I’m Moving! (Well, my blog is)

Hello all!

After my last post, I officially completed my second goal, having watched every theatrically released Disney animated film in order of release.  That, coupled with having finished the my DC continuity adventure earlier this year makes this feel like I’ve rounded out what I set out to accomplish with this site.

That being said, I am NOT giving up blogging.  I definitely have plenty more to say, and I genuinely enjoy sharing my thoughts.  I’ve given it a lot of thought though, and I decided I don’t want to blog under the title Holy Comics, Batman! any longer.  Part of it is due to the ever-constant (and possibly irrational) fear that I will one day be hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit for naming the site after Batman.  No, I have no data to back up this fear, and I’m not making money off the site so it’s probably not even an issue. Still, it’s a concern I don’t need.  The other issue I have with the title is that this blog started off as strictly comics-related.  I’ve branched out a bit with my Disney film reviews, but every time I posted one of those it felt untrue to what this site was originally intended to be.  I wanted a site where I could continue to write about comics, but could also write about movies, books, tv shows – really anything that strikes my fancy.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to call my new blog. I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself with anything too specific, but I also wanted it to be something fun that reflected who I am. With that in mind, Hippo Planet was born.

Okay yes, some explanation may be required as to why that name was chosen. Simply put, I have this odd affinity for hippos, and they seemed like they’d be a cute mascot of sorts for the blog.  Also, as Mistah J and I were bantering ideas back and forth and “Hippo Planet” was mentioned, I immediately got the “Captain Planet” theme song stuck in my head, and started making up a parody version about hippos.  I took this as a good sign and just ran with it.  The title doesn’t mean much of anything, honestly, but I sort of like that. There are plenty of sites out there with nonsense names, and it allows me the freedom to fill the blog with anything I want (hippos or otherwise).  I’ll still link back to this site on the new blog, with an “Archives” section that will refer back to the writing I’ve done here over the past year and a half. I can’t have people thinking I’m a blogging newbie, after all 😉

Nothing else about my posting or writing will change moving forward. I’ll just be blogging under a new title, and sometimes about topics outside of the comics world.  I’ll still be following all of the same blogs I follow now, and hope you’ll join in following my newest endeavor as well. I’m still puttering around with the layout and design of the site, but I was too excited to wait until it was 100% ready to launch. I’m impatient like that 🙂

If you head on over to Hippo Planet, you’ll see that the site is up and running, and my first post is already published.  Check there for all future updates/blog posts.

Hope to see you there!

-Jess

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Update! (Finally)

Hello all! (Er…all three of you who actually read this.)

It’s been a while, and since I’m off today and have officially exhausted all other forms of distraction, it felt time to return for an update. It’s been a few months since my last post, mainly because I was pretty spent from blogging. I had been posting every single day for the better part of a year, writing anywhere from 500-1000+ words every single day, to the point that I just found myself hating the whole process. I took a step back and decided to just enjoy reading on its own, without having to throw my commentary on every single topic into the mix.

That being said, I’ve officially completed my mission.  That’s right, I read the entire “shelf”, all 434 trades (see here for a complete list of them).  I also went back and read many of the “New 52” issues that haven’t been collected in trade yet, so I’m finally caught up through the Wednesday before last (I’m always a week behind since I have to wait until the weekend to get my hands on Mistah J’s newest purchases.  How dare he want to read his own comics before me!)

Given that I started off with next to no knowledge about DC, I’d say I’ve come a long way.  I can still recall writing my first post about The Superman Chronicles: Volume OneThe Superman Chronicles: Volume One, which included Action Comics issue #1, the one that started it all.  That was over a year and a half ago at this point, and it still astonishes me that I stuck with it and have now completed a pretty damn comprehensive course in DC comics history.  Has anyone else ever delved into the world of comics in this way before, being introduced to the stories in continuity order? I wonder that sometimes, since it seems like a somewhat unique experience, and not something one could do without guidance (how could I have possibly even attempted it without Mistah J and his incomparable “shelf” as my guide?).  Whether it’s been done before or not, I can honestly say it’s something I never would have thought I’d ever attempt, let alone actually complete.

Of course, having read so many friggin’ comics in such a short time period, I’ve become one of those people who gets into arguments with her co-workers about the accuracy of tv show and film depictions, and how true to the source material they stay (I always win, which is nice). I’ve also become somewhat of the resident expert in my office on DC storylines, since most of my co-workers love the screen adaptations but aren’t big into reading. I’m a fan of acquiring knowledge (and may have a bit of a know-it-all side, if I’m being completely honest) so it’s nice to not only know all of these details, but to be able to put all of this reading to use in day to day life.

