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Scarlett Letters – Wonder Woman #33 Reviewed!

28

Oct

Posted by Steve

Scarlett Lynn returns with her take on Wonder Woman #33. This is the Penultimate chapter of the Rise of The Olympian Story arc and big things are happening in the world of Wonder Woman. It’s kind of fitting that she’s been tied up with this while Superman has been dealing with Kryptonians and Batman has been…well…dead. I like that DC, even though they’ve got the whole Blackest Night thing going are trying to return to a time when a person could collect one or two titles and be happy. Then, crossovers meant something…but…this is Scarlett Lynn’s review of Wonder Woman, not my take on the state of comics, so without further blabbering on my part…

WONDER WOMAN #33 – Rise of the Olympian, Finale: Monarch of the Dead

WonderWoman33.jpgHave I ever mentioned that Wonder Woman travels home to the island of Themyscira via a giant, magical, flying clamshell? Sort of like the one in the painting “The Birth of Venus”… only more mobil? If I haven’t, then consider this a quick little primer and heads up.

Anyway… as this issue begins a giant, magical, flying clamshell is skipping across the ocean and slams into the shore of Themyscira as two Amazonian guards look on. (Now aren’t you glad I provided a clamshell-transportation tutorial? Think of how random that scene would be without it!) The guards rush to find Diana unconscious, badly beaten from her previous battle, and they send for her mother. At first Hippolyta is, of course, focused solely on her injured daughter. Then, however, one of the ladies calls her attention to the ocean and the veritable wall of sea-monsters that’s approaching.

Now, Hippolyta is queen for a reason. The woman knows what to do in a battle. Step One: Have the unconscious Diana taken off the battle field to safety. Step Two: Remind someone to grab you a sword when they get a second. Step Three: Take off robe; prepare to defend kingdom in pajamas.

As her mother fights off the invading hordes in her PJs, Diana is slowly regaining consciousness as Phillipus is bandaging up her injuries. Phillipus asks her what happened to her hands, which are especially burnt, and Diana recounts her battle with Genocide. She explains how she had tried to go back for the creature – not wanting to give into the desire for revenge. Her musings are interrupted when she begins to hear the noises of the battle going on at the beach. Phillipus instantly knows what she’s thinking and tries to reason with her but Diana won’t hear of it. Her hands are too damaged to be of much good on their own so she has Phillipus bind a battle axe to her left hand and her lasso to her right hand using the bandages.

In the midst of the battle, the creatures begin to retreat. Ares has ordered Euphemus to focus the attack on Thalarion and Zeus’ Olympians. Athena appears to the Amazons and asks Hippolyta if they will help the men that Zeus wants to replace them with. The two groups join sides against Ares’ forces but Diana bypasses all the carnage and heads straight for the source. In order to stop his twisted plans for the future and to put an end to the war that he had instigated, Diana kills him.

As Diana stands there, removing the weapons she’d tied to her hands, Zeus approaches and congratulates her. Then, oblivious as always, Zeus proceeds to cheerfully tell Diana that he’s created a champion to replace her so that she can run off and be a good wife and mother like she was always meant to. Clearly not catching on to the fact that Diana is not a giddy-little-school-girl at his news, he continues blathering on. When he gets to the part about killing her patron god, however, I think he begins to catch on to the fact that she’s none too pleased. It may have been her punching him in the face and screaming “Murderer!” that finally made her feelings clear. Zeus, however, pompously believes that he knows best and continues on with his decree. Hippolyta will no longer rule, Achilles will take over her role, both the Olympians and the Amazons will be under Zeus’ command and Diana will obey him as her god.

Diana refuses. She renounces all her gods and because they are the gods of the Amazons… she declares that she will no longer be an Amazon. She says goodbye to her mother and promises her that she’ll be alright with her friends and alludes to possibly making amends with Tom. With a final warning to Achilles to look after her people she flies off. Alone.

Skulking around (as she apparently just lives to do) Alkyone mutters to herself about Diana still being an evil dragon and is disgusted with her for abandoning her mother. She reveals that, prior to his death, Ares placed Genocide’s soul in a totem in Alkyone’s possession. She vows to kill Diana and become the mother of Genocide.

