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Scarlett Letters: Wonder Woman #30 Reviewed

30

Apr

Posted by Steve

ScarlettLynn is back with her review of Wonder Woman #30.  Read it and let me know if she likes it…I can’t tell.

WONDER WOMAN #30 – Rise of the Olympian Part Five

I remember when I first began reading “Wonder Woman” trades and comics, that I wasn’t expecting very much.  She WW30reg.jpgwas one of the few female superheroes who’s name I knew and the fact that she was the most known heroine was pretty much the sole reason I picked up the book for the first time.  The tv show was from just before my generation and all I really knew about her was that she had a lasso and an invisible plane.  I didn’t have the childhood-defining movie to connect to her like I did with Superman and she didn’t seem to have the cool-factor of Batman.  But then… then I actually read the comics.  Once I was actually exposed to Diana, Princess of Themyscira, I was totally hooked.  She could spar with Superman and stare down Batman.  She is different from anyone else in comics.

Wonder Woman isn’t just one thing; she’s endless contradictions and complexities that make her one of my favorite characters.  She’s an ambassador for peace, yet she’s also a ferocious warrior.  She’s a modern superhero who fights alongside the Justice League.  And she’s incredibly serious about her religious pantheon of ancient Greek Gods who are very much a part of her life and philosophy.  She’ll stand up at the United Nations and make a speech about the need for equality and about the cultural beliefs she wants to see the world embrace.  And then she’ll go help Superman beat up a robot.  She’s just plain awesome.

So, I should have known better than to have been worried about how she’d possibly survive the events of “Rise of the Olympian.”  What I should have been worried about was whether or not any of her enemies would still be alive once the dust settled.  Which is exactly what I was reminded of with this issue.

It’s still the aftermath of the explosion and Diana is determined to find her friend, Etta.  Steve Trevor shows up and assures Diana that she’s got nothing to worry about from the Department of Meta-Human Affairs because he’s taken charge.  All he needs from his friend is for her to find his wife and bring her back.  So while Steve stands guard to assure some privacy, Diana goes to question Cheetah in further detail.  It’s one of the most chilling unresolved scenes from this story.  Sure, we still don’t know what’s up with Donna Troy or Wonder Girl, but the only big question that I’m waiting to get answered is: “What did Wonder Woman do to Cheetah?”

Wonder Woman has Cheetah bound in rebar – possibly having picked up some tactics from her earlier beating at the hands of Genocide.  Of course Cheetah is all cocky and blase about Diana’s “idle threats.”  Until Diana places her hands on Cheetah’s face in an eerily familiar post and reminds her of the name Maxwell Lord.  At first Cheetah is certain that Diana’s bluffing.  Of course she’s not really going to kill another captive enemy like she’d done before with Max, right?  Diana even freely admits that she regrets her actions that day and wishes there’d been another option.  Yet I think Cheetah starts believing that it might not be a bluff when Diana slashes her face with her tiara, picks her up by the tail and holds the sharp edge to it – threatening to cut it off.  She demands to know where Genocide has taken Etta with a ferocity that would make Jack Bauer go cry in the corner and divulge his secrets.

Unfortunately we know exactly where Etta is.  She’s currently being held in her own personal hell as Genocide tortures her with the stolen lasso.  The creature is demanding that Etta tell her everything about Wonder Woman but Etta is utterly defiant.  She’s certain that Diana will defeat the monster.  Genocide tries to play on any lingering doubts about Steve’s feelings for Diana but instead of breaking Etta, it just pisses her off.  She vows to kill Genocide if Diana doesn’t do it first.

On the new Olympian island of Thalarion, Zeus has gathered his men together to watch as he creates his new champion out of fire and a stolen God-heart.  He names his new creation Achilles, King of the Olympians.  Meanwhile, back on Themyscira, Hippolyta prays for the safe return of her people.  The first one we see arrive is her loyal second-in-command, Phillipus.  She also welcomes back the Bana-Mighdall Amazons who – despite their previous strained relationship – all embrace as Amazons sisters.

Diana has gotten her answer to Etta’s location somehow.  We see her arriving at the headquarters of the Secret Society but we get no explanation to exactly what happened in that room with Cheetah to get her from there to here.  Faust and Morrow watch on the monitors as Diana rips and smashes her way through steel doors, tanks and robots.  Faust flees from the path of destruction Diana is leaving in her wake and Morrow goes out to face her.  He tells her everything he knows about the creation of Genocide.  That she was a creature made from a strange body that Cheetah had brought to their scientists and the dirt from the sites of genocides the world over.  He begs Diana’s forgiveness for his soul and his sins and knows that the creature can never be stopped.  Finally he tells her to go to the top of the building.

