A Year of Books: Novels of a Graphic Nature

Jon here! Helen isn’t a big fan of graphic storytelling; she says all the pictures distract her and she gets lost in the details. Maybe opening up a comic turns her into an autistic individual? I don’t know. But I know that since before I can remember I’ve read comics!

This set of reviews is only for the collections I read this year. I pick up a small stack of single issues every week, but those won’t be included here. As the other sets of reviews, I’ll be putting stuff up in alphabetical order by title. I’ll also organize by my grade.

First up, the “gosh darn pretty good” category, which means these are all great reads, though not in competition with the best of what I read this year.

Yes, that is what his gun looks like. It’s adorable and deadly.

Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse
by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos

Boyd is out to bring in a set of bounties. It’s personal. Nothing will stand in his way: not bandits, not crooked lawmen, and not age restrictions. Boyd is ten, but he’s already tougher than you are. And the bounties he’s taken on… they’re only his father and brothers. He’s determined to bring them to justice, and he will succeed.

Cosby writes a great story. It could have been a very simple done-in-one joke, but he plays it mostly straight and gets some amazing mileage out of the concept of a ten-year-old bounty hunter in the Old West. Boyd is a character that feels a lot like Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes; he’s taking everything seriously, and because of that, even though the situations are ridiculous, you take them seriously, too. The juxtaposition is fantastic. I won’t call this a western, though it is very much in its setting and plot. And though it sounds like it could be a comedy, it’s not. There’s a poignancy here that I’ve not read in many other works. The action also is fantastic; it’s not a superhero in the guise of a ten-year-old boy. It’s just a kid who takes himself seriously and wants to see justice done, especially to his own family.

Eliopoulos’s art sells the story, though. It’s cartoony, but with grit. If you’ve ever read Mini Marvels, you’ve read his work before. (And seriously – check that series out. Laugh-out-loud funny!) Simple lines tell a story in simple terms, and that takes real talent.

My only complaint is that this collection gathers the first four issues of the series. While you’re not exactly left with a cliffhanger, the story doesn’t come to a satisfying “This is the end of this installment” feeling. I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for volume two. You? You keep your eyes open for this one.

What’s in the box? I feel a sudden need to watch UHF.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
edited by Kazu Kibuishi

It’s a simple premise: “What’s in the box?” Seven teams create seven stories that keep to the theme of, well, mystery boxes. In one story, a girl discovers a box under the floorboards of her home. Inside the box is a doll. But the doll promises to be her friend, and all is not well in the world. In another story, an epic fantasy adventurer braves a labyrinth to find the box at the center. What’s in it? No one knows, not even its guardian. And when the adventurer and the guardian become friends, well, interesting things will happen. In another story, the soldier’s daughter hears her father has been killed in battle, and she swears revenge. But a gift in a box from her father changes everything.

Like most anthologies, these vary in quality and style quite a bit. My favorites were the more moody ones, but a few have a lot of humor in them. The Explorer series is the kids’ version of Flight, a top-notch anthology I do recommend, but bring the tissues. They will make you cry. This volume keeps up that same quality. (And if you have any doubt, it’s from the same guys that brought you Amulet, which I hear is great but I’ve only read the first volume of.)

This volume’s quality only encourages me to go and find more of the Explorer series. You should, too!

Swords shouldn’t wear cowls. It just isn’t a good look.

Fifty-Two
Volume One
Volume Two
by a whole lotta people

Earth has survived the Crisis, but its greatest heroes have gone away. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are gone. Who will defend the earth now? The most obscure heroes must rise to protect the earth from threats old and new, and in the end, fight World War Three without the aid of their most powerful allies.

Man. This series came out as a weekly comic over the course of a year – thus the title: Fifty-Two. It was basically a fifty-two issue limited series that interwove a number of plotlines, bringing most of them to startlingly satisfying conclusions. I read it as a weekly, and I reveled in it. Reading it collected, a lot of the novelty wears off. It’s still a fun series. I still connect with the characters, and many of them I hadn’t read before the series came out originally. One in particular, the Elongated Man, I intentionally went back to read his stories, and that reading enriched my experience in Fifty-Two so much more.

It’s complex. It brings us great characters, great plots, fantastic art, and a neat concept. What is the DC universe without its headliners? Well, there’s still plenty of heroes to go around.

Mike Grell be a talented illustrator.

