So here’s a thing. I’ve taken Wonder Woman – my main gal, my OG, the reason I blog – off my pull list.
Last time I mentioned the Wonder Woman ongoing, James Robinson was about to take over as writer for a DC-mandated storyline involving Darkseid (me: “Who?”) and Wonder Woman’s brother Jason, a character who was introduced briefly pre-Rebirth. The whole thing seemed kinda unnecessary, but I’m still no expert and I was pretty happy with the way things had been going up until recently, so I tried to keep an open mind.
And then Robinson’s first issue came out (issue #31 of the Rebirth run) and oh, boy.
First and most glaringly: the dialogue is appalling. Overblown, repetitive and awkward. It was so painful I almost didn’t notice all the other problems – except the obvious one, which is that Wonder Woman is barely in it. Instead it is about Darkseid’s daughter Grail (me: “Who???”) and a bunch of dudes we’ve never met before, one of whom gets killed off after half an issue spent introducing him.
Next issue, they graciously let Diana star in her own comic but she’s still shepherded around by an assortment of men. Steve Trevor is oddly out of character, jumping in where Diana is perfectly capable of doing her own thing. Elsewhere, there are flashbacks to establish things we already know and fight scenes that do nothing to advance the plot. By the time issue #33 rolled around, Diana wasn’t in it at all. Wait, my mistake – she appeared in a flashback and on TV for a total of three panels, in which she never said a word.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Robinson has multiple Eisner awards!
The best thing I can say about the whole disaster is that Carlo Pagulayan’s art was great (although he isn’t illustrating every issue) and Jenny Frison is still killing it on the covers. And yet I didn’t want to drop it. I felt like I’d only just started!
Why are they like this?
I couldn’t bring myself to actually pull the plug until I dropped in at Orbital Comics the next Wednesday. They very kindly said I didn’t have to buy the issue that was already waiting for me. I did anyway, for the shop (and out of sick curiosity).
In case anyone else feels as guilty as I did, I can report that nobody looks sad or demands an explanation when you ask to take something off your pull list, because they are professionals and they know it’s much better to remove something you’re not enjoying rather than keep paying for it. Publishers gauge everything by those sales figures, so send the message you want them to hear.
So the message I want DC to hear is: You had me eating out of your hand. Your marketing machine worked perfectly! I liked your movie, so I read the trades. Then I subscribed to the series just like you want people to do. I even went online and started shouting about my favourite comics and encouraging people to buy them. I did free goddamn word-of-mouth advertising for you! That’s the most valuable kind of advertising there is! And then, right before the release of Justice League – with all those potential readers just waiting to be harvested – you fucked it up.
I didn’t care about Darkseid and Grail and all the rest of it. I just wanted a well-written comic about the hero I love, doing the things I love her for doing.
What I find most irritating about all of this is how Robinson got the gig. He told interviewers all he had to do was tell Geoff Johns he wanted to come back to DC and Johns came back with, “how about Wonder Woman?” Never mind finding talented writers who really love the character to make the most of this year’s goldmine. Nah, we’ll just farm her out to whichever good ol’ boy takes a fancy to write for DC and happens to have the boss’s phone number! Come on, guys. This is business 101.
It ain’t all bad
Tim Hanley’s scathing reviews are proving very cathartic in this difficult time. But a fan cannot live on anger alone (much as things may seem otherwise if you spend too much time on Comics Twitter) so here are some other comics I’m into right now! I’ll be reviewing these and the still enormous backlog of great Wonder Woman stories from previous years until Robinson’s run is over. If you’d like to dig into the archives too, my fabulous pal Steph on Twitter put together this comprehensive list of everyone who’s ever written Wonder Woman!
My pull list was looking pretty slim, so I added Gotham City Garage (writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, various artists) which has turned out to be a fun female-led elseworld series featuring several shades of Mad Max: Fury Road. I do wonder whether a woman on the writing team might have added that extra something, though.
I’ve also dipped into Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (writers Shawna and Julie Benson, art Roge Antonio) for the “Manslaughter” arc in which a literal ton of female characters are teaming up to save Gotham from a virus that only infects men. It’s a bit heavy-handed on the feminist aesop, even for me, but it’s largely a good time. Plus, Diana shows up and she does proper Diana things!
My main Diana source, while I wait for Robinson to finish his run and disappear back into the ether, is Wonder Woman ’77 – mostly by Marc Andreyko but featuring a variety of writers and artists. It’s a loving tribute to the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter, which I haven’t watched, but I didn’t need to. It’s just a light, refreshing infusion of everybody behaving the way they should, plus a goofy 70s setting.
But my two biggest ladycrushes right now are both from Marvel. About a month ago I picked up a secondhand copy of She-Hulk: Single Green Female (writer Dan Slott, art Juan Bobillo and Paul Pelletier) and I was hooked. I had no idea Jen Walters was such an adorable mess! I quickly moved onto Charles Soule’s run (art Javier Pulido, Kevin Wada and Ronald Wimberly) and ate that up, too – shout-out to Cee at Dora Reads for the recommendation. She-Hulk is the kind of person I want to hang out with in a girly-ass cocktail bar. She bumbles through life making exactly my sorts of mistakes and it’s kind of reassuring. If She-Hulk doesn’t have her shit together, maybe it’s okay that we don’t, either.
At the other end of the spectrum is Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor. Guys. You guys. I cannot explain to you how much I love Jane Foster as Thor. I’m not up to date yet and I’m devastated that her run looks to be ending soon, not just because Russell Dauterman’s art is achingly gorgeous but because she is pure power and everything she does makes me punch the air in triumph.
And Finally: I was lucky enough to see Justice League the day before it premiered, unadulterated by other people’s reviews and reactions. By and large, I enjoyed it! Look out for my take here soon!