira. Things go sideways from there; Veronica’s chief scientist Adriana uses the dangerous Cyberwalk system to confront Wonder Woman, and gets defeated by both Wonder Woman’s chimera pal and the machine’s deadly imperfections. Cradling her seemingly deceased friend, Veronica promises, “You will all burn.”

This, we have to assume, is the beginning of Godwatch. As we saw back in “The Lies,” Veronica is still trying to figure out how to get to Themyscira, so I can see this going one of two ways. Either Phobos and Deimos still have Veronica’s daughter and she’s been working for years to free her OR they’ll be sorted in the next few issues but she’ll keep trying to find its location out of a hatred for Wonder Woman and anything divinely related in general. Either could be an interesting journey.

Also, I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but a trapped daughter is classic Wonder Woman villain motivation. Back in the Golden Age, Paula von Gunther worked for the Nazis because they has her daughter as a hostage, and after Wonder Woman learned of this and freed her, they became friends and allies and worked together to fight the Nazis from then on. Maybe Rucka is going in a similar direction, or is playing on this story in some way.

We also know that Adriana is still alive since we saw her in “The Lies.” Only in electronic form, though. My guess is that whatever happened at the end of this issue trapped Adriana in some king of machine, and while her body might be “dead” her mind lives on in a computer as Dr. Cyber. And perhaps in some sort of android, like we saw in this issue but one better suited for battles for battles in mythical beasts, because that would make for much cooler fight scenes down the road, of course.

Now, this is an issue of Wonder Woman without a lot of Wonder Woman, which usually irks me. But I thought it worked here. It set up Veronica Cale and her motivations very nicely, plus the brief moments we got of Wonder Woman were very good. The montage at the beginning was fun and nicely put together, and the battle between her, the chimera, and Cyberwalk showcased the best of Wonder Woman. I loved her talking to the chimera, trying to get her to calm down by connecting with her and explaining that she was new to this world too and yes, it’s a very strange place. I also liked that she tried to save everyone, both the chimera and Cyberwalk, not wanting either of them to harm the other. That’s how Wonder Woman should roll.

The art was quite good for most of the issue, but some of the inking let down Evely’s excellent pencils at times. Four different inkers rarely offers a cohesive look for a book, and is usually a sign that things were a bit rushed. I don’t know who did which pages, but a few of them were much rougher and lacked the detail that characterized the best of what the book had to offer. Still, the layouts were great, and I’ve seen some of Evely’s pencils for the issue online and they’re spectacular. If they can figure out the inking situation, it should be a gorgeous arc. I was also glad to see that Romulo Fajardo Jr. is staying on as colorist, because that dude is ridiculously good at what he does. I so enjoy the texture, smoothness, lushness, and light touch he brings to his work. It really makes the linework shine.

All together, this was a strong beginning to “Godwatch” and I’m excited to see where things go from here. It’d be nice to have more Wonder Woman in the future, but for this first issue the focus on the villains made a lot of sense and it set up a lot to deal with for our Amazon heroine. Wonder Woman‘s got a really nice one-two punch going right now, with intriguing new plotlines in both the odd and even numbered issues, and that makes for some fun reading.

Wonder Woman #15 Review: “The Truth” Is Out There

January 25, 2017

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Today marks the beginning of “The Truth,” a new arc of Wonder Woman that picks up where “The Lies” left off and finds all of our heroes in various sorts of predicaments. Between the revelation that Diana’s memories of Paradise Island were false and Godwatch’s attack on the Picket, everything’s a mess for everyone right now. Add in the fact that Godwatch is a league of some of Wonder Woman’s most fearsome adversaries, and yeah, things are bad. Wonder Woman #15 sets the table for what Wonder Woman and her friends will be facing going forward, and it looks like it’s going to be quite the adventure. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss key plot points from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s good!

So this issue starts with Wonder Woman out of commission, housed in an asylum in England after the revelations about her memory shattered her psyche. Steve, Etta, and Barbara are on the lam after Picket was compromised and destroyed by Godwatch. No one’s in a good spot, and things go from bad to worse over the course of this issue, which was an interesting read that has me excited about where things are going moving forward.

