BookBin2016: Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 1

See, denizens? I told you that, for my next reviewed book, it would be imperative that the artists made the character look like her Hollywood counterpart, didn’t I? Well, that they did…and I couldn’t be more delighted by the end result.

I admit that I was incredibly concerned when I first learned that DC Comics was going to do a comics series based on Lynda Carter’s television portrayal of Wonder Woman. Why? Because they’d assigned Marc Andreyko to pen the stories. Andreyko is the putz who destroyed Batwoman with a story line that turned disturbing in such a way that I didn’t even bother buying the final collection of her previous run. To be honest, if it weren’t for the fact that DC Comics has decided to give Batwoman a new go with her own Rebirth series, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this collection at all. I can hold a grudge like no one’s business.

Wonder Woman ’77 seems to be precisely what Andreyko needed to redeem himself (at least to me) and what he excels at creating. I was pleasantly surprised by how reminiscent the stories were to those Wonder Woman episodes that I loved so much when I was a kid (and still love, thank you very much). Not only were they reminiscent, but they were so respectful and reverential of that show. Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Princess Diana of Paradise Island was so important and influential to so many people that to do her any injustice would have been unforgivable to many fans. I’m delighted to report that, in my humble opinion, this collection paid her the respect and honor she deserves.

Also, the artwork was so impressive and such a pleasure to behold:

Artists Drew Johnson, Matt Haley, Richard Ortiz, Jason Badower, and Cat Staggs provided penciling and coloring that made Diana Prince and Wonder Woman shine in every single panel. And Steve Trevor be Steve Trevor, in all his Waggonerian glory. Plus, the celebration of all things 70s throughout the artwork and stories inspired quite a bit of uncontrollable smiling and laughter from me. That’s why they note in the collection’s title that this is Wonder Woman as she appeared in the 1977 season of her show. ABC dropped the show after one season, which they had set during World War II. When CBS then picked up the show for its second season, they decided to move it to modern times. I don’t know if DC Comics plans on doing anything in this series that might hearken back to Diana Prince’s time in the WAVES and the war, but I’m more than happy to get my paws on the next collection to find out.

Final Verdict: I’m pretty sure I just let that cat out of the bag. Again, not earth-shattering storytelling in any way, but so respectful and so fun to read and enjoy. Also, I do believe that DC Comics has done something similar for Adam West’s Batman ’66…I also believe that the next collection of Wonder Woman ’77 comics might even cross streams with that series. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fact that they’ve just started another crossover with Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman in which she gets to team up with Lindsay Wagner’s Bionic Woman. Seriously, my heart might explode from all the love that I have for both these characters when I finally get my hands on that collection.

BookBin2016: Adventures of Supergirl

And so it begins.

This is it, denizens. This is my “head-over-heels, haven’t felt like this about a show since Voyager went off the air, OMG I can’t stop absorbing everything I can about it, I will drive you crazy if you let me because I also can’t stop thinking about it and if I’m not careful I’ll just start randomly talking about it like you know what the hell I was just thinking, absolutely don’t want to stop but trying really hard to contain myself so I don’t drive you away” crush.

Even now, I’m reeling back everything that I would love to write about the show itself, because I need to focus on just reviewing this graphic novel. I’m letting you know, though, that if you encounter me elsewhere? Don’t ask. Because I will tell. I will tell you everything I think about this show. EVERYTHING. And it just keeps coming. You have been warned.

Well then. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the point: Adventures of Supergirl is the first volume to collect all the comics based on the Supergirl television series. It’s important to make that clarification, because these comics have nothing to do with the regular DC Comics Supergirl run. They’re solely linked to the show. However, from what I’ve read recently, the Supergirl Rebirth story line that they’ve been doing for the comics does draw some elements from the show into Kara Zor-El’s new story (including going with the Supergirl costume from the show rather than that horrible costume they designed for the New 52 Supergirl, which honestly just gets a WTAF every single time I see it). It’s pretty much the primary reason that I’m finally interested in following the comics version of the character.

