Posts Tagged ‘Wonder Woman’

Wonder Woman #27 Review: The One With The Doctor Brawl

July 26, 2017

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When we last left Wonder Woman, she was attending the wedding reception of Etta Candy’s brother and found a bomb hidden under one of the tables. Things looked very ominous, and this week’s Wonder Woman #27 picks up right after the blast. Then the story takes an unexpected turn into a sort of side conflict. It’s not a bad turn by any means, but the result is that the issue didn’t follow up on key parts of what Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo set up two weeks ago. While I enjoyed the issue, I’m now very much looking forward to the next outing to see if they’ll pick up on the threads from the first issue now that this side battle is all sorted. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to delve into details from this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So the bomb situation was quickly resolved with Wonder Woman absorbing most of the blast. Etta gut hurt in what looked like it could be a very serious injury, but she’s going to be fine. Apart from the blast at the beginning and the last page of the issue, not much attention was paid to who’s coming after Wonder Woman. Instead, the coughing doctor we were introduced to two weeks ago took a dark turn, resulting in a conflict that occupied the bulk of the story.

It was an interesting fight; Dr. Crawford was dying from a syndrome that targeted both her body and mind, and after spending her life on research to help others, she decided to help herself by grafting Wonder Woman’s DNA into her own in hopes that it would cure her disease. It’s a cool premise that plays out as expected, in that it does not go well. Her new super strength charged her aggression and paranoia as well, leading to a battle with Wonder Woman that she ultimately lost, of course. If you’re fighting Wonder Woman with her own powers, she’s going to beat you. She knows them better.

I really liked the end of the fight, with its clever use of the lasso. Wonder Woman’s powers come from the gods, as does the lasso, and so when Wonder Woman tied Dr. Crawford in the lasso, like recognized like. The divine lasso recognized that the divine powers of Dr. Crawford were not her truth, and expunged them from her DNA, returning her to her previous form. I’m all for unique uses of the lasso, and this was a particularly good one. I doubt it would work on every artificially powered supervillain; I suspect that the divine connection is what did the trick here, so the application is limited. Still, it’s another fun use of the lasso to add to the arsenal and a fun, outside the box idea from Fontana, which is always good to see.

Throughout the encounter, though, I couldn’t help but want to see a bit more of what was set up in the first issue. I was really intrigued with the idea of Wonder Woman seeing herself as a warrior who could handle anything, and perhaps neglecting her mental health for fear of unloading the burden of her many intense, frightening experiences on others. I thought that was fascinating, and this issue didn’t provide many developments on that front apart from adding a few more harrowing experiences to Wonder Woman’s psyche. Maybe Dr. Crawford absorbing Wonder Woman’s DNA and getting overwhelmed with anger and paranoia to such a degree that she lashed out violently speaks to what Diana has to wrangle within herself, but that’s about it.

I also loved the flashback to young Diana on Themyscira in the first issue, and while we got a bit of that again this week, it was very brief. You can never go wrong with cute little Diana, especially in that rad outfit she was rocking during her training session in this outing, and I hope that she plays a bigger role moving forward.

The art continued to shine in this issue, with Mirka Andolfo killing it yet again. She’s just so good. Her artwork is unique and expressive and stylish and fun, and I love everything she brings to Wonder Woman and her world. Especially her Etta! Every DC artist should study Adolfo’s Etta and draw her accordingly moving forward. Unfortunately, this will likely be the last we see of Andolfo on Wonder Woman. David Messina is scheduled to finish the rest of the arc, and while I quite like his stuff, he’s got a tough act to follow. DC’s got Andolfo all over the place in the months to come, with guest spots here and there across the line. It’s cool to see her profile rise and to have her do many different things, but I think that Andolfo deserves more of a permanent showcase. Maybe a run on Batgirl or Supergirl where she can really dig into the characters, design fun stuff, and leave her signature mark on a hero and their world. Though I’ve also got my fingers crossed that she’ll be back for the new Bombshells United! So basically, I’d like Andolfo to draw everything, please. And with Romulo Fajardo Jr. coloring, too! He did an amazing job here yet again, and I hope he’s sticking around next month to color Messina as well.

So, next month we’ve got a new artist and a new villain on Wonder Woman’s trail, as the book’s final page suggests. I don’t recognize her at first glance, but she looks super cool. I love a good helmet design. And her rifle appears rather dangerous. I expect that Wonder Woman’s bracelets will be getting quite a work out in two weeks time!

