comics


Collects WW (vol 3) issues 20-25.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Bernard Chang

Ends of the Earth story line runs the first four issues. It’s a bit on the strange side. First issue starts with Diana in a foreign, wintry land fighting wolves. She ends up in a tavern, looking for fabled hero Beowulf. Then we return to the beginning. Department of Metahuman Affairs’ agent Diana Prince is promoted. She’s expected to lead a team of six agents. Diana is quite flustered because she feels that she hasn’t earn a promotion, quite the contrary. But then a strange man with omnious red glowing eyes (I can think of only one time when that’s been a good sign) confronts Diana in her own office. He asks Wonder Woman to kill the devil. Diana uses her lasso on him, but that’s a terrible choice. It turns out that the man, who calls himself only Stalker, has no soul and so ensnares Diana’s soul (or mind). Apparently, he sends Diana to another dimension. There, Diana needs to find the heroes Beowulf and Claw to help her defeat the demon Dgrth.

For the rest of the story, Diana and Beowulf journey in a couple of other worlds. Diana’s soul is diminishing and so her compassion is leaving her and she becomes more and more violent and cold. Eventually Diana, Beowulf, Claw, and the Stalker confront the demon.

Meanwhile, DMA’s director Steele recruits agent Tresser, Diana’s partner and love interest, into spying on Diana and agent Candy. Steele (quite right) suspects that they’re Amazons and that they’re looking for more info in preparation for the Amazon’s next attack (which of course isn’t true). Tresser manages to find out that the giant intelligent gorillas are in Diana’s apartment. It’s gorillas vs Tresser!

By the fourth issue, Diana has returned and it’s now time for Tresser to meet her mom, Queen Hippolyta. Of course, they did meet briefly during Amazons Attack when Tresser was almost killed… However, Hippolyta seems to accept Tresser. Then Diana goes to Hollywood! People are making a Wonder Woman movie and they want Diana’s endorsement. Of course, this being a superhero comic, an old WW villain is involved.

I’m a fantasy fan and Diana, more than any other superhero, has a mythological roots, so I quite enjoyed the short romp in these Hyborian-like fantasy worlds. We even get some philosophizing about what it feels like to loose your soul and what it means to live without one. However, I thought Claw was Conan and I wasn’t familiar with the other characters. Turns out that they are some older fantasy character. I’ve no idea why Simone chose to use them or if it was some weird editorial decision. Also, another enemy is left loose to plague Diana later.

The final two issues set in Hollywood are fun. The movie is a horribly twisted version of Diana’s life but considering that she’s a real person, I’m not sure if they could have done it with Diana objecting. I enjoyed Diana’s two advisers, Rhanda and Tolifhar. They’re giant white gorillas. With briefcases. Once again, Diana shows both her warrior and diplomat sides. This shows how very, very badly a WW movie could have gone wrong.

Overall, this was an uneven collection even if it was fun for me.

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Collects WW (vol. 3) issues 14-19. Par of WW’s second relaunch, after Heidenberg and Picoult’s issues.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Ron Randall, Bernard Chang

Simone is one of the best WW writers and she shows it right at the start. The story begins after the Amazons Attack story where Queen Hippolyta was, apparently, confined to one island away from the Amazons.

The first story, the Circle, runs four issues. Each issue starts with a flashback of four Amazons whom Hippolyta chose to be her personal guard. They’re fanatically loyal but when Hippolyta tells about her plan to get a child, they decide that the child will tear the Amazons apart for the simple reason that many Amazons want a child (or children) but they can’t have them. So, their jealousy will grow into bitterness and anger. So, the four decide that they can’t allow their Queen to succeed.

In the present time, the four are imprisoned on the island where the Queen is held. She asks them to repent but instead one of them warns that the dragon (as they call Diana) must be destroyed before she destroys the Amazons.

Meanwhile, Gorilla Grodd is gathering an army of intelligent white gorillas. Apparently, he’s been telling them that all humans want to kill them and they have seen poachers. Diana offers them an alternative, to find out more about humans. So, the gorillas move in with Diana in her agent’s apartment.

A bunch of Neo-Nazis want to make Hippolyta’s island their base and attack, expecting to overcome a single woman easily. While the Queen of the Amazons battles a large group of humans with modern weapons, Diana comes to save her mother. Unfortunately, the Nazis unleash the four Amazon prisoners.

