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The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 7/8/9

New Wonder Woman and Secret Six, musty old Books of Magic, and September Solicitations.

New Wonder Woman and Secret Six, musty old Books of Magic, and September Solicitations.


DC Comics September Solicitations

Not much of note. Seems like most books are mid-storyline in September.

Superman: Secret Origin

“A 6-issue event that spells out the definitive origin of Superman for the 21st century.” Just what he needed. Where’s Superman’s birth fall these days? The 70’s? Can’t have him getting too old, and we’re no longer allowed to avoid pop culture references that will necessitate another “definitive origin for the 21st century” in a few years. It’s Johns and Frank and Superman, so it’ll sell and won’t be entirely awful, but it is entirely superfluous.

Red Circle/Archie Characters

Huh. They’re really launching these at $4? I can’t see that working. Arguably, if you’re going to bother paying for a lot of old characters, a definite, confident plan is exactly what you need to have. The question is, is there any reason for DC to be confident here? There’ll be the four-issue quasi-miniseries by J. Michael Straczynski, a so-called Event made up of linked one-shots, to kick things off, and that’s supposed to generate enough interest to keep these afloat. Like Milestone, Archie’s characters are being fully integrated into the DCU proper. That helps, but also makes it harder to justify keeping the series going if it tanks.

The Shield – Eric Trautmann writing, Marco Rudy and Mick Gray on art. Not exactly big names; they might be extremely talented, but no one’s rushing out to buy their work. With one exception, it’s the same across the board on these two titles, with JMS conspicuously absent (he’s writing The Brave and the Bold instead). Nice covers, though. The backup features Inferno, written by Brandon Jerwa with art by Greg Scott.

The Web – Angela Robinson writes, Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta draw the main feature. John Rozum writes Hangman in the backup, with art by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz. I have to wonder if Sienkiewicz is doing more than inking. If so, that’s the strongest talent-related reason I see to pick either of these up. It looks like DC grabbed whoever wasn’t working on something more important; I’d never seen some of these names before.

I don’t know how much more it costs to print a forty page comic than a thirty-two pager (thirty and twenty-two story pages, respectively). Let’s assume it’s negligible. In that case, every three copies of a $4 comic earn DC as much as four copies of a $3 comic. If you consider 20k monthly sales adequate for a normal title, 15k would suffice for these. That still means you need titles relying wholly on brand strength to do better than R.E.B.E.L.S., Vigilante, or Jonah Hex. I expect that while they would sell worse, these would survive longer as Wildstorm titles. Not that they or anything else should be added to the Wildstorm stable. If you’re going to add these characters to your universe, best to go all the way. Still, ongoings? $4 ongoings? Really?

To be fair, this is better than launching four titles at $3. If there’s a significant market for the Archie heroes, they probably like all four heroes about equally. Or, one hopes, they like the two titular heroes twice as much as the backups.


Another bizarre choice. I could see a miniseries, but they expect there to be an audience for Magog month in and month out? DC and Marvel both need to trim the fat, yet they keep launching more and more series with little hope of success. Keith Giffen and Howard Porter lend credibility to this one, but Giffen’s hardly known for setting the sales charts afire. At least it’s only $3.

Red Tornado

More reasonably, this is a six-issue mini. Makes me wonder if I’m missing something. Is Magog, thanks to Justice Society, riding a bigger wave of buzz right now than Red Tornado, thanks to Justice League? Seems unlikely.

Solomon Grundy

The final issue is nominally a Blackest Night tie-in and could well be the best-selling of the lot. #1 only moved 23k, and it’s been all downhill from there.

Teen Titans

Another new “ongoing” writer. This time it’s Felicia D. Henderson, best known for executive producing Fringe. She wrote one episode of that, four for Gossip Girl and a total of twenty other episodes spread across seven shows in twelve years. That’s how much DC value the Titans brand these days. I pity their fans.

Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian

Now here’s a move I approve of, assuming the part about this collecting issues #20-27 is a misprint. Seeing as #20-25 are already collected in Ends of the Earth, it must be. This will have #26-33. Now for the good part: the hardcover and trade are being released simultaneously in November. Ideally, you’d want a collection two months after the last issue collected ships, which puts this about three months late, but it’s progress. Um, sort of. No sign of an Ends of the Earth trade.

But! Rise of the Olympian is only $25 in HC and $15 in TPB. For eight issues. That’s pretty sweet. Or a desperate response to the poor sales of prior collections. I’m trying to focus on the positives, I am.

Ooh, look! Catman’s in the Batman: Brave and the Bold comic, and what’s this, he’s teaming up with Batman? Cool beans!

