This is the story I’ve been waiting for since it was announced months ago! Of all of the creative teams that have been solicited for Sensation Comics thus far, Gilbert Hernandez was the one I was most looking forward to. Hernandez is a comics legend, best known for his work on Love and Rockets, but my favourite thing he’s done is more recent: Marble Season, a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in the 1960s. And now we’ve finally got his Sensation Comics story!
Or, half of it. It’s a two-parter. And oddly, in the print version it seems to be more than that. Sensation Comics #3, which came out in comic shops last month, features only about half of the story that was released digitally this week. So basically, a quarter of the overall tale. Maybe they’re stretching it out in print so as to maximize the amount of Hernandez. We’ll see in the months to come, I suppose.
Anyway, the story! Honestly, I didn’t love it. I liked it, and there are some great moments, but when I heard that Gilbert Hernandez was doing to write and draw Wonder Woman, I was looking forward to him writing and drawing Wonder Woman the hero, not a mind-controlled version thereof. Very soon into this first issue, Wonder Woman gets captured by aliens who make her their slave, and she ends up fighting Supergirl for the remainder of the issue. There’s more to come, I know, and I hope the fight quickly turns into a team up in part two, but I was expecting Wonder Woman to be the hero of the book, not Supergirl.
Nonetheless, there’s a lot of great stuff in this issue. First off, Hernandez playing around with Silver Age aesthetics and tropes is ridiculously fun. We’ve got Wonder Woman in her lace up sandals, a teenaged Supergirl constantly worried about “cousin Superman”, and weird robots and aliens with crazy schemes. It’s old school in all the best ways, and Hernandez leans into the setting with his dialogue as well. “They just don’t make killer robot slaves like they used to,” is a line you don’t read in a lot of comics lately.
And while I’m not enthused about Wonder Woman being enslaved by an evil alien, the fight with Supergirl that then follows is pretty fantastic. It’s over the top violent, with the women punching each other through mountains and hitting each other so hard that the reverberations are felt across the galaxy. But despite the heavy violence, it’s not gory or bloody. Both women remain generally unscathed, and the banter back and worth as they smash each other across a barren planet is a lot of fun. At one point, an irked Wonder Woman comments, “These collisions of ours are getting tedious.” Supergirl also has an amusingly sincere moment of self-correction when she realizes that she’d insulted Wonder Woman captors by calling them “alien goons” when she herself is also an alien.
The cliffhanger is solid as well. Another female hero shows up to join the fray, but she’s silhouetted so we don’t know who she is yet. Based on the cape and the skirt, I’m guessing maybe Mary Marvel; she would also fit the old school vibe of the story. But it could be any number of female heroes, or perhaps a villain in league with the aliens.
Overall, the issue is a good time and Hernandez’s work is as enjoyable as ever. I just wish that the story was a better showcase for Wonder Woman. Sensation Comics has been really heavy on the team-ups thus far, which takes a lot of time away from Wonder Woman and has resulted in a bit of guest star fatigue on my end. I mean, obviously you let Gilbert Hernandez do whatever he wants; he’s a master. But for future issues, it would be nice to see more of a focus on Wonder Woman herself and less of a rotating cast of the entire DC Comics universe. People shouldn’t be avoiding Wonder Woman so much in her own dang book.
That being said, the fight is really quite fun, and I’m looking forward to the second part of the story. If you’re reading Sensation Comics in print form, I have no idea how it’s going to be coming out, but you can at least check out the first half of this first part of the story in Sensation Comics #3, which is available now.