On top of completing “the shelf”, Mistah J and I also sat down and watched every single episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Young Justice (yes, it’s a lot).  I was a fan of BtAS as a child, but the rest I had never seen (also, just realized the acronym almost spells out “Bats” and that makes me really happy). They were all a lot of fun, and I definitely appreciated watching them with the background knowledge of the comics in mind.  There were so many references and Easter eggs that I would have undoubtedly missed out on a lot had I not been familiar with the comics.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mistah J and I also finished watching all of the animated films in Disney’s canon, having just watched Moana last weekend.

Once I completed all that, I needed a break. I was still reading comics, but only the few newly released issues each week. I took a step back and tended to my other interests outside of the DC universe, along with picking up a few new interests along the way.  I had given so much of my time to reading “the shelf” that other hobbies had been neglected, and it feels good to finally be getting back into them. I don’t regret having read “the shelf” at all, and am honestly quite proud of the accomplishment, but as with any great undertaking, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was finally done.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave this blog?  I’ve been giving it some thought lately and I don’t think I want to give up on this blog. I doubt I’ll ever return to posting quite as frequently as I did at my height (because honestly, that was just insane on my part), but I do think I’ll keep it up and use this site as an outpost for my musings on various topics, be it movies, television, comics, or anything else that comes into my mind.

A friend of mine and I have recently started watching every single Oscar Best Picture winner in order (they started in 1928, so you can do the math of what sort of undertaking that is).  We’re only a few movies in, and I’ve contemplated starting a new series about those.  I’ve also considered writing detailed posts about each episode of BtAS or one of the other animated DC series I’ve watched lately.  Basically, I’ve got lots of ideas, but haven’t landed on a single one yet.  Maybe I’ll do all of them, maybe none.  I’m biding my time until inspiration strikes, and then who knows what I’ll decide to blab blog about.

Bringing this post full-circle, I must say I’m excited for where the New 52 storylines seem to be headed. They’re slow-going, drawing out the storyline at an almost snail-like pace.  (Or, at least that’s what it feels like when you have to wait weeks for a new issue to come out. Is this what you people deal with on a regular basis?! I guess I better get used to it.)  I’m really excited for the upcoming “Button” crossover storyline between Batman and Flash, primarily because maybe we’ll finally get to see some progress with the whole Dr. Manhattan storyline. I’m loving the way they brought Watchmen into the main fold (and appreciate Mistah J having seemlessly slipped that comic into my reading list so coolly a few months ago, me none the wiser that I kinda had to read it to fully grasp the significance of this storyline).

I’m also glad to see that so many of the small details I disliked about the New 52 have since been explained and/or re-written (bye, New 52 Superman).  I’m liking the current direction DC seems to be taking with their stories, and while I know it’s impossible to say at this point whether these storylines will be a feather in DC’s proverbial cap, or a blight on their publishing record, I have a strong feeling it will lean towards the former.

Okay, I’ve blathered on long enough about not much at all.  I’ll definitely be posting again, I just don’t know when. Tomorrow, next week, next month? Whenever it is, I’ll be fine with it. I’m done forcing myself to write, and would much rather sit back and let the words come to me naturally.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read a book without pictures. I know, I’m a monster.

-Jess

DC’s New 52

For the past few weeks I’ve been neck-deep in a slew of trades from DC’s New 52 run, and as I’ve absorbed each story I’ve paused and reflected which, if any, I wanted to write about.  Lately I’ve felt that my comics posts have been a bit negative in nature, primarily due to the fact that when I dislike a comic, I tend to have more to say about it than if  I liked it.  That being said, I don’t want this blog to morph into a comics-bashing site, so I’ve decided to write a more generalized post about the overall narrative in the New 52 comics.

When I realized that the New 52 was going to be a massive reboot of the continuity, I was a little annoyed.  Again, really? Didn’t we just go through this not that long ago? Okay yes, it was a little longer for readers at the time, rather than the few months it took me to read through the trades since the last reboot.  Still, is a reboot in the storyline really necessary every few years? I had a bad taste in my mouth before I even began, fearing that DC would start rebooting all of their comics every few years, simply for the sake of trying to garner new readers.

