Tag Archives: Cheetah (DC Comics)

A Diana: Princess of the Amazons Review – The Lonely Amazon

TITLE: Diana: Princess of the Amazons
AUTHORS: Shannon Hale, Dean Hale
ARTISTS: Victoria Ying, Lark Pien (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Graphic Novels For Kids
PRICE: $9.97
RELEASED: January 7, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Wonder Woman and Superman often share a common critique: They’re not relatable. That it’s difficult to project ourselves on to them because their powers make them God-like. In Diana’s case, she’s literally sculpted from clay to be the embodiment of perfection. Yeesh. Talk about setting the bar high…

So what do you do? How do you write interesting stories about characters seemingly so far removed from humanity? One of the answers, the best one in my opinion, is to give them relationships and conflicts that are very human. That ground them in our reality to an extent. Superman can lift a car over his head and fly into space, but he’s also a husband and father. Wonder Woman grieves over the loss over her close friend Barbara Minerva, who has become the villainous Cheetah.

Diana: Princess of the Amazons essentially takes that idea and gives it a spin that’s more kid-friendly. Our young Diana is the only kid on the island of Themyscira. While that obviously has its perks, the one big downside is that Diana has no other kids to play with. Taking a page from her mother Queen Hippolyta’s book, she sculpts a friend for herself out of clay. Diana’s new friend Mona comes to life just as she herself did. But friendship has its ups and downs, and the future Wonder Woman soon finds herself in over her head.

I heaped all manner of praise on Dear Justice League for being outrageously fun and accessible, while also charmingly simple. There’s a similar charm to Diana. But here, that accessibility is more personal. When you take away all the Wonder Woman garnish, what we have here is a story about a lonely little girl who wants a friend. While the book doesn’t dwell on it, what kid hasn’t felt lonely at some point? What kid hasn’t experienced the excitement of a new friend? We even go into peer pressure. Adults may have problems relating to Wonder Woman. But kids will have absolutely zero problems connecting with Diana.

Imagine my surprise to learn that our illustrator Victoria Ying worked as a “visual development artist” on movies like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Big Hero 6. But looking at her work here, it makes all the sense in the world. Diana has a very “animated” look to it. It also has a certain flow that’s fairly rare. From a cerebral perspective, comics show you these still-frame images and give your mind the task of filling in what goes between them. In this book that mental transition from panel to panel is often seamless. Odd as it sounds, I’d compare it to being in a raft on a lazy river. You aren’t exerting much. You’re simply going with the flow.

I’m not sure I gave Diana: Princess of the Amazons enough credit when I picked it up. I didn’t expect this to be as good an addition to the Wonder Woman mythos as it is. But the more kids and YA graphic novels I read, the more I’m realizing that these books get a lot right that the monthly issues tend to either get wrong or over-complicate. Once again, it all comes down to simplicity. At their core, these are children’s characters after all.

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A Wonder Woman: The Lies Review – Wonder Woman Reloaded

TITLE: Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
PENCILLERS: Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark
COLLECTS: Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1Wonder Woman #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, #11
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED: February 22, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

You don’t have to be a regular on the review sites to know fans have hit the jackpot with a lot of these DC Rebirth titles. I said this about The Flash. I said this about Green Arrow. But it rings true even more so in this case: We need a good Wonder Woman book now more than ever. Not just because of the movie coming out, but because of what America looks like right now. This character and what she stands for are as important now as they’ve ever been. You’ll find many magazine covers, t-shirts, dolls, and action figures, online games featuring her. There are even online casino sites that offer DC themed inspired slot games with her and other DC character. But it’s not always easy to find, say, a good Wonder Woman graphic novel.

