It’s going to be the last Weekly Wonder Woman for a while, I’m afraid, since I’m on blogging holiday next week until the start of September. So treasure these words, for they’re the last you’re going to get for over a month.
But for our last Weekly Wonder Woman this summer, we have a doozy of a collection to work through. As well as seeing the power couple face down the Suicide Squad in Superman/Wonder Woman #19, we have Wonder Woman facing down the Anti-Monitor in Justice League #42, facing down Martian Manhunter in Martian Manhunter #2, facing down Nyx and two Strifes in Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #43… and, erm, apologising to Superman for breaking his arm in Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four #11.
And finally, after weeks of digital comics promoting its arrival, we finally have not only the conclusion of the Justice League: Gods And Monsters comics series, but also Justice League: Gods and Monsters to watch on our teles. Was it worth the wait for Wonder Woman fans?
Find out after the jump.
Superman/Wonder Woman #19
It’s a book of two halves. The first is a cornball dialogue-filled, standard superhero fight between the power couple and the Suicide Squad. Given Supe’s depleted powers, it’s unsurprising that most of the heavy lifting is done by Wonder Woman, who takes out virtually everyone by herself.
Maybe it’s the new costume or the fact they’re stuck in cells most of the time, but for some reason, the Suicide Squad don’t appear to know who Diana is.
The second half of the book is a bit more ‘hurt comfort’ after Diana tends to the considerably bruised Clark, who’s taken something of a drubbing.
Diana’s worried that Clark might get weaker or possibly even die. She’ll protect him if he lets her, but he’s got other plans – one of which involves meeting the President.
Is it any good?
To be honest, it’s a bit blah. Of the Suicide Squad, about the only person who should have given Wonder Woman more than a second’s pause for thought was Reverse Flash, but she took him out quickly enough – the result was never in doubt. It’s more a surprise that it took her so long, rather than anything else, so there was no real tension in the first half.
The second half was a moderate improvement, giving the power couple’s relationship a chance to have a second to breath and for them to evaluate. It’s pleasingly handled, but again, doesn’t add that much that’s new, more just confirmation of what we already knew.
Average artwork means that this wasn’t a high scoring issue for me overall.
Justice League #42
The Justice League have just been comprehensively pummelled by Darkseid’s daughter, who strangely enough seems to want to kill him by bringing the Anti-Monitor to Earth. Despite being hopelessly outnumbered and outmatched, with only Steve Trevor to help her, our brave Diana decides to take on the forces massed against her.
That doesn’t work out well.
Fortunately, Metron turns up in his chair to whisk everyone away…
…to Shazam’s home, the Rock of Eternity.
Wonder Woman wants answers and now, not only does she have just the Lasso to get them, she’s also got someone who has all the answers in the world.
Diana removes Metron from the chair. But who will replace him? Surprisingly enough, the answer’s Batman but sitting in the chair might have changed him a bit.
Is it any good?
I could pretty much just copy and paste all my previous reviews for this: Geoff Johns, crap at dialogue, great at big comic book ideas; Jason Fabok, brilliant artist, does the best Wonder Woman going. Lots happen, Wonder Woman responsible for most of the best bits. Some nice individual moments, some involving Steve Trevor.
There, same as always. But on top of that boilerplate review, we also have a couple of interesting points:
That’s DC’s Wonder Woman sales copy, officially made explicit canon.
We also have this:
A lot of this is reiteration of our last information on the subject, but clearly “We were given life by the old gods to save the world from war” isn’t quite the same as “In a way, that’s why the goddesses created us. The Amazons were to inspire and protect mankind against the influence of Ares.” Whom can we believe?
But a good, fun, beautifully drawn issue, full of Important Things and good Wonder Woman moments.
Martian Manhunter #2
For those of you who don’t know, Martian Manhunter has been a member of the DC Universe since the 1950s. He has superpowers including the ability to shift his shape, read and even write to other people’s minds, and can phase through matter. The last survivor of the dead planet Mars, he becomes a superhero on Earth, usually pretending to be a police detective while he does it.
