Posts Tagged ‘Wonder Woman’

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #22 Review: “The Problem With Cats” by Lauren Beukes and Mike Maihack

January 29, 2015

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Today’s digital first issue of Sensation Comics was just straight up adorable. I love that this is a series that can do something as dark and gritty as Bechko and Hardman’s Apokalips story and then have something as cute and fun as Beukes and Maihack’s work here. It’s cool to get something different every week, and to see such a range of approaches to Wonder Woman. At the same time, I worry that this format isn’t great for sustained sales. There are lots of Sensation Comics stories that would be ideal for young readers, but also several that aren’t. Similarly, there’s edgier, darker stuff that adult readers might like but they may not enjoy the cuter, funnier stories. Plus the covers are never indicative of what’s inside; this Jae Lee cover is gorgeous, but this isn’t the story you would expect from a comic with this cover, at all. I realize that this is a problem inherent in all anthology books, I just hate that readers might be missing out on these great stories because not all of them are to their taste.

Anyway, enough rambling about the format. This was a great issue, start to finish, and anyone who’s not reading it is just depriving themselves of joy. Lauren Beukes’ story is so much fun. It starts with Wonder Woman fighting the Cheetah, Circe, and Medusa, who have turned Batman to stone and Superman into a pig. It’s classic superhero good times; at one point, Wonder Woman lassoes her invisible jet out of the sky and flings it at the Cheetah. It’s just rad. Then, the story takes an abrupt turn. Turns out, it’s just a little girl playing Wonder Woman with her older sister’s toys, and her sister doesn’t take kindly to her marking up a doll to make her look like the Cheetah. Mom makes the young girl clean the toys, but she soon bores of that and starts pretending she’s Wonder Woman flying in her invisible jet. When she saves her older sister from an angry dog, her older sister admits that she wanted to play with the toys too, and the story ends with them playing Wonder Woman together.

The issue is a cool twist on the usual fare we get from Sensation Comics, and reminds me a little bit of the Amy Chu/Bernard Chang story from a little while back where a soldier saves a fellow officer but thinks that Wonder Woman did it. Turning a superhero story into a real life story can be a tricky move to pull off, but both stories do it well and in totally different ways.

The art in the issue is a fantastic compliment to the story. Mike Maihack is perhaps known for his great Batgirl/Supergirl strips, and he brings that same style here to the superhero portion of the book. It’s action packed, the colours are bold, and the linework is strong and clean. When the issue shifts to the real world, everything changes slightly. It’s still definitely Maihack’s style, but the colours are softer, the linework is a little more rough, and the entire tone of the art becomes quieter and more relaxed. Both sections of the book are absolutely lovely, with Maihack excelling in both styles.

Stories like this are why Sensation Comics is so great. We’ve seen a billion Batman and Superman stories over the years, with all sorts of clever tricks and ideas. They’ve each had so many series, and thus so much space to explore and try different things. Wonder Woman hasn’t had that; for more than sixty years, she only had one book! It’s awesome to see creators getting to cut loose and mix it up with her now, and the results have been enjoyable across the board. Wonder Woman was long overdue for some cool innovation.

Finally, as a scheduling note, we’re set for new digital issues of Sensation Comics for the next two Thursdays at least; both are up fore pre-order now. Based on the cover, the print issue of this story should be out on March 18, though it’s solicited in the April issue. Thus far, stories have tended to accompany the cover they’re published with, so that’s the date I’m doing with. You should definitely pick it up! It’s a great one.

New Wonder Woman Statue Based On Robert Valley’s Animated Shorts Looks Amazing

January 26, 2015

One of the coolest interpretations of Wonder Woman in recent years was in a series of animated shorts created by Robert Valley. The shorts aired as part of a regular feature during DC’s animation lineup on Cartoon Network, and while a lot of fun stuff came out of that lineup, nothing was as slick or as awesome as Valley’s take on Wonder Woman. She drove an invisible sportscar, had a rad 70s vibe, and saved poor Steve Trevor with ease. Here’s the first short, to refresh your memory:

It’s just SO GOOD.

And DC Collectibles seems to have enjoyed them too, because they’re releasing a “Wonder Woman: Art of War” statue based on Valley’s Wonder Woman. Let’s take a look at it, first in picture form:

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And then in video form:

This looks so good. It captures the short perfectly, all of the attitude and the fun. I absolutely love it, and I may have to get one.

