Comics review: Is the Superior Spider-Man really superior?

In case you’re threatening to go totally TLDR on me 😉 , an audio version of this review is available as well! Just scroll right down to the very end of this post, where you’ll find it as a podcast entry for the Spiritblade Underground Podcast. The specific podcast episode that features this review was ‘up’ as of May 3, 2014, which I’ll link to here, but as stated you can also find the isolated review at the bottom of this post – with some background illustrations from the comic!

The Superior Spider-Man is a new series and part of the Marvel Now universe, following right after #700 of the previous volume, The Amazing Spider-Man.

Spider-Man has never been my favorite superhero. The movies with Toby Maguire were kind of okay I guess, but definitely no more than that, although I have to admit I really do like the new movie franchise with Andrew Garfield playing the webslinging hero.

It’s especially the Spidey comics however that were never able to grab me. Whenever I encountered him in other Marvel titles, I found Peter Parker (and his superhero alias) too “teenagey”, often childish even. Frankly to me he bordered on an annoying do-gooder who consistently failed to hold my interest for more than one comic.

I had heard that with the new Marvel Now relaunch/reboot/reimagining (take your pick) there had been a significant change to Spidey: in his new title The Superior Spider-Man it was no longer Peter Parker but his arch-enemy Dr. Octopus who donned the webbed costume!

Now I hadn’t read any issues of the previous title The Amazing Spider-Man except for the Fear Itself tie-in issues, so I didn’t know the origin of this storyline firsthand, but it seemed that Otto Octavius – a.k.a. Dr. Octopus – had switched bodies with Peter Parker, leaving Peter’s mind inside his own dying body while starting a new life himself in Peter’s younger, stronger body. I kept hearing people talk enthousiastically about it on several of the podcasts I’ve subscribed to, with comments ranging from “It’s on the top of my monthly reading list” to “That is one consistently awesome title”.

Then I read the first issues of Mighty Avengers, an Infinity event tie-in, and encountered this new Superior Spider-Man, for the first time. Despite everything, I really liked him! This was no longer the annoying do-goody teenager, but an arrogant mystery guy in a well-known superhero suit, with no clear boundary between good and evil and with a taunting manner that annoyed the crap out of the other superheroes – which added a lot of humor for me as as a reader.

So, long story short, I decided to go and read this Superior Spider-Man after all. Right now I’ve binge-read the entire series, so issues #1-31!

Story

Doctor Octopus had always been a super villain, but it seems that when he transferred his mind into Peter Parker’s body, there were some superheroic residuals there. Ock now not only has Peter’s memories, experiences and reflexes but also a sense of morality that is new to him but that he can’t resist. He now actually wants to be one of the good guys, a real hero that fights the villains and protects the people.

Doc Ock has not actually become Peter of course, so he’s still arrogant and megalomanic and still has all of his own memories and experiences as well. Hence his ambition to be a superior Spider-Man: not only does he want to improve on the former Spider-Man’s performance and efficiency, he also demands a better life for his civilian alterego Peter Parker. Of course what exactly Doc Ock defines as “better” is somewhat colored. It doesn’t take long before he bosses everyone around, has his own minions and is dangerously close to becoming the city’s very own Big Brother due to his Spider-bots.

An extra plot thread is that Peter Parker has not entirely disappeared: a tiny whisp of him, of which it’s not clear whether it’s his soul, his mind or just an imprint of his memory, still hides inside Peter’s physical brain. This “virtual Peter” is fully conscious and aware, but not able to communicate with his body’s thief Dr. Octopus. He seems fated to watch and undergo everything Doc Ock says and does, powerless to do anything about it. Peter however is not one to give up that easily, which adds yet another layer of interest for the reader.

