Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
(Greg Pak / Victor Ibanez; Marvel Comics) Let me begin by saying singer-songwriter Johnny Nash would be proud. Because Ororo Munroe (a.k.a. “Storm”) has made the rain gone and she can see all obstacles in her way. Which is apparently the storytelling apparatus in Storm #1. Which is a problem.
(Walter Simonson; IDW) Walt Simonson (Thor) returns to the fantasy genre with IDW’s Ragnarok #1, a Norse myth epic that, despite the story’s ambitious scale, manages to keep its emotional core compact and potent.
Wonder Woman # 33
(Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang; DC Comics) The best book to come out of DC’s New 52 just keeps getting better. The Azzarello/Chiang team is nothing less than perfection. The two have been breathing life into Wonder Woman like no other writer/artist team has done before them.
In this issue, the good guys have been tread down like grapes in an ancient wine press. Diana/Wonder Woman is bound on her knees before The First Born. The Themysciran Amazons fight alongside their brothers for the first time ever, against The First Born’s militant army. Hermes, Moon, Demeter, Zola, and baby Zeke barely escape back to Themyscira with their lives. Orion is impaled on the Minotaur’s helmet horn, and Diana/Wonder Woman is stabbed through her side and left to bleed out.
This is The Empire Strikes Back on horse steroids, in comic form. The bad guys seemingly have everything in their grasp and the good guys see no reprieve in sight,…until baby Zeke’s eyes start glowing and the imprisoned lifeless statue that was Hippolyta comes back to life and rouses her warriors to continue fighting, stating, “No surrender,…we are Amazons.” his book is SO freakin’ awesome, and those of us that have become Wonder Woman fans, in some cases for the first time since her reinvention in The New 52, are really going to lose out when this creative team ends its run with issue #35. If DC had any degree of intelligence when it comes to Wonder Woman, they’d give Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang a blank check and beg them to stay for a minimum of 100 issues.
I had the opportunity to speak briefly to David Finch at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con. He is the new artist on the title with issue #36 and his wife, Meredith, will be writing it. I asked Finch if he intended on continuing with Chiang’s tall, strong, womanly look for Diana, and referenced Terry Dodson, who had done the same when he drew Wonder Woman. Finch replied that he saw Wonder Woman as more of a 5′ 7” feminine looking character. So, essentially, we’ll be losing our strong, powerful looking Wonder Woman and getting the typical runway model, Hollywood waif, Gal Gadot looking Wonder Woman. Well, it was good while it lasted, I guess. – Norrin Powell
Transformers Vs. Gi Joe #1
(John Barber / Tom Scioli; IDW) OK. First things first. I get it. I get the joke. But it’s a stupid joke. Now I’m sure there is, in fact, a version of this joke in a time and a place where it was a teeny bit funny. But its heyday, I think, was long before everybody who is doing anything started finding the trend in being all “self-referential,” and shit. Which, in itself, is probably an editorial for a different article, but what do I know? I just unnecessarily used quotations when I typed the words self-referential. The point is, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe would be a fine comic if the layout of the arc of the story in the aforementioned comic that surrounds the joke at the center of said comic — i.e. Transformers vs. GI Joe, the joke at the center being, ahem, that THE TRANSFORMERS are VERSUS, ahem, THE GI JOES — wasn’t just SUCH A STUPID JOKE.
Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1
(Joe Harris / Trevor Hairsine; Valiant) Valiant’s nascent tradition of spectacular summer cross-overs continues with this premiere issue. The second mini-series launched off the back of their Armor Wars Event, it throws Bloodshot, the human weapon, into the fray against high-tech aliens and their biological terror weapons. Yup. Armor Wars, itself, revolves around X-O Manowar, but this side-chapter sees extra-terrestrial monitoring agency, M.E.R.O., recruiting the nanite-powered, combat-and-hacking powerhouse, Bloodshot, to help defend their facility from powerful aliens in a sentient warship seeking to rescue one of their own taken captive. As high-concept as ever, Valiant’s strengths are all on display here, with wildly imaginative science-fiction seamlessly blending with high-octane militaristic action sequences. Add to this Trevor Hairsine‘s (Ultimate Six) “Joe Kubert-esque” line work
(Ed Brubaker / Steve Epting / Elizabeth Breitweiser; Image)
Last issue we learned what being a spy had cost Velvet, and what happened to her “before the living end” (she killed her own husband, having been led to believe he was a turncoat). This issue we’re back in her present (1973), and the reasons for her swath of vengeance are plainer. She’s not only trying to stay alive (after having been targeted); she’s also settling old scores.
