Wonder Woman #32 – Comic Review

Wonder Woman #32 proves again that it’s essential reading: A great super hero comic, and a story for anyone interested in mythology.

Emphasising the gods as a family allows Wonder Woman to show loyalty and guardianship toward her supernatural family.

What Wonder Woman#30 offers:

  • The pantheon of gods shown off in this issue have strong character and costume designs
  • Action scenes convey motion across panels
  • A theme of guardianship communicated through Wonder Woman’s selflessness

This comic celebrates a pantheon of Greek Myth in its characters, and the art work that has gone into their designs. Action is several scenes also flows across panels.

The comic celebrates the pantheon of Greek Myth. Each figure in the pantheon had a role, a purpose, and a skill set attributed to them. In this issue, their role as representatives of greater, essential forcers that are facts of living on the earth; Life and Death, the Ocean and the Sky, Chaos and Desire; Messages carried through the air; the moon, the sun, and parenthood. All powerful forces that define us.

Design choices in the artwork for each god are effective. For example: Eros wears a long scarf, and wields gold guns, and Demeter’s hair is closely knotted leaves – a pattern of flowing tree roots spreads across her face.

Then there are the new gods: Wonder Woman herself wears red armour, and ties back her hair in this issue. Her costume features strongly plated armour. The First Born remains zombified. He’s essentially a grisly and bloody corpse, ranting about his power.

Action scenes establish movement across panels. Characters leap through the air, running toward and away from threats.

The First Born begins a coordinated attack on the Gods of Olympus. Wonder Woman continues to champion diversity.

The First Born is the key villain here. A long neglected son of the Zeus and Hera, First Born seeks to destroy his entire family of magical deities. His revenge is the driving force of the story. He is uncomfortable with vulnerability, however, which becomes clear after he encounters Eris, the goddess of chaos.

Wonder Woman still believes in, and embraces diversity. Last issue made that clear. She made a progressive step forward – telling the exclusive Amazon community they must change their long held beliefs, and accept a baby boy onto the island community. Her actions made a strong comment about diversity and change, and were comparable to the real world problem of exclusion and lack of female representation in a misogynist community. Showing deeper vulnerabilities, she asks Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, if she is making the right decisions.

Wonder Woman defends Demeter from harm. She tells the other gods on the run from the First Born to flee, while she faces the enemy. Her selflessness builds a theme of guardianship

Wonder Woman #32 shows Diana as a defender, and a warrior for those who cannot defend themselves. Demeter is the Greek god of harvest and life, and being the sister of Poseidon and Hades, she is a major target of the First Born’s attack on the gods. Demeter is a peaceful character. Wonder Woman steps in to protect her. Not only does she defend Demeter, she tells the other gods to retreat to safety. This selflessness builds a theme of guardianship.

Wonder Woman faces the First Born alone, and in a burning forest. A cliffhanger to close this section of the story.

Wonder Woman #30 is published by DC Comics ($2.99 USD). Brian Azzarello (W.) Cliff Chiang (B.D) Goran Sudzuka (A.) Matthew Wilson (C.) Jared K. Fletcher (L.) Cover Artwork by Cliff Chiang.

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Wonder Woman #30 – Comic Review

Wonder Woman has risen to new authority over the past story arc. Now returned to her home, she has changed, but faces a stilted and traditional society. Wonder Woman#30 embraces equality with a strong statement about change.

What Wonder Woman#30 offers:

  • Great colour choices and use of perspective that show the reader tone and mood.
  • investigating Wonder Woman’s responsibly and success.
  • A strong statement about the problems of old ways of living, and equality.

This review contains some minor spoilers.

The colour of the sky gives clues about the tone of each scene in the comic: Blue for clarity, Grey for danger, and Indigo for thoughtfulness. On the river Styx, Hades summons an army of bleached white souls. They form a startling and enormous wall behind him.