STORY: 4 out of 5

DANG! They really weren’t kidding when they said they were planning on shaking up the lives of the DC Trinity. Diana’s not an Amazon any more and is on her own. Her former people and family just had their whole world completely turned upsidedown. And you’re left at the end of this story with no clue as to where it’s going to go next. Her best friends in the superhero world aren’t around anymore… for various reasons. The people who surrounded her in her day-to-day life are just completely messed up at the moment.

I love the story for having the guts to just take the character out of her comfort zone and try something new. Best of all, though, is that they haven’t just shaken up her story in some arbitrary way. It’s been a slow, honest change based on the logical progression of the story and the characters. Continuity for the win!

Forget about what’s coming next, though. [Although considering how late this review is... you may already know what comes next and what happens after that and whatever comes after that. Sorry!] What this issue does so well is payoff one little thing I’ve been begging to happen. Someone finally decked Zeus like he’s been deserving for a while now. Thank goodness it was Diana. (I also would have accepted Hippolyta.)

The only thing that’s holding me back from five stars was that face off with Ares. Really? Way to go out without even trying, Ares. I get that quick is good sometimes but of all villains in Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery… Ares has been there a pretty long time and could have gone down with a little more fanfare and a bit more of a fight. Especially on the heels of the previous issues epic battle with Genocide. Maybe that’s it, though. It’s kind of impossible to top that smack down so they went with the exact opposite.

It was a good summation of this Rise of the Olympians arc and it definitely makes me want to see what comes next for Wonder Woman.

863474_ww_cv33_var_super.jpgART: 4 out of 5

Not quite the 5 out of 5 that the last issue delivered for me but still good. It probably has a lot to do with my own personal bias. Big, scary monsters are never going to be my thing. They always come off a little cheesy for me and there are quite a few in this issue. It’s the renditions of the characters that always impress me with Aaron Lopresti’s art. Their body language and facial expressions are always so honest and indicative of precisely where that character is at in that moment. I could have used a few more epic frames though. A panel or even a full page to really climax the events. Near the end it all felt so small. Still, it was definitely enjoyable.

COVERS:

Main Cover: 3 1/2 out of 5

I liked that this cover was essentially a sequel to the cover of issue #31. It’s as though Wonder Woman is standing in the aftermath of the events on that previous cover. While I do like it for that aspect, there’s something about it that comes off a tiny bit bland. It feels a little more like an internal panel than a cover. The imagery works… Diana, alone on the battlefield with evidence of the Olympians and the Amazons having been there. It definitely conveys what’s going on for the character at this point. Yet, while it worked for me on the other cover, here it just feels a little too spelled out and on the nose. Nice art but I think the concept could have been played with just a bit more.

Variant Cover: 5 out of 5

This cover is just pretty and I mean that in the best of ways. I think it’s a beautiful piece of art. A haunting, elegant portrait of Wonder Woman. I love the colors that were used. The sleepy-eyed, close-up of Diana as the feathery sparks and flames fall all around her makes for a gorgeous picture. Plus, it still manages to convey elements of the story. It’s a striking cover. It jumps out at me. I really liked it.

MEMORABLE QUOTES/LINES:

Diana: “Bind the lasso to my right hand, General.”

****************

Athena: “Will you aid the men who mean to take your place and everything you have sacrificed for, for thirty centuries and more?”

Hippolyta: “… I’ll get my boots.”

*****************

Diana: “Then I will no longer be Amazon.”

Scarlett Letters – Wonder Woman #32 REVIEWED

13

Jul

Posted by Steve

ScarlettLynn is back keeping us up to date on all the happenings with everybody’s favorite Amazonian princess.  I have to say, were it not for Scarlett’s reviews I wouldn’t know how good this book has been.  So thanks again go out out to ScarlettLynn for going strong on the reviews.

WONDER WOMAN #32 – Rise of the Olympian, Part Seven

If I was trying to do the super condensed, running-out-of-time version of the recap for this issue, I could probably do it in just one sentence: Wonder Woman and Genocide fight! Because that really does sum up the knock-down, drag-out, kick-ass events of this issue. But if you’ve read any of my reviews before then you’ll know I don’t really do “super condensed.” So here’s the long, rambling version that I just can’t stop myself from writing.

817813_001_super.jpgLast issue ended with Wonder Woman making a vow to find Genocide and this issue opens up with the revelation that she made good on that promise. She and Genocide are in the midst of a brutal fight through the streets of Washington, D.C. Civilians and cops are trying to stay out of the line of fire as Diana and the monster throw each other into and through various cars and buildings.

