Wonder Woman Is …

Imagine for a moment being on Wonder Woman’s bad side. And then she shows up unexpectedly to have a little talk with you.

Cue awe and soiled garments.

That’s a scenario writer Gail Simone and artist Nicola Scott set up beautifully when Diana confronted our favorite anti-heroes in Secret Six #12. Wonder Woman’s memorable guest appearance through issue #14 was the icing on top of one of Secret Six’s best arcs, “The Depths.” There are so many things about this story I love, starting with the stark contrast between the highly principled princess and the most delightfully morally ambiguous crew in comics. In this arc, Wonder Woman was an imposing, justice-demanding force of nature. In other words, awesome. (Spoilers ahead) Continue reading

Friday Favorite: Spy Smasher

“They call me the Spy Smasher because I kill terrorists, and those who wish harm against our country. You will never, ever be in a room with anyone of a higher authority. Not if you live to be a hundred.”

Combine every relentless hardass you’ve ever known, add a dose of supreme confidence and combat training, provide scary federal credentials, and put it all in one intimidating package topped off with a severe ponytail. The result? Katrina Armstrong, aka Spy Smasher. Continue reading

Comic Judgment: Titans, Together!

Teen Titans #88
Writer: J.T. Krul
Art: Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood (ink), Jason Wright (color), Adam Hughes (variant cover)
Letters: Sal Cipriano

Adam Hughes variant cover

When I got back into comics several years ago, I fell hard for Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans. I’d enjoyed the Wolfman/Perez stuff back in the day, and it seemed to me that Johns’ modern incarnation struck all the right notes. There was real chemistry among the characters, a good mix of the funny and the serious, and Johns never tried too hard to write “youth” dialogue. Mike McKone’s artwork? Wonderful.

I think you see where this is going. After a great run, the comic’s script quality dipped a few notches, and then, partly because of things taking place elsewhere in the DCU, it went over a cliff, exploded upon impact, and left a football field-sized patch of scorched earth in its wake. OK; that’s an exaggeration, but not a terribly big one. Suffice to say that many Teen Titans fans — me included — dropped it and never looked back.

Until now. DC has enlisted a new creative team, writer J.T. Krul and illustrator Nicola Scott, to pump new life into Teen Titans, beginning with issue #88. While this comic didn’t rock my world, it is solidly good and taps into the things that made TT work in the Johns era: an interesting team dynamic, witty banter, heavy action and boy-girl drama. They are teenagers, after all. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Krul deserves a great deal of credit for making Cassie/Wonder Girl a less grating and more credible team leader. She seems to have really stepped up in Tim/Red Robin’s absence, and Scott, one of my favorite artists, draws her with an understated beauty and authority. Actually, that’s the way she draws everything in this book. There’s a lovely moment between Cassie and Conner/Superboy where she’s sitting on her bed, slumped forward with worry. And bless Scott for drawing heroines who look healthy and strong, not like blowup dolls.

But it wouldn’t be a party without Rose/Ravager, who is one kick-ass chick and the consummate antagonist. You want her on your team because she can take suckers down hard — but she also might take your man. I loved the panel where, after a workout, she throws her sweaty towel at Superboy and says, “I got a lot of energy.” All together now: Daaaaaamn!

There are a couple of nifty plot threads going on, too. The world’s sketchiest high school biology teacher has plans for a socially isolated student, and they’re not good. (Note to kids: Do not go into the darkened basement of an adult you barely know. But if you do, and you happen to see a gurney and mutants in cages, run like hell.) Dick/Batman 2 also decides that Damian needs to make some friends, and I’m a little nervous about adding him to the Titans community. He’s a tricky character to write, and casting him as a one-note jerk or a merry brat would be a mistake. Don’t do it, J.T.!

If you’ve missed the Titans, and I certainly have, issue #88 is a good excuse for a reunion. Don’t bust out the confetti just yet, but do keep a bag handy. Verdict: Well played.

New Teen Titans Team: Do You Care?

It’s an understatement to say that the venerable Teen Titans title has fallen on hard times recently. However, the new creative team of J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott will take the reigns starting with issue #88. We adore Scott’s work, and while Krul’s The Rise of Arsenal reeked, we know he’s written good stuff, including the Ravager miniseries that was published inside Teen Titans. But is this promising announcement enough to get you reading this comic again?

