LAST WEEK’S COMICS TODAY VOL 11
Welcome back everyone to another installment of LAST WEEK’S COMICS TODAY! In this epic installment we’ve got the final countdown leading up an epic battle between the Amazons and the forces of darkness in WONDER WOMAN and even more intergalactic family drama in the pages of SAGA. Plus an important but unconventional Superwoman of the Week!
So hang onto your butts True Believers, because here we go!
A quick warning, there will be SPOILERS for the books, so if you have the same irrational fear of spoilers that keeps you on an Internet blackout for days if you’ve missed an episode of ORPHAN BLACK like I do, then finish up your books and come on back when you’re ready.
Then on with the show!
SAGA #21 (IMAGE)
W/ Brian K. Vaughn
A/ Fiona Staples
So that last issue of SAGA was pretty crazy, huh?
Well nothing stops this crazy train.
We get even more family drama drummed up in the first few pages of this issue – Alana is resorting to drugs to deal with long hours at a job she hates, and Marko’s relationship with their daughter’s babysitter becomes just a little bit cozier than it was last issue, as they both lament about how often their spouses are away. I really like the teasing of some trouble in paradise between Alana and Marko, there’s a scene later in this issue when they finally get back together after a long time away that’s really sweet, but I hope it’s not the end of these teases, because this family drama is one of the most interesting aspects of the story right now. It’s also been really interesting to see them deal with the relative normalcy of everyday life now that they’re not on the run and the most wanted fugitives in the system, showing it’s some times just as hard to deal with a ‘normal’ life as it is being wrapped up in some grand galactic war.
The tumult between Alana and Marko isn’t the only focus of this issue either – the hunt is on for the Murderous Janitor who slayed Princess Robot and kidnapped her newborn on at the end of the last issue. I might have missed if it was revelaed who this guy actually is, because he’s way more than just an average custodial worker. He lays waste to a pair of Robot soldiers and steals a royal spaceship, whisking himself and the young prince away.
Meanwhile the elder Prince Robot IV, is still sequestering himself away on Sextillion (you can probably guess what kind of planet this), shirking his responsibilities to his now deceased wife and child. He finds out from the untimely death of his wife and theft of his child, pretty much loses it, killing the proprietor of Sextillion and then sets off himself to find his father to set everything right.
This issue wasn’t quite as wild as the last one, but it was still pretty great. Like I said before, the family drama not just between Alana and Marko, but now the Robot clan as well is one of the main reasons SAGA separates itself from the average space opera.
One thing that’s been missing since the time jump after Issue 18 is The Will and his supporting cast (LYING CAT!). I do hope they show up sometime in the near future, as he been one of my favorite characters since the beginning of the series. He’s got his own family dynamic as well with the aforementioned Lying Cat and his adopted daughter he freed from slavery on Sextillion.
Again – Fiona Staples brings it on the art side – she’s awesome, but you already knew that.
WONDER WOMAN #33 (DC)
W/ Brian Azzerello
A/ Cliff Chiang
We careening to the end of Azzarello’s epic run on WONDER WOMAN and the stakes have been amped up to ELEVEN. Diana is held prison by the First Born, her wicked step-brother and new Lord of Olympus. He’s beset his hordes of man-beast monstrosities upon Paradise Island to destroy the Amazons once and for all.
The remaining gods, both those of who survived the scouring of Olympus plus Orion of the New Gods, throw their lot behind the Amazons in hopes to defeat the First Born’s army. The majority of this issue is the siege of Paradise Island, while Diana watched on from First Born’s lair on Olympus. Death and destruction abound as the Amazonian and First Bornian forces are cut down, including a couple of major characters.
But in all of this action there are some superb character moments in this issue as well. First is when Orion is talking trash to the Amazonian general Aleka, saying that he should be the one in charge of their army. Hera takes acception to this, grabbing him by the throat and telling him ‘”These women are sacred to me, and this is their island.” The development of Hera from this pompous, vain goddess to woman who cares about her family and wants to do right by them has been one of the one of the highlights of this series. The aforementioned Aleka also has an awesome rallying speech for her Amazon sisters in this issue as rallying them to battle against this wicked legion.
Throughout battle, we cut back to Diana and the First Born as he taunts her while he forces her to watch her sisters fight and die. He asks if it pains her to see her friends and allies die fight for her cause and she is going to watch them all bathe in their own blood. She’s not shamed, not pained, but proud of them fighting for what they belive in and says for the Amazons it is an honor to die in field of battle. She says her name is Diana and no matter what he does to her or her allies, she will never turn her back on what makes her Diana.
This issue is a great showcase of what makes Wonder Woman such an icon. Even though she’s not a part of the battle proper she still leads with dignity, strength and grace. She doesn’t need to be on the battlefield with her allies to inspire them, her presence is with them. She knows it and they know it.
Chiang is back on art for these final issues and his return is very much welcome. The often visceral, ragged quality of his pencils works wonders (lol) here with all of the chaos and bloodshed. Great character work in this issue as well, his First Born is monsterous and formidable, a truly horrific figure, his body still horribly burned and disfigured now adorn with armor of bones and a cloak of veins. Diana is stoic and regal in these pages, even in the face of the tragedies befalling her friends and family.
This week’s Superwoman of the Week is LUCY – the titular star of the film which took the top spot at US box offices last weekend.
While not a straight-up superhero film, it is very much like an origin story of an average person gaining superhuman abilities. So close enough. From what I’ve read it’s actually not that great of a movie (I’ll probably check it out on video because the end is apparently totally bonkers in an AKIRA-esque fashion), but that’s not really important in this context.
What is really important is a SFF action film with a female lead won the weekend over a another debut action flick with a male lead in HERCULES, starring one of the most popular and highest grossing actors in Hollywood, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
And who plays Lucy in the film? None other than Scarlett Johansson, who we all know and love as Black Widow in the MCU films. I thought her performance in WINTER SOLDIER this past spring was really wonderful and fleshed out her character from much more the ‘sexy kick-ass spy’ the character has been portrayed as in IRON MAN and AVENGERS. She brought a lot of humor and emotion to the role, and as I was walking out of the theater I couldn’t help but think:
“I really want to see a Black Widow solo movie now.”
I was really disappointed there was no announcement of a BLACK WIDOW or CAPTAIN MARVEL (this is a must and I really hope the character of Carol Danvers is at least introduced in an upcoming film) movie at SDCC this year – thought for sure either was going to be the next Phase 3 film for Marvel. These announcements may still come (I expect in the next year or so), but the strong showing of LUCY this weekend lends even more credence to the argument a female fronted superhero film can support itself and make bank.
If a female led movie with a premise as dopey as LUCY (woman uses more than 10 percent of brain and thus can control time and space) can make $44 million in a weekend, there’s no reason why one with a character from an established and exceedingly popular property can’t make even more.
Make it happen Mahvel.