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Wonder Woman #600 [Review]

This is the third “mega-anniversary” issue from DC in a month’s time (Batman #700 and Superman #700 preceded this) and for me, these are 3-for-3 in terms of being disappointments. Huge numbers, sure…and at least Batman and Superman got to theirs “legitimately.” Last month, Wonder Woman was on issue # 44…so it seems kinda fishy to arbitrarily skip 556 numbers just because issue #45 would be the 600th issue if you strung all the previous series combined in one continuing run.

But that’s a complaint to go into detail on another time.

This issue–even after reading the whole thing–is virtually forgettable. Less than 2 days after initially reading the issue, I couldn’t tell you what the “lead story” even was. I remembered the short with Power Girl’s cat, because it was a cat-story and combined with the Origin of Dex-Starr in Green Lantern #55, they stuck out as significant for hitting me close to the heart, having recently lost a cat I’d had for 18 years. The other story in the issue was setup for when Straczynski takes over the title, and showed a Diana Prince in a costume quite a bit different from the recent “traditional” version (and works extremely well in the story, despite all the buzz in the media..more on that later). There are also a number of “pinup pages” where other artistic teams had a chance to display their take on the character for this anniversary issue.

We open with an “introduction” by Lynda Carter–the actress who portrayed Wonder Woman in the old tv live-action series…I hardly remember the last time I saw a collected edition with an introduction, and now here we have one for a single-issue comic…I understand there’s big-time significance to a female character having so many issues published, but it still seems strange.

Valedictorian
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Assoc. Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Brian Cuningham

The first story then begins, with Wonder Woman leading most of the well-known (and some less-so-well-known) female characters into battle, before rushing to a graduation ceremony where she’s glad to have arrived in time to see a girl graduate. We find out this is a girl who was part of the supporting cast, apparently, back when the Wonder Woman title was relaunched in the late 1980s after Crisis on Infinite Earths. The story here–at least to this male reader–as fairly generic. It’s cool to see the follow up on a character who has since her first appearance grown up, which lends some real history to the Wonder Woman tale as a whole…but it’s still–structurally–not all that interesting. The art by Perez is awesome, though, and I can overlook a boring story for the beautiful art, the detailed portrayal of the various characters. Plus, there’s that little tidbit of info older readers know: it was Perez who relaunched the character back in the 1980s, so seeing his return to contribute to a story all these years later–as the artist, and by indication in the credits, as an “inspiration” for the story.

Fuzzy Logic
Writer & Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: John J. Hill

Next up, Wonder Woman teams up with Power Girl to defeat “Egg Fu,” and then retire to Power Girl’s office, where they discuss the way Power Girl’s cat has been acting, and Power Girl realizes she needs a place away from the office, where she and the cat can be away from the day-to-day business of things. The art is so-so…nothing spectacular; it doesn’t blow me away or make me feel it’d be anough to carry a boring story. But it works for this story, and doesn’t put me off. The cat seems a bit stocky/bulky…but in terms of a fictitious comic-book cat, I really shouldn’t complain…he’s a cute little thing without being overly-cutesy.

Firepower
Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Travis Lanham

The story that follows is a short that basically pit Superman and Wonder Woman against Aegeus, who has stolen lightning bolts from Zeus. The character apparently is Olympian–I’m not familiar with this version of the character, but the name and visuals seem somewhat familiar, suggesting I’m not entirely unfamiliar–whether in DC‘s comics or simply in reading of Greek mythology. As Superman is vulnerable to magic, he’s more the “backup” in this tale, as Wonder Woman takes the lead in bringing the villain down. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point to this story in and of itself outside this issue…it’s just a tale to show Wonder Woman and Superman teamed up, though giving Wonder Woman the starring role and relegating Superman to an almost second-tier status (as a guest-star, that’s how it goes, though)! The visuals are ok, but again…don’t stand out as significant (whereas the opening story with Perez’ art I recognized it and knew without looking at the credits that it was Perez’ work).