G3 Review: Blackest Night-Wonder Woman #3

Cover art by Greg Horn

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Nei Ruffino
DC Comics
February 3, 2010

Nicola Scott’s rendering of Wonder Woman makes me want to go to the gym in the worst way. I mean that as a compliment, because Scott manages to make heroines’ bodies womanly, strong and distinctive without ever slipping into G-cup exaggeration. Her art is the best thing about this third and final chapter of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, which is a bit of a letdown after the action-packed, emotionally charged second issue. Frankly, I started to feel a little sorry for Mera, who, as a Red Lantern, was reduced to incoherent rage and red goo-spewing. Not a good look.
(Spoilers ahead) Continue reading

The Amazon’s New Clothes

My stylist is so fired.

Nothing raises our hackles quite like hearing someone say Wonder Woman is lame. (Hello, Megan Fox.) For example, one of V’s friends (we’ll call him The Antagonist) takes great joy in claiming, among other things, that Bobby Drake could kick her ass, and that the princess would “look real pretty in a pink tutu, carrying a little purse with a little dog.”

We did not handle that well. Words were exchanged via Facebook.

It was even worse once we figured out the context. The Antagonist had already read Blackest Night #6, in which Wonder Woman was transformed into a member of the Star Sapphire Corps. OK, technically the Star Sapphires wield violet light, but the costume’s color was close enough to pink for it to sting. Say what you want about Wonder Woman’s usual getup, but there is a certain dignity (depending on who is drawing her) to her red, white and blue uniform and golden breastplate. The Star Sapphire look is equal parts Dollar Tree and Strip Club. No offense to Carol Ferris, but only Starfire has a trashier costume — and she’s an alien, so she gets a pass.

Wonder Woman as a love-powered being? That’s awesome. But somewhere, The Antagonist is having a good laugh.

G3 Review: Secret Six #16

Secret Six #16
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Peter Nguyen
Inkers: Doug Hazelwood & Mark McKenna
DC Comics
December 9, 2009

The Story

*Spoiler Alert*

We’ve all watched movies with serial killers where you wished nothing more than for Justice to assail them squarely in the nuts.  Well, our favorite amoral anti-heroes of Secret Six do much, much worse. Leave it to Gail to make demented so delicious.

The issue opens up with Catman and Deadshot abducting a serial-killing child molester from police custody, only to turn him over to the father of 9-year-old Katie Sanchez, one of his victims.  Mr. Sanchez wants revenge.  Before parting ways, Catman gives the bereft father a few tips.  “When you flense him, don’t think of him as human. It’s just tissue.”  Catman and Deadshot exit scene  to talk about … dinner!  Gail perfectly articulates the fine line these lovable psychopaths teeter on.  The diabolical duo don’t get very far before the one and only Black Alice makes her presence known.

Now, I am beyond thrilled that Alice is back in Gail’s hands.  I loved her at inception, and have been champing at the bit for more of the character ever since.

Having witnessed the tutorial on torture, Alice is unaffected and wants to join the Six.  In her bratty, teenager fresh-from-hell kind of way, she refuses to take no for an answer.  Throw in some strip club shenanigans, Black Alice’s magical mojo, some sentiment from the teddy bear that is Bane, the always welcome witticism of Ragdoll, and you got yourself a Dionysian good time.

The Art

I pretty much jizzed on myself when I got a look at LuVisi’s cover back in August.  I LOVE HIS ART.

But I have to admit; I really missed Nicola, who is about as good as a comic artist can get.  Having said that, I think Peter Nguyen did a excellent job.  The facial closeups were awesome. I absolutely loved what he did with Alice’s costumes as she moved between magics.  The Alice Banshee was some rock star shit, fa sho.  I also dig the ink, which is appropriately ominous. My only criticism is that the faces seemed elongated in certain panels. All in all, enjoyable.

I had a great deal of anticipation for this issue, and I was not disappointed.  I look forward to whatever fuckery the Six can get themselves into next and … and what happens if (OK, when) they make Alice angry.  Cowabunkle!