Thursday, 14 June 2012


Amazon reviews

 5* "And the hits just keep on coming."

Wonder Woman is a character who is notoriously difficult to get right. I could argue that, with some justification, no-one has yet. Not even Gail Simone (acclaimed for her long run on Birds of Prey and her own created title Secret Six) could manage it, though she did it better than most. Part of the problem is her Greek myth-steeped origin and the damned stupid thing about her being created from clay. Many writers over the years have dragged in the Greek gods to absolutely tiresome effect, looking and acting as if they came out of a weak Greek drama with pompous attitude and heavy armour.

Now with the DCU starting afresh, writers have the chance to get rid of all the stuff that's dated and/or just doesn't work by replacing it with something new. Which is why I was so surprised when writer Brian Azzarello not only brings in the Greek gods, but he actually makes them work. The story opens with someone (whom we later learn is Hera) creating two savage centaurs to kill a girl made pregnant by Zeus, Hera's philandering husband. The girl is saved by Hermes (human-ish with odd eyes and bird's feet) who teleports her to Wonder Woman who's living in London. And that sets the ball rolling. Zeus is missing, Hera is trying to kill the unborn child (as she's done with most of Zeus's illegitimate offspring), other gods decide to vie for his throne and WW learns the real truth about her origins (quite early on in fact) and three cheers to the writer for getting rid of the idea of WW born from clay and making it much more interesting. The gods themselves are very different from previous incarnations and show a distinct Neil Gaiman influence. No-one wears armour. Hermes wears a tunic, Hera (when going out wears a hooded cloak made from peacock feathers and nothing else), two other gods wear modern clothes while still looking other-worldly, and Poseidon is great big grotesque amalgam of sea life. Diana (WW), while steadfast and true, is also violent (brutally so at times), likes head banging to heavy metal bands in seedy clubs (no, I'm not joking), but is also thoughtful and has regrets about past actions. Oh and you can throw in a new character who is at first sight a John Constantine knock-off but is in fact much more interesting.

Traditionally art on WW tends to be rather detailed a la George Perez but Cliff Chiang's style on the first four chapters is more sketchy, well laid out, and with only as much detail as needed. While initially feeling not quite right, it didn't take long for me to appreciate this edgier style. Tony Akins work on the last two isn't bad it just isn't as interesting.

In summary: the plot hangs together well; good cast of characters, appealing artwork. Best Wonder Woman ever! 

 4* "Sh, don't tell anyone but it's actually The Authority."

If you wanted to write an article on how to introduce a new super-team then you couldn't do better than use this 6-issue compilation as a basis. This title has had some criticism in the fan press but as far as I'm concerned British writer Paul Cornell has done a technically excellent job.

Against the framework of a super-secret super-team having to fight an enormous and enormously powerful enemy (in the tradition of the Authority, and in this case it's a suddenly sentient Moon -yes, ours), Cornell introduces all 7 members of the team plus 2 new recruits. He easily provides, without characters standing lecturing each other, all the background info about the setup that you need to know and makes each of the characters (old and new) and their powers clearly different and differentiated while also providing inter-team discord.

The old characters are as follows: Apollo and the Midnighter (similar to the old A&M but they've never met before and have new origins); Jack Hawksmoor the God of Cities (who can now talk to anthropomorphic manifestations of the cities and isn't the first GoC either; Angie the Engineer (who is either English or lives in England. New we have: the Projectionist, a woman who can access and manipulate all forms of media; leader Adam One, a seemingly confused hippy type who is aging backwards from the beginning of the universe; Harry Tanner, a swordsman who is the world's great con artist; Jenny Q, a twelve year old Chinese girl, the spirit of the 21st century with as yet undefined powers. And then there's one of my favourites: J'onn J'onnz the Martian Manhunter who has a differently shaped skull from his prior incarnation and despite insisting on his loyalty to Stormwatch may well have his own agenda. Stormwatch itself has been in existence for centuries, possibly longer, and regards superheroes as annoying johnny-come-latelies.

All this (and there is more I haven't mentioned), which could have been confusing to both old and new readers, is made deftly accessible by Paul Cornell's skill in this very entertaining team book. Sadly there's new writer next time around and I'm hoping he can maintain this highly promising start. Another success in the reinvention of the DC Universe.

Art by Miguel Sepulveda is an acceptable George Perez-lite.  

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