While the battle rages on the streets below, Tom and Morrow arrive in a stealth Department of Meta-Human Affairs helicopter that has been outfitted with some weapons that Morrow has managed to get his hands on. In an attempt to help out Diana, Tom launches a weapon at Genocide. This results in not a whole lot more than creating a cloud of dust that Diana has a hard time seeing through and pissing off Genocide. Things weren’t going well before the boys showed up but now the situation manages to get even worse. They’ve gotten Genocide’s attention and that is not something you want to do.

Genocide throws a city bus full of people at the helicopter. Diana has to fight her way free from the creature’s grasp so she can rescue them. It takes her a split second to make the choice in the heat of battle and she goes to save the bus load of people instead of Tom. Tom and Morrow survive the crash but now Genocide has her hands on Tom. Despite all the cuts, burns, bruises and broken bones that get dealt out during this fight, the most devastating blow comes in the form of what’s to come. Genocide uses the power of the lasso to uncover a secret and prompt Diana to answer a single question: Did she ever really love Tom? It’s an emotional kick to the balls when she answers, “No. I did not.”

Forced to hurt the man that she does care about, Diana is pissed off. The fight heats back up as Diana uses her tiara to slash at the creature and break her grip on Tom. She flies with the monster in her arms out of the atmosphere of earth; ice forming on them both as they reach space and then fire encompassing them as they fall through the atmosphere on reentry. Still trading punches they slam back into earth like a meteor, fight through subway tunnels and then back into the sky. Diana is pretty sure she’s broken something and her right eye is black-and-blue and swollen shut.

As the the warrior and the god fight it out, Tom is embracing denial. He refuses to believe for a second that it was real. All he can allow himself to believe is that Diana’s revelation was a trick. Zeus, meanwhile, is also watching the battle play out. He is showing Achilles the fight so that he’ll understand what a remarkable warrior he’s going to be following in the footsteps of. Achilles is kind of wondering why they don’t just go help her out. Zeus rambles on about Achilles taking over and never really answers that question. Someone really needs to smack Zeus upside the head at some point in this arc because he is just making all kind of dumb, crazy-ass decisions lately. (Although sadly enough, those decisions seem to be completely in character for him.)

The final stage of Genocide and Wonder Woman’s battle plays out in the sky over the ocean. Moody, black storm clouds surround them as they fight. Diana is broken, bruised, cut, burnt and scarred. But she’s not down and she is Wonder Woman, dammit. With a last burst of strength and power she grabs hold of the strands of her stolen lasso and rips the thing right out of Genocide’s body. She watches for a moment as Genocide falls into the water – broken and unable to move – and thinks about just letting the monster die alone in the dark. She’s tempted to allow it to end like that. Yet she can’t bring herself to commit murder if there’s any other way and she dives into the water to get it back. Genocide, however, has disappeared.

On the shores of Thalarion, Ares meets with an Olympian traitor, Euphemus. He confirms that he recovered the body of Ares’ future queen, Genocide, and pledges his loyalty to the War God. Ares’ commands him, as the son of Poseidon, to command every sea creature to attack. He plans to destroy Zeus and both the Olympians and the Amazons forever.

STORY: 5 out of 5

842361_mar090170d_super.jpgIt’s awesome stories like this that leave me pissed off that Warner Bros can’t seem to get a “Wonder Woman” movie made. How awesome would this fight have been on the big screen? Incredibly, massively awesome! That’s how awesome. This issue seriously felt like the big mind-blowing fight that caps off an epic superhero movie. The whole story felt like it had been building to this moment and it just totally delivered.

Yet, as bad-ass as the fight was, it wound up being Tom getting his heart broken that ended up really standing out for me. I think it’s incredible that it was the emotional punch that Diana dealt Tom that was the biggest blow delivered in this issue. From cover to cover the issue is pretty much a non-stop fight… except for that one jarring moment when Genocide calls everything to a halt and asks for Diana to tell the truth about her feelings for Tom. They’ve been foreshadowing something not-good in Tom and Diana’s future since Hippolyta appeared in a vision to him a couple issues back. I’d been crossing my fingers that everything would wind up working out for them but outside of joining Tom for a long swim in the river called “Denial”, I think I’m just going to have to accept that they’ve got a rocky future at best after this.