Magic and energy pulse from the gods that dominate the story. Hera’s emerald powers cause her eyes to glow – there is no doubt of her strength in this comic book.

Perspective establishes power. Wonder Woman stands on a balcony overlooking the amazons. The First Born has built a squishy, awful looking platform on which to stare down at the captured Cassandra. Perspective in these scenes shows the characters new authority. There is also a strong sense of space, and no scene feels cluttered.

Wonder Woman has solved many problems, and overcome harsh obstacles to save her friend Zola, and the baby Zeke. With new responsibility, Wonder Woman must confront unexpected challenges: including the effects of her own success.

A large part of the comic deals with the problems of Wonder Woman’s success.

Her sisters on paradise island are restored to life. Hera is restored to her state as a goddess, and no longer a burden.

The First Born has control of Olympus, but has also captured and neutralised another dangerous villain, Cassandra, in the process.

With no clear leader, Wonder Woman is given the title of “Queen”. Such success surrounds her. She is the God of War, and Queen of the Amazons. But with this new pressure, there are more problems. In this comic, we see Wonder Woman succeeding under pressure.

And there is pressure: The Amazons of paradise island do not trust Diana. Not an easy problem to solve when several dangerous and flighty gods are strolling around the island (Hera, Hermes, Dionysus, Artemis.)

There is a second problem on top of that: no boys or men, young or old, are allowed on paradise island. Zeke is Zola’s son. Yet another threat has appeared against Zola and her baby: The Amazons themselves.

Wonder Woman takes an extraordinary step to solve that problem.

Within all this stress, there is a calm moment: Zola wants to leave paradise island (she knows Zeke is in danger), and Wonder Woman agrees: It’s what she wanted once.

Despite the comic missing some action, a strong statement about equality appears. Wonder Woman strikes out against stifling traditions

As their new Queen, Wonder Woman has the Amazons pledge their lives to the protection of Zeke, a baby boy.

This step crosses their old traditions of valuing one gender over another. Wonder Woman asks: does this tradition benefit or weaken our society?

This is a strong story about challenging and changing tradition. It holds up a mirror to the real world. Where equality can be just as disparate between men and women. For example, the recent critique of Teen Titans #1 cover artwork, and the threatening, and inappropriate responses that followed.

Writing for Comics Alliance, Andy Khouri made several strong points about women, men, and gender equality in the comics industry.  Just as Zeke, a boy, needs to be accepted on paradise island, the real world community needs more equality. That’s the statement Wonder Woman makes here.

It’s contained within a strong story, with fantasy and magic elements. While it may lack action and combat story elements that make Wonder Woman a strong comic book, the statements made here are worth reading.

Wonder Woman #30 is published by DC Comics ($2.99 USD). Brian Azzarello (W.) Gorian Sudzuka (A.) Andrew Wilson (C.) Jared K. Fletcher (L.) Cover Artwork by Cliff Chiang.

Comics Review – Wonder Woman #22

Wonder Woman #22: The Calm

On a perfect world, where foreigners are forbidden, Wonder Woman takes a moment of respite to recover from her fights with Artemis, and The First Born.

New Genesis is the home of the warrior Orion. It is a grand metropolis, floating in the sky. A true place of peace, where the New Gods dwell and meditate on well-being, and life. Highfather leads this nation, and he is the unquestioned patriarch of the New Gods.

Jack Kirby created the New Gods in 1971. Kirby wrote tales of heroes and gods that broadly represented forces of good and evil in an ongoing struggle.

In the pages of DC comics new 52, readers would have seen the villain Darkseid confront the Justice League. This battle marked the beginning of the new 52 in Justice League issues #1 to #6.

It is significant that Wonder Woman #22 marks the introduction of the Highfather’s character: he is the spiritual opposite of Darkseid.

Wonder Woman is currently the only member of the Justice League to have met both Highfather and Darkseid, the gods of good and evil respectively. Could this mean that DC comics attitude to Wonder Woman comics is now more positive, since she blazes a trail through New Genesis, which is a major part of DC’s history?

