Sunday, July 30, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies, by Greg Rucka & Liam Sharp


Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies
(Wonder Woman, Volume V, No. 1)
Greg Rucka, Writer
Liam Sharp, Artist
Trade Paperback, 128 pages
DC Comics
February 28, 2017
Graphic Novels, Superhero Fiction
Source: eBay

SynopsisA part of DC Universe: Rebirth!

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Rucka returns to Wonder Woman! After suffering an unimaginable loss, Diana must rebuild her mission as Earth's ultimate protector and champion. However, in the midst of her grief, her Lasso of Truth stopped working! Start down the rabbit hole as dark secrets from Wonder Woman's past unravel her present!

From the ashes of DC Universe: Rebirth, critically acclaimed writer Greg Rucka, along with illustrator Liam Sharp, unveil a tale that will forever alter the DC icon in Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies!

Collecting: Wonder Woman 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, Rebirth



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31223882-wonder-woman-volume-1




It's been years since I last read a comic book. I used to devour them when I was a kid. And this is my very first review of a graphic novel on this blog. Up to now, I have avoided reading and reviewing them because to me, they're not quite books. What I do like about them is that their quality is much higher than that of comic books. The paper, ink, colors, and binding are far superior. Other than that, though, graphic novels are basically comic books.

The main reason I decided to pick up this particular novel is that I've recently seen and LOVED the new "Wonder Woman" movie. A couple of days afterward, I happened to be at Barnes & Noble, and saw a display of all the newly published Wonder Woman graphic novels. I bought this one on eBay, though. 

I was hoping to recapture my former enthusiasm for comic books, and this story certainly got my attention. Not that I'm entirely satisfied with this particular graphic novel, though. What really grabbed me was the SUPERB artwork! After all, that's the whole emphasis of comics and their more elegant cousins, graphic novels. Not all comics illustrators have the level of excellence shown here, however.

Liam Sharp lives up to his name, as his visual creations here are indeed SHARP. There are several, absolutely GORGEOUS, very dynamic, large panels interspersed throughout this novel that are just totally breathtaking. He has drawn Wonder Woman as a very powerful, yet totally feminine, character. His line is flowing, sinuous, filling up the whole page of these larger panels. Wonder Woman explodes off these pages! Now I'm asking myself WHY I have never been a Wonder Woman fan before! (Well, I never heard of her when I was a kid. This despite the fact that she was created by William Moulton Marston in the 1940s. Hmmm.... methinks I smell something rotten in the state of Denmark.... )

I can't get over how AWESOME Sharp's artwork is! Yes, there's a darkness to it; in fact, there's even an element of horror, as when he draws a very grotesque character named "Urzkartaga" (UGH. Even the name sounds ugly.) It was almost more than I could take, and yet, I had to admit that Sharp's depiction of this character is excellent.

The smaller panels are very well done, too. There's one slight quibble I have here, though.... in one of these panels, at the beginning of the novel, Sharp has drawn Princess Diana (Wonder Woman) as a baby. That would not normally be a problem, except that he's given her an adult woman's mouth, lipstick and all. Lol. I'm scratching my head on that one.

Overall, though, I must repeat that Sharp's art is nothing short of BRILLIANT. I wish I could study drawing with this guy!

I was less pleased with the narrative, which I thought was pretty disjointed.

The story starts with Wonder Woman wandering around (no pun intended), asking herself why she can't find her way back to Themyscira, which is the idyllic island where she grew up, the daughter of Hyppolita, the Amazon queen, and the Greek god Zeus. Over several pages, she engages in an existential questioning of what's going on, repeating to herself, "The story keeps changing". She then goes searching for answers. This is the story's underlying theme, which is then layered to bring in another plot line: a mission undertaken by Steve Trevor and a small company of men, who need to rescue some kidnapped girls in Bwunda, a fictional African country. 

Trevor is Wonder Woman's love interest in this novel, as he is in the new movie. I'm not sure if he's her permanent boyfriend or not; I really need to catch up with the background and world of this female superhero. 

In the movie, Steve was a wonderful character -- funny, sweet, a total gentleman, and very brave. He was also quite young. In this book, he's drawn as older, and he comes across as much more serious, with barely any humor. He's just as brave here, though. He and Wonder Woman do love each other here, as well. In fact, there are a few panels dedicated to their reunion, which is very sweet and romantic. And Steve is jealous, because Wonder Woman had previously dated Superman (in older comic books). I thought that was interesting. I wonder if Greg Rucka, the writer of this story, was giving voice to male insecurity here. After all, Wonder Woman is POWERFUL. Of course she would probably prefer to date a guy who is just as powerful as she is. Regular guys don't stand a chance! Lol.