Green Arrow
The Longbow Hunters
Hunters Moon
Here There Be Dragons
by Mike Grell, Ed Hannigan, and Dick Giordano

Oliver Queen has moved to Seattle to start over with his longtime girlfriend, Dinah Lance. He returns to his roots: No more trick arrows with boxing gloves or handcuffs. Just arrows. He’s back to being Robin Hood. He no longer hunts supervillains; he’s after the real scum: those who sell drugs to the dealers, those who prey on women and children, those who manipulate politicians for their own ends. It’s going to get a little bloody, and before the end, someone Ollie loves will be very, very hurt.

So, my dad had milk crates full of comics, and growing up I’d sneak into the storage room, snatch up what I could, and read to my heart’s content. Dad had the first several years of Mike Grell’s run on Green Arrow, and now that DC is collecting them in nice editions, you can bet I’m picking them up.

I’m getting so much more out of these reading them as an adult. Grell has a political thriller edge in his writing that flew right over my head when I was young, but now – wow! The characters are solid, and I love how both Ollie and Dinah are people. They don’t come across as superheroes first; they come across as very flawed people who just want to do what’s right. What that is right isn’t always easy to see! They fight, but still love each other so much – and that comes through. (It’s so refreshing reading a relationship like this in comics!)

The art, too – Grell has an amazing art style. As he gets other artists to give life to his scripts, the art… does lose its refinement, but still compliments the story well.

I’ve never seen the TV show Arrow, but from what I’ve read, the early seasons in particular take their “feel” from this run of comics. I can’t recommend these highly enough; check them out.

…are superheroes supposed to migrate in flocks like that?

The Incredibles: City of Incredibles
by Mark Waid, Landry Walker, Marcio Takara, and Ramanda Kamarga

Helen Paar is pregnant… but her giving birth is going to be problematic. Mr. Pixel is pulling a caper at the hospital, after all. But soon enough Jack-Jack is born! Then we flash forward to after the movie, and Mr. Pixel is still around. And this time he’s figured out a way to weaponize Jack-Jack, give all his goons powers, and take over the city!

Did you like the movie The Incredibles? Well, you’d enjoy this graphic novel. There. That was easy. It’s got the same heart, the same humor, and the same heroism. Mark Waid, the writer, did a phenomenal run on Fantastic Four, and he’s in form here, too. (Really, Waid seldom writes badly. Though on occasion he can biff it… see later on in this list!) The villains, too, are just a blast. Waid doesn’t resist in giving anyone personality, and it all pays off in the end. My biggest complaint about the story, really, is that it’s so short. I’d love to have read more!

Yee-haw!

Rapunzel’s Revenge
by Shannon and Dean Hale; Illustrated by Nathan Hale

Rapunzel’s been brought up inside the walls of Ma Gothel’s castle. It’s an idyllic existence. She’s bored. But then she climbs over the wall and discovers an Old West mine, driving countless people to despair and death. Rapunzel runs… only to be caught by Ma Gothel and imprisoned in a tree deep in Carrion Glade. Rapunzel escapes, teams up with ne’er-do-well Jack, and sets out to meet her real mother.

This was a hoot! I loved the true mash-up feel. So often mash-ups are really one thing with the “feel” or setting of another, but this really did combine the western and fairy tale feels, aesthetics, story beats, and character types. Rapunzel learning to turn her hair into lassos and the like fit this new set-up so very well, and Jack is a great Western-style sidekick even as he’s also that old fairy tale rascal. The art is relatively simple but so very fitting for the story.

My complaint about the book is the nature of the climax. Rapunzel and Jack go through a number of episodic adventures on the way back to Ma Gothel’s – and there’s something about the climax that made it feel like “just another adventure” rather than the culmination of the entire book. I’m not sure why that is, entirely – the pacing, characters, and stakes all grow appropriately for a final confrontation. But I can say that I enjoyed the whole thing despite that strange pacing issue.

Don’t get cocky, kid.

Stars Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya
by Jeremy Barlow and Rick Lacy

Han’s done it again and stolen from the wrong person. Now Chewie’s being forced to fight in gladiator games until Han makes good on his debt. Oh, and Han’s being forced to team up with his former partner: Billal Batross. Oh, and they need to steal from the Empire. Sounds great.

Star Wars Adventures was the line from Dark Horse Comics aimed at kids. As such, this isn’t a terribly complicated plot, but it’s plain old fun. It has everything a good Han Solo tale should have: terrible odds, betrayal, scum, and a dashing pilot. Billal makes a delightful foil for Han, and Chewie’s subplot is equally fun. After all, a wookie in a gladiator game is just going to get lots of people cheering for him. This one is well worth the adventure, especially if you’ve got a kid who loves Han Solo!

