Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tie-ins, Part XXV: Wonder Woman 212

Some random Wonder Woman books, Part 8
Wonder Woman defeats the Justice League --


"Counting Coup, Part One"
Script – Greg Rucka
Pencils – James Raiz
Inks – Ray Snyder
Letters – Todd Klein
Colors – Richard and Tanya Horie
Editor – Ivan Cohen
March 2005

I know! I know! I'm skipping over a bunch. A bunch of history and a bunch of Crapbox issues. Things that shouldn't be skipped over. But I feel I MUST as I want to get this issue out there now.

The Crapbox has gone Wonder Woman overload and I am fully prepared to throw out all the issues I have in my possession around this amazing superheroine. That means you'll still see some Wonder Woman issues in June. Some of those will be before this issue even.

But I am skipping chronology because this issue beginning is JUST TOO GOOD not to put out there before the movie.

A little background: in this run Rucka made Wonder Woman bli…you know what? It has more impact if you DON'T know exactly what is going on.

We begin with little fanfare. The setting looks to be the JLA Sattelite or Moonbase. Wonder Woman ties a blindfold around her face. She signals she is ready. And boy is she ever.

Here they come: Plastic Man, Flash, Black Canary and Martian Manhunter. All of the formidable in one fashion or another.

She dodges Plastic Man's initial attack while lining up a kick that throws Flash into Black Canary. As they both topple over, Diana taps out Black Canary with a boot to the noggin. But Plastic Man is setup to snap a trap on Wonder Woman's back.

She senses him, blocks his spring-loaded bite, and then applies a judicious use of her magic lasso. Martian Manhunter is caught off-guard by Plastic Man's bouncing cranium. Diana appears to be a bit miffed, as if the JLA'ers aren't trying hard enough.

Superman and Batman are monitoring this from a control room. It appears Bats knows exactly what is going through Wonder Woman's mind. His keen intellect notices Diana having trouble dealing with Flash's speed.

So while this may seem like "characters punching each other", Batman's comments add another layer to the proceedings.

Bruce determines that Wonder Woman is adapting, noticing how to detect Flash's attacks before they happen. That means she'll soon defeat Flash and perhaps everyone else. They can't have that.

He moves to go down and join in the fight, with a final order for Clark to wait forty-five seconds and then "do it." Supes wants to change places, but Bruce states that "I can't" with a grim look on his face. "'Can't' what?" we wonder.

By this time, Diana is using a lassoed J'onn as the ball end of mace, smashing him into his fellow leaguers. The Batman swoops in and they go hand-to-hand for a moment. But only for a moment…

...then Diana threatens to squeeze Batman's head like a grape. And just when you think Batman is toast, he strikes Diana in the ears, causing her to lose her grip…

…and then Bruce sends in the others.

Still they are facing one of the two strongest people on the planet. That dogpile tactic doesn't work for very long.

Wonder Woman feels everyone is goldbricking though, and she pretty much knows how to express it. 

Someone isn't playing nice…or fair…and fires on the blindfolded heroine.

OMG! Who?

Superman! Woah. I did not see that coming. Neither did Wonder Woman, but she still blocked the shot. This is probably one of my favorite sequences involving the League and the shock value even now resonates. 

Batman calls a meeting of everyone to evaluate Wonder Woman's performance. If you are thinking something is on the line, you are dead right. You see, that blindfold is there to hide the scars Diana inflicted upon herself while fighting a resurrected Medusa.

And yes, I mean the mythological beastie that can turn people who see her to stone.

This wasn't a training exercise, this was a tryout. If Wonder Woman doesn't pass, acting chairman Batman would kick her out of the Justice League because she's a liability in combat.

Raises the stakes of all this doesn't it.

And as for Superman's shot, which Bruce couldn't do as he won't use a gun ever…well, let's see how that goes over.

Looks like she will find no sympathy with Clark. This displeases Diana to no end.

Meanwhile in Olympus, Goddess Athena stirs up more trouble for Diana while Goddess Demeter tries to act as a good sounding board. That sack has to hold the gorgon's head, no question about it.

They awaken a very vexed Zeus, who appears to know what they are planning. I don't, so we'll need to listen in.

Well, it's just a good old fashioned coup attempt. Friendly. Family-style. 

But a usurping of power, nonetheless. Zeus isn't going quietly, calling forth Briareos who looks amazingly like that arm monster we saw behind Doom's Doorway waaaaay back in issue 12.

That is if you painted him Prince's favorite color and added an action figure body from the He-Man toy aisle. Still, he looks a rough customer. A rough customer that Athena appears willing to pit in one-on-one combat against a blind Amazon princess for her own gain.