At least, that’s what used to be the case. In the new Martian Manhunter title of the DC Youniverse, the big reveal is that this decades old story has actually been implanted in his mind and he’s actually a sleeper agent for the impending Martian invasion. Mars may be dead, but the Martians themselves are hidden among us…
Issue #1 gave us the start of the Martians’ terrorist attacks, which firmly point the finger at J’onn J’onzz himself. As a result, the Justice League come to round him up, but without much success.
Why isn’t it going too well for them? Well, it’s all in their minds…
Is it any good?
The issue as a whole tries to tread the uneasy new DC Youniverse tightrope between humour and action. It partly succeeds, as J’onn is a largely affable character, but the humour’s… shall we say ‘broad’ and the action’s… shall we say ‘gentle’?
As for the Wonder Woman personification, all bets are off because it’s all in her/J’onn’s mind, but it’s not the best portrayal of her and you’d think she could be a little more kick ass rather than ass kicked.
The title is also the first that doesn’t include ‘Wonder Woman’ in its name to feature her new costume and it does expose some of the problems with it:
- Despite her having two swords now built in, artist Eddy Barrows assumes they’re just pointy things and gives her an additional sword
- Her outfit is very indistinctive from behind, making her hard to spot in some panels
Better editorial briefing should fix 1, but given how much the two swords thing took off with her old outfit (ie not at all), I shouldn’t be surprised if that now becomes the norm. 2, on the other hand, isn’t fixable, so artists are going to need to go for close ups and views from in front, if they’re going to ensure Wondy doesn’t disappear into the background.
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four
The gods have arrived. Superman has a choice – surrender or die!
He has one day to give up ruling the Earth or the gods will take it from him. Superman and co prepare to leave to mull their options, but Batman’s a bit miffed. Hercules, however, gives precisely zero f*cks about that.
Batman agrees to go along with Zeus’ orders. However, Zeus has more orders… this time for Diana – leave Superman and join the other gods.
Is it any good?
Just as Clark takes stock of the pros and cons of the situation, so does the rest of the Justice League, including Raven, who’s currently moping about because daddy’s gone…
…and Shazam, who’d probably want to join in if he weren’t tied up and Ares hadn’t broken his beacon.
To show there are no hard feelings as a result of their recent death match (which she won), Diana apologies to Clark about his arm, too.
Nice to see the temptation to avoid a big slugfest at this stage was avoided and it’s also good to see how Wonder Woman-centric this year of Injustice is shaping up to be. What will Wonder Woman’s response be? Tune in tomorrow…
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #43
It’s actually easier to describe the overall plot of Sensation Comics this week, rather than describe it bit by bit. What this issue reveals is that someone has prayed to Nyx to end war and to make this transpire, Nyx has swapped the two Strifes around. Or tried to, at least, since this issue seems to suggest that while it looks like the ‘good’ Strife is in charge, she’s actually the bad Strife pretending to be the good Strife.
Indeed, confusing is the name of the game. A while back, I suggested that Sensation Comics presents a big temptation to an invited author to throw everything they have into their one story. Here, Karen Traviss builds on her previous issue, which bulged full of research, and adds yet more. But where to put it?
Everywhere, of course. It’s in Nyx’s purple narration, where we get stories from both Homer’s Iliad and Hesiod’s Theogeny, quickly followed by a paraphrasing of the Roman satirist Lucian, all on just the first page.
We have references to Wonder Woman’s mission…
…her being the daughter of Zeus…
…the lesser known Apate, goddess of lies, who’s never made an appearance in any Wonder Woman comic ever…
…the fact Zeus fears Nyx but Hesiod never explains why…
…Amazon attitudes to men and boys…
…(slightly inaccurate) ancient ‘Greek’ (ie Athenian) history…
Phew. All good in small doses, but compressed into one issue? I think not.
