It’s time, once again, for our monthly round-up of all things Wonder Woman in comics. And what a month, because despite the end of the H’El on Earth storyline in Superman/Supergirl/Superboy and the crossover in Batwoman, it’s been… well, maybe not momentous, but whatever it’s been, I’m not sure I have enough hands for the facepalms required to deal with it all.
Wonder Woman #18 sees the end of the hunt for Zola’s baby (finally); Justice League #18 mostly has Wonder Woman alternating between standing around a lot and hitting things; Superman #18 is Wonder Woman-free yet has referenced our heroine rather a lot thanks to the arrival of Orion; and in Injustice: Gods Among Us, it’s all out war between the superheroes and everyone else, including each other, with Wondy standing by her man.
Which ones required the most facepalms? I’ll give you a clue: it’s fortunately the only one where Wonder Woman is literally flirting with Superman over Lois Lane’s dead body.
Wonder Woman #18
With Ares down for the count, Hermes and Wonder Woman have a fight, Wondy using her new super-swords.
Unfortunately, Hermes being somewhat speedy, he gets the better of our Wondy.
But fortunately, thanks to Orion slapping Wondy’s ass last issue, he has a sample of her DNA and is able to track her down to Demeter’s lair and rescue her.
Wondy works out how to beat the speedy Hermes…
…leaving Ares the chance to retrieve Zola’s baby from Demeter.
Back at Wondy’s hotel, there’s some mid-70s style flirting between Orion and Wondy…
And the new family Wonder Woman now has a baby to look after.
Meanwhile the First Born and Poseidon continue to have a fight.
Is it any good?
So let’s go over that list of things again, shall we?
- Wonder Woman loses a fight
- She’s rescued by Orion
- He’s able to rescue her because he’s sampled her ass DNA
- Ares rips a baby out of Demeter’s womb
- Orion flirts with Wonder Woman in a particularly clumsy, gross Red Sonja “Only a man who can defeat me in combat can have me” kind of way
- Orion calls everyone sexists
That’s one massive series of facepalms right there. Just unbelievable misogyny and anti-feminism. Partly, it’s Brian Azzarello’s obvious middle finger salute to his critics: he knew full well how the ass-slapping of last issue would go down and here, he’s trying to show how clever he is and laugh at everyone who didn’t like it. He set the trap and now he’s sprung it, even sub-/super-textually calling everyone sexists (presumably, the reference by Orion to everyone not caring how he feels being the sexist bit. As though the New Gods have a lot of conscious-raising days).
Yet, he’s obviously trying to have his cake and eat it. Could Orion have taken one of Wondy’s hairs? Asked her for a hair in case he needed to find her? Of course. So our Azz, despite his in-story explanation for his supreme sexism, put in the ass slap as both a goad and a terrible bit of writing. Because laughing at your readers and bad writing are always good for sales.
in conjunction with Superman #18 (see later), as well as February’s Channel 52, which seems in retrospect to have been flagging up the potential Orion/Wonder Woman relationship a month too early, it seems clear that this issue’s end pane gives us pretty much a mission statement for Azz’s Wonder Woman work: he has effectively created a new Wonder Woman family to replace the ones of previous volumes, complete with potential boyfriend in the form of Orion, he being one of the few gods out there Wonder Woman isn’t actually related to. With no plans for Superman to feature in the title, presumably this was always Azz’s plan: to give Wondy a ‘worthy’ boyfriend. Of course, with Superman and Wonder Woman a thing, it now just makes our Diana look a little bit unfaithful (although one can obviously argue about Amazons and what their ideas of fidelity might be), even before the relationship has had a chance to be properly explored in any of the other titles.
That’s on top of the 80s sitcom final pane: look, it’s the Wonder Woman family. Have a look at this list: Ares, Lennox, Zola, Strife, Hera, Orion, baby Zola, and Wonder Woman. That’s two gods, one mortal woman, one goddess who is now a mortal woman, one New God and one goddess (Wondy). How many of those new characters are you actually interested in? How many of them are positive depictions of women? Lennox ain’t great, but at least he’s a relatively positive male; Ares seems to be a lot more positive than he used to be… There’s just not the female roster that there used to be and Wonder Woman, although not a blank slate, doesn’t get the character development she used to and she does little but react to situations. Although presumably there’s now a gap in the narrative for her to go off and do super things with the Justice League, we still have no idea what drives her in this title except other people; she’s vaguely hoping that one day Hera will become a goddess again and will gratefully turn the Amazons back into their former selves but can’t any other gods help her?
With sales now dipping below 40,000 units for the first time since the start of the nu52 (still not down to the usual Wonder Woman average of around 20-30k), one can’t help but think that although the gods are proving attractive to new readers, the lack of variety and the slow speed of the story is slowly turning people off the title.
As for the other aspects of the issue, we do at least have plenty of fighting and action for a change. Wondy continues to show her compassion and intelligence, and is even respectful to Demeter, a nice little harkening back to the times when Wonder Woman used to worship the gods and goddesses of Olympos. We unfortunately also have the continuing bad art of Tony Akins, who’s looking more and more rushed; and we also have the continuing side story of the First Born, about whom no one cares, really. He’s going to be big in the next plot thread, apparently. Looking forward to it? No. Thought not.
Justice League #18
The Justice League needs new members so goes on a recruitment drive.
This may or may not be, depending upon whether you believe the solicitations, because the obviously gay Batman is concerned that Wondy is getting too close to his main crush, Superman. But it’s not something that’s obvious from the story itself.
Unfortunately, things go a bit pear-shaped when one of the potential recruits goes crazy, forcing everyone, including Wonder Woman, to beat her up.