Since beginning the New 52 comics, my feelings have been mixed, to say the least.  The individual stories themselves are good, with overall solid writing and interesting storylines.  That being said, I was really unhappy with the massive overhaul that seemed to have taken place. It felt as though nearly the entire continuity had been rewritten, with plenty of characters completely changing while others were nowhere to be found.  As I was reading, I found myself wondering, “What was the point in reading these nearly 400 trades, if they were just going to reboot everything so that none of it mattered?”  Obviously that’s a rather cynical take, and it’s not as though those stories aren’t still part of canon or play a role in the stories being told.  It just felt like I was being expected to forget what I had read, and replace it with all of this new information. If it was frustrating for me, a person who’s only been reading comics for a little over a year, I can’t begin to imagine what lifelong fans were going through.

Other than this obvious change to the larger story, one of my biggest issues was with the overall tonal shift of the comics.  Prior to the New 52, DC had struck a good balance between tone and emotion with its individual titles.  Some were dark, others were more lighthearted, but all had a variety of emotions that lent a level of realism to the stories.  With the New 52, it felt as though DC believed the only way they would get and keep readers was to be edgy and dark, regardless of the title.  Batman is edgy and dark most of the time, yes, but should a Superman comic really be the same? Or even worse, Shazam!?  Certain titles that have no place being dark have been twisted and morphed into something they’ve never been before. I’m all for allowing characters to change and evolve over time, but some of these shifts were too drastic to be believable, and they were all inevitably towards this singular tone.  It seems the days of lighter comics like I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League are gone, leaving me to wonder if the tone of the DC multiverse will ever be as varied and diverse as it once was.

That being said, I can’t completely hate the reboot.  I genuinely respect what DC was trying to do, specifically in attempting to bring a level of diversity to its characters.  Many of these characters were created 60+ years ago, and because of the time period they were created, most are white males.  This doesn’t do much to bring in a more varied readership when there’s a large group of people who can’t relate to the bulk of your characters.  DC’s attempts to modernize its characters are obvious: Earth 2’s Green Lantern is now gay, Hawkgirl is black (and completely independent, I’m happy to note; no sign of Hawkman as of yet).  Even non-hero characters have been made more original and modern; my favorite being Lana Lang, now a strong and sassy electrical engineer who dives headfirst into danger and talks back to Superman when he’s annoying her.  The diversity is noticeable, and I applaud DC for wanting to branch out with their characters and reach out to a wider audience.

Still, as I’m reading these comics I can’t help but wonder if the massive reboot was really necessary. Couldn’t more diversity have been added without adding in this whole “everything still happened, it just happened in 5 years” thing? Couldn’t they have changed characters’ races and sexual orientations without completely rewriting their backstories?  If anything I think it would have been more powerful to reveal a long-standing character as gay, rather than completely rewrite their histories.  The stories are fun and entertaining to read, but it’s difficult to keep track of what’s still part of continuity and what isn’t. I vastly prefer a multiverse where everything that’s been written up until that point, both good and bad, is acknowledged as having happened.  Readers should be rewarded for their loyalty and knowledge, not pushed aside to make way for brand new fans who know nothing about the stories. (Is it obnoxious for me to say that, having only been reading comics for a little over a year?  I’ve read nearly 400 trades in that time, so I’m choosing to say no it’s not).

It’s somewhat comforting to know that Rebirth is just around the corner.  I have no idea what all is happening in the stories right now, but I’m confident that perhaps the continuity will be rewritten again, and hopefully for the better.  Had I been reading these comics a year or two ago, before Rebirth was a thing, I would no doubt have been really angry, feeling as though the past 75+ years of comics were for nothing, and that DC was looking to rewrite nearly everything in its history.  At least I can comfort myself with knowing that there is another reboot coming up soon enough, and will hopefully correct some of these issues I have with the New-52 era comics.  In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the stories for what they are and focus less on their impact to the overall continuity.

-Jess

Shazam! Volume 1

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With DC’s 2011 “New 52” relaunch, plenty of characters and titles were revamped and “modernized” to various degrees.  There seemed to be a need to bring a sense of edginess to characters, whether they were historically edgy or not.  Truthfully, I never even thought about the implications it could have on Captain Marvel in the midst of all these changes.  i saw that Geoff Johns was writing a Captain Marvel comic, and the excitement in me took over. I was ready for some fun, old-fashioned Marvel-y goodness.

What I got was…well, definitely not that. It seems Captain Marvel didn’t scrape by unchanged in the midst of all the modernization.  The first and most notable change is his name.  Due to some legal mumbo jumbo, Marvel owns the name “Captain Marvel”, so DC had to title the original comic Shazam to avoid legal ramifications.  Apparently that led to people believing the comic title was actually the character’s name, so they just switched it and now his name is Shazam.

