Posted by: Brian Hibbs on June 30, 2010
OK, so I lied a little — I meant to write the Dark Tower post yesterday, but then I found I didn’t want to after Paul McEnery came in an distracted me for an hour. So, let’s move forward onto comics, and I’ll come back to DT at some point in the future (probably)
WIZARD #228: Wait, what? Well, yeah, Wizard. One of my jobs is to read pretty much everything that flows through the store, and that includes mags like Wizard. Normally that takes, dunno, 5 minutes or less? But this issue is “Guest Edited” by Mark Millar, and there was a fairly interesting roundtable discussion with film-makers about how and what works when making super-hero movies, and while it wasn’t great journalism, or anything, it took me nearly TWENTY minutes to read this month’s Wizard, which is, anyway you look at it, a great improvement. There were a couple of other, at least, readable pieces. There’s no chance that this bump in readability will last more than an issue, and Wizard doesn’t seem to understand that people-who-read-Wizard actually want a price guide (sigh), and I fairly despise the company in general, and wish they’d just go on and go out of business already, but I thought this individual issue was actually fairly GOOD.
CHRONICLES OF WORMWOOD: THE LAST BATTLE #4: I don’t think I actually mentioned this during the first three issues: while Oscar Jimenez is a very fine artist, his art is a pretty severe tonal shift from the first series drawn by Jacen Burrows. Given that the series is (sort of) “So, Jesus and the antichrist walk into a bar”, I find I want that kind of semi-bigfootish cartooning on it, rather than highly rendered, tiny-fine lines. Still, liking this a lot. GOOD.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40: I really think the JSA has been a mess since Willingham took over; I know I’ve personally broken my multi-year buying of the series. And this issue really isn’t much better: jumping around in time awkwardly, quickly resolving the non-threat of a modern nazi-driven supervillain group, and so on. Art is nice, however. But I’m bringing this book up for another reason: someone in DC Editorial or Marketing branded the cover of this issue with “A NEW ERA returns for the [JSA]” and “NEW beginning! NEW Triumphs!”, when what the comic ACTUALLY is is the CONCLUSION of the current storyline, and doesn’t contain a single thing that might make a new reader either jump on, or stay on. This is even weirder considering that NEXT issue will be the “jumping on” point, featuring a JLA/JSA crossover. I guess I just don’t get the thinking of trying to make the cover super-attractive to a new reader, but not following through with that editorially? I thought it was fairly AWFUL.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46: This is not great epic comics. We will not be comparing this to WATCHMEN any time in the near future. This will not be winning an Eisner Award. Hell, it’s part one of a JSA/JLA crossover, so clearly it isn’t literature. What it IS, however, is pretty decent, fun, superhero comical books. There’s a certain amount of zest and zing going on here, and, maybe most importantly, it feels like it is taking place in a coherent universe. If all super-hero comics had at least this level of craft, then maybe we wouldn’t be seeing such weak sales on so many books? Just sayin’. I thought this was mildly GOOD.
WONDER WOMAN #600: Let’s leave the problems for last. As an anniversary issue, I was taken by this in a way that I wasn’t with BATMAN #700 or SUPERMAN #700; maybe because I thought the “look back” stories worked well? I super-double especially liked the Simone/Perez story that led off the book, as being essentially “correct” in tone and craft. The Amanda Connor story was also pretty lovely and awesome. The Lousie Simonson story was pretty straight-ahead genericism, but it didn’t suck. The Geoff Johns bit was… adequate, mostly leading into the JMS bit, but other than that, it didn’t really have a lot of place in the book. There’s also a big mass of loverly pinups. So, yeah, this is a nice anniversary issue, and one I can recommend.
But lets talk about the JMS bits, now.
Actually, as a starting point, it wasn’t horrible or anything — and I particularly thought the art was very strong — this seems like it could be a somewhat interesting direction for a short time (though I am wondering where her lasso is?)
The problem is that we have to discuss the “meta” implications of this. First off, there’s a timeline problem here, as I see it. Diana is told it has been “18 years” since whatever happened, happened, and there’s a strong implication she was a child when that happened.. making her… 20? 21? certainly less than 25. I’m not a fan of this, as it then makes her younger than Superman or Batman. I’ve always thought that Diana was older than that, however — Amazons are “ageless”, and while we’ve seen her “childhood”, I’ve always kind of assumed that she was a “kid” for decades on the perfect, timeless Amazon island. You may disagree.
The goal seems to be to make Diana as important and significant as any other character, but the way they’ve appeared to try and make that happen is to essentially remove her from DC continuity. This is partly because two things in opposition can’t be true at the same time — if Diana was “never” star-spangled WW, then what happens to the JLA? To Donna Troy, or to Wonder Girl? If she never was, then she never killed Max Lord, in which case he couldn’t have “come back” in BRIGHTEST DAY, could he? WAR OF THE GODS and AMAZONS ATTACK then never happened (well, that last one is not SO bad, is it?) Hippolyta would never been in the JSA. I can go on, but what’s the point? There are characters and situations that can be retconned, but Star-spangled WW really isn’t one of them, because there are too many other things happening to and around her — pull a thread like this, and the whole tapestry collapses — she is, or at least should be, central to the underpinnings of the DCU. It’s NOT like “Well, Peter never married MJ”, because that still left Spidey in play as effectively the same character. Even the whole “Spider-Totem” thing didn’t invalidate previous stories (and OTHER CHARACTERS) stories — but this really would appear to do so.
So, there’s that.
There’s also the dissonance of renumbering the series (that previous #1 really never should have happened…especially because Picault didn’t stay on the character) back to “classic” numbering, then delivering a story that really kind of DEMANDS a new #1 (not that I like “fake” #1s, but this is a pretty different version of the character, both figuratively and literally) — it’s like “we’re celebrating 600 issues of this by getting rid of anything that happened in those 600 issues!” Weird weird choice.
The costume? I don’t hate it. I mean, personally, I’m more for the sandals-and-skirt version myself, but I’m OK with mixing it up a bit. Ugh, that jacket, though — it just screams “90s!”, and it flashes me back to the bicycle-pants-and-bra Mike Deodato redesign (which didn’t much last) (There’s a pretty great article on Comics Alliance about her costumes over the years) — it just feels very “last decade” to me, rather than “21st century cool!”
thought I really do have to question the wisdom of getting rid of the Star-Spangled look DIRECTLY BEFORE FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND. Ooops.
Also on the “meta” scale, JMS needs to… well, he needs to think before he speaks. Apart from the factual notions he gets wrong (ie, she’s never changed her costume over the years, Superman and Batman look radically different than they did at launch, and so on), he just sounds remarkably and amazingly dismissive towards anyone else who has worked on the character recently. It rubbed me the wrong way.
At the end of the day, I don’t really think this will stick — there’s too much product in the Star-spangled mode, there’s too much history that this unwraps — and, unless there is a WW movie greenlit using exactly this model in the next six months, I can’t imagine this will still be here in two years from today. Maybe I’ll be wrong, I’ve sure been so before, but I can’t see it.
Despite all of that, I still thought WONDER WOMAN #600 was pretty GOOD.
What do YOU think?