Review: Wonder Woman #16/Justice League #16/Batwoman #16 et al

Lady of the flies

Wonder Woman #16

I might have made a rod for my own back here. Trying to flag up and review every appearance of Wonder Woman each month in DC’s various titles seemed quite easy (and cheap to do) when it was just Wonder Woman and then Justice League I had to pay attention to. But this month, as well as those and the continuing crossover with Batwoman, there’s Ame-Comi girls, the H’El on Earth storyline that’s crossing over Superman, Superboy and Supergirl, and the alternative reality Injustice: Gods Among Us to deal with, too. Blimey. I’ll try my best anyway.

This month, we’ve had the continuation of the New Gods storyline in Wonder Woman, including the return of pretty much every Old God we’ve had so far in the comics. Justice League sees the continuation of the Atlantean war against the upper world – and the return of pretty much every Justice League member from pre-nu52. Batwoman gets a little bit back on track, even if it seems to have lost the plot with Wonder Woman, and H’El on Earth gets all ‘mantic. Isn’t that nice?

Wonder Woman #16
Plot

After Orion and his metal sidekick stop Milan’s fly swarm…

Milan

…and Orion’s been a Hal Jordan-grade dick…

Orion is a dick

…Wondy’s usual compassion persuades Milan to go looking for Hermes and the baby…

Hermes and the baby

Demeter and Hermes

Meanwhile, the First Born has a fight with some ice giants that allows him to get his weapons and armour back:

The First Born fights

The First Born wins

And Zola and Hera are out on the town, enjoying themselves (sort of), when who should pop up than Ares, Dionysos… and Strife…

Ares and Dionysos arrive

Strife arrives

Is it any good?
Very good indeed. The issue could do with a few extra pages, because compared to pretty much every comic out there, it’s going at a very slow pace indeed, but it has a lot going for it, even if it feels like one of Jamie Delano’s old Hellblazers.

A lot of the issue is horror-based, usually around the eyes (Ares, Milan), but with the gore of battle from the First Born, the flies of Milan and the question of what Ares is going to try to do to Wonder Woman. But there’s the humour of Hera’s learning about drinks and the compassion of Wonder Woman herself, winning over Milan more than a fight could.

The downsides are the usual suspects: a passing acquaintanceship with Greek myth that suggests that only wine is drunk on Olympus (no, nectar or ambrosia?), that gives us ice giants who are brothers of Zeus and Hades, et al, and that doesn’t really get Dionysos as a god; a style of dialogue and writing that’s so hard to follow, I’m really not sure if there were some speech bubbles missing at some points – how are the ice giants “the runt” (presumably Hades) “overcompensating”? How does the First Born deduce that Zeus is on Olympus (“That fool… me here… means he’s not… Olympus, I’m coming for you!” – WTF?); and not enough Wonder Woman being wondrous. Add to that a rare misfire of a cover by Cliff Chiang and you’ve got an issue that’s a little insubstantial and slightly sub-standard compared to the usual high quality of the title… but that, as always, promises more.

Orion’s “legs” comment is on a par with Geoff Johns’ “Dibs“, too.

Rating: 4/5

Justice League #16

Justice League #16
Plot
Basically, it’s a big fight, with the Trinity on one side, rescuing each other, the Atlanteans on the other side, using water and electricity (always a good combo) to fight back, and Aquaman in the middle, trying to broker a peace – and getting hit a lot. Wondy gives out a beating to a few people but eventually gets sucked up with Superman into the water, meaning the Justice League has to call in the reserves.

Wonder Woman fights

Wonder Woman hits

Wonder Woman is hit

Superman saves Wonder Woman

Orm defeats Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Superman

The Justice League reserves

Is it any good?
Well, there have been better comics, let’s say. It’s got two real purposes:

1) To be a slug fest designed to make the Atlanteans seem more of a threat than they should be for a people led by someone called Orm (too easy to to think of Orm and Cheep), largely by making the Trinity more rubbish than they should be – Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman all zapped by leccy and stuck in water? I don’t think so.

2) To bring in new members of the Justice League (what is that Zatanna’s wearing, by the way?)

As such, it’s unsatisfactory on all counts, with the Trinity too easily defeated, the Atlanteans not really earning their stripes and the promise that the next issue, no one interesting is going to feature heavily.

