Sunday, September 4, 2016

Best of the Best

Sorry things have been quiet.  I've been laid up after foot surgery a few weeks ago, and I'm terribly behind with my comics.  I'll be on crutches and unable to drive for at least three more weeks, so my lovely wife and daughter surprised me yesterday by making a run to my local comics shop and picking up the books that were waiting in my subscription box.  (Side note:  If you live in Central Pennsylvania, the absolute best LCS is Comix Connection.  Tell 'em Box 35 sent you.)

I've really been enjoying what DC has been doing with their REBIRTH event.  They really seem to be trying hard to put the best of everything in their history back into play in their books.  Clearly, I am a fan of all things Green Lantern, and DC is indeed doing a fantastic job with the whole Green Lantern mythos.

But the book that literally brought me to tears is one that you can still run out and find:  Wonder Woman #4.  This is Wonder Woman's 75th "birthday" and DC is pulling out all the stops, especially since Gal Gadot stole the Batman V Superman movie as Wonder Woman this past summer.  Unlike some of the other books, Wonder Woman is coming out every two weeks with an alternating story line.  Odd numbered books tell the story of what Wonder Woman is up to now, and it's a pretty good story about her search for her lost homeland.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, or as writer Gail Simone calls her, "Dark Swordy."

But the real gem is what's going on in the even-numbered books:  "Wonder Woman Year One" as written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by the incomparable Nicola Scott.  Nicola Scott is an Australian artist whose work I first saw when she began illustrating DC's Birds of Prey book in 2007. Birds of Prey was bring written at that time by one of my favorite writers, Gail Simone, who I have mentioned in this column before, and the combination of Simone's writing and Scott's art made BoP the book I absolutely had to read first when it came out.  They also knocked it out of the park with Secret Six in 2008-09.  (One of my most prized possessions is an autographed script from Gail Simone of an issue of Secret Six from during their run together.)  The point is that I've been familiar with Scott's artwork for almost ten years, and it has always been fantastic.

Recently she and Greg Rucka have been doing an independent comic called Black Magick which I also cannot recommend highly enough.  Every now and then I find something that I love so much that I start handing out to anyone and everyone I know who will stand still long enough to take it from me.  One of these things is the novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  I must have given away dozens of copies over the years.  Another of these is Black Magick.  I've pretty much cleaned out my local comics store so that I can do this.  It's a police procedural featuring a practicing Wiccan detective, and it's brilliant.

Wonder Woman Year One, however, has taken things to an entirely new and higher level.

Part Two of the story, which makes up issue #4 of the new series, details the meeting of Princess Diana and Steve Trevor and the decision of the Amazons to send an emissary to the outer world, an emissary who is chosen by a competition of all the Amazons to find their best.  Diana, the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, wins the competition and agrees to give up her immortality to become the Amazon ambassador to our world.

The artwork is heartbreakingly beautiful.

I am not exaggerating.  I was, quite literally, moved to tears, not once, but twice.  Once when Diana has to reveal to Steve that he is the only survivor of the crash that brought him to their island, and again when I turned the page to see the two-page spread that encompasses and condenses the Amazon Contest.  DC is printing the book on good quality paper and all of the subtle line work and coloring is presented in the best possible light.

I was unable to get permission to reproduce any of the artwork in time for this writing, but a sanctioned preview of the issue can be found here at the Diamond Comics Distributors PREVIEWS website.

I know that when I get around to plugging popular culture and comics, I get enthusiastic and trot out clich├ęs like, "run, don't walk, to your local shop and pick up a copy of YADDAYADDA now!"  So all I can tell you is that the latest run of Wonder Woman is the proverbial Real Deal, and whether or not you like comics, or read comics, or give a hoot about comics, you are doing yourself a real disservice by not picking up the Year One issues and reading them.

And you might want to grab a few issues of Black Magick while you're there.  Either way, you won't be sorry.