Thursday, 25 June 2009

Wonder Woman #33 review

The injured Diana lands on Paradise Island, helps her mother, sisters and madwomen of the Circle fight the sea monsters of Euphemus, bests Ares, punches Zeus for making her sisters mortal and ousting his mother in favour of revived corpse guy Achilles, and quits the Amazon. The story ends with Head Circler Alkyone leering at the baby doll Ares gave her, which we may call Essence du Genocide.

Yes, Genocide, whose villainy has dominated the eight-part Rise of the Olympian, will be back. Like we haven't seen enough of her. As for the Olympian, he appeared for a few panels this issue and showed all the charisma of a wet rag. Lord knows how he got the storyline named after him, it's been Genocide all the way. Even though she doesn't appear this time, she fills the injured Diana's thoughts, causing her to exaggerate how much damage she did to Diana's loved ones (Etta ain't dead, Donna merely had a Genocide-inspired moody, Nemesis likes being in hospital and monkeys always die in gorilla warfare). Mind, the scene did allow Diana to squeeze in an idea as to why Genocide was always wittering on about 'No home', which made sense if read with a generous heart.

Drama queen moments aside, I enjoyed the chat between the weakened Diana and Phillipus, it showed the familiarity pseudo-sisters should have.

A few random thoughts: While I prefer the Invisible Plane, Diana's unique transport, the arrival of the shell, skimming over the sea to Paradise Island, made for an evocative opening.

I loved Aaron Lopresti's monsters, though it's a shame their first appearance wasn't on a turn page, for effect. His work throughout was stunning (apart from his apparent refusal to draw the tiara properly), partnered with inker Matt Ryan and colourist Brad Anderson.

Diana's narration was pretty good, less melodramatic than in writer Gail Simone's earliest issues.

'If I could talk to the megalodons . . .' It turns out that at least one Amazon can chat to the prehistoric sharks that bask around the island (maybe this is Aquazon of the Super Young Team, on vacation). Surely only Diana had unity with beasts?

'Hera's name!' cries Persephone, making her comic book debut after appearing in the recent Wonder Woman cartoon. Er that would be Hera, then - or was it a shortened form of 'In Hera's name!'? Is this the Amazon equivalent of my hated 'the hell?' And why is she calling her poor pal a 'silly woman'?

The design of the Hephaestus Cannon was excellent, harking back to ancient times, yet futuristic.

I found the supposedly compassionate Diana rather too tetchy in her treatment of Alkyone - yes, she was an enemy, but here she was doing her best to defend her mother. Diana should have thanked Alkyone as a first step towards welcoming her back into the tribe.

Surprisingly, there's no hint here that the Amazons have just been reunited after being dosed with amnesia and scattered around the world. That's a shame as them no longer knowing how to work together could have upped the drama.

The dialogue given to Hippolyte was too cutesy at times - it'd be okay for Gail's old title Birds of Prey, but it's not suited to a supposedly dignified 3,000-year-old monarch facing the fight of her life. There were some good moments for Hippolyte, such as her 'wilful child' line, and her strong leadership was good, but overall she disappointed me. I get that she's longtime loyal to Zeus, but when the gods must be crazy, get off them knees.

I enjoyed the appearance by Athena, she seemed suitably distant, and letterer Travis Lanham gave good font.

As for Diana and her 'Amazon no more' business, it feels like we've been there many times. Even Alkyone said 'again' when Diana made her announcement. Still, if it means no more gods and monsters for a while, lovely.

My biggest problem with this issue was the dispatching of Ares. He was revealed as the threat behind Genocide only recently in scenes I figured were meant to up the ante. I expected Diana to be daunted, but to battle him at least to a stalemate. So what happens? Wonder Woman confronts him, bashes him on the head with her axe and he loses his spirit. One panel. She may as well have been batting away an over-eager puppy.

This is the god of war, who was, I imagine, enjoying a power boost due to the conflict around him. This was one of the family who created Diana and her people. But he was nothing to her. If Diana is suddenly powerful enough to take down gods without a second thought, why did she have so many problems with the god-powered Genocide? Last issue, when she made a comment about how she should have killed Ares when she had the chance, I smiled at the exaggeration of her powers. But no, she could have done it. Wotta girl. So much for her terrible injuries.

So that's eight months of Wonder Woman comics I've followed to see the Rise of the Olympian. I must have blinked and missed it. Yes, I saw Zeus put him on the stage. I saw Achilles and his men rampaging mildly around the world. There was even a fun little fight with Diana. But does anyone really feel that a force to be reckoned within the DCU has been created here? Girly-haired Achilles was barely a presence in this arc. I'm more interested in seeing his conjoined elephant again.