The Sensational Wonder Woman
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott Kolins
Coloris: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano

The next story reeks largely of being little more than metatextual. Wonder Woman is shown in battle, while narration boxes discuss her journey, and leads to what symbolically indicates the character rushing into an unknown future, from an established past…almost feeling like a vague series or season finale where the makers aren’t sure if they’ll get to do anything else with the story.

Odyssey – Prologue: Couture Shock
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Don Kramer
Inker: Michael Babinski
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Finally, we have the prologue to Staczynski‘s story, where we find a young Diana Prince in a new, unfamiliar (but with touches of familiarity) costume, seeking an oracle, and referencing a dead mother recently brought back…after having been dead for a few years. We come to see that this new, “current” Wonder Woman is the result of something screwing with the timeline, and she’s going to have to put things back to rights, to exist in the mainstream current DCU again.

We then close with a preview of Action Comics #890 with no cover image to differentiate it from any of the other stories in the issue.

Between stories, we get some “iconic” Wonder Woman pinup pages. While on the one hand they seem a bit like filler material, I am (as I was with Batman #700) very, VERY glad to see these on the INTERIOR of the book, rather than as variant covers!

There’s a two-page spread showing the classic/traditional-costumed Wonder Woman striking a pose in the foreground, with slightly dimmed-out images surrounding as the background, displaying many of the main DC heroes she’s worked with, the villains, and they seem grouped by time-frame, from the different periods of the character’s life, at least post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Overall Thoughts on the Issue

These are all decent stories, though the issue as a whole feels more like it should be some sort of Annual rather than a (renumbering aside) regularly-numbered issue in the midst of the ongoing series. If this were a half-half split with an epilogue from the previous writer and a prologue from the incoming writer, with pinup pages to lend to the anniversary feel, it wouldn’t seem so out of sorts. As is, it’s an issue with a whole bunch of stuff crammed in, apparently to give a LOT of people some way to say they “got to work on” this anniversary issue.

If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, this could be a bit iffy. The opening story hardly seems worth a $5 price for its nature just to wrap up Simone‘s run on the book. For newer fans, the final segment is the same way…not worth the $5 just to get such a short prologue to the upcoming run, nor is it worth the price just to get the “debut” of the “new costume” that seems to be THE buzz of late.

This issue seems like it’s more well-suited for the random person who is familiar with the character in American popular culture, but virtually entirely UNaware of current continuity. The stories are so short and lacking in ongoing plot elements that one mostly needn’t know anything of the character or stories…there’s a little more flash than substance here.

Despite the hype…this issue isn’t really worth it unless you specifically want this sort of anthology book. It’s not going to give much to summarize the last several years’ stories, and there’s little more than “previewing the premise” in the prologue to the upcoming arc.

I don’t particularly recommend the issue…but on the whole it’s not something I recommend against, either. Ratings below based on the whole issue and not just any single segment.

Story: 5.5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

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Wonder Woman #34 [Review]

Birds of Paradise part one: A Malignant Isolation

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth Gehrlein
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

After following this title for the Rise of the Olympian arc, I found myself still interested (actually, more interested) in the character of Diana/Wonder Woman. Though I don’t feel I “know” the character all that much, I’ve found that the last eight-some issues have been quite enjoyable and shown me that good, solid stories can be told with the character.

This issue opens in the aftermath of last issue, with Wonder Woman now alone, having turned her back on the Amazons and her gods. Simone provides a touching moment as Morrow informs Diana that Genocide is not dead, and begs her to destroy it. In order to begin tracking down Genocide’s whereabouts, Diana turns to Black Canary for an assist, despite their recent differences. Dinah takes the lead as the two concoct costumes to hide their identities as they seek to infiltrate an underground arena fighting group. The results the two find in going undercover raises some question, as well as introducing us to someone likely to cause both of our heroines plenty of trouble next issue.