There are many great things about the character, but one of the best is that the Valentina-esque shock of gray in her hair isn’t an affectation; it’s real, as she’s already entered the Hollywood no-woman’s land of older than 39. It makes a difference only to people’s perception of her, as she remains formidable and kick-ass. It’s a sign of her history and baggage, and how she’s trying to deal with it after years of being a desk jockey.
She may have hardened with age, but she’s not rusty. She was apparently always a badass, and that kind of steel doesn’t really mellow with age. We’ve been plunged into her story with all those elements flowing smoothly, navigating decades of a European milieu still fighting the Cold War. She’s somewhere between what V.I. Warshawski was meant to be and Gena Rowlands classic gun moll Gloria.
And yet she’s also something completely new and fresh, a wronged agent in her later years on one last mission, uncovering the corruption that has plagued her working life. She doesn’t apologize, but she does take prisoners. In that way, she’s like Emma Peel without the Pop trappings, not leading a glamorous heroine’s life (despite how good she looks in leather), but instead a secretive spy’s existence with all the betrayals and brutality that implies.
Epting is the perfect partner to tell Brubaker’s story, his slightly retro realism grounding the very introspective nature of Velvet’s life. She’s acting alone, planning alone, existing by her own rules and the few people she calls friends are either at risk or capable of jeopardizing her along the way. And Breitweiser keeps the colors on a low burn, not settling for sepia but never overwhelming Epting’s dark inks. Velvet’s story is already a tragedy; but if she’s going down, she’s going to do it her way. No more compromises.
– Shawn Hill
(Geoff Johns / John Romita Jr; DC Comics) The second issue of John Romita Jr. and Geoff Johns’s Superman run is nothing less than heartwarming. It really gives the feel of the pre-New 52 Superman we all came to know and love. You might even say this is classic Superman wearing the latest costume design.
We find a great portion of this story taking place at the Daily Planet, with Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Clark Kent together again. Perry petitions Clark to come back to work at the Planet, nearly bribing him — but in a good way. We as readers know that’s where he belongs. Those four are a team, a family, and have been for as long as most of us can remember. Our father’s father knew this, and the fact that DC has seemingly ignored it, trying to disrupt that throughout the last few years, shows, again, that they aren’t always putting,…we’ll just say,…a lot of forethought into the decisions they make, especially with this character, at least until now. But, I digress.
The new hero, Ulysses, shows up at the Daily Planet looking for Superman, and nearly gives away Clark’s secret identity. However, Clark takes Ulysses back to his apartment and explains that having a secret identity allows him to blend in with the people around him. Clark leaves, but asks Ulysses to stay at his apartment until he returns. In a comical set of events, Ulysses also decides to blend in, so puts on Clark’s clothes and takes a walk around Metropolis. His long flowing hair makes a secret identity nearly impossible, even in civilian clothes. He picks up a steak sandwich from a street vendor, but doesn’t realize the need to pay; he believes the vendor is just being polite. But, his leisurely walk doesn’t last long, when he’s attacked by life-size, toy, green army soldiers with real guns. Ulysses holds his own, but Superman shows up at the end to lend a helping hand.
In the end, Superman takes Ulysses to his parents, whom he thought to be dead, and the three are united. Clark briefly reflects on Jonathan and Martha Kent, and, being very much the Superman we know and love, shows fulfillment in reuniting a family. Like I said, vintage Superman,…FINALLY! This creative team really is perfect. The dialogue and the art complement each other beautifully. Long live Geoff Johns! Long live John Romita Jr.! LONG LIVE SUPERMAN! – Norrin Powell