For these comics, though, you don’t need to know anything more than what you’ve seen on the first season of the show, and even that is mostly character-dependent. The story itself doesn’t really have anything to do with any of the show’s plots, although it does pull in some tangential elements (but nothing that would cause problems if you didn’t know the show). Writer Sterling Gates does well in giving us a story arc that respects the essence of the show, with ample parts bubbly and cute mixing with the darker (though not too dark) and more serious moments. It’s definitely the sorbet to my last reviewed graphic novel, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Interestingly, most of this collection’s artists chose not to make these characters look like their Hollywood counterparts. I know that a lot of times, the comics will make this choice as a way of distinguishing the character from the actor, allowing the character to exist in a manner that isn’t dependent on one person representing them (also, it might have something to do with needing to pay the actors for using their likenesses? I don’t know). I’ve seen them do it with the CSI comics and, to some degree, the Star Trek comics. I point it out in this instance, though, because of the next review I will be doing here at the lair. For that collection, it was critical that the artists drew that character according to how her Hollywood counterpart looked.

Ooh, whatever could be my next review?

Anyway, the artwork for these comics is very light, very G (slightly PG here and there, I suppose), very flowy and…dare I say it?…girly. Supergirl more often than not looks waify with large eyes and pink cheeks and a blindingly bright smile (which, to be fair, does sound very similar to her television representation, but ultimately comes across as lacking when compared to Melissa Benoist’s go as the Girl of Steel). Oh, and pink nail polish. Because girly:

(Seriously, I have a huge problem with Supergirl wearing anything like nail polish or even earrings. You’re supposed to be trying to keep Supergirl your secret identity, so wearing anything that could link you back to Kara Danvers? Just seems a little dangerous to me.)

Clearly, the marketing is on-point for the younger female audience who watches the show. It’s admittedly a little disappointing to someone who is used to bigger, bolder, stronger artwork, but even I can concede that it works for its focus.

One of the delights that I took from this collection, however, comes in the appearance of one character in particular: Alex Danvers. Created specifically for the television show, Agent Danvers appears in this collection for the first time in comics form:

(P.S., I really like how this artist handled the artwork for this section; I believe it was Emanuela Lupacchino, who is working on the Rebirth Supergirl.)

I’ve read that Alex might even end up becoming part of actual comics canon, if the Rebirth creators decide to add her to Supergirl’s world. Since they’ve already brought in the DEO, National City, and Cat Grant to the Rebirth world, it might be possible, but I don’t know. One can only hope, I suppose.

Another high point from this collection is one of the stories that shows Supergirl in a dream world in which at one point she is riding an armor-plated cat (cannot make up this shit, denizens; also, there’s a fanfic-inspired Freudian slip if I ever saw one) and at another point cycles through several different iterations of herself, including this one:

I love the way the costume morphs from the show version to the Bombshell version designed for Kara Starikov (although there does seem to be an imminent structural issue about to happen with that bustier).

Final Verdict: It’s cute and quick and provided a lovely few hours’ respite from reality. Also, I’m all about supporting this show, so I will happily keep this volume and check out any other volumes that might come along in the future.

BookBin2016: Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One

I’ve been on a comics bender lately. It’s kind of a combination of reasons, really. I’m having technical difficulties with one aspect of reality at the moment. My response to such problems has always been to pull away, to sequester myself away from whatever it is that’s bringing me down, usually within the safety of one of my many geeky obsessions. Healthy? No, probably not. Enjoyable? More so than what’s bringing me down. Also, when I do finally reconnect myself to reality, I feel a little better and a little more clear-headed.

Other reasons? Well, I’m sure I’ll write about it later (read: in my next book review), but I’m totally crushing on a new geek obsession. Crushing hard, denizens. Like Star Trek-level crushing. Like “probably (definitely) driving people who know me in other realms on teh Interwebz crazy” crushing. And it’s connected me back to one of my earliest geek obsessions: comics. Believe it or not, I used to be quite the comics nerd (no, Loba, we could never imagine you being EVEN NERDIER THAN YOU ALREADY ARE!). Not like Comic Book Guy-level, but I started down a comics obsession path around the same time as my Star Trek obsession started. Turns out, though, that I only had enough focus for one critical-level obsession at a time. Star Trek won. Comics simmered on the back burner.

Until the past few years. I have several friends who are hard-core comics fans. Their knowledge drew me back out of curiosity. Reading what they were writing elsewhere about certain comics piqued my interest and showed me pathways that I hadn’t known existed previously. Pathways that greatly appealed to me. Plus, there have been some…interesting changes to some characters (coughcough Batwoman coughcough) that lured me deeper into the darkness.

Darkness has always drawn me in. But then there is Darkness.

