July 6, 2012

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Ame-Comi 1: Wonder Woman 1-3

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrated by Amanda Conner (issues 1-2), Tony Akins (issue 3), and Walden Wong (issue 3)
DC

Follow the adventures of a very different Wonder Woman than the one currently starring in her main DC Universe book.  In this new series based on the popular (if controversial) statues that re-imagine the DC heroines, Diana is a young, impetuous Princess who is not one bit happy about being sent out into the larger world.  She doesn't have much time to dwell on her displeasure, however, as Cheetah has plans to kill a member of the United Nations.  It's all part of something bigger in the new Ame-Comi series from DC.

One of the things I like about the digital first comics from DC (and other publishers) is that they are often 99 cents.  That means I can sample something and see if it might be for me.  In this case, it wasn't very hard to convince me, given that I am a huge fan of Amanda Conner's art and also a fan of the writing team of Palmiotti and Gray, whom I follow regularly with the Jonah Hex work.  They don't disappoint here, getting a chance to play in the DC sandbox and do whatever they like (albeit with all female characters and some rather unfortunate costumes).

This opening set of comics in the Ame-Comi world works hard to tell a strong story within each issue while also building up the changed status quos.  Thanks to some amazing Conner art, the first issue zips along despite being primarily an origin issue as it transitions into showing Diana as a fearless badass who has a mind of her own, contrasting with the outfit she is forced to wear and the role given by her mother.  I love that Palmiotti and Gray actually discuss how ridiculous the Ame-Comi costume is, and I'm actually a bit surprised that DC let them get away with it.  Over the course of these issues, we see that Wonder Woman is a strong female character who doesn't bow down to others, even when society says that she should, and the result is that lives are saved.  The message is very positive within an idea that could have been a disaster, and I give the writing pair a huge amount of credit for making this work.

Palmiotti and Gray are helped along by Conner's art in the first two issues.  Her ability to create amazing facial features really sells certain moments of the comic, like when Diana is fighting Minotaurs for fun or railing against treatment she feels is unfair.  Conner is also very good at making female characters look strong while also being very attractive.  There's nothing wrong with Wonder Woman being sexy, but it needs to be appropriate sexy.  As she did with Power Girl, Conner gets the difference.

Unfortunately, Conner does not finish up the mini, and Tony Akins, while he might be a solid artist under other circumstances, just pales in comparison.  When reading these back to back, the first splash page of the Akins/Wong team is brutal.  Gone is the power and detail and emotion, replaced by storytelling that is competent, but not amazing.  Akins does a lot better once we leave Wonder Woman and move on to the villains of the piece, where there is no visual comparison.  I will say that Akins, like Conner, does try to be as respectful of these character as possible and does not exploit costumes that are ripe for the prospect.


While I am enjoying the current series of Wonder Woman, I can't help but feel like it's a Vertigo title that just happens to feature Diana.  Ame-Comi Wonder Woman, on the other hand, has the feel of a Wonder Woman book, with lots of action, snappy dialog, and the patented Palmiotti-Gray humor.  (Look for a great example of this at the end of issue 3 involving the magic lasso.)  Anyone with a love of the action-oriented Diana and a Comixology account needs to pick this series up right away.  It's highly entertaining and highly recommended!