Likes

Writer Dan Slott heads off to a very interesting start by consistently portraying this new shady version of Spider-Man as a very different kind of Wall Crawler, while at the same time showing and developing different aspects of his character in each issue. What I particularly like about Superior Spidey, is that the story is mostly character driven. Of course there are the thrilling action scenes, a lot of web-slinging and breaking of heads and even the building of a private Spider army, but in the end these are just a colorful background to the development of this new Spider-Man’s character. While he is still Dr. Octopus and still wants to rule the world, he now wants to do it by solving crime, in order to keep the people safe. Of course he goes about this in a way that is at best a mixture of good and evil methods. Meanwhile, he really respects aunt May and improves on his relationship with her – something Peter had been neglecting. Also, he applies himself to Peter’s studies and not only gains himself a doctorate, but also starts his own company, Parker Industries. And last but not least – while on the one hand his relationship with the Avengers grows more and more strenuous, he falls in love!

The beauty of this budding relationship with Anna Maria, who he meets during his renewed studies, is that it is entirely authentic, true and pure. Peter – or rather, Doc Ock – always makes time for her, even if she calls him on a particularly inconvenient moment – like a fight against a super villain team. When she’s crying, he immediately comes running, anxious to fix whatever might be wrong. When aunt May asks Anna Maria some inappropriate and hurtful questions, Peter – or actually, Otto –  defends her passionately, and rightly so. In short, Anna Maria may well be the one true chance he has of showing his true heroic, good side, and theirs is a great and moving romance.

Dislikes

I have only one rather big beef with this comic: it has ended waaaaaay too soon! I mean, only 31 issues of awesomeness? Come on!! 😦

Buy/Borrow/Skip

To answer the question in the title: Yes, this Spider-Man is definitely superior – at least, for me, as a reader! 🙂

The Superior Spider-Man is a laugh-out-loud hilarious, exciting, surprisingly satisfying read, that I heartily recommend to everyone who’s in the market for something refreshingly original. It has very quickly become one of my favorite comics, it’s consistently awesome, it’s a perfect jumping-on point for new Spider-Man readers and I’m now definitely going to try The Amazing Spider-Man’s newly rebooted title! Issue #1 has been released April 30, 2014 🙂

I give the entire Superior Spider-Man run a Quality score of 9.5/10 and a Relevance score of 7/10.

And here’s the audio version of this review for the Spiritblade Underground Podcast – with some background illustrations 😉 :

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Graphic novel: Ravine – high fantasy epic adventure!

When I discovered artist Stjepan Sejic while browsing through his deviantart page last year, I immediately fell in love with his artwork. At the time he was working on graphic novel Ravine, together with well-known and critically acclaimed comic writer Ron Marz.

By the way, here’s a video of the artist at work, click here if you can’t see it:

As soon as – finally! – Ravine was published, I bought it, read it without taking any breaks in between and then couldn’t wait for part 2! Oh, that cliffhanger…

Anyway, as I wrote on my About page, I sometimes contribute to the Spiritblade Underground podcast, and although I didn’t write a review this time, I did record an audio version – talking as I thumbed through the graphic novel’s gorgeous pages.

So, here’s episode 268 of the Spiritblade Underground podcast – go to 5:46 minutes for my

Ravine review! (Just click on them bold words ;-))

If you like the Spiritblade Underground podcast, you can subscribe via iTunes or go to The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast Home Page. To summarize from my podcast review: I scored Ravine with 9/10 for Quality and a Relevance score of 7/10!

Here’s where the artist offers the first twenty pages or so for free: Sejic’s deviantart pages. And he’s doing the same for issue 2 and will be doing so for #3 as well! Surely that wets the appetite 🙂

Edit Febr. 2014: The second volume is now available as well!

Thank you so much for listening to my Ravine review, and of course now I’m curious: Will you check out Ravine? And if so, what scores would you give it?

Total Must-See: Pacific Rim

This review is also available as an audio review for the Spiritblade Underground Podcast; you can play the video below (it’s just audio however) or listen to the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, episode 277; just click the link, you’ll find my review at 2:43 minutes.
The written review has some extras however that the audio review doesn’t have, like specific links to source material, several illustrations, and two panels from the graphic novel prequel!

