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Archive for August, 2011

Reviewed By: Evelyn Finch

Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester
Artists: Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica, Allan Goldman, Daniel HDR, Alex Garner (collection cover art)
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $22.99 USA
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

J. Michael Straczynski imagined a different kind of Superman in his outstanding re-telling of the Man of Steel’s story with Superman One Earth and having heard that he had set his sights on Wonder Woman we can only imagine what he had in store for the heroic Amazon. As it turned out, Volume One of Wonder Woman: Odyssey gives us a familiar yet different kind of Wonder Woman whose life has taken a very interesting alternate path.

Something is most definitely off as the hero we have come to know as Wonder Woman has her hands full with something other than her battle against injustice. You see, she is on the run from a group of armed troopers looking to end her life as well as every other Amazon. Younger and more rebellious, Princess Diana only knows that they are a persistent bunch that will not rest until every Amazon is dead … just like her mother. The remaining Amazons left to watch over her have taken to the sewers and found safe houses to keep her safe.

Unfortunately, for the other Amazons, their Princess will not sit still and hide from the world. She means to head out and face the threat since the Princess is also a powerful force to be reckoned with despite the fact that her full powers have yet to surface. She is told that in another alternate reality she could even take to the skies and fly. This is part of the reason why she is so determined to go out and find out exactly what happened to Paradise, its people and her mother.

The Princess turns to the woman under the bridge known as the Oracle who tells her the truth about what happened the day a military squad found its way to the beautiful world without men. They had come with machine guns, explosives and vehicles, slaughtering Amazon warriors. Their leader, a man who looks as if he was burnt from head to toe then brought back to life, faces off against the Queen who sent her trusted warriors to lead her only child out to safety. This monster holds a very familiar item … one that we have always known Wonder Woman to have with her. In the end, the Queen makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect what is dear to her.

Now, the remaining Amazons have scattered while others have followed their fallen Queen’s last orders to protect the Princess. This, as it turns out, wasn’t an easy feat since Diana – even as a child – would run away and looks for adventure on her own. We can see that even in this alternate history she still stands up for injustice to defend those who cannot fight back. These are the signs that she is still destined to be a hero either way.

Having learned the truth about her people as well as herself, the Princess sets out to trail the men that wish to slaughter each and everyone of them. She hitches a ride on a plane that would take her to Turkey where this organization finally found the location of a group of Amazons that were hiding out in a hidden temple. The Princess arrives in time to dish out some hurt and the help her sisters evacuate the temple. Armed with a shield with the likeness of her mother, the warrior Princess fights back and helps her sisters out into the desert where Diana finds death and the mythological creatures of her world.

Diana also faces off against the burnt man who was responsible for her mother’s death and reclaims what was originally an artifact that belonged to her world. It is back in her home that Diana looks for the real culprits behind the burnt man and his men. As it turns out, the threat is familiar to the Amazons and their involvement might very well explain the reason behind this alternate history. The clues all fit but Diana does not know what to make of a few dolls made out in her likeness that point to the Wonder Woman we all know.

The enemy sends mythological creatures to hunt Princess Diana down as she turns to her trusted circle of Amazons to help her. There’s more to the villains than meets the eye as they sent forth female warriors that could only be former Amazon warriors. This fight is far from over and Princess Diana’s quest to put right all that is wrong about her world.

I have to say that I really like Jim Lee’s modernized take on her outfit that is more grittier to fit her slightly darker personality. There’s still a sexiness to this young Wonder Woman and the artists involved in this graphic novel make it work. Straczynski does a brilliant job of weaving a story that takes everything we’ve ever known about Wonder Woman and changes it just enough to make her fascinating and still just as iconic.

Volume 2 of Wonder Woman: Odyssey is a brave step in a different direction and it works just perfectly in a story that will certainly please Wonder Woman fans. With an alternate history comes a unique twist in a familiar story and a character who is still a hero of mythological proportions. It’s also one hell of an entertaining story that will certainly make you look forward to Volume 2.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
The world is not what it seems as the Amazons of Paradise find themselves in hiding after a brutal attack has left their home in ruins and their Queen burned in the fires of war. It is the young and rebellious Princess Diana who sets out to find the truth behind who wants all the Amazons wiped out and how to stop them. Meanwhile, she discovers that something is wrong and that there is the life of a superhero that should have been but wasn’t.

ART: A+
With Jim Lee behind this Wonder Woman’s new redesigned costume and Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica, Allan Goldman and Daniel HDR handling the artwork, you are in for a visual treat. This is a younger and grittier Princess Diana and it shows.

OVERALL: A+
A bold new direction for a powerful iconic figure, Volume 1 of Wonder Woman: Odyssey is nothing short of impressive and unique. Before the Flashpoint event made us see the woman of wonder in a different way, J. Michael Straczynski and crew gave us a unique Wonder Woman that gives this hero a refreshingly modern and interesting twist. If you’re a fan of Wonder Woman you do not want to miss this first volume.

