superheroes


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.

The first book in the Pandora Project trilogy. It’s also the fourth Vigilantes book, a historical superhero series set in 1960s US.

Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Publisher: Beautiful Fire
Page count: 329

Colleen Knight’s mother Tina leads a mob family. Colleen’s grandfather tried to make Colleen into a mobster as well; he even threatened to hurt Colleen’s lover unless she did was he wanted. That’s why Colleen left Karen without a word six years ago. However, now her grandfather is dead and she’s trying to distance herself from her mother’s job. Colleen is also afraid of her fire powers; she’s killed people before and now she’s trying to avoid it.

But when Tina asks a favor from Colleen, she can’t say no, especially when she’s asked to save another powered person. To do that, she goes undercover on a river boat, assuming the role of a mistress of a known playboy.

Karen Gray is a spy for a government agency, the Bulwark. She believes that she’s doing good work when she hunts down powered people, sometimes killing them. However, she’s been deep undercover for some years now, as the fiancee of David James, the son of a rich man and powerful man. Karen is given the mission to retrieved yet another powered person from a river boat.

When Karen and Colleen meet unexpectedly, they can’t trust each other and their history together, especially the abrupt break-up, comes between them. But when they find out that the powered person they both need to retrieve is a black child, the mission taken another turn. Colleen and Karen must band together, for a while at least.

Colleen is a black woman and Karen is white. Through Colleen, we see the bigotry of 1960s USA, especially because the river boat is in southern US. But Colleen doesn’t let other people’s attitudes stop her even if sometimes she must bow her head and hide herself. She’s fierce and fights for what she believes in. Karen has also had to fight hard to be accepted as an agent and when she must face the growing evidence that her job might not be what she thought it is, she must decide what’s more important to her: her career or conscience.

Regular people know about powered people and some are afraid of them. Some people, especially the rich and the powerful, want to use powered people as weapons, no matter what that powered person thinks of that.

This is a fast-paced story with twists and turns. The characters are believable and they struggle with both personal feelings and with larger moral issues. The fight scenes are detailed and great. However, the story (as Heinrich’s other books, too) are more bloody than comics; both main characters kill people, sometimes in rather grisly way, while fighting for their lives.

There are some references to DC/Marvel comics, in addition to the names of main characters. I personally got a kick out of Liefeld.

I’m not a romance reader but this time I didn’t mind how old feelings rekindled in Colleen and Karen. Neither has forgotten the other and both were deeply wounded by their break-up. Of course, in 1962 their romance must be a secret.

It’s possible to read the story as a stand-alone but I’d recommend reading from the start. Colleen was introduced in “Shadow Dreams”.

The book starts with a short story “Mizuchi” where Alice as Serpent and Marco as Shadow Master confront a girl who can control water. She’s killing people and the local police are overwhelmed. However, things become more complicated when Alice and Marco realized that she’s barely a teenager who is only killing men who belong to the local Chinese mob.

The book doesn’t quite end in a cliffhanger but the story isn’t finished.

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.

Collects Wonder Woman vol. 3 issues 1-4 and Annual 1

Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal

This is WW’s second relaunch, after she killed Maxwell Lord to stop his mind control powers. That led into Infinite Crisis (which I still haven’t read) and the “one year later” relaunch.

At the beginning, we find out that Diana has disappeared and left Donna Troy to continue as Wonder Woman. However, people aren’t convinced that Donna’s up to the task. Diana’s old enemies Cheetah and the Giganta have kidnapped Steve Trevor to lure Diana out. Instead they get Donna. Together with Dr. Psyho they overwhelm Donna.

Meanwhile, the Department of Metahuman Affairs is back in action. Diana has taken up her old identity as Diana Prince and is now one of the D. M. A’s secret agents. Her partner and love interest is (insufferable) Nemesis. They’re sent to retrieve Donna.

Diana meets with Cassie who is very angry with her and Robin who had known that Diana is alive and in hiding. The World Court has dropped murder charges against Diana but she’s reluctant to return into her WW role. Even at the end, she’s still searching for herself.

This was an okay beginning to the relaunched series. We got to see a lot of guest-starring female heroes, besides Cassie and Donna, and Diana was really a part of the superhero community. We also got to see her in action without her powers for while, which was nice. I also really enjoyed all the mythology even though this story focused more on Diana’s superhero side.

Still, this isn’t a required reading by any means. Also, the ending has lots of characters, both heroes and villains which could well confuse people who don’t know WW. Also, Hercules shows up and he’s trying to convince people that he’s really a hero and longer the same man who raped Amazons, including Diana’s mother. Personally, I thought Diana was too forgiving with him. She’s not naive. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Donna as WW. She kept the title for a year, surely she had lots of adventures.

Dodsons’ art is lush and suits WW very well. However, it does have a lot of cheesecake, although not as much as the previous Birds of Prey comics.

The final story in the Annual is draw by Gary Frank who has very different style from the Dodsons, so it was a little jarring. It’s a brief explanation about Diana’s, Donna’s, and Cassie’s intertwined history and some flirting with Nemesis.

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