Greg Rucka returns to his old haunting grounds and reminds us once again his special ability to make the Amazon Princess the Heroine she deserves to be. Next to Perez and Simone, Rucka is probably one of my top three favorite WW writers of all time. As the dead return to torment those they loved, for Diana it is the one life that she took that changed her forever – Maxwell Lord! The setting is perfect for this story, Washington D.C. Its rich history of honor and duty is the perfect backdrop to the internal conflict that Princess Diana has always faced as a leader of her own people and those of man’s world. In one of the most chilling scenes of this event, to date, Nicola Scott horrifically brings not only the dead soldiers of Arlington Cemetery back to life, but the Unknown Soldier as well. This is a solid addition to this event and it’s nice to see Greg Rucka getting a chance to write Wonder Woman again. My Score: B+
This is a good week for DC. Jonah Hex, BN: WW, and this one. Matt Sturges has a firm grip as well as a terrific grasp on these characters. The wisdom of splitting up such a huge team as what the JSA had become is apparent from the very beginning. The characters are able to shine more, each being given at least a couple of panels to show us who they are and what they are made of. Even the usually neglected Hourman has a great moment on the phone with his wife. Not thrilled about separating these two when we really haven’t seen much of them together, but I nitpick. Even the usually annoying Magog isn’t as irritating in this first issue. Perhaps there is hope for this character after all. Extra points for such a wonderful moment between Kara and Courtney as well as the revelation of the bad guy at the end of the first issue; it’s always nice to see a classic villain return. My Score: B+
The first issue of the Gillen/Tan run is interesting, and for the most part... enjoyable. However, there is a definite change in pacing here; one that is most noticeable with the departure of JMS. Is it distracting? Yes... and no. If Gillen continues the pacing and is able to keep a better schedule, this could be much more fun and interesting than the JMS run. On the other hand, his dialogue seems just a tad stilted in this first issue – something that may come in time. Not a huge fan of Tan’s art, but I’ve never found it to be as horrible as some fan boys make it out to be. I’m still in this for the long haul and I’ve got every bit of confidence that this will continue to be a solid book for the Marvel Company. My Score B-
This book is a classic case on why I think Bendis is such an uneven writer. Sometimes I really enjoy him, others times his writing drives me up a frickin’ wall. Case in point, the opening to this annual is well written with an exceptionally insightful look into Marvel Boy’s thoughts since leaving the Dark Avengers. It crashes quickly, though, as Bendis does the dialogue back and forth that has become his trade mark. When done right, he carries it off better than any other writer I know. See Ultimate Spider-Man for exactly how perfect it can work. See New Avengers for just how annoying it can get. A sign of a great writer can take a group of heroes and make every voice distinctive and their own. A good writer can do it with most characters and an average writer can do it with a few of them. As much as I think Brian Michael Bendis is a real visionary in the Marvel Universe, this Annual proves that he still borders between being an average writer and being a good one. My Score: C+
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