Weekly Wonder Woman: Sensation Comics #29-30, Batman and Robin #30

Sensation Comics #30

It’s Weekly Wonder Woman, which depending on how you view these things is either six days late or one day early. Just to explain, last week was a bit of a desert, with only Sensation Comics #29 offering us anything featuring the Amazon princess, and as it was a two-part story, I decided to roll it into this week’s reviews. And as I might be a bit busy tomorrow, I figured I might as well do everything today instead. There’s lovely, hey? In fact, I might do it again next week, the fact it being Good Friday in the UK next Friday having almost nothing to do with that particular decision. Oh no.

So after the jump, we’ll dive into Sensation Comics #29-30 as Wonder Woman defends an over-sexualised Miley Cyrus-alike from a crazy mansplainer. But as an added fillip, we’ve also got a guest appearance by Wondy and the rest of the Justice League in Batman and Robin #30. That Robin’s only gone and got himself some superpowers, which means Batman needs help keeping the young whippersnapper in line…

Sensation Comics #29-30
Plot

Former teenage star Esperanza is off on her ‘Hope’ tour. However, the Internet’s not happy. One man in particular is very unhappy, in fact. So Esperanza’s tutor/bodyguard calls in her old pal Wonder Woman.

The Internet's not happy

Wonder Woman's here

Boyd ain't happy

At the concert, various fans get made VIPs and are allowed up on stage. Literally.

VIP fans

Up on stage

When things go wrong, it’s Wonder Woman to the rescue.

Wonder Woman saves the fans

…while Esperanza’s tutor puts her Wonder Woman-taught skills to the test and apprehends… the head of security!

Boyd intercepted

Compelled by the Lasso of Truth, he reveals that he’s just trying to stop his former idol from growing up… and disempowering men.

The reasons

Mansplaining

Is it any good?
So Wonder Woman! Girl power! Woman power! Diversity! Strong women! Patriarchy! Lasso of Truth! Diana Prince! Inspiring to women! Online harassment! Mansplaining! Slut shaming! Sexualisation of girls! Young readers!

Do you see what I’ve just done there? I’ve put down every Wonder Woman/topical feminist-related idea that I could think of in no particular order. However, unlike Sara Ryan, I’ve not stuck them all into a single comic strip story.

There have, of course, been many authors for these Sensation Comics stories so far, and a lot of them are taking their stint as a chance to show us how they’d write Wonder Woman full-time if given the chance. Almost always, this also involves showing us why she’s an important character, why she’s inspiring, and what needs to be done to her to make her more relevant to younger woman, whether that’s wearing a hijab in space or having a dance-off with teenage boys.

Here, Ryan tries to give us an occasionally jokey Wonder Woman who loves going to concerts full of teenagers, who has a diverse array of friends, who’s always there to help out (no matter what crises there are in the world) and who’ll defend women from men trying to oppress them. Nothing wrong there, although changing Wonder Woman’s Diana Prince secret identity into a fitness trainer… whom everyone apparently also knows as Wonder Woman the world crisis-solver isn’t really the best thought through of schemes and makes it look more like inconsistency. And most fitness instructors still probably wouldn’t dress like this in a business meeting, either.

Diana Prince, fitness instructor

Wonder Woman saves the world

But Ryan also throws in pretty much everything else she can think of, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. The closer it comes to the central theme of online stalking and men policing women’s sexuality, the more it works and it can even be quite chilling – for example, when Esperanza is sent a teddy bear and a toxin-saturated thong and told to choose wisely…

Which one to choose?

Other things just seem to get floated by the reader without any real consideration – other than “Look! Look at all the pressures women face today!” – such as when Esperenza lists off the things that she gets Tweeted about.

Tweets

That doesn’t go anywhere. Character development? Background colour?

Not really. The trouble is that it all ends up being a bit “United Colors of Benetton”, with issues being raised, but nothing quite gelling or achieving coherence or conclusion. Is Ryan in favour of sexualisation of teenagers? Does she think Wonder Woman should be off looking after rich pop stars in thinly veiled plot lifts of The Bodyguard, – popstars who should be able to afford their own, independent security details – rather than off rescuing those who really need her help? Is fitness instructor the best job or most plausible job for Wonder Woman? Is a tutor who’s had a couple of self defence classes 10 years previously from Wonder Woman really the best eventual choice for the head of a security detail?

