Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #33

Wonder Woman #33

Yes, it’s Weekly Wonder Woman – keeping you up to date on pretty much anything involving DC Comics’ premier superheroine, including which of her relatives have died this week 

The engines are revving on the Warner Bros Justice League promotional machine and this week is apparently ‘Wonder Woman week’. Oddly, it’s also Cyborg week – yes, they have to share.

Still we’ve got a couple of vids all about Diana out of it.

Although not Wondy-centric, there are also some new posters, one of which you can get free in the US if you book using Fandango (they’d really like it if you’d book for an IMAX viewing, too).

Fandango Justice League poster

IMAX Justice League

On top of that, we also have a new image of Diana from the movie, as well as a new TV spot that includes lots of fresh footage of Diana and the Amazons.

Diana and the Justice League

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman/Wonder Woman 2 director Patty Jenkins has (literally) just been passed the baton by Superman director Richard Donner.

Comics news

Sadly, although DC at least hasn’t tried to top Marvel’s recent venture into sponsorship from weapons manufacturers, it is lining up some sponsored comics to tie in with the Justice League. Ever felt that Wonder Woman needed more Mercedes in her stories? Well, your dreams can now come true, thanks to a set of digital comics. Hers is due in the next few weeks, but here’s the Flash and Cyborg taking the corporate shilling.

Merchandise news

There’s a new book out about Diana called Wonder Woman: Ambassador of Truth.

A gorgeous, authorized celebration of one of the most popular and enduring Super Heroes of all time—Wonder Woman—that chronicles the life and times of this pop-culture phenomenon and image of women’s strength and power, from her origins and role as a founding member of the Justice League to her evolution in television and film.

“As lovely as Aphrodite—as wise as Athena—with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules—she is known only as Wonder Woman, but who she is, or whence she came, nobody knows!”—All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941-January 1942)

Created by William Moulton Marston and introduced at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II, Wonder Woman—the fierce warrior and diplomat armed with bulletproof Bracelets of Victory, a golden tiara, and a Lasso of Truth—has been a pop-culture icon and one of the most enduring symbols of feminism for more than seventy-five years. Wonder Woman: Ambassador of Truth now tells the complete illustrated story of this iconic character’s creative journey. Signe Bergstrom examines Wonder Woman’s diverse media representations from her wartime comic book origins to today’s feature films, and explores the impact she has had on women’s rights and empowerment and the fight for peace, justice, and equality across the globe.

Wonder Woman: Ambassador of Truth brings together a breathtaking collage of images—from the DC comic books, the 1970s-era television show starring Lynda Carter, her numerous animated appearances, the June 2017 Wonder Woman feature film called “the best DC universe film yet”, and the November 2017 film Justice League. Fully authorized by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, this lush full-color compendium features inserts and exclusive interactives, and illuminating interviews and anecdotes from key artists, writers, and personalities involved in bringing Wonder Woman to life across the years.

You’ll be gratified to hear it comes with a “remove and wear tiara” on the front cover, as well. DC has a video that shows you not just that tiara in action, but also what’s on the inside.

It’s $50 (£14.99 on Kindle, and £28 on Amazon UK, though), though, so you might want to put it on your Saturnalia gift list this year.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print this week. After the jump, we’ll look at the comics that featured Diana this week. Well, kind of. In our Elseworlds section, Batman’s a bit sad that his beloved Diana’s dead so steals Ares’ helmet and becomes the new god of war. She doesn’t really do much in that, except be dead, obviously.

Meanwhile, in proper DC continuity, we find out what Grail’s been up to of late in Wonder Woman #33, while Diana appears on tele. Still, at least we know that Clash of the Titans is canon now.

See you after the jump.

Comic reviews

Dark Nights Metal #1

Dark Nights: Batman The Merciless #1

Plot

On Earth 12, Ares has a magic helmet that escalates his powers to new heights – enough to even kill Diana. But Batman takes his helmet from him and becomes the new god of war.

Diana dead

Except it turns out that using the magic helmet isn’t a great plan, and it’s actually Batman who ends up killing Diana when she tries to take it off him. Oh dear. And then he ends up killing Diana’s ex, Steve Trevor. Oh double dear.