There are dangers in so many areas right now. First, there’s a clear supernatural component going on. Diana’s mental fragility appears to be tied to her snake bite from way back in Wonder Woman #2, as underlined by both her vision/hallucination of a snake coming out of her arm and talking to her and the reappearance of the ominous tree that housed the snake on Themyscira. Something especially sinister is at work, as Hippolyta’s reaction to the tree shows. She was so alarmed that it had me wondering if she knew more about the tree and the snake then she’s letting on. It might just be that it’s the tree that nearly killed her daughter and so she’s being extra cautious, but Hippolyta’s been around for a long time, she knows a lot of things, and she’s been through a lot of stuff. There might be something deeper at play here, perhaps connected to the history of the Amazons.

Back home in America, Godwatch is after Steve, Etta, and Barbara. I love that the story is picking up on the romance between Etta and Barbara that we saw in “Year One” now that Barbara has left the Cheetah behind. They are super cute together. But that fun didn’t last for long. Barbara revealed a past link to Godwatch, and gave herself up to its soldiers to be taken in. She did so in order to allow Steve and Etta to escape and also presumably to get inside the organization and learn what she can about their plans. Etta trusts her, but Steve clearly doesn’t. We don’t yet know her connection to Godwatch, and after years of villainy he seems to be unwilling to put his faith in her yet. But I’m with Etta. Etta’s a good judge of character, and if she thinks Barbara’s on the up and up then I’ll have faith as well.

Speaking of Godwatch, it seems to not just be a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes, but a team of Wonder Woman’s greatest female foes. We’ve got Veronica Cale, Colonel Maru and Poison, Dr. Cyber, and hints that the Cheetah and Circe (I assume that’s who they meant when they mentioned “the witch”) are or have been a part of the group. It’s so much fun. I mean, not fun for Wonder Woman. She’s having a terrible time of it. But as a reader, Wonder Woman facing off against her most fearsome female foes is going to be a blast.

Adding even more fun to the book, the last page of the issue appears to be show the return of an old friend, Ferdinand. He’s a minotaur who worked at the Themysciran embassy during Rucka’s first run on Wonder Woman; he was the chef, and quickly became a fan favourite character, but he’s been benched since Rucka left. If it truly is Ferdinand, he’s either fallen on hard times or is laying low intentionally. Either way, there’s a story to be told here, and it’s going to be advantageous to the team to have a minotaur on board. There’s really no situation not improved by having a minotaur on your side, unless perhaps you have to maneuver through a tightly packed china shop.

Greg Rucka pulls together a lot of the strings he introduced in “The Lies” and “Year One” in this issue, picking up on plot points from each and uniting the two arcs into this new story moving forward. Liam Sharp returns after his work on “The Lies,” and his use of different styles mirrors this unification. On Themyscira, he’s clearly aiming for a Nicola Scott vibe, and while his art isn’t quite as lush and gorgeous as Nicola Scott’s, it’s a decent facsimile. With Diana, he continues his style from “The Lies,” and largely does the same with the villains, though there’s a harshness and lack of detail in those pages that makes it the weakest section of the book, visually. With Steve, Etta, and Barbara on the lam, Sharp goes grittier, with a scratchy feel and heavier shadows that creates a moody atmosphere. Laura Martin colors these distinct looks well, adapting her palette and the texture of her colors to fit each situation. The different styles work well and make for a more interesting read, which each reflecting its setting well.

Overall, this was a very solid first issue. “The Lies” was ultimately only okay for, a bit dragged out and underwhelming compared to the spectacular “Year One.” Here, “The Truth” is off to a roaring start with several balls in the air from the get-go, all of them entertaining and exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing where it all goes, and I’m extremely curious to find out how the dual arcs are going to work moving forward. We’ll find out in two weeks when Bilquis Evely joins the team for “Godwatch;” should be fun!

Wonder Woman #11 Review: “The Lies” Are Sort Of Exposed?

November 24, 2016

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I’m a day late with this Wonder Woman review; I was on the road all day yesterday and didn’t get a chance to read the book until today. I’ve been really looking forward to this issue, though. Last month’s Wonder Woman #10 finally took us to Themyscira and, shockingly, it was the brutal home of the New 52 Amazons rather than the utopian home of the current “Year One” arc. Clearly some shenanigans were afoot and it looked like the conclusion of “The Lies,” i.e. this week’s issue, would give us a few answers about what’s going on with Wonder Woman. As it turns out, we didn’t really get any answers. Yet, anyway. The next arc of the odd-numbered issues is called “The Truth,” and presumably we’ll find out what’s really going on there. But for right now, we’ve got confirmation that there was a very big lie going on in the “The Lies.” That’s cool and all, but dang this is a slow burn story. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILERT ALERT!!

