Weekly Wonder Woman: Sensation Comics #13, Superman Unchained #9, Smallville Continuity #11

Sensation Comic #13

Now that Futures End is out the way, ‘Superman Doomed’ is over, and Azzarello and Chiang have gone on to pastures new, it’s all gone a bit quiet on the Wondy front. Last week gave us a couple of guest appearances by Diana in Superman Unchained and Smallville: Continuity, and I’ll have a brief chat about them after the jump. But the only big appearance was the conclusion to the two-part story ‘Generations’. Was it any good? And doesn’t anyone do any research at DC?

These questions and probably not many others will be answered after the jump.

Sensation Comics #13
As we all recall, in issue #12, Wonder Woman wasn’t doing especially well in a fight against Cheetah. Diana was after a Phoenix egg, Cheetah was after the egg because Diana was after the egg – cue the mayhem.

Meanwhile, back on Paradise Island, the Amazons were entertaining themselves and Diana’s mum, Hippolyta, with a dance.

In issue #13, essentially we had more of the same.

Diana and Cheetah fight

All begins to look bad for Wonder Woman, who has a collapsed lung, once Cheetah runs around fast enough to suck the air away.

Wonder Woman burns

Except Diana recalls an inspiring speech from her mother from around the campfire and finds new-found strength to take on Cheetah.

Diana beats up Cheetah

And then up pops Hippolyta to help – she’s been keeping an eye on things – dressed in her Golden Age Wonder Woman outfit.

Hippolyta arrives as Golden Age Wonder Woman

Yes, it turns out that all this has been to get her mum a birthday present.

World's best mom mug

Is it any good?
Well, it’s a definite step up from the previous issue, but fundamentally it suffers from the same flaw.

One of the biggest dilemmas for any Wonder Woman writer is whether to write something interesting or something ‘right’. For many fans, women particularly, Wonder Woman and the DC Amazons are examples of a feminist utopia, women at their best, sisters working together for the greater good. Certainly, post-Crisis and in the hands of Gail Simone in particular, Wonder Woman became the collective daughter of an island of childless women – they were all her mothers in some sense.

A big complaint against the nu52 has been the destruction of this ideal and its replacement with an island of quarrelsome warrior women who every so often go out to seduce sailors then murder them, before selling off any resulting male babies to the god Hephaestus in exchange for magic weapons.

Not quite so edifying, hey? And yet, horrible in many ways though this is, Brian Azzarello did at least produce something interesting that people (albeit not all people) wanted to read.

By contrast, while one can argue that the lack of positive representations of women, particularly mother-daughter relationships, means that the storylines of the likes of Sensation Comics #12-13 should be treasured and saluted, they’re also dull. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. Which is why, when Volumes 2-3 of Wonder Woman were filled with positive female relationships and storylines like this, the readerships figures were low. Low, low, low, low, low.

I mean we all should want to read it, but yet another story about how much Diana and Hippolyta love each other, combined with a very weak, not-even-a metaphor about women finding the strength they have inside? Again? Okay, there’s not much of that around in the nu52 these days, and if you never read Volumes 2 and 3, you might find this all new and exciting, but I’ve read enough of them now to want something dramatic. Cheetah punching and making jokes while she’s punching, before Diana wins the fight by doing some more punching, isn’t dramatic: it’s a mere vehicle for a Very Special Episode of Wonder Woman.

Is there really no way to do something that isn’t misogynistic but that’s actually interesting? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Those gripes aside, it is at least a well executed comic, beautifully drawn by Drew Johnson and with a good sense of humour from Michael Jelinc. It also fits in reasonably well – as part 1 did – with post-Crisis Wonder Woman continuity, right down to bringing up the time-travelling Hippolyta’s adventures during World War 2, first posited by John Byrne.

Wonder Woman in WW2

And all that is impeccably referenced. That goes, of course, too, for last week’s issue, which saw the Amazons recreating their ‘births’ at the hands of the five goddesses.

The well of the five goddesses

But the question is: shouldn’t research lead to understanding?

As we all know, those five goddesses (in the nu52) included Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. This is no mere technicality: Diana’s lasso is powered by the fire of Hestia, she’s immune to the effects of the fire in this very story because of being blessed by Hestia, and the Amazons worship those goddesses rather a lot – in presumably a Greek stylee.

So what to make of this scene then?

Hippolyta explains the importance of the fire

Hippolyta continues to explain the importance of fire

Yes, fire is important not because of Hestia, but because the Amazons gather round it to talk to one another. In a sense, yes, but the spiritual significance to the Amazons of the fire should be apparent from the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite*

“So Zeus the Father gave her [Hestia] a high honour instead of marriage, and she has her place in the midst of the house and has the richest portion. In all the temples of the gods she has a share of honour, and among all mortal men she is chief of the goddesses”

Yes, Hestia was officially top goddess – a central cultic deity, in that she was associated with sacred fire, and was resultantly present in all sacrifices. It is likely this prompted the religious faithful to offer the first and last of each sacrifice to her.

In other words, Diana would be likely to already know the significance and importance of the hearth – and what Hippolyta said wasn’t it. A golden opportunity to wax lyrical about Hestia – another goddess – instead of Athena or Aphrodite for a change? A chance to do something different and female-positive rather than just repeat the same old fan-pleasers?

Wasted. Oh well.

Rating: 3/5

Superman Unchained #9

Superman Unchained #9
And so Superman Unchained comes to a close. The work of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, it was a small isolated island in the DC Superverse in which Wonder Woman wasn’t really around and that Lois Lane was all the rage. The fact it’s ending after nine or so issues should perhaps tell us something about how popular that turned out to be.

In fact, for the past few issues, Diana has been making an appearance, albeit low key. This has mainly been to have fights, but in issue #9, she’s also being a supportive girlfriend.

Wonder Woman supports Superman

The dialogue and plot are both up to Snyder’s usual terrible standards, and it’s strange as always to see Lee’s version of Wonder Woman, after a couple of years away. I wouldn’t recommend buying it at all, not least because we’re at the end of the storyline. But also because Lois is making googly eyes at Superman. Really? Is that what we’re doing now? Oh dear.

Rating: 2/5

Smallville Continuity #11

Smallville Continuity #11This one’s here more for completeness’s sake than because anything much with Diana happens. Here she’s mainly helping to set up the new, post-Monitors Smallville universe set-up – Oliver Queen is now teaching DEO agents how to use a bow and arrow. Under water. Not literally. They have an underwater base.

Wonder Woman and the DEO

Agent Prince in action

I’m not going to bother rating this, since it would a bit unfair. But don’t buy it, unless you’re already reading the story, you’re the biggest completest around, or you’re writing a weekly round-up of Wonder Woman comics.

Rating: n/a

* Yes, the Amazons would have left the Black Sea region in DC continuity before the lyric poets were around. But the spiritual importance should have been the same to them

Disclaimer: Owing to the small fortune it would take to buy every single DC comic each week, this is not a guaranteed rundown of all the comics that feature Wonder Woman. If you know of any I’ve missed, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll cover them the following week