The statue is scheduled to be released in Fall 2015, so we’ve got to wait a while yet. The statues from the “Wonder Woman: Art of War” line all go for about $79.95 US, so I assume that this one will be in the same price range. Between this and the upcoming statue based on Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman, the “Wonder Woman: Art of War” line is putting out some ridiculously cool pieces lately. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Wonder Woman ’77 #3 Review: “Disco Inferno, Part 3” by Marc Andreyko, Matt Haley, and Richard Ortiz

January 23, 2015

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The first arc of the digital-first Wonder Woman ’77 wrapped this week, and it was a solid ending that carried on most of the pros and cons of the two issues that preceded it. The conclusion wasn’t overly involved; Wonder Woman freed Steve from the Silver Swan’s hypnosis, defeated the Silver Swan, and celebrated with a dance party as Diana Prince. It was a lot of fun all around, if somewhat of a quick read.

Marc Andreyko writes a lot of great moments into this issue, as he has during this entire first arc. It’s all classic Wonder Woman fun, with lassoing and a boomeranging tiara and secret identity hijinks. It turns out that Diana was trapped in a broom closet for the entire time that Wonder Woman was fighting the Silver Swan and her mind-controlled horde; she always missed out on the excitement. The Silver Swan was defeated in a very era-appropriate manner as well, with Wonder Woman smashing the gem that powered the villain’s abilities by throwing a record at it, discus style. The book is silly and fun in all of the right ways.

The pacing is still not great, however. Like with the previous two issues, you burn through the book pretty quick. There’s not a whole lot of story here, but as I’ve said before it should all read better together in print.

There are some art changes in this issue as well. Drew Johnson is replaced by Matt Haley and Richard Ortiz, and it’s an odd change. Haley mimics the realistic style established by Johnson to some degree, as he did in the latter half of last week’s issue, though he doesn’t capture Lynda Carter as well and his pages lack a bit of life compared to past issues. Ortiz’s pages take a turn toward a more cartoonish style. The linework is thicker, the features are more exaggerated, and the difference is very noticeable. His Wonder Woman doesn’t really look like Carter, though his Lyle Waggoner is actually pretty good. All together, it’s an average outing on the art side of things, and it’s disappointing that Johnson couldn’t finish the whole storyline for whatever reason.

The book also has three different colourists, and it shows. The colouring starts smooth and nicely blended and gets rougher as the book goes on. It never veers into bad, however, though the changing lights in the disco make for a few odd choices, such as a Silver Swan whose skin appears to be bright pink at one point.

All together, it’s an enjoyable end to a pleasant first arc with a few problems here and there, some technical and some structural. While there are things that could be improved for the second arc, all of the fun of the television show definitely comes through and it captures that spirit well. I’m excited to see what other villains and adventures Andreyko and the rest of the team have in store when Wonder Woman ’77 returns.

Speaking of scheduling, it looks like Sensation Comics will return next Thursday, and run for at least two weeks; there are two issues available for pre-order on Comixology right now for the following two Thursdays. After that, it continues to be a crapshoot. I assume that Wonder Woman ’77 will be back for a second arc, probably three issues again, before the print edition comes out in April, but that’s a big window. Either way, there should continue to be some sort of Wonder Woman digital fun each week, and for that I am very glad.

Wonder Woman’s April 2015 Covers And Solicits

January 22, 2015

April is going to be a little different for Wonder Woman comics, with the “Convergence” event pre-empting her usual New 52 titles. While she’s got two books every month in the New 52, there will only be one Wonder Woman “Convergence” book. However, we’ve got two digital-first books to look forward to, so that’s a plus. Let’s dig into the solicits, starting with Convergence: Wonder Woman #1:

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CONVERGENCE: WONDER WOMAN #1
Written by LARRY HAMA
Art and cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale APRIL 22 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Diana Prince is in the grip of a Domesday cult when Steve Trevor leaps into the fray! But can he save Etta Candy from vampires of Red Rain?

This solicit is a lot about Steve Trevor and not so much about Wonder Woman, which I don’t love. But on the plus side, I do enjoy Joshua Middleton, and I’m very excited to see him do two issues of Wonder Woman interiors.