The whole thing was written so well. It’s complete payoff on the fight you’ve been wanting to see since Genocide first showed up and beat Wonder Woman. It’s Diana reclaiming her stolen lasso in the most fierce way possible. It’s the beat down that Genocide so richly deserved. I loved the way the fight was plotted out. It was dirty and messy and had them both evenly matched. One of the moments that I really loved was, in my mind at least, an homage to “Superman II.” When Genocide threw that bus at the helicopter there’s this moment where Wonder Woman looks on in horror and thinks “the people.” It instantly brought to mind the fight between Zod and Superman from that movie… and then instantly brought about my depressed rant about how we can never get a live-action “Wonder Woman” movie.

Seriously though… tremendous action, gut-wrenching emotion, total payoff of everything that’s been hinted at and a big set up for the final chapter in the next issue. Now if we could just get a mention as to whether or not Wonder Girl is still lying unconscious in a pile of ruble from several issues back then all my questions will be answered. (Aside from wondering what the heck is up with Crazy-Donna.)

ART: 5 out of 5

Page one and we are in the fight. Aaron Lopresti has to spend the majority of this issue drawing two characters beating the hell out of each other. Somehow he manages to never let it get dull. It’s a brutal and savage fight but he also manages to never let it just become gratuitous gore. (An especially impressive feat considering Wonder Woman stabs Genocide in the face with her fingers at one point.) Things definitely get violent but it never comes across as cheap.

There are some stunning hero shots of Wonder Woman throughout the issue. The fight scenes have a great sense of motion to them. And during the final battle, when Wonder Woman and Genocide are fighting in the air, surrounded by storm clouds, the setting creates this great moody tone. I really like the clean lines and clear art. You can see the detail of the battle and he makes it very clear so that you can follow exactly what’s going on from one panel to the next.

I love the way he can convey a character’s inner thoughts and emotions from the way he draws their faces. You don’t need a lot of exposition about what Diana is thinking and feeling when you can see a range of emotions play out across her face over the course of a couple of panels. There was also a great consistency in showing the toll that the fight was taking on Diana. From one page to the next you could see how much damage was being inflicted on her and by the end she really looked like she’d just gone ten rounds with an opponent who could have conceivably beat her. You don’t often see the heroes walking around with a swollen-shut black eye and it adds to the impact and weight of the fight she just won.

COVERS:

Main Cover: 4 out of 5

Oh, it is on! One look at this cover and you instantly hear schoolyard chants of “Fight, fight, fight!” There’s only one thing this cover makes you expect from the pages within and that is the mother of all superhero/supervillain smackdowns. And while both Wonder Woman and Genocide look ready to pummel each other, the ferocity that Diana is displaying is just off the charts. She’s almost snarling. The cover totally sets up a “this-is-going-to-be-good” reaction and that perfectly leads into what’s to come once you turn the page.

Variant Cover: 5 out of 5

The variant cover, this month, has moved away from the artistic depictions of the various images of Wonder Woman and has come back around to being about the storyline at hand. I like the previous type of variant art but I’ve got to say I like this even more. It’s still a beautiful piece of Wonder Woman art that focuses on the character. Now, however, it’s also a depiction of the warrior’s fury that she unleashes in this issue. Love the perspective in this cover. I think I’m going to have to start picking up a few of these variants.

MEMORABLE QUOTES/LINES:

Wonder Woman (to Genocide): “When we place your lifeless head on a pike, near our latrines… would you like to face east or west?”

Wonder Woman (thinking): “I heard a snap a moment ago. Not sure if its broken my collarbone, my morality, or both.”

Scarlett Letters – Wonder Woman #31 REVIEWED

17

Jun

Posted by Steve

Scarlett Lynn is back with her review of the latest issue in the ongoing Rise of the Olympians title. I am seriously considering picking up this book on a regular basis now based on her positive reviews of it thus far. So read on as Scarlett meets a celeb, reviews a comic, and makes a prediction as to the amounts of rainbows and lollipops in the future…

WONDER WOMAN #31 – Rise of the Olympian Part Six

I got to meet Gail Simone on Free Comic Book Day. I don’t think there was another comic book writer that I would have been more excited to meet. Despite not having a clue what to say to her… I think I was able to convey how much I’ve enjoyed her comics. “Wonder Woman”, “Secret Six” and her work on “Birds of Prey” are absolutely awesome. She writes such sharp dialog and interesting characters. Plus, no one writes a twisted, messed up villain like Gail Simone. And damn if she didn’t wind up making Genocide even more twisted than I ever would have expected when this story arc began.