Injustice: Gods Among Us? That’s some serious darkness, my friends. Surprisingly dark, to be honest, from what I expected to be a fun but empty introduction to a video game. That’s what this is: a graphic novel written as a companion piece to a similarly named video game. I don’t even remember how I ended up learning about it, but when I read the description, it sounded like something I would enjoy for its welcome escapism.

I did enjoy it, but for much deeper reasons than I ever anticipated. This is one of those alternate universe stories in which recognizable and (overly) familiar characters take paths that skew far afield from what we know them to take in “reality.” For this, the primary AU character is Superman. I’ve spoken at length about my feelings about where they’ve gone in recent years with Superman: making him emo and (IMHO) whingy about being all-powerful. Oh, and funky dark. I don’t like funky dark. However, for this novel, they take Superman down a dark and twisted path that…honestly? It works. It works shockingly, brutally well. You have no doubt that the catalyst they use would absolutely work the way it did to cause Superman’s…change. Which actually isn’t a change of personality but instead a change of approach.

As you can tell, though, I don’t want to give away a whole lot about the story. It’s full of enough surprises and twists that I would hate to ruin this for anyone. I will say that it was great to see so many DC Comics heroes used throughout this first volume. Some I know a lot about. Some I know a little about. Some? Some I’m getting to know better right now, so it’s interesting to see this take on them in comparison to who they are where I’m seeing them elsewhere.

The heart of Injustice is the DC Triumvirate: Superman, Batman, and (to a lesser degree) Wonder Woman. I have mixed feelings about Wonder Woman’s role in the story. I’m hoping that her role will shift with time. Batman, however, is surprisingly…sane. And while still intrinsically grave and untrusting, he’s also likeable (in his own way). Likeable, too, is the relationship built between Superman and Batman in this story. It’s far more complex than I was anticipating from this novel. Obviously, I greatly underestimated writer Tom Taylor. Also? The artwork is exquisite throughout. Jheremy Raapack and Mike S. Miller provided artwork that could rival Williams, Perez, Ross. Fantastic.

Final Verdict: Definitely keeping. Definitely checking out Year Two. Apparently, they’re all the way up to Year Five now? I don’t know if I will stick it out through the whole series, but this hooked me tightly enough that I’m antsy to see where it will go next. If you are a DC Comics fan, then I would highly recommend you give Injustice a proper go. I have a feeling you, too, will be pleasantly surprised.

BookBin2016: DC Bombshells Volume 2: Allies


I’m still digging the DC Bombshells series, although I have to admit that Volume 2 didn’t captivate me quite as much as the first volume did. I’m not sure what the problem was this time, but I found myself struggling to stay focused on the stories. The pacing is a bit slow, I suppose, but I attribute that to the fact that there are so many different threads weaving their way through the story. There are quite a few Bombshells whose stories must be told. That causes some delay. Plus, this volume contained a side story that tangentially tied in with one of the Bombshells, but rather stiltedly. I personally could have done without the story at all, but I’m assuming that it might tie in more solidly at a later time.

I do like that the threads are now coming together and the team is starting to solidify. I love that Batwoman remains a strong member of the team. I’m so excited that DC is going to resurrect her solo line with the Rebirth series they’re doing. I can’t wait to get my hands on the first graphic novel collection (ditto with Wonder Woman and Supergirl)…in the mean time, though, I find Kate Kane’s story arc in the Bombshells universe to be an adequate filler until the main event returns.

Ooh, that almost sounds like I don’t really like these stories beyond their delivery of Batwoman to me. It’s not true, I promise. I love the way Marguerite Bennett is playing with each of the Bombshells’ backstories, keeping them intrinsically true while enjoying the play space that this alternate universe has granted her. Admittedly, Wonder Woman’s story hasn’t really fluctuated all that much from her original story, but I neither expected it to nor wanted it to since she is the only one of the Bombshells to actually originate during WWII. It’s with the others’ stories that I’m finding the most enjoyment. I especially enjoy the thread for Kara Starikov and Kortni Duginovna, Supergirl and Stargirl, respectively. They are heroes of Mother Russia, in a Splenda-light version of what I suspect the Red Son series must be like (a novel that is high on my list of novels to acquire in 2017…after I tend to some Crises that I’ve had my eye on for a while). Still, even lighter storylines can pack quite a gut punch, and our Russian roulettes were no exception to this rule. This volume pretty much belonged to Supergirl and Stargirl by the end. I know virtually nothing about Stargirl (there are only so many hours in a day and so many geeky pastimes to which I can dedicate myself, so some superhero obsessions never get a chance to start). After reading this volume of Bombshells, I kind of want to learn more about her. Maybe as time permits…

I’d also like to learn more about Big Barda and Doctor Light. Let’s just say that their appearance in this volume…piqued my interest.

