Four new issues on my list this week, plus the collected She-Hulk: Deconstructed which I will post about separately.
Wonder Woman #26 – Heart of the Amazon (Part 1)
New creative team, new story! There were elements of Greg Rucka’s Rebirth stories that I really disliked, but overall it was a strong opening for Wonder Woman’s new world. It “reset” her origin in a way that established a fresh set of ground rules without negating her 75-year history and it did a great job of re-establishing who she is in all her (occasionally cheesy) glory. Heart of the Amazon begins her next journey and scales the focus right down to the personal, human and intimate.
The story in this issue is just an opening chapter but quite a lot happens – we learn what Diana is up to: helping out in a refugee camp rather than battling gods; we meet some new people in her life and we touch base with Etta Candy, who invites Diana to her brother’s wedding. There we watch as Diana befriends a little girl before a cliffhanger ending which nicely builds anticipation for the next issue.
It was good, after the shattering revelations of Rucka’s run, to meet a Diana who is instantly relatable and human. Her humanity is, to me, Wonder Woman’s greatest strength, and Rucka tends to shun that side of her in favour of the goddess. So much kudos to new writer Shea Fontana. But the art…not to my taste at all. It’s not bad, I want to stress that, only that I am very particular about comic art and this isn’t a style that I like. Nevertheless, a good issue.
Detective Comics #960 – Intelligence (Part 3)
I prefer Detective Comics over the main Batman titles because I enjoy Batman as one of a team and not always as the main focus. The Rebirth run of Detective Comics started out as Batwoman’s story, which I loved. Also on the team: Red Robin (now apparently deceased), Spoiler, Orphan, Clayface (former villain turned good-guy- he’s kinda awesome) and Batwing.
Intelligence brings Azrael into the mix (not a character I’m particularly fond of) and Zatana who is new to me but who I am really enjoying. There are two parallel stories here: the Azrael story about the (apparent?) destruction of the order of St Dumas, and only tenuously linked, the Batman and Zatana thread which is itself parallel stories being flashbacks of a friendship between a young Zatana and the teenage, pre-Batman Bruce Wayne, and the current present-day story where he is trying to persuade her to help him with a mystery which is tying in to the upcoming Dark Nights/Metal event. Confused yet? It does make for a bit of a mess, narrative-wise and Intelligence is probably the weakest arc since the Rebirth began. I’m sticking with it, though, because I think it might be going places.
Dark Days: The Casting
The plot thickens! I’m still not sure how I feel about this event. On the one hand, I love intricate plots and dark storylines. On the other, this is maybe a bit too intricate for a relative newbie like me. There are cameos from characters I don’t recognise, callbacks to stories I cannot indentify and this makes me a bit uneasy about whether the main mystery is something I will enjoy. But this issue, essentially the second of two (despite its numbering, you really do need to read The Forge first) does do a good job of setting up an event that I’m still looking forward to. I shan’t try to explain or dissect it; others will do that more creditably than I, I’m sure. But it was nice to see Joker in a role where I don’t immediately loathe him; intriguing as hell to see Batman so completely confounded at the end; and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this might take new not-Robin Duke Thomas.
Hey, look, I have a non-DC title this week!
Rose is dark fantasy, a sword and sorcery adventure I’m very glad I took a chance on reading. The first issue seemed to hit a lot of annoying tropes: the naive girl who doesn’t know her own power, the evil sorceress who struts around half-naked for no good reason, the diamond-in-the—rough rebel… but the characters, and the story, become more complex with each issue. In part 4, Rose learns to accept what she is – a “guardian” one born to draw on the magic of the land – but while she manages a couple of spectacular feats with her new power, its also clear that she cannot control it, or reach her full potential, until she finds her khat – a familiar, of sorts. And the only khat remaining in the land is in a spot of bother. But we also learn a little about how the evil Drucilla became queen, and that story is surprising. It’s a twist that raises a lot of questions and I really hope the next issues can build on that and answer some of them. A good read.