The last story line is two issues long. The Khund are a space faring species who live to conquer others. When they came to Earth, the superheroes defeated them. Now the Khund are back and they have declared war of Wonder Woman. After initial battle, Diana finds out that the Khund almost revere her because of her warrior skills. Some also consider her part Khund. But now a Khund general has come to ask for Diana’s help against another race who is defeating them easily. Diana agrees to help them. Of course, things aren’t quite as they seem.

Meanwhile, Diana starts to officially court Nemesis, Tom Tresser. But now that Tom’s close to getting what he wants, he realizes that he’s not worthy of her. (And good riddance to him!)

This was a good start. I always enjoy seeing more of Amazons and Hippolyta, although I don’t like seeing them as villains. I can see how some Amazons could have reacted that way to their Queen being the only one who gets to have a child. I think this is the first time I’ve seen Amazons portrayed as mourning their infertility, so it’s clear to me that not all of them feel that way. Still, I was a bit disappointed that this story started by showing them yearning for motherhood rather than as fierce warriors.

I’m not familiar with the Khund so I can’t say if they’re in character here. But both story lines show excellently Diana’s compassion to her enemies and the second portrays her as a diplomat as well as a warrior, which was great.

Tom is in hospital for most of the stories, so he’s not fighting by her side. Instead, we are introduced to Simone’s Etta Candy. I really enjoyed Etta and Diana’s friendship.

I really liked Dodson’s lush art which fits Diana very well.

Collects Mr. and Mrs. X issue 1-6.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Oscar Bazaldua, David Lopez

Rogue and Gambit are happily married and having adventures in space!! I love this comic! Do you need to know more?

Well okay. About half of the first issue is about the wedding and the various X-Men who have cameos there. Rogue’s mom Mystique also makes an appearance. Surprisingly, it doesn’t end in a fight. Instead, the happy couple goes to their well-earned honeymoon. However, they only get a few days of peace before Kitty calls them with a mission that involves getting their hands on a “package” before others can. Those others end up being Shi’Ar Imperial Guard…

Because Rogue and Gambit are on a spaceship, they’re the closest ones to protect the “package” from the Guard, Deadpool, Technet, and even Star Jammers. However, when they find out what it is, they’re not surprised that so many people are after it.

Rogues’ powers also evolve. For the wedding (and honeymoon) she must wear a power dampening collar which gives her a continuous headache. However, with her powers evolving, she must wear it all the time.

The final issue is back on earth, when they throw a party at Gambit’s apartment. Besides a lot of X-Men, they also get some unexpected gatecrashers and ominous warnings. The collection ends in a cliffhanger (almost literally) and I can’t wait for vol. 2 which, unfortunately, is coming out in August.

While Gambit and Rogue are mostly happy together, they do have some issues to work out as well. There’s also sexy banter, kissing, and staying together no matter what, so if that’s not you thing, stay away. Thompson does reference their previous problems briefly. I think it’s for the benefit of new readers (which is probably needed) but she doesn’t focus on them. Which is fine for me. I’m sure they’ll be popping up again. I must admit, though, that the Technet (and Cerise! Please tell me she’s coming back!) especially are probably unknown to newer readers; I’m a long-time Excalibur fan and so I enjoyed their appearance.

I’m mostly happy with the art. Bazaldua’s women look very young but otherwise I’m happy with him. Lopez draws the last issue but his style isn’t too different from Bazaldua, so the change isn’t jarring.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

After the tragic end of the previous story line, Alita has vanished. Her mechanic and adoptive father Ido is looking for her increasingly desperately, because she left without a word a month ago. When Ido comes across a couple of thugs trying to rape a woman, he hesitates but beats them up. The woman, Shumira, is immediately attracted to Ido, offering him a place to stay. Instead Ido asks if Shumira has seen Alita. Shumira takes him to the Motorball arena. Alita is there, as one of the contestants. Ido tries to talk with Alita but she just walks away, letting security drag him out. Ido is furious and joins the current champion’s team so that Alita will be humbled and return home safely.