Wonder Woman #26 Review: Diana Meets Her Destiny

July 12, 2017

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After a year of stellar comic books from Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp that restored Diana and the Amazons to their proper status in the DC universe, Wonder Woman‘s new creative team has some big shoes to fill. And I’m pleased to report that Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo are off to a fantastic start! I had a good feeling about this team; Fontana’s been doing great stuff with the DC Super Hero Girls comics, and I absolutely love Mirka Andolfo’s work on DC Comics Bombshells as well as her recent fill-in issue on Wonder Woman. Together they’ve crafted a story that moves Wonder Woman forward from all of the drama surrounding her origins and her past. That drama made for compelling comics, of course, but Rucka and co. wrapped it up perfectly and now it’s nice to see the new status quo carrying on in a new tale. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Well, less spoilery than usual; more of a broad strokes overview!

Reading this probably won’t ruin the comic for you!

But regardless, go read the comic! It’s super good!

First off, before I get to how good this comic was, I’ve got to say that the cover is not great. Andolfo’s art has a stylized, cartoonish element that is so expressive and good, and pairing it with such generic, standard superhero art feels like a bad decision. It’s a poor advertisement for what’s inside the book, which is so much better. I don’t mind a book having different cover artist than interior artist, but the cover art should give some sort of indication of the tone and style of the interior. This does not, and I wish it had a fun, bad ass Andolfo cover instead.

That’s partly because Mirka Andolfo is GREAT and I’m never not excited to see more of her art. She’s got a style that’s clearly her own; I always know that I’m reading an Andolfo book from page one. Her work is gorgeous, and captures the characters wonderfully, almost exaggeratedly. There aren’t a lot of subtle emotions here. Instead, every feeling is displayed across each character’s face clearly, and I find their expressiveness so compelling and fun. Andolfo’s also got an amazing eye for style, and Diana and Etta’s outfits when they attend a wedding at the end of this issue are so darn good. Her work always feels fresh and modern to me, and I love when Wonder Woman has that sensibility.

Plus, here’s some amazing news: While the bulk of Wonder Woman‘s creative team over the past year has moved on, colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. is still on board! This dude is a wizard. He adds depth and texture to every panel in a way that brings so much to every page without overwhelming the line work at all. I’m so glad he’s still on Wonder Woman. He’s one of the best colorists in the game today, and his stuff just gets better and better. He pairs well with Andolfo, too, highlighting her character work beautifully.

In terms of the story itself, this issue hits a lot of the elements that will make me love a Wonder Woman book. We’ve got Wonder Woman helping those who need it most, here dealing with an attack at a UN refugee camp in Greece. It always feels right to see Wonder Woman dealing with international issues, and never more so than when they are timely topics. We’ve also got young Diana on Themyscira, which I’m a sucker for. It feels like Fontana is drawing from the opening of the Wonder Woman film a bit here, and I’m all for it. Little Diana is so entertaining. We’ve got Etta Candy as well, i.e. Wonder Woman’s greatest supporting character of all time. And even better, we’ve got them hanging out at a wedding. I love Diana as a superhero, of course, but it’s also nice to see her having a life beyond that, hanging out with her friends outside of the costume. The costume is such a powerful symbol that it’s always interesting to see Diana away from it, partly because the gal deserves a break and partly because she can’t help but still be Wonder Woman to some degree, regardless of what she’s wearing, as her adventure with Destiny, a little girl at the wedding, shows.

So all of these elements are great, but I also really like what Fontana seems to be digging into in terms of the psychological cost of being a superhero. The flashback to Themyscira gives us a good look at Diana’s mindset, as her younger self tearfully locks away her beloved doll to toughen herself up and become the warrior that Amazons are supposed to be. Wonder Woman is very well adjusted as far as superheroes go, but the story effectively points out that she has to deal with seeing so many terrible things, all the time. Moreover, it suggests that this could be taking a toll on her mental health, despite her insistence that she can handle it all. There’s a scene where she says that she doesn’t want to put the burden of her experiences on someone else, and I think that’s going to be key moving forward. That’s a very heroic, self-sacrificing notion, but while Wonder Woman can handle a lot, much more than most, trying to deal with everything on your own can only work for so long. I’m curious to see how Fontana explores this with Wonder Woman as the story continues.

