Some major things are happening in this week’s issue of Wonder Woman, leading to even more major things for Wonder Woman #75 in two weeks’ time, presumably. Quarter century issues are a big deal these days, maybe because so few comic books make it to a 25th issue, much less a 50th or a 75th. Publishers like to save up big moments for these books and make them special, and the ending of this issue is definitely promising that. Significant developments are afoot.
Also, if you follow G. Willow Wilson on Twitter, she’s been teasing this month’s issues lately. Apparently Wonder Woman #75 is going to be 38 pages long, with an assortment of artists and a lot of double page spreads. Plus, various twists and reveals! It sounds like it’s going to shake up the status quo of Wonder Woman’s world quite a bit, and we’ll dig into what that could mean, but first:
I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!
Look away if you have not read it yet!
Also, you should be reading this book!
Hit your LCS or get it on Comixology! It’s a dang good series!
So should we do the big reveal first? Sure, let’s dive right in. The Amazons are back! Or rather, some Amazons are back. General Antiope and Philippus lead an escaped band of Amazons hidden in Dimension Chi, because Themyscira has fallen to its foes. The prisoners on the island escaped and took over, and now Grail is in charge and Hippolyta is in chains. I could happily live the rest of my life without ever seeing Grail again, but the good news is, the veil between the worlds is torn. Diana can go rescue her mother and save her sisters, which is what I assume the Wonder Woman #75 mega-issue will be all about.
With some surprises, of course. I doubt it’s going to be a straight forward beat the bad guys, save the good guys situation. There will probably be complications. But I’m even more interested in what comes next. If Diana can save Themyscira AND keep a path open to it, will the Amazons finally be part of her world again? Because I would love that. It’s been so long since we’ve had proper Amazons able to interact with the DC universe as a whole. The New 52 Amazons were trash, and the Rebirth Amazons have been sequestered. I miss the old days, when Themyscira was part of the United Nations and the Amazons could join in on major comic events. Remember in the Perez run when they opened Themyscira to the world and Lois Lane was among the first group of visitors? That was so cool. The DC universe is a better place with an awesome matriarchy in it, and I really hope that they come back in some capacity. Preferably a full on, move Themyscira into this plane of existence sort of thing.
Returning to this issue, though, I will say that the lead up to the Amazon reveal was a bit underwhelming. Part of it was the art. Jesus Merino just doesn’t do it for me. His stuff is straight forward, average superhero art. There’s no interesting flair or style to it. When Xermanico took over for the last six pages, things improved dramatically. Merino’s stuff was flat before that, and Xermanico brought everything to life just in time for the big reveal.
But another part of it was that the story wasn’t very compelling. The fight with Empress Hippolyta (the villainous Hippolyta from the last issue) seemed rote and uninspired. Again, the art didn’t really make anything cool of it, but I don’t know that there was a lot to it in the first place. It felt like fifteen pages of filler leading to Antiope. While there was some stuff about having a goddess as a mother that gave us a bit of bonding between Diana and Atlantiades, that was about it. Also, Maggie figuring out how to defeat Empress Hippolyta instead of trained Amazon warrior Diana was hard to buy. As much as I get that Maggie is rad, and that the sword is maybe imparting some sort of skill or knowledge to her, she’s not Wonder Woman. Figuring out how to stop the bad guys is Wonder Woman’s job.
I’ve got a theory that Wonder Woman’s world is too small right now. When Wilson was on Ms. Marvel, there was a huge cast of characters with different plotlines on the go. Not a single page felt wasted. There was so much to do and so many people to check in with! But with Wonder Woman, it’s really just Diana. Atlantiades and Maggie are cool, but there’s not a lot to them apart from coming along on Diana’s journey. Or rather, they’re compelling characters in want of subplots that aren’t so intertwined with Diana. Maybe bringing the Amazons back will change this dynamic and give Wilson more to work with. I’m used to far more engaging storytelling from her than a ten page fight that doesn’t really add anything to the book.
One last note on the art, because those final few pages are just top notch stuff. Xermanico puts so much texture into his drawings to start with, which is awesome, especially on the costumes, but with the shading I don’t know if it’s him or colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. but there’s this Ben-Day dot shadow technique that I love. It’s an old school style on Xermanico’s modern artwork and it looks so good. I want Xermanico to do every issue. He and Fajardo Jr. work beautifully together.
So we’ve got a big fight ahead of us in two weeks’ time! And Antiope in the midst of it all, which is super cool. She’s never been a major player in the comics before, but after Robin Wright’s amazing depiction of her in the Wonder Woman movie I’ve been waiting for someone to bring her into the comics in a big way. Now it’s happened, and between Diana, Antiope, and Philippus, the foes of the Amazons should be very frightened indeed.
I love an alternate universe. Whether it’s slight changes in a different dimension or a full on evil mirror universe, I’m instantly intrigued. I am here for bizarre multiverse fun all day long. However, alternate universes haven’t been great for Wonder Woman. I’ve never been a big fan of the evil Earth Three, the Crime Syndicate, or Superwoman. The characters are so evil as to not be interesting. And Flashpoint Wonder Woman wasn’t much fun either, what with the weird design and the Amazons’ unnecessary invasion of the UK. It just didn’t live up to the exciting potential an alternate universe represents.
