It’s been a big weekend for our Wondy, because over in the San Diego Comic Con, we had the first trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that actually features the Amazon Princess. Blink and you might miss this…
…but you won’t miss this exciting use of her bracelets…
…or this example of her indestructibility…
That ‘real world’ excitement aside, it was also a busy week in Diana’s comic book world adventures, and surprisingly, all of it had a theological perspective. Over in Justice League of America, Superman’s Kryptonian god Rao has turned up, offering to help the world, prompting Lois Lane of all people to start examining the nature of belief. But where’s Diana in all of this, you might wonder? Good question…
Meanwhile, over in Sensation Comics, we mine Hesiod’s lesser known Works and Days to explore a little known facet of Eris aka Strife – there’s two of her. What will they get up to together?
Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a new title that acts as a prequel to the Justice League: Gods and Monsters movie and we learn quite a lot about this Elseworlds Wonder Woman – particularly that she likes to shag. A lot. But what are her views on godhood? That we’ll look at after the jump, too.
And lastly, it’s all out war between Amazons, gods and Justice League over in Injustice: Gods Among Us and by the end of it, there are going to be a whole lot more gods, too.
Phew. Like I said – a busy week, theologically!
Justice League of America #2
The Kryptonian God Rao has shown up and he’s wanting to help the people of Earth. To do that, he needs Superman to get the word out.
He’s also got his own prophets, who go around healing people in hospitals.
One of these prophets has even made it down to Atlantis, although Atlantis hasn’t had much time for the gods since it turned its back on Poseidon:
But where’s Diana during all of this? She disappeared last issue, after hearing all those voices in her head. Maybe it was the voices of the gods, because Olympus seems to have undergone some major redecoration…
Is it any god? Sorry, I meant good
It’s both interesting and puzzler, raising many a theological question.
Here we have the arrival of Rao, whom Superman believes instantly is the real thing, as does pretty much anyone who meets him. Rao works miracles and helps people. The question is, what is a god and why should you believe in him?
It’s certainly a puzzler. For one thing, we have Aquaman who wields the Trident of Neptune/Poseidon and one of whose bestest friends is both the Olympian goddess of war and Poseidon’s niece yet says he doesn’t believe in Poseidon or other Olympians and neither do any of the Atlanteans.
We also have Lois Lane musing in writing on the nature of gods, making the somewhat obvious point that if Wonder Woman is the goddess of war, surely there must be other members of the same pantheon, not to mention the fact that the Justice League first formed to fight a bunch of New Gods. In a nice touch, she even questions whether humanity will ever see “Thor outside of movies”.
Indeed, given that Wonder Woman is a Greek goddess, why doesn’t the whole post-nu52 world believe in the Greek gods, one might wonder? What more evidence do you need? And that’s one of the issue’s musings.
Meanwhile, Batman outs himself as an angsty atheist because what kind of loving god would let suffering happen.
While we all ponder why Superman delegates the job of finding the disappeared Wonder Woman to Batman for a whole day while he becomes a missionary, we do have one interesting last scene: a monologue of Clark’s as he tries to get hold of Diana because he’s worried about her. A nice character touch, anyway, but the final frame suggests that he might actually be praying to her to contact her. She is a goddess, after all:
All in all, an interesting issue that poses some surprisingly difficult questions, not normally asked in comic books. In a world of ‘gods’ and gods, what deserves worship, who deserves worship and why? And what evidence do you need that someone is a god before you accept it? We even have members of the Justice League who don’t believe in the Greek gods despite knowing one – at what point does scepticism start to become ridiculous?
So a really interesting issue with some really good art, even if Henriques unfortunately can’t draw Wonder Woman.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #42
It’s something of a mash-up this time round in Sensation Comics as we get an amalgam Wonder Woman, part Volume 2 with her ambassadorial status, old-style costume and invisible jet, part nu52 with her demi-goddess heritage.
Diana’s been asked to help broker a peace deal between two warring countries.
However, while the set-up’s all there for future issues, the main focus of the first issue of this three-part story is the goddess Strife, who never really got much of a look-in in Volume 2, despite being a much loved character in the nu52.
Nyx is another goddess who’s also shown up a lot in the nu52 in different forms, but here she doesn’t make an appearance per se, rather than narrate the whole issue. Interestingly, it’s a rare comic that actually references its source Greek myth, but here we have a little asterisk to note that Nyx is using Hesiod’s version of her genealogy in his Theogeny:
The rest of the issue mainly then focuses on Hesiod’s other, less ‘begat’-fixated poem, Work and Days, to give us the notion of two Strifes:
So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due. But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and the son of Cronos who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with is neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.
Here, writer Karen Traviss confusingly also makes the two Strifes sisters – one called Strife, one called Eris – and sisters of Ares, at that.
I’m not quite sure how that works – presumably half-brother but they’re keeping it simple – but let’s go with it. The issue itself is something of a duel between the two over who will get the upper hand, with good Strife encouraging bad Strife to better herself, except somehow this leads to the idea of interfering with the countries Diana’s trying to broker a peace between.
Traviss clearly has enough of a grounding in Greek myth to drop in the occasional ‘nugget for myth nerds’, such as The Odyssey’s explanation that the gods aren’t to blame for everything, it’s mortals who cause themselves the most problems.