Coupled with the mishmashing of snoozily worthy late Volume 2-style ambassadorial duties, this more esoteric form of nu52 Greek myth is all a bit much to take. It feels like it’s been patched and crowbarred together, rather than flowing naturally from the narrative.
For example, Strife wants to break up the peace conference so she tries to discredit the mediator by… sneaking one of the two warring sides a dossier on ancient Athenian history? That seems likely, doesn’t it?
Nevertheless, despite all of this and despite the fact that as with a lot of Sensation Comics of late, it descends at the end into Wonder Woman doing some uncharacteristic punching as the first resort, rather than talking, the issue is still pretty strong. It’s got a good plot and an interesting central idea, and I’m looking forward to the resolution.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
As far as the remainder of the comic strip goes, it can basically be summed up as ‘Doctor Psycho uses his science to control the minds of the world, including those of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, and then uses his DNA to boost himself then builds himself a giant robot. The Trinity free themselves from his control, there’s a big fight and they end up forming the new Justice League, with Steve Trevor as their liaison to the US government.’
Or should I say the beginning, because the four separate threads have effectively been four separate origin stories for each of these alternative heroes, so we can all head straight into Justice League: Gods and Monsters with this new Justice League already established and imposing its law and order on the world.
At least, that’s DC’s hope, but that’s not quite how it works out. The movie really gets by on the fact that Bruce Timm is running the show – yes, Timm who was responsible for most of DC’s animated output for a couple of decades, including the much loved Justice League cartoon series, as well as the various Batman cartoons.
The main plot of the movie is that someone is killing off top scientists, such as Ray Palmer and Silas Stone, who would be important names in the main DC universe but who are dead within the first 15 minutes of the movie. Who’s doing it and why? Well, it looks like the Justice League, who have a reputation for brutality, but is it?
While the Justice League are doing some investigating of their own, we then get flashbacks to both Wonder Woman and Batman’s lives leading up to the Justice League, Superman’s conception at the hands of Zod back on Krypton having already formed the movie’s pre-title sequence.
And to be honest, the movie is no big shakes. There’s not much characterisation in the movie’s relatively brief runtime and most of the big plot points and motivations are bog standard. Its main draw is simply seeing the alternative versions of the main characters and supporting cast, as well as Timm’s involvement.
Indeed, without those preview comics to build up characters, the movie would have had a hard time of making me care what happened. In particular, Wonder Woman gets quite short shrift of things compared to her own comic’s run. Here, she’s the granddaughter of Highfather and she quits New Genesis when her husband Orion (that should please Brian Azzarello) is murdered. Most of what she does is to help Superman and it’s clear that everyone just regards her as Superman’s helper and nowhere near as powerful as him or they just think she’s hot.
Not very edifying.
It’s clear, given the effort put into the preview material but the near minimal effort put into the movie’s storyline that this is intended as merely the first of many Gods and Monsters movies and nuances like character, proper backgrounds, etc, will come later, this supposedly being the action-packed grabber of our attention. The ending is very much a set-up for a sequel, one that should hopefully be a lot more Wonder Woman-oriented.
But despite the decent cast (Benjamin Bratt as the less-Latino-than-in-the-prequel-comic Superman, Michael C Hall being even more monotone than he was in Dexter as Batman, Tamara Taylor from Bones here exceeding the latest Wonder Women to almost match Susan Eisenberg, Paget Brewster as Lois Lane, Jason Isaacs as Lex Luthor, Richard Chamberlain as Highfather), I’m not that enthused by the prospect.
They interested me with the comics, they lost me with the movie. How unfortunate.
Disclaimer: Owing to the small fortune it would take to buy every single DC comic each week, this is not a guaranteed rundown of all the comics that feature Wonder Woman. If you know of any I’ve missed, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll cover them next week