Saturday, March 30, 2013

Monthly Dose: March 2013

Monthly Dose is a semi-regular column where I reread one issue each month of long-completed series.

100 Bullets #5: Much stronger than the first half of this two-parter, "Shot, Water Back" centers on protagonist Lee confronting Megan Dietrich for ruining his life many years ago. Their interaction is refreshingly honest and direct. Neither of them has any reason to lie to one another, since Lee is there for vengeance while Megan knows herself to be untouchable. She readily admits that she sent the damning pictures to Lee's computer, claiming it was a prank she and some of her girlfriends perpetrated just for laughs, choosing their targets at random. This does little to comfort Lee or quell his rage, but it is the first of several delicate steps Megan takes to manipulate Lee into surrendering his weapon and, ultimately, his very existence. She offers him money, offers to secure his kids' future, forces him to question Agent Graves' motives in delivering the gun and its untraceable bullets in the first place. And she never lets herself seem scared or even the tiniest bit phased by Lee's threats. Though out loud she claims that he is in control, it's obvious for the entirety of their conversation that, in fact, she is running things. Right up to and including the final, murderous moment. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso really operate as a unified team here. There is a lot of tense silence, close-ups on faces or just eyes that tell as much story as any of the dialogue. And, of course, there is the totally disconnected drug deal gone wrong helicopter gun fight scene that takes place in the building across the street from Megan's office. I've never been clear as to why it was included, but it is fun and very strong work from Risso, who always makes it obvious what we're looking at. There is also the matter of the conclusion, which is in a lot of ways the first time this series has officially announced a larger, overarching narrative. Dizzy's opening arc hinted at things to come, and of course we know Agent Graves is up to something with all the free guns, ammo, and information he's distributing. But it is not until Megan calls some mysterious other party and tells him Graves is back that we know for sure there's something bigger and unseen going on in the background of this title. It begins when we see genuine fear on Megan's face, for the first and only time, when Lee reveals how he found out what she'd done to him. And it ends when she delivers the news of Graves' return and the person she tells it to reacts with sudden violence. A tasty appetizer at the end of an issue that was already a marked improvement over the one it followed.

The Intimates #5: This issue is a favorite of mine, and it hits me just as hard every time I reread it. The slow and steady build-up of Punchy figuring out that Dead Kid Fred is serious about suicide is handled expertly by Joe Casey and Giuseppe Camuncoli both. On the art side, it's primarily just the subtle, silent panels of Punchy looking at Fred from the corners of his eyes or from a distance, always slyly and with a bit of a scowl but also with a clear underlying concern. In his mind, Punchy doesn't want to be the caring, sensitive guy who takes the scared new kid under his wing. But he can't help himself, can't stop his inner decency from making him try, in his own misguided way, to save this strange new student. And of course, eventually, Casey has Punchy verbalize all of this to Duke. "What kinda superheroes are we if we just sit here?!" he asks, unwilling to be just another cynical teen ignoring the cries of his peers. Duke describes Fred's online ramblings as, "Dumb teenage whining," and Punchy responds, "Maybe it is. But that doesn't mean he won't do it." He sees the signs and knows they are to be taken seriously, and is apparently the only person in the entire school to do so. It makes him more of a superhero in my book than anyone else has been in this series so far. And god, that moment when he punches down the door and we see Fred, naked and terrified, standing in a pool of lighter fluid that's dripping off of his sad zombie seriously gets me every damn time. I get flush with anticipation during the pages that lead up to it. It is the rawest, most heartbreaking moment of the series up to this point, and arguably the most teenaged AND the most superheroic. For a book that's generally quite good and all about teen superheroes, that's saying something. I think The Intimates #5 is an example of what this title always wanted to be, an ideal issue that hits all the right notes. It says something about school, about teenagerhood, about what it means to be a superhero and what is wrong with them, and at the same time it deepens our understanding of the main character (let's face it, Punchy is the star of this comicbook). It also introduces a new character, makes him funny and sad and clear and awesome right away, and then brings his personal journey to a close. That's a lot to accomplish in the space of a single issue, and it's not even everything that happens. There's a pointless but very funny sex ed lecture, a scene with Punchy and The Seminary's janitors striking a backroom deal, and of course the info scrolls, which are solid and interesting here if a bit disconnected from one another. Basically, The Intimates #5 does everything the four preceding issues have set out to do, but better and more succinctly. Also, this is the first time that the ending has really clicked for me, rhythmically. I admire that this book doesn't always close on a cliffhanger, breaking the mold of the usual superhero monthly. And it's no cliffhanger here, either, but it is a logical and sound closing line that brings the main narrative of the issue home. Like I said, this issue is a favorite, and probably the one I would be most likely to point to as a summary of the strengths and immense potential of The Intimates as a whole.

