Thursday, 27 August 2009

Wonder Woman #35 review

'It's like watching a ballet. With compound fractures!' That's how Black Canary wittily describes witnessing Wonder Woman fight in the conclusion to their two-part Tokyo romp. There's never any real sense that Diana and Dinah are in danger from the supervillain fighting arena they enter - Dinah's confidence ensures that. Canary knows that she and Wondy are the JLA's premier femmes and one or two villains aren't going to faze them.

Even when wild card Pele, daughter of Diana's recently slaughtered patron Kane, spirits her away for a revenge attack, we don't worry for Black Canary, left behind and guarding Diana's physical body. Given that she's ambushed by the likes of Killer Frost, King Shark and Mr Horrific, that sounds surprising but she is one of the top five martial artists in the DCU. Dinah takes advantage of the mob's disorganisation to take them out, setting their powers against one another at close quarters, and brings her usually underused Canary cry into play.

Diana, meanwhile, is feeling the full force of a goddess. Pele, mistress of violence and volcanoes, has her on the backfoot. When Diana's mystery lightning power gives her a brief advantage, I hoped she would convince Pele that Kane made his own decisions and so Diana isn't to blame for Zeus killing him, but no, Diana's on her knees, transferring the vow of allegiance she made to Kane, to Pele. Oh, I do wish Diana would quit with the pledges of allegiance. What does she know of this Pele that she's comfortable putting her free will in her hands? Hello, goddess of VIOLENCE? What Pele asks of her as amends, we aren't told.

It's likely we won't be told for several months, as this book is like that. Questions are raised, teased and dragged out some more. Thus, when Diana is back in Washington, after she and Dinah rescue Sarge Steel from his body swap with Dr Psycho, she meets Nemesis, apparently to sort out their relationship. The last development was that Diana told Tom Tresser she didn't love him, leaving him with the impression she wanted him merely to breed new Amazons. He was devastated and now, three months later, there's a quiet moment for them to talk. After a weird scene in which the ever virgin Wonder Woman tries to get Tom into the shower, he returns the spear her mother, Queen Hippolyte, gave him some time ago, as a sign of his adoption as an Amazon. Hopefully that means he's ending their awkward little almost liaison - much as I've enjoyed Nemesis over the years, he deserves better than to be Diana's pocket stallion.

Mind, Gail could still pull a rabbit out of the tiara, and reveal that what Diana said to him wasn't the whole story. After all, could the former goddess of truth, the very spirit of empathy, treat a good man so? I choose not to believe it until all the evidence is in. I just hope that's soon, as at the moment Wonder Woman is looking at best insensitive, at worst a manipulative user. And where the heck is her so-called Wisdom of Athena?

It's funny, I understand that one of Gail's aims on taking over this book was to let us get to know Diana, end her time as a cypher. During the writer's tenure we've had regular narration from Diana, and yet I still don't feel I know her. She's the POV character in her own strip, yet she's clearly hiding something from the readers. I hope the reveal will be worthwhile, and I pray it's soon.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed these last two issues hugely. The relationship between Diana and Dinah developed delightfully, so much so that it'd be a shame if we didn't see pretty regular interaction between the two heroines. I also liked the use of the magic lasso as not so much a plot device than a logical story component - how else to have Steel recover his mind than by having him entwined in the golden lariat? A case of total re-coil.

And Nemesis was commendable in his brief appearance, treating Diana with far more consideration that she seems to give him. Now, if only we could see him at her side in battle, as the super-spy who's her equal in his own way. Finally, it made my old heart sing to have Diana's late friend Myndi Mayer namechecked. She was a huge part of Diana's earliest days in the US and shouldn't be forgotten.

Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan turn in another attractive job on pencils and inks. Whether they're drawing a determined Diana, a spunky Dinah, a tragic body-swapped Dr Psycho or fury-filled Pele, they give it their all. They're as capable with the expressions as with the action, and that's darned good. It's a shame they weren't able to give us a Diana v Pele scene on the cover - the Saul Bass reminiscent cover is decent, but as we had the Diana/Dinah team-up image last issue, a shift in focus would have been appreciated.

But that's a quibble. The issue looked great, and I do hope that when someone manufactures a Wonder Woman Happy Magic Fun Sword Girl and a Tarty Bikini Scorecard Batgirl, they get a cut.

4 comments:

  1. I always read your reviews about ww comics, and you are doing a good job.

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  2. I liked this two-parter, though - much like the last arc - I thought the climax was too rushed. As in, "Wha'...? That's her fight with Pele?" and the Dr. Psycho/Sarge Steel resolution also seemed too quick.

    Allegiance to Pele does seem off, much like the sudden axe-to-the-head moment with Ares at the end of the last arc. It came too suddenly, and somewhat strange if not illogical.

    I agree with you that Pele needed to understand that Diana was in no way responsible for Zeus' actions, and for Diana to do this was a bit off-character (not to mention Pele not even being corrected of her notion... not a good thing with a violence deity).

    Anyway, the plotting structure perhaps is a similar case to "Gods of Gotham" and "Paradise Lost." GoG should have been shorter than it was as it became too repetetive, while PL being a 2-parter just seemed to crammed in and needed to be 3 parts.


    Similarly, I think "Rise of the Olympian" could have been tighter with lesser issues, while the WW/BC 2-parter could have been expanded into a 3-parter. I love the myth part of WW, but I also love to see her in these more down-to-earth stories... her relationship with BC has always been one of the best in DC history, and so I wish this story had been longer.

    It still reminds me of the WW/BC team-up in WW Vol. 1 with the gypsy who took over Dinah's body, and a post-script story where WW and BC discussed Diana's relationship with Steve.

    Perhaps the next issue will have a nod to that, with Di and Di discussing Nemesis?

    I do hope there's more to the Nemesis story than meets the eye. I agree that if this is the wrap-up, then we simply had a very insensitive/manipulative Diana; I'd like to to believe there's more to it (and to Diana) than that, and I eagerly await to explore this further.

    - Allan / Barrault

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  3. While you clearly enjoyed this issue more than myself, I absolutely loved your review (as always)! Brilliantly detailed and thought out with keen insight.

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  4. Such kInd words- thanks! I must see what you thought of the issue, El Taco.

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