Continuing to look at how things have turned out for DC Comics Infinite Frontier direction its time to grade out the Superman and Wonder Woman Family of comic books. Both these franchise has been seeing their respective families grow in new ways. Much of that has been taken from what we saw in the Future State status quo for both the Superman and Wonder Woman franchises. So how has the first three months been for Superman and Wonder Woman? Let’s take a look.
Writers: Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Becky Cloonan, and Michael W. Conrad
Artists: Phil Hester, Michael Avon Deming, Daniel Sampere
Both of Superman’s main comic book series, Action Comics and Superman, have been following a similar path by placing a focus on the Man of Steel’s superhero and family lives. Where things are a bit different is the focus that each title has. With Action Comics in particular we are Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been putting more of a focus on Jon Kent and what his future is. In particular, Johnson is using Jon’s time as Superboy with the Legion of Super-Heroes to show how conflicted he is about what he learned about the future for his father. This has created the question of if Jon is ready to assume being Superman, like we saw him do during Future State.
Along with Jon’s narrative Johnson is also exploring what is next for Clark Kent as Superman. We are seeing more of that evolution from the character being Clark to becoming more Kal-El full-time along with being Superman. The conversations he has had with Lois Lane point to him moving on to do something else that could go more into his Kryptonian heritage. Which makes the timing of Kryptonian refugee’s suddenly appearing and Mongul power growing in the universe there is a solid foundation built for where Kennedy goes with Superman in Action Comics.
The only thing that is not connecting as well is the Midnighter back-up story. The character has just come off as bland Punisher-type that I’ve just never been a fan of. Given that Midnighter doesn’t have much of a connection to the Superman family I wish these back-up stories were given to members of Superman’s supporting cast that we aren’t seeing in the main stories of Action Comics or Superman.
REVIEWS: Action Comics #1030
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Ivan Reis
With Infinite Frontier opening things back up for the Multiverse to be explored it is good that titles like Batman/Superman are going with that direction. Especially with how many Batman and Superman titles we have in Infinite Frontier having the World’s Finest have adventures that are distinct to the Batman/Superman series is the right choice.
Adding in how we are seeing adventures with Superman in his original costume and the original Dynamic Duo being featured also gives this series something we aren’t getting anywhere else. The film-like framing of all the panels adds to how we are getting an adventure with the classic versions of Batman, Robin, and Superman that has consequences to the Multiverse. Yang’s writing along with Reis artwork make great use of the setting to build a mystery.
MISTER MIRACLE: THE SOURCE OF FREEDOM
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Fico Ossio
Shilo Norman is a character who hasn’t had much of a chance to get the spotlight in the modern era. The Mister Miracle most know is Scott Free. Giving Shilo a spotlight as Mister Miracle helps change things up for this mantle as we’ve gotten several comic books with Scott Free in them. And with this new series, Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom, Brandon Easton and Fico Ossio are of to a good start with the first issue.
What works so well with the first issue of Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom is how Easton and Ossio have mixed in a detective story with the cosmic setting we normally see the character involved in. Placing all the focus on how Shilo interacts with the world he is in and how he works as Mister Miracle further develops how different he is from Scott. That includes the supporting cast that is more Earth based, which makes how the cosmic elements of the New Gods clashes with that world standout even more.
SENSATIONAL WONDER WOMAN
Writers: Stephanie Phillips, Andrea Shea, Colleen Doran, Alyssa Wong, Corinna Bechko, Amy Chu, Sina Grace, Sanya Anwar
Artists: Meghan Hetrick, Bruno Redondo, David Baron, Eleonora Carlini, Dani, Maria Lura Sanapo, Paul Pelletier, Eva De La Cruz
Sensational Wonder Woman is a strong example of the power that there is with publishing an anthology series. This series is an opportunity for DC Comics fans to get to know writers that aren’t the normal names we’ve seen writing for the company for years. And all these writers getting a chance to tell their own Wonder Woman story gives them a major name that will draw fans in and get to know them. It also gives us a chance to get a lot of one and done stories that showcase Wonder Woman as a superhero taking on different types of challenges.
The one-shot nature of all the stories also gives various artists to draw Wonder Woman adventures. There is a wide variety of art styles with each story having its own unique look. It gives each story a life of their own while keeping with Wonder Woman’s iconic look.
The only reason I don’t grade Sensational Wonder Woman higher is because not every story is made to be read in the Digital First format the chapters are initially released in. The framing of certain panels both from a narrative and art side of things shows that this series was not done with the digital in mind first. Its more of a physical comic book that was cut to fit the Digital First format.
Writers: Phillip Kennedy Johnson; Sam Lewis
Artists: Phil Hester; Sami Basri; Scott Godlewski
When looking at the two main Superman titles it does really come down to preference in who the antagonist is. Both Action Comics and Superman are dealing with similar things as to what the future of the Man of Steel is. I just happen to prefer the Mongul story and how the Kryptonian legacy is being handled by Kennedy in Action Comics.