X-Force (vol. 1) #5: Rob Liefeld draws some gross-ass, unnaturally wide, extremely toothy grins in this issue. It's distracting, particularly the splash page introducing Toad and The Blob to the book, where they look like some kind of intensely disturbing toothpaste ad. Nobody ever smiles like that, and even though it basically fits with Liefeld's larger-than-life style, it's still weird and disgusting and needless. Beyond the teeth (or should I say TEETH?) the issue is sort of a mess. The pacing of the series seems very strange to me, because this issue felt like a sort of breather, a quick calm-down kind of chapter in between the big action. Which is fine on its own, but it is the second such issue in only five, and neither of the breathers have been used to do much character development or plot advancement or anything at all, really. This month, Bridge gets upset that he has to hunt X-Force, but still agrees to do so, so nothing changes. Cable and his crew butt heads a little over his decisions and secrets, but only for a few fleeting moments before they hurriedly and inexplicably decide to stay on the team, so nothing changes. And in the middle there is a pseudo-sexist scene wherein Feral sluttily throws herself at a confused and extremely unattractive Shatterstar. Oh, right, but first we get a pseudo-racist scene of Warpath running around shirtless and mentally listing a bunch of famous Native Americans and describing himself as the wind and other such insensitive nonsense. It feels like X-Force under Liefeld is just an excuse for the man to draw whatever he wants, to explore the physicality of these characters (many of whom he created) without any regards to story. Then Fabian Nicieza has to come in and try to put words on top of everything in such a way as to propel a story forward, and there's only so much he can do. So this issue treads water, adding Siryn to the team even though we barely know any of the cast yet, and doing so in just as rushed and flat a manner as everything else that goes on. And there are some moments of sloppiness where I can't tell if they are mistakes or just poor writing, like when Cable responds to something Boom Boom says, but addresses his answer to Cannonball. Was this a lettering slip-up? A scripting one? Or is Nicieza just bad at writing three-way conversations? Very hard to tell, and not the only example. What can I say? X-Force is feeling pretty aimless right now, and I'm still not even clear on why I am supposed to be invested in these people or anything they do.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Grand X-Factor Investigations Investigation Archive

For the sake of convenience, here's a handy list all the stuff I wrote these last few months about Peter David's current run on X-Factor:

Part 0. X-Planation & X-Tolment: A short introduction
Part 1. Loads of Cases, Just One ProblemX-Factor #1-20
Part 2. Anytime You Have Two Evils, One Of Them Has To Be LesserMr. Tryp and The Isolationist 
Part 3. An Illogical Next Step Made LogicalMessiah Complex
Part 4. What's Been Up Comes Down For A WhileX-Factor #28-38 (and, technically, She-Hulk #31)
Part 5. Ah, YesX-Factor #39-50
Part 6. Three Rescue MissionsX-Factor #200-212 
Part 7. I Can't Think of a Title For This OneX-Factor #213-224
Part 8. Dying Gets the GirlX-Factor #224.1-232
Part 9. Those First Few DominoesX-Factor #233-240
Part 10. Modern Life is RubbishX-Factor #241-251
Part 11. Meet the MadroxesIt's all about Jamie & Layla's love
Part 12. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?It could be about any number of other things, too
Part 13. Good and Bad With a Dash of UglyThe Artists of X-Factor #1-50
Part 14. PenultimArtThe Artists of X-Factor #200-253
Part 15. X-EuntSome Final Thoughts & Praise

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Grand X-Factor Investigations Investigation Part 15

The last in a group of 15 posts on X-Factor volume 3.