Ahem.

Oh, the artwork once again is exceptional. There’s nothing more disappointing than lackadaisical art. It will yank me right out of a graphic novel and leave me unable to enjoy the story, even if it’s the best writing imaginable. Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, and Mirka Andolfo are all solid illustrators, though, proving that they can provide strong and satisfying visuals to support Bennett’s stories. Plus, when you get powerhouse panels like this one, what is there not to love?

Yes, please.

Final Verdict: Still in it to win it with the Bombshells. I’ve already marked the third volume for acquisition.

BookBin2016: The Sandman Series

So here it’s been all this time since I last visited the lair, and how do I fix that? With what will undoubtedly be a disappointingly brief review of a series of graphic novels that deserve way more written about them. However, my desire to dive into the depths of this particular ocean are severely tempered by my more pressing desire to encourage you to do your own diving, denizens.

Seriously, if you are a comics fan and you have not experienced Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, then what the hell are you waiting for?

Okay, that was a little harsh considering this is my first time reading the series as well. I’ve wanted to read it for years, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit to buying the whole series (because in my mind, some things are all or nothing; never mind that I could have just bought them novel-by-novel…that’s just not how I roll). Then my local library blew my mind by all of a sudden producing all 10 of the original graphic novels, plus two standalones that came after the original run.

This was a dense amount of reading and artwork to absorb. Gaiman packs an extraordinary wallop into this series, with levels of creative intricacy and beauty that are breathtaking to behold. His worlds are so thorough and so startlingly encompassing that they are one of those rare delights that truly does allow you to disappear for hours into their existence. They also possess intricate layers that require way more than one or two full readings. They are embellished with mythology and history and art and culture and literature and originality and religions and all manner of delights. There is no way to simply sum up The Sandman. How exactly would one summarize Dream the Endless? He extends even beyond the realms and tales captured within each of these pages. These are stories to be pondered and perused through extended sessions. While I’m delighted that I finally got the chance to read the novels, I was deeply disappointed when I had to return the books to the library. I was nowhere near finished with them.

Final Verdict: See? I told you that this would be disappointing. However, my ultimate goal is to provide just enough of a tease to lure you all into Morpheus’s realm. I know I definitely want to save up to purchase the two-volume special editions of the Sandman series that they recently released. This is more than deserving of such a collection.

BookBin2016: Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine

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I am still reading, denizens. I don’t have nearly the same amount of time I used to have for one of my favorite pastimes, but I scrape together what time I can and make the most of it. I’ve also been working my way through a large series of novels, which I decided to review all together rather than separately. Sneak preview on that? It’s going to be a highly positive review.

Spoilers.

In the interim, however, I recently found myself spending a significant amount of time stationary. I love flying for many reasons, one of which is the fact that I literally have nothing more pressing to do with my time than read and cat nap. In between copious open-mouthed snoring sessions (yeah, I’m that passenger) I made my way through Tim Hanley’s Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine.

I learned of Hanley’s book through an Amazon recommendation a few weeks after I purchased another recently released book on Wonder Woman’s history (a book sitting patiently next to my night stand). Amazon wanted to offer me the Kindle version of Hanley’s book for something like five bucks at the time. Who can pass up such an offer? Clearly not me.

I’m delighted that I couldn’t refuse this offer. Curious history, indeed! I already knew a great deal about how Wonder Woman came into existence. Even a passing knowledge makes for fascinating conversation. However, Hanley goes much deeper than cursory facts and provides a compelling examination of Wonder Woman’s debut and her evolution through the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age (the book released in 2014, so it’s a relatively holistic history, to be sure).