You can see what Ryan’s trying to do – she probably suspects she’s only going to get the one shot at writing for Wonder Woman so she’s going to throw all her ideas into the mix now while she can. But it doesn’t make for a hugely satisfying story, so much as a list of issues of which people should be aware.

The overall plot is a reasonable one, even if the eventual revelation of the baddie’s belief system:

  1. Doesn’t require a huge amount of effort from anyone. Who’s the baddie? Him with the remote control. Wasn’t that hard? Who needs Columbo?
  2. The belief system doesn’t make a huge amount of sense and again is just a list of issues strung together – “girls shouldn’t grow up and take up boxing and be sexy and things but should be sweet little girls because otherwise that disempowers men, so I’ll go and work for them and try to persuade them with signs and health and safety incidents.” Erm, what?
  3. Requires a misuse of the word mansplaining that renders the word more or less meaningless.

But as usual, it’s the kind of subtext-made-text Sensation Comics plot that’ll score big with readers who like to score the political correctness of what they read, but which is generally dissatisfying as a story. One to read if you enjoy congratulating yourself on how liberal you are, rather than because you appreciate logic or good storytelling.

Rating: 3/5

Batman and Robin #40

Batman and Robin #40
Plot
Batman’s son Damian who’s also the latest Robin has somehow got superpowers. He gets to tag along with the Justice League when they get to fight a giant Japanese robot.

Damian with the Justice League

Fighting the robot

Eventually, they defeat the robot.

Robot defeated

Robot defeated

Except it turns out that it was all a set-up by Batman, who needed Damian to use up all his super-powers somewhere he couldn’t do any damage.

Set up

Is it any good?
Obviously I’m coming at this as a somewhat older, non-Batfan who didn’t even know Batman’s son Damian was alive and Robining, so my interest in the overall storyline, which seems aimed at somewhat younger readers in both the writing and artwork, is next to zero. On top of that, despite the fact the author is Peter J Tomasi, current author of Superman/Wonder Woman, and he previously did quite a good Wonder Woman cameo in Batman and Robin, this really isn’t a Superman or a Wonder Woman story, with both just around to make up Justice League numbers, rather than do anything meaningful or character-illuminating.

So I’m not even going to bother rating it, since I can’t really tell what it’s trying to do, so can’t tell you if it’s doing it well. It’s not something I greatly enjoyed and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it’s not something really aimed at me or Wonder Woman fans. So I’ll just point out its existence to you, in case you’re interested.

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

  • JustStark

    Given your Wonder Woman obsession, what do you think of the most recent (at least in paperback) Astro City collection, Victory?

  • JustStark

    Given your Wonder Woman obsession, what do you think of the most recent (at least in paperback) Astro City collection, Victory?

    • You say ‘obsession’, I say ‘Consistently the most popular feature of the blog every week.’

      The short answer is that until you mentioned it, I’d never heard of Astro City, let alone read it.

      The long answer is that it’s Image comics, so doesn’t have that much bearing per se on Wonder Woman, any more than Watchmen or Miracleman do. Whether it’s simply general commentary or alternative versions of a character, they don’t really affect the character. Even DC has several other ‘Wonder Women’ out there at the moment in things like Future’s End, Multiversity and Earth 2 that I don’t really bother with, since they’re intended to be different from Wonder Woman herself.

      I guess Injustice and Sensation Comics, which I do cover, slip through because while different, they’re supposed to be the same character at the core and the differences are minor. But it’s a grey area that I could change my mind on at a moment’s notice.

      • JustStark

        Ah, I just assume anybody who read superhero comic reads Astro City, because it is the only superhero comic worth reading.

        (I think it’s published by DC now, but I don’t really keep track)

        The newest collection, Victory, is about Wonder Woman (who appears as ‘Winged Victory’, but clearly is Wonder Woman, just like Superman appears as ‘The Samaritan’, etc).

        • I think people don’t largely read superhero comics so much as comics about particular superheroes – it’s usually about the characters. At least, I don’t really read superhero comics so much as comics featuring (at the moment) Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Loki and (new) Thor.

          Winged Victory looks interesting judging from Wiki, but at the same time looks like a character I wouldn’t read about in her own right and, as deconstruction, comes late to the game (cf Frank Miller’s Wonder Woman in Dark Knight 2) and is more an interesting idea to read on Wikipedia than read as a comic. But I haven’t read it, so I wouldn’t know.

