Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods #3 review

The story so far: mad Greek deity Hera has killed Zeus and is sending gods and monsters to attack Earth, the idea being that this will get people worshipping the Olympians once more.

No, me neither. Anyway, Wonder Woman made a deal to spare the Amazons, but Hera immediately reneged on it and the ladies of Themyscira are being roundly attacked. Nu-Wonder Girl Yara Flor and The Hero Formerly Known as Captain Marvel have sneaked into Olympus in a bid to find out what the heck is going on. Unfortunately, the old wizard who bestowed the Shazam powers on Billy Batson has, for some reason, sided with Hera and blasted him into super-skinniness. Just look at him on Guillem March’s marvellously melodramatic cover, give that guy some butter.

The story continues this issue in fine style.

I kid. After a couple of pretty enjoyable chapters, this one was basically pants. We have Wonder Woman whining.

Billy Batson bawling.

And Etta Candy as Earth’s Last, Best Hope.

Oh dear. I mean, I’ve always liked Etta but the idea that she, along with pistol-packing Steve Trevor and dashing Asgardian Siegfried need to be there for Diana to best a mess of mythological freaks is ridiculous.

Of course heroes must endure dark times but they should find their own way back into the light. Instead we have Diana pulled up by, first Cheetah, then Steve Trevor; and Billy rescued by the odious Yara Flor and repowered by Amazon Queen turned Ghost Goddess Hippolyte.

Wonder Woman and Shazam were advertised as the stars of this mini-event, but on this showing it’s like writer G Willow Wilson doesn’t trust them at all. They’re both pretty useless, with Shazam getting the worst of it – not only does he have to put up with Wonder Girl putting him down, he compares himself negatively to twin Mary.

There’s a bit of Abbott and Costello-style business in which Billy is smuggled out of god jail disguised as a temple maiden, witch goddess Hecate having cast an illusion.

Ho Ho, Billy has girlie bits. Except he doesn’t, it’s an illusion, he shouldn’t be feeling any different to his usual selves. Cheap laffs.

The big reveal this time is the identity of the anorak-wearing mystery person who’s been helping our heroes. It turns out that it’s Ares. You know, the guy who fights Wonder Woman regularly. Why so shy? And he’s another villain thrust into a heroic role at the expensive of our supposed heroes. I tell you, my theory was so much better!

Oddly, given she’s the villain of the piece, Hera is nowhere to be seen this time. Ditto the old wizard… I hate to imagine what two immortals this demented might be up to.

The art continues to be pretty great, with Cian Tormey and Emanuela Lupacchino tag teaming. My favourite images this time centre on the face-off between Etta and her team (yes, that’s sarcasm) and the monstrous hordes of Hera. They’re by Lupacchino and colour artist Jordie Bellaire and soundly evoke power and chaos. It’s a shame, mind, that Ares looks like Steve Trevor’s hair-gelled twin.

I really enjoy the otherworldliness of Tormey’s floating Hecate who, with her three unconnected faces, is seriously creepy. And Pat Brosseau’s letters are, as ever, excellent.

This issue’s second, connected story has new Amazon queen Nubia and friends also fighting Hera’s horrors. They’re doing their best with the tools they have…

… but could do with a secret weapon. Enter Hippolyte, who’s having a busy week in the deus ex machina department. She’s gathered some pals.

Before revealing her hand Hippo has a good old snog with girlfriend Philippa. Which is nice for them, but confusing to me – how does transitioning from Amazon to goddess work? If Hippo has physical form along with her new powers, why doesn’t she stick around Paradise Island permanently and protect her sisters? Her specific area of interest is described as ‘patron goddess of the Amazons’.

And given Aphrodite appears among Hippo’s secret God Squad, is she faking behind Hera’s helpmate in the main strip? She’s betraying someone, but who?

Also, how are the ladies of Olympus fooling matriarch Hera, who has a magic viewing pool and spies with eyes?

Questions aside, this is a very nice piece of work by writers Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, penciller Alitha Martinez, inkers Mark Morales and John Livesay, colourist Alex Guimarães and letterer Becca Carey. There’s a nice visual transition between Philippius and a vision of the goddesses, all done via cosmic eyebrow – fair to say, I’ve not seen that previously. And how eerie is Hades?

I’d love to know your thoughts on this issue. Am I being too tough on the main strip – is it actually OK to have supposed lead characters with precisely no agency in a story involving gods who treat humans as pawns? All opinions appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods #3 review

  1. Couple of things, it’s Hecate who is the witch goddess, not Hestia, and at the beginning, you seem to have asked a question that is nowhere to be seen.

    I’ve enjoyed Wilson’s work before, but not here. I have to wonder if she has ever even heard of half of these characters. Cheetah is way too nice to Diana. Even when they team up on stuff, Cheetah can always be counted to say something awful to Diana. Yara Flor (Not Flow) is kind of a B in this story, and to be honest, except for the first few issues of her series (Whatever happened to that?) she has been a pretty awful character that is constantly being forced on us. Frankly I’d rather see Donna or Cassie than Yara. Come to think of it, where are Cassie, the actual daughter of Zeus, and Donna, an Amazon, in all of this? (I just realized Cassie and Diana are sisters in this continuity) and I am just tired of the Mary Sue characters that somehow always have to be better than the men at all things. (Not an alt-right nutcase here, just someone who, in this story, is noticing a troubling characterization of one of DC’s greatest super-heroes, Captain Marvel.)