I honestly wish I had read the other Wonder Woman book first, to be able to answer the question of is this book worth reading if you’ve already read the larger recent publication. I can’t, unfortunately, answer that question. However, regardless of which provides the most information, I can state emphatically that this book is a marvelous resource for all things pertaining to Princess Diana of Paradise Island (she didn’t come from Themyscira until the late 1980s). Wonder Woman is quite the curious creation, her impact resonating with generations of women who grew to embrace the character as one of the penultimate feminist icons (even as her male writers tried to rein her back “under control” during the 70s when real women had the audacity to expect things like equal rights), while mainstream comic fandom never really latched on to her with the same tenacity that those “other” DC Comics legends enjoy. Whereas Superman and Batman are stalwarts within the superhero pantheon, their stories replayed again and again with mind-numbing frequency, Wonder Woman skirts the perimeter (perhaps she should step out of the invisible jet so more people notice her?), never really rooting herself into fandom mythology. We know of her, but we don’t know her.

Maybe this upcoming movie will change all that. Maybe it will finally bring Wonder Woman the populist acclaim that she more than deserves after 75 years of mainly merely being Wonder Woman, the first major superheroine. Maybe. Whatever it brings, be it pleasure or pain, at least it won’t have Batman or Superman in it. That’s always a bonus.

Final Verdict: Definitely saving this on my Kindle. It was a pleasure to read and definitely made me want to read that other book. Guess it’s time to move it closer to the top of my pile. Maybe it can even be next…after the series I’m reading at the moment.

BookBin2016: The Concise Guide to Hip-Hop Music

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One of my favorite playlists on my iPod is one that I named “Old Skool Happy.” It contains music from Eric B. and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh, Salt N Pepa, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie…all the songs that I once had committed to a memory that slips and sloughs away with time. However, whenever I fire up this playlist, those beats and lyrics bring me right back to hours spent pressing these songs into my mental journal so that I could spit lyrics on the playground like I was something other than a chubby white tomboy looking awkward in a dress. Those were my happy moments. Those were the moments when I lost myself in the beats and words of songs that remain just as powerful and precious to me today as they were back then. I love all the songs I used to listen to and all the artists who made them.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that I immediately scooped up Paul Edwards’s Concise Guide to Hip-Hop Music: A Fresh Look at the Art of Hip-Hop, from Old-School Beats to Freestyle Rap when I discovered it at the local library. I loved the music but realized that I didn’t know a whole lot about its birth and transformation.

For the most part, I believe that Edwards provides a solid and certainly concise history of the birth of hip-hop. Furthermore, he does so through the words of the artists who helped craft the genre from its inception. He interviews numerous artists who even appear on my Old Skool Happy playlist, which of course made me quite the happy camper.

I suppose my only complaint would be that he’s a little too precise–or rather a little too narrowly focused. I noted a distinct lack of female representation in particular in his timeline and discourse. True, early hip-hop belonged mainly to the men, but there were several strong ladies representing both early and throughout the golden age of hip-hop. It would have been nice to have heard more from and about them.

Also, the book ends in an utterly abrupt way. It honestly took me by such surprise that my first thought was “Damn, this book is missing its ending.” A little work on a soft descent would have been nice, is all I’m saying.

Final Verdict: I think I’d like to add this to my collection. It would make a nice reference guide and a happy reminder of the days when I used to spit mad lyrics.

Yeah, I’m laughing right now, too, denizens.

BookBin2016: The Dark Knight Returns

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I’ve had a copy of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns on my shelf since, I think, Christmas 2009. While I knew that this was one of those “must reads” for anyone who even dabbles in comic fandom, as I do, my feelings toward Batman have dropped precipitously in recent years. I loathed Christian Bale as the Dark Knight and I loathed the influence that those movies had over other superhero reboots. Dark and dismal affairs, the whole lot of them.

See, I grew up with the 1960s Adam West television show. My Batman was benevolent and odd. A quirky rich man who liked to dress in a onesie and fight cartoonish villains with his young ward. Plus, there was Eartha Kitt. And Julie Newmar. And Yvonne Craig.

My Batman was fun.

Then Tim Burton came along, and while his Dark Knight was decidedly darker than those campy capers of the Caped Crusaders, there was still a level of hilarity and silliness, mingling with the darkness. Because Burton.

Apparently, though, Gotham needed to lose all that because modern audiences are far more sophisticated and serious. We need the Dark Knight to be DARK. Even in the New 52, he’s moody and volatile, almost to the point of some kind of mental instability. I suppose that this take on Batman wouldn’t be that far off if you really considered the origin of the character. Seeing your parents murdered is bound to leave you with some serious issues. Why Alfred didn’t just get the boy into therapy is beyond me. Instead, he let him faff about with bats, feeding some kind of hero delusion until, older and reveling in the kind of privilege that stinking rich provides, he begins to build the ultimate cosplay fantasy world for himself.

