Review: Wonder Woman #6/Justice League #5

Wonder Woman 6 cover

Well, what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts, as they say. Or vice versa.

For after several issues of no action, we finally get an issue of Wonder Woman with action. Yey!

Kind of. Because while we’ve gained action, we’ve lost a few things, including coherence and decent artwork.

And don’t get me started on Justice League #5. Well, not until after the jump anyway.

Justice League #5

On the whole, there is, in theory a lot to like about Wonder Woman #6. Yes, again we have a cover that in no way depicts actual events in the issue and the artwork is just dreadful. But for once, there’s action and it’s better than what’s on the cover. We have Wonder Woman having a fight of sorts with Poseidon – yes, she’s as strong as a god, it turns out, even one with tentacles:

Wonder Woman fights Poseidon

There’s the possibility she can actually still fly (although it looks a little like plunging…)

Wonder Woman flies (or plunges)

She despatches some pseudo-centaurs quite viciously and impressively with some actual super-powers:

Wonder Woman is super strong

Wonder Woman kills more pseudo-centaurs Wonder Woman dives

She’s breaking more of a sweat than you might have expected of the Volume 2/3 Wonder Woman to do it – well, maybe not under Messner-Loebs – and maybe that flying really was plunging, but hooray for some actual action, even if it’s a tad more violent and bloody than we’ve come to expect of the Amazon princess.

We also get some movement on the plot, with Wondie, pseudo-cockney/John Constantine Lennox and Hermes hoodwinking Hera, Poseidon and Hades into a war of sorts that ends with Hera getting bamboozled. Unfortunately, Hades also abducts Zola.

Zola gets abducted


So all well and good – in theory. Where it all falls apart is in how this is all told. First, there’s the dreadful artwork (have I already mentioned that?). While the artwork in issue #5 was just about tolerable, this is just plain awful: ugly, old-fashioned, cartoonish, garish and boob-tastic. London also still isn’t British – it’s London viewed with American-tinted glasses.

Building on those obvious flaws, the artwork is also poor at telling the story, except at the most obvious places. Because in conjunction with the writing, issue #6 is a more than a little incoherent. As if Azzarello wasn’t content with one of the worst attempts at English accents ever set to comic book paper – and believe me, there have been some stinkers – as well as arch dialogue that’s really in love with itself, there are MacGuffins aplenty plucked out of thin air and events resolving themselves without real explanation.

Now to a certain extent, you can usually work out what’s going on, probably after a second or third read rather than on first read. We have Lennox able to steal a candle from Hades’ head – why does Hades have candles on his head again? – because he’s been asking Hades for ‘a light’ all the way through the issue, which together with Hermes’ kerykeion can smash Hera’s scrying pool on Olympus. Why, how, etc, we’re not told. It just can and has apparently been the plan the whole time.

But the way the story told is told and the art give no help here and are actually something of a hindrance:

Lennox's plan

More Lennox plan

Hera's pool is broken

Wonder Woman wins

That complaint aside though – as well as the fact that maybe we could start learning a little about Wonder Woman now, as well as whether anything’s going to happen to the Amazons, poor old Hippolyta and the whole ‘Zeus might be Zola’s baby’ thing – this is, on the whole, a good, intelligent read. The arch dialogue might love itself, but sometimes it has good reason to love itself and if the whole thing had been inked by Cliff Chiang, it would probably have been far more enjoyable. Lennox grates but not overwhelmingly so and Hermes could perhaps start doing something godly some time soon, but he’s proving more impressive with each issue. And Wondy is showing some manipulative nous, which is a new and interesting angle for the previously naive do-gooder of Volumes 2-3.

If maybe Azzarello could stop trying to play clever games next issue – and stop thinking he can do ‘British’ or even ‘English’ – continually reusing his limited toolbox of dialogue overlays and joins borrowed from Watchmen, and focus on telling what is a good story coherently, then this would be a fantastic title. As it is, it’s just very good but frustrating.

Rating: 3.5/5

Justice League #5
Over in Justice League #5, it’s disappointment all round. With Darkseid turning up, you might have hoped for a little action for Wonder Woman. However, she spends much of the issue – along with Aquaman and Cyborg – trapped under something heavy (although not so heavy that Superman can’t get out from under it) while Superman and the Flash race each other to escape Darkseid’s Omega beams.

Wonder Woman trapped under something heavy

The Justice League is split up, leaving Wonder Woman as the ‘brains’ of the group that remain on Earth. I say ‘brains’ because once again, we have mono-dimensional Wondy in action.

Wonder Woman has an idea

Do you think she likes fighting? And is she new to man’s world and doesn’t know much about the culture? If you hadn’t got that message in the previous two issues, allow Geoff Johns to sledgehammer it into your brain this issue.

And then they all fly off – with Green Lantern’s help.

The Justice League fly

I’m hoping that he’s encircling them all with a green protection aura and that Wondy is going to say ‘You know I can fly, right?’ next issue. Which is out today. Sorry – not really much point reviewing issue #5 in and of itself earlier, given that the panels above are the only contribution to the plot of Wondy in #5.

To be fair, she gets more to do than Aquaman and Cyborg and gets less of a kicking than Superman and Cyborg. But for someone with the powers of a god, she doesn’t do much. I’m hoping that’s purely Johns’ mis-plotting as he splits the team into two so that in future issues, they’ll get to shine more as individuals. Certainly, in the war against Darkseid which should be coming (today), there’s going to be ample opportunities for her to have a good fight and maybe even use that lasso usefully for once.

Fingers crossed then. Rose-tinted glasses set to maximum.

UPDATE: Turns out Justice League #6 is out next week. Oh well.