Well, after a bit of a summer vacation, we’re back on the Wonder Womans, looking to review all the DC comics in which our heroine appears. We’re going to be on a slightly different schedule from before, trying to review them as they appear, rather than saving them up. Fingers crossed, I might stand a chance of keeping up this time.
This week, though, I’m not sure it’s going to make much of a difference since we’ve seen the continuation of the Forever Evil/Trinity War storylines in Justice League America #8, which reveals what’s happened to Wondy and the rest of the Justice League. Over in Batman-Superman #3, we finish a brief trip over to Earth 2 to see alternative universe, soon-to-be-deceased Wonder Woman. And Smallville #67 – aka Smallville: Season 11 – continues the introduction of young Wonder Woman and her world to that particular TV/comics universe.
I’ll touch on all of those after the jump, but the main review is going to be of Wonder Woman #24, which picks up from the conclusion of the First Born storyline, in which Diana actually managed to kill Ares, the god of war, and as a result, was forced to take up his mantle and become Diana, goddess of war.
Or was she? It looks more like she’s off house-hunting in London. More of that and some spoilers after the jump.
The First Born has been tied up and taken to Olympus, where Apollo and co are trying to work out what to do with him other than torture him.
They need Wonder Woman, goddess of war, to help them decide – and there’s a new prophecy about an approaching war.
Except Diana is busy looking for a house big enough for Zola and Zeke. She’s less than impressed when Hermes, messenger of the gods and former baby-snatcher, turns up to bring her to Olympus.
Except Wondy doesn’t really want to be goddess of war. She has other concerns, including trying to get Hera restored to godesshood, a wish Apollo is unwilling to grant.
Meanwhile, the First Born’s ally Cassandra is ferreting around after one of her Wondy’s brothers…
…Strife is in mourning over Ares…
…and, oh dear. Channel 52 has picked up on the fact that Wonder Woman has a new job.
Is it any good?
It’s once again a slow start to a new plot for Brian Azzarello, except this time we don’t have Cliff Chiang’s lovely artwork to really lift things, just a good imitator (Goran Sudzuku).
Most of the tropes are the same: a prophecy that may or may not involve Wonder Woman; Apollo and the other gods all being a bit nasty, while goddesses look on/do as they’re told; Wonder Woman not wanting to have anything to do with the whole thing but being dragged into it; Zola (and Zeke) needing protecting; lack of any inner life for Wonder Woman beyond helping Zola; Wonder Woman being reprimanded by a male for her behaviour and realising he’s right.
It’s all getting a bit repetitious. Slowly repetitious and insulting.
It’s a shame really, since as can be seen from Superman/Wonder Woman #1, the Azzarello/Chiang combination has given us some very iconic characters. Basing the stories in (a version of) Greek myth is a great move. It’s just the implementation that’s leaving a lot to be desired: to truly get any sense of fun or Wonder Woman as a character, we’re having to look to other DC writers, who are doing far more interesting (and respectful and less misogynistic) things with Azzarello’s creations than Azzarello is, all in far fewer issues.
Which isn’t to say this is all terrible. Indeed, it’s one of the best storylines in the nu52 (low bar, admittedly). Just that we appear to be in yet another cycle of almost interminable set-up followed by very slight, very quick pay-off that is largely without Wonder Woman doing anything wondrous.
Just for once, it would be good if we could have an issue with Wonder Woman having some fun or winning a fight, the gods not all doing something dark, unpleasant and out of character, the goddesses getting to do something except sit there and be naked/argue, and the various hints and intrigues we’ve had since issue #1 getting some kind of pay off. Greek myth and literature is pretty broad – there’s more than one kind of story, ranging from ‘hero/heroine’s journey’ through to outright comedy. Must we always have just this one, sub-sub-sub-sub-Iliad version?
Still, maybe next issue, hey?
PS Is it just me or does some of the dialogue feel like it’s been mistranslated from another language, this issue?
Justice League America #8
The deceptively-titled ‘Trinity War’ is over and it turns out to the baddies from Earth #3 behind it all. Now, somehow, they’ve defeated and got rid of our heroes and heroines.
Where are they? Well, it seems they’re in some kind of prison, where they’re being undermined by their greatest weaknesses. In Wonder Woman’s case, that’s apparently being involved in a fight with Amazons because they’ve got Steve Trevor locked up somewhere; meanwhile, she also believes that Superman is trapped somewhere, ready to kill him, too. It’s a little unclear, but apparently the worst thing in the world for Diana is for Superman to leave her. Or to not have an especially good fight or something.
It’s not exactly a great issue and the artwork’s pretty poor. One not to bother with unless you’re dead keen on following the Forever Evil storyline.
This was proceeding quite nicely, with young Superman and Batman from our universe dragged by one of the New Gods over to Earth 2 where they encounter not only their older, alternate selves, but Wonder Woman as well. While Earth 2 Superman tells Lois that he only has eyes for her, Earth 1 Superman is unattached and his eyes find a different target:
Acting as a halfway house between Action Comics and Justice League #3, it looked like it was filling in some story blanks, not the least of which was to give the Superman/Wonder Woman pairing something of a firmer foundation – if Supes knows all about Wonder Woman already and she’s already shown interest in him in Earth 2, that would also explain his somewhat stalkerish behaviour in Justice League #12. Couple that with some lovely artwork from Jae Lee and it was one of the month’s highlights.
Except… the whole storyline has just ended after only three issues with everyone’s memories being blanked. Oh well. Was there a point to that, beyond giving Darkseid a bit more motivation and justification for his actions? Maybe, but we don’t know what it is yet.
Rating: 3/5 (+1 for the art)
Smallville‘s introduction of Wonder Woman into its universe after all this time has also been one of the week’s highlights for a few months now (it’s released digitally on Fridays). Starting from when Steve Trevor crashed on Paradise Island as a child, orphaned by the incident and kept in hiding by Diana as ‘her secret boy’, it’s been a fun variation on pre-nu52 continuity. Young Diana comes into the outside world to hunt for her mother, who took Steve back to the mainland, where she fights crime and anything else that comes her way, while dressed in her Volume 3 Diana Prince outfit.
Weaving in Felix Faust and the DEO and even yet another version of Hades – god or extra-dimensional being, it’s not entirely clear, although the implication of the latter was disappointing, as is the obvious Christian iconography given to Hades – it’s been fun, right down to the reveal of Diana’s new armour at the end of last issue, which owes more than a little to Cliff Chiang’s prototype for the nu52:
Nevertheless, this being a Superman comic and one with him married to Lois – and everyone happy with that – it’s been fair to say that Wondy hasn’t quite been as wonderful as she could have been, not doing especially well in fights and needing Superman and even Lois to help her, despite the godly blood in her veins (yes, the nu52 origin has been hinted at, if not verified). She’s been quite reverentially treated and she’s even been allowed to express feminist opinions about the treatment of women in the outside world, but she’s still a guest, not the host of this particular adventure.
But now she’s got her armour, her mother found and with Superman not faring especially well, things are looking up for Wondy in this last three-issue stretch of her introductory storyline. By the sounds of it, young Diana is going to be finding out just who she is by the end of it all.