Yeah, if you think about it, Batman should be bat-shit crazy. But that doesn’t mean he needs to be moody and boring, too.

What the hell was I talking about? Oh yeah, Frank Miller’s graphic novel. It’s not bad. It’s dark, but I kind of like his take on what would happen if Batman retired and tried to live a normal life. It was kind of prescient. It’s like when Michael Phelps retired but then was all like, “Hey, I kinda miss all those medals.” So he came back with a vengeance.

So did Batman. But not for medals. Just criminals. Which I guess are kind of like superhero medals.

I have no idea what I’m writing anymore. Clearly, I have forgotten how to blog.

Final Verdict: I liked the graphic novel. I’m keeping it. I’m also going to try to get back in the blogging game.

BookBin2016: Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

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I’ve always felt guilty that I didn’t regularly read Wonder Woman. I love Wonder Woman. For some reason, however, I have never dedicated myself to following her comics run the way I did with characters like Batwoman or Batgirl. A little while ago, I decided I needed to rectify this, so I took the first step and purchased Blood, the first volume of her New 52 run. I already had misgivings about this choice, however, given the creative team assigned to restart her series. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang received the assignment to revamp Diana of Themyscira for the New 52 reboot. I’ve already voiced my disdain for Azzarello’s handling of Joker in his eponymous graphic novel, and I’m not really a fan of Chiang’s blocky art style that he too often uses for comics. I know he can do solid art. I’ve featured it here before at the den. However, for this run, he chose to go with this unimpressive, somewhat unfinished, rather juvenile art style, which is wholly unfitting for Greek royalty.

However, it’s the changes that Azzarello made to Wonder Woman’s origin story that ultimately twigged me off completely. There are certain things that are fundamental to Wonder Woman’s existence. Not physical things, like her invisible jet or lasso of truth or bullet-deflecting arm bracers. No, more elemental than that. More important. More significant.

One of the most significant points of Wonder Woman’s origin story was that she was never born of man. At all. Period. She was the purest form of woman to exist, formed by her mother’s hands from the clay of Themyscira and granted life and her powers by the gods themselves. No man played a role in her birth or upbringing. No man interfered in her existence until the unanticipated and jarring arrival of Steve Trevor to the island of the Amazons.

Clearly, this is not something that’s a big deal to Azzarello, but it’s a huge deal to the character. Yeah, the “man” in question is a god, but this change matters. You’ve taken away Wonder Woman’s uniqueness and basically made her the unanticipated end result of a one-night-stand. That’s a big deal. Just like changing her “weapons” are a big deal (for all her strength, Wonder Woman was always a pacifist; yeah, she could do damage to you if she really wanted to, but rarely did she ever want to harm). Just like changing her association with WWII is a big deal.

Okay, this is a total tangent, but humor me for a moment here. World War II was a huge turning point for women, both in the military and in the general workforce. It was finally women’s chance to move into professional roles traditionally reserved for men and show our viability as workers as well as (or, for some, instead of) wives and mothers. Women played an incredibly significant role during the second World War, across all the military branches. My grandmother served during this time, in the U.S. Navy WAVES. Just like Diana Prince, when she came to “man’s world” to help defeat the evil that was raining fire and horror down upon Europe.

Wonder Woman is so intrinsically linked with World War II that changing this part of her origin story would be as sacrilegious as saying that Superman’s world didn’t explode or Bruce Wayne’s parents weren’t murdered when he was a boy. In fact, I would argue that it’s even worse, because the representation embedded in Wonder Woman’s WWII connection is based in reality (sorry, Krypton and Mr. and Mrs. Wayne, but you simply are not real). Her role in WWII was emblematic of the real roles of all the women who served, who similarly stepped out of the familiarity of their previous lives to serve a greater purpose, even while facing opposition from the very men they were trying to help…and in so doing, learned more about the depths of their own strength. This wasn’t the case with WWI. It makes no sense to now change Wonder Woman’s storyline for this new movie. The only reason that I can assume why they really made the change? Because Captain America is associated with WWII. Well, so what? Just because everyone dragged their feet on greenlighting a Wonder Woman movie until after Captain Übermensch hit the big screen, that doesn’t mean that you have to rewrite one of the most important aspects of Wonder Woman’s introduction to the human race.