Also, there’s a big crazy cliffhanger at the end! That’s just fun comic booking. It’s a bit of a doozy, too, that leaves Wonder Woman in a very difficult spot. I know she’s Wonder Woman and all, but she’s really up against it with this one. It’s going to be hard to get out of it without any collateral damage. We’ll find out what she does in two weeks time, and I can’t wait! This was an excellent, gorgeous first issue for this new creative team, and I’m very excited for more.

Wonder Woman #25 Review: The Grand Finale for Rucka, Sharp, Evely, and the Rest!

June 28, 2017

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As someone who is absolutely steeped in Wonder Woman, who’s written a book about her and has read every single issue of Wonder Woman, you can take it to the bank when I say this: I don’t think there’s ever been a better 25 issue run of Wonder Woman than what we’ve been enjoying for the past year since the “Rebirth” relaunch. Wonder Woman has had some amazing runs over the years, and I could see arguments for other eras; the first two years of the Perez era, perhaps, or the fantastic bizarreness that was the Golden Age. But for me, what Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp have put together takes the top spot. This is in part because it’s amazing on its own, but even more so because it so successfully reoriented the character after her increasingly disastrous five year New 52 run. The team managed to fix a bad situation and tell an expansive, fantastic story at the same time. It’s really quite a remarkable feat. And now we’re at the end of it! We’ll discuss it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

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

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, go read it! It’s very, very, very good!

This finale brings together all of the elements from this entire run, tying up the loose ends on some while leaving other plotlines open ended for future creators to explore. There are lots of references to past issues, including Wonder Woman’s first meeting with Batman and Superman from the recent Wonder Woman Annual #1; what seemed at the time like a fun, inconsequential one-off tale came into play here at the end. It’s a good example of what Rucka’s writing has done over the past year. Small beats had big ramifications down the road, and what seemed like tangents all added up to something bigger. I remember being frustrated with “The Lies” early on because it focused so much on the Cheetah, a character I’d just assumed was included as a quick initial foe for Wonder Woman, and took it’s time getting to the actual lies. But it turned out, of course, that the Cheetah was a pivotal player in this book, and that the slow burn at the start of “The Lies” laid a lot of the groundwork for everything to come. The master plan became visible only months later.

So the finale begins with Wonder Woman in a bad mood, and understandably so. Her family remains lost to her, the Cheetah has escaped, her lasso is gone, and worst of all, her gods have been lying to her. She’s got some anger about it all, so much so that she’s punching villains extra hard and ignoring Steve. But some straight talk from her pals Batman and Superman sends her on a quest to find her gods, and they honour her anger. A speech from a mysterious woman who turns out to be Athena sets things right; she acknowledges that Diana is right to be angry, but that even with all of the manipulations of the gods, “The truth of you has never changed, Diana. Even the gods themselves could not take that away from you.” It fits in text, a nod to Wonder Woman’s steadfast heroism during the trials of the past 25 issues. But I think the moment stands as a larger statement about Wonder Woman, that no matter how many different incarnations of the character there are, some of them good and some of them bad, there is a core to her that shines through, an essential truth about her strength, compassion, and heroism that was imbued in her from her earliest days. The gods then return her lasso as a sign that they love her, and she leaves with a renewed belief in herself and her larger mission.

She then finds Steve Trevor, and amorous activities ensue. I could be wrong, but I think that this might be the first time they’ve actually hooked up in text? It’s been implied at various times, but I can’t recall seeing them in anything like the heartwarming last page of this issue, with them in each other’s arms in bed. There was their kiss and the implication of something more during that night in the village in the Wonder Woman movie, but in the comics they dated from the 40s through the 80s, when they couldn’t show anything like that, and then Steve wasn’t a romantic factor for the next 25 years. With the New 52 relaunch, the romance was back but past. Now they’re actively together again, in ways I think we’ve never seen before. It works as a lovely end to the book, as a much deserved moment of love and happiness for Diana. Plus, Steve shaved for the occasion, getting rid of that god awful goatee, so it was a good scene all around!