Some Final Thoughts & Praise

Though I don't spend my time obsessively writing about it (yet), my television addiction rivals my comicbook one. My fiancé and I watch and repeatedly rewatch every comedy series we can, plus a handful of the higher-end crime shows to round things out. We discover series we've been missing and burn through their existing episodes in a matter of days, then start again at the beginning because they're still fresher to us than the shows we've already gone through dozens of times. Right now, I have the fourth season of Gilmore Girls playing in the next room, a show I started rewatching for something like the fifth or sixth time a few weeks ago. Most of it still holds up. Kelly Bishop is amazing.
     I also play Dungeons & Dragons, and have been part of at least one campaign whenever possible since middle school. I'm currently DMing one of the most successful and long-lasting runs in recent memory, consisting of a nice blend of experienced and brand new players, all of whom were friends before we started playing. The enthusiasm and ingenuity of the group are unparalleled, and it has made for some hilarious and unique gaming stories, both in-game in IRL.
     My point is, I have always been and continue to be drawn to collaborative, serialized storytelling. Comics, TV, D&D---they all tell ongoing, sometimes never-ending narratives. You become attached to the characters and, in turn, the creators who are responsible for making you love those characters. There's no Parks and Recreation without a Leslie Knope, and there's no Leslie without an Amy Poehler. My D&D game would lose a lot if Tringus the kobold monk or Bee the pun-loving elf or loyal hawk companion Hotel California died, but it'd lose a lot more if Ed or Arthur or Joel stopped playing. It applies to comicbooks, too, and it's a significant part of why I'm so enamored of this series and it's only, extremely talented writer, Peter David.
     What I like about serialization is that it creates an opportunity to provide payoff to the audience at varying intervals. The stroytellers can deliver a self-contained, single-issue (or single-episode or single-session) story, pause for a beat to explore or reveal something about a character, or take a year or even a few years to tell a sprawling epic with many players and multiple conflicts to resolve. And of course, anything in between is possible, too. The demands of each new narrative in the series can dictate the pacing and spacing they need, which provides variety and a sense of the unknown, even once you've become comfortable with the cast and/or world. David's X-Factor is a master class in using the serialized format to the fullest, telling any and every kind of story, weaving threads of every imaginable length and thickness into an ever-more-complicated tapestry. In the end, it is this that I most admire about the book, and it is the reason I continue to love it and think of it as a favorite of mine even when it's in the middle of a story I'm not crazy over.
     Rahne showed up pregnant in X-Factor #207, and the storyline currently running in last week's X-Factor #253 is centered on her child. We've been waiting even longer than that for an answer to what Shatterstar and Longshot's secret connection is, something that David teasingly reminds us of every so often but has yet to fully reveal. And (unsurprisingly) my favorite example: Layla told Jamie she'd marry him in issue #9 when she was still a kid he'd barely met. Years later, it happened in #247, but only after a twelve-issue arc about her pulling him into the future, a later four-parter where he died and went on a weird reality-hopping journey in order to come back to life, and then a one-shot about Layla preventing the suicide of a woman who many years from now will become the doctor who develops the procedure that'll save Jamie's life. Several stories of many sizes that all also act as important steps in the much larger tale of their romance. This is why X-Factor keeps me coming back no matter what.
     It may not be reliably amazing on a month-to-month basis, though few titles truly are. But X-Factor IS reliably amazing and rewarding in the long term. It is a series that always finds itself again when it gets a little lost, that never forgets the promises it makes to its readers, and provides satisfying answers to all of its biggest mysteries. David is clearly in his element on this title and with these characters, and he's earned my devotion for as long as he has new stories to tell.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Grand X-Factor Investigations Investigation Part 14

The fourteenth in a group of 15 posts on X-Factor volume 3.