784477_ww31a_super.jpgFor the past five issues there have been all kinds of forces gathering against Wonder Woman. Diana still hasn’t learned about half of them by the time his issue starts up. She’s faced off against Genocide but she’s still got no clue about Zeus or his Olympians. So it’s almost overkill when we discover that there’s still more forces marshaling against Diana that she hasn’t even been clued into yet. Hippolyta’s nutjob of an ex-bodyguard is skulking on a shadowy hill, watching her former queen reunite with the other Amazons. It’s not just some general, standard villainous skulking though. The crazy lady has business to attend to. She’s there to meet with Ares and at least she has the good sense to be kind of revolted with herself as she makes a shadowy, ominous and vague deal with him. Though they don’t get into the details, it’s safe to say that there’ll be a severe shortage of rainbows and lollipops in whatever plan they’re plotting.

While everyone and their cousin are finding some way to conspire against Diana, she’s busy receiving an update on Etta’s condition at the hospital she’s brought her too. It’s not looking good; Etta is catatonic and non-responsive. With the nurse comforting her, Diana finally allows herself to break down for a moment and cries for her friend and all of the hell she’s been put through for the past couple of days. Doctor Morrow, who has accompanied Wonder Woman, tries awkwardly not to notice her crying while handing her a tissue. It’s not until another of the hospital’s patients, Tom, walks in that Diana brightens. She’s reunited with her boyfriend but there’s not much time for joy as Tom fills her in on the news of the day: The Olympians.

The Olympians are all over the place. They’ve been attacking military stockpiles and political gatherings around the world. Right now they’re storming the United Nations and declaring that they’re going to take over and impose peace on the world. Before she can deal with any of that, however, Diana first needs to take a moment at her friend’s bedside. While she sits alone with Etta, the nurse that she’d been speaking to earlier enters the room; she’s not herself though.

Athena (now with 10% less deadness) is possessing the nurse to communicate with Diana. She explains to her that she had a dream, a vision of the future, where Ares had won and defeated all the pantheons including the superheroes. We see Superman’s tattered cape and other dead heroes lying in the ruins of a destroyed Metropolis. Athena explains that Ares is behind everything that’s been happening and that everything he’s been doing has been to hurt his father, Zeus. Ares was responsible for prompting Cheetah, Morrow, etc. to create Genocide and intends for Zeus’ Olympians to wind up triggering the war that will destroy the world. Then she reveals exactly who’s body it was that was used to create Genocide… Wonder Woman’s own future corpse.

Diana doesn’t have time to reel from the news for too long (or to spend much time figuring out the temporal logistics) since Athena has told her she’s got about fifteen minutes to stop the Olympians from accidentally triggering a nuclear Armageddon. Wonder Woman races to Russia where she and Achilles finally face one another in a fight at a Russian nuclear weapons bunker. The two have a quick smackdown but before Diana can explain (while totally kicking his ass) how his people are being used, the Russians launch a nuclear missile. Diana takes care of that threat and is now off to find and kill Genocide… no matter who’s body she’s made of.

STORY: 4 1/2 out of 5

I wonder if it’ll count as suicide when Diana finally finds Genocide and rips that stolen lasso out of her stolen body? I might as well just get all the “Holy Crap! I did NOT see that coming!” stuff out of the way up front. Because, seriously, holy crap… I did NOT see that coming. Sure, it’s a little bit of a paradox-laden twist but if Steve has taught us anything, it’s that paradoxes were meant to be embraced. So I’m going to full on face-plant-huggle this twist because it’s not often a comic has made me just stare at one page in shock and confusion and then have to immediately go back and re-read the issue.