The finale leaves the rest of the cast in several interesting, open ended spots. Etta Candy, who’s been an absolute delight in this run, is going after the Cheetah, her former girlfriend Barbara turned crazed feline foe. This is a story I need to see. Their relationship was a background element that became increasingly important in terms of the Cheetah’s connection to her humanity. I hope that Etta getting Barbara back is a priority for a future creative team. The Cheetah’s a much more interesting character now as well, and I very much hope that DC stays true to Rucka and Sharp’s revamp of her in the future.

And finally, my evil favourite, Veronica Cale. She’s the worst and I love her. Her backstory was so well established that we totally understand her full embracing of villainy now, and as much as it’s sad that she didn’t turn away from it, damn she’s a good villain. I’m going to miss Bilquis Evely drawing her so much. She brought such heart to the character throughout “Godwatch” and really sold the story through her take on Veronica. And here, Evely’s depiction of Veronica’s confrontation with Wonder Woman is just perfect. Her sneer when she refuses to help Diana is spectacular. Veronica Cale could be an epic villain for years to come, and I hope that DC embraces that and does her justice in the future.

So we’ve reached the end of the run, and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m glad that Wonder Woman has been so well reoriented. I’m also sort of happy that Rucka and everyone decided to end things here. I’d have been down for more, but everything has wrapped up well and they’ve accomplished what they set out to do beautifully. Diana is in a good place, and is well positioned for new teams to tell exciting stories with her moving forward. I’m looking forward to Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo taking over the book for the next few issues, though I’m considerably less keen on James Robinson coming in after that. However, I’m optimistic that his run is just a bit of “Rebirth” housekeeping and that the New Year will bring a new team with a fresh perspective to the book. Rucka, Evely, Scott, and Sharp have demonstrated how amazing Wonder Woman can be, and it will be fun to see new voices picking up the baton from here on.

Wonder Woman Movie Action Figures: Reviewing the Entire Fantastic Line!

June 22, 2017

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I don’t know how things are where you live, but here in Halifax it’s been hard to track down the DC Multiverse line of Wonder Woman movie action figures. Luckily, I have a sister who lives near the American border and was able to order the entire line up! And she brought them all last night (the picture above doesn’t include Hippolyta, because I was able to get that one earlier), so now I have the entire set. And they are GREAT. I’m hoping it’s just the beginning of the line because there are definitely a few missing characters I’d love to see, but it’s a fantastic start. As an action figure enthusiast, I’m really pleased with the quality of the work here. So let’s take a closer look at all of them!

We’ll start with the main Wonder Woman figure:

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Honestly, it’s kind of an odd figure with the cloak and all. I understand that the Multiverse line did a (not so great) Wonder Woman figure for Batman v Superman last year so they’d want to mix it up a bit here, but this one is hard to play with. Also, full disclosure, I am 100% a take it out of the package sort of dude, so playability is key for me. Still, it’s a pretty nice figure. She comes with her sword and her lasso (which is hidden under her cloak) and the costume underneath the cloak is very nicely done. The face sculpt is decent as well. It’d be a better figure if the cloak was removable, though. I know she wears it for a lot of the movie, but it’s hard to play with.

Luckily, there’s a Wonder Woman variant figure that’s a Toys R Us exclusive, and it’s awesome:

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It’s the Batman v Superman sculpt with brighter colours and a new face, and it’s a vast improvement on both that original figure and her cloaked counterpart in the Wonder Woman line. She looks a lot more like Gal Gadot, and she’s got a variety of points of articulation that make her easy to play with. Her accessories are rad too; while we’ve got the standard sword and lasso, the shield is the most impressive piece here. It’s a detailed, accurate recreation of the movie shield that will allow you to stage all kinds of fun poses from the film. If you want a good Wonder Woman figure, I suggest going to Toys R Us and tracking this one down.

We’ve got a third Diana, in her Themyscira outfit:

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She comes with the sword and lasso yet again, but everything else is new including an alternative head sculpt with a braid and of course an entirely different costume. The figure is very poseable, and looks good all around. It’s a great representation of her Themyscira look, and with some other Amazons in the line you can recreate some sparring scenes! It’s a simple figure, but a fun one.

Queen Hippolyta is slightly more ornate:

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They did a great job with the costume here, capturing all of the elements quite nicely. She’s got a cloak as well, which makes playing with her a little bit difficult, but it’s not as cumbersome as the black cloak on the main Wonder Woman figure. The figure also comes with a sword and a spear; all of the weapons in this line look good, plus they’re fairly sturdy and easy to put in the figure’s hands, which is always helpful. Hippolyta’s face sculpt makes her look a bit stern, but that’s in keeping with the character, really.