Look, it’s great you’ve got an oxygen mask and all, but don’t you think you should, you know, wear a space suit?

Superman: Exile
by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, and Roger Stern

Superman broke his sacred vow: he killed. It was Zod, and it was the only, the final way to protect his planet. But the guilt has built up for months, but now, finally, he realizes he cannot stay on earth. He flies off to space… alone. In this collection, we see Metropolis and Earth try to get by without Superman, as well as several adventures of Superman in space without any of his normal backups or comforts. What can sooth his guilt? Will he ever come home?

This volume collects issues from the tail-end of my favorite “era” of Superman comics: the John Byrne years. At this point he’s already left writing and drawing, but this set wraps up the loose threads from his tenure. Byrne’s last big story was the throw-down between Superman and Zod, and here we see real and lasting repercussions from that fight. That said, I’d really discourage anyone from reading this volume unless they were already familiar with this era; there’s some weird stuff in here (like Matrix/ Supergirl) that unless you know the background, you’ll just be lost.

The story itself is solid, as is the art. We get to see Superman at his most guilt-ridden, and the writers are very clever in how they eventually return him to earth. (You knew he was coming back, right?) I also love how prominent Clark Kent’s parents are throughout this story. The various continuities that kill off his folks really end up missing quite a bit. They’re such fantastic characters.

If you want to start reading Superman, begin at the front-end of this run, nicely collected in the Superman: Man of Steel graphic novel series. I believe it’s nine volumes; I’m a touch behind!

creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy!

Through the Woods
by Emily Carroll

You never know what you might find when you go through the woods. This collection of stories brings a creepy palate of colors to match some spooky stories. In one tale, three sisters are isolated in a cabin. One says a man with a wide-brimmed hat came and told her to be ready; he would take her away soon. And soon, she was gone, but there were no footprints in the snow outside the cabin. In another story, the narrator’s friend Janna claims to speak for the dead, but she’s lying. She’s lying, right? In another story, Bell returns home to find that there is something… wrong… with her brother’s fiance. What could be the strange sound of teeth clattering in her mouth, as if they were all loose?

Carroll has a way of things. The stories are indeed creepy, and each one is creepy in a different way. Her art, too, uses a limited range of color that heightens the atmosphere marvelously. I happened to find this book at a Goodwill for fifty cents, but it’s well worth the full price for the imagination on display here.

POSE!

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies
by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp
Wonder Woman, Vol 2: Year One
by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott

Today, Diana realizes something is wrong. The Greek gods are no longer answering her. She can’t find her way home to Themyscira. She must rely on her most hated enemy, Cheetah, to find her way home, but Cheetah will only help if Diana helps her in a dubious goal. Meanwhile, years ago, Steve Trevor crash-lands on an island that shouldn’t be there. He finds the Amazons and an amazing young woman named Diana. Diana’s adventure begins.

DC comics did something… interesting about a year ago. They rebooted Wonder Woman, but they wanted to release two issues a month. Rather than tell one story at double-pace, the author decided to alternate: the first issue every month would tell today’s story, while the second issue would tell the new, simplified origin. However, the writer interwove the stories so that they reinforce each other and answer each others’ questions.

And these volumes are stunning. We see Diana truly showing that she is not your standard hero. She reaches out in mercy again and again, but she is still a warrior, attacking when necessary. We see her both as naive newcomer and seasoned vet, and the contrast works so well here.

I’m not so sure about the conceit that forms the climax of both volumes that I won’t spoil here, but I will be getting the concluding two volumes of this run when they’re collected in a few months.

Cover is not indicative of quality of art inside… sigh.

Wonder Woman by George Perez, Vol. 1
by George Perez and Len Wein

Ares has infected man’s world. The Amazons hold a tournament to decide who will go and battle this menace, and Diana defies her mother’s wish and competes. When she is declared the victor, she takes the title Wonder Woman and goes to battle not only Ares, but several dark gods. It’s a good thing she’s got a few gods of her own supporting her.

DC comics rebooted their entire universe back in 1986, and this gathers the first year or so of Wonder Woman. And man, Perez knows how to communicate hope, naivete, fiery determination, and mercy – all the things that are necessary for Wonder Woman. When I think of that character, this is the run that will always come first to mind. If you enjoyed the movie, this is where you start reading the comics. Perez did make some interesting choices for restarting. For instance, Steve Trevor is significantly older and not a love interest; instead, he and Etta Candy are an item. The gods play a very prominent role as well. There’s a lot of characters; if you want something simple, don’t read this. But it’s so, so worth it. The art, too – Perez is always a treat. The cover of the collection does not do the art justice.

