It’s Weekly Wonder Woman, which depending on how you view these things is either six days late or one day early. Just to explain, last week was a bit of a desert, with only Sensation Comics #29 offering us anything featuring the Amazon princess, and as it was a two-part story, I decided to roll it into this week’s reviews. And as I might be a bit busy tomorrow, I figured I might as well do everything today instead. There’s lovely, hey? In fact, I might do it again next week, the fact it being Good Friday in the UK next Friday having almost nothing to do with that particular decision. Oh no.
So after the jump, we’ll dive into Sensation Comics #29-30 as Wonder Woman defends an over-sexualised Miley Cyrus-alike from a crazy mansplainer. But as an added fillip, we’ve also got a guest appearance by Wondy and the rest of the Justice League in Batman and Robin #30. That Robin’s only gone and got himself some superpowers, which means Batman needs help keeping the young whippersnapper in line…
Sensation Comics #29-30
Former teenage star Esperanza is off on her ‘Hope' tour. However, the Internet’s not happy. One man in particular is very unhappy, in fact. So Esperanza’s tutor/bodyguard calls in her old pal Wonder Woman.
At the concert, various fans get made VIPs and are allowed up on stage. Literally.
When things go wrong, it’s Wonder Woman to the rescue.
…while Esperanza’s tutor puts her Wonder Woman-taught skills to the test and apprehends… the head of security!
Compelled by the Lasso of Truth, he reveals that he’s just trying to stop his former idol from growing up… and disempowering men.
Is it any good?
So Wonder Woman! Girl power! Woman power! Diversity! Strong women! Patriarchy! Lasso of Truth! Diana Prince! Inspiring to women! Online harassment! Mansplaining! Slut shaming! Sexualisation of girls! Young readers!
Do you see what I’ve just done there? I’ve put down every Wonder Woman/topical feminist-related idea that I could think of in no particular order. However, unlike Sara Ryan, I’ve not stuck them all into a single comic strip story.
There have, of course, been many authors for these Sensation Comics stories so far, and a lot of them are taking their stint as a chance to show us how they’d write Wonder Woman full-time if given the chance. Almost always, this also involves showing us why she’s an important character, why she’s inspiring, and what needs to be done to her to make her more relevant to younger woman, whether that’s wearing a hijab in space or having a dance-off with teenage boys.
Here, Ryan tries to give us an occasionally jokey Wonder Woman who loves going to concerts full of teenagers, who has a diverse array of friends, who’s always there to help out (no matter what crises there are in the world) and who’ll defend women from men trying to oppress them. Nothing wrong there, although changing Wonder Woman's Diana Prince secret identity into a fitness trainer… whom everyone apparently also knows as Wonder Woman the world crisis-solver isn’t really the best thought through of schemes and makes it look more like inconsistency. And most fitness instructors still probably wouldn’t dress like this in a business meeting, either.
But Ryan also throws in pretty much everything else she can think of, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. The closer it comes to the central theme of online stalking and men policing women’s sexuality, the more it works and it can even be quite chilling – for example, when Esperanza is sent a teddy bear and a toxin-saturated thong and told to choose wisely…
Other things just seem to get floated by the reader without any real consideration – other than “Look! Look at all the pressures women face today!” – such as when Esperenza lists off the things that she gets Tweeted about.
That doesn’t go anywhere. Character development? Background colour?
Not really. The trouble is that it all ends up being a bit “United Colors of Benetton”, with issues being raised, but nothing quite gelling or achieving coherence or conclusion. Is Ryan in favour of sexualisation of teenagers? Does she think Wonder Woman should be off looking after rich pop stars in thinly veiled plot lifts of The Bodyguard, – popstars who should be able to afford their own, independent security details – rather than off rescuing those who really need her help? Is fitness instructor the best job or most plausible job for Wonder Woman? Is a tutor who’s had a couple of self defence classes 10 years previously from Wonder Woman really the best eventual choice for the head of a security detail?
You can see what Ryan’s trying to do – she probably suspects she’s only going to get the one shot at writing for Wonder Woman so she’s going to throw all her ideas into the mix now while she can. But it doesn’t make for a hugely satisfying story, so much as a list of issues of which people should be aware.
The overall plot is a reasonable one, even if the eventual revelation of the baddie’s belief system:
- Doesn’t require a huge amount of effort from anyone. Who’s the baddie? Him with the remote control. Wasn’t that hard? Who needs Columbo?
- The belief system doesn’t make a huge amount of sense and again is just a list of issues strung together – “girls shouldn’t grow up and take up boxing and be sexy and things but should be sweet little girls because otherwise that disempowers men, so I’ll go and work for them and try to persuade them with signs and health and safety incidents.” Erm, what?
- Requires a misuse of the word mansplaining that renders the word more or less meaningless.
But as usual, it’s the kind of subtext-made-text Sensation Comics plot that’ll score big with readers who like to score the political correctness of what they read, but which is generally dissatisfying as a story. One to read if you enjoy congratulating yourself on how liberal you are, rather than because you appreciate logic or good storytelling.
Batman and Robin #40
Batman’s son Damian who’s also the latest Robin has somehow got superpowers. He gets to tag along with the Justice League when they get to fight a giant Japanese robot.
Eventually, they defeat the robot.
Except it turns out that it was all a set-up by Batman, who needed Damian to use up all his super-powers somewhere he couldn’t do any damage.
Is it any good?
Obviously I’m coming at this as a somewhat older, non-Batfan who didn’t even know Batman’s son Damian was alive and Robining, so my interest in the overall storyline, which seems aimed at somewhat younger readers in both the writing and artwork, is next to zero. On top of that, despite the fact the author is Peter J Tomasi, current author of Superman/Wonder Woman, and he previously did quite a good Wonder Woman cameo in Batman and Robin, this really isn’t a Superman or a Wonder Woman story, with both just around to make up Justice League numbers, rather than do anything meaningful or character-illuminating.
So I’m not even going to bother rating it, since I can’t really tell what it’s trying to do, so can’t tell you if it’s doing it well. It’s not something I greatly enjoyed and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it’s not something really aimed at me or Wonder Woman fans. So I’ll just point out its existence to you, in case you’re interested.
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