Graphic Novel Review Bites
I’m at Fan Expo Canada this weekend, Canada’s largest pop culture event. While the event now covers everything from spaceships to monsters and all the magical girls and clockworks in between, at its roots, it remains a comic book event, therefore it’s fitting that I drop in with some long overdue comic book reviews.
Sooo Wonder Woman is going to reshape man’s world by waltzing in in her vulva jet and body shaming all the women? Let’s not forget to have a lesbian orgy in the middle of all this! I can’t tell if Grant Morrison is honestly trying to misrepresent the feminist concepts from which Wonder Woman was born, or just… ugh what is this book even trying to be?
Oh right. It’s an origin story. Because if there’s one thing superhero stories–especially DC Comics superhero stories need to do, it’s remind you of where said superheroes came from. Because it’s so easy to forget that Kal’El crashed on the Kent’s farm and that Bruce’s parents are dead. DEAD I TELL YOU! Oh but wait. Those are the boys. The women of DC, well their origins aren’t quite so set in stone–or clay as Wonder Woman’s once was. Gone is the origin story of Hippolyta shaping a babe from the earth and the gods granting her wish to make it real. Nope. We gotta stick some penis in there! Otherwise, how can men relate to the man-hating world of Themiscrya!? Previously, the penis belonged to Zeus (because Zeus gets all the babies). This time, it’s Hercules.
Then toss in a black Steve Trevor, apparently for the sole purpose of having him make a speech about slavery so that we can see how he and Diana are so alike.
The only good thing about this book is the smug look a chained Diana wears on the cover, but now, having read it, I have to wonder what she’s really being smug about.
This series has taken a disappointing turn, both internally and externally. The situation surrounding the original artist, Roc Upchurch, remains ugly, despite his supposed attrition, and the recent uproar around current artist, Tess Fowler’s place on the book just makes things worse. I can’t imagine working on a book with all this hanging over it makes for much fun, and that’s most certainly showing in the pages. The humour and snark and adventure that once made the series so great is still coming hard and fast, but now feels forced.
In previous issues, Hannah has revealed a very dark past and now we get to learn her secrets and her plans to avenge the wrongs that have been done to her and her family by the mages. While I do want to know more about Hannah’s past, I did not want to do so at the expense of all the other characters. There are some peeks into dangers that Dee and Betty face as their past catches up with them, but these are minor side stories with no resolution on the horizon with Hannah’s story overshadowing them. The other Queens have very little to do around Hannah’s story since the majority of it is handled by Hannah herself, which goes against much of what the Queens are.
It’s unsurprising that the book has gone on hiatus and frankly, I’m not sure I want it to come back, even if it would answer some of the questions and hopefully bring some payoff for the other characters. I’d rather just cling to my fond memories from the first two volumes and leave it at that.
I’ll miss you, Gary.
Two Brothers did not take me through as personal of a journey as Daytripper did, but it remains a powerful example of how creators can truly engage the reader and push comics well beyond the panels on each page.
This is an adaptation of Milton Hatoum’s Dois irmãos, a project that, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá explained to me in an interview, was a difficult one, even though the black and white art and story seem simplistic. This is the story of Lebonese immigrants who settled in Brazil and stared t a family against the wishes of the husband. The twins that are born become the centre of everything, with every character spiraling into misery around the relationships that the twins are expected to have versus the reality of their very divergent personalities and the unbalanced love that separated them at a young age.
A lot of assumptions are made about twins, such as the belief that they ought to get along, but this story defies that. It is not a happy story, which may make it a very difficult read for some, but I do not shy away from bittersweet endings and difficult emotional reads.
It’s no secret that Brandon Sanders writes a lot. A. Lot. His new Stormlight Archives are monsters and, while I have enjoyed them, I don’t deny that there are a couple hundred thousand words too many in there because Sanderson loves to describe eeeeverything, including all the bits and pieces that make up his overarching Cosmere universe. So when I had the opportunity to check out a comic book by him, my first thought was, “How is he going to limit his wordiness in order to let the medium do its job?”
Welp. Turns out scenery full of white sands and white guys in white robes doesn’t really allow the imagery to do much more than confuse me. Thankfully, Kenton stands out a bit thanks to his half-Darksider heritage, though the mingling of Darksider blood is suspected to be the cause of his lack of Sand Mastery. Thankfully, after some verbose dialogue that spells out both Kenton’s plight as a crappy Sand Master as well as how Sand Mastery works in typical Sanderson elaborate magic system fashion, the story moves on fairly quickly from whiteness of being and we get to meet several other characters that prove to be far more interesting than Kenton and his basic story of bloody betrayal and ambition. Khriss’s story is of particular interest, but ultimately, falls flat along with the others because Sanderson just doesn’t work as a comics author. He has too much to say and doesn’t know how to let the images show what he wants to tell, and the art lacks expression beyond ‘angry’ to convey much. The characters are missing the focus on establishing individual POVs that allow the reader to get to know and empathize with them, and the dialogue remains forced as each character is relegated to spelling out the details that have nowhere else to go.
This is an older story that is just now seeing the light. You can see some basic tropes happening, particularly in the cultures that are revealed. I do appreciate where things are turned around though, particularly in the costume design of the Darksiders, who, thankfully, did not turn out to be as cringe-worthy as the initial description of the Darksiders implied.