Understandable. I often mistakenly think Batman’s name is Detective Comics, since he’s predominantly featured in that series. *Sigh.  I refuse to accept this name change, so I will continue to refer to him as Captain Marvel because that’s his name. Also, DC coined that name more than 25 years prior to Marvel ever using it, so legalities be damned, it’s more their name than anything.

It was clear that Johns was going for a modern retelling of Billy Batson’s origin.  We still keep the “orphaned” element, but here we get to see him in foster care along with other children, including Mary and Freddy. I can appreciate the fact that Mary is not depicted here as his biological sister, lending itself to the “family is what you make of it” sentiment.  I’m sure they could always swing it back around and reveal that the two are blood relatives, but I didn’t find this change to have much of an impact on the overall story, and so I was fine with it.

What I wasn’t fine with was Billy being depicted as this obnoxious, snot-nosed punk kid who is mean to literally everyone he encounters.  Yes, he’s had a rough life. Yes, he’s been bounced around foster homes. Is that really any reason to completely change his character’s personality though?  I loved Billy’s sweetness and innocence.  It was a welcome relief to some of the more hardened, cynical heroes (looking at you, Batman).  Here, we just get the edgy, modern Billy Batson, who doesn’t even begin to resemble the Billy of older comics.

Had it been as simply as this, perhaps I could overlook the change. It could all boil down to personal preference and that would be the end of it. Sadly, that’s not the case.  Billy’s entire origin story is predicated on the fact that Billy is a pure-hearted individual, and so the wizard Shazam imbues him with powers.  Here, Billy is considered completely unworthy, and argues with Shazam that nobody is pure of heart, to which Shazam grudgingly agrees and then just gives Billy his powers.  Where’s the worthiness? Where’s the desire to do something good? For all Shazam knows, Billy could have taken the powers and become a conduit for evil.  All Shazam knew was that Billy had the potential to be both good and bad.  Those hardly seem like odds worth staking the fate of the world on.  Billy’s personality shift directly alters his entire origin, and I found it far less compelling when I didn’t believe he was actually worthy of the power he was receiving.

To be fair, I didn’t hate all of the comic.  I loved that Johns managed to sneak in references to Tawny the Tiger, and the end reveal of a future team-up between Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind was really fun.  Still, I couldn’t get past Billy’s characterization, and it wound up distracting me throughout most of the trade.

Perhaps it wasn’t Johns decision. Maybe higher ups in the company dictated how Billy should be written. Or, perhaps Johns was thinking ahead to his Justice League: Trinity War storyline, in which the concept of finding a pure-hearted individual played heavily into the plot. There, Pandora was seeking someone with a pure heart to open her box and contain the world’s evil. In a pre-New 52 universe, Billy would have been the obvious answer.  His moral compass unfailingly pointed north, and he no doubt would have been the solution to the problem.  So, maybe Johns wanted to fill in that plot hole by writing Billy as a more flawed character.  This could be a stretch, but then I wouldn’t put it past Johns to have thought that far ahead. It also helps me resign myself to how Billy’s been characterized, but only slightly. If his entire story has been changed for the sake of one storyline, I just don’t see it paying off in the long run.

The Shazam! trade was relatively brief, as Billy was still adjusting to his newfound powers.  I’m hoping he slowly gains a conscience and begins to shift to being more like his character of yore, but I have a feeling his, “Golly, gee wiz” days are over.  It’s a shame, because I found him to be such a sweet and endearing character.  Portraying him as a cynical, moody teenager feels just a little too…well, realistic for me. Is it really terrible for a comic to linger in nostalgia for a little while, allowing the reader to reminisce about simpler times, however false those memories may be?

I love most of Johns work, and having ready pretty much everything he’s written for DC (at least as far as the beginning of the New 52 so far), I don’t say that lightly.  He knows his stories and always brings a unique and interesting spin to characters. Unfortunately, I just feel he missed that mark with Captain Marvel.  Billy could have been revamped without completely changing who he is or how he responds to the world.  I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who enjoy his newer, modern characterization, but I’ll take his endearing, earnest goodness over the cynicism any day.

-Jess

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve watched a decent Disney film that The Princess and the Frog was a breath of fresh air.  After the less-than-stellar previous films the studio released, they seemed to want to return to their roots, building a huge promotional campaign around the fact that this would be a hand-drawn animated picture. Of course, that’s partially true. There are still computer generated graphics and backgrounds in the film, but the characters themselves are hand-drawn, lending a sense of classicism that has been missing from recent films.

