Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
David Uzumeri is reading…
Wonder Woman Annual #1
Written by Greg Rucka, Vita Ayala, Michael Moreci and Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Art by Nicola Scott, Claire Roe, Stephanie Hans and David Lafuente
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr., Jordie Bellaire, Stephanie Hans and John Rauch
Lettered by Jodi Wynne, Josh Reed and Dave Sharpe
“Who are you men? Why do you spy upon me?”
Anthology one-shots — and while this is an annual, that’s basically what this is — are, traditionally, a mixed bag. There will be one story you love, one you like, and a bunch that either bore you or invite downright derision. It’s hard to get one good story in a comic, never mind four.
This isn’t one of those times.
This book has four stories, and they’re actually all pretty goddamn good. Kicking it off is Rucka, Scott and Fajardo Jr. (the Wonder Woman: Year One team) with the first meeting between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and while the vignette is somewhat hurt by a lack of resolution — it was originally announced having a bookend piece by Rucka and present-day WW artist Liam Sharp with the modern-day relationship between the three — it’s a fun Trinity story that slides not only into WW:YO (with which it shares an aesthetic and time period) but also Rucka’s previous characterization of both Superman and Batman. This is a guy who gets these three characters better than most writers in this industry, and is always a delight to see writing their interactions. It’s good shit, and everyone expected it to be.
The second story — by Vita Ayala, Claire Roe and Jordie Bellaire — is the first story I’ve read from the first two (although I’ve seen previews and bits of Roe’s impressive Birds of Prey work), and like the other shorts, it’s a really strong story that relies on the unique combination of diplomacy, strength and compassion that makes Wonder Woman iconic. It’s a simple concept — King Shark’s about to get strung up on charges he didn’t commit, and Diana saves his ass because the truth and compassion are important — but it’s startlingly well-executed, kinetic and joyful as hell (I really need to keep an eye on Roe), and I’m a total sucker for “superhero is cool to a misunderstood monster” stories.
The third, from Michael Moreci and Stephanie Hans (yes, of Journey Into Mystery covers fame), hits similar themes with a decidedly different ending. It’s a more personally driven story than the international politics angle of Ayala and Roe’s, but it’s another really enjoyable eight-pager that — and this is the overriding theme of the annual — just has a really self-assured, consistent grasp on Wonder Woman’s character and the principles that drive her.
The last, from Lanzing, Kelly and David Lafuente, is just a whole ton of fun and big-ass monster action drawn gloriously by Lafuente, but it (once again) balances the spectacle and bombast with compassion and heart. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s exciting and heartwarming, and it’s a bunch of big-ass monsters fighting Wonder Woman drawn by David Lafuente, so you really can’t go wrong. Like every other story in this annual, this story has heart.
Overall, it’s a very strong collection, but the most striking thing about it is the consistency of vision for the character across four separate stories. For years, it felt like every writer had their own wildly different vision of Wonder Woman, and to see a single issue with four wildly disparate creative teams pull off four different stories with this much consistency of character takes a pretty impressive editorial hand.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked that four consonant Wonder Woman stories were able to get punctured by the same stapler, but after years of these issues being used to offload paid-for detritus, this is such an overwhelming breath of fresh air. So credit to Dave Wielgosz and Rebecca Taylor (as well as regular series editors Mark Doyle and Chris Conroy) — I believe in the multi-story annual again.
Robby Karol is reading…
Written by James Robinson
Pencils by Carlos Pacheco
Inks by Rafael Fonteriz
Colored by Jesus Aburtov
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
“Maybe you got yerself a big gun, fella, but so do we!”
“I’ve seen bigger.”
I’ve always been chilly on Cable as a character. If you strip away the confusing, often-pointless backstory, he’s basically just a tough old guy with a lot of guns, a time-traveling mutant version of the Punisher. Sometimes he can be utilized well in a team book. But solo, the only interesting angle on him is that he was raised to be a Messiah, and now that he’s fulfilled his role, what does he have left to do?
James Robinson pretty much sidesteps all these questions in this first issue of Cable’s new ongoing. Cable’s traveling through time, tracking a mysterious person who is arming bad guys of all eras with anachronistic weapons. First Cable defeats some bandits armed with laser guns in the Old West, then he tries to stop some ronin in 16th century Japan armed with fiery swords.
Robinson’s a gifted writer, so there are some grace notes even in this lightly plotted first issue. There’s a good joke in Cable failing to be impressed by sci-fi weaponry, and Robinson does a great job contrasting the Western bandits with the more disciplined ronin. Mostly, though, this is Carlos Pacheco’s show. His work on Avengers Forever and Arrowsmith already showed his gifts at creating lived-in past worlds (whether real or imagined). The clothes of the different eras have weight and heft, and the generic bad guys are differentiated well. Robinson is smart enough to let Pacheco do the heavy lifting in the subtle expressions that cross Cable’s face over the course of his adventures. If anyone is going to sell the different moods of a terse and closed-off character like Cable, it’s Pacheco.
That being said, I’m not sure it’s worth picking up on a regular basis. Cable is a workmanlike comic that doesn’t make any mistakes and has some good elements, but there’s nothing in here that sells me on the character or the story. I’ve never found Cable very interesting, and this comic doesn’t convince me otherwise.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!