Diana flies straight up, through multiple floors and ceilings of the building, to find her best friend strung up with rope and a mocking note from Genocide.  She’s non-responsive and in shock and Diana carries her downstairs in her arms.  Some members of the society are standing there, foolishly thinking they’re getting their second wind.  She tells them to get out and when they don’t listen right away… she begins throwing punches.  Wonder Woman literally rips the entire skyscraper down with her bare hands in a fit of unrestrained rage.

When she walks out of the dust and rubble, Etta still unconscious in her arms, the only person who has stuck around is Dr. Morrow.  He feels responsible for the hell that he’s unleashed and he wants to help Wonder Woman try to find a way to stop it.  Diana has only one question: “How do I kill it, Professor?”

STORY: 5 out of 5

Wow… just wow!  Did I already say wow?  Cause this feels like the “wow” thing could bear some repeating.  So, um… wow.

I’ve read through this issue a couple of times WW30var.jpgnow and it is just an awesome story.  The pace, the energy, the dialog is just all hitting in the right combination.  Somehow Gail Simone was able to take everything that had already happened and make it feel like we hadn’t seen anything yet.  All the hell and devastation that had been piling up on Diana and making it feel like she’d fall apart at any moment only served to ignite this intense focus and rage in her.  She is all warrior in this issue.

When we see Wonder Woman enter that basement to interrogate Cheetah alone, it’s very disconcerting.  Cheetah has lost any ability to intimidate or threaten or seem even remotely menacing now that she has succeeded in ticking off Wonder Woman.  Diana, on the other hand, has become almost frightening.  The moment where she marches into the Secret Society headquarters is, perhaps, one of the most bad-ass moments I’ve read in comics.  When she rips the steel doors off their hinges like they were made of tissue paper and uses them to demolish a tank… well let’s just say you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to make a dramatic entrance to a room.

Faust’s reaction to this was probably my favorite moment in the entire issue.  He just steps back from the monitors in the security room and deadpans: “Well, hmm.  I’m out.”  It’s the most logical reaction I’ve ever seen a supervillain have to a situation like this.  You’ve got an angry, battle-scarred superhero in your front lobby beating your robot and supervillain allies into scrap metal and cowering shells of themselves.  What are you going to do?  You put on your jacket, you turn to your now former ally and say: “Good Luck, May the Dark Gods bless you, I am gone.”  It was awesome.

The stakes feel real throughout the entire story, too.  It never just becomes about Diana punching Shrapnel in the face.  You always feel the tension and the purpose.  The need to find and get to Etta is always there and the urgency is palpable.  Zeus’ hijinks with his Manazons are still fairly disconnected from Diana’s story at the moment – although you know that’s where it’s headed soon enough.  But with Hippolyta’s scene with the returning Amazons you can really start to feel the beginnings of a huge battle getting underway.  Zeus may have plans to retire the Amazons and ship them off into the sunset but none of these ladies are going anywhere without one hell of a fight.

Genocide remains horrific.  Gail Simone never shies away from making her villains truly villainous.  This is a horrible, monstrous being who is unspeakably evil.  She, or it, is a sadistic creature that really feels unstoppable.  And now I’m wondering if there’s even more to it then just the unstoppable God of Genocide that Diana’s facing now.  Morrow described the body that Cheetah had brought them to use in the creation of Genocide as a body that “even in death, it pulsated with energy. It actually glowed.”  I’m wondering if this is the body of someone we might know.  Of course then I started wracking my brain for incredibly powerful, dead, possibly-female villains that might have it in for Wonder Woman… Medusa? Granny Goodness?  I’ve got no clue but I do know that a Gail Simone comic = creepy villain.

ART: 5 out of 5

I feel like I see something new each time I read through the comic.  There’s another line on someone’s face as they set their teeth a little tighter while shooting a defiant look at their opponent.  There’s the small, appreciative smile on Diana’s face as Steve hugs her and reassures her that this isn’t her fault.  There is such wonderful detail  on all the character’s faces that you can clearly see their mood in each scene without having to read a word.  The look on Faust’s face as he makes his “I’m out” comment works so well.  You can almost hear him delivering the line with a dead pan tone and perfect comic timing.

