Review: Wonder Woman #17/Justice League #17/Batwoman #17/Supergirl #17 et al

Romance, channel 52 and proved at last: Wonder Woman> Supergirl> Superman

Wonder Woman #17

Sorry for the slightly later than normal review – I was holding out for Superman #17 and the end of the H’el on Earth storyline (guest starring the Justice League and Wonder Woman), which was supposed to come out this week… but didn’t. Guess that’ll have to wait until next time.

But February was a bit of a bumper month for Wonder Woman. As well as her own title and the end of the Throne of Atlantis storyline in Justice League, H’El on Earth has seen her show up in Superboy #17 trying to save Superman; in Supergirl #17, she’s once and for all proven the inequality Wonder Woman > Supergirl > Superman; her rather dreadful crossover with Batwoman finally comes to an end in Batwoman #17; Injustice: Gods Among Us #5-6 give us a possibly inappropriately flirty, possibly political Wonder Woman; and in Young Romance #1, Supes and Wondy go on another date together, which naturally goes pear-shaped.

Wonder Woman #17

After the usual amount of hand-wringing and worry from nu52 Diana, particularly once she realises that Zola and Hera are out and about by themselves…

Wondy worries

Zola and Hera are gone

…things heat up a bit once Wondy tracks down the errant couple and finds there’s a family reunion going on, one that includes her (now literally) old mentor, Ares.

A family reunion

Wonder Woman arrives at the family reunion

Ares takes Wondy off to find Hermes and Demeter, but it turns out the god who invented martial arts might be better in a fight than the god of total war…

Wondy and Ares go into Demeter's realm

Hermes attacks Ares

Ares lies dying

Meanwhile, the First Born has had a shave and is picking a fight with Poseidon and his pets…

The First Born in a helicopter

A fight between shark and First Born

Poseidon emerges

Is it any good?
Something of a filler, designed to get from issue #16 to issue #18, where finally something might happen. The lack of Cliff Chiang on art is once again a disappointment, the First Born stuff is characterisation for characters that we don’t really need or care about, and Orion is irritating.

The usual criticisms of Greek myth abound: Demeter is now ‘Harvest’ in the reductionist. slanted world of Azzarello; Poseidon, of course, is merely ‘sea’ rather than the Earthshaker et al as well. But we’re now wandering far enough from Greek myth that these are merely ‘the Greek gods’ rather than the real thing.

One interesting facet that I’ve only just realised is that Apollo wasn’t been quite as literal in issue #4, when he said that only a god’s own blood could kill a god. Not true in a literal sense, but he was actually speaking figuratively: only another god can kill a god. Again, not really Greek myth, but it does make sense of a whole lot of things, particularly Wonder Woman’s musings on her mortality in Batwoman and how one of her relatives might turn up to kill her at some point, but also how the Cheetah was the first villain to actually knock out Wondy in Justice League. With Wonder Woman officially now a goddess, it all makes sense, and does at least explain why the First Born can go around killing other gods and giants.

But one big sore in the middle of the issue is this scene:

Ass slap

Yes, Orion slaps Wondy’s ass and before she can properly rebuke him, Zola wades in. It’s a scene that’s Wrong on many levels: it’s Wrong that it’s happening at all, given Orion isn’t exactly an arse-slapping kind of guy. Arguably, it’s all down to Strife, but it seems out of character. Then, of course, with Cliff Chiang and co talking about the Italian influences on Orion’s look, having him going around arse-slapping starts to look like racist stereotyping.

One can, of course, debate what Wondy’s proper reaction to this should have been. Growing up in an all-female society, she might just be baffled. She might assume it’s some sort of odd cultural difference among the New Gods. Or she might decide it’s symbolic of the outer world’s patriarchal repression and thump him to teach him a lesson. But before we find out, Zola interferes.

So not only does Wondy get her arse slapped and she’s unable to respond, she does so because a woman stops her. It’s a scene that probably she never have happened but did and had possibly the worst resolution possible.

Bad Brian.

So despite some good aspects, such as Ares’ reunion with his former pupil and the hidden entrance to Demeter’s realm, it’s a decidedly dodgy, anti-female and trivial read.

Rating: 2/5

Justice League #17

Justice League #17
Wondy (and the rest of the Justice League) fight a lot of Atlanteans. They beat them. End of story.

