Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This quasi-week: Chris Claremont. Today’s page is from Superman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy #4, which was published by DC and is cover dated 1997. Enjoy!
It’s been 15 years since I read this comic (since I bought it, in fact), so I honestly have no clue what’s going on in it. It’s an Elseworlds comic, I know that, and Claremont, who ditched Marvel for a time in the mid-1990s to work for DC (did Sovereign Seven really last 36 issues?), teamed up with Dusty Abell on this four-issue series (whatever happened to Dusty Abell?). So we get this first page, where Claremont uses the tried-and-true method of having a newscaster explain what the heck is going on. Manoli Wetherell is reporting, which is somewhat hilarious. Wetherell exists in the real world (she works for NPR), plus, Claremont used her in the Uncanny X-Men back in the day, so perhaps this DC Elseworlds takes place in Marvel-616. Wetherell tells us that the president is dead, which is the big shocker of the page. Then, to hammer the point home, she tells us that the president and first lady are Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris, and Air Force One has crashed. The use of a newscaster is always clever, and Claremont sets up the scenario quite nicely. Even if you’re a new reader and miss the Easter egg, at least you get that this is a fairly traumatic event.
The caption boxes (good old Tom Orzechowski letters this) are placed well along the smoke trail that Abell draws (Drew Geraci inked this, by the way) leading to the plane, which is a nice way to lead our eyes down to the wreckage. That helps us take in the entire scene of the plane sticking out of the Capitol building, which is a horrific scene but which is oddly humorous – why didn’t the plane break up? Abell does a good job with the splash, as the destruction is in the background and the firefighters are in the foreground, placing the men who are trying to save lives in the forefront. It’s a nice way to show the destruction but not overwhelm the human factor. Gloria Vasquez, who colors the book, does a nice job with the shadows thrown by the fire (I suppose that could be Geraci or Abell, too, but let’s give credit to Vasquez). The marble of the Capitol is quite keen, too – it’s not quite white, and that helps highlight both the time of day and the eerie light of the flames. The sky is nicely lit by the flames, too, as it bleeds from pink to purple as we get higher.
This is a pretty dynamic page for an image of the aftermath of a place crash (dang, that’s a lot of prepositional phrases). It’s nice-looking and it’s intriguing enough to make you turn the page, so Claremont and Abell do their job. Well, I think they do!
Next: Okay, I’ll do a page from Uncanny X-Men. Don’t twist my arm! Remember – there’s already some Uncanny X-Men in the archives!
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