Thursday, 30 July 2009

Wonder Woman #34 review

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, how to win over a reviewer - begin the book with cute snow beasties. Here we see that Aaron Lopresti draws polar bears every bit as well as he draws albino gorillas. The heck with Wonder Woman action figures, I want a Lopresti plush (a bear, that is, not a plush of Aaron Lopresti ...). Diana's in the Arctic, thinking sad thoughts about last issue's rejection of the Amazons, hoping that as Superman finds succour there, so shall she. It doesn't work so she's soon back at her apartment in Washington DC for a quick, amusing scene with her ape followers. Bet I'm not the only one who let out a 'fnar fnar' when Toliphar referred to Nemesis as 'That human. The one who can't use his spear.'

Then it's off to work where the aforementioned Tom Tresser brushes off Diana's bid to address the fact that she metaphorically castrated him a couple of issues back, admitting that she never loved him but was hoping to use him for baby making (at least someone has faith in his spear!). The supposedly repentant T.O. Morrow sends her off to Japan in search of Dr Psycho and Devastation, with Diana wondering if he can be trusted in a piece of narration that had me scratching my head: 'I could use my lasso. Or I could trust to faith and hope. To show mistrust to a man who is trying to do right goes against my nature entirely.'

So Diana, you're considering using the lasso to check that you can trust he's trying to be a better man. But you won't use it on him because he's trying to be a better man. Someone either answered her own question, or needs to go back to logic class.

Still, the basic point is that Diana is trying to see the good in a man who helped build a creature which killed dozens of people. If it were me I'd make the creep earn my trust, not worry about betraying myself by failing to take him at face value. He then reveals that he wasn't born Thomas Oscar Morrow, but Tomek Ovadya Morah - he's remembered that he's Jewish and engineering a character called Genocide may not be heritage-appropriate. Took him long enough - if he's not lying.

Anyway, his information seems on the up, as Diana and guest star Dinah Lance - the Black Canary, as Wonder Woman respectfully puts it - are soon off to Tokyo to infiltrate a metahuman fighting ring organised by Psycho, in Sarge Steel's body. Before that, though, we have some of my favourite scenes in ages, as the two heroines talk over coffee, and the ocean. They chat about their costumes, Power Girl's d├ęcolletage, the practicality of fighting in heels and, more seriously, why the Amazons would bother following 'hosebag' Zeus. Diana points out that he's their top dog god, their fountain of faith, and when he stands in front of you and spurts out orders, that's not to be dismissed. Which makes Diana's dismissal of his demands last month rather awesome.

A separate scene, on Themyscira, shows us just how far the Amazons have fallen, as military leader Phillipus stupidly surrenders her weapons to new king Achilles, who then makes the nutjob Alkyone his queen. I'll assume Phillipus, at least, has a plan; otherwise she's had some sort of lobotomy, Yes, the Amazons might owe fealty to Zeus, but the other side of the 'my god is real' coin is that they know he has feet of clay. Zeus' wisdom is lacking, his morals even more so. That they would follow his wishes without resistance beggars belief.

In Japan, the hilariously disguised Dis announce themselves ass The Orphan Sisters and gain entry to the arena, where they engage in some amusing fights and something weird happens to Diana. They're watched by Psycho in the body of Steel, and Steel in the body of a jestered-up, commentating Psycho. The issue ends with Psycho greeting a new player, someone who promises to be rather - or even, lava - formidable.

After eight months of Rise of the Olympian, this story - concluded next month - is a breath of fresh air. The meat of the issue is the relationship of Diana and Dinah, the JLA's longest-serving heroines, and it allows writer Gail Simone to play to one of her strengths - dialogue. The contrast between the formal Diana and the sassier Dinah is a joy. Dinah's roots as a Forties femme fatale are honoured here as her already more colloquial speech patterns are given a decidedly broader slant. The Canary seems flighty, but she can afford to - Dinah Lance knows she's among the best. If you want an in-story explanation, assume she's been hanging out a lot with time-tossed Forties gal Zinda Blake, Lady Blackhawk. Me, I'm happy to accept that that's how Dinah Lance talks and Simone's the first writer to remember this in years. I may not know where the 'rumpus Magoo' reference springs from, but 'pish, tosh, b'gosh' I like it. This is a hero with real character, not simply Green Arrow's other half - it's telling that the sexist, cheating git isn't so much as acknowledged this issue.