This issue does, though. It’s great to have some past Wonder Woman favourites back for this issue, and Steve Orlando and Aaron Lopresti do smart work by keeping things small. An alternate universe is a big idea, and the impulse always seems to be to make the story huge and expansive, even cosmic at times. But here, the alternate universe is contained. It’s not part of a massive multiverse, it’s a manifestation of Queen Hippolyta’s imagination as she observes the sort of queen she could be if she gave into her darker inclinations. It’s all internal, meant only as an opportunity for self-reflection until a young Diana gets curious and stumbles into it. Then things get messy. We’ll dig into it all, but first:
Look away if you have not yet read this issue!
Also, you should read it!
You don’t even need to be caught up on the current arc!
It’s largely a standalone tale!
Hippolyta’s dark universe comes with an evil version of herself and a group of Amazons bent on conquest and aggression rather than peace and love, so it’s no wonder that the two queens don’t get alone. Or rather, the queen and the empress. These Amazons appear to rule an empire. When the queen’s attempts at diplomacy fail, unsurprisingly, we then get a series of trials to decide who is the superior Hippolyta. It’s all super fun.
And exactly what I expected from Steve Orlando. His past issues of Wonder Woman have demonstrated a deep appreciation for the history of the Wonder Woman mythos and an understanding of how what is powerful and meaningful about the character can intertwine with the sometimes outlandish aspects of her comic book past. This issue gives us so many classic references, from an awesome chariot race with kangas to an invisible jet contest to an iconic bout of bullets and bracelets. Then, just as the last trial is set to begin, Themyscira is invaded by Atomia, the Queen of Atom World.
Atomia is not one of Wonder Woman’s better known villains. She’s only appeared in a couple of regular issues, and was part of Kurt Busiek and Trina Robbins’s 1986 The Legend of Wonder Woman mini-series. But she’s a classic Golden Age foe who debuted in Wonder Woman #21 way back in 1947. This was a period in which Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston was quite ill and the bulk of his writing was being done by his assistant, Joye Murchison, and she wrote this issue. We can see Atomia here drawn by H.G. Peter, with Wonder Woman and the Holliday Girls all tied up, as per usual in the Golden Age:
It’s another great deep cut from Orlando, and Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan bring the scene to life with a very cool update of Atomia and her various minions. Together they all capture a wonderful, modern take on old school Golden Age fun.
And more importantly, it’s all in service of a good story that digs into the heart of Diana and Hippolyta. Diana is locked up for most of the issue, but when she hears the battle and people screaming she’s compelled to break free and go help. Even at this young age, she’s still the hero we all know and love, and by saving the imperial Amazon realm she not only earns freedom for her and her mother, she also gets to offer Atomia mercy where Empress Hippolyta would have only offered destruction. Defending others and understanding your enemy are values Diana learned from her mother, and that she’s able to hold to them in the dangerous crucible of this evil dimension speaks to how well Hippolyta taught her.
For Hippolyta, we get a sense of her dedication to her role, and how she struggles to do what is best for her people. Empress Hippolyta is her mirror, a way for her to analyze her own actions and see how her choices would play out if she went a different direction. The empire is violent and cruel, yet one key divergence still seems to weight on the queen. Empress Hippolyta has no daughter, and lives only for her Amazon sisters. As her opposite, Queen Hippolyta wonders if she was selfish to have Diana, and whether that choice was best for the Amazons. Then Diana swooping in to save the day demonstrated the wonder that she has become, and how she embodies everything that is right and good about the Amazons. It’s a nice moment of reflection that captures the bond between Hippolyta and Diana while also underscoring the loneliness Diana must be feeling in the current ongoing arc and explaining the desperation she has to find her lost family.
Lopresti and Ryan do good work throughout the issue, making the Chi Dimension feel different than the standard take on Themyscira. And whoever decided that Empress Hippolyta should be blonde made the right call. Otherwise, this issue could have been very confusing! It’s fun to have Lopresti pop by Wonder Woman again. He paired well with writer Gail Simone back in the day, and earned himself a spot in the pantheon of modern Wonder Woman artists. It was also enjoyable to have an issue drawn by the same art team throughout after the mishmash we’ve had over the past couple of issues. Double shipping, gang. It’s the pits.
I’m curious to see how this tale of Diana’s past will influence the present. We know if this dimension exists, then Hippolyta is still alive. But what will our intrepid heroes find when they enter this dark alternate universe? Is this where the Amazons are hiding? We’ll know more in two weeks’ time!
