September 9, 2013

Wonder Woman #78 (Comic Review #1)

Are You Ready? 

Here at www.kdvan.blogspot.com, Mondays mean one thing: bargain bin comic book reviews! All comic book stores seem to have at least a few boxes dedicated to cheap comic book rejects. Whether these are little known indie comics, one-shots that didn't stand up to the test of time, familiar faces in embarrassing crossovers, or forgotten heroes who've simply been passed over one too many times, there's always the opportunity for the occasional dumpster dive to reveal a treasure among the trash. Its time to give this week's book a read, a review, and a rating so you can either add this steal to your reading list, or know to pass over a mounting catastrophe.


Quick Specs:
Title: Wonder Woman
Issue: #78
Publisher: DC
Publication Date: September, 1993

Staff:
Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Penciller: Lee Moder
Inkers: Ande Parks, Aaron McClellan
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Letterer: John Costanza
Assistant: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn

Cover Artist: Bolland

Today's pick is Wonder Woman Issue #78. I picked this up at a garage sale hosted by a comic book collector who was looking to downsize his admirably vast collection. When the type of collector who typically asks full retail for even the lamest of comic books labels boxes upon boxes of comics "5 for $1.00," you know there's something up. Naturally, I had no choice but to go digging, and this is but one of the many books I snagged that day.

Right off the bat, we've got a couple of things going on before we even open the book. We've got Wonder woman looking stoically towards a vanishing point beyond the reader's perspective, her rigid jaw framed by some sort of weapon crosshair. She appears to be looking right at her would-be assassin's face, but looks much less concerned than I would be in such a scenario, and in fact looks almost disgusted in a way. Now, notice Flash's expression? Completely at contrast with how Wonder Woman seems to be feeling. His comically over-the-top campy "O" of surprise is more than ridiculous, and awfully humorous in a bizarre, pity laugh sort of way. Over all, the cover art is clean, interesting, well-balanced. Excellent job rendering those angel hair spaghetti noodles, Bolland.

"The Fast Contract" may sound like a Vin Diesel racing film parody, but is in fact the comfortably paced story tucked between this comic book's covers. An unnamed man looks to hire a female assassin to kill Diana, Wonder Woman herself, who oddly enough is down on her luck and has little money and virtually no living space to speak of. While this assassin (code-named "Mayfly") follows Wonder Woman around stealthily and without Wonder Woman's knowledge, Diana worries over her friend Etta's weight and possible anorexia as they go wedding dress shopping. Things take a turn for the worse when Etta passes out from malnutrition, refuses to eat her salad, and Flash shows up just in time to not only eat the poor girl's meal but to take off his mask and be of no use whatsoever when Mayfly shows up and starts shooting up the place. No, really. That's essentially the whole comic.

Alright, let's break this down best we can.

The story's pacing is decent enough, if not a tad too slow, but the main conflict within the plot is so predictable and so overused that there is little to keep the reader interested. Even in 1993, I'm pretty darn sure the whole "unknown adversary hires a mysterious assassin of unpredictable powers to take out our hero" scenario--or in this case, the heroine--was way overused. The plot aside, the details don't entice me as a reader at all. Her friend's marriage arrangements and possibly aggressive eating disorder weren't presented in a way that made me care about the character's predicament. Now, you could argue that this was because I hadn't been reading the already ongoing series, or that its unfair to judge this book as a single story when it's merely a continuation. I understand that perspective, but it doesn't stand in my opinion. I have had experiences where I picked up comic books from in the middle of a story with no preconceived notions of what was going on and no expectations whatsoever and found myself so completely compelled that I went and found and read the entire rest of the mini-series.

The overall artwork (pencilling and colors), were good quality and satisfying. There were some costuming choices that I questioned, but that wasn't necessarily the penciller's choice nor their fault. There were a couple of panels where Wonder woman's friend Etta looked like a man, especially in the face, which didn't help the reader feel empathetic towards her life situation. There are ways to draw women with short hair and still maintain a feminine face shape and feminine features. As an artist, I understand that translating the same face multiple times into different panels while maintaining a certain amount of continuity can be challenging, but when you're getting paid to do it, you better be doing your absolute best. She better look more like a fashion-forward, business savvy couture model than Archie Andrews friend Jughead Jones, or you've got some serious issues that need immediate attention. Wonder woman often took up a massive amount of a panel's limited space, even when standing on the same level with her friend. Ideally, I think this was a decent approach towards conveying her size and height as compared to the average woman, but  was done too a slightly ineffective manner, resulting in wonder woman often looking as though she had large, brutish man-shoulders.



Let's think positive.

There were a few things I really liked about this comic book, even with it being the haphazard snore that it is. In one panel there's an image of wonder woman wearing her typical low-cut top and crimson boots, but they've been paired with a khaki jacket with cuffed sleeves and high-waisted denim jeans. To top it off, she's holding a broom in one hand. She actually looks sort of like an actual woman, almost a mother figure of sorts. And seriously, her outfit is to die for. The Flash's appearance in the story was a nice distraction from the serious, somewhat off the mark attempt of the writer's to tell a story conveying female conflicts and emotion. He was dorky, yes. Goofy, yes. But he was also the comic relief of the story.



Now, let's rip it apart.

The Mayfly character looked like a cross between Mega Man and Zonic, the dimension crossing space and time zone cop from the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series. Even though Flash's only super power is super speed, he wasn't fast enough to catch up with a woman who's special power was...Having an unlimited metabolic rate? Apparently Wonder Woman gets paid to be a part of the Justice League. I understand why one needs a salary, but why does she get one for being a superhero? Come on DC. Explain that one to me. Because it sounds like a cop-out way to explain how she has the money for the down payments on her invisible jet. Also, there was no spaghetti in the story. The cover artist simply escalated salad and turned it into Italian food to create some excitement. And I don't blame him.





Final thoughts? Why, yes, I do have some of those. I have read comic books that were much, much worse than this one. But just because its passable, doesn't make it good.

Story:  2 stars
Art : 3 stars
Theme: 2 stars
Characters: 2 stars
Presentation: 2 stars

Overall: 2 out of 5 Star Performance.


If you're a fan of Wonder Woman, of course you'll need to have this issue in your possession. Otherwise I'd pass it by and not look back. Well, maybe just once, if only to wonder for a moment why the spaghetti wasn't actually in the story.

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
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