In keeping with this ‘ere blog’s slightly unplanned ‘pagan week’, it’s time for the (increasingly belated) monthly round-up of the comic-book appearances of everyone’s favourite pagan superheroine, Wonder Woman.
After March’s month of face-palming, April proved to be a somewhat better month for our Wondy, with the Amazon princess finally giving Orion the punching he deserved in Wonder Woman #19, going to Lois Lane’s house-warming and giving her new secret identity, Diana Prince, its first real outing in Superman #19, and trying to set the world to rights by kicking terrorists’ asses with her new boyfriend in Justice League #19. Unfortunately, though, it looks like nothing can save Injustice: Gods Among Us from being facepalm-central.
I’m also adding to the roster of comics: after trying to save my pennies, I’ve had to play catch up with Justice League of America #1-3, seeing as Diana features quite heavily. Kind of. And all I’ll say about that that not-so-illustrious title until after the jump is “What the hell is Catwoman not wearing?”
Wonder Woman #19
Apollo and the rest of his god-team are worried about the prophecy and have concluded that not only has Ares gone mad but that Zola’s son is going to fulfil the prophecy.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and her merry band are more interested in coming up with a name for the child, with Wondy surprisingly suggesting ‘Steve’.
Eventually, the gang eventually decide the incredibly Greek-sounding Zeke is the best option (begins with a Z, though…). After Ares compliments Diana on her leadership skills, Lennox decides to leave. Diana tries to change his mind, but then Orion ups the creepy sexist flirting and Diana decides to teach him a lesson in a very surprising way.
Orion goes all Darkseid-y and leaves.
But while they’re all asleep that night, Artemis descends to take away little Zeke.
Meanwhile, the First Born has been swallowed by Poseidon. Using some mysterious godliness, Poseidon appears inside himself to negotiate a ceasefire.
Outmanoeuvred, the First Born agrees to leave Hades’ and Poseidon’s realms out of his battle, and confine his interests purely to Olympus.
However, Poseidon tells the First Born that he’ll need the help of the ‘Last Born’ to achieve his aims. But what are Poseidon and Hades up to, really?
Is it any good?
Well, it was a whole lot better than March’s issue, anyway. The big reveal, of course, is that Brian fooled us! Again. Kind of. Instead of that feared-for relationship between Wondy and Orion the Notorious Sexist, who’d ass-slapped her to sample her DNA only two issues ago and has devised the nickname ‘legs’ for her, Wondy finally loses patience with Orion and threatens his balls. Cue cheers from the side-lines.
Obviously, it’s still a case of Azz wanting to have his cake and eat it. There’s no need for the kiss – that’s just a cover-making feint – since Wondy could just have decked him anyway (although it might be something that’s used as a wedge between the ‘power couple’ in Superman #20), but it is, at least, a pulling back from the edge of insanity that was threatening to engulf the title.
There’s also the ‘Steve’ moment. I’m not saying that a lot of DC’s writers seem to be against the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing, but this is the first hint from Azz (beyond the failure to include or even mention Superman in the title) that maybe he thinks Steve Trevor is the more logical choice for Wondy, romantically. It’s a nice acknowledgement, anyway, since even Steve hasn’t appeared in the title so far.
Azz also has some decent moments of wonder – albeit of the godly kind, rather than from the woman herself. The Poseidon-inside-himself moment is an enjoyable mindbender while Artemis’s transformation from moon into goddess is a divine touch.
However, the usual criticisms apply: the First Born is getting tedious – just fight already; Wonder Woman is very passive and reactive and we have little idea of what makes her tick and what she’s like when she’s not fretting about Zola; the gods are just sitting around, not doing a lot; and whatever replacement artists they get on the title, they’re never as good as Cliff Chiang, even though they do try to emulate him a lot. Nevertheless, there is some mitigation to all these complaints in the title, and this is as close to Chiang’s art when Chiang hasn’t been on it as we’ve had so far.
All in all, a definite increase in quality over March.
Justice League #19
Wonder Woman and Superman are going undercover, fighting evil in foreign lands and speaking foreign languages together.
However, the world is less than chuffed about this and Batman The Peeping Tom ain’t too pleased, either. He reveals that he knows all about the Power Couple’s secret dating life.
But as Diana’s worked out, something bad has already happened: a shape-changing ninja of sorts has got into the Batcave and opened the Superman briefcase. What could be in the box? Three guesses from the cover…
Is it any good?