I really would like to have had Diana and Tom discuss their sham relationship, now they're both back in Washington, but this issue was so much fun I'll let it slide; just so long as things are sorted out after this side trip.

Lopresti's pemcils are gorgeous throughout, and the lush brushwork of Matt Ryan really brings out the bext in him. There wasn't a duff page in the bunch. They even made a potentially corny transition into flashback for Rabbi Morrow look good.

No one could make Canary's current costume look good, mind - the fishnets and bathing costume are fine, traditional Black Canary, but the black overcoat looks ridiculous. It's impractical, likely heavy and hides Dinah's boobs and gams, going against her comments about the value of distraction in this very issue.

Thank goodness, then, that Lopresti gets to adorn Dinah in a 'high end trashy hooker' outfit. It rather suits her . . . well, she has the class to pull it off.

The final word on fashion this month - is Diana going to the same hairdresser as the JSA's Cyclone?

4 comments:

  1. Am I the only one who is just SO sick of those freaking gorillas?! I found them amusing at first, until Gail Simone had Diana refer to them as her "trusted advisors" during the "Queen of Fables" two parter. Now like so much else in Gail's WW run,I just find them groan inducing. Wonder Woman already has a full stable of wacky critters to play with. Whats more absurd then a giant Kangaroo ridden like a horse:^D.

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  2. "...[T]he Amazons might owe fealty to Zeus..." But they don't. Not a whit. He may be king of the classical Olympians, but it was normal for ancient Greek cities to have their own "special" deities. Paradise/Themyscira had two bouts of such--and at no time did they include Zeus. What's with all the Zeus worship now? (What was with all the Athena worship during the Rucka run?)

    Though I enjoyed the ladies' conversation, especially with Dinah's odd but very likable speech pattern (I was comparing it to Wildcat, but Zinda makes more sense), it made it more noticeable that Diana is being treated like she's some kind of outsider, again with the Ms. Highfallutin' business. We don't see her having genuine emotions at a time when she should be on the edge (or just gone over it) of a nervous breakdown. Instead we get cutesy goofball bears. Ditch the bears and give us the real view of Diana!

    As for the lack of logic, I've been noticing that a lot in the stories. That doesn't negate the fact that this is by far the best WW era we've had in decades.

    Why isn't Phillie by Diana's side? That was the last order her queen gave her: never to leave her and keep her safe. And just HOW did Diana heal from so many grievous wounds, some of them (cue ominous music) god-wounds and thus outside the bounds of even comic book logic?

    Lopresti's art is amazing.

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  3. Kanga, you know how Diana is with 'trusted advisors', they just have to show up one day . . . remember the creepy faun or centaur or whatever.

    Carol, certainly Diana should be showing more emotion but I was just so very relieved to be away from Roll on the Olympian that I went with the fun romp. If I have one criticism about Gail's overall run it's that the focus needs to be tightened. Things happen then aren't properly followed up, such as the Stalker appearing to Etta, or Donna buggering off in a snit. Editor!

    As for Phillie and the Amazons I no longer expect them to make any sense, they're damaged goods. And surely Hippo should have had a line this time?

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  4. I loved this issue though I agree the whole run needs a bit more tightening.

    Regarding the Amazons, I still find the whole thing strange if not outright outrageous. Hippy submitting so easily to Zeus last issue - what, this from the woman who challenged him when he tried to rape Diana? So out of character.

    This issue reminded me of two enjoyable past stories: the WW Vol. 1 issue with Di and Di teaming-up after some gypsy took over Dinah's body (or something) and then afterwards they got into girl talk about WW's relationship with Steve; and the JLU epsiode (written also by Gail, IIRC) with Roulette's game, featuring a controlled WW as the final opponent for the ladies (Huntress and Shay? memory's somewhat hazy).

    - Allan / Barrault

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