Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: The Rain Falls...So Does Wonder Woman?

Isn't it a great time to be a woman in comics? 

OK, I'm not speaking from personal experience. I am most certainly a guy and not a woman*. 

*Not since my cabaret act in Reno got cancelled 3 years ago.  

But from what I can see on the outside looking in, there are more women working in comics as writers and artists than I've ever seen before. Granted there are more barriers to be broken before women are fully accepted as equals in the comics industry but significant inroads have been made. With writers like Gail Simone, Marjorie Lui and Kelly Sue Donnick and artists such as Nicola Scott, Ming Doyle and Fiona Staples, we're seeing women who can produce high quality work with the best of their male counterparts. 

But with increasing chances to show their worth, this growth towards equality can lead to examples of the other side of the coin: women who can produce work that sucks just as badly as men. 

Case in point: Wonder Woman#36

This is not the first time a woman has written Wonder Woman: Trina Robbins, Mindy Newell and Gail Simone have taken their turns with the Amazon Princess. But still, it’s a man’s world so a woman writer on Wonder Woman’s comic is still a big deal.
So, if may I be blunt, who the hell is Meredith Finch?
The short answer is she’s the wife of David Finch, the new WW artist and all around Big Man At DC. Which may explain why Meredith Finch is the writer…if we were living in the 1950’s. But it’s the freaking 21st century and a woman’s identity is more than being someone’s wife. So for Meredith Finch to get the plum assignment of writing one of DC’s most iconic characters and collaborating with one of DC’s hottest artists, I imagine Meredith Finch is quite a good writer. Surely this is not nepotism of the lowest order run amuck.
Here’s page 1 of Wonder Woman#36.

OK, we’re not off to a good start. Those captions would be right at home on some educational film on the power and the value of water. It’s all so functionary; no drama, no power. 
It doesn’t help that yes, you can start a comic book off talking about rain but only if you’re Alan Moore and it’s page 1 of The Anatomy Lesson. This is not Alan Moore but that’s not fair to Meredith Finch because no one is Alan Moore other than Alan Moore and I’m not sure about him these days.
But the lesson here is that if you’re going to start your super hero comic with a description of rain, it better be a powerful, kick ass description of rain.
Now you may think I’m really beating up on poor Meredith with the rain thing. It’s just one page, right?
Nope, there’s two more pages of these…remarks on rain. Or is it about water in general? I’m not sure.
OK, let’s look at some super hero stuff! 

The good news is Meredith has stopped talking about rain/water/rainwater.
The bad news is this has gotten worse.
This and the pages that follow are just a gratuitous excuse for Wonder Woman to be in action against Captain Punching Bag…er, Swamp Thing

Meredith Finch has Wonder Woman say, “vegetative injustice”. 


The "vegetative injustice" here is the number of trees felled to be turned into paper for this drivel.  Add the word “holy” in front of it and Robin can use it in an issue of Batman ’66 when the Dynamic Duo go up against Poison Ivy*.

*"Holy vegetative injustice, Batman! Poison Ivy has us trapped for sure!"
"Indeed, Boy Wonder, old chum! It could only get worse if it starts to rain!"

 And really, why is Swamp Thing there?*

*Other than to force Mike Sterling to buy the book.**
**Go read Progressive Ruin
Oh, right. “A disturbance in the green.”

Guys and gals, I’m feeling bad here because it seems like I’m piling on, being unduly harsh to Mrs. Finch. And maybe I am. A woman named “Meredith” broke my heart once and it could be unduly influencing my perspective. Or it could be….and I’m so, so sorry to say this…this is just bad writing. Lots of empty big panels that do nothing to enhance or move the story forward with other pages crammed with clunky expository dialogue.
Maybe, just maybe, Meredith Finch has a future as a comic book writer. But Wonder Woman#36 is just not a good start.
Gotta go. It’s starting to rain. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Carl Kasell

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