Good is probably not the word, but it’s an enjoyable enough romp. On the one hand, it’s slightly disappointing that with the new 52 promising us the potential of all-new story lines, we are once again treading down the usual Kingdom Come/Injustice: Gods Among Us path: if Wonder Woman and Superman hook up, all they’ll end up doing is appointing themselves as gods over everyone else, trying to get rid of crime, free will, that sort of thing. Been there, seen that. Of course, it’s still early days so we don’t know where DC will eventually end up taking this – maybe this is how in this timeline the still-young superheroes learn it’s a bad idea to try to fix the world (assuming it is a bad idea, of course, for someone who’s actually a princess/queen and a goddess to go around ruling things). It’s also odd that this is all apparently coming from Wonder Woman, given that it was Supes who seemed to favour the interventionist school of superhero thought back in Action Comics #12.
It’s certainly a pleasure to see Wonder Woman and Superman actually together and having some kind of relationship, rather than simply being written as ‘together’, without any real evidence for it. All the same, there’s no real spark between them here, more a mutual interest, without the banter of ‘life sharing’ that you’d expect from a couple in the early stages of a relationship (“I love to travel now I’m off Paradise Island. Do you want to visit my flat in London some time?” “Oh, did I tell you about that time I went to… You’d love it!”, etc). There also doesn’t seem to be much depth to the relationship depicted here, either: “It just happened” isn’t the tale of true love shippers might have hoped for. But at least there’s something happening.
Also good to note that Batman describes Superman and Wonder Woman as “the two most powerful beings on Earth” – I’m assuming that’s excluding the rest of both Wonder Woman’s and Superman’s extended families – finally settling any quibbles on that score.
I want to know what’s in the Wonder Woman suitcase, though.
Superman is going to Lois’s housewarming, now she’s moving in with her boyfriend, and he’s invited his girlfriend, ‘Diana Prince’, to go with him. Unfortunately, he’s held up by an enemy, so Diana has to go by herself. Both Lois and Jimmy are impressed by Clark’s girlfriend.
Diana finds herself having to chat with various dullards, including Perry White.
Clark eventually arrives, but is surprised to find Lois dressed as Wonder Woman when she opens the door. Or is she?
Clark eventually works out that he – and most of the party, except for the goddess Diana, of course – are under some form of mind control.
But when finally Diana and Clark get a moment together, they’re rudely interrupted by Orion, the New God, who’s busily hunting down the ‘Superman’ Highfather told him to despatch.
Is it any good?
The first time I read the issue, I hated it. It appeared at first sight to embody all the problems with a Superman/Wonder Woman relationship that everyone feared would occur.
So we have Clark pining after Lois…
…”Since I started seeing Diana, it’s drive a stake through any possibility of anything happening with Lois. I love that I say that as if she wasn’t – you know – living with someone else!” Then he turns up at Lois’s door, hallucinates her as Wonder Woman and imagines her kissing him, and then spends the whole party not talking to his date.
Oh. No. What a dick.
But on second reading, I rather warmed to the issue and saw things might not be as clear as all. Rather than Diana being the “consolation prize” now Lois is with someone – and Clark’s thoughts do at least make him a bit of a dick, unable to commit properly to his new girlfriend – the issue does offer ambiguity. Is Clark imagining Lois dressed as Wonder Woman (while he’s under thought control) because he’d rather be with Lois and still has feelings for her or because he wants to be with Diana and slowly Diana is replacing Lois in his thoughts as ‘The One’? It’s ambiguous, anyway.
More so, it’s actually quite a fun issue and represents the first time the Clark/Diana relationship has actually ‘worked’ and has had sparks. Diana acquits herself well with the mortal-folk – not quite sure what she means about not being a princess (joke playing on the fact she is or is this some Spartan-like Amazonian thing?) but it’s a nice play on her name – and there’s no cat-fighting with Lois. Diana gets to be verbally sexual – “Mind if I grab a few moments alone with the most handsome, sexiest, most interesting man here?” – and talks to Clark as if they are in a relationship together for once, right down to suggesting he be funnier as Superman, which is something we can all appreciate even if it is spoken in jest (maybe). We even get a bit of that ‘relationship dialogue’ I was mentioning earlier, with Clark wondering if the Amazon princess ever had to wear braces when she was a kid.
It all just works, even if there are so many thought balloons flying around, you’d think a fire had broken out on the page somewhere. It’s also a funny issue, which is nice, one dealing not so much with super-fights and super-important things, but with relationships and feelings. And ‘The Cape? Seriously?’ is a classic moment. Okay, the mind control’s a bit daft and Orion’s out of character compared with the Wonder Woman version, but the whole thing feels a bit more Marvel-esque, right down to the “Next issue: Big Fight” sign-off.