Art

Beneath the spires and domes of New Genesis lies another world. It’s not a utopia – High father remarks that  New Genesis is a glorious sight. Ruins, rubble, and broken things litter the surface, however. Despite that, it’s still green and lush world without devastation. There are scenes where a giant statue lies in a forest covered with creeping vines.

Orion meditates in the ruins, and in the murky, spoiled glass of a sky scraper, he sees a reflection of his violent and ugly nature screeching at him. The artwork is powerful for these scenes, as Orion collapses into the dirt, exhausted at tempering his impulsive and violent nature to better fit into New Genesis society.

The comic book cover itself is also a strong artwork, inspired by the red, yellow, and orange colours of Soviet era propaganda posters. The letter “R” is even reversed to match the Russian, Cyrillic alphabet. The reversed letter R stands for a “Y” sound instead of an “R” sound.

Cast

Orion is at war with himself. He must keep his angry nature on a leash to fit into New Genesis society. Wonder Woman tells him that perfection is sometimes our worst enemy. She encourages Orion to accept himself.

Themes, ethics, and values

Orion’s struggle fits together with themes of the comic: Propaganda, lies, and conformity. New Genesis appears ideal on the surface, but there is something suppressive and Orwellian about it when the ruins beneath the floating city are revealed. The Soviet-inspired cover artwork presents Highfather as something of a patriarchal figure. George Orwell was alarmed by the uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia, aware of the hidden suppression.

This version of New Genesis has a similarly deceiving appearance, where Highfather orders his storm-troopers to aim their weapons at Wonder Woman’s friends and family – Zola, Hera, and the baby Zeke. This is a society that condones threatening women and children in the service of greater goals. Orion rebels against Highfather. The key ethic here is taking a stand against the pressures of a society in the face of propaganda and conformity.

A bit more on Wonder Woman #22

The First Born has not waited patiently for Wonder Woman, Zola, and Zeke to return to Earth. The London that Wonder Woman returns to is gloomy, with black shadows and a grey sky highlighted in red. A battle is about to begin, which is why it is appropriate that Ares, the Greek god of war, arrives to join in.

Wonder Woman #22 is published by DC comics. $2.99(USD). Brian Azzarello (w). Cliff Chiang (a). Mathew Wilson (c). Jared K. Fletcher (l). Cover by Cliff Chiang.

 

Comic Review – Wonder Woman #21

Wonder Woman #21: Flesh and Stone

(Some minor spoilers for Wonder Woman #21 follow)

Wonder Woman leaps to the defense of her friends and family, and a villain defies the laws of science fiction physics in his relentless attack. The First One has caught up with Wonder Woman, and he wants to bring the world to an end. He needs Zola’s son Zeke – the last born. The battle between Zeus children accelerates.

Reading through the actions scenes is like being swept up in an orange and red-yellow lightening storm. The First One towers over the other cast, and he makes this fight terr0r-streaked with his brute force.

Orion swoops in to help out. He, Lennox (another of Zeus’ kids), and Wonder Woman try for an escape through a portal in space. The First one proves too powerful, however, as he grasps the closing portal, and holds it open – a feat that should be impossible.

Art

Orion opens a portal called a “boom tube”. It’s technology from his home dimension – New Genesis. The artwork as the characters travel through the boom tube is incredible. Blurred red and blue lines create a visual effect inside the wormhole tunnel that vibrates – it’s like the older red and blue 3D effects. Lettering during the action scenes is powerful, and evokes a deeper sense of action, which is further enhanced by the expert colouring.

Characters

Wonder Woman defends Hera from The First One, who slaps Hera off panel. She responds to his violence: “judging by what I saw…you have this coming”. She then wastes no time in fighting The First One off. Her actions raise ideas about protecting elders, women, and children from violence.