The Artists of X-Factor #200-253

Bing Cansino draws the entire "Invisible Woman Has Vanished" arc, and they are a dark and moody three issues. It works for the story, especially since much of it is set in Latveria, and Cansino handles a large group of characters quite well. He has his weaker panels, but generally keeps everything moving right along, even with the Fantastic Four family of characters guest-starring in an already crowded series. A lot of really good, hard-hitting action, too. Cansino draws great debris, and seems to know it, finding many opportunities to break walls and windows and sidewalks and such. And it makes The Thing look great, very alive and detailed. A solid showing all around, which has me wondering why Cansino never returns to the book. Seems like he'd be a good fit (though, admittedly, I have no sense of what else he may have been doing at the time).
     For the next arc, X-Factor's loose tie-in to the "Second Coming" crossover, Valentine De Landro comes back. It's...weaker than his work has ever been before, and I'm not sure why. Things feel amorphous in these issues, particularly people's facial features. It's a little less stable looking than usual, like it might dissolve into a mess of colorful, abstract liquid on the next page. That's not always how it comes across, but it certainly looks that way more frequently than did De Landro's beginnings on the series. Of course, it never actually does break down into something incomprehensible, because even when wobbly, De Landro is a very strong visual storyteller. He can do action on the largest scale, and emotion on the smallest, and he does. He just doesn't do it as impressively here.
     Sebastian Fiumara's one and only issue is #207, and he's another artist I'd like to see come back some time. In a lot of ways it feels like a stylistic throwback to the very start of X-Factor, when everything was covered in shadow. Even when Baron Mordo is washing a room in the bright green light of his magic, it all looks dark and creepy. I miss that mood sometimes in this series, and Fiumara is an especially powerful example of why it feels right.
     It is Emanuela Lupacchino who steps in as the next primary penciler for the book, though De Landro pops up for some issues in between. Lupacchino is the artist I feel the most lukewarm about. She always delivers incredibly clear work that finds a perfect balance between realism and cartoonism, especially for a series that switches so regularly from the severe to the humorous. And there is a strong sense of fun infused in her pencils, like she wants to make sure the reader knows how much she loves her job as comicbook artist. So what is it I don't like about her work? I wish I could tell you. I don't think there is anything I actively dislike, it's just that, somehow, very little of what she's drawn has left a lasting impression on me. It serves its purpose, it's reliable, and it never disappoints. But it rarely astounds, either.
     The exception to this is the arc surrounding Tier's birth. I have already talked about how unforgettable and heartbreaking the image of Rahne rejecting her son is for me, as well as the pages leading up to it, and credit for that goes to Lupacchino. So mad props for the single greatest scene in the history of the series, even if the rest of her pencils are middle-of-the-pack material.
     I think it may just be the stories she draws. The Vegas arc includes the introduction of Pip, who grinds my gears. And then she draws the arc about the three female assassins who hate J. Jonah Jameson, which (as I have also mentioned) I find wholly boring. When the story is one I love, Lupacchino shines, so I guess it is just her bad fortune to be the artist for the arcs I'm not so fond of. Then again, it's sort of a chicken and the egg situation, isn't it? Let's just say she's hardly my favorite, but just as hardly my least favorite, and leave it at that.
     I've glossed over some people to get here. First of all, De Landro has a few stray issues in between before departing the book for good, and totally gets his groove back. Not so much in the issue he tackles for the Veags arc (#210), but afterwards, when he does Darwin's departure (#213) and most of all his last issue, #224.1. Though still perhaps a smidge less precise than his initial stuff, he largely returns to form before his curtain is closed, complex and realistic but with a strong superhero vibe.
     Paul Davidson is actually the guy to do the opening chapter of the struggle for Rahne's baby (#220), and I sort of hate it. It has exceptional moments, most notably Feral's arrival on the final splash page, but he just can't get a handle on Rahne in her human form or Shatterstar at all. Rahne as a wolf and the demon she fights are appropriately disturbing, but just as inconsistent from one panel to the next as anything. Finally, Dennis Calero makes an unexpected return for issue #221, and does just what he used to do, just as well as always. See Part 13 for my take on that.