The Justice League fight the Atlanteans

More fighting

Is it any good?
Well, it’s basically a lot of fighting that ends with the Atlanteans being defeated, and Aquaman becoming King of Atlantis once his brother stands down.

It’s not a great issue for Wondy, just because nothing much happens to her. But we do get a brief glimpse of an alternative outfit for her, which unfortunately doesn’t end up getting used.

Wondy's new suit

Incidentally, that’s not how women look when they stand, naughty artist. That’s “broke back”.

Rating: 3/5

Injustice: Gods Among Us #6

Injustice: Gods Among Us #5-6
Superman’s down because he’s been tricked into killing Lois and his unborn baby, by the Joker. Duh. He has a brief brood in a nuclear disaster zone for a while. The only person who can visit him? Wonder Woman, who convinces him to cheer up a bit.

Wonder Woman arrives

Wonder Woman holds Lois

After killing the Joker in revenge…

Superman kills the Joker

…he goes on a mission to bang criminals to rights, wherever they may be, it’s Wonder Woman again who helps out.

Wonder Woman visits Superman

Wonder Woman inappropriately flirts

Is it any good?
Well, it’s a bit rubbish. Lois always gets killed off whenever you want Supes to go crazy, and Wonder Woman always becomes the go-to girlfriend afterwards in these alternative story lines (one thing you can at least say in favour of the main nu52 storyline is that at least Wondy isn’t the rebound girlfriend). Poor Lois, stuck in her fridge.

Now, how we look at what’s going on between Wondy and Supes is up for interpretation. Either Wondy here has been holding out for Supes to become the man she’s always wanted him to be for romantic reasons – in which case, she has very inappropriate timing, given Lois has been dead all of three minutes, and is a bit of a needy stalker – or it’s because of her political views.

Which is interesting, because it’s very Wonder Woman Volume 2. Remember when Wonder Woman had a mission in the world to make it a better place? And she was so disappointed when meeting Superman for the first time that he was doing nothing to bring such things to pass. This is that. But let’s see where it leads.

Wonder Woman is disappointed in Superman

Rating: 2.5/5

Superboy #17

Supergirl #17

Superboy #17/Supergirl #17

In the continuation of the H’El on Earth storyline, Superboy, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League are trying to persuade Supergirl that her new boyfriend, H’El, is using her and lying to her about is scheme to save Krypton… which will use the Sun as fuel and destroy the Earth. H’El ends up fighting with Superboy and Superman, hurling Superboy off somewhere…

Superboy #17

…leaving Wonder Woman to try to halt Supergirl in Supergirl’s title. There, Wondy shows Supergirl that she might be Kryptonian, but a fully grown goddess trumps a teenager super-being any day, even if the goddess doesn’t want to hurt said girl.

Wonder Woman fights Supergirl

Wonder Woman lassoes Supergirl

Supergirl and Wonder Woman fight

Supergirl is all tied up

Supergirl defeated

Is it any good?
It’s actually really rather thrilling, with Wondy getting to show off for the first time in any title why she should essentially be the top dog of the DC universe – she’s a goddess and one trained in the arts of war since birth. She’s faster and stronger than Kara, better versed in fighting and has her lasso. If Clark’s able to teach her all about secret identities and being human, then Wondy should be off teaching him how to be a god… and how to fight.

Supergirl comes out of this well, essentially a teenage girl deluded by love, and it’s no easy battle for Wondy. But all ends as it should. Okay, one could quibble about whether two of DC’s lead females should be having a fight, but that’s reaching the point where nothing interesting might happen, so I’ll let it go.

Rating: 5/5

Batwoman #17

Batwoman #17
Wonder Woman and Batwoman fight Medusa and all the other creatures in Gotham. They win.

Wonder Woman and Batwoman fighting

Batwoman #17

Medusa’s mum is still around, though, so Wonder Woman helps her.

Batwoman #17

Is it any good?
Well, from a Wonder Woman point of view, it’s all been a bit pointless and demeaning. Batwoman fetches Wonder Woman to help her fight Medusa and what happens for four or so issues? Wonder Woman cries a bit and gets rescued a lot by Batwoman, does nothing ‘wondrous’, and when finally it’s time to beat up Medusa, it’s Batwoman who does that as well. The dialogue’s all wrong for Wonder Woman, too idiomatic. Greek myths have been largely trampled upon along the way and even DC’s own version of the myths has been ruined.