That is not to say that this Superman series isn’t also good. The Shadowbreed show that Kennedy is up to expand on the kind of threats that Superman traditionally fights. Adding to Superman’s rogues gallery helps to further how we have been seeing Kal-El dive deeper into the cosmic realm of the DC Universe since leading the charge for the United Planets to become a thing in the present timeline.
The series is also help by the enjoyable Jimmy Olson back-up story. It’s a change of pace to what we are getting in the main story with classic superhero action. It is also an opportunity to Jimmy to have his own story as Superman and Lois Lane are busy doing other things so he isn’t getting a chance to interact with them much these days.
SUPERMAN: RED & BLUE
Writers: John Ridley, Brandon Easton, Wes Craig, Dan Watters, Marguerite Bennett, Steven T. Seagle, Chuck Brown, Dan Pandsian, Stephanie Phillips, Jason Howard, Derrick Chew, Jesse J. Holland, Michel Fiffe, Brandon Thomas, Nick Spencer, James Stokoe
Artists: Clayton Henry, Steve Lieber, Wes Craig, Jill Thompson, Duncan Rouleau, Denys Cowan, John Stanisci, Dan Pandsian, Jason Howard, Laura Braga, Michel Fiffe, Berat Pekmezci, Christian Ward, James Stokoe
Similar Sensational Wonder Woman, Superman: Red & Blue’s anthology approach in presentation opens up the opportunity for every creative team to tell their own story. Superman: Red & Blue is the perfect example of how everyone has their own Superman story to tell. What is so great about this series is that every story has its own direction with the creative team maximizing their page count to tell their one-shot story involving Superman.
Having so many different creators working on their own story also makes Superman: Red & Blue a comic book that I can hand to non-comic book readers to show that Superman isn’t boring. There are a wide variety of stories to tell involving Superman that aren’t just punching. The character is multi-layered not just because he has the Superman and Clark Kent identity but the hope he represents the world. The different adventures all compliment each other well to tell this greater narrative of Superman’s legacy and how he is viewed throughout the DC Universe.
The artwork is also another stand out. There are so many different art styles that are being used in this series. Some you would not typically expect to see from a Superman comic book. But that is the beauty of an anthology series. We get to see each artist make create their own vision of Superman through their artwork.
Writer and Artist: Joelle Jones
The Wonder Woman world has always been bigger than Themyscira but it’s never grown beyond that. That’s mostly due to there mostly being one Wonder Woman ongoing series published at a time. Now with Wonder Woman gaining renewed mainstream popularity we are seeing the franchise given more attention by expanding its reach beyond Themyscira. The new Wonder Girl series starring Yara Flor, the breakout character from Future State, is an example of that. Just one issue in and we already got to see greater attention paid to the South American side of the Amazon mythology.
Joelle Jones has also done a good job in quickly establishing Yara Flor as someone who represents the current generation of kids. Even though it is not outright stated we are shown how Yara is part of the DREAMER generation as a kid who due to events involving Ares attacking the South American Amazons she ended up being taken to the United States to grow up. Starting out this way allows there to be a better connection to the character as we find Yara going back to Brazil for the first time since being forced to leave as a child.
Adding to this is the fact that Jones is making Yara’s debut a big deal within the DC Universe itself. We got the idea that she has a much bigger destiny ahead of her as not only was her presence felt by the different Amazon groups but by both the superhero and villain community. What this means for her place in the DC Universe makes Wonder Girl one of the titles that I’ve found myself most invested after one issue.
REVIEW: Wonder Girl #1
Writers: Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan; Jordie Bellaire
Artists: Travis Moore; Paulina Ganucheau
Wonder Woman is such an odd series. It started strong with a mystery around what is going on with Wonder Woman after she decided against joining The Quintessence group. This led her return to the main DC Universe being mysteriously sidetracked as she ended up on Asgard fighting a never-ending battle with the likes of Thor. That initially led to much of the series’ intrigue as to why this happened to Wonder Woman.
But with the most recent issue the story has started to lose some of its steam. The characters around Wonder Woman for this story just don’t come across as fully realized as they should given the gravity of the story. Its made the whole journey Wonder Woman is on come across as rushed. Maybe the arrival of the much teased Valkyries will change things up but the most recent issue did show the foundation for this first story arc in the Infinite Frontier era wasn’t as strong as initially believed.
That said the Young Diana back-up story has delivered a joyful story showing us what life was like for Diana growing up. Both the writing and art style capture the youthful energy the young Diana had at that age. It is a different look at the character we don’t normally get beyond flashbacks that has added value to the series.
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