Wonder Woman #600
Cover art by George Perez
DC’s put out three big round-numbered issues in the past month, with Batman and Superman both achieving their 700th issue and now Wonder Woman, via a little tricky addition, reaching the 600 issues milestone. Batman 700 was, to me, jumpy and jumbled, and Superman 700 had moments, but didn’t seem to really push itself. Wonder Woman 600 is definitely the best of the trio. It doesn’t demand reading, but it’s warm, smartly written, well drawn and there’s always a place for solidly executed, if not revolutionary fun in the world of pop entertainment.
Wonder Woman 600 starts with a one-page introduction – a rare instance of a single-issue comic with an intro – by Lynda Carter, and it’s charming enough.
Pin-ups of variable quality by Adam Hughes, Nicola Scott/Jason Wright, Ivan Reis/Oclair Albert/Rod Reis, Guillem March, Greg Horn, Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato, Phil Jimenez, Jock, and Shane Davis/Jaime Mendoza/Nei Ruffino are sprinkled throughout the issue. Hughes, Scott and Manapul provide the best pages. Horn, March and usually reliable Jock don’t. Jimenez’s is quite nice, though far too busy for my tastes.
As for the stories:
Written by Gail Simone
Penciled by George Perez
Inked by Scott Koblish
Colored by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Essentially a love letter to Perez’s stint as the writer and artist of Wonder Woman twenty years ago, this story’s charming and upbeat, good fun. Granted, if you’re not familiar with Perez Wonder Woman (personally, it’s still the only run of the character’s comic I’ve enjoyed, though I didn’t read any of Simone’s recently concluded tenure), much of it will be lost on you, but the action set is goofy fun and the dialogue between Diana and Vanessa is warm and caring. And Perez draws it up very nicely.
Written & Illustrated by Amanda Conner
Colored by Paul Mounts
Lettered by John J. Hill
Another warm, charming yarn – a little action to kick it off (the first two stories seem to really underline the absurdity of the supervillain, or at least Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery), some girl-to-girl talk to wrap it up. Nothing essential, but it looks great and features engaging, upbeat dialogue. Conner should script her own books more often.
Written by Louise Simonson
Penciled by Eduardo Pansica
Inked by Bob Wiacek
Colored by Pete Pantazis
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Old school-style superhero adventure, with Superman and Wonder Woman facing a terrorist with Zeus’s magic lightning. Pansica’s faces fluctuate from panel to panel, and there’s not much range in anybody, but the solid layouts convey the action effectively. Simonson’s script gets the job done. Again, it’s not really timeless adventure fiction, but it’s professionally executed and enjoyable enough.
“The Sensational Wonder Woman”
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Scott Kolins
Colored by Mike Atiyeh
Lettered by Nick J. Napolitano
Not really a story unto itself, this sequence is a prologue to the first yarn by the new creative team. Wonder Woman’s in a generic battle, turns a corner, and readers are walked right into a new tale by a new creative team. It’s actually a very effective way to show the radical change in Wonder Woman’s world, though there’s nothing particularly interesting about Johns and Kolins’ six pages unto themselves.
“Odyssey: Prologue: Culture Shock”
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by Don Kramer
Inked by Michael Babinski
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Lettered by Travis Lanham
JMS packs in some action, some intrigue and a tease about the book’s future. Not bad for ten pages. It’s far too early for any bold proclamations about the quality of this arc, but Straczynski handles the mystery well and Kramer provides readers with some dynamic action scenes. The new costume, center of comicdom’s most recent mass teeth gnashing, looks much better drawn by Kramer than what was seen in Jim Lee’s design sketches. Though it may be a little bland, the new costume manages to feel more practical (except those darn heels – nobody runs or fights in heels!) and plausible than the classic. So JMS and Kramer present a solid introduction to their upcoming run as the creators of Wonder Woman.
And if I may expand on the ridiculous costume controvery, I think (hope) we all realize that these changes don’t last very long typically. However, for a character as long-established and as poor selling as Wonder Woman, I must give some props to DC for shaking up people’s perspectives and getting tongues wagging. In the end, everything goes back to normal – it always, always happens (which is when I jump ship usually). For what it’s worth, outside of comicdom, Wonder Woman’s costume is the only thing many people know about the character, so altering that is the surest way to get their notice. Now, we can debate if Wonder Woman would be better off with a radically different creative, more humorous, more all-ages, more feminist, etc. creative revamp, but as long as the series has to fit the “tone” of the DC Universe, shaking up the look is about the best option available. It’s up to Straczynski’s story and Kramer’s art, however, to keep the focus on the character now. There’s potential here, but it’s still just potential.