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Wonder Woman

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Hope you’re all having great dates ;D

This past weekend, as those of you also residing in the Midwest know, was a nightmare! All the snow we got on Friday made my work close, which was awesome, but left me at home shoveling and throwing snowballs for the dogs. It also almost left me without a Valentine’s day date – it was doubtful my fiancé would be able to come visit, but he managed to on Saturday after the weather blew out. We spent that afternoon out and about playing PoGo and it was the best time we’ve had together in a while. Sunday, though, we stayed in, baked, and watched this movie we didn’t get to catch in theaters.

Professor William Moulton Marston is being interviewed by the Child Study Association of America about the moral integrity of his creation: the comic called Wonder Woman. As he defends the themes and images in his work, he also reveals his life story and the inspiration behind the character. In 1928, Bill and his wife, Elizabeth Marston, are teaching at Harvard University and developing the lie detector test. Olive Byrne, daughter of Ethyl Byrne and niece of Margaret Sanger, becomes their teaching assistant and helps them develop the test. The three become close, and it’s soon clear that their feelings for one another go deeper than any of them expected them to. Once their relationship is revealed, the Marstons are fired from Harvard. Adding to their struggles is Olive’s pregnancy. How can the three possibly rebuild their lives after their scandal, let alone build a family together?

I’ve read The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, so I knew already about the man behind Wonder Woman and his family. I would say a good bit of the film was built from speculation because, due to the taboo behind polyamory and discussing sexuality at the time, there probably wasn’t a lot of primary sources from the subjects of the film to draw from. Still, the story is crafted well, and I was able to suspend my disbelief easily enough to enjoy it.

One of the things that surprised me the most was the emphasis on Elizabeth and Olive’s relationship rather than either of the women with Bill himself. Though he is part of the title and one of the main characters, Professor Marston was almost a secondary character in his own film. Thinking back now, it seems as though we the spectators were watching the film unfold mostly through Bill’s eyes. Many of the scenes place him in the background, with Elizabeth and Olive in the spotlight. Sometimes we see them from far back, as if we were Bill watching from the corner of the room. We are spectators too, but we are also Bill the spectator, watching these two powerhouse women fall in love with each other. I certainly hope it opens the door to more romance movies with same-sex or polyamorous couples in the future!

To the eye, every detail was perfect. The costumes and sets were fantastic. To both casual fans and diehard Wonder Woman fans, there are tons of cameos to pick out. The soundtrack was also very good, especially in the romance sequences.

It was an enjoyable film. There is a greater emphasis on the women who inspired Wonder Woman than on the creator himself, which opened the door to a romance film between two women. If Diana wouldn’t be proud of that, I don’t know who would be! It’s crafted well, from the costumes to the music. For reading with your viewing, I recommend either The Secret History of Wonder Woman or Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley to learn more about Bill, Elizabeth, and Olive, and how their dynamic shaped Wonder Woman!

– Kathleen

Robinson, Angela. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. 2017.

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Forever Evil

The Justice League is no more! Instead the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3 in the multiverse have managed to “kill” most of the heroes and round up all the villains, so as to take over the world. The Crime Syndicate consists of doppelgangers Ultraman (Superman), Super Woman (Wonder Woman), Owlman (Batman), Power Ring (Green Lantern), Deathstorm (Firestorm), Johnny Quick (The Flash) and Atomica (Atom) with their Sea King (Aquaman) not surviving the trip over.

After busting dozens of villains out of jail, this group of seven demand obedience from the motley group in front of them. They explain that the strongest should survive, and the way the former heroes have been protecting the weak of the planet was wrong. Ultraman declares “Aeternus Malum”, which roughly translates to forever evil, to his new army. Thrilled to be allowed to act on their base instincts, this new secret society go out and create deadly chaos all over the world.

But not all is well within the crime syndicate. The seven argue endlessly among themselves, and fear that the creature that destroyed their previous world will find them here. We discover Super Woman is pregnant and secretly telling both Ultraman and Owlman that they are the father, so we know she is planning on playing them off one another in the future.