I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!

Go buy it for yourself and read it first!

Get it on Comixology if your shop is closed for Thanksgiving!

So here’s the big reveal: The New 52 Amazons are not the real Amazons. This has been pretty obvious since Rucka took over the book, between the arc being called “The Lies” and the completely different version of the Amazons we’ve been seeing in “Year One.” That it took six whole issues to confirm what has been rather clear for the past six months makes this a bit of an unexciting conclusion to the arc. When Wonder Woman tearfully realizes “This is not my home” on the issue’s last page, I’m sure most readers responded, “Yeah, we know. This is old news.”

Look, I absolutely LOVE what Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are doing in “Year One.” It’s amazing, and will definitely go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time. But “The Lies” is not as good. And having read the whole arc now, nor is it very good on its own merits. It’s not bad by any means. It’s just fine. Okay. Decent. There were some good moments, but it’s been SO SLOW. This issue is a perfect case in point. It was immediately clear that this Themyscira was not Wonder Woman’s real home. I mean, we’ve known that for months, but even within just this issue itself, we knew something was wrong straight away. And it took Wonder Woman the entire issue to put it together. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of explaining what we’d already seen and put together. Comics are supposed to be show and tell, but this issue was a whole lot of show and then tell. And tell and tell, until the last page sets up a new arc to give us the story that we all expected to get in this arc. It’s all so drawn out, and the arc as a whole has been kind of a frustrating read.

Luckily, the interminable Wonder Woman storyline was supplemented by Etta Candy being a super bad ass. When we saw Etta realize that Sasha Bordeaux was a spy in the preview released earlier in the week, I assumed that this, like everything else in the arc, would be a slow building side story. I was wrong, and happily so. Etta goes right after Sasha, tracking her to her drop off with Veronica Cale and confronting Cale and her evil hounds. It’s so much fun. Etta is resolute and fearless, taking on Cale directly. When Cale arrogantly thinks she’s played her ace in the hole by bringing in Sasha to attack Etta, Etta just shoots Sasha straight in her cybernetic head and forces Cale to move to Plan B. The side story ends with the dogs coming after Etta, and we don’t know how that confrontation ends. Given how tough she is, my money’s on Etta, but Etta going missing would probably make for better story fodder. It could go either way. Regardless, it was nice to have something actually happen and have part of this arc progress at a solid clip.

I really don’t have much else to say about this issue apart from that I was hoping for a lot more, and that’s how I’ve felt about this arc as a whole. It was an arc that tried to do several things; re-introduce Barbara Minerva, Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor, along with the organization they work for, as well as setting up the Big Bad and Wonder Woman’s false history. That’s a lot of balls to juggle, and it wasn’t handled with much finesse, particularly not with the skill I expect to see from veterans like Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp. Again, it’s not a bad arc. It just took its sweet time and didn’t really deliver the story it promised.

Hopefully “The Truth” will proceed with more focus and direction. There were lots of good bits in the “The Lies,” especially the characterizations. Rucka knows how to write Wonder Woman and her friends, and does so enjoyably. Just somewhat meanderingly in this run. And the art is pretty solid as well. It felt like Sharp got a bit bogged down midway through and the art suffered for it, but over the past couple of issues it’s felt like he’s found a good balance between his hyper-detailed style and the constrictions of hammering out 20 pages a month. Laura Martin’s colors are gorgeous as well. In this issue especially, she makes some dull, exposition-heavy pages visually striking with some cool color choices. All of the pieces are in place for the odd-numbered issues of Wonder Woman to be great and rival the heights of the even-numbered outings. The writing just needs a bit of urgency and excitement rather than a slow, wandering burn.

Wonder Woman #9 Review: Paradise Found?

October 26, 2016

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I can’t not comment on this cover again, even though there’s lots of other stuff to dig into in this issue, because Steve Trevor looks like a straight up creeper. I said it when they first released it in the solicits and I’m saying it now; this is a very offputting cover. The dude is wigging me out. This is not the best way to advertise what is otherwise a pretty decent comic book, and one of the best installments of “The Lies” so far. It still doesn’t hold a candle to any of the “Year One” issues, all of which have been spectacular, but it’s a good outing for Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp that finally gets the ball rolling on what “The Lies” actually are. After four issues of the slightest of teases on “The Lies” front and a whole lot of Cheetah/Urzkartaga adventuring, things are finally happening! We’ll discuss them all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m about to full on ruin this whole issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Don’t spoil yourself!

