Or – “Torn Between ‘It’s Better Than Before’ And ‘When Does Gail Start?”

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I’m not sure what bothers me more about Wonder Woman: The fact that original writer Allan Heinberg’s schedule was such that it took nearly a year to publish four issues, or that, since DC’s next big crossover event (Didn’t we just FINISH one of those?) ties into Wonder Woman and her backstory, we’re now seeing WW’s book more often than I fill my gastank. I gotta tell you, as much as I wanted to see this revamp succeed, I’m about Wonder Woman’d out. The disappointment connected to the first storyarc (still unfinished!) cascades into every new issue, and the rapid-fire release schedule creates a Diana-flooded-market, causing the issues to just sort of run together into a homogenous blur.

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The momentum that came from the relaunch of Wonder Woman is gone, but the plot points remain: in an attempt to connect more with humanity, Princess Diana has become Diana Prince, agent of the Department of Metahuman Affairs, working under Sarge Steel. She finds that the minor difficulties of human life she’s always ignored are a bigger issue than she thought, and not having experience with simple day-to-day issues like money is a bit of a handicap. With her partner, Nemesis, she has been handed the difficult (nearly impossible, actually) task of capturing and delivering Wonder Woman. When Nemesis is captured by old grudge Circe, Diana goes into action to save him… This particular issue starts with Circe marveling at how predictable and stupid Wonder Woman is, charging in to save the innocent…

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The new art, for some reason, is bugging me. I don’t know if it’s the multi-level framing thing, or just the awkward composition, but this page doesn’t make me happy to continue reading. Last issue, Diana figured out that the false Amazon bracelet that Circe wore came from the Wonder Woman museum, and she’s come looking for trouble. Examining the statue of herself from which the bracelets were taken, Diana is somewhat surprised to see the clay start to crack and chip away…

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I don’t know why you’re surprised, Diana, you apparently only have the one villain in your Rogue’s Gallery. It’s more of a Rogue’s Portrait, really. Circe taunts her standard villain taunts, conjuring serpents from nowhere, taunting her about the killing of Maxwell Lord (something that, to be frank, isn’t really a topical reference at this point), but her harsh words catalyze Wonder Woman into action, brutally knocking Circe back with a series punches, and a harsh “Shut your damn mouth!” Wow. I don’t know if I like that characterization from Wonder Woman, but it’s a nice moment. Circe, momentarily stunned, regains her composure and taunts again…

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The little sign reading “Property of The Flash Museum” is funny, since she’s stealing Mirror Master’s riff, there. The identity crisis is nicely handled, but now I’m confused as to when this story takes place. Diana is calm and accepting of what happened with Max during her arraignment in “Manhunter,” but here it sparks her to a rage? Or is it just that Circe did it, and Circe is her evil sorority sister twin? Hard to tell, actually, but it’s… interesting. Left alone with her conscience, Diana fetches a recently-tortured Nemesis, who can’t believe it’s real (and who can blame him after the last time he thought he met Wonder Woman?)

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Oh, that’s real nice, Diana. the man’s suffering from blood loss, out of his mind after being tortured ONLY BECAUSE HE KNOWS YOU, and because he tells the truth (something you have a tendency to bring out in people, I might mention) you drop him on his possibly critically injured skull? I guess that’s one way to preach the Amazon way of peace through superior firepower… She does pick him up, however, and carries him to the nearest facility where she can treat his wounds: a veterinary hospital.

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Diana warming up to Nemesis is cute, especially given the “Lois Lane” situation he’s in: loving Wonder Woman, thinking Diana is a tool. They return (and in a funny moment, Nemesis asks if bugs splatter on her face while flying) to the “Villains & Vixens” bar where Circe captured Nemesis last time ’round, where the bartender initially barks out “No Heroes!” before realizing it’s really Wonder Woman. Apparently, all the clientele here like to cosplay villains (including a pink version of the Scarecrow?) and the bartender loves WW (“Y’know, every Halloween I alternate between you and Xena, Warrior Princess!”) and when asked about having seen Circe, refers her to the ladies room. Circe is waiting, and they immediately lock horns to battle, when…

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Was that… Did they… I’m sorry, but I distinctly read a perverse “this happens all the time” sort of thing into ‘Catwoman’s’ dialogue, and I can’t believe that they may have made a “lesbian sex in the bathroom” joke in WONDER WOMAN. That’s alternately awesome and horrific at once… As Diana starts to leave, we find that she’s been led into a trap, as Sarge Steel and the DMA arrive, and wrap Wonder Woman in some sort of net to take her into custody. Very ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ really. That thing better be made of quadra-titanium alloy with vibranium links, or else Sarge is risking having it in his colon. Wonder Woman doesn’t fight, and when Sarge “questions” her, we find out what the administration REALLY wants with Diana. It ain’t justice, I’ll tell ya that for free.

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Oh, good, another former hero turned into psycho-patriotic despot. Sarge Steel and Tony Stark should get together and go bowling. The Purple Ray is old-school Wonder Woman, and this Purple Death Ray is serious mojo, but I’m troubled by Sarge Steel acting like an extra in an episode of ‘Hogan’s Heroes.’ The government cannot justify capturing and torturing Wonder Woman, even if you call her an “enemy agent,” because of her Amazon heritage. Speaking of Amazons, we also get to see where Circe has gone: Themiscyra, wherever it’s gotten to. The Amazons are horrified to see what she has wrought.

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Suddenly, the use of Circe as recurring villain becomes clear, and while it’s still annoying, I can forgive it: She’s obviously the catalyst behind “Amazons Attack.” Whatever war’s a-comin’ is due to her underhandedness, you mark my words… This certainly isn’t a BAD issue of Wonder Woman, but as I remarked last time out, I’d have given it a warmer welcome without the first three issues. Had we relaunched the title with last month’s #6 as #1, I’d be happy. As it is, there’s a lot of shuffling and “look over there!” moments going on, and I feel like I’m playing Three-Card Monte.

The art is good, expressive, and Drew Johnson’s Wonder Woman is muscular without being masculine, and feminine without being exploitive. The costume is smaller than I’d like, but hey, I understand what sells comics, too. The timing, more than anything, is what hurts this issue for me. I just read one last month, and I’m still feeling that nagging “What DID happen at the end of ‘Who Is Wonder Woman?’ anyway?” It’s marginally better than last time, but still only a 2 star out of 5 effort. We’re moving on, and editorial has made steps to bring only their A-Game, but will announcing the NEXT creative team take the wind out of this creative team’s sales? Time will tell, I suppose.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. April 30, 2007 at 4:19 pm — Reply

    The artwork has been terrible since the Dodson’s aren’t on WW. It’s the difference between an A-List artist and a mediocre effort put out by an independent comic company. With all the great talent out there, there is no reason why DC has printed issues 5, 6, and 7. They all look like a high school art project. And it’s not just the penciller, it is also the inking and coloring. Faces are poorly shaped, there are not enough blacks in the inking and the colorer didn’t correct the problem. I absolutely hated issue 5 (the battered women storyline). It seemed like it should be a giveaway comic at the homeless shelter as a public service, not something DC charges $3 for.

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