In the midst of the lawlessness and disorder, Lex Luthor takes stock of the situation and takes action. He has a powerful secret weapon that he had been working on for years, and puts it into play. We also discover that not everyone from the Justice League is gone. A certain someone, who often fights dark impulses (you have to know who I’m referring to!), joins forces with Lex and some other surprising villains to take down the syndicate.  The conclusion reveals who the mole in the Justice League was to allow the syndicate to take over, and Super Woman has another surprising disclosure.

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This was an extremely dense story, one that took me time to go through. While I have been reading more DC graphic novels recently, I still had to look up many characters to find out their backgrounds and how they connect into one another. There were some inconsistencies and some holes in the story that were distracting, but I felt as a whole, it was a very strong story. It made me think- can someone who has been evil for a long time, change? Does his/her new good actions erase all the bad they have done in the past? On the flip side, can someone who has been good but then makes a horrible choice, does that negate their past good deeds?

The artwork was fantastic. It took real skill to illustrate the 100 or so characters in the story. There was an amazing four page spread of the syndicate with the villains surrounding them, that I wish had been a pull out, so we could see the whole cast of characters at once. Despite this four page spread, there were hardly any other two page spreads, but there were occasionally one page panels. With black borders, the rich coloring stood out, and every panel was drawn with precision.

This New 52 crossover event was definitely successful. Not only was it a fun read, but the ending leaves some open story lines that can be built upon in the future.  I’m definitely interested in knowing what awaits the villains that survived and how that will affect the Justice League in the future.

-Nancy

Johns, Geoff, Davis Finch & Richard Friend. Forever Evil. 2014.

Best Reads of 2017

As we did last year, we went through all the graphic novels we read and reviewed this year to give you a Top 10 list – the best of the best!

RoughneckNancy: Roughneck is a beautifully told standalone tale of a brother and sister’s quest to reconnect with one another and their cultural identity written and illustrated by the talented Jeff Lemire. Lemire handles the storyline of Derek and Beth’s Cree heritage with grace and respect. The reality of native families becoming disenfranchised from their cultural heritage, is mirrored in the excellent book The Outside Circle, which also deals with First Nation individuals whose circles of community were broken which led to fragmenting generations of people with no connection to their tribe anymore. The ending is open to interpretation, and while I at first looked at it one way, re-reading it I saw a more melancholy but poignant way of concluding the story.

 

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Kathleen: A review of this book is upcoming, but last week I read this graphic memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow . The illustrations were all drawn by hand by the author, who suffered from anorexia when she was younger. This is the story of her recovery, and all the difficulties and choices that came with it. I don’t want to spoil my own review (edit-added link!), but suffice it to say for now that the illustrations are among the most beautiful and effective that I’ve seen this year.

 

Nancy: This graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s story, Kindred, was extremely well done. Butler’s original novel, published in 1979, was a ground breaking story that liberally dipped into historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy within a time traveling framework. The author herself called the story “a kind of grim fantasy”, and this adaptation shows just that. This was a heartbreaking story, and through the juxtaposition of Dana’s (the main character) experiences in two different centuries, this fantasy novel actually gives a highly realistic view of the slavery era.

 

 

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Kathleen: Beauty is an adult fairy tale in graphic novel form. It tells the story of Coddie, a fishmonger, who wants nothing more than to be beautiful so she’ll stop being the laughingstock of her small village. When a fairy grants her wish, however, she quickly learns that she can now have whatever she wants – at a steep price. The child-like art belies the serious messages and themes within. The figures are loose and almost caricature-like. The writing is phenomenal, with unconventional characters and fairy tale tropes turned slightly askew. If you like your fairy tales with more of a brothers Grimm than Disney flavor, this is perfect for you.