Orion fights for different reasons. He has a mission and is ruthless. Wonder Woman states that he fights “like an animal”. This shows the difference between Wonder Woman and other brawlers in comic books. She fights to protect, and does not use excessive violence.

Ethics and Values

Wonder Woman’s actions prompt questions: is violence an acceptable response to protect those in danger? Or does more violence just extend a cycle of fighting?

Despite being an action fueled comic book, Wonder Woman #21 makes a statement about violence toward elders, woman, and children – under no circumstance should it be tolerated. Orion even states, when attacking The First One “you’ve made a huge mistake”.

The characters in the comic book certainly don’t fit with pure, non-violent philosophies, and are an example of the ongoing problem of using violence to stop violence – particularly Orion. But the comic itself stands up as critical of larger problems in our society.

Wonder Woman #21 could align with the third principal of non-violence written by Martin Luther King Jr in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: “attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil” is the third of six principals. The comic attacks tolerance of violence. The comic also judges the perpetrators of violence – they are as misguided as the villain, The First One, who lets his past trauma dictate his actions as an adult.

Cassandra, who allows The First One to strike Hera without comment, also lets her past influence her choices. Cassandra lets The First One threaten Hera – bystanders who let violence happen are therefore also making a mistake.

 A bit more on Wonder Woman #21

Historically, Wonder Woman has had key moments of being a role model. I think that her defense of Zolo, Hera, and the Baby Zeke show courage that can be looked up to.

Wonder Woman #21 is Published by DC comics. Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Cliff Chiang. Colourist: Mathew Wilson. Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher.

Comics Review – Wonder Woman #18

Wonder Woman’s monthly comic continues to shine as an example of great story and stunning art. Brian Azzarello puts on a show in Wonder Woman #18, with several epic battles, and a reunion long delayed. 

I am enjoying this continuing story about Wonder Woman rescuing her friend Zola’s baby: the Greek god Zeus is the child’s father, and his wife Hera therfore want’s to punish Zola and the baby. And then the baby was taken away by Hermes – who embodies many things: namely speed, healing, and theft.

Further, a god named Orion –  a “New God” from the same place as Darkseid  – arrived on earth with plans that involve the latest child of Zeus.

That’s the only weakness of the story I can see: the background reading of Greek Gods and Comic Heroes of the 1970’s needed is steep at times. The good news: the comic does not expect readers to know details.

Wonder Woman #18

There are several impressive action scenes, namely a race between Hermes and Orion, a Duel between Wonder Woman and Hermes, and a battle between Posiedon and “The First Born” – Zues and Hera’s first child together, which is new mythology.

Colour and lettering work well to build an atmosphere and accent the characters poses and movement. Hermes’ weapons glow blue, and Wonder Woman‘s swords shine a deep, metallic purple – almost imperial purple.

The race to outrun the god of speed is an small epic, constructed across several panels. The sequence uses lines to effectively convey motion. lettering – the loud, large words used to indicate sound effects in comics (called Onomatopoeia) – also give a sense of speed.

Combined with blurred colours, the art team, Cliff Chiang and Goran Sudzuka with Tony Akins, Dan Green, Matthew Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher, have achieved a strong sense of movement.

The First Born’s regal, dark blue armor stands out against the aquamarine of the ocean as he fights Posiedon – refereed to simply as “Ocean”. The idea that a god is an avatar – a physical representation of a force of nature, or soceity, is a key part of the Wonder Woman comic.

Demeter – the goddess of fertility – is called “Harvest”. In this issue, however, she is also called “Nature”. Some gods represent multiple forces.

As another example, Ares is called “War”.

Nature and War face each other as Ares tries to help Wonder Woman, and rescue Zola’s baby from Demeter, who agreed to protect the child with Hermes – Who could be called “Thief” as well as “Messenger”.

It’s a spoiler to write about what happens next, however Wonder Woman is facing more challenges from the pantheon of gods than it appears, as she escapes Ares and Orion in the cover art below.