Alita is heart-broken and throws herself into the fights. Motorball is supposed to be a just a game, but a lot of players are seriously hurt or even killed. Alita has a new team and a new body. Unba is her new mechanic and Ed is a former Motorball player who advises her. She also has a small, flying furball, which seems to be there just for a bit of comic relief. Alita is still in the third league but her team pushes her to fight so that she can rise to the first league.

After the more emotional previous plot arch, the new plot arch is focused on fighting or rather playing Motorball. Alita says that she’s starting to see small flashes of her former life while playing. Also, she meets rivals, such as Ajakutty whom she has to play against in order to get the player number she wants, 99. Her biggest opponent is the current champion Jashugan who fights with the power of his mind as well his cyborg body. Alita says that she needs challenges to make life worth living. However, in order to challenge Jashuagan directly, she needs a team of Motorball players.

We finally get another female character, Shumira. She’s much more sexualized than Alita, wearing revealing clothing and flirting with Ido. She’s the younger sister of Jashugan. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with her. On the last page, we also glimpse a third female character who is a Motorball player.

Despite the focus on battle, there’s some character growth as well, for Alita, Ido, and even for Jashugan. Ido wants Alita back and doesn’t care what the cost will be for Alita. No doubt he must confront his actions later. Alita has abandoned Ido in her pain and refuses to even talk to him.

The third collection in English seems to have the chapters 13 through 17. The comic ends in a cliffhanger when Alita and her Motorball team are going to engage the champion of the second league.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 3: Teurastajaenkeli) has chapters 12-17.

Writer and artist: Yukito Kishiro

Originally started publishing in 1991. Finnish translation started in 2006.

Alita meets Yugo, a teenager who is living by himself and working very hard to support himself. Alita is immediately attracted to him, his brash manner, and the way he admires Zalem, the city in the sky where the wealthy people live. When a criminal Alita is tracking attacks, Alita conceals her fighting abilities from Yugo, which I found very strange. Alita softens up the criminal behind Yugo’s back (literally) but Yugo kills him and claims the head. Alita has been disgusted with the practice of bringing in heads to get paid but when Yugo tells her that he needs to gather 10 million credits so that he can go to Zalem, Alita decides to help him. Yep, Alita has fallen in love with Yugo. Unfortunately for her, he doesn’t feel the same way, focusing on his jobs instead.

However, trouble is on the horizon, because Yugo is the infamous “spine thief”. Spines are very expensive. Yugo and his group of two other young thieves knock out cyborgs and steal their spines. However, Yugo leaves them always alive. But when the local big crime boss Vector notices what Yugo and his friends are doing, he wants to expand the operation, working quicker and killing the victims afterward.

Meanwhile, one of the bounty hunters whom Alita battled and humiliated earlier, wants revenge. He realizes what Yugo is doing and is determined to put a bounty on Yugo’s head, forcing Alita to kill her love or to defend him and make herself a rogue bounty hunter, fair game for the other hunter-warriors.

We also get to see Yugo’s life and what makes him tick.

This second collection deepens the world and the characters. It’s also not focused as much on combat, but instead on Alita and Yugo’s growing relationship (or rather Alita’s growing obsession over him), Alita’s insecurity because she’s not a ‘real girl’, and Ito’s concern over her. Alita is faced with tough choices and also feelings about herself. She worries that because her cyborg body is so much stronger than a human body, she can never be with Yugo.

I didn’t care for Yugo and it seemed like Alita fell for the first boy near her own (emotional) age. But of course they’re both teenagers and so very focused on themselves. I’m also not sure where her impulse to hide her artificial body and her combat skills came from. Ido surely didn’t teach her that. I guess it’s just a means to create conflict in her. While I didn’t care for the main story line, I still really like Alita, her determination and loyalty. She’s also very proud and quick to anger.

The second collection in English seems to have the chapters 8 through 12. The comic ends at an natural break in the plot.

The Finnish edition (Gunnm 2: Rautaneito) has chapters 7-11. It ends with a cliffhanger.

Collects Wonder Woman vol. 4. issues 7-12. The New 52 relaunch.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

The previous collection, Vol. 1: Blood, ended in a cliffhanger when Haades took Zola (and her unborn child, of course) to the Underworld with him. Now, Diana and her team of Lennox and Hermes must get her back. To do that, Diana turns to Eros and Hephaestus. Unfortunately, things go wrong and while Hermes is able to take Zola back to the world of living, Diana must agree to stay and be Haades’ bride. The rest of the team tries to get her back. Getting to Hell again isn’t too hard because some of them have been invited into the wedding, along with Strife. Fortunately, Diana doesn’t need anyone else to save her.