There were some especially great panels that I wanted to point out.  Just before throwing her tiara at Cheetah and slashing her across the face, Diana looks down at her own reflection in the metal.  When she turns and faces Cheetah you see cold determination in her face but in this reflection you see the sadness and weariness that she can’t show at any other time in this story.  In the same scene there is also the recreation of the Max Lord neck-snap scene.  Just by simply blocking the image correctly and putting her hands on either side of Cheetah’s head in just the right way, she doesn’t even need to mention the name in order for it to evoke some strong memories of a major event in Diana’s past.

COVERS:

Main Cover: 4 1/2 out of 5

It’s a little bit overcrowded on the cover but aside from that I liked it.  The coloring was really vibrant and just leapt off the page.  It could easily have been too much but I think they were able to pull off intensity without becoming garish.

Variant Cover: 4 out of 5

I’m really liking this series of alternate covers they’ve been doing for the past few issues.  There are some really varied takes on Wonder Woman and I think it’s making for an interesting series of images.  This one really features the lasso in prominence and has a lot of strength and sharp angles to it.  I think it’s a strong image and I like it.

MEMORABLE QUOTES/LINES:

Wonder Woman (to Cheetah): “All right.  You said it yourself.  We’re at war.  Do you know who Maxwell Lord was, Professor?”

Wonder Woman (to Cheetah):  “As I said, I regret my actions back then.  I’m sure I’ll regret this action as well, Cheetah.”

Akila: “We… we lost our path.  We strayed.  We stand defeated, humbled and naked.”

Hippolyta (handing her a sword): “You belong here by birth and will.  Let this cover your nakedness, Amazon.  Sister.”

Morrow: “And I’ll have you know I worked for a year building that tank.  It was designed to survive a nuclear blast.”

Wonder Woman (throwing a curved chunk of metal into the wall beside his head): “You might want this back, then.  I think it was the steering wheel.”

Wonder Woman (internal monologue): “I thought I was done with this.  The rage.  It could never happen again, I told myself.  And fool or not, that is what I need to be right now.  And Goddess help any living thing in my way.”

Too Girly to be a Geek?

29

Apr

Posted by Steve

I say NEVER!!!!  And with that, we welcome the newest member to the GOO Team.  (That’s The Geek Out Online Team to anyone keeping score at home.)  Kaci, podcast co-host extraordinaire, and good friend to the site joins us for an interesting post discussing an interesting dilemma…in the end, you must be the judge…is she too girly?  Without further ado, Kaci:

While jamming out to some Top 40 hits today it occurs to me: I really have nothing going for me in regards to being a geek. I mean, I’m listening to Ciara and Justin Timberlake sing “Love Sex Magic,” and I totally heart JT. That can’t be geeky. Also, almost every shirt in my closet is pink, I’m wearing big hoop earrings, and the last two movies I watched were “Marley and Me” and “Definitely, Maybe.”

Maybe I’m too girly to be a geek.

It’s a real bummer to realize this now, after being on GOL twice, and telling Steve “Yeah. Sure. I would love to write for Geek Out Online. That sounds like fun.” Grr at me.

So now, I’m officially bummed out. The only thing that can make me feel better now is to watch some “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.” But friends, I only have the original trilogy on VHS, and my VHS player is in a box somewhere still waiting to be unpacked. I could walk all the way down stairs to get Episode I or III, which are right next to my “Smallville” collection, but that’s risky since I just painted my toe nails, and they look uber cute. (sigh) I guess, I’ll just have to watch something on my DVR.

Let’s see. I’ve got some Clone Wars on here. I just started watching “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and I really like it. I’ve already seen this one though, the one where Ahsoka loses almost her entire squadron and is really shaken up. No, I want something more … happy.

“Dollhouse,” maybe? Probably not going to do the trick today, but this is such a cool show. Actually, it is one of my favorite new shows right now. Some of you “I’m just not a big Joss Whedon fan” folks out there — and you know who you are — need to get over yourselves, and check it out. It’s more action-movie-esque than things like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” but still can be pretty funny. It’s a tough series to write a synopsis for, so I’m not even going to try to do that here. But go to Hulu or something and check it out. After a couple of episodes, you might just realize you’ve been missing out. “LOST” last week was really cool too, although, I totally saw the “That creepy dude is your dad” thing coming. “Smallville’s” “Stiletto” was stinking awesome last week, also, but I’ve already watched that twice.

So now it’s down to “Doctor Who” and “How I Met Your Mother.” I love “Doctor Who” but it looks like HIMYM is new tonight so case closed. HIMYM has to be the funniest show on TV since “Friends.” The episode called “Matchmaker” where Marshall and Lily find this icky creature living in there apartment that looks like a cross between a cockroach and a mouse — a cockamouse — Oh my gosh, I laugh my rear  off every time.

