Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Wonder Woman #1 (2011)

If you don’t think Wonder Woman is a badass then you and I have nothing to talk about!

Assuming you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I am very partial to strong women, especially when they are the main characters.  And as far as superhero comic books go they don’t come stronger than Diana.   One of the most iconic and recognizable women in not only comic books but in American pop culture Wonder Woman is one of DC Comics’ famed “Trinity”, alongside Batman and Superman, who are considered the company’s top heroes not only in real life but within the fiction as well as they typically seen as the example for other heroes to aspire to.  In theory.  Unlike Bats and Supes Diana hasn’t traditionally been a heavy seller.  While Superman usually stars in at least two ongoing titles a month and Batman in about seventy-nine Wonder Woman struggles with just one and has been canceled more than once because of that.  As a result DC has on numerous occasions tried to reboot and revamp the character in order to attract readers, most of them unsuccessful and sometimes laughably so (Remember that period when Wonder Woman had no super power, learned martial arts and ran a goddamned boutique?).  The most recent example of this was literally just over a year ago in Wonder Woman #601, under our old friend J. Michael Straczynski, when her entire origin and history was thrown out (Possibly only temporally, though I don’t think it was ever truly resolved) but more importantly her classic costume was replaced with a more “modern” and “hipper” (Though ironically not original) look with pants and a jacket.  There was HUGE media buzz over this; you almost certainly saw the images!

Wonder Woman Reboot #475
So OF COURSE a year after the most recent disappointing reboot of Wonder Woman DC has opted to reboot her AGAIN.  At this point it’s clear a lot of people don’t really care about Diana that much these days, especially with the recent surge of popularity Green Lantern has over the past few years.  However I maintain that at her core Wonder Woman is a fantastic character but she suffers from all these “Bold New Directions” and a string of writers who clearly have no idea how to write for the character.  The number of writers to have successfully “gotten her” and how to do so have been few and far between and as a result Diana is probably the most inconsistently written character DC has.

So here we are again: Another Wonder Woman #1 (Titled “The Visitation") and I have no idea how many of those there have been (639?). However this issue is written by Brian Azzarello, famed writer of 100 Bullets.   It is also being drawn by Cliff Chiang whom I’m less familiar with but on the other hand he’s impressed me after listening to some podcast interviews with him.  In theory this could be a recipe for brilliance.  In theory.

Full review after the jump.


You were expecting, maybe, Ella Fitzgerald?
A mysterious figure, likely the Greek god Apollo, has just recruited three innocent women into an equally mysterious plot.  Meanwhile a young woman named Zola is being attacked by two centaur assassins but rescued by a man with bird-like features who teleports her to someone who might be able to truly protect her: Wonder Woman.

I have to say at first I wasn’t sure about the artwork but the more times I’ve read through this book the more I like it.  It’s a lot different from what I usually see in superhero comics and I love the way he draws Wonder Woman, especially the way she towers over Zola (Because Wonder Woman is tall as hell, something a lot of artists forget).  I also like the way he draws the creatures and that the Greek gods we see look so inhuman.  There’s a unique feel in this comic compared to everything else I’ve read in the DCnU and it’s 50% because of Chiang’s style.  A lot of people have said this might be the best artwork of the reboot; I think it’s hard to argue that.

Like a boss
Though we don’t really learn much about Diana’s status quo, nor is there an origin story for new readers, the structure of this story is awesome.  I feel like the start of a new story arc rather than the beginning of a character’s history, which is fine.  Really do we need to retell Wonder Woman's origin right this second?  It’s freaking Wonder Woman, we all pretty much know enough to understand who this person is.  It starts out with the introduction of a possible new villain in Apollo (Who unlike Ares and Hades I don’t believe has been a traditional Wonder Woman villain) who comes off very interesting and mysterious.  I also like that there’s a lot of action in this issue that solidifies a lot of Diana’s abilities (The art again really well done here).   I’m really into this storyline and where it will go which I assume is the point of this reboot in the first place.  It feels epic, which is mere than I can say for a lot of everything else I’ve been reading.

I don’t really have a lot of negative things to say about this issue because a) Everything was done well and frankly better than most other new DCnU issues and b) Like a lot of its sister titles this is clearly just the first part of an ongoing story which could fall apart later.  However there were a few things that bugged me.  There were some hiccups in the dialogue.  Mostly just little things but the “sun of a king” line Apollo uses to describe himself was cringe worthy.  I also do not like Wonder Woman’s new costume design.  Now I’m not saying I was in love with her new costume from last year but I didn’t hate it and once she lost the goofy jacket I was downright cool with it.  But somehow this new version doesn’t click.  It’s weird because the earliest preview art and solicitation clearly showed Diana wearing blue pants which made the costume considerably more bearable to me but once the actually covers started to come out we see her wearing what she has on here.  Now I’m not an insider or anything but if I had to guess I’d say that DC made the change due to backlash from fans about the initial change from last year but I don’t know for sure.  What I do know is that what they have doesn’t work for me.  I think it’s mostly the boots which I feel should be red to match her torso but for whatever it is I find her outfit to be bad and very distracting.  If they were going to revert her to an outfit that more closely matched her classic costume I wish they would have just brought the original back.  Otherwise they should have just stuck with what they originally were going with before chickening out.

The original cover, which I find 1000x more likable
Wonder Woman #1 is a really fun comic that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It easily ranks among the best books in the DCnU.  Of course it doesn’t really feel like a reboot and more like it’s just a new, well written, adventure starring a familiar character…which is probably the best way gain new readers as I assume most longtime Wonder Woman readers aren’t going insane over whatever changes happened in this book like I may have been for other books I’ve been reading.  The book didn’t grab me the way Batwoman #1 did, as it took me a few read-throughs to decide I really liked it, but I do think that it ranks alongside it and Batgirl #1 as the best books in this very unnecessary reboot.

I give Wonder Woman #1 4 adorable Pandas out of 5.


Pros

-Strong Female Lead (Obviously)

-Great action

-Cool intro to a possible villain 

-Great artwork

-Really solid writing

Cons

-Wonder Woman’s new costume doesn’t resonate with me


Okay, here’s the deal: I have had a really rough last few days which is why I suddenly stopped updating last week into this week.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the details; this ain't that type  of blog.  Just note that in order to catch up with what I’ve missed without killing myself I’ll be finishing up these DCnU reviews in a new format I’ve been itching to try out: mini-reviews. So when next I update it should consist of reviews of Captain Atom, Teen Titans and Firestorm at the very least.  The DCnU first month run has wrapped up and frankly I’d like to wrap up as well.

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