By: Rex Ogle (writer), Eduardo Francisco (artist), Stefani Renee (colorist)

The Story: Daddy dearest, don’t you know dark magic only gives you skin problems?

The Review: With any luck, we all reach a certain point when we get our acts together, when our moral and ideological compass stabilizes, when we figure out how to deal with everyday situations on a consistent—if not successful—basis.  But get your family involved, and bam!—all your certainty flies out the window.  No one upsets your comfort zone more effectively, for dramatic or comedic effect, which is why family relationships make such excellent reading.

But as Ogle’s portrayal of father and daughter Thirteen proves, fictional blood ties require a lot of craft to have a convincing life beyond the cliché, just like any other kind of character work.  Aside from their haphazard wielding of magic, the Thirteens never break the stereotype of a girl and father who just have a hard time understanding each other (insert eye roll here), and Ogle’s uninspired writing never fools you into thinking they’ll find that happy middle ground in the end.

So this issue mostly involves stalling until the inevitable sappy ending.  The whole tension of the story boils down to whether or not Dr. Thirteen will really let his death ray satellite obliterate a sizable chunk of the Earth and its denizens.  Only Traci has the power to sway his actions, an uncomforting thought, given her defeatist attitude and his extreme mood changes, going from tender to murderous quite instantly multiple times throughout the action.

To snap him out of it, Traci applies two of my least favorite tropes in comics.  First, we have the “crucial revelation dropped in the middle of battle,” which can work if the new facts are really game-changers.  Traci admitting her facial scars are the result of a resurrection gone wrong feels irrelevant to the story and an obvious attempt to puppy-dog her for easy sympathy.  Then we also have the “One World” maneuver, where you get all the different voices of the world to come together to convince whoever that the world isn’t as bad as it seems.  I have one word: blergh.

The clichés don’t stop there, however; we also get a Messiah Effect: when someone dies and the act of dying inexplicably gives them enough power and/or wisdom to save the day!  Again, this kind of thing only works if it’s earned, but here, Traci profits from the Effect without it being really clear what she gained or learned to deserve it.  Later she puts her experiences together to achieve the aforementioned “One World” scene, but her messianic moment just feels forced.

We’ve all experienced some shallow, formulaic, even stupid dialogue in our reading (see Scott Kollins and almost everything he’s written so far), but I’d like to submit one choice bit from this issue that probably takes the cake for, hands-down, the worst lines written this year: “So this is what dying is like.  Ouch.”  You can’t tell if Ogle means this to be funny or dead serious (Wordplay!).  And he also never describes what dying is like, so it’s pointless on top of terrible.

Considering the fraught melodrama Ogle wants to infuse into the script, a different artist should have worked on this title, as Francisco’s doe-eyed characters, undisciplined lines (swirls for energy attacks!), and awkward, rudimentary posing makes all the proceedings look busy and dumbed-down, like Todd Nauck on a really, really bad day.  His double-splash of the final battle on New Themyscira never reaches any intensity at all, looking more like a collage of sketches patched together.  None of this is helped by Renee’s childish palette of colors.

Conclusion: For a whole issue of clichés, it’s only appropriate I remark on it with an old one: this is the perfect example of how to not write a worthwhile comic.

Grade: D-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Sure, you destroyed a satellite, but try to keep in mind that’s only one disaster averted and the world’s still going to hell in a handbasket.  No?  You still want piggyback time?  Okay.