However, Nyx’s narration constantly suggests the gods don’t know much more about the future than mortals do, despite The Fates, Oracles, et al and the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. True of the Wonder Woman gods only, perhaps? All the same, as with Justice League of America, an issue that makes one think about the relationships between gods and mortals, responsibility and self-reliance
Artwork’s pretty good, although nowhere near as iconic as Cliff Chiang’s, and one has to wonder why Wonder Woman needs to wear glasses all the time, even when with people who know she’s Wonder Woman.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters #1-4 + Justice League: Gods and Monsters: Wonder Woman #1-3
As regular readers will know, DC has an Elseworlds Bruce Timm animated movie coming out called Justice League: Gods and Monsters that sees a very different Justice League working together. Superman is the son of General Zod and was raised by Mexicans; Batman is actually Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom); and Wonder Woman is Bekka, a New Goddess who’s escaped Apokolips.
As well as some short movies, including one for Wonder Woman, DC has been releasing daily digital comics as prequels. All the characters have had individual runs and we’re currently halfway through a nine-issue group prequel that seems to be explaining how this Justice League formed.
So what have we gleaned about this new Wonder Woman? Is this red-headed, motherbox-sword equipped, whie-clad New Goddess just Wonder Woman in name only?
Actually, no. The prequel series for this Wonder Woman does a good job of showing us this is at heart the same person: an idealist who wants peace. Sick of war on Apokolips, she comes to Earth in 1962 looking to help.
She decides to learn more about the Earth, so explores it.
Eventually, she joins a hippy commune, where she teaches them how to expand their minds peacefully:
And shows them the strength of women:
Unfortunately, one of the members of the commune is this reality’s version of Doctor Psycho, who was part of the CIA’s MKUltra programme and he wants to do so mind-altering experiments, which he manages with the help of Wonder Woman’s mind-expanding crystals. Fortunately, Wonder Woman is able to use her own peaceful abilities to help those he’s experimented on.
Bekka decides to leave the commune. Over the years, she becomes something of a legend, appearing briefly to help those in need before disappearing. A veritable ‘Wonder Woman’.
However, Doctor Psycho escaped the commune and over the years, he seems to have perfected his human upgrade power. Taking on a new name, for a price, he’ll upgrade normal humans to become superhuman ‘Forever People’. It’s so tempting, even this world’s Superman is interested in taking him up on his offer, although it doesn’t seem to go quite right, so Wonder Woman stops it before it can get too far.
Is it any good?
Actually, despite my reservations from the mini-movie, it’s surprisingly good. Wonder Woman is still recognisably Wonder Woman, doing her best to bring about peace while helping women in particular, using force if necessary to stop the bad guys. She also has her lasso, although whether it makes people tell the truth or not, we can’t yet tell:
She also doesn’t want to become more godly.
In terms of differences between her and modern day Wonder Woman, apart from her appearance and origin, the biggest is that she shags a lot.
She shags Steve Trevor in the mini-movie.
She shags random strangers in bars because she thinks the world’s about to end.
She shags commune owners.
But most importantly, she shags Superman. A lot.
She shags him in Greece (and regrets it).
She shags him in Switzerland (and doesn’t regret it).
And, actually, that’s all well and good. No lesser writer than Grant Morrison has argued that Wonder Woman basically lost her mojo once William Moulton Marston stopped writing for her and she lost her sexuality. He intends to fix that by giving her back her sexuality in an Elseworlds graphic novel coming out in…
2013 2014 2015 April 2016.
But here, freed of the constraints of standard continuity and what’s acceptable to Wonder Woman fans in a portrayal of Wonder Woman, the title gets to explore the sexuality of Wonder Woman and apply to it that spirited equality she applies in other parts of her life.
Arguably, it’s a little empty at times so it this equal or better? Wonder Woman’s mission of peace is about showing a better way, not just doing things the male way. However, she does seem to care, despite what she says and despite Superman being an arrogant, borderline racist stereotype of a Latin lover:
Generally, however, all the issues have been pretty decently written, although the dialogue could do with some work. The character of Batman/Manbat is perhaps the weakest, so naturally writers JM DeMatteis and Bruce Timm focus more on the far more interesting Superman and Wonder Woman. Artwork’s a little variable, with the Wonder Woman standalone issues having significantly better art.
But they have at least done their job: I’m far more interested in the movie than I was before I read the comics.
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four #10
Since Sinestro’s dicked up the whole duel, it’s called off an it’s time for war. Once Superman’s dealt with Sinestro.
While Superman stands guard over Diana, the Amazons attack.
Artemis deals quickly with Hal Jordan.
Hermes deals even more quickly with The Flash.
But Superman comes to his senses and stops the fight with his superbreath.
Unfortunately for Superman, some gods want a word.
Is it any good?
Despite the all-out slugging, it’s actually another good piece of work. As well as the introduction of some new versions of some familiar gods, as well as some unfamiliar ones (Atlas – I do hope the heavens won’t fall down), we also get some character moments, including a flashback to happier, more playful times, involving the Trinity, back when Wonder Woman was a new arrival to the Justice League.
I particularly liked Wondy’s ‘whatever this is’ as a description of the Batman-Superman bromance. But Clark’s general sorrow during the issue as he realises how things have spiralled out of his control is particularly poignant and his Hulk-Thor moment with Sinestro was a welcome peace of humour.
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 next week