Thursday, July 1, 2010

Comic Review - Wonder Woman #600

I've decided to change up my review style a bit.  Instead of reviewing every book every week, which takes up more time than I have right now, I'll be picking the best (and sometimes worst) books of the week to review.  What better book to begin with than this week's Wonder Woman #600 :

Wonder Woman #600

Story by Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, Louise Simonson, Geoff Johns and J. Michael Straczynski
Art by George Perez, Amanda Conner, Eduardo Pansica, Scott Kolins and Don Kramer

OK, let’s get the obvious over with first. If you’ve been to any corner of the interwebs over the past week as a comic fan, you’ve seen the sketch of Jim Lee’s controversial re-design of the iconic (and damn sexy) Wonder Woman costume. Even for non-comic folk, CNN had a fairly high profile article posted about it. I am a fan of Wonder Woman, I’m married to a Wonder Woman fan, and I think that it has been one of DC’s most underrated books in the past few years. In my opinion, the new costume works. There, I said it. It does.

Fanboys (and girls) blew up in a collective rage over the past week because of this redesign. To be fair, fanboys (and girls….fanpersons? No, doesn’t work) will blow up in a rage over almost any little change to an established character. I’ve witnessed this argument hundreds of times at my local comic shop and to a greater extent online which, thanks to virtual anonymity, ups the anger ante on these arguments many times over. Here is Lee’s concept art and how the costume actually appears in the issue:

If you actually read the story, you know that something isn’t quite right in Diana’s world. I have a distinct feeling that this new costume will only be around for an arc or two while she works out why her reality is so different from what has been established. Now that I look at it closer, the costume does bring us back to the Extreme 90s of DC, and here’s a slight comparison with another Extreme 90s redesign. EXTREME! Ok, enough of that :

A bit too 90s? I still like it though. Lynda Carter likes it as well, as shown in this interview. Do you think you know better than the woman who ruined the role of Wonder Woman for any other female actor until they figure out how to clone a younger version of her? Do you? Didn’t think so.

So how was the issue overall? It completely blew Batman and Superman’s big 700th anniversary issues out of the water. First, let’s talk story. The issue contains five short stories written by Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, Louise Simonson, Geoff Johns and new Wonder Woman scribe J. Michael Straczynski. Each story is set apart from the other (except the last two that tie in loosely) and each focuses on a different aspect of Diana as a person and as a hero. The Amanda Conner section was cute and re-visits one of Diana’s older and less used powers: her telepathy with animals. Diana helps Power Girl connect with her cat, and if you have read Palmiotti, Gray and Conner’s Power Girl series, you know that her cat is not very cooperative.

This issue is overflowing with fantastic art as well. The story pages are illustrated by such pros as George Perez, Amanda Conner and Scott Kolins as well as new Wonder Woman regular artist Don Kramer. As if that wasn’t enough there are pin-ups (actual pin-ups, not seemingly rejected cover art like in Batman #700) by Adam Hughes, Nicola Scott, Guillem March, Phil Jimenez and more. I’ll be picking up an extra copy next week just to cut out the pin-ups and hang them near my wife’s Wonder Woman collectibles. This book was well worth the $4.99 price tag unlike the Batman 700th issue which felt like a complete rip-off at that price, and this is coming from a Batman fanatic.

The last story brings us into the new JMS age of Wonder Woman and sets up a strange new status quo which I am very curious about now. Obviously, someone has changed Diana’s reality and we don’t know who or for what reason yet. Straczynski’s last big status quo change, Spider-Man’s One More Day, didn’t seem to be well received by fans. I’m not a huge Spidey person but I read it, and it wasn’t too bad but we’re getting back to my original fan-person (nope, really does not work) rage issue where change is bad. I, for one, am welcoming this new look at Wonder Woman and am very excited to see what is coming. The last few years of her book have been a fun journey but I’m ready for things to get really shaken up and refreshed.

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