Seriously. If you like Wonder Woman, start here.

Well, those are the gosh darn pretty-good graphic novels I read this year! But I read some decent ones, too:

Agent Smith does not appear in this book.

Demo
by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan

Welcome to a world where there are superpowers, but no superheroes. There’s just people trying to get by. There’s no apocalypse awaiting, no great cosmic conflict. Just folks, trying to live life. This collection gathers twelve separate stories written and illustrated by the same team showing that just because a person has powers doesn’t mean their life is easy.

I’m really torn on this one. There are five, maybe six here that are superb. “Emmy,” the story of a girl who refuses to talk because people must do whatever she says, stabbed at my heart. “Bad Blood” kept me guessing, and I loved the very unexpected climax. Siblings meet for the first time at their father’s death, commiserate, and share their hate for dear old dad. “Stand Strong” was probably my favorite as a young man has to decide whether to use his strength to actually get somewhere in life by helping with a heist or stay in a dead-end job like his father and grandfather.

The problem I have is that as the collection continues, I think Wood and Cloonan tried experimenting, and not all of their experiments worked for me. In fact, there were a few stories I just didn’t understand.

Whether or not I understood the story, I enjoyed the art. It’s black and white, but Cloonan varied her art style to match each particular story. So you’ve got cartoony, photo realistic, and quite a range in between. In a comic with no color and no costumes, it could be hard to differentiate people (particularly with the wide range of characters), but she does a great job using different builds and faces to keep that end of the storytelling very clear.

If you’ve got this in your local library, do check it out. If you can find it cheap, grab it. Well worth it. I’m not sure I would have paid full price for it, though.

“See, the book’s about the Flash, right? So we just put the Flash on there a couple times to make sure they get the idea! Simple!”

The Flash by Mark Waid, Volume 1
by Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque, and Jose Marzan Jr.

Barry Allen is dead. Wally West takes up the mantle of his fallen mentor, trying to live up to Barry’s legacy. Here, he remembers his beginning as Kid Flash and battles a menace from the future, as well as struggling against a dark force that brings out the worst in whomever it possesses.

OK. So, Mark Waid is a great writer. Seriously. He’s the one who did The Incredibles collection up above. He wrote Kingdom Come. He’s writing Archie right now, and it is stunningly good. But here he’s… well, he’s ok. This collection includes his “try out” book, proving he could write Flash. And that’s actually pretty fun. And then comes a crossover with a big DC event… and that’s just… bland. And then Kid Flash: Year One, which made me actually care for Kid Flash! It was fantastic! And then another crossover with another DC event that’s blah. In other words, there’s some great stuff here, and some that’s… not. I’m told that Waid’s run is remembered well with reason. Maybe the next volume won’t have as many crossovers; I’m willing to give it another chance. I’m hoping it’s good; I want to like it!

Standing in front of a lit clockface may not be the best place to hide…

Nightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies
by Marv Wolfman, Cherie Wilkerson, Erik Larsen, Mike DeCarlo, and Tom Mandrake

Robin has grown up. Dick Grayson has left Batman behind and become his own hero: Nightwing. While he leads the Teen Titans, there are some things that require a softer touch. When Dick’s colleague Roy Harper gets wind of a political assassination attempt, the two move into international plots that might change the world.

For many, many years Nightwing was my favorite superhero. He could do anything Batman could do, but he was fun. No grim for this guy! This collection gathers his earliest solo adventures and they’re… they’re pretty ok. It actually filled in some holes in the character’s history I’d never read, which I appreciated. And I like the plots involved, and why this character was there makes perfect sense. I’m invested in the characters. However, most of this volume collects stories that were released in eight-page installments, and in comics, that’s just not enough time to really put together compelling stories. I wish the creators had more space to breathe with the tale!

THOR! In case you were wondering.

The Mighty Thor: Lord of Asgard
by Dan Jurgens and Stuart Immonen

Odin is dead. Thor has ascended as the new high lord of Asgard. There are challenges, though. His replacement guarding Midgard simply doesn’t have the experience, and Loki is planning something, as he does. Or has he actually reformed this time? But as Thor is torn between his love for Midgard and his responsibilities ruling Asgard, he comes to a unique solution: It is time for gods to be gods again. It is time for Asgard to hover over earth and actually reign over both Midgard and Asgard at the same time.