Marvel’s July 2019 solicits may mark the highest number of female and non-binary creators we’ve seen from either Big Two publisher in the several years I’ve been doing these pieces. I say “may” in part because I’ve done quite a lot of them and skimming back through years and years of posts to check seems deeply onerous. But also in part because while we’ve definitely been in the high 30s before, it was at a time when DC and Marvel were putting out fewer books, and right now Marvel is putting out SO many books. Thus, this may well be the biggest number we’ve seen (it’s certainly very close to it) but on a per capita basis I doubt it would hold up as the best month ever. Nonetheless, it’s quite good! Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in July:
Alitha E. Martinez: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #45 (interior art)
Amanda Conner: Captain Marvel #8 (cover)
Anna Rud: Marvel Team-Up #4 (cover)
Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #34 (cover)
Audrey Mok: Marvel Rising #5 (cover)
Carmen Carnero: Captain Marvel #8 (interior art), Star Wars: Target Vader #1 (variant cover)
Claire Roe: Fearless #1 (interior art)
Elsa Charretier: Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1 (interior art)
Emanuela Lupacchino: Loki #1 (variant cover)
Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #46 (cover)
Eve L. Ewing: Ironheart #8 (writer)
G. Willow Wilson: Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1 (co-writer)
Gail Simone: Domino: Hotshots #5 (writer)
Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #10 (interior art)
Jen Bartel: Marvel Tales: Captain America #1 (cover), Marvel Tales: Hulk #1 (cover)
Jenny Frison: Age of Conan: Belit #5 (variant cover), Fearless #1 (variant cover)
Jody Houser: Star Wars: Tie Fighter #4 (writer)
Karla Pacheco: Punisher Annual #1 (writer)
Kate Niemcyzyk: Age of Conan: Belit #5 (interior art)
Tini Howard: Age of Conan: Belit #5 (writer), Death’s Head #1 (writer), Secret Warps: Iron Hammer Annual #1 (co-writer), Thanos #4 (writer)
Vita Ayala: Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #5 (writer)
Yasmine Putri: Fearless #1 (cover)
That is a very long list! All together, there are 38 different female and non-binary creators scheduled to work on 30 different comic books at Marvel in July, three more creators than in June though on six fewer books. That is the one thing I did notice when compiling this month’s numbers, that there was more clumping than usual, i.e. several women and non-binary creators on one book rather than spread out more across the line. There’s one case in particular where this makes sense, the new Fearless mini that features all female characters and an all-female creator line up. But generally, things were more concentrated this month.
We saw that especially when we look at the number of books that are coming out, as we’ve been doing lately to make up the discrepancy between DC and Marvel’s publishing slate. Marvel’s putting out 93 new books in July, so with female and non-binary creators on 30 of them, that gives us a representation percentage of 32%, a noticeable step down from June’s 40%. This total also puts both Big Two publishers in the same ballpark right now in terms of representation across the line, though Marvel’s still got a significant lead in creators overall even when adjusted for output.
For new names, we’ve got nothing. Everyone listed above has worked at Marvel before. We’ve got some returning favourites, though, with a few folks we haven’t seen in a little while. Or, in the case of Karla Pacheco and Kei Zama, nearly three years! Also, Marvel’s debuting a new line of Asian characters written and drawn by Asian creators, and while I’ve tracked down several of them, a few don’t seem to have an English language presence online to allow me to read up on them and determine their gender preference, so we’ve got a few question marks this month.
In terms of female characters, the aforementioned Fearless looks like it’s going to be pretty dang cool. We’ve also got a new Valkyrie with Jane Foster taking on the mantle, which I’ve got mixed feelings about. She’s such a good Thor, and I want movie Valkyrie to be comics Valkyrie now! But still, it looks decent. The Invisible Woman’s got a new book as well, with an all-male creative team apart from a variant cover, and Aero is a female-led book that’s part of this new Asian heroes lineup.
Overall, female and non-binary creator representation at Marvel is quite strong, though with so many books the impressive numbers don’t hold up quite as well on a per capita basis. Still, this level of consistency isn’t something we’re used to seeing from Marvel, and keeping the numbers so high for so long, regardless of the plethora of books, is quite a feat, even with lots of room to grow yet.
July is a month with five Wednesdays, which usually means more comics from DC. Typically, we get annuals and other one-shot specials in that last week, since most of their ongoing books are released on a regular schedule (Wonder Woman is out on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, for example), and there’s a bit of that here. But we’ve also got a lot of new books throughout the entire month, both ongoing and mini-series. DC trimmed back their line earlier this year, and now it seems to be growing again. Does that mean we’ll see more female and non-binary creators moving forward? Well, so far, no. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at DC this July:
Adriana Melo: Female Furies #6 (interior art)
Amanda Conner: Wonder Woman: Come Back To Me #1 (co-writer, cover)
All together, there are 18 different female creators set to work on 20 different comic books at DC this July, the same number of creators as in June across three more books. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. Given that DC is putting out 11 more books in July than in June, the fact that the number of creators stayed the same is disappointing. As we’ve talked about over the past few months while DC’s output decreased, it’s reasonable to see a commensurate drop in the number of female and non-binary creators as the line dwindles. But you’d expect to see the numbers go up when it grows, which hasn’t happened here.
