Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Comic Shop Comics: September 30
The special guest-star (and prospective eighth member of Section Eight) is, as you can no doubt tell from Amanda Conner's cover, is Wonder Woman. She arrives at Noonan's Sleazy Bar simply to tell off Sixpack and his teammates, storming out with the words "The only superheroine signing up with Section Eight is going to be one suffering from brain damage." And then Baytor, who is trying to hang a sign over the door with a cartoon mallet, accidentally WHHAAMMs Wonder Woman on the head, rendering her, well...
This issue is extremely fraught, with various members of Section Eight discussing ethics, feminism ("I never hearda that") and that you can't say "retarded...it's not cool anymore." The fact that writer Garth Ennis has his various characters speaking both sides of many arguments on these matters is a pretty good indicator that he's making fun of the participants in some of the conversations and his own characters more than anything else, but it's still a bit of a minefield for a comics writer in the era of social media to traipse through. The Grapplah, in particular, seems to contradict himself constantly, stating the exact opposite point of view in alternate lines of dialogue.
So Wonder Woman has essentially been reduced to the mental age of a little girl, commencing a tea party with Dogwelder II ("How do you like your tea? I bet you like it with dogs welded to it!") and, upon meeting Bueno Excellente and Guts, she convinces them all to hold a wedding between the two. When she starts constructing a hotel/fort for the honeymoon, however, Baytor applies a well-known cure for head injuries sustained in all forms of pop fiction: He hits Wonder Woman in the head with the hammer again.
I suppose it's a good thing that Wonder Woman spends a majority of her panel-time addled out of her brain, as Ennis writes the non-brain-damaged Wonder Woman as a humorless, violent bully without an ounce of compassion (you know, like everyone else writers her in all of her other appearances outside of Sensation Comics). Artist John McCrea draws his own version of Wondy's costume; while the one on the cover is basically just her original New 52 get-up, McCra mysterious guide takes him beyond the bounds of life itself and into the mystical realea gives her a pair of biker shorts-like shorts rather than the bathing suit bottoms, and these are blue rather than black, and her top lacks the ribbing its usually drawn with.
Finally, this issue also contains a Tommy Monaghan cameo...sort of. A photo of him is seen hanging on the wall of Noonan's in the background of one panel.
I liked the way writer Mark Waid handled Veronica's introduction to the school and, in particular, her meeting with Betty, as they begin on the inevitable road to frenemies. Betty accidentally sees Veronica at her lowest and, being a decent human being, tries to reach out and help her; she's seen enough of Veronica to know she too is human and in need of a real friend. At the same time, Veronica almost immediately rebuffs her and makes her feel bad for helping. And then there's the small matter of Veronica's stranglehold on Archie.
It's only three issues in, and already Waid has done a pretty fine job of establishing a sizable chunk of the core cast, and how they relate to one another.
This issue also includes a classic reprint (and $3.99 for just 22 pages, it damn well better!), which was Veronica's first appearance. It's probably the strongest and funniest of the reprints that have been featured in the backs of these issues so far.
This seemingly concludes The Velvet Tiger story arc, while pushing along several unrelated storylines, like a developing relationship between Babs and Luke Fox (son of Lucius and formerly Batwing II) and Frankie's ongoing quest to become the new Oracle. She doesn't actually use that name, but writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher tease it as hard as they have yet, with Frankie having sent a package with the return address of "Delphi."
I understand the temptation to make Oracle a part of a Barbara Gordon comic, but I really don't like the idea of a new character becoming Oracle, and thus making Oracle a legacy character. With the DC Universe's timeline so ridiculously compressed now, to the point that there aren't any heroic legacies, something that's been a key part of the DC Universe for a really damn long time now, it seems weirds that, say, Barry Allen was the only Flash ever, for example, but we've already had three Batman, four Robins, two Catwomen and two Batwings in just five years. I mean, I guess Frankie would be the only Oracle post-New 52, but we'd still have to, like, talk about her as the second Oracle. Talking about DC Comics characters can just be so exhausting sometimes, you know? Everything needs a qualifier or three.
This issue includes Brown Jenkin, here called "Mr. Jenkins," one of the more disturbing of Lovecraft's creations in terms of pure visuals, if you ask me. He behaves...differently, in a more graphic way htere that is in keeping with witch-lore, if not Lovecraft's exact portrayals. I liked the Elspeth character, who appears only briefly.