Image © DC Comics.
The beginning of an interesting new approach, in this comic. Not only new for the character, but a new storytelling device. This issue follows Wonder Woman of today, continuing from the Rebirth one-shot. Next issue will be about Wonder Woman’s first year in man’s world. Both stories will continue in alternate issues.
Here’ Diana is in the African jungle on a mission that gradually becomes clear. She’s searching for someone that she thinks can help her with a serious problem. Someone who doesn’t want to be found, and sends fierce beasts and warriors to stop Diana. Meanwhile, a new version of Etta is working a communications command in touch with Steve Trevor, also in Africa on a secret mission. Both of them are wondering what Wonder Woman is doing in the same arena, but they have no answers. Neither has talked to her in a while.
Good set up, lots of action. The writing by Greg Rucka has me wanting more. The art by Liam Sharp is rich and delicious. Waiting to see what the other story line is like, but so far I’m on board.
Another early science fiction novel by Norton that I missed all these years, first published in 1953, and loosely connected to “Star Guard,” reviewed here recently. This book takes place about 4,000 years later as the galactic empire described in the first book is falling apart. The Stellar Patrol, populated by beings from many worlds and serving as a police force, has been falling apart as well, their ships degrading and barely working. One such ship, among many, the Starfire, has been sent to the edge of the galaxy supposedly in search of lost systems and colonies, but in fact as a way to get rid of them. The ship crashes on an Earthlike world, and though the Captain is injured and unable to accept the truth, will never fly again. On board are a group of Star Rangers, the exploration team of the ship, with two human members, and the rest “bemmies,” or non-human aliens, all with powerful mental and physical skills, but treated with suspicion by the rest of the crew.
Human Ranger Sergeant Kartr is the viewpoint character of the book, from a world that has been destroyed in war, and very close to his Ranger team. Together they explore the area, finding plenty of plant and animal life to sustain the small surviving Patrol group. They also discover an ancient city that has been occupied by survivors of another crashed ship, run by a crafty politician, Joyd Cummi, who has seized control by force. Most of the Patrol wants to join this group, but the Rangers are skeptical, especially when it becomes clear their non-humans will be treated as second-class members or worse. Eventually a rebellion breaks out in the city, and Kartr and his team may be the only ones who can stop Cummi from destroying them all.
I enjoyed this. Norton is not a flashy writer, her plots and ideas are not remarkable by science fiction standards, but she tells a good story with memorable, sympathetic characters, and she makes good moral points here. Substitute Muslims or African Americans for the bemmies in the story, and it would become relevant to today. And there is a great plot point that resonates with our own history in the last third of the story that I won’t spoil for you.
I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as the first one. It suffers from a common problem with crossover stories: too many characters, not enough room to get to know them. I like the Quest family and friends, and Space Ghost is interesting, but the rest of the heroes are unknown to me, and many are here with no explanation or background. This is the sort of book that should have an inside cover showing all the main characters with descriptions. An opening sequence has many characters on some distant world battling the main series threat, a monster called Omnikron, which did not engage me much because I didn’t know most of the characters, and therefore didn’t care that much when they were threatened or harmed. Omnikron also seemed rather predictable and unscary. Events on our world were more interesting. I’ll read on, but with less enthusiasm.
Image © Juke Box Productions.
Continuing and concluding the story from issue 35, a long-standing vendetta against three generations of the hero Jack-in-the-Box comes back to life when the villain Drama Queen takes up the fight begun by her grandfather, Drama King. Amid the battles, new information comes to light that surprises both sides and changes long-held perceptions about what really happened to cause the mutual destruction of the first hero and villain. Kurt Busiek’s story is as good as always, and the excellent fill-in art by Ron Randall on both issues is a joy to behold. Even the inherently silly expanding legs and arms of Jack-in-the-Box looks believable here, no easy task. Well done all around!
Image © DC Comics.
Paul Levitz has come up with a lovely way to enhance the resonance of his new Doctor Fate, Khalid. He’s made him the great-nephew of Kent Nelson, the original Doctor Fate. I don’t know the back story of Kent Nelson in the current DC continuity, but here he’s a powerful figure taking time to talk things over with his successor of sorts (though Kent can still wield the Doctor Fate powers) and they work together against a new attack on New York City. Khalid is hoping at first that Kent will take back the heavy responsibilities of the mask, but it’s not to be. Khalid has been chosen by the gods, as Kent once was, and must fulfill his own destiny, even if he still feels somewhat lost and inadequate. Working with Kent is a good morale booster. The art this time is by Ibrahim Moustafa, whose style is more realistic than regular artist Sonny Liew, though still not completely so. It works well here. I enjoyed this issue a great deal.