 

Nancy: Although the Superman: American Alien has Superman in the title, it is really Clark Kent stories. The seven stories are chronological and fill in the gaps in the Superman canon. We start with Clark as a boy learning how to fly, move through his adolescence, and finally settle in his early years in Metropolis. Every story is strong, and fits in seamlessly with what we already know about Superman. I highly recommend this book, for it humanizes Superman. The seven stories are all excellent, and they flow and connect into one another, to form the larger picture of who Clark Kent is and who he will be. A must buy for Superman aficionados!

 

5820769-21Kathleen: Unfortunately, DC Rebirth has been a hit or miss for me, but the one story that I’ve consistently loved is Wonder Woman. Bringing Greg Rucka back to her title was the best decision they could have made! After discovering that she’s been tricked into thinking she could return to Themyscira at will, Diana sets out to discover the truth of herself and who has deceived her once and for all. She is vulnerable and human here, and I’ve cried shamelessly as she struggles to figure out the truth – her own truth, the truth of who she is. Greg Rucka is without a doubt one of the best writers of Wonder Woman. The art is nothing to sneeze at, either, beautifully detailed as it is!

 

Nancy: Vision- Little Worse Than A Man is as far from a superhero story as possible. While grounded in the Marvel universe, with cameos by other Avengers and villains, this book is about our definition of humanity. This quietly ominous story had such power, and felt especially moving to me to read at this time when I worry about our nation’s future. I feel some in our country have embraced a bullying rhetoric, and turn a blind eye to facts and justice for all.

 

 

 

 

91epsqx38slKathleen: The memories of her childhood ice-skating days became the subject of Tillie Walden’s graphic memoir called Spinning. The uncertainty of moving to a new city, starting middle school, and discovering her body and her sexuality make Tillie’s ice-skating routine comforting to her – until she starts questioning that, as well. The art is fantastic: only purples and yellows are used, and yellow quite sparingly, to highlight important parts of the story. Great blocks of deep purple around a single figure illustrate Tillie’s loneliness and uncertainty more than her words could.

 

 

Nancy: Briggs Land is an absolutely riveting new series about “an American family under siege” by both the government and their own hand. Set in rural upstate New York, Briggs Land is a hundred square mile oasis for people who want to live off the grid. Established in the Civil War era, the Briggs family would give sanctuary to those who wanted to live a simple life, but this anti-government colony has taken a dark turn in recent times. The village that grew within it’s fences has morphed into a breeding ground for white supremacy, domestic terrorism and money laundering. The second volume is scheduled to be released in late January, and I dearly hope it stays as strong as it’s debut volume was.

 

 

gunslinger-rebornKathleen: Like the rebel that I am, I read the graphic novel adaptation of The Dark Tower series titled The Gunslinger Born before I started the books. But let me tell you, it left me desperate for more and started my new-found obsession. The young Roland sets out with his two best friends to Mejis, where they are sent by their fathers to stay out of trouble. What they find in that sleepy little town is a conspiracy loyal to the Crimson King – and Roland’s true love, Susan, who may doom them all. I can’t say enough about the art in this book. I was in love with the stark contrasts and the way the figure’s faces were usually in shadow, leaving the reader to guess at their true intents. If the seven book series scares you, try reading the graphic novel first and seeing how fast you devour the books after that 😉

And there you’ve got your must-reads of 2017! We spanned several genres and publishers, and each of us had a DC and Marvel choice. Surprisingly Image didn’t make the cut. Here’s hoping 2018 brings us many more excellent graphic novels… we don’t think they made it hard enough for us to choose ;D

– Nancy and Kathleen

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth

Diana is completely devastated after learning she has never been home. She has been deceived into thinking she’d been able to go back and forth between Themyscira and Man’s World at will. Her mind breaks, and Steve hastily admits her to a psychiatric hospital before fleeing to find Etta. Veronica Cale, leader of Godwatch, is still after Wonder Woman, thinking she can lead them to Themyscira. Steve, Etta, and Barbara Ann need to throw them off the trail. But Cale is relentless, and it’s only a matter of time before she catches up to them. How can they stop her when what she wants – Wonder Woman and the way to Themyscira – may be lost forever?