However, DC’s jumped up to 62 new books after putting out only 51 in June, and with female creators on 20 of those books, that means women will work on 32% of the publisher’s comics in July. This percentage is very comparable to what we’ve seen over the past few months. The overall representation across the line is steady, but there aren’t more women or non-binary creators doing the work. It’s a small number of people doing more work, which is a bit of a mixed bag. Talented creators should get lots of work, for sure! But it’s good to grow the ranks as well.
And DC didn’t do a lot of that this month. Lea H. Seidman looks new but she’s actually Lea Hernandez, who we’ve seen a bunch on Teen Titans Go!, now using her married name. And while I feel like we haven’t seen Taki Soma in a little bit, she’s nonetheless a familiar face at DC now that her pal and occasional collaborator Brian Michael Bendis is there. Everyone else are our wonderfully talented usuals.
In terms of female characters, we’ve got a couple new books to look forward to. DC’s repackaging their original Walmart comic stories for the direct market, which means new mini-series for Batman, Superman, and, most important of all, Wonder Woman with Wonder Woman: Come Back to Me. And the Superman line is expanding with a Lois Lane series, FINALLY. It’s long overdue and I really wish there were more female creators working on it, but I’m happy it’s going to exist nonetheless. Doom Patrol is coming back as well, with a few female characters in the mix there.
So, another ho-hum month at DC, really. Their numbers for female and non-binary creators have been consistently underwhelming all year long, and it looks like that’s going to continue into the summer. Representation just doesn’t seem to be a big priority at DC right now.
We’ve got lots of action and a potentially interesting cliffhanger in Wonder Woman this week, but I’ve gotta be honest, gang, and say this issue fell a little bit flat for me. The art certainly didn’t help matters, with some fill-in artists failing to reach the heights recently established by the series’ more regular pencilers. But the writing wasn’t all that exciting either. It was an issue that needed to get Wonder Woman, Maggie, and Atlantiades from Point A to Point B, which it did. Just not in a very engaging manner, and without the thoughtfulness and depth I’ve come to expect from the book since G. Willow Wilson became the writer.
This issue is technically the finale to the “Love is a Battlefield” arc, and it didn’t feel much like a finale at all. If anything, the last issue wrapped up most of that plotline quite nicely, and this one found us in a new space with new adventures. There were no further conclusions, and nothing really connected to the arc apart from a brief conversation between Aphrodite and Atlantiades and a quick reference to Atlantiades’ romantic fascination with Wonder Woman. It was an in-between story, needing to bridge the gap between “Love is a Battlefield” and Steve Orlando and Aaron Lopresti’s upcoming guest issue, and it very much felt like that. We’ll dig into it all, but first:
I am about to reveal everything that happened in this issue!
It wasn’t a whole lot, really!
But still, be wary nonetheless!
So when we last left our intrepid heroine, she and Maggie were facing off against a colossal minotaur statue brought to life. In my last review, I wondered about what it could be and what deeper mythological ties it had. Turns out, it was largely irrelevant, there for Maggie to defeat with ease thanks to Antiope’s sword. The battle was swift, and the importance of the sword was emphasized when the ground gave way and the weapon fell into an abyss. Maggie was distraught to lose it, but Atlantiades swooped in and grabbed it, their wings coming in very handy there. This led to another fight with some subterranean baddies that again served to showcase how awesome the sword is and how much Maggie likes wielding it.
It’s great to see Maggie growing in confidence, and emerging as a hero in her own right. Her rapid progression with the sword is starting to make me think something bigger is going on, that she isn’t just some random gal the mythological characters befriended but that she’s got some larger connection to the Amazons. We’ve certainly seen stories where the Amazons have been unknowingly hidden among the general population before. Perhaps there’s something similar happening now, with the collapse of the divine realm transporting so many people to the mundane plane of Earth? Time will tell. Maggie may very well be a perfectly normal person who’s just got an aptitude for swords. But that the sword is growing in power so quickly with her wielding it has me suspicious that something more may be at play.
In showcasing Maggie and the sword, though, I feel like the story took a bit of a misstep. The handling of the subterranean monster horde struck me as out of character for Wonder Woman. They all could have flown away with ease and avoided the battle, but Maggie insisted on fighting them. Then Wonder Woman joined her, and together they killed dozens if not hundreds of living creatures. It just felt wrong. Wonder Woman wouldn’t jump into a fight when there was a peaceful resolution available, nor would she wantonly kill these creatures, however nasty they may be, if she didn’t absolutely have to. Yes, they were mean and ugly and terrible all around, but they were quasi-sentient beings at the very least. This was all entirely avoidable, and everything about the scene seemed off to me. Not intentionally off either, like “Oh, maybe Wonder Woman’s under some sort of spell!” or some such. It just felt poorly thought out.
Like I said at the top, the art wasn’t much help in improving this issue either. Jesus Merino has done some fill-ins on the book recently, and while he’s a serviceable artist, he rarely wows me. His work in this outing was generally fine, and he did a nice job capturing the androgyny of Atlantiades in a way that was true to Xermanico’s stellar design of them. The early pages of this book are definitely better than the later ones, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. does a great job with some creative coloring and shading choices to make everything pop a bit more. But all together, the art is just okay.