“Convergence” brings together a multitude of DC Comics’ universes, and this one look to be pre-Crisis. Giving Larry Hama’s writing it, I’m guessing the characters will be from the 1970s, Bronze Age era of Wonder Woman, but given the universe mashing each character may well be from a different time period. We’ll have to wait for April to find out.

Next up, we’ve got the print version of the Wonder Woman ’77 digital first series:

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WONDER WOMAN ’77 SPECIAL #1
Written by MARC ANDREYKO
Art by DREW JOHNSON and MATT HALEY
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
1: 25 Variant cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
One-shot • On sale APRIL 29 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Don’t miss this digital-first special based on the classic TV series starring Lynda Carter! Travel back to the sizzling ’70s as the undercover Amazon Princess joins forces with special agent Steve Trevor to defend America against Cold War-era criminals. A search for an escaped Soviet scientist brings Wonder Woman to the hottest disco of the day, Studio 52. A live stage act might prove more of a threat to Wonder Woman than the Russian Roller Derby girls out to bring the scientist home.

I’ve been enjoying the digital issues, and I think this print collection of the comics will work even better. The story seems better suited to be read all at once than in installments. It’ll look really nice too; Drew Johnson and Matt Haley have been doing a really good job with the art.

It seems that they’re going with a publication method sort of like Legends of the Dark Knight, where a bunch of stories are collected in a bigger volume instead of regular issue size. The solicit only mentions the current arc, which is just three issues long and thus should only take up 30 pages or so, and so I assume a second arc is on the way.

Finally, we’ve got another issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman to look forward to as well:

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SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #9
Written by CECIL CASTELLUCCI and LAUREN BEUKES
Art by CHRIS SPROUSE, KARL STORY and MIKE MAIHACK
Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
On sale APRIL 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • DIGITAL FIRST • RATED T
It’s a “Girls’ Day Out,” and Lois Lane doesn’t do “puff piece” interviews, which is fine, because Diana of Themyscira is not interested in being treated as fluff. But when they’re attacked by croco-aliens and robots, the situation really gets heated! Then, in “The Problem with Cats,” Wonder Woman has been summoned to the Isle of Cats to rescue her Justice League teammates, but can Diana save the day?

The art above looks to be a page from the Mike Maihack story and not the cover, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the reveal of Francesco Francavilla’s cover in the future. It’s sure to be lovely; the man is epic at covers.

Both of these stories sound fantastic! I am all about a Wonder Woman and Lois Lane team up, especially one involving aliens and robots, so that should be a fun a fun. And Mike Maihack is drawing a story! He’s great, as is Lauren Beukes, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve put together. I think it should be an excellent issue all around.

The solicits also include the upcoming Jae Lee designed action figure line, which has a very cool looking Wonder Woman.  They’ll be available in August 2015.

Look for all of these comic books this April in comic shops everywhere!

Wonder Woman #38 Review OR Dreams, Darkness, And Diana Deposed

January 21, 2015

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Well, I’ll say this for Wonder Woman #38: It’s probably the least bad issue of the Finches’ run thus far. It’s not good by any means, but it’s less aggressively bad than the last two. Still, the issue is rife with problems, starting first and foremost with the depiction of Wonder Woman herself and cascading down from there. We’ll discuss it all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal EVERYTHING that happened in this comic book!

If you haven’t read it yet, leave now!

Unless you’re skipping the book and just reading this instead, in which case, here we go!

Let’s start at the beginning. Literally the first half of the book is a dream sequence; it’s ten pages long. A hydra attacks Paradise Island, and kills scores of Amazons before Diana arrives to stop it. When the hydra sees Diana, it bows down to her because she is the god of war and the beast is now her pet. Then Diana is confronted by a version of herself who’s fully embraced her god of war status and the two fight for a bit before Diana wakes up in her bed, covered in blood.

From a storytelling perspective, this dream sequence went on for WAY too long, and had a bunch of double page spreads and splash pages that were generally unnecessary, the original art for which should sell for a bonkers amount of money. And really, a lot of the art is quite good. David Finch draws an excellent hydra, and while I still don’t care for his Wonder Woman he’s definitely doing a better job of making her look like a grown woman instead of a curvaceous adolescent. For example, look at this face from this issue:

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As compared to this face from Wonder Woman #36 in November:

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The first looks like a woman, the second looks like a girl. Proportionally as well, her head fits her body better now. He’s definitely improving, and deserves some credit for that.