Back at the JLA moonbase (yeah, it was the moonbase), the discussion rages about Diana's fitness for combat. 

Love Black Canary's faithfulness through-out this and her reasoning at Flash's "What if..?" question. Note that Wonder Woman steps in unannounced and calls everyone on the carpet. None of them truly tried to win except Bruce. You think that might piss her off, but…

…this is a warrior and she approves of Bruce's actions. Only he respected her enough to give the trial his all. And Wonder Woman lays it out there that no matter what they decide, she knows she's fit for League membership whether they allow her to remain or not.

And with that, she walks out.

Then we shift to another storyline, this time on Paradise Island as this young girl named Lyta is being trained as an Amazon.

Unfortunately…this is all being seen through a scrying mirror by her mother, and I'm going to state for the record that I don't know who this is. It might be Circe, although last time I saw her she did not have purple hair. Or it might be another of Diana's stable of evil witch women. Who knows? *shrugs*

What I do know, and if this isn't readily apparent by now, is that Rucka can craft some pretty great storylines that jive with the theme of the Wonder Woman universe. I am intrigued by all of them. It really is no wonder (heh) that he is currently scribing the new adventures of the character in the DC Rebirth line. I'll stop gushing and get back to the review, but already I am saddened that this is the only Rucka book that wandered its way into The Crapbox. *tear*

Oh, and the next page confirms it is Circe. And if she can't use force or magic to obtain her daughter, then she will put the power of the American court system to seek what she wants.

Next, Rucka pulls on our heart strings as we follow Diana to a memorial service. We learn that Diana is there to eulogize a child by the name of Martin, who was a friend of Diana's, and was apparently targeted by Medusa. And we all know what his fate must have been.

The only question I have is…Is the statue on the top the actual boy turned to stone? Or is it a statue of the way the stone boy looked after being turned into a statue? Either way, that is just sad and messed up, man.

No sooner does Diana make it back from the memorial service than Aphrodite appears and suddenly she is swept off to Mount Olympus and told to ready herself for combat.

And even with her sight, I believe Wonder Woman would have a bit of difficulty with this fight.

Great issue! Like one of the best I've come across for Wonder Woman. Love Rucka's writing style and the art by Raiz and Snyder is well done. The supporting cast looks interesting and there are enough story hooks for next issue and issues beyond for me to WANT to buy more Wonder Woman. These have been traded, so if you want more, all you need do is head to the comic book store or Amazon.

I'll see you there!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tie-ins, Part XXV: Wonder Woman 98

Some random Wonder Woman books, Part 7
Wonder Woman vs…Wonder Woman?

Maybe we should make that second one "wonder woman"

Writer – William Messner-Loebs
Artist – Mike Deodato, Jr
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor – Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
October 1994

Artemis beats Diana in the contest.

Does it matter how? No, not really. Hippolyta doesn't tell either girl of her prophecy that Wonder Woman will die. Artemis accepts the mantle and lasso of Wonder Woman but brings along her bow and arrows too. She's the "more ass-kicker" of a Wonder Woman than Diana.

She's also made some mistakes at this point. The Justice League barely accepts her. Her confrontational attitude necessitated the hiring of a PR firm to help sooth perception of this new "wonder woman." Let's go with that when describing her this issue, lower class = lower case.

We open the issue with Artemis mad at someone, Messner-Loebs throwing not one but TWO quotes at us, and Deodato creating a panel that only a Liefeld fan could love. I'm not sure what is more off-putting: that Artemis seems about to pop out of the costume, that we have this odd "I don't have to draw feet, so I'm drawing the chracter charging at the audience!" head on perspective complete with speed lines, or that left thigh which looks more like pulled taffy than it does human musculature.

What happened? That's my one thought as the issue opens: What happened to the art. Sadly the same thing happened to the story as well. Artemis appears…upset. I wonder at who?

I…uh,…NO! just NO!. LOOK at those legs. Her foreground leg is almost twice the size of her torso, including the height of her ponytail. No, Deodato! Bad boy! It is chronic Liefeld syndrome. 

Even Diana isn't immune. She's no longer Wonder Woman in name, but she's still wearing duds that befit a superheroine. Namely this black spangled workout number with matching bra.

Artemis shows how little she understands about the modern world she is supposed to be protecting. I've no clue if Diana actually let the Joker get away, however she isn't the emotional hot-head that Artemis is, so I'm laying my money on her being in the right.

