Thursday, 1 October 2009

Wonder Woman #36 review

In which Diana attacks Giganta, Achilles the Olympian and Egg Fu lookalike Alkyone enter a marriage of convenience, and Wonder Woman and Nemesis finally have that conversation.

The opening conflict with Giganta isn't a great credit to Wonder Woman, as Diana vents her considerable frustrations on her old foe, who wasn't actually doing anything heinous. Sure, she has supervillain form, but if there are any outstanding warrants against her, Diana certainly doesn't bring them up (maybe she's worked off her latest crimes on a Suicide Squad mission or two).

Happily, Gi makes Di see sense and the women forge a temporary truce to talk about their troubles. Well, Diana's really, as Giganta, aka Dr Doris Zeul, seems to still be happily dating All-New Atom Ryan Choi (as established when WW writer Gail Simone was handling his missed-by-me book).

What's wrong with this picture? Diana's opinion that there's really no one else she can share with other than 'someone who wants me dead'. Two obvious confidantes are alleged best friend Etta Candy and sister Donna Troy. We've not seen either in this book since the Genocide story ended a few months back - Donna sped off in a haze of hatred again Diana, her mind fair pickled by Genocide; Etta was hospitalised after being tortured by the she-beast. So it could be that neither are in a fit state to listen to Diana's woes, but Donna and Etta, if not seen on panel, should at least have crossed Diana's mind.

There's also Dinah Lance, Black Canary, with whom Diana spent the last two rather fun issues - we saw their friendship deepen . . . has it faded again so soon?

The business with Giganta does set up the size-changing boffin for her role later in the book, and provides a bit of early action for the impatient, but I'd really like Etta's situation addressed soon (Donna, we're told, shows up next month).

This apart, I liked seeing Giganta and Wonder Woman chewing the fat. If Wonder Woman can't make a hawk into a dove, who can? OK, so it was Doris who had to calm Diana down, but our heroine got there in the end. Giganta seemed to be changing her villainous ways in her Atom stint, settling down as a teacher, and I'd love to see that path extended here, the possibility of reformation being one of the themes of the original Wonder Woman.

A good sign is that Giganta joins Diana when she's later called by new patron goddess Pele - in a spookily surreal sand form - to face Achilles. Giganta continues to witter on about how much she hates Diana, but I don't believe that for a minute - she's softening towards Superheroine Number One.

Before that we learn that the previous night Nemesis, Tom Tresser, pushed Diana on the matter of her Genocide-motivated denial of love for him. Diana tells him that yes, she didn't love him then, but now she does and wants his babies. She comes across as less manipulative over the notion of using Nemesis as breeding stock than I feared, aware that she's got things seriously wrong but believing explanation equals excuse.

Nemesis begs to differ, deciding he'd rather be abandoned by her in the Amazon jungle than continue the conversation. Take that, Princess Presumption!

An appreciated bit of business here is that Diana tells Tom she sees through his 'frat boy act', waving away the too flighty personality relaunch writer Allan Heinberg imposed on the formerly serious superspy. I also liked seeing Diana describe the lasso, rather than herself, as 'the universe's ultimate avatar of truth', putting a much-repeated misunderstanding about Diana to rest.

The Olympian's scene with intermittently rogue Amazon Alkyone does nothing to change my opinion that he's a silly wimp. He proposes to her with one of those perplexing peach pits Diana gave Tom awhile back, she accepts, they wed, she tells him there'll be none of that - ugh - mucky stuff and he indicates that he doesn't like girls anyway. Then she's offended that he's not upset by her withholding her undetectable charms. These two nuts are made for one another.

I'm not too sure why Achilles sees Alkyone as queen material; surely most of the Amazons consider her a dangerous lunatic, not a uniting force? Phillipus or Artemis - an actual Amazon leader - seems a more obvious choice, but neither they nor Hippolyte are to be seen this month.

I'm even less sure what's going on with Achilles and his colourful troops at the end of this issue - there's no specific narrative information as to where we are. It's presumably the US as there are army types on hand, watching from a distance, but we're not told what the Olympian's plans are that has them on alert. EDITOR!

The tussle between Diana and Achilles, with his lovely be-ribboned 'Virgin Spear' of Athena, is short but well done, allowing Diana some amusing thoughts. She's not taking Achilles seriously, which doesn't fit with her mopiness a couple of issues ago, but I assume Gail's flibbertigibbet Diana persona is deliberate, leading somewhere.

