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Subj: Re: Wonder Woman #31: Yay! The Return of... Waitaminnit! They did what??!!
Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 at 10:55:50 am EDT (Viewed 260 times)
Reply Subj: Wonder Woman #31: Yay! The Return of... Waitaminnit! They did what??!!
Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 at 06:28:43 pm EDT (Viewed 377 times)
While Chin-stroking at how best to assess the debut issue of James Robinson and Carlo Pagulayan without sounding unduly critical of it it finally occurred to me that being the opening chapter to a sustained and much publicised new storyline any in-depth analysis would be pointless at this juncture, as while Carlo Pagulayan's sharp and realist visuals are complemented by equally vivid colouring what he is being given to illustrate in this instance is more a procession of set-pieces and 'moments' rather than an actual story unfolding.
In his breakdown of the opening pages of the issue it seems quite clear that Robinson is well aware that the reader will already be familiar with what the story is to be about, the search for Diana's hitherto secret brother, and therefore decided that rather than start his story at the beginning, in a clear linear manner, he will take that as a given assumption that applies to the majority and instead of a conventional introductory piece will exploit the modern internet readers foreknowledge of an issues content. This can be seen from that introductory page inviting us to a tantalising but unclear primer glimpse at how it will all end, the following page being then concerned with introducing a mysterious reclusive figure and establishing this unseen fellow as both a popular fixture of the small township he lives outside of, while simultaneously establishing him as both a loner and with some vaguely suggested air of somebody deliberately wanting to stay obscure and remote. It's a well done scene, thanks in no small part to the rich detailing of Carlo Pagulayan's panoramic shot of our handsome stranger's trip into town and an establishing air of the mythical as locals compare him to the legendary Paul Bunyan, and clad there in his checked shirt the comparison is quite self-evident. Is this then the awaited long-lost brother being introduced? It's all a very deliberately constructed tease..
From town back to his remote lodge out in the deep woods, and an eerie introduction in the gathering elate evening/night with the striking figure of Grail, a character we know from Geoff Johns Justice League work and elsewhere, and finally entering into the pages of Wonder Woman to inevitably meet and clash with her 'sister', Wonder Woman. It's personal tastes as to whether you actually like this character, I confess to some ambivalence myself, but she is what she is and as a rather one-dimensional if visually striking plot element she does her job in revealing the secret of out mystery fellow to be not the promised Brother to Diana but instead the unexpected, and grand, figure of... Hercules. Unbound, apparently.
As a passing concern it did raise the momentary question as to whether this is the same man Aquaman unexpectedly clashed with in his own title some time ago, it should come as no surprise that James Robinson would prefer the semi-obscure character whom Walt Simonson worked on in the mid-late seventies as the writer has always had a tic for such obscure trivia. The shame (or perhaps it was the intention) is that after a full twelve pages of following him from his foray into town and his late evening tree-felling the fate that befells this enigmatic but clearly likable recluse leaves the reader wishing it were otherwise. That rather than the shallowness and one-dimensional evil of Grail we could follow the intriguing Hercules instead. In a way it might be said that what we have here is an example of how two entirely seperate era's of character building work and differ - the fact that Hercules (unbound) is an old character from a short-lived 1970s series (and folded into the Olympian history of Wonder Woman come issue #259) and yet can still intrigue us, while the thoroughly modern creation of Grail presents itself as nothing more than plot moving superficial evil-villain ephemera, shows the potential value in reactivating such old and long dormant properties.
So, thirteen pages in. And finally Wonder Woman. Despatching one-note villain Giganta in Los Angeles this is all very abrupt and another crudely devised scene-shift from Robinson in order to introduce the peculiar figure of Blake Hooper, the man left acting as executer to the estate of Hercules and who just happened to be mere blocks away... which sounds such an absurd unliklihood that one wonders whether appearances are deceiving. After all is it another coincidence that the dapper Mr Hooper bears such an uncanny resemblance to David Suchet's long running interpretation of Agatha Christie's Poirot? Can anything be taken as granted in a world that is apparently so filled with hidden mythologies and Gods-among-men?
Yes, Wonder Woman #31 took a little while to digest, and decide how to evaluate. On balance this is not terrible as an opening chapter I have to say, and yet I expect better from james Robinson. He is helped out considerably by the splendid work of Carlo Pagulayan and colourist Romulo Fajardo, as if this were a more routine artistic style and with less detail by which to distract the reader and raise the material then the deficiencies in Robinson's approach to the plotting of this issue would be that bit more jarring. Was there really any need to spend twelve pages on the mysterious Hercules and his fate, at the expense of space devoted to Diana and Steve Trevor? Is there a purpose in revisiting the work of Geoff Johns and picking up the threads of Diana's secret brother, and Grail and her father, Darkseid?
It feels a shame. As if you were no great fan of Johns' work on Justice League, and/or have no real knowledge of who these character are you are meeting with this issue, then what is there?
Wonder Woman #31 is an interesting enough read, disjointed but reasonably entertaining nontheless. Unfortunately it also comes with nothing remotely original or fresh within it that's for sure. Just a reserving of other peoples existing ideas and props. Full compliments to the artist and colourist however as if the story is by the numbers then the visuals at least are well worth the time and effort in investing in with this new story... we shall hope that the quality improves, as being a great admirer of his work over the years I expect far better than this from James Robinson. Indeed I know he is better than this. And therefore it only adds to the irritation I felt upon finishing the book.
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