However, the dream sequence as a whole is pretty on the nose in terms of Diana’s anxieties about her role among the Amazons, and goes on for much too long for something that communicates feelings and anxieties we already know she’s dealing with.

Also, here’s something to look forward to and/or dread: The dream sequence ends with Strife watching Wonder Woman, and hints at her involvement in the story down the line. Strife was sort of a breakout character during Azzarello and Chiang’s run, a wild and enigmatic goddess who twisted the story in unpredictable ways. While she was a lot of fun in the hands of the old team, I’m worried about her with the Finches at the helm. They’ve botched up pretty much everything thus far, and that doesn’t bode well for their take on Strife.

The second half of the book, ie. the part of the story where things actually happen, isn’t great. Diana has a conversation with Hessia, a former Amazon who now lives in the world of men. Hessia makes some excellent points about how being the god of war will affect her, but Diana is petulant and angry, and doesn’t want to listen to her at all. David Finch may be drawing Wonder Woman to look more like an adult, but Meredith Finch still has her behaving in a very childish manner.

I understand what they’re going for in this storyline, trying to communicate the pressures of being Wonder Woman and the difficulties of managing it all. They’re trying to give her some emotion and problems that she’ll eventually overcome, of course. The thing is, they’re making Wonder Woman look like a childish idiot in the process. She’s an emotional wreck, she’s being a jerk to her friends, her attitude and issues are obviously affecting her performance of her myriad duties, and she doesn’t seem to notice. This Wonder Woman is in no way self-aware, and Wonder Woman has always been a character who knows herself and what she represents. It’s just an entirely off base characterization. Wonder Woman should be far smarter and more in control than they are making her, and this frazzled, irritable take on the character is wearing very thin.

After the Hessia meeting, Wonder Woman shoots off with the Justice League to investigate another odd occurrence. Wonder Woman gets snippy with Batman, and Superman gets attacked by a swarm of weird bugs, and we’re left hanging on what’s happening there until next issue. My best guess is that it’s another god of war situation, much like the birds that attacked Paradise Island in the last issue, but we’ll have to wait until next month to find out.

Finally, we return to Paradise Island, where the old witch-looking Amazon presents her new heroine, Donna Troy, to her fellow Amazons and proclaims her as their new queen. First off, as a I said last week, Donna Troy’s costume is pretty rad. I’m saying a lot of nice things about David Finch’s art today, and it’s weirding me out, but it’s a fun outfit.

Second, how are the Amazons on board for this? The creepy old Amazon lady shows up with a new champion, and everybody’s going to be, “Okay, cool. Let’s all be ruled by this gal we’ve never met before”? The Amazons can’t be that dumb. I’m hoping that there’s some more debate next issue and Donna Troy isn’t just automatically the queen, because that would be ridiculous. That any real Amazon would accept some new, random lady as their queen is a silly enough idea, but that a majority would be on board seems completely unlikely to me. The Amazons have not been coming off well AT ALL in the New 52, though. They’re pretty much unrecognizable at this point, so my idea of smart, rational Amazons may be an antiquated one.

All together, there were actually some decent moments in this comic. The art is improving. The hydra was cool. Donna Troy’s costume is spiffy. But overall, it’s still a mess with a half-baked storyline and an entirely out of character Wonder Woman. Also, it remains entirely joyless. It’s just dark, all of the time, with no fun and no jokes and no levity. Wonder Woman is traditionally one of the happier characters in the DC universe, even when things are bad, but here she’s just perpetually dour and upset. It’s all getting very old, and we’re only three issues in.

Wonder Woman #38 Preview OR There Are Dragons, At Least. Dragons Are Cool.

January 20, 2015

Wonder Woman #38 is out tomorrow, and I could not be less enthused. When reflecting on the Finches’ first two issues, the words “hot garbage” come to mind. On the plus side, there’s nowhere to go but up at this point. USA Today has a preview of the book that appears to be less of a preview and more an assortment of pages jammed together. Let’s take a peek:

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So let’s start by saying something nice about the preview, just to mix things up a bit. It’s got dragons! And they actually look pretty cool. Good work drawing dragons, David Finch! You’re quite decent at those.