In the 90’s, Dan Jurgens wrote Thor for about six years, and he wrote a single story over that time. This volume is square in the middle of that, filling in a hole in my collection. This is the transition point to my favorite part of his run, examining what would happen in the Marvel universe if Thor actually acted as a god. For the back half of his run, Thor becomes a tragic figure, trying to do the right things but failing over and over again. Here we see the beginning of his fall, and it’s… decent. I wanted to like it so much more, but apparently all the good writing comes in the volumes that follow. Still, I’m glad I read it!

So, not only good and decent, but we also had “meh” graphic novels this year!

Despite how ugly that cover is, this Kelley Jones guy can illustrate the hell out of a Batman story.

Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 3: Knightsend
by a lot of people. Seriously. I’m not listing them all because it’s insane.

Bruce Wayne has been broken by Bane, restored by a woman’s love, and reclaimed the cowl from his insane successor. Now he leaves to find redemption, and while he’s gone, he asks Dick Grayson, his former Robin, to take over as Batman for just… just a little while. It’s up to Dick to clean up a bunch of lingering messes, but he avoids going after Two-Face. Why? What nightmare from his past prevents him from confronting one of Gotham’s most dangerous villains?

So. This book. Seriously, the thing is a phone book in how thick it is. Just massive. It actually collects two storylines: Knightsend, which is Bruce reclaiming the mantle of Batman, and Prodigal, which is Dick taking over as Batman for a while. When I was younger, I think Prodigal was the first Batman story I read as it came out, so I have very fond memories of the story. I already had the first part of this volume in a separate collection, so I didn’t reread it here. I just read Prodigal.

And I can see why I enjoyed it. It’s fun, straightforward, and keeps the focus on Dick as Batman and the then-current Robin, Tim Drake. But now that I’ve read so many more Batman stories, it’s not as engaging. And – seriously, I feel like some part of the story got skipped here. The mystery of why Dick avoids Two-Face was explained – I remember reading it way back then! – but it’s not even mentioned in the collection. One issue he’s avoiding, and the next he’s hunting down Two-Face. Just like that. Something’s missing.

So not sure what happened there, but it made this collection just not as strong as it could have been.

Effective cover is effective.

Beowulf
by Stefan Petrucha and Kody Chamberlain

This book faithfully retells the epic poem of Beowulf, from Grendel’s attack to the noble king’s last stand against a dragon.

The book preserves the feel of the epic poem in the text. The characters are all in character, and the events are incredibly faithful. I get the “feel” of the culture well.

So why is the book merely “meh”?

Seriously. The art.

Grendel is not monstrous. The dragon is not fearsome. I wish they’d gotten the artist for the cover to also do the interiors. The colorist is fantastic, and Chamberlain knows how to lay out a panel. His human characters are great. But in a story like this, your monster design must be spot on. If Grendel doesn’t frighten me, I don’t understand why he frightens the main characters. And that one flaw knocks down a book that should be so much stronger…

In Soviet Russia, flag salutes you!

Captain America: Man Without a Country
by Mark Waid and Ron Garney

Steve Rogers has been accused of treason. He’s guilty. Now he has been exiled from the United States, denied citizenship, and left without his resources. Will he find a way back to the nation he loves?

Man. I’ve heard such great things about Waid’s run on Captain America, and when my Bride gave me this book as a gift, I read it eagerly. And… this is the third act of a three-act story. And since I’ve never read the previous parts of the tale, I was left in the dark. Sure, I understood well enough what was going on, but I missed out on the resonances and the simmering plotlines. The happy ending seemed undeserved at the end, simply because I missed so much of the telling. If I spot the other parts of this story elsewhere, I’ll likely pick it up. But as it is, this collection just doesn’t work.

SPLOOOOOOSH

This One Summer
by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Rose and her parents always get away in the summer to this nice little college town. There’s another girl that vacations there, too, named Windy. Rose and Windy have been friends for years. But now the preteens are about to discover that vacations aren’t always fun. Rose wants the older teenagers to like her. Rose’s parents are arguing. And what’s going on with Windy? This is going to be a summer to remember…

This is a fine slice-of-life book. The art is pitch-perfect, from the facial expressions to the shadings of gray. The characters shine – and they’d better in a character piece like this! But if everything’s so good, why put this down in “meh”? My problem is that it really is, well, a slice-of-life book. It’s not meant to be this huge fictional story where everything ties together and ties up. There’s a lot of open plots at the end of the book, just like you’d expect if this was simply the story of one summer.

In other words, the book gives exactly what it promises. I think I was just looking for something else.