With that in mind, giving Wonder Woman back to Greg Rucka was a good move. He’s done right by the women of DC Comics. He wrote the famous “Half a Life” story about Renee Montoya in the pages of Gotham Central. He co-created the current iteration of Batwoman, and had a damn good run with her in Detective Comics. He’s done some really good, though perhaps lesser known work with Huntress. He’s also one of the most heralded Wonder Woman writers of the past two decades. If anyone was qualified to give Diana a fresh start, it was him. His Wonder Woman is regal, yet grounded. Tough, sometimes even violent. But also nurturing and kind.

Diana’s memories have become muddled. The lines between fantasy and reality are blurred beyond distinction. Was she sculpted from clay by her mother and granted life by the gods? Or is she the child of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus? Why did she journey to the world of man? What is her truth? To find the answers, Wonder Woman seeks help from dear friend turned mortal enemy: Barbara Ann Minerva, the Cheetah. Meanwhile, Steve Trevor is on the hunt for a brutal terrorist who just happens to be in league with Urzkartaga, the monstrous deity in control of the Cheetah. Once again, Diana and Steve’s paths will cross. But is there any sort of future between them?

For clarity’s sake, it’s worth noting that Wonder Woman took a different approach to the company’s new bi-weekly scheduling. Simply put, the odd-numbered issues contained the story collected in The Lies and the even-numbered ones told a “Year One” story penciled by Nicola Scott. A cute little trick to give the artists more breathing room.

In the Rebirth issue, Rucka puts all the cards on the table regarding the character’s conflicting origin stories, then wipes the slate clean. A bold move, to be certain. But a welcome one. Diana’s origin and the mythological elements involved have always been tougher to grasp. At least for yours truly. The Lies is more about a personal quest than an epic battle of gods and monsters. She’s quite literally asking, “Who am I?” That’s very grounded and relatable.

That’s not to say that Diana’s memories suddenly changing makes a lot of sense from a story perspective. The Rebirth initiative restored a lot of great continuity. But to do that you often have to jump through a lot of storytelling hoops. Look no further than the Superman books for your examples. Rucka keeps things pretty vague in that sense. Ultimately, that’s for the better, I suppose.

But we’re not just learning about Diana. We also get a tremendously valuable look at the Cheetah. She’s arguably Wonder Woman’s greatest rival. But I’d wager that even more devoted comic book readers (myself included) struggle with her, even down to basic details. It’s easy to write her off when you put her next to villains like the Joker and Lex Luthor. You can almost mistake her for a Catwoman knock-off. But Rucka and Liam Sharp spend a good chunk of issues #1 and #3 laying her groundwork. Hell, a large portion of our plot revolves around her. Their partnership doesn’t necessarily end the way you think it will, either. Also, Barbara in human form is a dead ringer for Kate Winslet.

We also re-establish our supporting cast, most notably Steve Trevor and Etta Candy. The New 52 did Steve Trevor a lot of good. The earlier stories, at least. We get more of that here. As he’s done many times before, Steve plays the gentleman-in-jeopardy here. But he’s obviously more than that. Like Diana, Steve has to strike a delicate balance between toughness and sensitivity. Yet again, Rucka is able to walk that tightrope. Especially when we get to issue #9. In many ways, Steve Trevor is the embodiment of an enlightened male for the 21st century.

Liam Sharp is a tremendous pick for Wonder Woman. It goes back to balance. Sharp’s Wonder Woman looks like a gladiator, every bit at home in a fight. But then you also have the quieter, more emotional sequences like the one with Cheetah in issue #3, the reunion with Steve in issue #9, etc. Wonder Woman is more multi-faceted than most people realize, and Sharp illustrates that beautifully here.

Sharp’s take on Cheetah is also tremendous. She’s animalistic, but not beastly. She’s got those big, expressive, and very human eyes. Sharp’s line-work and shading also give her a texture we don’t often see. Yet another reason this book is one of the character’s finest hours.

Depending on when you were picking it up, Wonder Woman was hit or miss during the New 52 era. Thankfully, the Amazon Princess is once again in good hands. It’s a damn good time to be a Wonder Woman fan.

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