An episode of this should cheer me right up. Then, I’ll go change into my PJs, put on some fuzzy pink socks, and try to think of some way to tell Steve about my revelation: I’m too girly to be a geek. And I’m so disappointed.

Scarlett Letters – The Commish…

12

Apr

Posted by Steve

ScarlettLynn is back with her ravings (and, as you will see here, sometime rantings). This time she takes a forray into DC’s latest crossover, Battle for the Cowl. Check out what she has to say.

Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon (One-Shot)

Gordon.jpgCommissioner Gordon is one of my favorite supporting characters in the DC Universe. I’m not quite sure what draws me to the character; maybe I just love a good cop story every now and then. I was definitely looking forward to this one-shot tie in to the “Battle for the Cowl” story arc. So far I’ve enjoyed everything dealing with the aftermath of Bruce Wayne’s “death”. The main “Battle for the Cowl” title kicked off to a good start. I had a lot of expectations for “Oracle: The Cure” and I’ve found it to be pretty solid so far. Even “Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight” was unique and engaging and got me interested in a character that I didn’t really care about going into it. So the last thing that I expected when I went to read “Commissioner Gordon” was to wind up preferring the freakin’ “Man-Bat” one-shot to this story. Seriously… Man-Bat. Man-Bat?!!? Man-Bat was a better story?!?! Nothing against Man-Bat but I don’t think there’s a combination of exclamation points, question marks and italics that can sufficiently convey my shock and dismay at “Man-Bat” being better than “Commissioner Gordon.” (Plus, to be honest… it’s just kind of fun to repeatedly say “Man-Bat”.)

In “Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon”, Jim Gordon is dealing with a Gotham City with no Batman. The inmates have escaped Arkham Asylum yet again and now they can’t count on Batman to round them up. Gordon leads Bullock, Angie and some other members of the GCPD to go recapture Mister Freeze. Freeze gets the drop on them and winds up kidnapping Gordon. While the rest of the force tries to track down their boss, Gordon saves himself, takes down Freeze and thwarts his evil plan. In the end Gordon vows that cops are “the law in Gotham City” and are going to start acting like it.

STORY: 1 1/2 out of 5 – The plot is fairly basic but that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a fairly decent framework for a story to be built on. Gordon and the GCPD have to deal with taking down a Batman-level super-villain on their own and that’s definitely not going to be an easy task for them. Apparently, however, they have to come off like absolute idiots in the story for that fact to get conveyed to us.

When I said that Freeze gets the drop on them, I really should have said: Mister Freeze slowly turns around, delivers a horrible line and shoots the cops with his ice gun. I know Batman’s got his Batcave and his supercomputers and his files on everyone under the sun but exactly how does the GCPD seem to forget the fact that Mister Freeze has gun with which he freezes people? What tactical genius decided the best way to apprehend Victor Fries would be to all enter in a group through the same door and loudly announce yourself and start shooting from a distance (at his seemingly bulletproof suit)? Perhaps this would all be completely forgivable if not for the epically cheesy line that it results in:

Gordon: “Watch yourselves! He’s moving! FIRE!”

Freeze: “No. ICE!”

Wow… just, wow. Suddenly I was having flashbacks to Arnold saying things like “You’re not sending me to da cooler!” or “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” Nothing good can come from reminding me of “Batman & Robin”. I tried to un-hear Arnold’s voice in my head saying the line but I couldn’t.

The evil plot that Gordon thwarts is never exactly explained. Freeze makes it clear that he wants to kill a bunch of people to teach them about pain and loss. Freeze has some giant computer and machine that’s supposed to do something… let’s assume it involves freezing people. Instead of turning to Batman to help take him down, Gordon manages to do it himself. He breaks free of his chains and then is able to stop the giant machine by grabbing something important and running away. If it had been some diamond or crystal or cluster of wires or some odd looking device… I’d have been right there with him. Instead the “something important” that Gordon yanks loose is the keyboard. Where ever could Freeze obtain so rare a component? Evil can never prevail now that it’s going to have to run out to Best Buy and pick up a new keyboard.

Luckily for Gordon, however, Freeze decides not to head to another room in the giant office tower they’re in. Instead of quickly grabbing another keyboard and dooming Gotham to whatever frosty fate he had in mind, Victor decides to chase Gordon into another lab. Freeze is in a particularly “Freeze-Smash!” type of mood and he winds up smashing a gas main. Since Gordon can’t quit smoking he’s got himself a pack of matches. Cue the giant fireball which just happens to be Freeze’s weakness and voilà… Gordon takes down Freeze. When Gordon became invulnerable to flame is anyone’s guess… maybe his mustache is made from asbestos.