I had spent some time theorizing after the previous issue when they finally indicated that the body used to make Genocide was significant but I can honestly say that Diana’s own future-corpse wasn’t really at the top of my list of suspects. There was definitely a moment or two where I wasn’t quite certain if I liked the twist but for sheer shock-value and for all the timey-whimey implications it ended up bringing me around. Cause if that’s Diana’s corpse… that kind of equals a dead Diana. Now all those early how-is-Wonder-Woman-going-to-get-out-of-this-alive thoughts have suddenly come back with a vengeance. What I love even more about it… is her reaction. She’s just been confronted with this horrific knowledge of her own future death and after only a page’s worth of shock she is back on mission and her primary concern is to kick some ass.

Another thing I just loved about this issue was that all those loose plot threads that have been dangling around since the first part of this arc have been tied up into one big ole’ Ares-shaped bow. To find out that he was pulling every string and playing everyone to further his own agenda was awesome. When he first popped up in this issue it was like he was just another villain ready to blend into the mass of antagonists surrounding Wonder Woman right now. Discovering his actual role in all this was pretty darn cool. Diana has a full day of kicking butt ahead of her but Ares has definitely earned his place at the end of that list.

There was just a great balance throughout this issue of action, emotion and humor. Doctor Morrow desperately trying to not acknowledge the incredible awkwardness of seeing Wonder Woman crying was really funny at just the right moment when things had reached such a low point for Diana. One of my favorite moments had to have been them walking to go visit Etta but Diana and the nurse still took a moment to check out the open hospital gown of Tom as he led the way. It’s the humor that keeps things grounded in a reality that you need when you’re fighting god and monsters and your own corpse from the future. Somehow Gail Simone is always able to keep the dialog and the emotion and the characters feel natural in even the most heightened of circumstances.

ART: 4 out of 5

I’m kind of glad that I wound up taking a long time coming out with this review because it gave me a chance to reevaluate the art. Aaron Lopresti has been doing the art for “Wonder Woman” for a while now and I’ve been loving it. So, when I first opened this issue and found that everything was a bit different because Bernard Chang had been done the art this month it all just felt kind of off. Not bad, by any means, but not quite what I was used to. As I’ve gone over the book a few more times I have definitely come to appreciate the look of Chang’s art a lot more.

The characters all have a lot of sharp angles to them and an edge that I think really worked well with the strain and stress that so many of them are meant to be feeling at this stage of the game. He did a great job with the body language of the characters as well. In one scene you can read all of Diana’s emotions from the tension in her shoulders. The character that I think benefited the most from his style is Alkyone. There’s a hardness and edge in the way he draws the characters that really works for her. Her anger and strength really come through from his characterization.

COVERS:

Main Cover: 4 1/2 out of 5

I really liked the way this cover seemed to sum up exactly where Diana is at in this issue. Her armor is gone, the clip at her side where 812503_feb090199_01_super.jpgher lasso should be is empty, she has no weapons, Etta and Tom are there but in no position to help her. Yet her fists are both clenched and you can see her raw physical strength as she prepares to take on Achilles. Despite everything that has been stripped away from her she is still Wonder Woman and she’s still going to kick some Olympian butt.

The contrast of seeing Achilles in his gleaming armor and carrying his shiny spear works well. A couple of issues back it was Wonder Woman who was all decked out in her shiny, gold armor with her weapons in her hands and facing off against Genocide who was about to attack with just her bare hands. It’s an interesting reversal, especially now that we know the truth about Genocide’s origins.

Variant Cover: 3 out of 5

Not my favorite of the series of variants they’ve been doing. It’s strange seeing such a carefree, happy, smiling version of Diana on the cover of so gloomy a story. It’s a nice picture and definitely shows another side to Wonder Woman than what we’ve been seeing lately but it doesn’t blow me away.

MEMORABLE QUOTES/LINES:

Nurse Tamika: “No one’s looking. You don’t have to be a princess right now, if you don’t want to.”

Nurse Tamika (to Diana as Tom walks away): “Are you going to tell him that his gown is completely open in the back?”

Diana: “Well… perhaps not just yet.”

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.”

Scarlett Letters: Wonder Woman 29 Reviewed

26

Mar

Posted by Steve

Scarlett Lynn is back with a new review. This time around she looks at the continuing story of the Rise of the Olympian in Wonder Woman 29:

Wonder Woman #29 continues the ongoing “Rise of the Olympian” story and contains an extra “Origins & Omens” story. Most DC comics this past February have had an “Origins & Omens” story that explained various characters’ histories and hinted at what’s to come. They’ve varied in quality but I enjoyed this one. Gail Simone was able to keep it a natural extension of the main story instead of having it just feel tacked on.

