After a few weeks of relative calm, it’s been action stations this week, as DC has deployed the big guns: as well as the usual Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year Three (aka ‘International Superpunching Weekly’) and Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #25 (aka ‘Let’s see if we can get by on Tumblr agitprop, rather than good writing’), we’ve had a brief cameo appearance in Futures End #42, we’ve seen Diana take on virtually the entire Justice League single-handed in (you guessed it) Justice League, an old enemy has come to break up the happy couple and make the Amazons look not quite as bad in Superman/Wonder Woman and over in Wonder Woman, Diana’s been having the same problems balancing her responsibilities as before – but thankfully, we have the return of a very important old friend to help her.
Phew. No wonder I’m late this week. I might have to take a holiday next week after all this…
Wonder Woman #39
Clark’s gone off on a quest in the largely lead-lined ‘volcano of the bugs’, which leaves Wonder Woman and Batman looking for him.
Fortunately, there’s no sexual tension between them whatsoever. Instead, they find Clark and then find something a good deal less pleasant.
As well as a beastie. This makes Diana sad. Or angry. Or maybe sangry.
Back on Paradise Island, Diana worries that she’s going a bit loopy, thanks to being goddess of war. Thankfully, the ghost of her mother arrives to console her and let her know it’s not a goddess thing, it’s an Amazon thing.
Unfortunately, the male Amazons are facing aggression from the female ones – thanks to the arrival of a new queen on the island.
Is it any good?
After the marked uptick in quality over the previous two issues, it’s a regression to the mean in issue #39, as we once again face the essentialism writer Meredith Finch first gave us in her first issue. Here, once again, we have Wonder Woman – goddess, lifelong princess of a matriarchal, communist society, Amazon warrior and A-list superheroine for five years – getting a bit mopey and impulsive because innocent people are dying and it’s a bit tricky juggling all those responsibilities.
This Finch gave us in her first issue, but this issue, rather than this necessarily being down to Finch’s supertextual aim of showing the 21st century woman in Wonder Woman (despite the fact Diana’s not and is actually a goddess, lifelong princess…), we’re given the get-out clause that it’s because “Amazons are trained to channel their rage into battle rage”. True, we’re given this implausible explanation for activities that take place outside battle by the ghost of her mother but at least it’s something to clutch at and since we also have Batman suggesting that Diana’s changed since she became goddess of war, it’s entirely possible that Bats is right (the official DC motto) and ghost mum isn’t.
The issue is notable for two things at least. The first is the beautifully illustrated return of Hippolyta, thanks to the always-special Paradise Island clay…
…I’d assumed Finch had bravely killed off Hippolyta in issue #37, to make Donna Troy, but bringing her back as a ghost, while not as brave, is quite a clever way to reduce Hippolyta’s input into the narrative while simultaneously placating old-school fans.
The second item of note is that Finch is at least suggesting that Diana’s adjusting to her multiple responsibilities. As well as Hippolyta’s suggestion that being goddess of war is making her stronger, we do see Diana fight back against Bathypocrisy, pointing out that while maybe she’s a bit fighty, she’s trying to save lives and Batman’s ‘higher’ morality has ended up costing lives.
Ongoing notes: that beastie (above) looks a lot like a helper of Hecate, so I’m sure that’s going to tie in somehow; there’s a nice moment of female humour, with a joke about Batman, bugs and hair…
…and Brian Finch’s artwork is holding steady and is really rather lovely in places.
Minor niggle: I’m pretty sure Diana wouldn’t say “Oh my God”, being one n’all…
Superman/Wonder Woman #16
Is it any good?
Superman and Magog fight a lot, while Circe wraps up Wonder Woman in asphalt.
After Circe takes Diana the road back to her HQ, it’s time for her to monologue what’s going on. It’s something to do with not getting her man-quota off the Amazons.
Then Superman accidentally turns up, which provides enough distraction for Wonder Woman to break free and defeat Circe’s army.
Unfortunately, now she has to defeat… Superman!
Is it any good?
It’s not bad: a lot of action, monologuing and plot exposition, with some occasionally ropey artwork, but an issue built on a relatively sound base nonetheless.
Perhaps most interestingly, we have a new origin of sorts for Circe and hints at things to come. We also have confirmation that Hippolyta and the Amazons are/were thousands of years old, which is nice.
Back in Volume 2, Circe was essentially the avatar of the goddess Hecate.
Now, with Hecate a separate goddess, it appears that Circe is something immortal and magical in her own right. A goddess? Maybe – the fact that Circe was last seen up in the aether, which is where the gods live, would suggest so, certainly – but let’s not count our chickens, not least because she talks about the need to ‘break free from [her] own chains’, which would suggest she’s bound by someone or something more powerful.
But writer Peter Tomasi also takes advantage of the opportunity to muddy up and dilute the gender waters a little. As I’m sure we all recall, one of the most egregious acts of the nu52 has been to turn the Amazons into evil rape-murderers who venture out to sea every so often in order to extract the ‘man seed’ of sailors – dare I say, the semen of seamen. Ugh – so that they can have babies. They then gave the male ones away to Hephaestus.
