Well, it’s something of a cracking month for Wonder Woman fans. Not only do we have Cliff Chiang back for a pretty kick ass issue over in her own title (answers as to why there aren’t at least two Wonder Woman comics, one of which is aimed at young girls, on a postcard to DC Comics, please, not me) – the first five out of five I’ve yet awarded the run – we have in the form of the somewhat adolescent Justice League very much a kick ass Wonder Woman issue. Steve Trevor’s in trouble and Wondy’s going to save him, no matter whom she has to go through to get to him, including both Green Lantern and Superman.
Oh yes, they weren’t all dead at the end of last issue. But you probably figured that one out for yourselves.
Wonder Woman #11
Hera has struck a deal with Apollo. After Wondy and co have taken Zola to the doctor to have her baby checked out, Apollo and Artemis turn up to spirit Zola away to Olympus.
Hermes, Lennox and Wondy then get a complete pasting at the hands of Artemis and Apollo.
And they take Zola away. In return for Zola, Hera gives Apollo what she promised him: Zeus’ throne.
But Wondy has something to say about the whole deal.
Is it any good?
I have to admit I really loved this issue. Despite my initial reservations from the previews that yet again we were going to get a simplified version of one of the gods, out of kilter with mythology, we actually get two really nice depictions of goddesses, who have so far been missing from the title: Demeter and Artemis. Here we get two really beautiful versions of both goddesses, one the embodiment of nature, the other the Moon – but also the hunt (thankfully Artemis at least hasn’t been reduced, like Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera and others to just one single note):
Yes, not exactly as myth or art would describe in terms of appearance, it all goes a bit pear-shaped when Artemis goes into biker chick mode, Artemis is later shown to be somewhat more violent and bloodthirsty than myth would suggest, and there’s no way you can juggle family trees to make Demeter and Artemis sisters (unless we’re talking in a ‘sisterhood’ sense), but lovely nonetheless. Welcome back Cliff Chiang – you’ve been sorely missed.
We also get a firm reminder that gods are gods… and demi-gods aren’t. Although no one likes to see Wondy get kicked around, it is a delight to see exactly why it’s a bad idea for even superheroes to try taking on a god and Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang give us a fantastic fight scene here.
We also get an unusual character moment – and some lovely fashionware for Wondy – with Zola getting to see her own choice of doctor, thanks to Wondy, Wonder Woman taking the time to go with her.
Against the backdrop of the fight, there are hints at a subtler plot, with Artemis trying to recruit Demeter for the new regime and the implication that Apollo might not be seizing the throne because he wants power, but because he wants to save the gods from a prophecy of their own destruction. He also chooses to spare everyone’s life, allowing the apparently 23-year-old Wonder Woman the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her opposition (Apollo may have been the god who protected boys, Artemis the god who looked after girls, but care for youths by Apollo is still a great touch of Azzarello’s). It’s a subtler characterisation for the gods than we’ve had so far and one that would probably work better if they used each others’ names, rather than calling each other ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’, ‘War’ and so on.
Generally, though, once again a great issue, definitely too brief at 20 pages – and also definitely a must-read.
Justice League #11
Over in Justice League, everyone wakes up from being dead – which is a temporary condition, apparently – and the League learns that their adversary has gone off to Steve Trevor’s sister’s house.
Steve’s sister blames Wondy for what’s happening, and also for breaking Steve’s heart.
When they get a tip, Wondy decides to head off to take out the adversary and rescue Steve by herself – with extreme prejudice.
And when the League try to stop her, Wondy loses it and finally gets a chance to let rip.
Eventually, a peace gets brokered by the rest of the League and they all go off to investigate the Valley of Souls near Mount Sumeru – as you do. There, Wondy discovers she might be too late.
Is it any good?
Well, as usual, the Wonder Woman side of things saves Justice League as a whole from being a somewhat silly adolescent piece of comic book storytelling. Here, we get the news that we’ve seen hinted at for several issues now: post nu-52, Steve Trevor is once again the love of Wondy’s life and she his, but they had to stop dating once Wondy realised she was putting his life in danger.
It’s a standard comic book storyline, but in a somewhat surprising move for DC, is a mirror image of the usual male-female relationship. We’ve seen Superman go ballistic when Lois Lane’s life has been put in danger, but so far Wondy has always been restrained and noble, doing the right thing even when those she loves are in danger. Here, though, she’s ready to do whatever it takes and doesn’t care who stands in her way. Not only does it make her a far more interesting character and gives DC a much-needed bit of female equality, it’s also clearly DC’s notice to the world, in case you hadn’t already spotted it, that Amazon warriors are now the honourable but warlike bunch from myth, rather than the pacifist ‘frauenvolk’ they were pre-nu 52.
Also great to see Wonder Woman actually kicking other superheroes’ arses, even Superman’s, something we don’t get to see in her own title any more: that’s probably a good thing actually, but it does mean we should probably assume that everything’s slowed down from superspeed in Wonder Woman, rather than merely under-powered. Here, Wonder Woman is more powerful than almost anyone – and she has a very pointy sword, too.
So, actually, quite a thrilling issue. Colossally stupid in terms of plotting, there’s a lack of maturity in the characterisation and dialogue, and it’s also both very hokey and very cheesy. The artwork’s a bit rubbish compared to Jim Lee’s normal standard, too, particularly with Wonder Woman, who now has 80s hair.
But on the whole, a very enjoyable slugfest that puts Wonder Woman at the forefront of the title. Which given Batman and Superman both have about 20 titles each now is probably only right and proper. Remember – postcards to DC, not me.