 

Review

Purely based on the title I wouldn’t have picked out this movie from the long list of movies in our local theatre. I mean, to my knowledge Pacific Rim wasn’t any particular idiom or expression, nor a well-known location. But as soon as I saw the movie trailer in the theatre, I think it was during Star Trek Into Darkness or maybe Man of Steel, I immediately knew I just had to see this movie!

Director Guillermo del Toro turns out to have been a fan of Japanese anime from his childhood. In a recent interview with Simon Mayo of Kermode & Mayo’s Film Reviews on BBC Radio 5 Live (you can check out their podcast here or in iTunes), Del Toro recounted his love for the mecha and kaiju creatures that often fill the anime worlds. In very general terms, mecha is the Japanese word for basically any creature or vehicle that is robotic, which in anime are often huge, and by huge I mean really ginormously large. Think Transformers or the gigantic Tripods in War of the Worlds – which by the way, also a GREAT movie, with Tom Cruise. Go find some time and see that one too!

War of the Worlds – one of the enormous Tripods that would be considered a “mecha” in Japanese anime

The mecha’s organic counterparts in anime are called kaiju – giant creatures, sometimes reptilian, sometimes amphibian or even deepsea fish, but basically any superlarge man-threatening creature. Think Godzilla and modernize him with 21st century special effects. You catch my drift.

Story

One day, not so far into the future, a giant monster emerges from the depths of the ocean. Think 25 stories high “large” (according to director Del Toro). It takes some effort but the people from earth manage to kill the beast, using current weaponry like tanks and fighter jets to shoot it down with missiles. Worldwide people celebrate their victory over this primal threat, and move on. To everyone’s great shock however, new monsters appear a couple of years later. Time to develop some new weaponry to fight these Kaiju: through worldwide technical and strategical collaboration the people of earth develop gigantic robots, a kind of mobile weapons of mass destruction which from then on are called Jaegers (after the German word “Jäger” which means hunter).

They are so large and so complex that the neurological stress would be too big for only one pilot to bear, which is why they have to be manned by two people: one for the left brain hemisphere, one for the right hemisphere. To accomplish this there has to be a neurological connection not only with the robot, but also between the two pilots, and this connection is called the Drift.

Drifting is necessary since the pilots will have to think, move and act in perfect unison – just like the two hemispheres of one human or animal brain control one body. This is why every pilot cannot be matched to just any other pilot: to be able to literally share eachother’s mind, instincts, memories and secrets there has to be a deep fundamental trust between the pilots in order for the neurological connection to hold, especially in combat situations. In other words, they have to be “drift compatible.”

 

Or, as the recent graphic novel prequel Pacific Rim, Tales from Year Zero puts it, love is the key:

For a while the Jaeger programme is very successful: every Kaiju that emerges is eventually killed. So governments start feeling comfortable again and the international community decide to prioritize differently: the Jaeger programme is considered too expensive, so let’s dismantle all Jaegers and build giant walls along densely populated coastal areas instead, surely they will be more than sufficient to keep potential future Kaiju at bay. (…ehh, say what?)

As the next Kaiju emerges and breaks through the first of these coastal Walls (duh), the governments realize their mistake. But it’s too late: prognoses indicate that more and more Kaiju will soon appear and now humanity’s only hope are the last four Jaegers, piloted by a small group of people who have kept resisting the new Wall-policy and kept maintaining these four giant battle mechs as best as they could with the limited resources they had. Now the task falls upon them to close the interdimensional access point between the world of the Kaiju and Earth: a rift deep in the Pacific Ocean. Due to some extra vehement Kaiju-Jaeger battles only two functional Jaegers are left when the mission starts and the remaining four pilots embark on a suicide mission in a race against the clock.