The art here continues to be very well done, and I have no real complaint with it. The stor itself for this issue does a good job of following the previous major arc, while setting things up for the current arc. We get forward movement and character development in light of what’s already happened and in what’s coming. Simone continues to demonstrate an excellent understanding of the characters she writes–specifically, in Wonder Woman–portraying her as a strong, realistic person…all the more in Diana’s willingness to seek help when she’s in over her head or otherwise knows someone better-suited for accomplishing a particular task.

Though there’ll be a certain deeper appreciation for things talked about in this issue if one’s already read Rise of the Olympian, this seems to be a decent jumping-on point for readers curious about the ongoing Wonder Woman series. There’s plenty to draw one in, and enough detail to give a general idea of who characters are, what their status quo is now, and a lot of potential in what is to come.

Highly recommended.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Wonder Woman #33 [Review]

Rise of the Olympian part 8 (Finale): Monarch of the Dead

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth Gehrlein
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi (variant by Bernard Chang)
Publisher: DC Comics

In a time where the standard story arc wraps in six issues, this arc has taken eight issues. As such, it’s seemed a little long…but at the same time, it’s made up the entirety of my Wonder Woman purchasing of the last few years. It’s also–at 8 issues–made up probably the single longest stretch of my buying a Wonder Woman title, ever. All that being credit to Simone’s writing and grasp of the character, presenting both character and goings-on in an interesting light sufficient to keep me coming back month after month.

This issue opens with the Amazons finding the broken/battered body of their champion and then entering battle with Zeus’ male warriors. Wonder Woman–Diana–enters the fray, and takes on Ares–the god of war–who has long plagued her and her sisters. By her actions, the status quo for Diana as well as her mother and sisters is changed, as we clearly see what gave this arc its title.

The story in this issue is quite good–though some parts seemed a bit forced, and I didn’t enjoy it in and of itself as much as I would have hoped. Nothing seems to come out of nowhere, everything having basis in what’s been established in earlier issues. I do feel almost like I missed an issue, and nearly didn’t even READ this issue, thinking that I really HAD missed an issue. The visuals continue to hold up very well, and I have no complaint on that aspect of the book.

If you’ve not followed this story in single issues, I would definitely recommend the collected volume, as this seems likely be one of THE Wonder Woman stories…and certainly is poised to be integral to the character moving forward in the near future.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Wonder Woman #32 [Review]

Rise of the Olympian part 7: Compound Fracture

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth Gehrlein
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi (variant by Francis Manapul & Jeremy Roberts)
Publisher: DC Comics

THere’s a lot going on in this issue, even though much if it is essentially just an extended fight sequence. With six prior issues of build, with fights showing both sides discovering the other’s limits, it comes down to this do-or-die battle as Wonder Woman must overcome Genocide or lose all she holds dear. We also see as other elements come together that will cause plenty of trouble down the road, beyond Genocide.

What initially interested me in this story–the thing that prompted me to see it out from the start–was that Genocide was compared to Doomsday, in terms of the role it would play for Diana. And I must say that the comparison’s a fair one, though obviously with much different characters and story beats and all that.

Simone has a great handle on the character–I’m actually interested in this incarnation of Diana/Wonder Woman; I’m interested in the supporting cast (even though I can’t even remember their names yet), and I’m interested in the Bigger Picture–what’s going on with Zeus and his Olympian(s), and in general find that while Genocide brought me to the table, it’s the writing–the story itself–that has me quite willing to stick around.

The art’s pretty, too–visually, this looks like a comic book, but there’s a quality to the thing that is beyond any “generic” art. One definitely gets a sense from the visuals just how brutal this battle is, and how much of a beating Diana’s already taken. A page toward the end of the battle is particularly gruesome, though due at least in part to not being overly graphic and leaving it to the individual to fill in the extra details.

This both feels like a story ending and yet doesn’t. Elements that have been seen throughout the arc are continuing and probably about to come to far more prominence than we’ve had with ’em so far. But the meat of the story–the battle with Genocide–has a definite ending, while keeping the door open to future stories that’ll certainly reference this.