    I am not clear on DC’s continuity, and I don’t think they are either, but is Shazam a brand new super-hero? And if he is currently accessing powers due to Hypolita’s blessing, should he not now possess the fighting prowess of an Amazon?

    Sorry, I am just a bit fed up with some of this stuff DC is doing. On her own WW should be able to basically wipe the floor with all those monsters. She can basically take on a Kryptonian, and now she is a goddess. Why is she so weak and ineffectual? Why does she need Yara Flor and the Etta Squad? Not that teamwork isn’t a good thing, but I find the logic in the plot here a problem, like Wilson just doesn’t know these characters or she was told what to write by someone wanting certain characters to be featured.

    I don’t mean to sound bitter, but this sucked!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the Hestia fix. I did change Yara’s surname while you were writing this – my MO is to write the review, proofread it, publish, then read the thing again. I caught ‘Flow’ but still missed Hestia. Grrr.

      Asked a question that’s nowhere to be seen? Do you mean ‘no, me neither’? That’s in reference to things I’ve described that just seem random and stupid, I’m imagining the trader shaking their head. I think you’re shaking your head. And nope, you’re not sounding bitter, you sound like the editor this book needed.


    2. Your reasonable and accurate criticism needing the qualification that you aren’t an “alt-right nutcase” is really sad yet totally understandable. The ultrarightwing extremist loons are all around now however depressingly the self-righteous but incredibly dopey writing of similarly extremist *supposedly* liberal people (I’m not sure *how* liberal or progressive it is to elevate one sex over another or to treat some characters as superior on the basis of sex/gender or race, surely that’s *exactly* what alt-right uberconservative loopy-loos do). Just looking at various comic book-based channels on YouTube shows the prominence of incredibly bitter individuals who are encouraged in their stances (not that they require *much* encouragement but virulent all-men-are-baaad/incompetent misandrism is as poisonous as misogyny) by the over-the-top and ludicrously repetitive – not to mention frequently poorly written – putdowns of male *and* some female characters in order to elevate newer and more often than not duller characters, who are more symbol than character.
      Wonder Woman and Captain Marv- uh Shazam needing Etta Candy and Sister Squad plus Scarpa Flow, um, Yara Flor or Mary Marvel to show them how it’s done is goofy. Neither Diana nor Billy have to be *perfect* (and they’ve rarely been shown to be so) but it is beyond ridiculous to portray them this way. The rampant Mary Sueing/character shilling is a truly bad idea and it stinks of bad writing (I absolutely loathed when Geoff Johns was borderline *expletive deleted* Hal Jordan/Green Lantern to show how grrreat he was at the expense of other characters, it never ever works. It’s like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson:s annoying movie characters).
      To end my exasperated rant, how many more stories do we have to suffer in which Gods or god-like characters go nuts or are shown to be heavily flawed? The Guardians of Oa/Jason Aaron’s various gods in Thor/the gods/the Wizard in this event, how many more? The problem is that the writers don’t seem to want to write within the logic of the worlds in which they are writing which seems – oh, I dunno, petulant/pompous/dull? It’s like writing a Black Panther story and saying “Does T’Challa really *have* to be Black and from Wakanda?” or a Kara Zor-El story and posing the question “does she have to be blonde, Superman’s cousin, and from Krypton/Argo City?” If you think the answer to those questions is “No” then fine create a different character and a different name/origin et cetera. Simples!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree about the gods, it seems to be authority figures in general who are mistrusted. Professor X, Hippolyta…. Perry White is probably the only senior boss figure in comics who gets the stay good.


      2. Oh yes, Professor X – the perfect example! Thirty years or so of “Perhaps Professor Xavier is manipulative or semivillainous. Yeuch. It really kicked into overdrive in the 2000s and beyond; now Charles is practically unrecognisable as himself, he’s now taken to wearing a fishbowllike Cerebro helmet with a big “X” on the front like a loony. Stupid stupid scripting.
        The “Bad Charley” nonsense came out of a few naive writing choices from the Sixties and Seventies that anyone sane or mature would simply ignore (just like we ignore that the Prof was crippled by a silly alien or that time Peter Parker grew four extra arms) rather than making those goofy stories/details central to his character. On the other hand, Wolverine and Batman are let off the hook for the very many crazy things (Police Academy reference there for you!) they have decided done over the years. Interesting. *cough*


  2. This reads like an amateur writer who has no experience with any of these characters. When I saw Phillipa and Hippolyta kiss, I knew I was the odd man out because I didn’t even know they ever had a relationship. Everyone is off. Steve Trevor literally has a handgun in a fight against gods. I don’t think anyone genuinely cared about this story, not editor, not writer, no one, which begs the question: what was the purpose of it?

    The comic nerd and classics geek in me are on a soapbox a mile-high:

    “Zeus is more powerful than all the other Olympians combined! He should be the lead, not Hera!”

    “Why doesn’t Billy use the Wisdom of Solomon??? Solomon isn’t a Greek or Roman god!”

    Maybe when it’s all over we can finally be rid of Mamaragan and have Jebediah back as the Wizard Shazam.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a waste. An out of nowhere story with mischaracterizations and nothing that seems additive to the DCU. I like Wilson’s writing and give her a pass on shitting on Billy since we’ve seen for years how editorial driven DC has been for years. It looks pretty too. Thanks for explaining the back up since Nubia is the comic version of Ambien for me and I skipped it.

    Liked by 1 person

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