Thursday, August 20, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: August 19

Archie #2 (Archie Comics) The second issue of the new Mark Waid/Fiona Staples Archie is a particularly full one, even if Waid's Archie Andrews dials back the speaking-directly-to-the-
reader narration a bit this issue. We get the secret origin of Jughead Jones (well, the origin of his nickname; his hat remains unexplained...for now), the first almost-meeting between Archie and The Lodges (and they're very varying reactions to him), how Betty is coping with being single for the first time in forever and trying to be more of a girly-girl and a substantial exploration of Archie's infamous clumsiness, and the lengths his friends must protect him from it.

This issue lacks the shock of the new that the previous one did, but it's actually quite a bit stronger (I loved the panel of Archie's attempt to work at an ice cream shop). I suspect that may continue to be the case as we meet more characters and their personalities and relationships get more clearly defined.

Bizarro #3 (DC Comics) Superman, The Riddler, Jonah Hex and Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba all make appearances in this issue; the latter two as guest-artists for the apparently regularly appearing splash page of guest art, and Jonah Hex as a guest-star, appear as a ghost bounty hunter of ghost outlaws to help his descendant Chastity Hex, Jimmy Olsen and, of course, Bizarro, as they try to escape an actual Old West ghost town (meaning a town populated by ghosts) alive and un-possessed. This one seemed like a particularly strong issue, with more space devoted to a superhero-like adventure than to any sort of prolonged set-up.

Black Canary #3 (DC) Black Canary's husband shows up and the secret origin of her canary cry and her relationship with Ditto are discussed and, man, I don't know if Brenden Fletcher is referencing events from Birds of Prety or Team 7, but either way, that's not cool: Those are the comics we're trying to forget, man! Great art by Annie Wu and colorist Lee Loughridge, as always, and the book is on it's strongest footing when it's also at it's most shallow: Rock band stuff and fighting, basically. So, um, less plot, more fighting and rocking, I guess...?

Doctor Fate #3 (DC) This book is moving very, very slowly; it's issue three, and still seems like we're in the first third or so of the storyline that began in the first issue. I'd be inclined to drop it and check in on the trade at some point, were Sonny Liew's art not so strong that it makes eve the more mundane aspects seem interesting and worthwhile.

Secret War: Secret Love #1 (Marvel Entertainment) Yeah, I bought a $5 Secret War tie-in. I'm as surprised as you are. All five of the stories in it are awesome, though. I reviewed it at Robot 6 today, if you'd like to read my take on it.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3 (DC) This month's issue of the Wonder Woman anthology series is completely insane, by which it makes Wonder Woman look an awful lot like a crazy person, which is a roundabout way of saying it is both completely awesome and quite entertaining, even if I suspect some of the ways in which it is so aren't teh ways writer Barbara Randall Kesel intended.

Before discussing the story in any great detail, I should note that it quite gradually dawned on me that the story–or at least Kesel's script–is more meant to be in continuity, while the art is not. That is, the Wonder Woman who appears here is apparently dating Superman, and the Superwoman who appears here is pregnant, but all of the artists involved draw Wonder Woman in her old, pre-New 52 costume.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, given that the stories in this title are generally continuity-lite, but it is a weird thing, and a pretty compelling example of the fact that even when a writer is trying to write in New 52 continuity (with Kesel referencing things from Forever Evil), the artists naturally gravitate toward the more iconic version of Wonder Woman as their default. Four different artists draw Superwoman and Wonder Woman, three different artists drawing a different chapter of the story and Giuseppe Camuncoli drawing the cover, and all four of them draw pre-New 52 Diana.

Anyway, the story. Three girls are running on the beach when a mysterious fourth runner zooms ahead of them all, turns around and runs back to them. It is Wonder Woman, and she immediately puts her hands on the shoulders of the first strange girl and starts lecturing her about how awesome she herself is and how she should continually strive to be the best. The women all get into a conversation about this, with one of them mentioning Wonder Woman's clothing.
No Wonder Woman, that is not the phrase at all. It's slut-shaming you're thinking of. My friend and I discussed this dialogue, and at first I thought maybe they used "slob" so as not to use the word "slut" in a story that is otherwise all-ages (although the comic is rated T, not E), but then a few pages later we see the words "bitch" and "bitchy," which got me thinking over whether "slut" was a worse word than "bitch" or not. "I think you're thinking way too much about this," my friend said, but well, that's what I do here at EDILW. She thought maybe Wondy using that word was meant to reflect her status as a relative newcomer to "Man's World," and still being a bit of a fish out of water.

Regardless, Wonder Woman's answer is awesome.
Look at her pose! I'm pretty sure Wonder Woman wants to fight that girl's mom.
Good answer, Wonder Woman. You know who you should tell that too, though?

This lady:
Interestingly, in an advertorial explaining his decision to have Diana put a full bodysuit on under her bathing suit, and a skirt, armor and knife-gauntlets on over it, David Finch cited his wife and Wonder Woman writer Meredith Finch saying pretty much the same thing as Nancy's mom there.

When Wonder Woman says she's the best, Superwoman lands on top of her like a meteor to challenge that assumption, and Wonder Woman and her evil opposite from Earth-3 beat on one another in front of the three girls, who function as a sort of Greek Themyscrian chorus.

Interestingly, just a few pages after using the word "slob-shaming" when Nancy tells Wonder Woman what her mom thinks of fighting in a bathing suit, Wonder Woman literally slut-shames Superwoman:
And, despite the fact that Superwoman repeatedly mentions the fact that she's pregnant, neither she nor Wonder Woman seem all that concerned with the health of the baby, with Wonder Woman ultimately strangling Superwoman into unconsciousness:
I'll be the first to admit I know even less about super-wombs than I do regular wombs, but that struck me as a little weird...especially when Kesel could have just not mentioned the pregnancy at all.

The art is strong for two-thirds of the story. The first two chapters are by Irene Koh (who drew the first three panels I posted above) and Emma Viegeli (who drew the fourth image). While there are pretty obvious differences between the work of the two artists, with the latter using black lines to outline the figures, making them sharper and more distinct than the softer, more illustrator-like look of Koh's chapter, they are sticking to pretty similar designs.

The third chapter, by Laura Braga, is more in keeping with the design of the cover, as Wonder Woman and Superwoman's costumes suddenly shrink about ten sizes, and they get slimmer and more buxom (Braga draws Wondy's tiara much larger than the other two do, though).

Overall, it's a pretty fun and funny story, and one that manages to discuss aspects of the Wonder Woman character in a direct, almost pedantic way, while also demonstrating aspects within the story, and meeting the required superhero violence quotient. I don't know that I'd say this was one of the better Sensation stories of late, but it was certainly one of my favorites in a while.


Evan Dawson-Baglien said...

I also interpreted Wonder Woman's dialogue in that panel to be a reference to her not being a native speaker of English (what do Amazons speak anyway? Ancient Greek?). Of course, that makes less sense if the story is in-continuity. Wonder Woman's been in Man's World for at least 5 years at this point.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I'm not buying BLACK CANARY, though I might try a few of the trades once Amazon lowers the prices, but I can't account for who she is now compared to TEAM 7,which I suppose happened before BIRDS OF PREY. Hard to say since the book was cancelled to fast. What are your thoughts, Caleb?

Is this like a soft reboot of Batgirl?

David said...

Holy cow, I didn't notice before this post just HOW bad the new Wonder Woman costume is. She has a giant, red "V" over her crotch, for god's sake. As someone who enjoyed the Azzarello/Chiang run, and then read one issue of the Finch run before dropping the book like a hot potato, there is some serious schadenfreude.