Now, to be fair, he was hiding under a table. I’m sure that would have completely protected him from several floors of the building blowing up in a massive explosion. And he is definitely lucky that the explosion was as big as it was. If the building he was in hadn’t gone off like a roman candle then it’s not likely that the rest of the GCPD would have ever figured out where he was. I don’t expect them to be Batman. They aren’t going to fill the shoes of the world’s greatest detective. Perhaps, though, they can take a lesson from the events of this issue. When Mister FREEZE has kidnapped your boss and you’re scouring the city looking for him… why not check the giant building that towers over all others and is visible from the window of police headquarters and has the word “CRYONICS” emblazoned on it in big, sky-high letters?

To cap off this little ode to the wacky antics of Gordon and his cops, we have Gordon finding out that there are reports surfacing of Batman being spotted in Gotham and of him killing people. Which Gordon responds to by turning off the Bat-Signal and making his vow to start acting like the law in Gotham City. It’s not like this is Gordon’s first day on the job. The man has been acting like the law in Gotham City for a long time now and he’s been without Batman’s help before.

Instead of this comic, if you’re looking for some good stories about the cops of Gotham, I really recommend picking up “Gotham Central”. They make a few references in the Freeze storyline to the events that are covered in that first trade, “Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty”. It’s an infinitely better take on the idea of what it’s like to be a crime fighter in Gotham City if you wear a badge instead of a cape. And if you’re looking for a more complex look at Commissioner Gordon then I’d really recommend you check out “No Man’s Land”. It’s an amazing Batman story but it also has some interesting exploration of Commissioner Gordon and Batman’s relationship.

ART: 1 out of 5 – I’m going to give the artist on this one the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was rushed or was for some reason unable to finish drawing this issue before it was published. I’m not all that slavish when it comes to continuity errors. A mistake here or there is no big deal. Heck, I’d still give the art on the latest issue of “Justice League of America” a five out of five and the artist accidentally drew Wonder Woman instead of Black Canary on one page. So clearly, I’m not ridiculously picky when it comes to a mistake or two. But what is up with Gordon’s glasses? They’re there, they’re not there, they’re there, they’re not there. It’s not one or two panels either. It’s the whole issue. The glasses just randomly appear and disappear.

Continuity aside, I really didn’t care for the rest of the art. Harvey Bullock looked like one of the three stooges half the time. If the panel doesn’t have a close up of someone’s face then it comes off looking unfinished and undefined. There is one distance shot of the cops where Angie’s face is literally just a blank oval. At the end there’s this one full page hero-shot of Commissioner Gordon being backed up by his cops and it’s just a mess. (Oh, and Gordon’s not wearing his glasses in that one either.)

COVER: 3 out of 5 – There’s not too much to say about this cover. I don’t hate it and it’s not bad but there’s nothing special about it. I’ve been liking Ladronn’s covers on “Green Arrow/Black Canary” but this one didn’t blow me away. If you really want to see an evocative and well done cover of Gordon standing in front of a spotlight… take a look at the cover for “Batman #684”. Maybe this cover was just a bit late to the party and I’d like it more if I hadn’t already been blown away by that previous Tony Daniel cover. In the end this one just came off a bit bland.

MEMORABLE LINES/QUOTES:

I don’t really have any quotes that are memorable in a good way this time around. And I’ve already mentioned the memorably cheesy: “Fire” … “No. Ice.”

Geeking Out Gets Serious

3

Apr

Posted by Steve

On the next episode of Geek Out Loud, we will welcome Kim (kkjordan from the forums) to the show to talk a bit about April being World Autism Awareness Month, and the upcoming Walk Now for Autism event hosted by Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks raises money to help with research and legislation that will help families dealing with all of the costs of raising a child with autism.

Often, we geeks are painted in a poor light. Do something to break that stereotype. Give up a few comics or action figures this month, maybe even skip a movie this weekend and click on the banner at the top of the page to donate to Autism Speaks through Kim’s team for Walk Now for Autism. Minimum donations are $20 online, but you can send in a smaller amount if that’s all you can afford. I’ve set a goal of $3000 for Kim with help coming from all over the Geek Out Loud nation. So do something that matters. This isn’t a bid to get more iTunes reviews or to get me on The ForceCast. This is an opportunity to do something great for a great person and a great cause.

Click the banner above to donate for Kim’s team now. Let’s show the world what the geeks are capable of.