     After the point one issue, Leonard Kirk shows up for the first time, and he is still the main artist today. Kirk has always felt like the medium between De Landro (at his best) and Lupacchino (at her normalest), which means I like him a lot but don't quite love him. Never unclear, and with a strong sense of who every member of the team is right away, he's done a lot of great stories very well. The fight against Bloodbath, the hilarious Scattershot two-parter, and recent highlight "Breaking Points" are all Kirk all the way, and he does the comedy just as comfortably as the extreme violence and the emotional fallout from it. Both he and Lupacchino have a smoothness to their lines, a softness that allows the jokes to land without the more gruesome stuff clashing. It's what this book wants, but it still doesn't thrill me, personally.
     Lupacchino's last run is "They Keep Killing Madrox" which is a fun story that suits her style. After that, almost everything is Kirk, with two issues by Neil Edwards and another handful from Paul Davidson, the latter of whom never really improves from his debut. His people never look quite the same twice, their faces sometimes seeming flattened like they're pressed against glass, while at other time they're stretched to appear almost canine. Their lips blow up and shrink back down every few seconds, and their eyes sometimes do, too. I'm not a fan of his slipshod style, is all there is to it, and I'm glad he didn't last very long on this title.
     Edwards' issues are both great: the road trip one (#237) and the one narrated by Layla (#240). They require some very detailed work, nuanced emotion and the displaying of multiple possible realties all on the same page. It never seems to daunt Edwards, who renders everything expertly. The conversation between Revered Maddox and Rahne is especially good work, all talking with a load of subtext that slowly yet surely is brought to the surface. He nails it all. A third example of a talent underutilized by this book. Cansino, Fiumara, Edwards---all names I'd be happy to see on another X-Factor cover.
     Oh, yes, the covers. I neglected them completely last time, and I won't go into incredible detail here, but I have to say this name in a discussion of X-Factor's art or I am a total asshat: David Yardin. Beginning with #39 and continuing right to this past Wednesday's #253, I am fairly certain Yardin has done every single cover. And they're amazing. They vary, they always let you know what to expect inside without spoiling the story details, and they're remarkably detailed. He can make the as realistic as anything, but doesn't shy away from something sillier or broader when called for. And look at this 90's-style cover for #236. So different than anything Yardin has produced up to now, but not a bit less impressive.
     The only person left to call out is Matt Milla, who became the lead colorist after Jeremy Cox. There was a bit of a transitional period at first, right around the same time Lupacchino was taking over from De Landro, during which Milla and Cox would each take issues here and there (I think it was mostly just that Cox colored De Landro), with a few others filling in as well. But Milla's colored every issue Lupacchino or Kirk has drawn (I believe...certainly the vast majority of them) with Rachelle Rosenberg taking over on the few done by Davidson or Edwards. Like all the colorists who came before them, Milla and Rosenberg do very sturdy work. Again, the coloring has never really drawn my attention, positive or negative, at any time. It's always really good, which is incredible on the whole, but issue to issue I don't find myself wowed by it.
     One last bit of art business: I know I have been criminally neglectful of the inkers. A LOT of the pencilers ink themselves, and the changes in inker don't always line up with new pencilers, and so ultimately I thought the simplest thing would be not to discuss them. Or maybe it's not simple but merely lazy. Either way, please know that it comes not from a place of "inkers don't matter" so much as one of "if I talk about every inker this art discussion will need like a whole third part, which seems excessive just to avoid excluding anyone involved." I love you, inkers, and please know that any time I said something good about a penciler, it applied to whoever did the inks as well.
     Ugh, shut up already, right? I definitely will, after one fiiiiiiiinal wrap-up post.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New 52 Wonder Woman: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Black Boots