This comic hit me harder than it should have. Wonder Woman losing her sense of self, becoming hurt and confused, is very emotional. Rucka is not afraid to let her be human. With this volume, we are reminded that our heroes are human, too. We are also reminded that we can pick ourselves up, forge on, and eventually our faith will be rewarded. This is by far the best Rebirth title I’ve picked up, and I’m eagerly looking forward to more.

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Liam Sharp, and Laura Martin. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 3): The Truth. 2017.

Last JL Trailer!

YEEEEEEEE

Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince are rounding up more metahumans – superheroes – to save the world. Someone’s got to, now that Superman is gone, right? The world needs a hero like him… but why have one, when you can have five? =P

The thing I liked most was we finally got to see some more Cyborg. Most of his costume was likely done in post-production, so we haven’t seen much of him until this trailer. I like what I see!!! I do hope he plays a bigger role in the movie than has been shown in the trailers so far =D

Speaking of liking what I see… Jason Momoa as Aquaman… perfect casting, in my humble opinion ;D

Bruce’s face at 2:48 tho… being so done with Ezra Miller Barry… I feel you, Bruce. I feel you.

Justice League hits theaters November 17th! My fiance and I have the whole weekend blocked off for it and making Bob’s Burgers >:D

Yes, you read that right… my boyfriend is now my fiance! He proposed while we were in Amsterdam, after the concert. I was waiting to post to all social media until we were able to tell and celebrate with our families in person. We are so happy and excited to be entering a new chapter of our lives together ❤

– Kathleen

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One

Y’all should know Wonder Woman’s origin story like the back of your hand by now from dealing with me, so I’ll gloss over that part of this book =P After returning Steve Trevor to Man’s World, Diana finds herself detained in a military base. She’s alone, scared, and she can’t make anyone understand her. But then, she’s visited by the gods. Each of her patrons bestows upon her a gift, but what they are, they say will reveal themselves in time. By the time Lieutenant Etta Candy and Steve manage to find someone who can understand the language Diana is speaking, Diana has gone pretty stir crazy. She accidentally rips the bars off her cell, and Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva decides Diana was telling the truth about her heavenly visit! More gifts reveal themselves at the mall they take Diana to, during an attack by the Sear Group… who are familiar to both Dr. Minerva and Diana. What do they want?

This may be a Year One, but it’s especially interesting after reading Volume 1, because we are going back to the beginning after glimpsing the ending. The middle will be a great ride! I adored that they actually utilized a language barrier here when Diana enters Man’s World. It makes sense, and it made for some pretty fun moments! The art is wonderful, and I love that Diana was portrayed with especial wide-eyed innocence here. It was fun to watch her learn her gifts for a change instead of knowing them immediately. There were lots of little cameos and hints to WW past that made me smile. I can’t wait for more!

– Kathleen

Rucka, Greg, Nicola Scott, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 2): Year One. 2017.

JLA/ Avengers

When Universes Collide!

The DC  and Marvel Heroes go head to head when their two realities combine, putting both their universes in danger.  Kurt Busiek writes and George Pérez illustrates this fun crossover tale in which all your favorites have to work together to save the cosmos!

Evil super scientist Krona (from the DC universe) is desperate to understand how it all began- what came before the Big Bang? In his millennia of searching, he has destroyed planets and civilizations without a second thought, but comes up against his equal when he meets the Grandmaster (from the Marvel universe). The two of them devise a plan to pit the two teams of superheroes against one another, in a game within a game.

The two teams are initially unaware of one another, and are confused when they are tasked to retrieve twelve magical items, found in both universes. Once they move into each other’s universes, they meet, and the competition is on. Initially rivals, their retrieval of the icons is kept track of by Krona and Grandmaster in a competition of which team can find them first. Not surprisingly, the teams eventually forge an allegiance, but not before Galactus gets in on the action and several betrayals and twists and turns occur. This is a hard story to describe, you have to experience it yourself to truly appreciate it.

Look at Scarlet Witch’s hair! She is a permed 80’s goddess!