Our final Amazon is Menalippe:

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And honestly I have NO idea why she has a figure and Antiope doesn’t. That makes no sense at all. But it’s a super cool figure nonetheless! She comes with a spear as well, but I’ve got her in this awesome bow and arrow pose. The costume looks great, the weapons are cool, and she’s pretty good to play with despite some limitations due to the length of parts of her skirt. It’s a fun figure all around. I just don’t know why she’s not Antiope. Maybe we’ll get one in a future line!

Now onto the boys, starting with Steve Trevor:

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He’s fine. This was never going to be a super exciting figure, since he lacks the visual flair and cool weaponry of the Amazons. He’s got a gun and that’s about it. And that green jacket isn’t exactly a stunning outfit. But the textures aren’t bad and for the simple figure it is, it looks pretty decent and is good to pose and play with. He’ll look good running behind my Wonder Woman figure!

And finally, the Ares build-a-figure:

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So, I think the filmmakers changed their mind on how Ares should look during production because both this figure and the Lego Ares look like this, with old fashioned armor and a ram skull helmet and such, and his look in the movie is kind of different. The toys must have been developed so far that they couldn’t change things when the movie did, and so we get this figure that’s not terribly movie accurate. The good news is, I think the figure looks a lot cooler than the movie version! He’s kind of awesome. I’ve got him pictured with one of the fiery swords that come with Menalippe and the shield that comes with the Toys R Us exclusive Wonder Woman, but there’s another sword that comes with someone in the main line that’s fine as well. He was easy to build and very fun to put together. I’ve never collected a full line before, so I’ve never made a build-a-figure. It’s fun! And he’s bigger than everyone else, which is cool for a bad guy. Here’s a comparison shot:

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It’s a great Ares all around, and he’s a blast to play with.

There are a few figures I’d love to see in a hypothetical second line, Antiope first and foremost among them. It’s bizarre that she’s not in this line. It’d be fun to have an Etta as well; she was such a joy in the movie, and I’d love to pair her with one of my Wonder Women. Dr. Poison would be cool too, to give us another villain, and perhaps a Ludendorff for the same reasons. I’d also be okay with a Diana Prince figure, in her London garb, just to have another Wonder Woman in the line. Sameer, Charlie, and Chief I can take or leave. It’d be fun to have the team, but there are other characters that I think would be more fun. So hopefully there’s more coming! But if not, this line is great and there’s a lot of fantastic figures in the mix.

New Wonder Woman Arc to Focus on her Brother OR No One Wants This

June 20, 2017

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DC Comics announced a new creative team for their Wonder Woman comic yesterday, with James Robinson coming on board to write the book alongside Carlos Pagulayan and Emanuela Lupacchino on art. They’re going to do a six-issue arc that will run bi-monthly from September through December, and it will pick up on threads first introduced in DC’s “Rebirth” special a year ago. The solicit for the first issue says:

Who is Wonder Woman’s brother? Taken away from Themyscira in the dead of night, the mysterious Jason has been hidden somewhere far from the sight of gods and men…but his life and Wonder Woman’s are about to intersect in a terrifying way, bringing them face to face with a cosmic threat they never imagined!

I am underwhelmed, to say the least. Wonder Woman has been stellar since its “Rebirth” relaunch, with Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp revitalizing the character and setting her on a good path after several rough years following the book’s previous relaunch in 2011. Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo are set to take over the book in July for five issues, and that sounds like it’s going to be a fun run. I was pleased to see a female writer take over the series, and Mirka Andolfo’s art is always a treat. But now we’ve got a male writer at the helm again (and one with a problematic writing record at that). We do have Emanuela Lupacchino on art, and she’s marvelous, but the solicit is all about “legendary writer James Robinson,” along with credits over a decade old, and doesn’t mention the art at all. Robinson is also focusing on Wonder Woman’s mysterious brother, a bizarre turn that shows DC seems to have learned nothing from the success of the Wonder Woman movie.