My friend and improv troupemate Meredith Roberts is a lifelong Wonder Woman fanatic, so I lent her all of the issues of the current volume and asked if she'd send me a piece on them for the blog. She was gracious enough to agree, so what follows is all hers, the words and the pictures and the captions and all. Thanks, Mer!

New 52 Wonder Woman: 
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Black Boots.

The action figure that started it all, entombed forever like a 
monster of Pandora’s Box, except in a cool, customizable lamp!

The inception of comic obsession is different for everyone. For me, it began with a Wonder Woman action figure (complete with lasso-twirling action!) that I got in a kids’ meal from Jack in the Box circa 1997. That’s when she became real for me, instead of just some peripheral pop culture icon. 

DID YOU KNOW…? The man who 
invented Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth 
also invented the real-life lie detector.

My interest piqued, I started collecting all things Wonder Woman, including books about her creator, poly-amorous feminist/inventor William Moulton Marston. As it turned out, Marston’s goal was to prepare young men for what he perceived as the inevitable domination of the planet by strong, independent, peace-loving women. (You’re welcome, Hillary Clinton.)

It’s this story—Wonder Woman’s true origin—that has earned my long-standing dedication to the franchise. Much more so than the comic reality, which has changed continuously since her 1941 debut in DC’s All-Star Comics #8.

That said, you can’t be a fanatic of something for this long without forming at least some attachment to the fundamentals. So I was anxious about DC’s New 52 re-launch. Yes, I was excited to see what new turns my favorite heroine would take, but I also knew certain changes could be difficult to stomach.

Now, having read all 17 of the New 52 Wonder Woman issues available upon this writing, I am ready to share my perspective as a seasoned fan. So, strap on your girdles—this is going to be a bumpy ride.


Seventeen issues in, it’s all about bastards. Specifically, bastards of Zeus, ruler of the gods on Mount Olympus. You’ve got twin bastards, Apollo and Artemis. Rock-fleshed bastard, Lennox. There’s even a bastard fetus! Plus (surprise) Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman/bastard Amazon Princess. (More on THAT later.)

So what this story is turning out to be is a poor-man’s Game of Thrones, complete with:


Superfluous nudity

and clipped, British tone.

The king can’t keep his pee pee in his pants, so he knocks up a bunch of different women. The queen is super pissed about this and sets out to kill all the bastards, exacting revenge on anyone who gets in her way. Now the king is missing, so all his offspring (along with some others) are pitted against one another, vying for his throne. 

Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, back home on Paradise Island, all the other Amazons have been turned to snakes, and Hippolyta, Amazon Queen and Wonder Woman’s mother, has been turned to stone by Hera, Zeus’ jealous, raving maniac wife. 

How will Wonder Woman restore peace to the heavens and save her Amazon, Olympian and mortal families?! Only time (and $2.99 per issue) will tell.


Let’s start off on a positive note! There’s a lot to like about the New 52 Wonder Woman:

1. The plot. As proven by HBO, this plot has the potential to be a real winner. Luckily, I’m a big GOT fan, so I don’t mind the similarities between the stories. 

2. Updated gods. New wardrobes and modern habits and mannerisms generally elevate the coolness levels of the gods beyond the standard, archaic Greekiness that has previously plagued the lot of them.

3. Hippolyta. She’s never looked better! Especially considering how many times she’s been killed off and resurrected.

4. Cool horrific visuals. Loving all the creepy hell stuff, blood, mythical beasts and clever battles with ancient creatures. 

“I’m a merMAN!”

5. Worthy opponents. The bad guys are spot on so far. Beats the hell out of Angle man, Merman and Egg Fu. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are enjoying one of the few benefits of not being a Wonder Woman fanatic—the long period of stupid, shitty bad guys that dominated the series for two decades, thanks primarily to the highly anti-feminist Comics Code Authority formed in 1959.)

6. Strife. Yes, she also falls under the god category, but she gets her own kudos for excellent character development and general likeability. I love the writing on this gal, not to mention her risqué, strappy outfit and super short hairdo. 

7. General badassery. I like that we’re working to slake off a bit of the tree-huggeriness that has defined the Amazons for so long (except when they’re killing each other in civil war, of course). Though I may not agree with the execution, per se, the idea that Amazons can be ruthless and badass when necessary is one I support wholeheartedly.

Now for pain.


As I said, there’s plenty to like about this series. But there are also a couple of pretty serious, glaring issues that would make any hardcore WW fan balk. 

The Well of Souls contains the spirits
of murdered women.
Pretty serious, glaring issue #1: The origin of the Amazons.

The Amazon backstory has been revised numerous times over the past seven decades. The most recent iteration was detailed in the successful 1987 series reboot, which indicated that the Amazons are the tormented spirits of women murdered by men through the ages, granted new life and eternal youth by the gods. 