Part of Brian Azzarello’s continuing “women, you have it so easy – you just don’t know how hard we men have it as a result of your terrible sexism” storyline, it turned a whole lot of people off the comic altogether. Now, Tomasi tells us that while all that definitely happened, Hippolyta was actually making a choice between two evils: give the boys away to Hephaestus, who’d treat them nice and teach them a trade; or give them to Circe, who’d turn them into ‘ani-men’ and make them part of her army to fight her captor. Either way, Hippolyta would have got magic weapons but it seems that decency won through, even if it was a choice of a man’s comparative goodness or a woman’s evil.
So Amazons – still evil misandrists, but not as evil as they seemed to be. Which is a sort of improvement, I guess.
Otherwise, a fairly decent issue, but not one that does anything really new with the characters, beyond Wonder Woman being sick and tired of old myths, apparently. Despite they being her family and presumably quite current and important.
PS Anyone know why Circe (aka Κίρκη) the well known Greek sorceress is casting all her spells in Latin? Is this the Harry Potter effect in action?
Is it any good?
With most of the Justice League infected with the Amazo virus, the remaining members have little choice: Superman needs to give Lex Luthor some of his blood so that Luthor can create a cure; that means Wonder Woman is going to have to hold them off by herself. Yes, all of them.
Until Captain Cold turns up to help out.
Lex and Superman’s cure eventually works, but not without about 3% of those infected being left with superpowers by the Amazo virus.
Is it any good?
It’s the usual brisk Geoff Johns storytelling, combined with some fantastic art by Jason Fabok. Johns get the storyline zooming along and while, as usual, everything everyone says is Very Very Important, there are enough Very Very Important Things that need to be imparted that it’s just about justifiable. And both Fabok and Johns do a great job giving Wonder Woman some great fight scenes.
In common with the previous two titles this week, Johns also considers the nature of Wonder Woman’s goddesshood, with Wondy explaining that while the Ancient Athenians considered themselves deserted by their gods during the plague of 430BC (as indeed they had been, she says), she’s a god and she’s not going to stand by and desert these particular victims of plague.
However, as with both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, too, that’s more or less where his musings stop, leaving us wondering if perhaps Circe’s accusation that she is a god “in title only” might have a hint of truth to it. What exactly does it mean to be goddess of war? What about all those superpowers Brian Azzarello and Charles Soule gave her – ability to summon up weapons from thin air, ability to summon armies of soldiers, ability to mentally command any soldier?
As it is, to the casual observer, beyond a preponderance of Diana saying she’s the goddess of war, there’s very little of her actually doing anything godly or that’s different from anything she ever did before she was a goddess, both in the nu52 and before. I do wonder if DC has actually got its editors to sit down and have a chat about it. Even a writers’ bible or an intranet page might be nice.
Still, maybe there’ll be exciting new revelations in the next issue, because it’s nearly time for the Darkseid War, which
- Is obviously going to feature New Gods
- Johns says is going to feature lots of Wonder Woman
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three
Dick Grayson possesses Shazam, leading to a bit of unexpected Avengers-esque friendly fire for Wonder Woman.
Fortunately, she’s up again in time to defend Superman from the now-superpowered Huntress and Batwoman.
When Huntress breaks Wonder Woman’s not very wonderful shield…
…Wonder Woman is a bit miffed by all the rhetoric and, erm, accidentally kills Huntress.
Is it any good?
It’s not so much good as interesting to watch writer Brian Buccellato move various superhero pieces around on the board in a series of What if playground fights? What would happen if Poison Ivy fought Swamp Thing? How about Shazam versus Wonder Woman? Etc, etc.
When it comes to Wonder Woman, although we have to make allowances for the recent punch in the head and the heat of battle, the idea that Wonder Woman – the world’s most powerful and well trained warrior – would accidentally just break the neck of an opponent with her Lasso of Truth is a bit like suggesting Batman might trip over and slice the Joker to death with a Baterang.
Still, it was kind of funny.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #25
Wonder Woman destroys an asteroid that’s about to hit an Indian research lab.
She soon works out the asteroid was sent by Lex Luthor to destroy his business opposition.
When the next Indian rocket blasts off, Wonder Woman is ready in her invisible jet/spaceship/something… but Lex is ready for her, too.
But Diana is able to save the spaceship…
…and take the fight back to Lex.
Is it any good?
After the previous few issues of meta and child-/young-oriented issues, it’s actually slightly refreshing to go back to a somewhat more traditional affair, with standard comic book art and Wonder Woman being all superheroiney and saving the day with a bit of thinking, punching and kicking. True, we do get some agitprop at the end to really ram home the subtext, just in case you hadn’t quite grasped the idea that two women had defeated the male Lex Luthor, but there may be some people with low reading ages out there who need this kind of thing highlighting for them.
However, the issue is interesting in one regard, in that we have a ‘melange’ Wonder Woman, who’s largely wearing the standard nu52 uniform (sans scabbard lanyard), but who flies an invisible plane (or spaceship) and who can fly in space without a spacesuit à la Volume 3. It’s a welcome sign that Sensation Comics is remembering it’s more than simply a chance to preach to the converted in very simple sentences, but also to experiment with aspects of Wonder Woman’s entire 70+ years of continuity and beyond.
A welcome relief and entertaining but nothing special in and of itself.
And in case you thought I’d forgotten Diana’s cameo in Future’s End, here it is. Yes, it’s Wonder Girl!
Disclaimer: Owing to the small fortune it would take to buy every single DC comic each week, this is not a guaranteed rundown of all the comics that feature Wonder Woman. If you know of any I’ve missed, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll cover them the following week