For most comic books, the biggest draw for a comic book is the title character or team, with the writer and penciller being close behind in driving readers to a book – Batman is usually going to sell a bunch regardless of who’s working on it, whereas Conan isn’t going to move anyone’s needle without someone of Jason Aaron’s caliber working on it. So please understand that I recognize how out of the ordinary what I’m about to say is:
You should read Wonder Woman #66 for Mick Gray’s inks and Romulo Fajardo’s colors.
The two job titles are moving in different directions in today’s comics industry. We’ve been known to get on one about colorists in the past, so it’s probably no surprise that we’re big fans of the work Romulo Fajardo is doing on Wonder Woman. The advent of digital coloring hit about 20 years ago, and once people figured out how to do it well, it enabled some incredibly talented people to add depth and sophistication to their color work in comics. There have always been talented colorists working in the industry, but in the last decade or so, you’ve seen more people get wildly creative with how they apply color theory in a storytelling medium that is incredibly dependent on it, and Fajardo is one of the underappreciated ones. He’s had his hands in a ton of incredible books over the last several years, including The Omega Men and Midnighter, setting pallettes and helping amp up tones and action in books that were dependent on those things as much as they were on dialogue or fight choreography.
Inking, on the other hand, is a dying art in part because of the advent of digital production (and in part, I’m convinced, because of the rising cost of physical comics production encouraging cost cutting on the staff side, as well as stagnated page rates making pencillers want to keep more of the originals for convention sales man I could talk about this for hours). So finding any inker on a book is rare, and finding one as talented as Mick Gray is like…I don’t know, something difficult but not impossible. Catching striped bass by hand? Overpowering a smart car? Help me out.
Anyway, Gray is incredible. And it’s insane to say this about a guy who worked with JH Williams on Promethea, but I think his best work has been with Patrick Gleason, first on Batman and Robin and later Superman. Gleason’s art, as we’ve seen since he joined Brian Michael Bendis on Young Justice and Action Comics, is terrific in its own right, but Gray’s inks added a heft and weight to it that was essential to making those earlier stories work. It changed his style a lot. And it does the same thing for Cary Nord’s pencils on Wonder Woman.
Nord and writer G. Willow Wilson are known quantities. Wilson is an exceptionally talented writer (even prose – go read Alif the Unseen) and her work on Wonder Woman is fresh and exciting and entertaining. Nord is incredible, like a looser, faster Phil Noto crossed with a Kubert, but it can tend towards the sketchier side from time to time. The shorthand rundown on issue #66, which DC sent a preview of, is Nord’s art nails the motion (it’s basically Wonder Woman and Giganta fighting giant rock monsters in a national park – so good); Gray’s inks help ground his art a little bit (you really feel some of the punches), and Fajardo’s colors sell the mood (the last page of the issue made me EXTREMELY ready for spring). Here’s what DC has to say about the issue.
WONDER WOMAN #66 written by G. WILLOW WILSON
art by CARY NORD and MICK GRAY
cover by TERRY DODSON and RACHEL DODSON
variant cover by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
Wonder Woman’s mother is missing—and so is Aphrodite’s son! Together, they’ll turn the world upside down to find them…if the world doesn’t get turned upside down by a pack of wayward Titans first! By far the biggest survivors of the decimation of Olympus have taken up residence in Rocky Mountain National Park, and they’re not moving!
Check out the preview pages. They’re legit great.