Likes

Despite the rather two-dimensional plot – very big robots fight very big monsters – Del Toro has delivered a movie that captivates from beginning to end. This is largely thanks to the characters: the surroundings may be enormously grand, the interactions between the main characters are still close-up, intimate, focussing on matters of the heart just as much as the head. As a viewer I was swooped up by the story from the beginning and right to the end I cared enough for each of the main characters that I wanted to know what happened to them, and rooted for them to beat the near-impossible odds. I consider this quite a feat by Del Toro, considering the total mayhem, the tumultuous chaos, the deafening sounds of fighting monsters and mechs, and the destruction of cities that keeps you on the edge of your seat for large portions of the movie.

Furthermore, the special effects are magnificent, from the cool hightech computer interfaces with which the Jaegers are piloted, to the enormous but yet very detailed Kaiju’s and Jaegers, each and everyone of which has a unique design.

“…both would be a very modest 25 stories high…” Guillermo del Toro on the stature of both Kaiju and Jaegers, during his BBC interview.

More importantly, I’m very happy that Del Toro paid enough attention to building his characters and their relationships: he takes time to show us how a newby pilot is trained, what it’s like to enter the neurological connection for the first time and why it’s so important for entering this “Drift” to have a stabile mind. And he adds some humor to the mix through the sidekicks: two bickering scientists who work for the Jaeger resistance.

Last but not least, the joining of minds in the Jaeger could trigger a number of relevant conversational topics, like What is trust? What is intimacy? What is friendship? and, furthermore, a question that will probably resonate with Christians in particular:

What does it mean to be truly one with Another (and do you have the nerves for it?). After all, it was one of Jesus’s most well-known prayers for His followers to be “one”:
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name – the name You gave me – so that they may be one as We are one.” (John 17:11, NIV)

Although I doubt that Del Toro had that bible verse in mind, he nevertheless touches upon these themes, without claiming to have the definitive answers – nor does he go “soft” on you, but instead he manages to have these underlying themes both fascinate the viewer and add to the movie’s action.

Dislikes

Ehh… Yeah. Can’t think of any. Maybe if I tried again……
Sorry, no.

Score

Quality: 10!
Relevance: 8

Which makes this movie is a total Must See, and also a strong contender for my personal Movie Top 3 for this year!

Also check out my review of the graphic novel, it’s 52 pages of very good backstory!

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Game review: Awakening 1+2: The Dreamless Castle & Moonfell Wood

The following review was posted on Christian Geek Central (CGC) some time ago and since I’ve only just started this blog I feel it really belongs here as well! (so there).

It is also available as an audio review by the way, since I sometimes contribute to the Spiritblade Underground podcast, which is part of the same CGC community. It is aimed at christian geeks, for them to both examine and celebrate their lives and the hobbies they enjoy from a Biblical perspective. Feel free to check out episode 230 of the Spiritblade Underground podcast – go to 3:47 minutes for my Awakening 1 & 2 review! ;-))

For those of you who’d rather read, here’s its written counterpart, enjoy!

Game review

The Dreamless Castle & Moonfell Wood are the first and second parts of the now four-part Awakening series, by Big Fish Games.

The Awakening series belongs to the Hidden Object game genre, which means that at least part of your time is spent looking for, you guessed it, hidden objects. Other recurring elements are puzzles and searching beautiful locations for certain clues. In this type of game there is no time constraint, you cannot die, nor is there a multi player mode. Instead, it is all about a fun, relaxed entertainment experience.

In short, the target audience is probably more of a casual gamer, or gamers who cannot or will not spend days and days immersed in one game and like to finish what they start in one afternoon or evening. Also, gamers who don’t want to spend a lot of money, or gamers who like to play lots of different games, or simply don’t know how RPGs, MMOs and first person shooters work and don’t care (or dare) to learn.

Within the Hidden Object game genre, Awakening can be considered a hidden object adventure.

In the first part of the series, The Dreamless Castle, you are Sophia, a young woman who wakes up after a long, long sleep to find herself alone inside a castle in a world devoid of people. With the help of clues, mysteriously hidden objects and an occasional goblin she has to find her way out of the castle.