Speaking of the main story… When last we saw Diana everything had just gone “BOOM.” Or, to put it more accurately, it had just gone “BOOOOMMM.” (That’s two extra Os and Ms of lasso-enhanced, monster-God generated, psychic explosion that had just gone off in Diana’s face.) As this issue opens, Diana is crawling her way out of the wreckage and ruin that was once the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

An injured Green Lantern John Stewart tries to assure Diana that the death and destruction are not her fault but she doesn’t buy it. Trying to maintain her focus and keep it together, she asks John to take the injured to the hospital. Donna Troy, however, has decided to go for a different approach in dealing with the situation. Instead of “focused” and “together” she’s gone for a state of mind closer to “raving” and “lunatic.” Donna begins screaming at Diana, blaming her for the explosion, for Cassie’s injuries, and then starts going on about Diana killing her husband and child. If Donna hadn’t flown off (while threatening to kill Diana if she ever saw her again) she probably would have found a way to blame her for the state of the economy, global warming and the fact that telemarketers always call her during dinner. Diana explains that it must be Genocide’s influence. (Or perhaps Donna was just grumpy because she’s been stuck in the weekly series “Trinity” for how many dozens of issues at this point.)

On a battleship in the Persian Gulf, the Olympians are attacking and have essentially defeated the soldiers on board. Jason is demanding a sailor provide him the location of his Captain so that he can give him a warning that their conqueror days are over. When the soldier refuses to provide any info, Jason lets him in on the fact that his second-in-command, Euphemus, is the son of Poseidon. Cue a giant squid-monster-thingy attacking the ship.

At the blast site, Tom gets an exhausted Wonder Woman to focus back on the rescue efforts. She descends to the lower levels to look for survivors – which just happens to be where Director Steel (in Doctor Psycho’s body), Psycho (in Director Steel’s body) and Cheetah (in her own body) have been hiding. Cheetah has Psycho take off with Steel and sticks around to distract Wonder Woman. During their fight Cheetah reveals that Genocide has abducted Etta Candy. Coincidentally, Steve Trevor, Etta’s husband, has just arrived at the DMA ruins and announced to Psycho-Steel that he’s in charge now and is looking for his wife.

While Diana fights Cheetah, Zeus has gone to confront Kane Milohai, the God whom Diana pledged her loyalty to when the Greek gods had left Olympus and Earth. Zeus patronizingly asks Kane to renounce Diana but Kane respectfully refuses. Zeus responds to Kane’s respectful refusal with a respectful lightening bolt to the face. The two gods battle it out and in the end Zeus rips out Kane’s heart.

In the “Origins & Omens” backup story, Tom has been taken to the hospital by John Stewart and is in his hospital bed when Queen Hippolyta (or a dreamlike vision of her) comes in. She tells him Diana’s origin story and that, though he’ll forget this visit of hers, his heart will remember it. Before leaving she warns him to beware her daughter.

STORY:

Rise of the Olympian, Part Four: 3 1/2 out of 5 – This issue was good but not quite as engaging as the last one. I really didn’t feel any interest in the Olympians this time out. We didn’t cover any new ground with them other than the fact that they have a giant squid-monster at their disposal. I can’t say I’m a fan of the giant sea monster . With all the obstacles, villains, gods and disasters looming on Diana’s horizon did we really need a giant squid thing too? Really? I could have done without it; it seemed sort of pointless. Jason and the Olympians had already easily defeated the battleship and all the soldiers. What does the squid add to the equation other than a desire to order up some calamari?

Another element that didn’t really work for me was Donna Troy suddenly going inexplicably insane. I realize that we’re likely supposed to be puzzled by exactly what’s happening to her; however, it played less like an intriguing mystery and more like a confusing, truncated plot point. I know that Gail Simone will elaborate on all this in good time but I think a couple more panels showing her being effected by the lasso-explosion would have been preferable to the little text box having Diana exposit that it must be Genocide’s influence. An extra panel or two for Wonder Girl wouldn’t have been a bad thing either considering all we see of her is her unconscious body lying there and Diana doesn’t even seem to check to see if she’s dead or just napping.