The Princess and the Frog is loosely (very loosely) based on “The Frog Prince”. We all know the story: princess kisses frog, frog turns into handsome prince, they live happily ever after. Obviously, this would have been a pretty short movie if they stuck to the original tale, so Disney altered it quite a bit (after all, that’s sort of Disney’s M.O.).  In their version we meet Tiana, a strong-willed, driven young woman with dreams of one day opening her own restaurant. Enter Naveen, a spoiled and penniless prince who gets wrapped up with a magician who turns him into a frog.  Naveen seeks out a princess to turn him back into a prince, but instead finds Tiana. Mistaking her for a princess, they kiss, but Tiana is turned into a frog herself, leading the two to journey across Louisiana’s bayous in search of a way for them both to change back.

The premise alone is cute, but then most Disney films sound cute in theory.  What’s nice is that this one actually follows through on that cuteness, providing a fun and magically animated escape for viewers.  The animation, especially in the bayou scenes, is great, with fireflies flitting across the water and just enough magic sprinkled throughout to remind us that this is Disney.

What stood out to me most about this film was that Tiana is not a princess; she’s just a hard-working girl with a dream.  She’s not looking to get married or have someone take care of her.  Instead, she works two jobs to save up every penny she needs to make her dreams a reality.  It’s admirable, and a far better role-model for young girls than some of the earlier Disney princesses (looking at you, Aurora).

That being said,  both Mistah J and I admitted that we preferred the scenes that bookended the film; that is, the scenes where Tiana is human.  The frog portion is fun, but her human story is so much more compelling, and more about her.  As a frog she finds love and realizes there’s more to life than success, which is all well and good, but her drive towards her goal is what really gives the film heart. Not only is it a great story, but it’s so progressive by Disney standards that it can’t help but stand out.  I honestly would have preferred to watch an entire movie about Tiana working towards her restaurant opening, without any love interest being included (sorry Naveen).

All things considered, I really enjoyed this film. It’s not perfect, of course: the bad guy isn’t really fleshed out enough to feel like a real threat, and seems to just exist in the background so that the film has an antagonist.  Frankly, Naveen’s selfishness could have filled this role just as well, but I suppose we needed some explanation as to why people are turning into frogs… The Princess and the Frog is certainly a big step in the right direction for Disney’s animation.  By simply stepping back and reassessing what made them so popular in past decades, they were able to craft a film that has the perfect blend of magic and realism, hearkening back to the height of their film-making.  It’s a wonderful feeling, as though the company is returning to the classic storytelling methods of my childhood, making me excited to work my way through their newest films.

-Jess

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising

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I’m going a bit rogue, posting about comics out of continuity order, and ones I read quite a while back on top of that.  I’m taking a more lackadaisical approach to the blog, writing about whatever comic I feel like, regardless of its place in continuity. I’m still reading the comics in continuity order to keep up the overall narrative, but why limit myself to writing about everything in order? It keeps it more fun this way.

Okay, on to the comic at hand:

I really, really like Stephanie Brown as Batgirl.  Watching her begin as Spoiler, progressing to her all-t00-brief role as Robin, her death, the reveal that she was alive all along, and finally taking up the mantle of Batgirl has been quite a roller coaster.  I was hesitant when Cassandra Cain took on the role; I liked Barbara and wasn’t thrilled when Cassandra took over. Then Cassandra left and Stephanie adopted the role, which was likewise a bit troublesome.

Yes, I was a bit attached to Barbara as Batgirl, and given how violently Barbara’s role as such ended, how could I not be a bit upset that the character was moving on without her?

Stephanie’s story was the best of both worlds, with Barbara’s Oracle mentoring and helping Stephanie as she adopted her new mask.  The two shared a believable, sisterly bond, sometimes arguing and disagreeing but ultimately caring for one another and working together when it mattered most.  More than anything, both young women felt incredibly relatable and real, no easy feat when dealing with masked vigilantes.

Not only does Stephanie deal with being Batgirl, but she gets to address plenty of other issues that typical teenagers might face. Breaking up with her boyfriend (Tim Drake), wanting Batman’s approval (no doubt a substitute for her absent father): these are all realistic scenarios that readers can relate to, while still providing escapism in the form of nightly crime-fighting.  I’m a fan of this balance in stories, helping ground otherwise fantastical comics in our own reality.