Let’s start at the beginning: Everyone’s back in America and the lengthy African escapade is done. Steve Trevor is filing his report, and Diana, Etta, and Barbara Ann are going shopping because Barbara’s been freed from her Cheetah guise and, presumably, has lost track of her wardrobe over the past several years in which she was a cat-creature and didn’t need any clothes. Even better, everyone’s finally talking about “The Lies.” They’re using satellites to try to locate Themyscira, and contemplating exactly where/how it exists. Apparently, it doesn’t have a literal location so much as a spiritual one, so the trick to finding it is to track down a spot where the divisions between the literal and spiritual world is thin.

Which they do! And the book ends with Wonder Woman returning to her mother and her home. The only problem is that it’s the blonde Hippolyta with the violent, awful Amazons from the early years of the New 52. Diana’s happy to see her mother, but it’s clear that something is amiss. First, the skies are all cloudy and red and violent, which is always an ominous sign. And second, Steve looks super confused. These are not the Amazons that  Steve remembers at all. We’ve saw his time with the Amazons in the new Wonder Woman #2, and it was a bright, happy place with lovely buildings and lots of colour and a brunette queen. This brutal looking place is not the utopia that he remembers.

Wonder Woman, on the other hand, remembers both, and potentially several other of her incarnations as well. Her memory’s gone screwy, and her past is a blur in her mind. While she’s glad to see her mother now, it seems likely that everything’s going to go sideways next month as we get to the heart of what’s really happening with “The Lies.”

The issue also introduced a few other interesting developments. First, Veronica Cale is back! She’s a villain that we really haven’t seen much since Rucka’s last run on Wonder Woman, and I’m glad to see her facing off against her Amazon foe again. Veronica still doesn’t care for Wonder Woman at all, and looks to be plotting to take her down. We only get a couple of pages with her, so I’m not sure what her involvement is in the weird CIA group that Steve, Etta, and Sasha Bordeaux work for. She might be running the whole show, or she may have a mole on the inside that she’s using for intel and to manipulate things. Time will tell. Whatever the case, Veronica Cale is involved on the inside, and that doesn’t bode well for Wonder Woman at all.

Luckily for Wonder Woman, this bad news is tempered by a bit of good news: She and Steve are getting romantic again. They have a lengthy discussion about their relationship over the years and her recent dalliance with Superman, and it all ends with a kiss, so it looks like those two crazy kids are finally together. I’m ambivalent on this development, really. Steve is fine and all, and this is a classic pairing, but the two of them together have always lacked a spark for me that other signature comic book romances capture so well. Lois Lane and Superman are often dynamite together, as are Catwoman and Batman (or Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne), but Diana and Steve are okay at best. There’s just not a lot of excitement there, but perhaps Rucka will be the writer that finally sells me on them together. I do love what he’s doing with Steve in “Year One,” though it’s somehow not translating into “The Lies” Steve, who’s been a bit flat. Also, that goatee is terrible. Plus that creepy cover. Maybe with a shave and something more to do than be captured, Present Steve will grow on me and I’ll like him as much as I do Past Steve.

Ultimately, there was a lot going on in this issue, and the bigger story of “The Lies” is finally moving forward. The book still exhibited several of the weak spots that we’ve seen previously in this arc, though. For one thing, it’s still very slow. And needlessly so; that two page spread of Wonder Woman greeting folks in the mall seemed unnecessary. Naming all of the stores after past Wonder Woman creators was cute, but I don’t think that scene needed 10% of the issue’s real estate. On the plus side, Sharp was more on top of the art this month. The visuals were far less inconsistent than the past couple of outings, and there were some nice panels in the mix. It might be his most consistent outing since Wonder Woman #1.

I’m excited to see where the story is going next, which is a first for me reading “The Lies.” At the end of previous issues, I was mildly curious about where things were heading, but there wasn’t a lot of immediacy to the cliffhangers and when the next issue rolled around I wasn’t clamouring to read it. But now, I’m very much looking forward to Wonder Woman #11. We’re finally digging into “The Lies”! And I hope we get some answers soon.


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