Especially given Artemis needing lord it all over people by touting all of her "accomplishments". Remember where Hippolyta chastised Diana for being "too violent" and that necessitated a new contest for the Wonder Woman mantel? Apparently that concern is swept away here.

Artemis continues to berate Diana, as the grudge she harbors for the destruction of Bana-Mighdall will never cool.

This isn't the kind of Wonder Woman I want to see. Vengeful, aggressive, and implusive, Artemis pushes on hoping to get a rise out of Diana. It doesn't work.

Diana is far too collected to ever fly off the han…


I hope that's not coming out of my tax dollars.

Luckily Diana can fix as well as break. And speaking of break, this "Wonder Dom" gear is kind of hot but totally inappropriate. It is no wonder that later years went the opposite route in costuming with pants, sleeves and shoulder plates. It feels like kind of a payback thing now.

I'm also gonna go there and say, while it isn't what I want to see Wonder Woman in, it is kind of hot and Deodato appears to restrain himself in the extra-long leg region by only showing her from mid-thigh up.

Diana worries about the public relations firm that Artemis hired to clean up her rapidly diminishing credibility, and goes off to investigate.

Meanwhile Artemis impetuously attacks Julianna Sazia at her mansion, Sazia being a known mob boss that Diana had run-ins with but could never corner. Looks like she owns a bunch of robots too.

Which is kinda lucky because kicking security guard's heads off is definitely looked down upon in today's society.

They keep coming and coming piling on to Artemis in a never-ending wave of blue polyester and robot parts. 

To her credit, Artemis doesn't give in, and makes it to the mansion's door. She enters and is met with this…

Which quickly escalates into the house becoming a discount Doc Ock. (Note: we never say Omega Red around here because, frankly, he sucks. 'kay?)

But holding the new Woman of Wonder indefinitely isn't Ms. Sazia's plan. Oh, no. She is aiming for the destruction of her enemy once and for all.

Boom, baby!

You'd think that would teach Artemis a lesson. Well, you'd be wrong.

As Artermis tends her wounds, Diana is researching all these supposed "victories" that the new wonder woman is claiming. Appears they are all setups by someone…someone tied to her PR firm.

Which leads her to this movie set looking for a William "Bill" Baker.

Appears that one of wonder woman's victories was against a metahuman actor posing as someone called The Chauvinist. Bill Baker is just an ordinary Joe doing a job. He spills the beans on another of Artemis' battle partners, who also was a paid actor.

Thus Diana makes it back to the city troubled over how to break the news to Artemis. And Artemis arrives upset over falling for Sazia's trap, placing the blame for everything on her Amazon sister. That's when the fir starts flying and the legs start looking too, too long.

First Artemis accuses Diana of using lies to turn her friends against her. Not sure Artemis even have friends at this point.

Then Artemis kicks Diana in the teeth…

…and in the gut…or perhaps uterus…I'm unsure where that leg that is twice the size of a normal leg actually has landed.

Diana warns her that she does not want to do this. Artemis persists..and receives a full-power SHOVE (not a hit) from Diana in response.

Let's just see what that does…

Uh, that building is occupied…

This is the energizer bunny of all shoves. Look at that! Oh shoot! Did Messner-Loebs channel Zack Synder for this? Oh, wait! That is office of the PR firm that has been pulling all these strings, including the death of innocents in a rainforest village.

Artemis fires back as Diana enters the building, knocking her to the ground. And suddenly shills for the company appear from everywhere piling on the cattle-plop that is keeping this "you and her fight" going.

Diana has seen enough.

She quickly exposes the PR firm as a shill for another villain, who is manipulating events so Artemis stays angry. Unlucky for that guy, this White Magician, the sisterly bond between Amazons means these two make up in no time flat.

And as Artemis stands there with evidence of the White Magician's hand in all this, Diana gets a next issue blurb that states she will be looking for answers to why all this is happening back on Paradise Island. Answers that begin with her Mother and the second contest.

So this was a disappointment to me. Even the few panels that Deodato's art was "off" in proportion were enough to make me feel the drift into "unlikable" art. Some of his visuals are stunning, but I feel like if the characters were drawn full frame, we would end up with proportion issues. It is distracting.

As for the characters, Artemis is unlikeable, which she is supposed to be, but to an extreme that we don't even care if she has a redemption arc. She does, but in a very fatal and final way. Even knowing that, I can't muster sympathy for the new "wonder woman."

As for Diana, she is brooding and dark. Her attitude seems to match the clothes she now wears. I'm not ready for Goth Woman or whatever is on display here. I need a strong (but not boastful), non-angry, hopeful, and joyous Wonder Woman.

Get to work on that DC? Pretty Please?