Rating: 2/5

Batwoman #16

Batwoman #16
Plot

Wonder Woman arrives with Batwoman. Wonder Woman fights the hydra, while everyone else fights Medusa, trying very hard not to look.

Batwomen #16

Wonder Woman tells Batwoman to back off

Batwoman #16

Meanwhile, no one appears to have read Brian Azzarello’s take on the gods or even looked at any of the pictures.

This ain't how the gods look anywhere else

Is it any good?
To be honest, it flags up why I don’t read the Batman titles – they’re ridiculous. Obviously, I’m biased, but anything not involving Wonder Woman was just plain silly and overwritten. Still, it was nice that Wondy got to do some fighting and show why she’s the best, after a few issues of doing nothing but snivelling.

Beautiful artwork mind, although not so much with Wonder Woman herself.

Rating: 2/5

Superboy #15

H’El on Earth
Plot

Last issue, Superman was having trouble fighting Kryptonian H’El, so he summoned the Justice League, including Wonder Woman. In a multi-issue crossover, Wondy and co raid Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and try to get to H’El.

Wonder Woman arrives in Superboy #15

Wonder Woman gets to the heart of the matter

Wonder Woman reckons no one will pass

Wonder Woman has a point

Wonder Woman points something out

Is it any good?
Largely, it reminds me why I don’t read Superman titles – they’re such science-fiction beardy-weirdiness with too many crossovers for their own good.

But, despite the flashback to early Volume 2 dialogue for Wondy, it’s a good set of issues for her, although the bulk of her action is confined to Superboy #15. There, Wondy, as well as being referred to in DC’s new marketing push as a “living goddess” (which I actually approve of), gets to take on whole armies by herself and Batman points out that Wondy loves a fight – so don’t try to stop her.

There’s also another theme, which we can pick up with Injustice: Gods Among Us…

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Injustice: Gods Among Us #2
Plot
Basically, a prologue to the forthcoming video game, it’s a weekly digital explanation of how the various members of the Justice League end up descending into a big fight. So far, Wondy has only shown up in issue #2, in her weird nu52/proto-nu52/Odyssey hybrid costume.

Wonder Woman in Injustice Gods AMong Us

Wonder Woman: Injustice Gods Among Us

Is it any good?
So far, nothing you haven’t seen before, beyond Jimmy getting killed by the Joker and Lois getting abducted by him. In other words, it’s that old trope – “You killed my girlfriend/baby/friend – now the gloves come off” – that gets deployed whenever you want Superman to go apeshit. Wondy doesn’t get a lot to do apart from use her lasso to get to the truth.

And can I just ask, what’s up with Wondy’s breast. They’re starting to rival Powergirl’s.

Stop it, DC. You’re being silly now.

Rating: 2/5

AmeCome cover

Ame-Comi girls
Plot

Wonder Woman’s got a power ring and, along with all the other heroines, has been turned into a zombie, in the style of Blackest Night.

Wonder Woman the zombie

But it’s all right. Somebody else has a plan. One you didn’t see coming. Yes, they reprogrammed the universe.

Universe changed

Is it any good?
It is what it is, but it feels a bit desperate, like the writers are trying to shoe horn too much plot into stories so that plots that could take twice as long aren’t being developed. It’s fun enough, but very throwaway.

Rating: 3/5

  • SK

    A 'living goddess'? Are goddesses usually dead, then?

  • Presumably in the DC universe, there are goddesses who are no more. I wouldn't like to say which ones though

  • I was in the bath reading last month's Action Comics, when I once again pondered on a question that has baffled me for years: why does Superman have muscles?

    So, our yellow sun gives him his powers and he can lift a car as easily as we could lift a cup of tea. What could he possibly be doing in the gym to give him that physic? I'm not even sure flying down to the dock and benching a few ocean liners is going to do it, and it seems valuable waste of superheroing time.

  • Superman grows stronger over his life as he's exposed to the sun's rays, but in Action Comics it's seen that he's not as strong as he becomes in Superman – he even has trouble stopping a train. Therefore, I assume the muscles are the result of a lifetime of building up super-strength.

    And because he's an icon of male wish fulfillment.

  • Action Comics appears to be trying to include/explain certain things that were in the original 30's/40's run. Superman working for The Daily Star, and he's not flying in Morrison's version either.

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