Although the game clearly references the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, it does not follow that plot in any way. Yes, there is a sleeping beauty at the very beginning, but she wakes up, and not because some knight in shining armor came to give her a kiss of life! In that sense I guess The Dreamless Castle could be considered “an alternative ending” to the traditional fairytale, which I have to say has been done very well and has kept me interested throughout the game.

Part two, Moonfell Wood, is a separate game, that starts where The Dreamless Castle left off: you are still the very resourceful Sophia, you have just escaped the castle and you are now about to embark on a new adventure: finding your way through the mysterious Moonfell Wood.

Although the plot of The Dreamless Castle is interesting in itself, Moonfell Wood is even better, in that it felt more integrated and more consistent. The story is more elaborate, the puzzles are more interesting, and the game lets you travel from night time to day time (and back to night time again) in cleverly unexpected ways. Both The Dreamless Castle and Moonfell Wood contain elements that may be interesting for (at least some) geeks, like fairies, goblins, mythological creatures and magic, and of course the implicit occasional reference to Sleeping Beauty. The scenery is beautiful enough, the problems interesting to solve and the music is fitting for a fairytale – dreamy and mysterious.

Of course the hidden object game graphics are generally nowhere near as sophisticated as RPGs and shooters for PC, Xbox, Playstation or some such – but then again, this is reflected in their price points: the average hidden object game costs 10-15 dollars at the very most; lots of them are even below the 10 dollar price point.

Most games are available both for Mac/PC, iPad and iPhone.

I’ve played several hidden object games myself, and to me the Awakening series belongs to the better ones in spite of the occasional too simple puzzle; mostly based on plot, graphics and general atmosphere.

It took me about 4 hours to finish The Dreamless Castle, and about 6 hours for Moonfell Wood.

If you want to try any of them out, you can go to several game websites and try the first hour of each game for free. I do most of my game shopping at Big Fish Games – I just like the ease with which I can find my way around their website. Furthermore, I have never had to pay the full price for any of their games because of their many special offers, so if you’re willing to bide your time and wait for the right moment, you could save some money and get a game for 5-7 dollars and first time big fish gamers can get their first game for just under 3 bucks! But, don’t take it from me, make sure to check out several other websites as well before you stick to one of them.

Review score

I give both games together a quality score of 8 and a relevance score of 7 – because of the mythological creatures, and also because it could be argued that there is a very subtle messianic symbolism present throughout the story, in the form of Sophia, who is the only non-magical (“sinless”?) creature in the game and is considered the long-awaited “saviour” by every magical creature in the realm, born to expell the darkness and bring the light.

How about you? Do you like hidden object games? And if so, which ones do you enjoy the most?

Dreamless castle – click for the free 1-hour trial! (no affiliate link)

Moonfell Wood – click for the free 1-hour trial! (no affiliate link)

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New 52: Wonder Woman’s first year

This is a review of one of DC’s New 52 comics that I don’t hear very much about – it’s a pity if you don’t try it out just because you’ve never heard people talk about it. Fair warning though, my review contains some mild spoilers, since its main point is to encourage you to start reading it from issue 0 (followed by #13, don’t ask but this is DC’s new numbering) – that is why I will summarize the main story of the first twelve issues for you so that you don’t have to buy and read them all yourself. I will then share some likes and dislikes, tell you whether you should buy, borrow or ignore this comic, and finally, give you my quality and relevance scores.

This review is also available as a podcast contribution to Spiritblade Underground podcast, an interesting podcast aimed at christian geeks, available through iTunes or go to The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast Home Page.
Click HERE for my Wonder Woman audio review on episode 247 of this podcast, go to 2:24 minutes.

Review

Wonder Woman has a certain nostalgic meaning to me: when I was seven years old I lived in the US for about eight months because my parents had to be there because of my father’s job. It was 1978, and Wonder Woman was one of the popular tv series of the time, with Lynda Carter playing the role of Wonder Woman. While we may not have heard very much about Lynda’s career lately, she has recently done some voice acting for several parts of the popular game series The Elder Scrolls, with Skyrim as their most recent hit.