And Medusa killed by her own reflection? How completely is that missing the point (Perseos had a mirrored shield for a reason and it was so he could see Medousa without being turned to stone, himself).

About the only thing you can say in favour of the arc is we’ve gotten a bit more background about the nu52 Diana and the Amazons, as well as some shiny helpful facts about Wondie’s godhood.

The issue itself has one redeeming feature, purely from the POV of Batwoman, in that she proposes marriage to her lover Maggie at the same time. But really, at the point when having Wonder Woman along for the ride might finally have made sense, the writers completely fluffed it, rendering her ineffective and useless.

Good art (although not a great Wonder Woman), dreadful story – highly unrecommended.

Rating: 1.5/5

Young Romance #1

Young Romance #1

In this Valentine’s Day nu52 anthology, various writers cobble together some stories about DC couples, including Aquaman and Mera, and, of course, Superman and Wonder Woman.

While on a date with Diana at a location recommended by Eros, Superman falls under the spell of the Sirens, leaving it up to Wonder Woman to save both him and her cousin, when it turns out Eros is under the Siren’s spell as well. But along the way, Eros shoots Superman with his guns of love.

Clark and Diana on a date

The Sirens

Diana fights back

Supes is shot

Is it any good?
Well, as with the other stories in this, I’d first question exactly what DC’s idea of romance is and who this is aimed at. We have an Aquaman/Mera romance that’s basically a nautical ghost story that doesn’t involve them, we have Apollo (no, not the god, the superhero) and his boyfriend in gay bars and then we have this, which is basically a big fight.

Romantic? I think not.

The artwork on the story, as well as not being especially flattering for Diana in particular, is also very boob-tastic, making me wonder if anyone is expecting girls (it does say ‘young romance’) to pick this up and if not, who exactly will, given it also comes with an expensive £5.99 price tag.

As for the story itself, we have the usual mangling of Greek myth. Eros is now just a demigod, which doesn’t make sense even within DC’s nu52 continuity, given he’s the son of Aphrodite and Hephaestus. The Sirens, who were in myth half-woman, half-bird and goddesses who just sung very nicely (making them a hazard for shipping) and were companions of Persephone in the after-life, now are malicious women (albeit with feather tattoos) who can control people and gods (but not goddesses, because the Sirens are homophobic or something) with their voices.

But more important is Diana’s concern that Eros has shot Superman, ‘forcing’ him to fall in love with her. In Greek religion, Aphrodite and Eros are actually responsible for making people fall in love – if they don’t shoot with arrows/whatever, you don’t fall in love. So the idea that Eros shooting Superman would be anything except a good thing in their case makes no sense.

But hey, it’s a comic and if it’s not clear already, DC’s versions of Greek myths, even when they’re trying their very hardest to be faithful, don’t really match up. All the same, this brief story does give us Wonder Woman saving Superman, it gives us some more development of their relationship and it gives us some new characters for the pantheon, so I’m not going to knock it too much. It does, also, slightly fulfil the remit of the title, being slightly romantic, Supes essentially saying he loves Diana because of who she is, not because he’s made to. And given we have Eros with two guns, it does mean that someone, somewhere at DC is actually reading Wonder Woman and feeding back the details to other authors.

But how does Superman catch a magic bullet, when he’s not immune to magic? Answer me that.

Rating: 2.5/5

Channel 52
I should probably mention Channel 52 at this point. This is a faux news channel that runs across a number of the titles, including Superboy and Supergirl (but not Wonder Woman), and essentially seems to concern itself with gossip, particularly about Superman and Wonder Woman. So far, we’ve had a couple of these:

Channel 52 #1

Channel 52#2

And it makes not a whole lot of sense. We have people deciding whether to be in “Team Wonder Woman” or “Team Superman” – which even has people in Channel 52 saying it makes no sense – and then we have suggestions that Wondy is off with Orion.

Which messes things up no end. When are all the stories supposed to be set? Is Wondy nipping off between issues of Wonder Woman to fight H’El and do Justice League things? At the moment, there’s not been any time in-story for that to happen, so that must mean Channel 52’s set after the current Wonder Woman issues. But if that’s the case, why doesn’t Wondy use the new dual “swords for bracelets” ability that Hephaestus gave her last issue to fight H’El and co?

I can’t work it out. But, hey, it’s a comic. That also means we can’t change the channel…