          • JustStark

            I think people don’t largely read superhero comics so much as comics
            about particular superheroes – it’s usually about the characters

            But… that would imply that superheroes have characters, in any kind of consistent sense…

            as deconstruction, comes late to the game

            Deconstruction is so old hat. Astro City isn’t deconstruction, it’s a kind of post-deconstruction reconstruction.

            However, it did get Superman and Wonder Woman together as a couple years before DC did, so I thought you’d appreciate that.

            It also includes the most romantic thing I have ever read, The Nearness of You (collected in the paperback Confession; you can find plot summaries online, but I don’t recommend reading them as they won’t have the same effect). And yes, that’s even though it’s a comic book.

            and is more an interesting idea to read on Wikipedia than read as a comic

            I found the Victory story slightly lacking mainly because I think that Astro City works best when it’s about the people who live in the world of superheroes, rather than focusing on the superheroes themselves because, well, superheroes qua superheroes are pretty boring (they fight villains, they hit things, so new, so yawn): what’s interesting is analysing how they work on a symbolic level.

            The most consistently good Astro City collection is, I think, Local Heroes because it’s all about how superheroes as symbols inform the lives of people who live in a world in which superheroes are real, rather than being stories about superheroes.

          • “But… that would imply that superheroes have characters, in any kind of consistent sense…”

            I’m not quite sure what you’re arguing now – or whether you’re not serious and just trying to take cheap shots at the poor old superheroes – as you’ve previously argued that all (successful) superheroes have a core ‘simplicity’, to which presumably all the writers are consistent. Now you’re saying that they don’t even have this?

            Or are you actually arguing that people can’t be fans of a given superhero? Because I refute this thusly: I am a fan of Wonder Woman and of Black Widow.

            If you mean that writers can be inconsistent or give different interpretations, that can be true, but it depends on where and when, etc, this perceived inconsistency occurs, how much character development occurs, etc. Part of the fun of anything long-running, whether that’s comics, a TV series, a film franchise or anything else, is seeing how a character changes over time. But even a single writer can be inconsistent over a short book and you can still like and even be a fan of the character, but scale that up to a TV series and you’ll see characters being inconsistent simply through production changes.

            Look at Doctor Who. There’s almost nothing consistent about any element of it across all the genres, media, etc. Tom Baker doesn’t know Pertwee’s martial arts in Robot and then is twisting people’s necks around by Seeds of Doom, only to telling Leela not to do anything violent a few stories later. Yet one can be a fan of not only Tom Baker’s Doctor but every single Doctor Who in every single medium, including stage plays, Doctor Who and the Pescatons and those things you used to get free in packs of cornflakes.

            With comic book superheroes, you tend to get people being fans of particular ‘runs’ by particular authors (cf fans of RTD’s Doctor Who versus Stevie Moffat’s Doctor Who) but who stick through other runs because they like the characters and want to see what happens to them. But you also get people who think that a particular run is too far away from the character and stop reading, waiting for a return to the character as they see him/her (cf fans of RTD’s Doctor Who versus Stevie Moffat’s Doctor Who).

            Have a look through Tumblr and you’ll almost certainly be able to find fans of particular characters with as much granularity as you like. On the Black Widow side, for example, you can find fans of the comic book character, fans of the MCU Black Widow and people who are fans of both. You’ll find people who are fans of Wonder Woman’s Golden Age, fans of her post-Crisis, fans of her nu52 persona, fans of the Lynda Carter version and more.

            “However, it did get Superman and Wonder Woman together as a couple years before DC did”

            It’s true that in mainstream DC continuity that’s new. But not entirely. Perhaps by coincidence or perhaps by clever plotting, allow me to present you with the following Tumblr page as a demonstration that also addresses this point:

            http://tmblr.co/ZDIeYx1gXR7uF

  • You say 'obsession', I say 'Consistently the most popular feature of the blog every week.'

    The short answer is that until you mentioned it, I'd never heard of Astro City, let alone read it.

    The long answer is that it's Image comics, so doesn't have that much bearing per se on Wonder Woman, any more than Watchmen or Miracleman do. Whether it's simply general commentary or alternative versions of a character, they don't really affect the character. Even DC has several other 'Wonder Women' out there at the moment in things like Future's End, Multiversity and Earth 2 that I don't really bother with, since they're intended to be different from Wonder Woman herself.

    I guess Injustice and Sensation Comics, which I do cover, slip through because while different, they're supposed to be the same character at the core and the differences are minor. But it's a grey area that I could change my mind on at a moment's notice.

  • JustStark

    Ah, I just assume anybody who read superhero comic reads Astro City, because it is the only superhero comic worth reading.