Being from the Netherlands I didn’t know Wonder Woman at all – we didn’t have any superhero tv series in the Netherlands back then. Nor now, for that matter. But from the moment I saw her on tv in our family apartment in El Paso, Texas, she touched something in my very soul: the part that wants to be both a princess, and a warrior and a superheroine!

Lynda Carter was and will always be the one and only Wonder Woman for me 🙂 – And you can still get the complete original series on DVD, yea!

I think that these precious childhood memories have stopped me from reading Wonder Woman as a comic up until very recently. On the one hand because I couldn’t imagine how a Wonder Woman comic could be a great read – I mean, she was like Superman in that she was invincible and practically invulnerable, which – frankly – sounded rather dull. And on the other hand I really didn’t want to spoil the nostalgia of that old tv series from my early childhood by reading a comics version of her that was no doubt way more modern.

However, since I started my blog I felt I couldn’t leave out one of the DC Trinity, you know, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. So, with some apprehension I decided to read the entire first year of the New 52 Wonder Woman after all, issues 1-12.

And lo and behold, this series managed to very pleasantly surprise me. The first twelve issues of this series consist of one big story arc, has a very interesting story concept and its artwork, though taking a little getting used to, is frankly nothing less than very beautiful. Perhaps most importantly, it’s truly written very well – something I find can really not be said about every comic.

Story

We meet Wonder Woman as Diana, princess of Paradise Island, an island populated only by women. These women still live like in Roman times – though not very ladylike: instead they are amazones, female warriors that train for battle like gladiators.

Their queen is Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother. Or rather, adoptive mother for legend has it that Hippolyta was barren and one day formed a baby out of clay. She then prayed to the Greek gods, fell asleep and woke up to find her clay baby transformed into a little baby girl, who she called Diana and raised as her daughter.

Despite all of the amazones, the story does take place in our own time. Wonder Woman takes on the task of protecting a young woman, called Zola, who is pregnant by Zeus, the supreme god of the Greek pantheon. This is why Zeus’s jealous wife Hera threatens to kill Zola and sends supernatural assassins to hunt the girl down.

Wonder Woman and Zola are assisted by messenger god Hermes and find an extra enemy in the goddess Strife, daughter of Zeus and Hera, and sister to the god of war, Ares.

Zeus himself remains mysteriously absent during the entire run of the first twelve issues, with no-one knowing where he is. His absence kindles ambitions in several of his divine children and it doesn’t take long for gods Apollo and Artemis to hunt for Zola. They intend to deliver her and her unborn child to Hera. This way Apollo intends to buy Hera’s allegiance, his ultimate goal being his father Zeus’s throne.

When Wonder Woman strikes a deal with Zeus’s brothers Poseidon and Hades, the deal goes South and it takes everything she’s got to not only keep pregnant Zola alive but also to simply survive herself.

And as if she hasn’t got enough on her mind already, Wonder Woman also has to deal with the discovery that the legend surrounding her own origin is not exactly true – and turns out to be quite a bit less romantic than she thought.

Likes

I’ve always loved Greek mythology ever since I was about 13 years old, so I was not exactly thrilled when I found out that this comic sported all kinds of Greek gods, fearing the writer would concoct a story that would not be consistent with Greek mythology. However, the original way in which writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang modernize the Greek pantheon enough to transport it to our modern day society is actually quite believable – after you suspend your disbelief of course. 😉 In fact, they manage to pull this off so greatly that they really won me over to this comic!

Almost every god in the story has characteristics of both ancient mythological times and our modern day era. For instance, Apollo’s black metallic skin makes him look truly as a being not from this world, while at the same time he wears high fashion 3-piece suits.

Hades, while still being king of the ancient underworld, looks like he’s been designed by a painter of the modern arts, and Hermes, while looking like some kind of bird-human hybrid wears very hip outfits that would almost let him blend in with young adults. Almost.

