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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

Jonah Hex #39 [Review]

Cowardice

Writer: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Rafa Garres
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Edits: Elisabeth Gehrlein & Sean Ryan
Cover: Rafa Garres
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue picks up with Hex in a bar just before the town goes dry. Meanwhile, some shady individuals seem to be on the run, and wind up with murder on their hands–such that Hex gets involved when the deputy Sherriff doesn’t seem to be effective. Hex faces these outlaws and provides a lesson to the now new Sherriff as well.

The writing here isn’t bad. It isn’t blow-me-away wonderful, either, by any means. The story seems rather basic and cliched…though I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing in this case.

The art really isn’t to my liking. It’s quite stylistic, bordering on surreal to me. I recognize the title character by the flesh from the upper lip to lower and the grimace. Other than that, it wasn’t all that easy to figure out who was who–what I eventually figured out toward telling the characters apart came from context-clues in the writing and process of elimination.

This was my first issue of the series–I’ve heard about it for years though I never got around to trying an issue. For the slow week this was and the local shop being sold out alredy of half the issues I’d intended to buy, I decided on a whim to snag this issue, in the hopes it would indeed be a one-off. By that, I was not disappointed–from the opening to the conflict to the resolution, we have a complete single “episode” in the life of Jonah Hex under one cover. I’m sure there’s an over-arching plot at play that would make this issue all the more enjoyable were I more familiar with the character.

Given that, I’m by no means turned away from this series…though this issue was not sufficient to hook me on specifically planning to seek out future issues or hunt down back issues.

Story: 6/10
Art: 4/10
Whole: 5/10

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