Then Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna take over, and the quality drops noticeably. All the problems we saw two weeks ago continue here, starting with a decidedly feminine take on Atlantiades that really bugs me. Xermanico established the character SO WELL and Merino did such a nice job with them, and Derenick just doesn’t even seem to be trying here. No one else looks great either, the creature design is bland, and the fight’s not that exciting. None of it works, and not even Romulo Fajardo Jr. can save these pages from feeling dull and pedestrian.
We end on a bit of intrigue, though. The light of the sword, shining like a laser, leads them to Dimension Chi, and I have no idea what that is. I’ve read every issue of Wonder Woman, and while she’s been in all manner of weird dimensions, especially in the Silver and Bronze Ages, this one isn’t ringing a bell at first glance. The solicit for the next issues suggests Diana visited Dimension Chi when she was younger, and I’m very curious to see what Steve Orlando has cooked up. His brief few issues on the series a few months back demonstrated a deep appreciation for Wonder Woman lore, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s dug up something cool and obscure here that I’ve forgotten. I’m looking forward to checking it out!
At DC, after posting one of their highest totals in some time last December, the numbers dropped sharply through the new year. DC came in at 16% female creators overall, a loss of more than a point from the fall. The breakdown by category didn’t have much good news either. Female cover artists, writers, letterers, and editors were all on the decline, with little to counterbalance this but some gains for assistant editors.
Marvel ended 2018 on a downward swing, and opened 2019 in an even deeper hole that they were starting to slowly dig themselves out of by March. They posted 14.8% female creators overall, a point and a half drop from the last round. And by category, while there were some strong showings including gains for female cover artists and solid totals for female writers, pencilers, inkers, and editors are all languishing in single digits right now, while letterers remain a goose egg, as always.
We’ve had a bit of a talky go of it lately with Wonder Woman. Atlantiades is not the sort of villain you stop with fisticuffs, or even a villain at all, really. More an interesting conundrum, a deity in a strange place doing what only comes natural to them, seeking worship. And toying with mortals, of course. The gods are always toying with mortals. It’s brought us an interesting glimpse into Wonder Woman’s love life, along with some cool discussions on free will and happiness, and it’s all been quite excellent. That plot is largely resolved this week, but with little in the way of awesome punching and action fun.
That’s why it’s handy that Maggie and Aphrodite went off exploring and found a new foe. One that’s definitely going to need some punching. There’ll be no thoughtful, introspective discussions with this adversary. Just a classic beat ‘em up. I love that Wonder Woman is a book that can give us both. G. Willow Wilson’s dug into some heavy subject matter since she took over the series, but she’s also made time to have Diana bust up some rock giants and now what appears to be a massive living statue of some sort. That’s just quality comic booking all around. We’ll dig into it all, but first:
We’re going to discuss everything that happened in this issue!
Turn away if you haven’t read it yet!
Also, as always, you should be reading this book!
Before we get into all the fun, I don’t know who keeps telling Terry and Rachel Dodson that Steve Trevor is in the book, but he is not. And yet, he keeps showing up on the covers. He actually popped in for a scene or two a couple weeks back, but wasn’t on the cover then. And now he’s back on the cover once more, with nary a mention of the man inside the book. It’s such a nitpicky thing, I know, but I wonder about the disconnect. Was Steve supposed to be in the book at one point and plans got changed? Are the Dodsons just drawing what they think will look cool? I mean, their covers are always amazing. I’m not even annoyed. Just curious and confused.
Anyway, onto the story. We get a resolution of sorts with Atlantiades, as they realized what they’d hoped to achieve in the town had failed. They thought that letting people be free of the expectations of their ordinary lives and indulge in their desires would bring the town happiness, but it most definitely did not. Actions have consequences, and the weight of these consequences snapped the townsfolk out of Atlantiades’ spell. They got them back momentarily with a display of divine power, but Diana talked them out of continuing the experiment. Atlantiades is clearly dealing with a lot, including a strained relationship with their mother, and hopefully we can see some growth on that front moving forward. They’re a selfish character, but I think they have a good heart. They’re just a bit lost and hurt, and likely have been that way for centuries. I’m excited to see what they make of the opportunities in this new world, having learned from this experience, and I hope Wilson checks in on them from time to time if this town escapade is indeed wrapped up for now.
The only thing I didn’t like about the resolution was that Xermanico didn’t draw the last few pages of it. This is understandable. Bi-weekly comics are an insane grind and you’re going to get some fill-in pages. Tom Derenick and Scott Hanna stepped in to finish the scene, and while the artwork was serviceable, it failed to capture the characters well, especially Atlantiades. Xermanico brought a compelling androgyny to Atlantiades that befit their mythological background. Derenick and Hanna failed to replicate that, leaning much more into the feminine aspects of the character. Atlantiades ended up looking like a twin of Diana rather than the unique take Xermanico had obviously carefully developed.