Changing Wonder Woman’s association with the war that helped women open doors that previously showed no signs of budging and changing her birth origin are moves made by people who fail to see the importance these elements have to feminism itself. There was a reason she was on the cover of the inaugural issue of Ms. magazine, FFS.

Then again, I guess feminism doesn’t sell movie tickets. Or comic books.

I can see from the reviews I’ve read of Azzarello and Chiang’s first novel that most people loved it. Most were happy that Azzarello had finally brought some action to Wonder Woman’s world. I’m not most people. All this collection did was make me sad that Wonder Woman was altered so un-impressively. Same feeling I have about the screenwriters altering her history for the movie.

Final Verdict: I will hold on to this volume, but I don’t really see myself buying any further collections. I’m sorry, Wonder Woman, but I need someone else to take over your story before I can give you another go.

Cravenous BookBin Bonus: Fountain Society

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I didn’t think that I was going to make it through this book in time. I’ve already finished watching both the final movie for my Cravenous series as well as its director’s commentary, and I’ve started working on that post. However, I also knew that I wanted to get his one novel into the mix, too, before we finally (and sadly, for me at least) bring Cravenous to a close.

Mind you, Craven also wrote a 5-issue comics series with Steve Niles back in 2014. Inspired by the sudden idea of “a werewolf, a vampire, and a zombie walk into a bar…,” Craven created Coming of Rage around the notion of these three horror stalwarts suddenly thrown together and the hilarity that would thus ensue. He also wrote the introduction to the very recently released Never Sleep Again, touted as “the ultimate chronicle of one of the most important horror films of the 20th century.”

I’m toying with the idea of downloading the comics (let’s face it; I probably will…even though I wish they would release them in hardcopy as well), and I do have Never Sleep Again already in line for reading this year (I pre-ordered that shizz the first day I could), but that’s not why we’re here today. Instead, we’re here to discuss Craven’s one and only original novel, Fountain Society.

Right off the bat? It’s not horror. It’s far more science fiction-cum-military thriller. Think The Island meets Enemy of the State (kind of; I’m sure there’s a better more military thriller comparison I could make here if I were more familiar with military thrillers). The quick rundown is that the Fountain Society is a secret project, funded, protected, and supervised by the military, in which Dr. Frederick Wolfe has successfully cloned several high-level scientists who have contributed some of the military’s most successful (read: most horrifying) wartime weaponry. One of these is physicist Peter Jance, who is working on a weapon, code name “The Hammer,” that has the potential to obliterate all life within its focused range. However, Jance also is dying of pancreatic cancer. Fearing that he might die before he completes his work, Wolfe sends the snipers to collect Jance’s clone, a man named Hans Brinkman, who has been living his life as if it were his to live (the nerve!). The military fakes Brinkman’s death, brings him to Wolfe, who scoops his head clean and transfers Jance’s brain into Brinkman’s body, thanks to a super-duper glue created by, of all people, Jance’s wife Beatrice.

What happens then? Well, there’s someone from Brinkman’s life who doesn’t believe he’s actually dead, and there’s someone else who decides to give her enough clues to keep her investigating. And then there are Beatrice’s growing moral concerns over what Wolfe is doing and Peter’s confusion over retaining some form of cellular memory from Hans that causes quite a bit of concern for him and those watching him. I’m not surprised at all by this element of the novel, since Craven always toyed with these concepts in several of his movies. He apparently loved to ponder ideas about us as more than just our thoughts but as something far deeper and far less understood.

There are other things going on with this story, but what would be the fun of me telling you everything? Instead, what about this: Is it a good story? Is it well-written? For the latter question, absolutely. Craven was a trained writer and a well-read intellectual soul. He wouldn’t have given anything less than his best for this novel, and that’s precisely what we get as readers. As for the former question…yes. To a point. The overarching themes aren’t necessarily original. Craven’s spin on the tropes bring a welcome freshness and intrigue into the mix, keeping the story rolling along at a captivating enough pace. I also have to say that, for some concepts that still feel intrinsically implausible (even with all the medical advances we’ve seen since Craven wrote this book in 1999), Craven sells it with strong yet subtle ways. His linguistic acumen was totally on-point throughout this tale, making it read less like fiction and more like an account of actual events. Would we expect anything less from the man who convinced us that our nightmares could actually kill us?

Final Verdict: I don’t really think this section is necessary, do you? Of course I’m keeping this book.