Overall, while I've heaped praise on many issues in this storyline, I'm feeling a little flat tonight. Eight issues and it all comes down to beating a bunch of monsters and bashing Ares' brains out. I'd say there was too much going on in this storyline and not focus on key elements. Maybe my big problem just comes down to the naming of the arc. Had it been something like, as I said previously, The Ogre and the Olympian, I'd have had fewer expectations that Achilles would stand proud as a real threat to Diana's world. As it was, the Olympian got top billing but Genocide dominated. It's as if Gail fell in love with her new creation, whose status as the Future Corpse of Wonder Woman has me never wanting to see her again. Stupid time travel palava! That revelation had me scratching my head. If she's a murdering animated corpse why did Diana has any qualms about tearing her apart?

In a 160pp story there's room to get the pacing right, but instead Genocide got the attention, Achilles the crumbs and Diana was too often on the backfoot. It's likely we'll be seeing a fair amount of Achilles in future, so perhaps he'll become a compelling character. Me, I'd prefer a few issues of Diana facing solo villains with uncomplicated agendas. Plenty of soap, plenty of action and really tight focus. No more sprawling epics for a while.

6 comments:

  1. spot on review, Martin. totally sums up this arc. i loved certain parts of it, but overall, it kind of deflated. would it have made a difference if the Rise of the Olympian subtitle was left off?

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  2. If "Rise of the Olympian" had been left off, we'd all have known that the finale was last issue and not this one.

    Lovely review, Mart. Completely agree. Let's hope the next arc doesn't have the same kind of weaknesses. (Future Corpse of Diana--pfeh!)

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  3. I gotta agree with this review as well, along with the summation of the overall arc.

    Wonder Woman was repeatedly beaten to a pulp over the last few weeks(?)/days(?)/hours(?) and she still took on her most powerful villains. It was difficult to believe.

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  4. I couldn't have said it better myself, sir! You hit every important note. Thank you.

    "I'm more interested in seeing his conjoined elephant again."

    I love Misa too!

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  5. Gotta agree. This was the first WW issue of Gail that disappointed me, and I'm still optimistic she will recover since she is really good.

    Hippolyte was totally acting out of character. Since when does she side with Zeus against Diana? Heck, she's the queen (no pun intended) of anti-Zeus sentiment when it comes to her daughter (remember when he tried to rape Di?).

    And Diana defeating Ares with one swing of the axe to the head just doesn't make sense, given the power levels Ares has always shown. This contradicts WW vol 2 #'s 1-6, not to mention the fact that she just spent the last 6-8 issues struggling against some corpse but has been able to defeat the god of war in just one panel. It doesn't add up. (And besides, can she even kill Ares with an axe to the head?)

    The combined nation, while intriguing, also doesn't sit too well with me as I could not imagine Hippolyte, and certainly not the Banas, would really go along with that. It was one thing to open up Themyscira to the world in Jimenez's run - that was about willing, deliberate cultural exchange. This just seems like subtle subjugation under orders from Zeus to me, and I cannot imagine the Amazons agreeing to this.

    Speaking of the Jimenez run, will DC really just forever ignore the fact that the monarchy was abolished, with Hippolyte abdicating willingly? I'm okay if they want to bring it back, but I do still wish they'd give an explanation after Hippy came back from the dead. Poor Philly and Artie just seemed to step back. Damn Amazons Attack.

    I do find the new, non-Amazon status quo interesting and will hopefully bring us some good stories after this. I remain optimistic that Gail can recover this disappointing issue.

    At least Secret Six has Amazons and remains consistent. Woo-woo! Now if they could only replace Bane with Jimenez's Angle Man, I'll even be happier...

    - Allan / Barrault

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  6. I totally agree.

    I think you've been over generous to Gail in the past and I'm glad you've given this a level headed appraisal!

    If there is one arc recently that convincing me drop monthly comics it's this one.

    The pacing was very weak, the dialogue way too portentous and we've seen it all a hundred times before.

    Diana isn't an Amazon anymore? Well until six issue ago there weren't any Amazons left so who cares?

    And just for a change we see her "kill" her opponent. She has done this every arc for five years now!!!

    Gail obviously has a lot of love for the character as you can tell from her postings on the WW board but a much firmer editorial hand was needed here.

    There was way too much going on and "the olympian" hardly got a look in.

    Poor!

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