Xermanico’s work on this arc has been exceptional, from character design to panel layout and beyond, and I’m sad that the strictures of the schedule prevented him from being able to close it out himself. As much as I love getting Wonder Woman twice a month, I deeply hate the onerous demands that bi-weekly books put on artists. This is a run that should be collected for years, even decades to come, and putting out subpar artwork now to fit this unreasonable schedule is a short term compromise that will lead to disappointment long term. I know nobody likes late books, but I feel like editorial could do a better job of planning out the artwork.
But I digress. There was a whole other story to this issue, with a dang colossus in it! At first I thought it was just a giant minotaur, but Aphrodite called it a colossus and the golden head confirms her words. This appears to be a massive statue brought to life somehow, perhaps with the same power that got us stone giants in the Rockies. As far as I can tell, this is an original invention by Wilson and not based on an existing statue or anything. There have been various colossal statues throughout history, most famously the Colossus of Rhodes, which was a statue of Helios, but none of them were a minotaur, I don’t think.
So yeah, we’ve got a fight on our hands now! I love that the sword has emboldened Maggie, and that she was prepared to take on the colossus by herself. She’s been a great addition to the cast, and I’ve enjoyed watching her trepidation give way to courage over the past few issues. Not even Aphrodite dared face off against the colossus, and she’s a dang god! Luckily Wonder Woman arrived just in the nick of time and now they can make a good fight of it. I’m excited to see them throw down in June, and to see what mysteries these underground pathways hold. Well, “underground.” I’m guessing there’s some dimensional travel at play or an underworld sort of situation. Either way, adventure awaits!
On the one hand, Marvel will have nearly twice as many female and non-binary creators as DC this June. On the other hand, Marvel is also putting out nearly twice as many books as DC this June. It’s hard to compare the two publishers directly these days, but what’s undoubtedly true is that while DC’s got a core group of female creators in their solicits each month, Marvel’s got a wide ranging assortment of women and non-binary creators month in, month out, some well established on regular gigs and others breaking into the industry on smaller jobs. The breadth of the line means more opportunity, finally. So let’s take a look at the long list of who is doing what at Marvel this June:
Alitha E. Martinez: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #44 (interior art), Miles Morales: Spider-Man #7 (interior art)
Charlie Jane Anders: War of the Realms: War Scrolls #3 (co-writer)
Elizabeth Torque: Black Cat #1 (variant cover)
Emanuela Lupacchino: Immortal Hulk #19 (variant cover)
Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45 (cover)
Eve L. Ewing: Ironheart #7 (writer), Marvel Team-Up #3 (writer)
Gail Simone: Domino: Hotshots #4 (writer), Tony Stark: Iron Man #13 (writer)
Gurihiru: The Unstoppable Wasp #9 (interior art)
Irina Nordsol: War of the Realms #6 (variant cover)
Jen Bartel: Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 (variant cover), Marvel Tales: Spider-Man #1 (cover), War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #4 (variant cover)
Jody Houser: Star Wars: Tie Fighter #3 (writer)
Kate Niemczyk: Age of Conan: Belit #4 (interior art)
Kelly Thompson: Captain Marvel #6 (writer), Captain Marvel #7 (writer), Mr. and Mrs. X #12 (writer)
Kirbi Fagan: Shuri #9 (cover)
Leah Williams: Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #5 (writer), Giant-Man #3 (writer)
Meredith Finch: Savage Sword of Conan #6 (writer)
Nilah Magruder: Marvel Rising #4 (writer)
Nnedi Okorafor: Shuri #9 (writer)
Rachael Stott: Shuri #9 (interior art)
Rachel Dodson: Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Darth Vader #1 (cover), Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Luke Skywalker #1 (cover)
Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #22 (writer)
Sana Takeda: Age of Conan: Belit #4 (cover)
Seanan McGuire: Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #5 (writer), Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #9 (writer)
Stacey Lee: The Unstoppable Wasp #9 (cover)
Tini Howard: Age of Conan: Belit #4 (writer), Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 (co-writer), Thanos #3 (writer)
Vanesa Del Rey: Miles Morales: Spider-Man #7 (interior art)
Vita Ayala: Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #4 (writer)
Yasmine Putri: Thor #14 (variant cover)
All together, there are 35 different female and non-binary creators scheduled to work on 36 Marvel comic books in June, two more creators and one more book than in May. These are big numbers. Again, yes, Marvel is putting out a lot of books right now. But having a commensurate increase in female and non-binary creators while they do so is a pleasant surprise. The Big Two have not been good at that at all. Like, ever.
Speaking of the massive output, Marvel is planning to release 91 new issues in June. With female and non-binary creators working on 36 of them, that’s representation across 40% of the line, an increase of 5% from May. In comparison, DC is at 33%, so Marvel’s a bit ahead, if not starkly so.