In any case, the common thread throughout the years has been that the Amazons’ main purpose is to promote peace, love and unity by protecting the world from evil forces. 

The New 52 origin story of the Amazons, on the other hand, is that every 30 years or so, the Amazons all go out like lady pirates, board ships full of mortal men and literally sex them to death. But wait! There’s more. The resulting girl babies then become part of the Amazon society, whereas the boy babies are traded for weapons. Let me just repeat that: Traded. For. Weapons.

What’s wrong with this picture?

1. Character sympathy, destroyed. It’s difficult for me to feel concerned for the beserpented Amazons now that I know they routinely participate in murder, child abandonment, human trafficking and, oh that’s right, let’s not forget rape.

2. Limiting cultural shift. What other incredibly anti-Amazon shit can we pile on top of this mountain of incredibly anti-Amazon shit? Oh I got it. A fundamental facet of Amazon culture is that they do not have to rely on men for anything. That’s pretty much out the window with this development. Although this new comic version is somewhat more similar to the “real” Greek Amazon myth, it’s worlds away from the intended significance of the comic civilization.

3. PLOT HOLE. Perhaps even more upsetting than the complete undoing of Marston’s original vision for the peace-loving Amazons is the logic problem surrounding this story: Apparently Wonder Woman—PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS—doesn’t know any of these grisly details about the history of HER OWN PEOPLE until she is enlightened by an outsider! How fucking ludicrous. There are only two reasons this could possibly be true:

          a. The Amazing Amazon is apparently too stupid or unobservant to catch on to her own history. “I thought it was divine,” she says vaguely in Issue 7. She thought WHAT was divine? All the Amazons getting mysteriously pregnant at the same time? The fact that every generation is almost exactly the same age? The fact that about half of the preggers mysteriously never have a baby?

          b. There is some reeeeally good reason why all the Amazons (and every other divine entity she’s run into over the course of her life) didn’t tell her. Spoiler alert: absolutely NO REASON has been given yet as to why EVERYONE was in cahoots not to tell her. So I guess we’ll have to go with option 1. Wonder Woman is stupid and unobservant.

Pretty serious, glaring issue #2: The origin of Wonder Woman.

In a nutshell, the long-accepted origin of Diana of Themyscira is that Hippolyta, longing for a child of her very own, molded a clay baby that was granted life and special powers by the gods.

More like 'Ho-ppolyta
The New 52 series acknowledges this history, but reveals that it is actually a lie, fabricated to protect Diana from the wrath of Hera. Because Diana is actually the bastard sex-product of Hera’s husband, Zeus, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, who had a torrid affair following some skirmish or another 23-ish years ago.

With this revelation comes a slew of insight into Diana’s childhood. Apparently she was teased a lot by other Amazon girls about the whole clay baby thing. Also, it seems she always had a problem with the fact that she didn’t actually come from her mother’s womb.

What’s wrong with this picture?

“It was the kids. 
They called me Mr. Clay.”
1. Character sympathy destroyed. You guessed it—sleeping with someone else’s husband plus the already extensive list of Amazon transgressions is not garnering a lot of respect or concern on behalf of stone-bound Queen Hippolyta. Hera has every right to be angry considering that (unlike Zeus’ other conquests) Hippolyta knew exactly what she was doing and with whom.

2. Uncharacteristic personality shift. One of the great fundamental facets of Wonder Woman’s history is that she doesn’t have DADDY ISSUES. Now that’s gone by the wayside, opening up a whole new avenue for all the typical neuroses that William Moulton Marston so fervently despised.


HERA + THRONE = Stupidity!

          a. How does not telling Diana about her father protect her from Hera, exactly? Obviously plenty of other Amazons knew something strange was going on, unless Hippolyta just so happened to get pregnant at the exact same time RapeFest ’88 was going down. But if that had been the case, they could just have just told Diana she was a rape baby like everyone else without going through the whole clay baby charade.

          b. Perhaps they had to make up the clay baby story because Diana, now a demigod by parentage, would have powers far beyond the other Amazon rape babies that would need explaining. But in the clay baby story, the baby is given powers by THE GODS. Remember: Hera is QUEEN OF THE GODS, so you’d think she could pretty easily call bullshit on that one. This is the second instance of inexplicable character ignorance.