Wonder Woman #18 is published by DC Comics.

Comics Review – Wonder Woman #14

Brian Azzarello writes about old and new gods  and demigods in Wonder Woman at DC comics: The current story sees Wonder Woman fighting against the plans of Apollo and Hermes as she tries to find lost members of her family.

Wonder Woman #14

in Greek Mythology, Zeus had a reputation for being unfaithful to his wife Hera. As  a result of his infidelity, demigod children with unusual talents would appear in the ancient world. Azzarello extends this idea to the the twentieth centuary – children born with unusual talents after 1901. We know Wonder Woman is one of those children. Lennox, a man with skin as hard as stone, was revealed as another child of Zeus. In Wonder Woman #13, Siracca appeared – a new sister for Wonder Woman – who can control the winds, and is perfectly at home in the harsh dessert.

Also a part of Greek Mythology was Hera’s notorious desire for vengeance – both on the woman Zeus romanced and their children. While this issue is violent – Siracca and Wonder Woman clash, with hundreds of scimitars, axes, and various weapons flying around a room – Wonder Woman and Siracca find a common bond as victims of Hera’s wrath, and daughters of Zeus. They have a brief moment to get to know each other before Wonder Woman’s quest continues, and in that moment, they connect as a family.

Considering all the violence Wonder Woman has been through with her various immortal uncles, aunts (and step mother), this is a a great scene to read. The art here is clever, and feels like a fairy tale: Siracca drifts gracefully in the air, saying “I am the wind”. Jarred K. Fletcher’s lettering in this page is extraordinary.

Several other plot threads woven into this story are welcome, and are building a strong, miniature universe for Wonder Woman within the wider DC universe. Some of the ideas here have the sound of myths and legends to them: Zeus and Hera’s firstborn son arrives on Earth’s surface after digging upward from the molten core for 7,000 years, ready to usurp Apollo, who has recently taken control of Mount Olympus. Ares tells Apollo how little he thinks of his new Olympus, and makes a dramatic exit. Dionysus, the god of wine and parties, is tasked with following him.

And meanwhile – on a distant star – two gods from a separate pantheon, far removed from human affairs, believe they have found the place where the end of the world will begin. Fans of Jack Kirby’s New Gods would definitely enjoy this issue. It’s clear that these plot threads are the start of new directions for Wonder Woman next year.

Wonder Woman #14 published by DC comics

 

Comics Review and News

After reading through several new Marvel, DC, and Independent comics from the past two weeks, I have a number of updates I’m going to add this week.

Wonder Woman #0

DC recently published a series of origin stories for their characters, and Wonder Woman’s story stands out as a entertaining and compelling. Unlike several of the other titles from DC at the moment, Wonder Woman weaves together an exciting action story with a plot that surprises the reader – something that is becoming a rare in mainstream comic books.

During the events of her monthly comic, Wonder Woman’s origins have already come to light, defined her character, and then moved over for more pressing events. Since an “issue #0” is ostensibly published to tell the origin story, readers might ask why bother?

Readers should bother in this case, because Wonder Woman #0 is an exciting stand-alone story telling a tale of several formative events in Wonder Woman’s life. Namely, when she reached the brink of childhood, and stepped boldly into young adulthood.

  Brian Azzarello, writer of 100 Bullets (published by Darkhorse comics), brings us a  a journey into the Labyrinth to fight the Minotaur alongside Harpy egg collecting to make a birthday cake.

The writing tone adds a layer of humor: it is written in the style of an older, over-the-top comic adventure that might be found in the silver age of comic publishing – alliteration and humor appear, particularly in the writer’s and artist’s credits.

Artists Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared Fletcher give some heroic art here. Dark and light places are dramatic, and character emotions, particularly their anxiety, are expertly rendered.

Wonder Woman #0 is published by DC entertainment.