It looks like we’ve got a few new creators in the mix as well. As best I can tell, Charlie Jane Anders is doing her first writing for Marvel in War of the Realms: War Scrolls #3, and while Meredith Finch had a long and quite frankly terrible run on Wonder Woman at DC, her gig on Savage Sword of Conan #6 appears to be a Marvel first, too. We’ve also got Russian artist Irina Nordsol doing a variant cover for War of the Realms #6. There are some returning favourites in the mix as well. We haven’t seen Alitha E. Martinez in a little while, it’s been even longer for Annapaola Martello, and it’s always good to see Annie Wu, Gurihiru, and Vanesa Del Rey back at Marvel.
June is a quiet month for new books, with War of the Realms winding down. Things should pick up over the summer, though, and I’m very curious to see what the X-Men relaunch and the cancellation/relaunch of the entire X-line will do to the numbers. But for now, we’ve got one female character on a new title, with Felicia Hardy taking center stage in a Black Cat ongoing series.
Overall, Marvel’s rolling along with relatively strong numbers for female and non-binary creators. As much as there’s always room to grow, the year thus far has shown nothing but sustained representation for writers and artists. I will note that the full numbers haven’t exactly followed suit. When you take into account the full credits, like I do quarterly in my women in comics statistics reports, Marvel’s numbers become a bit underwhelming. But here in the solicits, which are what sell the books, female and non-binary creators have been a solid constant this year.
DC is really committed to putting out fewer books now. When they announced that they were cutting back, I was curious to see how long it would last, but they’re sticking with it. We saw a slight uptick in the May solicits, on account of it being a month with five Wednesdays, and now with the June solicits we’re back down again. Down so low, in fact, that it might be the fewest books DC has released since we started tracking these numbers several years back. And fewer books has meant a commensurate drop in female and non-binary creators, which continues this month. Let’s take a look at who is doing what at DC this June:
Adriana Melo: Female Furies #5 (interior art)
Amanda Conner: Supergirl #31 (variant cover)
Bilquis Evely: The Dreaming #10 (interior art)
Cecil Castellucci: Female Furies #5 (writer)
Elena Casagrande: Young Justice #6 (interior art)
Emanuela Lupacchino: Justice League #26 (variant cover)
G. Willow Wilson: Wonder Woman #72 (writer)
Jenny Frison: The Batman Who Laughs #6 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #72 (variant cover), Wonder Woman #73 (variant cover)
Joelle Jones: Catwoman #12 (writer, cover)
Kat Howard: The Books of Magic #9 (writer)
Kelly Sue DeConnick: Aquaman #49 (writer)
Mairghread Scott: Batgirl #36 (writer)
Nalo Hopkinson: House of Whispers #10 (co-writer)
Rachel Dodson: Wonder Woman #72 (cover)
Sandra Hope: The Silencer #18 (cover)
Stacey Lee: Wonder Twins #5 (variant cover)
Tiffany Turrill: Lucifer #9 (cover)
Yasmine Putri: Red Hood: Outlaw #35 (variant cover)
All together, there are 18 different female creators scheduled to work on 17 different comics in June, three fewer creators than in May and one fewer book. As best I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. Given that DC’s dropped from 62 books in May to 51 in June, falling from 21 female creators to 18 seems like a reasonable result. Growth would be preferred, of course, but the publisher is maintaining the same level here.
With the new reductions to the line, we’ve been keeping track of representation on a per book basis, in part due to the fluctuations and in part to have a more accurate comparison with Marvel’s more robust line. With women working on 17 of DC’s 51 titles this month, we’ve got female creators on 33% of the line, which is a slight step up from May’s 29% and very near their 31% level from April. If nothing else, DC is consistent.
In terms of new names at the publisher in this round of solicits, we’ve got one. Stacey Lee is doing a variant cover, and she’s been a mainstay at Marvel for a little while now. Everyone else listed above is someone we’ve seen recently at DC. I think this is an unintended consequence of reducing the line so much. With fewer books, editors are likely to stick with the creators they know and rely on established talent to make sure the limited selection sells well. This means fewer opportunities for new and emerging creators, and doubly so for new and emerging female and non-binary creators, who already have a more difficult road making it into a major superhero publisher. It’s a shame that the limited number of entry points into creating superhero comic books have been reduced even further. That’s really going to hurt the development of new talent, and make it more difficult for this list to grow.
June is a quiet month for female characters as well. The blockbuster Event Leviathan is set to launch, and I understand that Lois Lane is going to be a big part of that, which is cool. The first solicit mentions Talia al Ghul as well. Apart from that, the only other new series is the prestige format Superman Year One, which looks very terrible. Frank Miller’s never written Superman well, and John Romita Jr. was an odd fit for the Man of Steel back when he was on the regular series. Lois will probably show up in that book eventually, too, though with Miller writing it all I’d honestly rather she didn’t.
So overall we’ve got another steady if underwhelming month from DC Comics. Female and non-binary creators don’t seem to be a priority for the publisher, and they’ve certainly made no moves with their June plans to expand the ranks. It looks like they’re good with the limited (albeit excellent) assortment they have now, and while the steadiness is better than losses, it’s still rather disappointing. Perhaps the summer will bring some changes? You never know.