Still, next issue, I’m confidently predicted Wonder Woman will turn up to save the day, only to raise one or two questions in Superman’s mind when Orion reveals she’s been snogging him. That can’t be good. But I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll turn out well.
Injustice: Gods Among Us #12-16
Things aren’t going well underwater but Aquaman frees his former friends. They all decide that if Aquaman’s going to invade the surface, they can invade Atlantis and then stick it in a desert.
Wonder Woman tries to talk diplomacy with Aquaman.
Wonder Woman passes word of the peace she’s brokered, but mysteriously doesn’t pass on Aquaman’s good wishes.
Earth’s governments deciding they don’t like the new regime, but their heroes are shown the errors of their way…
Supes and co then turn their attentions to the kind of crazy criminals like the Joker who would kill people like Lois. Arkham’s just a bit too rubbish for words, so a more secure facility is needed and the Wonder Woman posse is going to relocate the inmates.
Unfortunately, even if Robin thinks this is a good idea, Batman doesn’t agree.
Oopsy. Batman’s intervention in proceedings means that Solomon Grundy gets free.
And hits Wonder Woman, knocking her out of the action for most of the issue.
Although she does stab him a bit with her sword (slice not stab, Diana):
Nevertheless, Superman is able to defeat Grundy with his heat vision. Unfortunately, Nightwing taunts Robin a bit afterwards who throws a stick at him, causing Nightwing – don’t laugh – to trip over a stone and die when he hits his head.
Is it any good?
If that plot summary didn’t convince you, no, it’s rubbish. The art’s dreadful and the writing’s dreadful. We have Diana lying to Superman and getting duffed up by Solomon Grundy, largely being superfluous to all requirements. But Nightwing tripping over and dying? That’s just arse.
In issue 17, Supes finds Catwoman and sends her over to the Batcave to be the supportive woman for Alfred and Bruce, who are sobbing their little eyes out into their Batkerchieves over Nightwing’s death.
If you’re worried that maybe too much of Wonder Woman’s storyline in the new 52 involves romance and playing a second fiddle to Superman, look to the Injustice: Gods Among Us storyline to see how much worse it could be not just for her, but for all DC’s female characters.
Justice League of America #1-3
With everyone worried about how powerful the Justice League is becoming, only one country has the foresight to come up with another team of not-quite-as-good superheroes and (ex-)lovers of superheroes to take them on in case they go crazy: America!
Heading them up are Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor, whom Waller manages to persuade to run the outfit by showing him pictures of Wonder Woman and Superman together that ARGUS nicked from Batman’s porn stash last issue.
After convincing even Catwoman to join in, Trevor puts together his Justice League of America, with a different person targeted to take down his or her Justice League opposite number.
Eventually, they go on their first mission together, where they meet a bunch of android impersonators:
It takes a surprisingly long time for the new team to both recognise the fact these are androids and to beat up the baddies. Along the way, there a few emotional moments:
But who’s behind it all?
Is it any good?
Well, it’s better than the ill-fated Justice League International, certainly, but not by much.
It does has a few good things going for it: Steve Trevor and his undying love for Wonder Woman is actually quite sweet, giving even Catwoman pause for thought.
Again, what the crap is she wearing? Really? Can’t she zip that thing up any more? She could buy a new one. Because that’s ridiculous.
We also learn a little more about Steve and Diana, and how Steve fell in love with her ‘on that beach’ the first moment he saw. Which again is sweet.
But, the whole thing is a very hollow exercise. With a few exceptions such as Martian Manhunter, the rationale for the team is entirely super-textual: it’s so there can be a money-spinning ‘trinity war’ crossover, with the Justice League fighting Justice League of America and Justice League Dark.
Now Justice League Dark – fair enough: magic and all that.
But this team merely exposes how few decent, top-tier, ‘clubbable’ superheroes DC has – this isn’t Marvel with its rotating Avengers roster. Martin Manhunter v Superman? Fair dos. The only superhero who can take on Wonder Woman? That’d be… Katana. She’s a woman, she has a magic sword – that’s basically the same as Wonder Woman, the super-strong, super-fast, flying immortal goddess with weapons forged for her by a god, right? And Hawkman versus Aquaman? Well, I guess if Aquaman tried to fly, he wouldn’t stand a chance, but what if Aquaman managed to get Hawkman underwater, hey? Hey?
Daft as a brush, this.