First, with so many amazing female writers working in comics right now, DC should be handing over the reins of Wonder Woman to one of them long term. The book has had some great male writers over the years, and Rucka’s tenure over the past year was fantastic, but it’s time for a new perspective on the book. Men have written Wonder Woman for the vast majority of her seventy-six year history. Meanwhile, giving the Wonder Woman film to Patty Jenkins gave Warner Bros. its first critically acclaimed superhero film in years because she brought something new to the table. DC should do the same with the book and bring in one of the many amazing women working in comics right now.

Second, a brother? Has DC not seen any of the responses from folks coming out of the Wonder Woman movie? No one left the theater thinking that there needed to be more men in the mix. They wanted more Diana, more Amazons, more Etta, more of all of the amazing women that made up the film. Introducing Diana’s brother is the last thing anyone wants right now. Long term fans of the comic have been loving the female-centric storyline of the “Rebirth” era thus far, while potential new fans curious about the character after the movie are going to have no interest whatsoever in some new dude.

The brother angle was a weird idea from the start. When the “Rebirth” special came out a year ago, the tease struck me as a fundamentally dumb move. Diana is a unique creation, the only child of the Amazons. To introduce a sibling is unnecessary enough (unless they brought back Nubia, which could be cool if done right), but to make it a male sibling just totally misses the point of having Amazons in your universe. They let you tell cool stories about women! DC doesn’t need to stick a man in there; they can do fun things with the amazing women that they already have.

The people inside DC Comics can be dopes sometimes. Wonder Woman has never been more popular. The movie is a smash hit! And they’re putting out a comic book that’s going to appeal to few if any of her fans, new or old. It reminds me of 1973, when DC returned Wonder Woman to her Amazon roots after she appeared on the first cover of Ms. Magazine and became a mascot of the women’s lib movement. Just like today, Wonder Woman was hugely famous outside of the comics, but DC handed the book to Robert Kanigher, an old white guy who ignored her new status and wrote a bunch of lazy, subpar issues that failed to capitalize on her popularity. Four decades later, DC is making the same mistakes.

Part of me is hoping that this is some ill-considered cleanup operation, that editorial is thinking, “Let’s deal with this seed we planted a year ago and then get on to a cool, different creative team in the New Year.” Maybe they’re just burning off three months of comics to follow up on this story that absolutely no one is clamoring for and they’ve got a great team lined up after that. That would be a dumb plan; better to just let the seed die. But at least it would be a plan with something better in the future. As is, this is just dumb and ill-timed, as well as a big missed opportunity to make the most of a huge moment for Wonder Woman. Even if this somehow turns out to be a decent story, which seems very unlikely but you never know, it’s just the wrong direction for the book right now. Put women in charge of Wonder Woman with women on the pages, please.

Wonder Woman #24 Review: Tragedies on Multiple Fronts in the Run’s Penultimate Issue

June 14, 2017

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We’re nearing the end of this current, excellent run of Wonder Woman, and everything has come together. After four disparate arcs, connected with small moments but kept separate by time, everything’s now merged. Wonder Woman #24 picks up where Wonder Woman #23 left off, a common occurrence for most comic books but an oddity for the dual narratives that have been so key to Wonder Woman since the “Rebirth” relaunch. And now, after 24 issues of surprises and revelations, the full run has taken its toll on everyone. Pretty much every major player in the series is facing tragedy, a crucible that has revealed the true nature of each of them in their responses to these trying circumstances. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal all of the key events of this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, you should!

This has been one of the best runs of Wonder Woman ever!

So let’s run through where everyone is at, and how recent events have affected them. The last issue revealed that Wonder Woman must remain permanently separated from her home and her family, and the shock of that is clear initially. She leaves the island gate to Themyscira without tracking down the Cheetah, an uncharacteristic decision for her that suggests she was emotionally drained and perhaps overwhelmed by all she’d been through. She seems almost in shock when she returns to America, somewhat quiet and withdrawn, until Etta chastises her for leaving Barbara behind. Etta’s words hit her hard and shake her out of her fog, putting her back on track. Despite the weight of her tragic separation, Wonder Woman always cares for others more than herself and goes after Barbara.

She finds her attacking Veronica Cale, which puts Wonder Woman in a difficult spot. She wants to help Barbara and she has so reason to care about Veronica Cale, who’s spent years trying to ruin both her life and the life of her friend. And yet, when Barbara promises she’ll go with Wonder Woman if she lets her kill Veronica, Wonder Woman refuses. She won’t let anyone die, no matter how guilty they may be. While tragedy shook Wonder Woman for a moment, she quickly returned to her heroic form, even though it meant another tragic loss for herself as her friend Barbara refused to go with her willingly.