Well, that image is murkier than the actual cover…

X-O Manowar: Retribution
by Bob Layton, Jim Shooter, and Steve Englehart

Aric the Visigoth has been taken from his people, his wife, everyone, and he has been fighting these strange creatures in their “spaceship” for longer than he can remember. But he knows this: He will go home. And when he gets the chance, he does – only to accidentally steal the aliens’ greatest weapon. And when he gets home, he discovers that home is long, long dead, and he’s landed in 1990’s America. How can he go home when home doesn’t exist anymore?

This is actually a great story with gorgeous art. It frustrated me, though, that so much of the story is glossed over. We meet Aric at the end of his time with the aliens. I wish we’d gotten a chance to meet his family, his people, his old way of life. I have nothing to mourn with him. The science fiction concepts are solid, and everything when he gets back to earth is fun. But… missed opportunity!

And then… we have “ugh.” These are books that just… just don’t.

Busy cover is busy.

Brightest Day, Vol. 1
by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, and Ivan Reis

From the dust jacket: “Twelve heroes and villains have returned from the dead and been given a second chance at life. Now it’s up to them to decide what to do with it.”

Doesn’t that sound like a fantastic concept for a story?

That’s where the “fantastic” ends, unfortunately. Each character has their own storyline and surrounding characters, and it’s just too much to stuff to cram into one book. It doesn’t help that most of the characters are given contradictory motivations in each storyline, just muddling things up. The writers would have been well served by either cutting how many people they concentrated on or expanding the scope of the project (like what Fifty-Two did). As it is, this is just a mess. More squandered possibilities.

Is that Han or a mutant bunny behind Leia?

Star Wars Adventures: Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom
by Jeremy Barlow and Carlo Soriano

Instead of taking vital intel directly to the Rebellion, Han stops off at a gambling den. Princess Leia is put out, as she’s along for the ride. And they pick up another princess, and now it’s not just the Empire chasing after them.

And… yeah. I did not like this story, and the reason has to do with the title. Take a look. Who should be the protagonist in the story?

Except, it’s not. Leia is certainly one of the main characters. This is really Han’s story, though. And for a Han story, it just doesn’t work. Han should not be this naive. Not at all. Scoundrel? Yes. Greedy? Yes. But not naive.

It doesn’t help that the art is murky and doesn’t show faces well.

Cover looks whimsical enough…

We Can Fix It! A Tie Travel Memoir
by Jess Fink

If your future self showed up to warn you to not do that thing you’re planning, would you listen? Or just make out with them? What if fifteen future selves all showed up giving contradictory advice? Which one would you listen to? Or would you just have a massive make-out fest with each other?

If that summary makes you slightly uncomfortable, well, that’s what I felt as I read this book. The premise of “how would I react to my future self giving advice” is great. The core storyline is engaging and so very, very relatable. And then as a running joke, all the various incarnations of the main character make out. Repeatedly. Honestly, that miss-the-mark joke just derailed the entire experience for me. That’s really too bad, because the core thought of the book – we learn through experience, not so much through advice – is a good one.

Gah! My eyes! Pluck them out!

Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato
by Mike Deodato and William Mesner-Loebs

Queen Hippolyta has called for a second tournament to determine if Diana should continue as Wonder Woman or if someone else should take up the mantle. Diana, though, is sabotaged, and now Artemis, a hot-headed, edgy, man-hating Amazon takes the title of Wonder Woman and the position of ambassador to man’s world. Diana is heartbroken, but decides to continue her place in Man’s World – just not as Wonder Woman. When a new threat emerges that no single Wonder Woman can take, one of them will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

OK, the plot, by itself, is fine. It’s very 90’s having an edgy replacement for an established hero, but whatever. The last issue collected here is trying so, so hard to make you care. And with a different artist, I might care.

But… seriously.

Apparently Wonder Woman wears a string bikini bottom. Oh, and when Diana can’t be Wonder Woman anymore? Hot pants. Halter Top. It’s just.. it’s not just ugly. It’s insulting.

I get that there’s “sex appeal” and that it sells. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic for that though, even in my teens. I wanted a good story. And while in the past I might ignore the “sexiness” of a character, here it is so IN YOUR FACE and EXTREME I just… I can’t. It’s such, such a turn-off.

Looking for a good Wonder Woman story? Don’t look here. Whatever you do, don’t look here! Just… ugh. This is so bad.

Well, there’s one more article to post about the last year of books… and it has to do with… what we didn’t read. BUM BUM BUM!

 

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