Sweet Tooth

Another new Vertigo series, another $1 #1. Unwritten #1 sold just under 27k and got a second printing, so that seems to be working out OK for them.


Employee’s Pick

Books of Magic 32

[DC] Books of Magic Vol. 2 #27-32
Writer: John Ney Rieber
Artists: Peter Gross (issues 27-30), Peter Snejbjerg (issues 29-32)

Probably my least favorite arc in Rieber’s run, the twelve part Rites of Passage. Tim’s run off to America, where he meets up with his old succubus friend, Leah. Molly manages to get whisked off to Faerie, where she’s supposed to prove she’s a better fool than the Amadan.

Tim and Leah run into Cupid, who shoots them with… chocolate bullets. You had to be there. Tim’s unaffected, thanks to his butterfly tattoo, the sinister power of which is revealed later on. Leah already had designs on Tim, though it appears Cupid’s interference magnified them. She sets to doing what she does best, mostly met by obliviousness on Tim’s part.

full of wack

Molly encounters a far fiercer foe, the Faerie Queen Titania. Given to petty jealousies, Titania soon finds reason to inflict a terrible curse upon Molly, whose innocence can’t save her from Faerie’s fickle laws. Tricked into eating food native to Faerie, Molly is forever barred from setting foot on Earth again. Also, she tends to set things on fire. Rather inconvenient.

wrapping with Q

Then there’s some complicated business with a mermaid. Something about unimaginative types wrecking a place of dreams and magic with their lameo movies. And a less than serious bit where Yin and Yang are quarrelsome fish. It all goes very badly for Leah, while Tim is pointedly useless. Rieber starts dropping hints about The Other, who is supposed to teach The Opener, Tim, about his powers. It’s implied that Molly might be this Other, but that leads nowhere.

New-Type Books

Wonder Woman 33

[DC] Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #33
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti


Well, that was… Huh.

I usually try to keep spoilers out of my reviews. There are some here and there, and at times it’s necessary to refer to events from earlier issues with the assumption that you’ve read those issues. With this issue, I believe it best to dive in, to examine everything with no moratorium.

This is the conclusion to Rise of the Olympian, the eighth of eight parts. Much happens. Most of the pages are taken up by action. Ares moves against both the Amazons and the Manazons with an army of sea monsters. The Olympian is apparently the Greek hero Achilles. There’s no mention of his weak spot, but his words reveal that he’d lived before Zeus “created” him. The supposed rivalry with Wonder Woman and the Olympian being her opposite number seem to only exist in Zeus’ mind and the solicit text. Achilles is a good guy, and it isn’t long before he and Diana are more or less on the same side.

One chop. It’s so absurd it has to be misdirection. Seeing that the endless horde of sea monsters cannot be overcome, Wonder Woman takes the fight to Ares. And kills him in one hit, slicing through his helmet with an axe. No preamble, no resistance, and no one questions his death. Should’ve done that to Zeus.

For his part, Zeus continues to be bonkers. I can’t tell how much of Greg Rucka’s run is still in continuity. The worst part, killing the fake Max Lord, is all that comes up. The modernized Greek gods look and act differently, the human supporting cast are never mentioned, and only Phillipus has shown up on the Amazon side. I realize Simone’s going to use whichever characters she wants, and she’s chosen well, but I can’t help missing Rucka’s bunch. More than anything, the gods leave me scratching my head. Them and the way people treat them.

After the battle, Zeus reiterates his previously stated aim to retire the Amazons, Wondy included. And oh by the way I killed your patron god aren’t you glad? So Wondy quits, as you do. She put up with a lot of crap from Rucka’s Athena, but Athena was never crazy evil. You could respect her if you disagreed with her, and she was usually right in the end. Zeus is clearly wrong, as he tends to be. His characterization isn’t far off, except that if this is the same Zeus Rucka used, he should’ve learned from the last time he opposed Wonder Woman. In that case, Wondy helped Athena overthrow him as Allfather of Olympus. If anyone recalls that happening, they don’t say. I think Hippolyta was dead at the time, which would account for her siding with Zeus against her own daughter. I guess. At the very least, it’s disappointing. Polly had been so cool up till now.

So, Diana’s not an Amazon now. Yeah… One thing I can say about this arc that I couldn’t about the others is that it changes Wondy’s status quo. It’ll likely blow over in time and she’ll go back to visiting her galpals and using Hera’s name as an oath, but this is a change, however temporary. Words have frequently claimed that Wondy’s being corrupted, but they couldn’t match that with actions. Here we have actions. Diana rejects her gods and stalks off the island.