As for Barbara, her tragic loss consumes her entirely. And really, justifiably so. She’s had an awful time of things. She was restored to her true self, leaving her Cheetah identity behind, but then returned to her Cheetah form to help her friends in a noble sacrifice. Her rejection from Themyscira is the breaking point for her. She’d searched for the Amazons for her entire life and was close to them, finally, only to have the gate disappear. So she lets all of her anger and the sorrow over the many things she’s lost consume her. She goes after Veronica, aiming to kill her, and very nearly succeeds. Had Wonder Woman not intervened, Veronica would have been a goner. Then, even in the face of Wonder Woman offering her help and a return to her life with Etta, she refuses. We’ve seen a lot of Barbara as the Cheetah in these 24 issues, and while her feral identity often dominated her, Etta was the one thing that always gave her pause. But not now. The mention of Etta barely dissuades her at all, and she refuses to go with Wonder Woman unless she’s allowed to kill Veronica. The series of tragedies she’s endured were too much in that moment and overcame her true nature, though perhaps we’ll see things turn around for her in two weeks time with the grand finale.

I’m not expecting a turnaround for Veronica. We’ve gotten to know her well this year, especially in “Godwatch” with Bilquis Evely bringing such life and emotion to the character. She was a woman who lost her daughter, an understandable motivation even though it took her to very dark places. But now her daughter is gone for good, and the weight of both her loss and her actions over the past year lie heavy on her. She’s lost her daughter, her company is in shambles, and she’s isolating herself further from the few friends she has. When the Cheetah calls her a villain, she doesn’t even flinch, as if she too knows what she’s become and is perhaps beginning to accept that this is who she is now. Tragedy has brought her emptiness, rightly so in many respects; she’s earned what’s coming to her. But however justified a punishment may be, the attack from Cheetah is especially brutal. Evely illustrates the horror of it well, from the gashes on her back to the violent action of the scene. And the most brutal moment of it all is the very end of the issue, with Veronica left all alone. Wonder Woman’s compassion and moral code saved her life, but her torn up body, left in solitude, stands as a monument to her inevitable tragic end.

Well, the end for now. There’s one more issue to come, with Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, and Liam Sharp teaming up for a grand finale that will tie up all of the loose threads. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Veronica involved in some way, though if we don’t then this was a fitting conclusion for the character. It looks like Cheetah will be a big focus, since Wonder Woman knocks her out and takes her away at the end of this issue. With all of the mysteries solved and so much wrapped up already, I’m curious to see what the final issue will dig into. The conclusions of both the “The Truth” and “Godwatch” have been excellent and satisfying, so I’m excited to see how the creative teams decides to leave everyone moving forward.

Wonder Woman Film Review: A Movie Worthy of its Heroine

June 2, 2017

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Well it’s finally happened, gang. After decades of watching the boys get movie after movie, we’ve finally got a Wonder Woman solo film. And here’s the good news: It’s really, really good. Great even. Full of heart and action and excitement. It’s far and away the best film from the DC cinematic universe so far and, more importantly, it does Wonder Woman justice and captures the heart of the character well. Let’s dig into it all, first with some spoiler-free general thoughts, and then with full on spoilers after a jump so anyone who hasn’t seen it yet won’t have anything ruined for them.

So gosh, where to start? With Wonder Woman herself, probably. Gal Gadot is pretty much a perfect Wonder Woman. We got to see her for a few minutes in Batman v Superman and she totally stole the show, and now with a show all of her own, she absolutely shines. Gadot captures the heroism and compassion of Wonder Woman so well; she’s fierce when she needs to be, kind when she needs to be, and just has so much heart. She smiles a lot, which is a lovely contrast with the grim darkness that’s dominated other DC movies, and it’s the most earnest and charming smile. It’s Wonder Woman’s smile, really. It’s something that could easily turn corny, but Gadot makes it utterly genuine, sincere, and believable. And while Diana’s got an interesting journey throughout the film, a sort of loss of innocence as she leaves her utopian home and experiences the horrors of war, Gadot does a fantastic job playing this evolution and it’s darker, questioning moments without losing the heart of the character. She’s just so good. I want to see her continue to play Wonder Woman again and again and again.

