Monday, February 29, 2016

Wonder Woman ‘77 Chapter 16 Review and *SPOILERS*

I Like My Ivory Like My Eggs: Scrambled

Written By: Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage
Art By: Dario Brizuela, Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters By: Wes Abbott
Digital Price: $0.99
Release Date: February 29, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

It’s Leap Day! The one extra day every four years that anything can happen! Why, you might go to sleep in your own bed and wake up in Tahiti! Or you could fall into an open manhole right onto a pile of money! Or you might idly decide to look at what’s been “Just Added” at the DC Digital Store, and discover a new chapter of Wonder Woman ’77 has been released with no advance warning or fanfare! Wait, that’s true of every day in the year. Yep, a new chapter beginning a new two-part story came out today, and as usual it’s like someone farted into the wind. This one has not one writer, but two—and they’re a husband and wife team: Christos and Ruth Fletcher Gage! That’s an interesting hook upon which to promote a comic book, right? Hello? You still promote comic books, right DC? Wait a minute…this phone I got that’s supposed to be a hotline to DC Comics is just a banana and a tissue box! Well, if they’re not going to talk up their digital line, I suppose it’s up to me. Read on for my recap and review!

Explain It!:

Diana “Wonder Woman” Prince and her colleague/romantic interest Steve Trevor are down at the docks dispatching some smugglers. A couple of them are about to get away in a boat, so Diana wrenches a giant crane out of the ground and just sort of tosses it at them. I can accept that her throw is so precise that the smugglers were not in danger, but how is this a way to capture anyone? Was the idea to distract them and use that opportunity to apprehend? If so, tossing a glass bottle would have had the same result. Trevor notes that Army Brass will take care of the bill, which is basically an admission that the military-industrial complex wipes their asses with our tax dollars. Wonder Woman and Steve take a peek at the smugglers’ ill-gotten booty, and discover a warehouse packed with elephant tusks (and some skulls)—these criminals are dealing in ivory!

This is actually a pretty interesting storyline, because in 1977—ostensibly when this comic takes place—ivory trade was still legal, though heavily restricted. Much of the world’s ivory was procured through the illegal poaching of elephants, often secretly sanctioned by local governments in Africa and Asia. Centuries of ivory trade had already eliminated the elephant in North Africa, and had virtually depleted their numbers elsewhere. By 1989, with many elephant species endangered and extinct, killing the gentle giants for ivory was deemed illegal internationally—but in 1977, this business existed legally yet was exploited for tremendous profit. Steve Trevor more or less explains this to Diana, who then does that pouty thing with his bottom lip that he can’t resist, and the next thing you know they are on a plane to Africa.

There, Wonder Woman meets Grace Mbesi of the Internal Security Force—I suppose they’re in the country of Internal?—who has been tasked with curtailing elephant poaching. Diana is impressed to see a woman in such a position, but Grace admits that it reflects how unimportant her country’s leaders consider the job—something she intends to correct! She goes further to explain that a new poacher named Orion the Hunter has set up shop on the plain, and armed his people with military rifles in order to, uh, cut through the elephants’ flak vests. I mean, we haven’t seen any wearing flak vests, but they could start. You don’t want go hunting elephants with a measly 84 caliber gun and find out they’re wearing flak vests resistant up to 85 caliber. Then you’d be screwed.

The next day, Wonder Woman gives a speech to members of the press assembled on the savannah about how poaching elephants is lame and shouldn’t be done. She’s there with the leader of the country of Internal, whose name we don’t even learn. Who cares? Some asshole that’s allowing his elephants to be killed for their tusks, that’s all. While Wonder Woman tells him off a little, Grace runs over to say that while she was playing all high and mightly elephant lover, Orion the Hunter and his men killed an elephant in a remote area of the park. The two women rush over to discover the dead beast, being mourned by a bunch of doleful-looking elephants. Diana talks to one of the elephants to find out where Orion went, and the pachyderm points her trunk to the left. Oh, you didn’t know Wonder Woman could talk to animals? Yep, that’s one of her more awesome powers from the TV show. Bless the Gages for bringing it back into play. The same nameless leader of the country shows up, or may have been standing behind a tree in the previous scene, but he wears a stupid tie and nobody even knows his name, so who cares?

Grace and Wonder Woman take a Jeep over to the estate of Arthur Okadigbo, a wealthy supporter of this wildlife preserve who donated much of the land in use. They go to him for help, to find out whether or not he’s seen the poachers go by, but I bet you’re thinking he’s secretly Orion the Hunter? Well, I’ll tell you what: you’re right! And now Grace and Diana are being held at gunpoint by his thugs! 

This is a pretty cool story, seems to fit right in with the television show, yet it’s nothing they could have done for lack of money to destroy giant cranes or fly a crew to Africa. The art is good, but not great—some of the faces look like they’re sliding off their heads. But it is definitely decent and there are some select panels, like when Wonder Woman interacts with elephants, that look cool. I’d say this is a worthwhile story to read for a buck. It’s not going to make you pump your fist in the air with joy, but then it won’t make you annoyed and disgusted with the character like a certain Wonder Woman comic out now that need not be named, but is definitely not Legend of Wonder Woman, which is another awesome comic book you should be reading.

Bits and Pieces:

This is what you call a nice comic story. It’s not incredible, and the artwork is just about passable, but upon completion I feel you will consider the money and time investment to be worthwhile. Since you’re taking investment advice, would you like to contribute to my Kickstarter campaign? I’m trying to raise enough money so I can buy the license to publish Wonder Woman comics and hire the folks doing the digital-first comics to write them. I mean, for crap’s sake. I want to see Diana protecting elephants, not whatever the hell is happening over in the main book.

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