As a practical person who often struggles with a “suspension of disbelief”, I loved how Busiek explained the two different worlds and their contradictions to one another. The DC heroes are revered on their world, while the Avengers (and definitely the mutants) are met with hostility on theirs. Because of this differing opinion of the masses, they each accuse the other team of being out of touch with what their citizens need. How their powers work on each world is also explained in a plausible way. Plus, the way they touched on the possible future that they had a chance to witness, was handled better in a few pages than Civil War II did in a whole book.

Although released in 2004, this story has a Golden Age/retro feel to it, as Pérez expertly recreates the heroes. He absolutely captures their essence, and without giving away too many spoilers, he also has a chance to show the heroes in different costume eras. That was a hoot, as some of the heroes have had extreme makeovers over the years, or have had different people representing them.  The layout of the narrative had an easy flow, with impressive title pages and two page spreads. In fact, I am on a George Pérez kick right now, because of Kathleen’s recommendations. I bought some of his Wonder Woman books for my library, and have The Infinity Gauntlet on my TBR list.

This was a fun book to read, and I was extremely impressed with the Busiek/Pérez team up and how they wonderfully melded together two rich histories into one outstanding story.

Asides:

I HATE PLASTIC MAN! Not just dislike- I hate him! As a child he creeped me out, and I found his slap stick humor distasteful. Every time I saw him in a panel in this story (which was a lot) I cringed.

Why is Hawkeye such a ladies man? I found him ugly with his purple costume and ridiculous boots.

I enjoyed the rivalry between similarly powered heroes: Hawkeye/Green Arrow, Flash/Quicksilver, Superman/Thor, Batman/Captain America.

Aquaman is a buff, bearded blonde here, as he is in most recent incarnations, so I am anxious to see how the dark haired DC movie actor Jason Momoa handles the role. JM is mighty fine, so I am looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the role.

Avengers Assemble! has a much better ring to it than Justice League Lambaste!  Man, that was funny when Superman tried to come up with his own catch phrase.

-Nancy

Wonder Woman

***THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD***

Are y’all ready for this?

ARE Y’ALL READY FOR THIS???

STRAP YOURSELVES IN, FRIENDS

There is an island called Themyscira, hidden from the eyes of the world by the gods. There live the Amazons, the race created by the gods to serve them, keep to their ways, and defend the world from Ares should he rise again. The youngest of them, Diana, was eager to become a warrior, but her mother, the queen Hippolyta, has forbid it. The general of the Amazon army, Diana’s aunt Antiope, starts to train her. She knows the great power within her niece.

One day, the sky opens. A plane crashes in the sea, and Diana rescues the pilot. Unfortunately, he brought the navy chasing him to Theymisciran shores. A great battle ensues, with victory to the Amazons, but at great cost. With her dying breath, Antiope urges Diana simply to “Go.”

In questioning the pilot plucked from the sea, a man named Steve Trevor, the Amazons learn of the Great War, of the atrocities committed, of the millions of soldiers and civilians dead, and of the secret German laboratory where a new and devastating poison gas is being developed. A chemist named Dr. Maru and German General Erich Ludendorff are behind it. An Armistice is in the works, but Steve believes the Germans will deploy the gas no matter what. If Steve can get Dr. Maru’s notes back to London to present to the war council, he could save more lives from being lost.

All the Amazons believe it’s none of their business – save one.

Diana is sure that Ares has returned and is behind the Great War. She feels a calling deep within to fulfill the Amazonian mission and stop him. She arms herself with her shield, her armor, and the Godkiller sword saved for the occasion when he would arise again. Together, Diana and Steve escape Theymiscira and journey to London and into the heart of the war itself, to kill the god of war and bring peace to mankind.

I’m gonna be honest: I was in tears the entire first half of the movie.

It wasn’t necessarily because it’s a sad movie. It certainly does have heart-wrenching moments. We see the atrocities of World War I as we have seen in photographs and in other movies, but this time, through Diana’s innocent eyes… war truly is evil. We see soldiers wounded, dying, dead, and then we see Diana’s face: shocked, horrified, eyes filled with tears. It hits you hard. You wonder as she does how something like this can happen, could ever be allowed to happen.