Sadly, Stephanie’s tenure as Batgirl was all too brief.  There are only a few short trades collecting her run as Batgirl before New 52 hit, altering continuity and making Barbara Gordon Batgirl once again, and this is the only trade from that run collected on “the shelf”.  I haven’t come across any reference to Stephanie in the New 52 yet, either as Batgirl or otherwise, wondering if I will at all.  It’s too bad, really. Stephanie was such a great addition to the Bat family, flawed and unsure, trying to come to terms with her own identity even as she attempted to craft one for herself.  There was a humanity to her character that was all too real, and that went a long way in helping create a truly engaging, likable comic.  I’m hoping at some point down the road, perhaps Stephanie will return.  With Barbara back it seems unlikely, but I’m holding out hope that maybe she’ll come back in some capacity. She’s much dynamic to be kept out of the fray.

-Jess

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

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Amidst DC’s relaunch with the New 52, every title in their collection was restarted at issue #1, with numerous changes to continuity being established and laid forth in the ensuing comics.  Some things have changed, many remain the same, and some characters and events are as yet unknown as to how they play into this new multiverse.

I’d already read the first three trades of the newest Superman, so I knew that even the most seminal of characters would be facing some changes.  That being said, reading this Wonder Woman trade has only further proven to me that there is an inherent flaw in the way writers choose to tell Diana’s story. There have been numerous continuity shifts throughout the run of DC comics, but for the pillar characters of Superman and Batman, much of their mythology remains unchanged.  Superman was sent to Earth from a dying Krypton by his parents; Batman watched his parents be gunned down in Crime Alley.  The minor details may shift over the years, but these basic tropes are kept in place.

…And then there’s Diana. Over the years her origin has been rewritten countless times. She was the shaped from clay, she was Hippolyta’s child brought forth by the Gods.  Now, it is revealed that she is the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus.  These constant changes to the core being of a character as seminal as Wonder Woman have helped keep her from attaining the same mythological weight as her fellow heroes.   With so many changes, Diana’s history feels uncertain. Whereas Batman and Superman have certain facets of their history that remain unchanged, Diana’s is more blurry. Yes, she’s always an Amazon who travels to man’s world, but her motives and backstory vary enough to keep a clear image of her purpose from forming.  It leaves her character feeling uneven and ungrounded, something that is not true of the other key DC heroes. While Batman and Superman’s stories can generally be read as a single narrative despite the reboots and continuity shifts, Diana’s are often completely rewritten, making it difficult to align her stories into one cohesive history.

This leaves us with little choice but to approach each run on the title as self-contained. That being said, Brian Azzarello’s run so far has been quite well done. Wonder Woman, upon learning that Zeus is her father, strikes out on her own and attempts to defend a young girl (pregnant with Zeus’s child) from Hera’s wrath.  The goddess has vowed to destroy her husband’s mistress and unborn child (obnoxiously blaming the young girl who didn’t even know she was sleeping with a god rather than blame her philandering husband).  Diana does what she can to stop Hera, though facing off against numerous gods proves to be difficult.

I appreciate the fact that Azzarello enlists less common gods for his story. We get to see lesser names like Hermes and Strife, rather than solely focusing on the biggies like Ares and Zeus.  I enjoyed seeing Wonder Woman branch out within the mythology, acknowledging that there are more than just a small handful of gods to work with.  That being said, one minor issue I took with the story was the fact that Azzarello bounces back and forth between the Greek and Roman naming of the gods.  Within one scene, the same character refers to the king of the gods as both Zeus and Jupiter, and while both are technically the same name for one being, the inconsistency bothered me. Perhaps it was intentional to keep from locking in to a single mythology, pointing out that these are the gods of numerous civilizations. Nevertheless, it was a small detail that bugged me while reading, and took me out of the story a bit.

Overall Aazarello’s story was engaging and enjoyable, but at the same time I still can’t get over the fact that Diana’s story over the years is so disjointed. This is no fault of Azzarello’s, but rather the result of numerous writers reworking Diana’s origin, motives, and history.  Her story has a much less solid foundation than Superman or Batman’s, providing less for future writers to build upon.  Though one of the core three, Diana’s continues to remain the weakest of the three stories. It’s a shame, because it really feels like there is so much there to work with. No one can seem to agree on how she should be portrayed though: fierce warrior ready to fight at any given moment, proponent for peace who believes all life is sacred, or a combination of both?  Only when this motivation is worked out once and for all will her character be able to gain a more firm footing within the continuity.

-Jess