This is one of the hardest stories to read, as surely as it is to write. The hero’s right. She knows it, we know it. But the world is arrayed against her. Her closest friends turn against her, leaving her to stand alone. Allies who wouldn’t choose the other side might not be in any shape to help her, or they could be driven away and harmful by their absence.

I’m not sure what to think. With an eight issue story, you’d like more closure. The conflict ends anticlimactically, and now we have all these new questions. I’m glad there’ll be plenty to cover in upcoming issues, but maybe we could address a few of the lingering subplots before adding more? Most of the cast are question marks now in one way or another. Either their status or their relationship with Diana is in question. Will they live? Will they die? Will they hug?

Secret Six 11

[DC] Secret Six Vol. 4 #11
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Nicola Scott

To paraphrase Scandal, thank all the gods there are for this. Simone and Scott continue to produce one of, if not the best comic on the racks each month. This issue is less focused than the last, with face time spread more evenly among the Six and a direct, if preposterous, explanation of the plot. This means their employers, this arc’s group of worse-than-the-Six villains, are largely pushed to the side.

Also, Artemis is here. Just when you’re thinking she’d be more at home in Wonder Woman, where she has yet to appear in Simone’s run, Wondy shows up. Yes, it’s another of those unannounced quasi-crossovers Simone loves to do. There’s no mention of it in Wonder Woman and likely won’t be. You’re not forced to buy any other comics to understand it. Still, it’s no coincidence that the writer of both books is bringing in characters from the other, and as with the Six’s turn in Birds of Prey, this could end up essential reading for Wonder Fans. If nothing else, it’s a great comic, and next issue, which will have much more Wondy, figures to be as good. You don’t have to be a character completist to see the appeal; anyone reading Wonder Woman would be well-advised to pick up the next couple issues at least, or the whole story arc. But then, anyone period would be well-advised to pick the whole series up, and Wondy’s cameo is the least of the reasons to buy this particular issue.

You’d think the infighting would get old. For a moment, I was put off when the team split in half trying to kill each other again, but that’s their dynamic, and it’s well justified within the story. You have to be pretty damn evil/amoral to not have second thoughts about working for slavers. Some of the Six are, or want to believe they’re OK with it, so they fight. It’s possible I’ll tire of them making up afterwards. As willing as they can be to kill, betray and lie to each other, I have to wonder what their thresholds are. It was too much for Mad Hatter, but he’s more imbalanced than any of the current members. Perhaps it’s gotten to be expected. Deadshot’s great to have on your side, but he simply isn’t going to be there all the time. Some days, he’ll be shooting you in the back. Ragdoll is barely tolerated when he isn’t wrapped around a teammate like a python, but he’d never leave of his own will and I can’t see the others snapping and tossing him out. They’re a family. An extremely dysfunctional, perverted, clothing optional family.

I think I’d like Jeannette more if she weren’t Jeannette. Stripped of the qualities that make her unique – her hairstyle, her history, her peculiar lifestyle – she seems like an OK person. But then she’d be a cipher, wouldn’t she? It’s no good having everyone fit into a box, yet I fear I won’t like her unless she does. Whether that’s a failing of mine or she isn’t a good character, I’m not yet sure. We learn this issue that she has history with Amazons, Artemis in particular. So she’s one of those characters. Mysterious past, connections to established characters that were never mentioned before because they never existed. It’s no surprise at this point – she’s been alive too long not to have run into someone – but this sort of character can get very grating very quickly. So far, she isn’t. The only thing bugging me about her connection to Artemis is that it could be bad. That seems to be one third of the character, though. There’s her design and quirks, her behavior, and her history. The first, aside from Insignificus, I hate. I generally like the second; she fights well, and her and Lawton make a cute couple. The third is a bunch of stuff that’s iffy now and seems likely to sour later.

Simone seems to be trying to singlehandedly make up for the dearth of strong female characters in comics. That’s not a complaint. This issue features Scandal, Jeannette, Artemis, Wonder Woman, and a rather viscious Lara Croft lookalike on the baddies’ side. The last two don’t do anything, and Artemis spends most of the issue tied up, but that’s a formidable lineup. Between this, the previous issue, and Wonder Woman, Simone’s shown that all five are to be feared. It’s a shame they can’t all fight on the same side, or appear in other books without being diminished. Next issue we’ll have the Six’ second favorite thing to do, after fighting each other, fighting superheroes in a twist on the old “misunderstanding leads to two heroes fighting” plot. They’re after the same things, except not, and everyone’s favorite anti-villains play poorly with bonafide heroes.

Back Issues



Still nothing. It’s probably going to be the three reviews for a while yet.


Books of Magic – Sad.
Wonder Woman – That’s it, eh? Disappointing.
Secret Six – Fan service for everyone! No shirt, no shoes, no complaints.

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