Then the plot kicks up even higher when Hera sends Apollo and Artemis after Zola and her unborn child.

I must say that the unusual way the deities look is really growing on me. I didn’t even blink an eye when we saw Eros with double pistols. Artemis actually looked pretty cool as a pure white woman. The god of the forge looks like an ogre which seems oddly appropriate. The other thing I found strange was that the deities called each other by their (currently) primary sphere of influence. Hermes is Messenger, Hephaestus is smith, Ares is War, Artemis Moon, Eris is Strife. However, nobody calls Hera Marriage or Women or Fertility for some reason. Most likely, because it doesn’t sound cool. Of course, each Greek deity has several spheres so calling them with just one is strange. For example, Apollo could just was well be Muse or Healing or Diseases, as Sun.

However, I don’t understand why DC wanted to change the Amazons even further. This time we’re told that three times in a century, the Amazons go to ships and have sex with the sailors. Then they kill the sailors. All girl children stay with the Amazons but the boys are given to Hephaestus as virtual slaves. If he doesn’t take them, they’re killed. And apparently not one Amazon has a problem with that? That’s damn cold and very strangely different because previously Diana was the only child on the island and the others were all immortal. Now, DC has stripped them of immortality and made them mortals and pretty strange ones at that. So, from (mostly) noble women warriors to cold killers of lovers and babies? Not good. Then again, DC has treated the Amazons pretty harshly in the past, from the whole strange Amazons Attack story line to periodically destroying the Paradise Island.

Except for that, I rather enjoyed the adventures in the Underworld with various Greek deities. Diana was able to hold her own against them. In the final issue, she suddenly got a weird power boost from nowhere which was very strange. The collection ends again in a cliffhanger.

Again I enjoyed Chiang’s artwork a lot.

Collects Wonder Woman vol. 4. issues 1-6. The New 52 relaunch.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

While the previous relaunch was centered on Diana as the superhero, this one is focused on Azzarello’s version of Greek mythology. I mostly enjoyed that, when I got over just how bizarre the gods looked. Goddesses were very Western pretty. However, the art is quite different from usual superhero art style, which I thought fitted will with the mythology theme. Oh and no other superheroes were seen this time.

The story starts with weird people doing weird stuff: a very dark man killing three women in order to get them to prophecy for him and a naked woman in a peacock feather cloak butchering horses. Then we jump to a farm where a half-bird man is trying to save a woman and her baby from bloodthirsty centaurs. The man teleports the woman to Diana who kills the centaurs.

It turns out that the half-bird man is Hermes who is trying to protect the newest of Zeus’ by-blows who has born yet. The young woman, Zola, is pretty puzzled by all this. Diana agrees to protect her and the child when it’s born. Also, Zeus is missing, presumed dead and many powerful gods want to be the new king of the gods. The contestant include Poseidon, Haades, and Apollo. Hera also isn’t happy about any sort of demotion.

Also, for some reason Azzarello (or perhaps the DC editorial? I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t be able to changed that just by himself) decided to change Diana’s origin. Until this point, Diana’s mother Hippolyta made her out of clay and the gods just breathed Diana into life. Now, however, Diana is one of Zeus’ kids. I’m not sure why the change was made or why it was needed. At least, the way that Hippolyta tells it, it wasn’t a rape but mutual attraction. Still, she didn’t tell Diana about it which was even stranger and really not cool. So this was the main thing I didn’t care for. I also really didn’t care for the way that Hera’s only motivation in the story is to kill or hurt Zeus’ by-blows. Granted, that’s what the mythology tells us but it still feels awfully petty for a goddess, especially since Zeus is supposedly dead.

Like I said, art is quite different from normal superhero stuff. I mostly liked it. However, it was strange how the art didn’t have cheesecake for Diana and the Amazons but Hera was running around naked all the time… Since the male gods all got strange makeovers, like Hades being just a meter tall and lit candles on his head, they could have given the goddesses something similar.

Diana here is a confident heroine, a far cry from the previous relaunch. I remember that I really liked this when it first came out. While I still like it, not as much. I have the single issues, rather than the collection.

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