Batman killed Diana

What does Diana do?

Die. Off-page.

Extra notes

It’s Peter Tomasi on writing duties and he’s obviously no stranger to writing for Wonder Woman. However, this is only marginally better than the rest of the Metal Universe nonsense and is surprisingly worse for Diana than even his Superman/Wonder Woman work was.

If you like it dark, gritty and fridgey, give it a whirl. Otherwise, stay clear.

Wonder Woman #32

Wonder Woman #33

Plot

We flashback to see how Grail has managed to take Darkseid from mewling baby to petulant teenage New God, by killing off Zeus’ ‘bastard’ children. Next on the list? Jason and Diana.

What does Diana do?

Show up on tele a lot.

Diana on TV

Extra notes

So writer James Robinson is playing an interesting game here, in terms of storytelling. There’s no Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman. It’s just about Grail and Darkseid.

Diana appears on TV. She’s talked about. But she doesn’t show up.

Given how little she appeared in the first issue of Robinson’s run, this is clearly by design, with Robinson building up the tension. But it’s also a little vexing if you actually want to read a comic featuring Wonder Woman.

Robinson also does love his continuity and the older the better it seems. It turns out that ARGUS’s new hardcore are its ‘Atomic Knights’ – you may remember them from a recent Wonder Woman ’77, but they were a thing in the 70s, just like Hercules.

Odd, then, that Grail now believes that Zeus and the rest of the gods have departed from the Earth, given they’ve featured so prominently in pretty much every issue since the nu52’s Wonder Woman #1 back in 2011 and Greg Rucka left them that way in his final issue. So does Grail know something we don’t know, have the gods (including Zeus) fooled her somehow or did I miss a crossover issue some time?

The pantheon has gone

So which of Zeus’ children does Grail choose to off? Here’s where it gets interesting, because it’s instructive as to how DC Comics mythology and Greek mythology differ.

We start with Reginald LakeMP of the “English Parliament” (no such thing in our world, of course, but who knows about the DC Universe? Plus maybe Grail doesn’t appreciate the niceties of the UK’s constitutional set-up). He’s an entirely new character, not one from any previous continuity – at least, according to my Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia he’s not – which fits in with Brian Azzarello’s policy of Zeus continuing to father children in the modern day, even though Greek myth says he stops with the end of the Age of Heroes (c The Trojan War).

Next up is ‘cloven-footed Aegipan’, who’s a slightly obscure, late addition to the pantheon mentioned only by pseudo-Eratosthenes and the Roman author Hyginus. The most he does that’s of interest is help Hermes recover Zeus’ sinews during the war with the Titans and, with Aix, father Aigikeros.

‘Limos, as dead as those who starved at her bidding’ was the goddess/daimon of starvation, but while Hesiod’s Theogeny identifies Eris (yes, Strife) as her mum, dad isn’t named, so that’s Robinson stretching a bit. She pops up most in Roman works, however – namely Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Aeneid.

‘Palici – one of them, anyway’ were demi-gods of Sicily, the sons of either Zeus and Thaleia or Hephaestus and Etna. While they apparently show up in a lost play of Aeschylus, they again mostly appear in Roman works.

‘Sarah Carrow – Librarian. Her father a mystery until I told her’ Yep, another newbie.

‘Caerus – whose luck ran out’. Now here we have a properly Greek deity, since Zeus’ youngest divine son and daimon of opportunity appears in everything from Aesop to Pausanias.

‘Derek Grace – Australian soldier’ – newbie.

‘Epaphus – Egyptian world traveller’. Yep, a real one – the son of Zeus and Io, founder of the Egyptian city of Memphis (his wife’s name), and father of Libya, from whom the country gets its name. Properly Greek, too, appearing in plenty of plays, and he was probably mentioned in one of the missing bits of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women. Cos of his mum.

So far, so obscure. Kudos to Robinson for finding some names that I actually had to look up.