Review copy provided by DC Comics

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Reviewed By: Ian Mintz

Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Matteo Casali
Artist: Kristian Donaldson, Lee Bermejo (Cover)
Colorist: None (Black and White)
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 USA
Rating: Mature
Release Date: August 23, 2011

In the long history of this world, there is no shortage of explosive bursts of violence that are always the same no matter what era, location or participants. There’s always a motive behind killing whether it’s politics, religion or money and – as we can see from 99 Days – a young black LAPD Detective will find himself working on a case that will bring him back to a world of violence that is all too familiar to him.

Detective Antoine Davis Boyd is haunted by his dreams of a boy in Rwanda about to commit an atrocious act that no child should make and it is clear that Boyd cannot shake the image from his mind. Still, he’s the kind of man that pushes on despite the nightmares. Then again, he is a Detective in Los Angeles and there’s no shortage of nightmares in the city of angels. Boyd and his sexy Latin partner, Valeria Torres, are called to a home in South Central that is the scene of the gruesome murder a young woman.

Boyd quickly identifies the weapon used to hack the poor woman to death and that fact opens up psychological wounds in the man as bits of his childhood begins to surface little by little. The murder of this woman in South Central quickly becomes big news and the killer is now being dubbed as the “Machete Murderer” as both Torres and Boyd are given the job to bring the killer to justice.

The trouble is that their first good lead has Los Angeles’ two rival black gangs (the Bloods and the Crips) rekindling the flame that would have them fighting each another again. You see, the victim had an amorous relationship with a member of the Bloods behind the back of one of the Crips’ leader, Caliphano. They talk to the Blood and it’s Boyd’s opinion that the young gangster had nothing to do with the killing. In fact, they go see Caliphano as well and it’s clear that he didn’t kill her either.

Meanwhile, the young Detective finds that he is slowly losing control … a fact that troubles his partner who is very patient with him. Boyd finds himself haunted by his past in 1994 Rwanda as he watched is family day by his own Hutu people. He is suddenly turned into a child soldier as he is pushed into slaughtering Tutsi men, women and children. One ghost continuously haunts him and that is of a boy killed by a machete, hence one of the reasons he recognizes what that blade is capable of doing to a human body.

When a second body surfaces, the detectives look into the murder of a drug dealer that leads them to a suspect that Boyd begins to threaten. It’s becoming clear to Torres that something is eating away at her partner who she not only respects but also has strong feelings for the man despite the fact that she’s married and has children.

Throughout the course of the investigation, however, both detectives learn that the housing market in South Central is turning a profit now that the Machete Killer has scared off a few folks living in the area. It’s the slimy rich owner of Valiant Ltd. who is making a killing off of the murders as well as the gang violence that is becoming so out of control that there are riots in the streets and deaths on both sides as well as the police department.

Yet there is a line that the murderer and the greedy real estate mogul have crossed in Detective Boyd’s mind and the case is beginning to change him. Even when he does catch up to the killer, his past makes him see no difference between what went on in Rwanda and what is going on now in Los Angeles. The painful thing is that just like more people cared about the suicide of Kurt Cobain than the genocide in Rwanda, nobody is caring that black people are killing black people thanks to somebody else’s personal agenda.

Oh, there’s more to the mystery but the real shocker is what happens in the end as we witness the change in the young detective. We witness more of his past and the things he was most ashamed of as he followed orders. Matteo Casali tells two intersecting stories that come together in a startling manner and Kristian Donaldson compliments the story with his expressive artwork.

What we have in 99 Days is a crime story that paints a very interesting picture of two horrifying days that makes a man sees no difference between these events. Casali and Donaldson tell a very compelling story of a man whose past has finally caught up with him as he descends further into dark where the memories that haunt him make him see that the evil that men do never really changes. You really should buy this book, crime comic fans.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
When the body of a black woman in South Central, Los Angeles is discovered all hacked up, it’s Detective Antoine Boyd who recognizes the only type of weapon capable of leaving a body like that. The case suddenly becomes personal for Boyd as his horrific childhood in Rwanda suddenly comes back to haunt him. As the streets of Los Angeles burns in the fire of gang violence, both Boyd and his partner search for the killer and the truth behind these killings.

ART: A
Kristian Donaldson is an Eisner-nominated artist for a good reason and we can see it in this series, although I personally feel that the black-and-white keeps the art from being more spectacular. Still, this is great stuff and exactly what we can expect from an artist of Donaldson’s caliber.

OVERALL: A
A gripping crime story with all the right elements that make up a modern noir comic, 99 Days takes us through two horrific worlds of violence that are motivated by the same thing … greed. Watching Detective Davis descend deeper into the darkness will not fail to keep you reading from start to shocking finish. Consider this another Must Have title in the Vertigo Crime series.

Review copy provided by Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)

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