The main problem with this book is that it doesn't read like a "Volume I". There are obvious references to a previous story. Well, it is part of a series, as noted above -- Volume V, No. 1. So there's a LOT in this story that struck me as having no background at all. For instance, one of the characters is a woman turned into a cheetah by Urzkartaga. Her real name, the reader discovers, is Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva. Wonder Woman seeks her out, in Bwunda, for help in finding Themyscira. This is not explained in the story. It's obvious that the two women were previously friends, but why would this cheetah/woman be able to help Wonder Woman find her home island? There must be a reason, and that was probably brought out in a previous book. 

In addition to the cheetah/woman, there are a couple of female secondary characters, like Etta, the mission leader, and someone named Sasha, who doesn't appear to be quite what she seems. In the last few pages, another powerful female character appears -- Veronica Cale, the CEO of a vast corporate empire, who owns two downright MEAN Dobermans. 

These secondary characters seem to have little connection to the story, or, instead, a new story seems to be taking off with them. But nothing is explained, and I found this a bit confusing. I suppose things WILL be explained in a subsequent installment, but I still thought something was going on that we readers were totally clueless about.

The story ended with no real resolution to the main theme, and the whole thing with Cale and the Dobermans leaves the reader hanging. 

In addition to the jumbled-up events in the story, I also thought it was rushed. The resolution of the part in which some young women had been kidnapped, in order to be given to Urzkartaga, was just too easy to be believable. 

In short, this graphic novel is quite a mixed bag for me. The art overpowers the story. It didn't have to be that way. In this type of fiction, the art and the story are supposed to be woven seamlessly together. Unfortunately, that was far from being the case here. However, Rucka is an acclaimed novel and comic book writer, so I'm sure he's done better work elsewhere.

MY RATING:







Greg Rucka is an American comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on such comics as Action Comics, Batwoman: Detective Comics, and the miniseries Superman: World of New Krypton for DC Comics, and for novels such as his Queen & Country series.






 Liam Sharp is a British artist, writer and publisher. His debut work started in the late 1980s drawing Judge Dredd for 2000 AD. Since then he has worked for numerous comic publishers including Marvel UK, Marvel Comics, DC comics, Image, Dynamite Comics, Verotick, as well as many others. He has published his first novel. He has worked with advertising campaigns as well as done design work and produced art for various magazines. He has worked on designs for various movies including : "Lost in Space", "Small Soldiers", and the animated series "Batman Beyond".

In 2004 Liam established MamTor™ Publishing with his wife Christina. In October 2011, Liam Sharp co-founded Madefire with Ben Wolstenholme and Eugene Walden, in Berkeley, CA, and is the company's CCO. 






6 comments:

  1. Great post Maria. It has also been years since I read a graphic novel. Many that have come out over the last few decades look very good.

    The artwork in this one sounds so good. Too bad that the story was disjointed and a bit weak. I almost always become frustrated when I jump into a series in the middle.

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    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!! <3 :)

      I remember reading the graphic novel for the first Twilight book, some time back. I never finished it, though. I didn't like the fact that the characters had no resemblance to the actors in the movie.

      Yes, the artwork in this one is just FABULOUS!! I was very disappointed in the story, though. I think that the writer should have included a short summary of the previous book, so readers would know what was going on. It's just too bad.... I've even thought of getting rid of this novel, but I do LOVE the art, so I won't.

      Thanks for the nice comment!! Hope you're having a GREAT day!! <3 :)

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  2. Well at least the artwork was amazing! Art can really make or break a book. It's too bad the narrative didn't live up to the art, though.

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    1. Hi, there!

      Yeah, the artwork was DEFINITELY amazing! However, I can't say I love this graphic novel, because the narrative just match the quality of the art. I'm SO disappointed....

      Thanks for commenting!! Hope you're having a GREAT day!! ,3 :)

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  3. Okay, I'm not letting Mom see this post because I'm definitely getting her this for her collection! We just adore Wonder Woman; the movie was INCREDIBLE, and we can't wait for Leigh Bardugo's Warbringer that releases in August! And the movie novelization looks incredible, too. We can't wait to get our hands on this graphic novel -- me especially after your amazing review! I'm sorry the story and art felt a bit unbalanced for you and that you have mixed feelings. But I'm glad you were still able to enjoy aspects of it :-) WONDERFUL post, Maria *BIG BIG HUGS AND LOVE* <3 <3 <3

    ~Mckenzie

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    1. Hi, Mckenzie!

      Oh, how WONDERFUL that you're giving your mom this graphic novel for her collection!! And I'm SO HAPPY that you both love Wonder Woman!! I had not been a fan until I saw this movie. OMG, OMG, OMG!!!! IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!!! And yes, I can't WAIT for Leigh Bardugo's "Warbringer", either!!!!! We STILL have to wait a few more weeks.... AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!! LOL.

      Yes, the movie novelization looks REALLY GOOD!! I will be reading it pretty soon.

      Thanks as always for your lovely compliment!! I had some trouble with this review, because I really wanted to LOVE this novel, but well....I was disappointed in the narrative. I sure hope you both enjoy it more than I did!! SUPER SQUISHY HUGS AND LOVE TO YOU & MICHELE!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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