    (I think it's published by DC now, but I don't really keep track)

    The newest collection, Victory, is about Wonder Woman (who appears as 'Winged Victory', but clearly is Wonder Woman, just like Superman appears as 'The Samaritan', etc).

  • I think people don't largely read superhero comics so much as comics about particular superheroes – it's usually about the characters. At least, I don't really read superhero comics so much as comics featuring (at the moment) Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Loki and (new) Thor.

    Winged Victory looks interesting judging from Wiki, but at the same time looks like a character I wouldn't read about in her own right and, as deconstruction, comes late to the game (cf Frank Miller's Wonder Woman in Dark Knight 2) and is more an interesting idea to read on Wikipedia than read as a comic. But I haven't read it, so I wouldn't know.

  • JustStark

    I think people don't largely read superhero comics so much as comics
    about particular superheroes – it's usually about the characters

    But… that would imply that superheroes have characters, in any kind of consistent sense…

    as deconstruction, comes late to the game

    Deconstruction is so old hat. Astro City isn't deconstruction, it's a kind of post-deconstruction reconstruction.

    However, it did get Superman and Wonder Woman together as a couple years before DC did, so I thought you'd appreciate that.

    It also includes the most romantic thing I have ever read, The Nearness of You (collected in the paperback Confession; you can find plot summaries online, but I don't recommend reading them as they won't have the same effect). And yes, that's even though it's a comic book.

    and is more an interesting idea to read on Wikipedia than read as a comic

    I found the Victory story slightly lacking mainly because I think that Astro City works best when it's about the people who live in the world of superheroes, rather than focusing on the superheroes themselves because, well, superheroes qua superheroes are pretty boring (they fight villains, they hit things, so new, so yawn): what's interesting is analysing how they work on a symbolic level.

    The most consistently good Astro City collection is, I think, Local Heroes because it's all about how superheroes as symbols inform the lives of people who live in a world in which superheroes are real, rather than being stories about superheroes.

  • “But… that would imply that superheroes have characters, in any kind of consistent sense…”

    I'm not quite sure what you're arguing now – or whether you're not serious and just trying to take cheap shots at the poor old superheroes – as you've previously argued that all (successful) superheroes have a core 'simplicity', to which presumably all the writers are consistent. Now you're saying that they don't even have this?

    Or are you actually arguing that people can't be fans of a given superhero? Because I refute this thusly: I am a fan of Wonder Woman and of Black Widow.

    If you mean that writers can be inconsistent or give different interpretations, that can be true, but it depends on where and when, etc, this perceived inconsistency occurs, how much character development occurs, etc. Part of the fun of anything long-running, whether that's comics, a TV series, a film franchise or anything else, is seeing how a character changes over time. But even a single writer can be inconsistent over a short book and you can still like and even be a fan of the character, but scale that up to a TV series and you'll see characters being inconsistent simply through production changes.

    Look at Doctor Who. There's almost nothing consistent about any element of it across all the genres, media, etc. Tom Baker doesn't know Pertwee's martial arts in Robot and then is twisting people's necks around by Seeds of Doom, only to telling Leela not to do anything violent a few stories later. Yet one can be a fan of not only Tom Baker's Doctor but every single Doctor Who in every single medium, including stage plays, Doctor Who and the Pescatons and those things you used to get free in packs of cornflakes.

    With comic book superheroes, you tend to get people being fans of particular 'runs' by particular authors (cf fans of RTD's Doctor Who versus Stevie Moffat's Doctor Who) but who stick through other runs because they like the characters and want to see what happens to them. But you also get people who think that a particular run is too far away from the character and stop reading, waiting for a return to the character as they see him/her (cf fans of RTD's Doctor Who versus Stevie Moffat's Doctor Who).

    Have a look through Tumblr and you'll almost certainly be able to find fans of particular characters with as much granularity as you like. On the Black Widow side, for example, you can find fans of the comic book character, fans of the MCU Black Widow and people who are fans of both. You'll find people who are fans of Wonder Woman's Golden Age, fans of her post-Crisis, fans of her nu52 persona, fans of the Lynda Carter version and more.

    “However, it did get Superman and Wonder Woman together as a couple years before DC did”

    It's true that in mainstream DC continuity that's new. But not entirely. Perhaps by coincidence or perhaps by clever plotting, allow me to present you with the following Tumblr page as a demonstration that also addresses this point:

    http://tmblr.co/ZDIeYx1gXR7uF