Aside from a few pacing issues (and an unnecessary sea monster) I did like this issue. I thought it continued the theme of the gathering storm in Diana’s future really well. Every issue of this story arc has continued to build the obstacles that Diana is going to have to face. Every time Diana is confronted by a new problem there’s at least two or three more that we find out about. Diana now knows she’s going to have to deal with Genocide, her stolen lasso, a kidnapped Etta, Donna going crazy, Cheetah’s involvement and her own injuries. She’s got no clue as to the fate of the Amazons, Doctor Psycho’s body swapping shenanigans, a giant sea monster, Athena’s death, the creation of the Olympians who are running amok on the open sea, Zeus killing her God and planning to create a champion who’ll now have his heart. It’s exhausting for Diana and they were really able to sell the weariness she’s feeling.

Diana is always so focused on her mission that it was almost shocking to see her thinking about her “damnable responsibilities” and “cursed duty.” All these trials that she’s facing are probably not going to wind up killing her but I’m wondering if they’re going to crush her spirit enough that she might not want to continue on when all the dust has settled. At the very least… after this “Rise of the Olympian” arc is over and done with… I’m hoping for an at least two-part story of Diana getting to take a nap, drink some margaritas and relax at a beach side spa for a little while. I’m feeling tired for her at this point.

The arrival of Steve Trevor at the end was pretty much the sole bright spot in an issue that was really comprised of a lot of hopelessness. The guy gets one panel or so to inject a slight amount of hope that at least Diana’s not going to have to deal with Psycho-Steel being in charge of whatever remains of the DMA. Who knows how long that hope will last into the next issue but for now he was definitely a welcome sight.

Origins & Omens: 4 out of 5 – There was such a compelling sense of foreboding throughout the whole backup story. Instead of a been-there-done-that refresher course in Diana’s creation from the clay, it somehow feels vital and important to the story at hand. There’s definite dark times in Diana’s future and you can feel it from the way they laid out her past. But I’ve grown to like Tom and Diana’s relationship and this story made it seem as though it might not last as long as I’d like it to. I hope that’s not the case. I’d really like Tom to be around in the long term. Overall, the story did its job; it peaked my curiosity about what’s to come and creeped me out about Diana’s past. (I only hope that last part is what they meant to do.)

ART: 4 out of 5 – The art throughout the issue was great. There were less of the “wow” moments that the last issue had but I love the emotion Aaron Lopresti is able to convey in the characters’ faces. There were a couple of images here and there that didn’t really work for me. The giant squid-monster, for example, felt really cartoonish in comparison to the rest of the images on the book. I really appreciated the way he uses each page in a different way and never allowed it to get dull and repetitive despite keeping it consistent.

He especially earns major points from me when it comes to the “Origins & Omens” story. There’s a true darkness and sense of foreboding that comes through from the art in this section. Diana’s birth from the clay is a amidst a blood red moon and a shadowy rain storm. It gives the whole thing a very unsettling feel.

COVERS:

Main Cover: 2 out of 5 – I really didn’t care for this cover. All of the angles just felt off and I really didn’t care for the way Diana’s face was drawn. Something just felt wrong about the picture. The way the characters arms are being held and the way their bodies are turned just didn’t seem to make sense the more you looked at it. Maybe at first glance I might have given it a 3 but the longer I looked at it the less I liked it. I’ve been loving Aaron Lopresti’s art but this cover just didn’t work for me.

Variant Cover: 4 out of 5 – I really liked this cover. I basically had the opposite reaction to this one then I did to the main cover. At first I thought it was kind of boring but the more I look at it, the more I wish I’d gotten this one instead. I love the old fashioned style used to draw the character and costume. There’s a great sense of movement to the image too. The washed out colors really give it a classic 30s/40s animation quality. Where last month’s variant cover was all shining gold, this one appears as though all the gold has been drained right out of it. It’s not a literal cover for the events of the story but it definitely captures the mood of Diana right now.

MEMORABLE LINES/QUOTES:

Diana (thinking): “My cursed duty. My damnable priorities.”

Cheetah (whispering as Diana approaches): “What toys of mortals these demi-gods be.”

The Dreamlike Vision Queen Hippolyta (to Tom): “My daughter has been surrounded by unwavering, unquestioning love, since the moment of her birth until she left our island. Perhaps too much love. She… I’m not sure she understands the full value of it.”