More than anything, I’m just so very upset at how much has been hidden from Wonder Woman so far in her life and in the series. It absolutely makes her seem less intelligent, less confident, less strong and assured—less all the things I’d hoped for her in this new series. 

If knowledge is power, Wonder Woman is doomed.

Smaller, less-glaring issues.
OK, so this is mostly just me whining about things that could have been done better.

Humor. Dear god, stop making puns. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pun! But there are other, more effective types of humor you can sprinkle around, and nearly all attempts at them so far have fallen flat.

Self contained incontinuity. Sooo Wonder woman talks about how as an Amazon she’s no stranger to baby killing, which is incongruous with her purported ignorance of the Amazons’ violent heritage. It’s also incongruous with her surprising proclamation that she loves everyone (Issue 10, or as I like to call it, “An Episode of Family Ties in Hell, complete with feel-good ending!”), the first time in the series that Diana’s propensity for love and peace is shown to apparently still be part of her character. 

This raises questions like—is promoting peace and love unique to Diana, and not the Rapazons? Based on the fact that I just called them “Rapazons,” I’d say so. But then why the baby-killing comment? It’s confusing as fuck.
Oh for real? It’s controlling when
you take control? I had NO IDEA

Bad writing. Yes, I’m a writer, so I’m picky. But come on guys. You only have to write like 10 words a page. Can’t you do a better job? Take a look at this cute sample from Issue 17. 

Also, it seems people say things just to sound cool in the moment, rather than conveying specific plot points. For instance, why in Issue 1 does Wonder Woman claim not to be Wonder Woman when fetus bastard baby momma asks “Are you…?” and Wonder Woman says “No, I’m not.”? This is never addressed or explained.

Inconsistent art. I guess this is to be expected from artist to artist, but the difference seems rather radical, especially when we look at how the title character is portrayed. Wonder Woman (or Mujer Maravilla, as she is known en Español) seems to change ethnicities at every page turn.  But, whether she’s a Puerto Rican Barbie, an Irish bride or just completely fucking deranged, she always has that choker on.

Aiaiai! Spicy Latina!

The whitest white girl ever-much?

If someone didn’t just stick something up your ass 
unexpectedly, there is no excuse for this expression.
Which brings us to…


Last but not least, let’s talk about the outfit: a critical aspect of every super hero persona. Plus a fun and fluffy note to counterbalance all the “rapes” and “fucks” heretofore.

1. The choker. Fuck that fucking choker. All the other vestments come off, but that goddamned choker stays on. Why? Why is it there? All of the items of her outfit have significance—the tiara is a razor-sharp boomerang weapon. The bracelets are bulletproof (and now have magical sword generators—awesome!!). The lasso is super strong, unlimited length and compels the truth. The Old Glory motif is based on the emblems of a fallen soldier. So far the choker just seems to be a way to make Wonder Woman look sluttier. All. The. Time.

2. The upper armband. Same as above. WTF?

3. Matching metals. No more gold in her girdle, breastplate or tiara—all metallic adornments have been turned silver, like the bracelets. This actually doesn’t bother me at all. On super uniforms, I prefer fewer colors to more, in general.

4. The black boots. UGHCK. More like BOOOOOO (ts). Hello? Didn’t you just hear me? LESS colors. Not MORE colors. Red. White. Blue. Silver. Black? It just doesn’t fit. The change is too big and yet not big enough. It drags the whole outfit down, making it visually heavy. I can’t believe I care this much about this thing.

5. In general. I’m a little disappointed that she didn’t get more of a makeover. I respect the attempt to stay true to the character, but the whole endeavor seems a little, “Eh. So what?”


I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Amazing Amazon. I have utmost faith that somehow, somewhere, someone will get this right. Until then, I’ll just sit around like every other die-hard WW fan, cursing Joss Whedon for leaving us out in this cold, movie-less desert. You were our only hope you bastard. Come back, Joss! 

Come back.