Holding his own with such a stunning take on Wonder Woman was a tall order for Chris Pine, but his Steve Trevor was excellent. I’m steeped in Wonder Woman comics and very familiar with every incarnation of Steve Trevor, and this was my favourite version of him ever, by a considerable margin. He was written really well; it’s a sidekick/love interest role that keeps the focus squarely on Wonder Woman, and Pine plays it spot on. He’s a tough guy with some skills, but he very quickly realizes he’s no Wonder Woman and is totally okay with that, in part because he’s just kind of in awe of her. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry together is delightful, Pine’s got charm to spare and is also hilarious, and the two of them made for a really winning partnership.

The supporting cast is pretty solid, too. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright do great work as Hippolyta and Antiope, guiding the film well through it’s early scenes with young Diana. Wonder Woman’s crew in Europe are all fun too, but Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy is a total scene stealer. She’s so funny and enjoyable, albeit underused. I could have done with a lot more Etta Candy! The bad guys were suitably evil, as they should be, if somewhat underdeveloped, but such is the case with most superhero films.

In terms of the directing, Patty Jenkins did a remarkable job. While Wonder Woman had a lot of the beats you expect from a superhero movie, it also had its own unique style and tone. The action was especially spectacular; I’ve never seen fighting like that in a superhero movie, particularly some of the amazing acrobatics we got from the Amazons. They were astonishingly good. I also loved the little touches throughout the film, like the gorgeous, sweeping establishing shots we got for Themyscira, London, and the front. There was a real flair to the film that set it apart from other superhero movies. Jenkins also smoothly married the action and stunning visuals with the emotional aspects of the film. All of the humourous, romantic, and quiet reflective moments rang true, and everything flowed together nicely.

It was just fun to look at, too. Themyscira was so epic and cool, uniquely ancient and breathtaking in its scenery. I want to go to there. A lot of the movie was spent in the cramped confines of London or on the front, all of which was nicely done, but there was a good amount of time spent outdoors in lovely, natural settings that were shot exquisitely. On top of the settings, the costumes were quite striking. Wonder Woman wore an updated version of her Batman v Superman outfit, one that actually had colour this time, and it looked fantastic. All of the Amazons got cool costumes, with everyone wearing something a little bit different but yet thematically similar to the each other. The costumes in the outside world were a little bit drab in comparison, of course, but all of the major supporting characters had their own special look that suited them well.

If I wanted to nitpick, there are a few things I would change. For me, the final fight scene wasn’t quite as cool as the earlier ones and got a bit messy with all of the fire and chaos and CGI. Also, some of the supporting characters got outshone by the leads. To be fair, Gadot and Pine were ridiculously good, but a few folks did fall a bit flat. And there were a few changes to the Wonder Woman mythos I didn’t love, but we’ll save that for the spoilers section.

All in all, though, it was a great movie. Well executed on every level, so much fun, and most importantly, true to who Wonder Woman is and what she means to so many fans. I loved it. Now, that being said, I’m not sure that this is the movie they should have made. Setting the film in World War I was a big change that made a lot of elements very different from what we usually get with Wonder Woman, and while it was all done well and a lot of those changes were interesting, I don’t think it was the best showcase for what is great about Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent showcase for Wonder Woman, but in an intriguing alternate universe way rather than a relevant, modern way. An origin set in the present day could have been more resonant and more reflective of the character, her past, and what she means, especially in terms of tackling modern women’s issues rather than poking fun at sexist attitudes that are a century past. I get that the film is what it has to be given the existing framework of the DC cinematic universe, and it succeeds triumphantly at that, capturing the heart of the character beautifully. I just think that setting up Wonder Woman as this older, wise superhero who predates Batman and Superman limits her in certain ways, and I’d rather see this young, plucky Wonder Woman dealing with the modern world, rather than the more experienced, somewhat world-weary Wonder Woman we seem to be getting with Batman v Superman, the framing device of Wonder Woman, and what we’ve seen from Justice League thus far. But so long as Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, it’s absolutely a Wonder Woman worth watching, and Patty Jenkins and the whole team did an amazing job making this new setting and backstory work for the character and stay true to who she is.

Let’s move on to some spoilers now, after the jump!

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