Apart from that, the Amazons are still being jerks to Diana, their damn queen, so that’s really great. It’s so lovely to see so much strife and cattiness from the DC Comics universe’s only all-female society, he said sarcastically. I assume that Donna Troy is going to show up on Paradise Island at some point in this issue and integrate herself before ultimately challenging Diana for the throne, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

Here’s another thing I liked! Two positives; this is getting out of control. In the interview before the preview, Meredith Finch talks about how Donna Troy was made out of clay, specifically the clay that the Hippolyta statue melted into when they left her out in the rain. I think that’s sort of clever, pulling in the classic Wonder Woman origin and adding that twist with the clay statue that will imbue her with some queenliness. I’m sure that the execution of this idea will be fairly terrible, but I think it’s nonetheless the most interesting idea to come out of this run yet. Also, the ONLY interesting idea to come out of this run yet.

Wonder Woman #38 is available in comic stores and online tomorrow. I’m not saying don’t buy it, but I am saying that I’ll have a full review tomorrow if you don’t get around to purchasing it.

Sales For Wonder Woman Drop Dramatically With Meredith And David Finch’s Second Issue

January 19, 2015

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A substantial drop in sales for a second issue of a comic book is rarely surprising, but we’ve got a bit of an odd situation with Wonder Woman. These big drops usually come after a new #1 issue; some people try out the new book to see if they like it, but a lot of people get the number ones just as a collector’s item, and then #2 doesn’t do as well. When a book doesn’t relaunch, such a big swing is less common; there’s not such a huge difference between #36 and #37. However, Wonder Woman #37 took quite a tumble on the charts.

First, let’s go back a bit. In October, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang wrapped up their run in Wonder Woman #35, which sold 35,968 copies. This isn’t a lot, as evidenced by the book taking the 77th spot on the chart that month, though it was still a lot better than Wonder Woman had been doing pre-New 52 relaunch.

In November, Meredith and David Finch’s Wonder Woman #36 had a very strong debut. It sold 58,956 copies, a 64% jump from the previous issue, and rose to the 18th spot on the charts. This was a massive improvement, though perhaps somewhat less impressive than DC was hoping for seeing as David Finch’s last few projects for DC premiered much higher. Nonetheless, it was a very good jump for Wonder Woman, which hasn’t been a Top 20 book for some time.

Then in December, Wonder Woman #37 fell to sales of 43,006, a drop of 27% from the month previous, and dropped to the 42nd spot on the sales chart. Such a drop is in the higher range of typical for a #2 issue of a new series, but oddly high for a continuing series, especially one with such a well known artist.

As a comparison, let’s take a quick look at Superman/Wonder Woman, which saw a creative change in the same month as Wonder Woman:

  • In October, Superman/Wonder Woman #12 sold 47,885 copies for 49th place on the charts.
  • In November, with the new team of Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, Superman/Wonder Woman #13 sold 44,013 copies for 40th place on the charts (despite a sales drop, it rose on the charts because the charts are dependent on what other books came out that month; fewer books, or books that dropped further, can result in a jump on the charts despite a sales drop).
  • In December, Superman/Wonder Woman #14 sold 41,231 copies for 45th place on the charts.

So the new team didn’t provide a bump, likely because October’s issue was a “Doomed” event tie-in, and those tend to sell better than regular comics, but the second issue drop for the new creative team was very minor compared to Wonder Woman, only 6% compared to 27%.

This suggests that the new Wonder Woman creative team may not have gone over well with readers of the first issue, and that retailers saw a big drop in interest. To get a better sense of how the book is doing, we’ll need a few more months of data. If Wonder Woman continues to tumble, obviously the audience is leaving, but if it stabilizes quickly, and at a higher level than the Azzarello/Chiang run, then it will be in a pretty good spot for Wonder Woman, historically. How the numbers go will also probably play a big role in whether DC brings back the Finches for a second arc after the “Convergence” event in April and May. Such a big second issue drop doesn’t arouse much optimism, but you never know. I’m going to keep an eye on things moving forward, and will report any significant changes.


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