However, the story does contain two other, more famous names: Callisto and Perseus. Despite the claims of Xena: Warrior Princess, Callisto was one of Artemis’ nymph companions. She gets seduced by Zeus and Artemis turns her into a bear. Zeus then thoughtfully turns her and her bear son, Arcas, into the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

You’ll notice the obvious problem here – Robinson has changed Callisto’s father from King Lycaon of Arcadia to Zeus. Which means Zeus seduced his own daughter in the DC Universe, if we assume the myth is true. Oh dear. However, given that DC Comics Myths don’t really sync up with the real myths so well and given that Callisto isn’t a constellation in the DC Universe but a bear, let’s assume that the whole thing was just a scurrilous rumour.

Either that or Grail misidentified a bear and it was actually Arcas. Easy mistake to make, I guess. Although she still killed a bear. Bad Grail. Poor bear.

The sons and daughters of Zeus

Which leads us onto Perseus. Now, as with Hercules, I’m a bit sad that Robinson resurrects all these old heroes merely to kill them off. More so, with Hercules, he was taking a noted rapist and wife murderer and redeeming him a little, but with Perseus, he’s actually taking just about the only monogamous, wife-loving, well-behaved and largely heroic Greek heroes of myth and turns him into “a bored immortal splitting his idle existence between Wall Street and here in the Hamptons”. How ignominious.

Perseus and Pegasus

Firstly, notice that Pegasus gets off scott free at the end. Interesting. I wonder if he’ll end up as the steed of Diana at some point, as the alternative cover for this issue intimates:

Wonder Woman and Pegasus

It wouldn’t be the first time: he popped up in Volume 1 and was even magically transformed into Diana’s invisible jet; in Volume 2, he advised on and lived in ‘the Wonder Dome’; and he figured quite significantly in The Legend of Wonder Woman as well. But whether that would be a touch too ‘princess of power‘ for the current editorial staff, I could not say.

Secondly, in the DC Universe, it appears that Clash of the Titans was a true and accurate telling of myth, as Grail says ‘In ancient times, he rode his winged mount Pegasus and did battle with the Kraken’.

Perseus, of course, didn’t ride Pegasus into battle in our myths – that was Bellerophon. Perseus only flies on Pegasus in Clash of the Titans, as in myth he actually borrows Hermes’ winged sandals to give himself flight.

Equally, there ain’t no such thing as a Kraken in Greek myth, since it’s actually an old Norse thing, Kraken being a Norwegian word. In fact, according to Sophocles and everyone afterwards, it was a ‘Kêtos’ (sea monster) that Perseus faced off against. Again, only in Clash of the Titans does Perseus fight a kraken.

What do we make of that then? Is Robinson both very good and very bad at research, prepared to look up things if he has to but confident enough in his own potentially dodgy memory not to have to research other things? Maybe it’s a deliberate policy of distancing what he’s writing from true myth, so we can imagine a world where Hercules is a proper hero, Perseus rode on Pegasus and demi-gods who are recorded as having died long ago can still be used in modern-day stories.

Or maybe we simply have to regard Grail as an unreliable narrator who gets her fake news alternative facts from Fox and Friends the movies and who’s pretty poor at identifying animals. She is one of the baddies, after all.

Conclusion

Again, another really good piece of work from Robinson. Just as the birth of Grail was a deliberate mirroring of Diana’s nu52 birth to make her Diana’s evil equal opposite, so this is a deliberate mirroring of Brian Azzarello’s ‘baby Zeke’ storyline, with Grail taking on the role of Zola and Diana, Darkseid being baby Zeke/Zeus. The difference, obviously, is that Grail knows who Darkseid is and is also not the mothering type – she wants a father, not a son – whereas Diana is the epitome of love and compassion. I’m sure the comparisons between the two demi-goddesses in later issues will be illuminating.

Even though the myths are a bit screwy and the constant killing of the great and the good (or not so good) is a little heartbreaking – for me at least, it’s a bit like someone going on Moomin genocide – Robinson tells a good story, even if he is a bit reliant on starting in medias res to inject excitement into largely explanatory plotting. He pays attention to detail although not too much detail, and he’s clearly prepared to do a lot more research than the average Wonder Woman author.

I just wish his stories featured a little more Wonder Woman.

Rating: 5/7 (Artwork: 5/7)

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