Our gal Diana has been through a lot recently. Ares is back, and being a real jerk. Veronica Cale is up to her usual tricks. Olympus is destroyed and the Amazons are missing. Giant rock monsters are roaming through the mountains of Colorado. She’s been put through the wringer ever since G. Willow Wilson took over writing the book, and very enjoyably so. She’s Wonder Woman, after all. No one is better suited to handle an avalanche of enemies trying to break her down.
And she’s dealt with it well. Each villain she’s encountered has tried to dig into her a little bit, poking at her insecurities and exposing the complications and even some of the hypocrisies inherent in who she is and what she does. They’ve all made some good points, too, and given Diana a lot to think about it. But she’s held true to herself and continued on.
Until this week, that is. Atlantiades, another Olympian, has thrown her for a loop. Not even intentionally or maliciously this time, just through the sheer force of their unique power. The child of Aphrodite wields the power of truth in some unexpected ways that catch Diana by surprise. The result is a compelling, more introspective issue that examines a relationship that’s been a staple at DC Comics for nearly eighty years. We’ll dig into all momentarily, but first:
Turn away if you haven’t read this issue yet!
I am about to reveal its many secrets!
Also, go read it! It’s good and gorgeous!
So Atlantiades is an intriguing foe. I’m not sure what their plan is here, or if there even is a plan or purpose to what they’re doing. Having been cast out of Olympus, they find themself with an opportunity to regain some of their past glory, to rekindle the thrill of ancient cults worshipping them, and they go for it. In part to get back at their mother, it seems, and in part because it just felt like a fun thing to do. There is both petulance and cunning to Atlantiades, naiveté and wisdom. Which makes sense, given the dual nature of the character. I’m guessing we’ll never know quite what we’re going to get from them.
As I suspected based on their mythological origins, Atlantiades is presented as non-binary and uses gender neutral pronouns. They are literally two beings combined into one, Aphrodite’s son merged with a female water nymph to make one person. Now, this is not how most non-binary people come to be these days. It’s more to do with not feeling like they fit within the limiting bounds of a traditional binary approach to gender and finding an identity outside of these strictures that better matches their sense of self. Still, it’s very cool to see some non-binary representation in a mainstream superhero comic book. And now that we have Atlantiades, I’d love to see them interact with some more modern non-binary characters. The discussions they could have would be fascinating.
Atlantiades’ mythological origins give them both powers and a special sort of insight into those around them. They’ve captivated this town with ease, promising them freedom and their heart’s desire, and their divine allure quickly got everyone on board. Even Maggie, who has some familiarity with non-earthly folks, is immediately smitten. But not Wonder Woman. She is tempted, to be sure. There is a like calling to like dynamic between Diana and Atlantiades that is quite interesting. The Amazons are all about love and truth, and that is the very core of Atlantiades’ power. The connection between them is palpable.
But then Steve shows up, and the conversation he and Diana have is heartbreaking. They admit their insecurities and fears, with Steve telling Diana that he sometimes thinks he would be happier with a mortal woman and Diana acknowledging that she has thought the same thing. It’s all a ruse of course, but in a clever twist it’s not some attempt by Atlantiades to upset Diana. Instead, it’s her own fears manifesting in the aura of Atlantiades’ truthful power. It’s a nightmare of her own making, a shade created by her own anxieties.
Knowing that, Diana’s able to face it head on. Yes, she feels all of these things. She has concerns and fears about her relationship with Steve. But at the end of the day, she loves him, and that is enough. Love is central to Wonder Woman, and has been since her very first appearance n 1941. It’s why she’s strong. It’s why she’s brave. And it’s why she’s able to tackle her anxieties and work through them.
The scene is viscerally real and beautifully written by Wilson, who presents the complexities of the unusual relationship between Diana and Steve in an honest, gripping way. I was totally sold on the twist, and thought Atlantiades had brought Steve there to mess with Diana. It was a raw, powerful interaction, and one that made even more sense when the truth was revealed. Of course Diana has anxieties about their relationship. There are sacrifices and compromises on both sides, as in any relationship, and that gets exacerbated even further when superpowers and godhood enter the mix. But the conclusion felt just as real and true. She loves Steve enough to work through her concerns and carry on together.
This entire issue was wonderfully illustrated by Xermanico, who is just doing a stellar job on this book. They need to lock him down on Wonder Woman for a while because his artwork is exceptional. Diana’s emotional journey is shown so well, and that scene with Steve is especially strong. He also captures the androgynous beauty of Atlantiades, giving them a unique and captivating look that well suits the character. And of course, the colors of Romulo Fajardo Jr. add so much to the equation, elevating the already lovely linework. Xermanico needs to be the primary artist for this series moving forward. The dude is just too good.
The issue ends with some drama. The townsfolk are not so happy with getting everything they want because it turns out being selfish can backfire after a while. Decisions have consequences, and they’re starting to add up. It looks like we’ve got a revolt coming, and while Diana and Atlantiades are strong enough to handle the angry mortals without any real fear of harm, I’m curious to see how this entire situation gets resolved. Atlantiades has made a real mess, and it’s going to be tough to clean up, if that’s what they even want to do! Should be fun.