Is it any good?
It’s a bit meh, another filler issue designed to move the plot from point A to point B and to introduce a new enemy, The Grid, who’s downloaded all the useful information the Justice League have on each other and their potential recruits. Oops.
Wondy gets to do not much beyond socialise in the background of a lot of scenes, query Batman’s dodgy motives and have not especially impressive fights.
Oh, you know, outer space thingy. Superman. Baf, pow. But also inappropriate flirting with Lois Lane, given he’s in a relationship with Wonder Woman…
And Orion’s around, for some reason, too.
Is it any good?
Yawn. It’s mostly Cat Grant trying to persuade Clark Kent to work on a web site with her. Meanwhile, Clark is feeling a bit lonely and has to save lots of people from throwing themselves off a building, thanks to some strange music (I’m assuming not a reference to last month’s Sirens in Young Romance).
All the same, we have the flirting with Lois – bad Superman! – and the arrival of Orion. Add up interviews with Brian Azzarello about Wonder Woman #19 and Orion doing something of which “Superman would not approve”, the end of Young Romance #1 saying something about there being trouble in the relationship in Superman #19, the arrival of Orion in this issue of Superman and I’d say it’s virtually certain that Wondy and Orion are going to be getting close in Wonder Woman #19, and Orion and Superman fighting over her in Superman #19 or Lois and Supes are going to have a moment or Lois and Diana are going to have a fight.
Call me crazy, but if you are going to ditch the Superman-Lois Lane and Wonder Woman-Steve Trevor relationships in favour of a Superman-Wonder Woman relationship, it’s probably a good idea to persuade everyone else that this was a good idea, it isn’t going to ruin the comics, isn’t going to ruin the characters, isn’t going to end with cat-fights between Lois Lane and Wonder Woman, and isn’t going to end with every single creator on staff writing the old or other relationships in preference because they find it so unpalatable. You need to explain to everyone why Wonder Woman and Superman have chemistry and work as a couple before trashing the relationship and having jealous love triangles/quadrilaterals, if you actually want it to be anything more than a headline or to get people caring about it.
But that, by the looks of it, is not the DC way.
Of course, my theories are always wrong, so don’t put any money on any of this happening.
Injustice: Gods Among Us #8-10
Back in issue #6, Superman was resolving to end the world of war and misery, by beating everyone up who disagreed. This, apparently, is what Wonder Woman has been wanting all along, and is planning on backing him up, as are a lot of the other superheroes.
Wonder Woman implements the “beating people up” plan in a very kick ass way that even reveals this particular Wonder Woman is bulletproof and only needs those bracelets for tiny things like missiles.
This attracts Ares’ attention.
For some reason, Ares wants to know if Wonder Woman and Superman are going to get jiggy with it. And for some reason, Wondy decides to tell all and confess her passivity.
Before taunting him.
After Ares tries to beat up Wondy, Superman wades in to help out, and Wondy skewers Ares.
Apparently, Ares is worried that Wonder Woman isn’t good for Superman (who, let’s not forget, punched a hole in the Joker a few issues ago), and their kids are going to be a problem.
Meanwhile, world-wide peace isn’t happening without a struggle. The Atlanteans, in particular, are not so happy about the idea.
Attacking Wondy isn’t a good idea, though.
Aquaman decides the best way to fight Wonder Woman is underwater.
And despite her being able to hold her breath a long time and being as strong as Superman, this is a problem for her that requires the assistance of Shazam.
So the Atlanteans get cross and… unleash the Kraken.
Is it any good?
Let’s recap again.
- With Lois not even in her grave yet, Wonder Woman is angling to bed Superman.
- Except she’s willing “to be whatever he needs me to be”.
- She’s telling this to Ares of all people.
- Ares is more bothered by the kids Supes and she will have than their getting together though
- Ares twats her about because not even Zeus would be powerful enough to stop him on that spot.
- Apparently, Superman’s even stronger though
- The bulletproof Wonder Woman spears Ares through the spinal column.
- Wonder Woman is tired of words and just wants to fight now, even if that means duffing up former ally Aquaman
- Aquaman can beat Wonder Woman by dragging her underwater.
- She can’t fly, can’t hold her breath, and can’t snap him like a twig
- Shazam saves her
It’s just astonishing that anyone’s thought any of this is a good idea or in character with Wonder Woman.
Now admittedly, this is a sort of Elseworlds parallel universe – perhaps even “how the pre-nu52 DC universe would have ended, if it weren’t for Flashpoint” – so who knows what the characters are going to be like and what in/out of character might be. It’s also just a set-up to get the narrative to a point where Superman wants to fight his former allies, who all want to fight each other in a video game.
But to get to that tedious endpoint, not only is every tired cliché being rehashed along the way, from Kingdom Come’s future world to Superman turning bad because Lois has been killed to “Aquaman really is a powerful superhero… underwater!”, but they’re being chained together without thought for what it will all mean for the characters or if what’s happening is even in-character.
For Wondy in particular, that means she’s a sex phone line worker who’ll “be what you want me to be” rather than someone with her own strength and own needs and own morality, who needs rescuing by seemingly more powerful male superheroes, who comes in peace but perpetually shoots to kill, even her allies and friends, and who takes great delight in hurting people. It’s like someone sat down and deliberately wrote the least Wonder Womanish character possible.
It’s a shame, because on at least some of these issues, the artwork is really good, and Wonder Woman has had some kick-ass moments. It’s just in terms of gender politics and simple characterisation, it’s a never-ending series of facepalms that make Wonder Woman look completely on target.
If you’ve seen Wonder Woman in a comic not listed above, let me know and I’ll review it next time