Though I stuck around for a handful of Rucka’s issues a few years ago and enjoyed them at the time–this current arc is the most I’ve been interested in Wonder Woman and the most I’ve really enjoyed the story overall. If you didn’t follow this arc, I’d recommend considering it in collected volume format, and giving the series a chance with the next issue, whatever story officially kicks off.

Story: 9/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Wonder Woman #28 [Review]

Rise of the Olympian part three: Blood of the Stag

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi (variant by Cary Nord & Hi-Fi)
Publisher: DC Comics

Having been badly hurt in combat with Genocide, Wonder Woman–Diana–has to face Tom in her weakened state, armored up for a battle she feels she must face as her own responsibility. As the JLA doesn’t fare well against Genocide, Wonder Woman, Donna Troy, and Wonder Girl (re)join the battle. Meanwhile, Zeus & co. set their own plans into motion.

I’m still not all that familiar with Wonder Woman, having gotten in only at the very end of the last series, and not really jumping into this series until a month ago. However, I’m finding the basic story easy to follow, and the depiction of the characters to be quite well-done for what little I know of them–and at the least, they’re interesting and I’m still hooked, wanting to know more. Simone seems to be breathing life into a character that often has not seemed all that important nor complex…showing that she really is important and does have complexity.

The art is good, and I have no complaints with it, really. It has a classic sorta look to it, somehow reminding me just a bit of the late 1980s series, while maintaining its feel as a current, contemporary style.

This is only my third issue of this round of following the character, but I’m following along just fine. If you can locate the first couple chapters of this story, it’s well worth jumping on-board for! If you’ve read those issues, this issue gives no reason to stop. My only real complaint with the issue is a quibble at most–Cheetah doesn’t play a large role nor is she the focal point of the issue despite the Faces of Evil focus.

Very much recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Wonder Woman #27 [Review]

Rise of the Olympian part 2: A Sense of Loss

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Aron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi (variant by Frank Quiety [sic])
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue opens on Donna Troy communicating with Wonder Girl about what she’s likely to find as she heads toward the scene of destruction Wonder Woman was last seen at. Warning Cassie about the need to mourn AFTER what needs done is done, we see the girl’s reaction as Donna continues toward her destination…where Wonder Woman is alive, but horribly beaten, anxious as her lasso’s been taken from her. We see others’ reaction to events, even as the creature that did this to Wonder Woman returns to the Secret Society [of Supervillains?] HQ. The creature is known as Genocide, and insists the lasso be made a part of it. Meanwhile, Zeus calls some of his people “home,” while Genocide faces the Justice League.

All told, I have no real problem with any of the art in this issue. In fact, it’s really quite good on the whole. There’s a slight bit of “shiny-ness” to certain parts that seem to me would probably work better without coming across that way–but then, I’m not the artist, and I assume there’s supposed to be something there that would reflect light that way. The characters are distinct and recognizeable, and you could do so much worse!

The story here is what surprises me. I can’t really put my finger on what it is exactly, only its effect: I’m actually interested in a Wonder Woman story. I was interested in the concept of a new character that was to be “Wonder Woman’s ‘Doomsday,'” and when I discovered I’d actually missed the first chapter, made a point of snagging issue 26 along with this one. For the first time in several years–moreso than merely enjoying an issue, I’m interested/engaged enough that I wish the next issue would be due out this coming week! Simone seems to have a good handle on this character and her supporting cast (and I’ll admit I think it’s cool that a woman is writing the character).

I’m unsure as to who the Olympian in the story’s title is–Diana? Genocide? Someone else?–but to be honest, that doesn’t bother me at all. If you’re not already picking this book up, and you can locate the first issue of the arc, this is a decent point to jump in.

Recommended–at least consider the collected volume if you’re not interested in the singles.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 8/10

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