Tag Archives: Matthew Clark

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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A Superman: American Alien #1 Review – Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Superman: American Alien #1 (2015)TITLE: Superman: American Alien #1
AUTHOR: Max Landis
PENCILLERS: Nick Dragotta, Matthew Clark. Cover by Ryan Sook.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman: American Alien is a unique opportunity for Max Landis. He’s a renowned Superman critic who gets to put his money where his mouth is.

Granted, Landis isn’t just a Superman critic. He’s also an accomplished writer in the movie industry. He co-wrote and did the screenplay for Chronicle, and also wrote the upcoming films Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Right. He also directed the music video for Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time.”

But to comic book fans, Landis is perhaps best known as the man behind the short film The Death and Return of Superman, as well as a number of extended YouTube editorials (Regarding Clark, Death and Return of Superman Pitch By Max Landis, etc). While I haven’t agreed with everything he’s said, it’s tough to deny how knowledgeable he is about the art of storytelling. To their credit, DC saw that, and they started talking with him about doing a Superman story of his own. And to his credit, Landis eventually took them up on the offer, essentially agreeing to put his money where his mouth is.

Superman: American Alien #1, Max Landis, Nick DragottaAmerican Alien consists of seven short stories from the life of Clark Kent. This issue shows us an eight-year-old Clark and his parents coming to grips with his power of flight. In a brief Q&A that can be seen in the back of this issue, Landis said he was going for “heartwarming” with this first installment.

Again, to his credit, he accomplished his goal. At the end of the issue, you’re smiling. At one point things get a little too silly for my taste, and at others Clark seems a little too wise for an eight-year-old. But by and large, the issue feels like something Pixar or Dreamworks might put out. That’s high praise, considering DC continues to struggle with making readers sympathetic to a character so powerful. They’re beating him down pretty hard right now, having exposed his identity and powered him down quite bit. But the right now the Superman books are largely lacking the emotional core you’d hope to find when Clark faces such dire circumstances.

In contrast, there’s a lot of emotion in American Alien #1. Granted, it’s not all as complex in terms of Clark himself, as he’s just a child. But in just one issue we see the terror, frustration, shame, and ultimately excitement that this new ability brings him. Things are a bit more subdued in terms of the Kents. But we can definitely see them questioning their decisions as they struggle to raise this very unique child.

Superman: American Alien #1, alien mirror, Nick DragottaHowever, there is one moment that nearly takes you out of the story. Clark has just had what we’ll call an “angry outburst,” and he’s driving home with his father. As they’re talking, Clark flat out says: “Dad…I’m so unhappy.” I question the notion of an eight-year-old being that conscious of his own overall happiness, much less being able to vocalize it so concisely. Even if the child in question is Superman. That’s not to say it’s impossible. I just found it odd coming from a child.

On the plus-size, Nick Dragotta and colorist Alex Guimaraes very much deliver an aura akin to Clark’s idealized Kansas childhood. That opening shot of Ma Kent hanging off her young son’s leg (shown above) makes for an awesome hook. There’s also an excellent shot of young Clark looking in a mirror, and then suddenly seeing himself as a Yoda-like space alien (also above). Dragotta’s art very much makes this feel like an eight-year-old’s story, much as I’m sure Tommy Lee Edwards will give next issue’s fight story a certain hormone-enduced rough-and-tumble feel.

At the end of the issue, we get a two-page spread that’s separate from the rest of the story. Drawn by Matthew Clark and titled “Castaways,” it’s simply a workbench covered in artifacts that belonged to the Kents. We see old photos, notes, newspaper clippings, etc. It sets the period well. If I’m not mistaken, we also see a clipped newspaper article about the car accident that killed them both. Certainly an ominous bit of foreshadowing.

Superman: American Alien #1, page 3, Nick DragottaMax Landis and his cohorts may very well be bringing us a much-needed fresh perspective on Superman with American Alien. But I would argue it’s easier to do that with Clark Kent before he puts the cape on. Perhaps if Landis ever gets the chance to write Clark Kent as the Man of Steel, we’ll see just how good he really is. And as far as Superman stories are concerned, I think he has the potential (Key word: Potential.) to be very, very good.

For more Superman, check out Lois and Clark #1, Superman #45, and Superman: The Men of Tomorrow.

Image 1 from newsarama.com. Image 2 from kotaku.com. Image 3 from pastemagazine.com.

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