Diana wins the day, but Achilles prepares to wander off until 'next we meet', explaining that he has a hostage in his favour. Why he thinks Diana sees their encounters as a series of instalments I have no idea - surely their confrontation should continue until there's a final triumph, hostage or no hostage?

Questions aside, I had a good time this month - Diana started badly but became a good companion as the book went on, Giganta was a delight, Alkyone was creepy, Tom shone with integrity and the Olympian ... was around. Gail's script had some wonderful moments of dialogue, whether she was going for the funny bone or pulling the heartstrings, and I'm glad to see the Olympian storyline properly underway (the sooner to send the pompous girlie-haired Achilles packing).

Gail's equal partner here was Aaron Lopresti, who from the sumptuous cover on provided page after page of beautiful artwork, aided by inker Matt Ryan and colourist Hi-Fi. There's not a dull image in the book, and Lopresti never does that irritating thing of repeating panels - the man has expressions for every occasion, allowing characters to be properly nuanced. If I had to pick a favourite panel it would be the bombastic opening spread of Diana beating up Giganta - I disapprove of the act, but adore the execution.


Now, a question - what's going through Diana's mind in this panel (click to enlarge): Dot, dot, dot. Wonder Woman knows she will likely one day die whereas her mother would fade? Is this a portent of things to come? Does Diana believe her Circe-resurrected mother is barely more than a shade, bound to dissipate with time? Or am I reading too much into the dialogue? Is Diana merely the mistress of near-synonyms? One hundred words, on my desk, Tuesday!

4 comments:

  1. There's nothing like a lot of confusion to really get me into a story. (Blogger won't accept my "end sarcasm" tag here.) I had mucho probs with the logic presented here. Never liked the peach pit thing. (Especially the way Diana presented it, swearing another person to herself before she informed him that that's what they were doing) (and swearing him to her when it really didn't mean anything) (peach pit???) Kept wondering why Diana was spilling her guts to a person who so recently was a murdering terrorist when she had Etta (possibly still in coma), Donna (possibly still mad) (Donna? Nah. She can't get angry for long.), and Julia K to turn to. I didn't want Diana to go to Dinah because I didn't like BC pushing WW out of her own book for the two previous issues.

    Was there a wedding? I thought they were still peach pitting. And since when does a marriage of state or whatever they call this NOT require offspring? Isn't the combined offspring the entire reason for the marriage, to merge two opposing sides in one being?

    The art was quite fine, the dialogue terrific (but said in situations that made little sense), and I too asked where the heck the editor was when we had no establishing shot, much less explanation for the whole army thing.

    Do men come any more metrosexual than Achilles and Nemesis? I mean, on a scale of 1-10, they seem to qualify as complete wusses. (And I use that term while cringing, since its origin is as a derogatory term implying womanliness, which shouldn't be a negative term.) Is it the pages of WW that beta them down? Heck, they're not even betas, they're zeds. I want my male heroes, nemeses and romantic interests to have a little zing to them.

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  2. Fair point about not wishing to see Dinah in here for another month, but the idea might at least have crossed Diana's mind.

    I did like, though, that Gail seems to have taken on board your idea about gods manifesting mysteriously, our complaints about Nemesis seeming immature, and the question of whether Diana or the lasso is the avatar of truth.

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  3. It's a nectarine pit. ;)

    Gail

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  4. I liked this issue, but it did bother me that Diana came off as a bully at the beginning. A real mean bully. Then again, I guess even Diana can (and should) be portrayed as human, which is a good thing.

    I do give props to Gail for getting me to actually like Giganta, who was never really a favorite of mine.

    The costume is growing on me as well, even though it was intro'd during the Heinberg run. I suppose it makes more sense than some jungle girl outfit that will give the menfolk a delightful treat once she giants up.

    Alkyone is starting to get on my nerves, but Achilles - I still think he has potential. This may sound traditionalist, but what the hey - give him a Wondie superhero costume once this whole arc is done. I think once he is de-brainwashed, he could be a nice ally.

    I'm glad with the treatment of Tom.

    I eagerly await what happens with Donna next ish.

    - Allan/Barrault

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