My tears were mostly those of joy. And the no-man’s land scene (believe me, you’ll know it when it starts)… oh man. Niagara Falls.

Up until that point, we see Diana as Diana of Themyscira and Diana Prince. But that scene… that was Wonder Woman. In all of her beautiful, compassionate, get-shit-done glory. That was Wonder Woman’s first cinematic debut (not counting BvS as it was a cameo, even if she was the best part) in seventy-five years of comic book history.

I cried for joy. I cried because it was a victory for her. I cried because it was a victory for her women fans, all women everywhere really, to finally see her on the big screen. I cried because that scene is so perfect, so true to the essence of Wonder Woman’s character.

I cried because Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman. There is no one that could have done it better. Her performance completely blew me away. She was at turns wide-eyed and innocent, horrified at her first glimpse of man’s world, yet loving and compassionate. She embodied everything Wonder Woman stands for, and for that I am overjoyed and eternally grateful.

All other casting was spot-on. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor was brilliant. He and Gal had real chemistry, and their dialogue ranges from light and silly to deeply profound. He was the perfect jaded counterpart to Diana’s naivete. Their romance was not at all forced, and was perfectly placed within (read as: THANKFULLY TOOK A BACKSEAT TO) the larger story. I liked that you see Amazons of all ages, not just young women like Diana. Connie Nielson and Robin Wright were as loving to Diana as they were fierce in battle.

The movie was also BEAUTIFUL. The cinematography and editing were PHENOMENAL. I felt a lot of the time I was looking at a moving painting. The music was fabulous. It’s obvious this film was crafted with much care and a whole lot of love on all fronts.

My only nitpick? How Ares was handled. But I’ll wait until some more of you have seen it to go into details 😉

I loved it. It was beautiful, funny, at times devastating but overall hopeful and inspiring – all things the DCEU as a whole has not been able to accomplish. And best of all, it was true to the heroine we all know and love. I am planning on seeing it again in theaters, and I’ve only done that with one other movie in my entire life. I’m planning on bringing my mother, my sisters, my friends, my boyfriend again (he loved it just as much as I did, btw =P ), anyone and anyone who will come with me. I and many others have waited for Wonder Woman for a long time. Let’s show them we want more.

– Kathleen

P.S. My very favorite trope managed to sneak in: Amazons and ice cream!!! ;D

Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus, Vol. 1

I’ve been teasing this review for way too long, and in honor of the movie coming out (review of that coming on Wednesday!), thought it was time =P

Long ago, the Amazons were created by the gods to worship them and keep to their ways. Heracles sought to conquer them, and the gods were angry when the Amazons took their revenge. They were banished to the island of Themyscira, to stand guard over the evil there, and they were to keep their chains of bondage in order to remind them never to err again from the ways of the gods. Their queen, Hippolyle, wished for nothing but a daughter, and the gods granted her one last miracle – Diana. She is raised as the daughter of all the Amazons. When Ares rises and starts to wreck Man’s World, the Amazons hold a tournament to decide their champion, who will leave their home and slay the evil. None other than Diana wins the tournament, and what kind of heroine will she be to Man’s World?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is my favorite incarnation of Wonder Woman. The origins of the Amazons and Diana herself are steeped strongly in Greek mythology, and we get multiple scenes of the Greek pantheon. Quite a while is spent on the origins stories, but once Diana gets off the island, the action ratchets up, with appearances by Cheetah and Silver Swan. Diana is strong and beautiful, dedicated to her mission, but never forgets where she comes from. I absolutely love all the ’80s cheesiness in the dialogue! The art is GORGEOUS. The palette is mostly pastel, with light shading, but stronger colors and starker shading are used as appropriate. Each illustration is filled with light, as befitting the Amazon princess. I highly recommend it to anyone – especially those who want to start reading Wonder Woman.

Kathleen

Perez, George. Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus, Vol. 1. 2015.

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