Is it a bird, is it a plane…?! No, it’s…… Hermes…?

Best of all, Eros, the god of love we also know as Cupid, still shoots at people’s hearts to make them fall in love, only this time he doesn’t use his famous bow and arrow, but a couple of slick guns that have the same effect.

I really recommend Artist Chiang for the way he draws the goddess Strife, who looks particularly cool with her shaved head, heavy make-up and fashionable mini-dress – I don’t know whether it’s punk or high fashion, but it’s an original nowadays rendering of what’s supposed to be an ancient goddess.

Of course Wonder Woman herself shows that same combination of ancient and modern times: when “on the job” she looks the amazon we know and love, sometimes even carrying a sword and shield, but in her spare time she dresses like any modern day woman and lives in an apartment in 21st century London.

But enough about the gods. Like I said before, the story is well-written and often reminded me of tv series that I like to watch. An example of this would be the dialogues between the several rivalling gods, full of layers and hidden agendas, which could be taken from scripts of series like Boss (which is an awesome series btw!).

Hera and her rebellious daughter cross verbal swords

Another instance is the way in which Hera transforms ordinary farm horses into aggressive centaurs – this definitely contains horror elements and seems straight from a particularly bloody episode of the X-files or something.

And then there’s the action scenes! Wonder Woman battles everyone she needs to, including some gods. The immense fishlike creature that emerged from the Thames and turned out to be Poseidon (god of the sea) reminded me of the incident in London a couple of years ago, when an actual whale wound up in the Thames. So maybe, with this scene in Wonder Woman, the writer and artist are giving us a wink here – especially since the “original” Poseidon in mythology was usually portrayed more humanoid, and definitely not as the monstrous fish that artist Chiang created.

Thirdly, I really got to like the artwork although it took me a little while to get used to Chiang’s somewhat stylized way of drawing the human form. His cityscapes are gorgeous and together with colorist Matthew Wilson he succeeds in adding specific atmospheres that contribute to the storylines in the comic.

Furthermore, I liked the subtle humor in the story, like the way in which one of Wonder Woman’s brothers in arms consistently tries to light a cigaret by holding them against gods that either contain or work with fire. It may sound a bit strange when I describe it, but the humor is in the art itself.

And last but not least, I appreciated the fact that gods in the comic are not immediately mentioned by name, so that readers have a couple of panels to figure out for themselves which god this is. For instance, when a certain god says “I’m the sun of a king” this is clearly a hint for the reader – for it is only the reader who can see that he is referring to the sun as in “star”, instead of son as in “male child”, thereby enabling the reader to figure out that this is in fact the god of the sun, Apollo – who is of course also the son of Zeus, the king of the gods. Oh well, perhaps most of you are bored to tears by these things, but to mythology geeks like me these kinds of hints are totally awesome. 

Dislikes

Frankly, I couldn’t really find many negative things to say about this comic – and not for lack of trying. I only have two real criticisms.

To begin with, like in most other New 52’s there was a change in the artwork team somewhere along the way, for a couple of issues. I can not get used to this, however much I may understand deadlines and that artists need their time off as well, etc. I always immediately notice, probably because they always seem to choose fill-in artists that have totally different styles from the original artist. I cannot begin to understand why they don’t even try to find someone who does a serious attempt at keeping the artwork at least somewhat consistent. Fortunately it only lasted for a couple of issues and I sighed with relief when Chiang returned.

And secondly, on a related note, Chiang’s coverart does not do much for me. His human forms are even more stylized and the backgrounds are either boring or ugly. And I really dislike the color schemes. Sorry, hating the cover art. Of course other opinions are available. 

So, should you Buy/Borrow/Ignore this comic?

This is a definite buy! Yes, it is, just try it.

Rating

I give Wonder Woman’s first year a quality score of 8/10 and a relevance score of 7/10 – since all this mythology should have some potential to lead to meaningful conversation, for instance about the existence of gods in this day and age – and their true nature.

So, are you going to try out the New 52 Wonder Woman?