Or – “Oh, Good.  Achilles Is Back…  Sigh…”


The ‘Rise Of The Olympian’ storyline has been the focal point of Wonder Woman for seemingly fifty-seven years now, and while the last couple of issues have given me pause to remember what I really like about Wonder Woman under Gail Simone, I’m not thrilled to see the Olympian once again taking center stage.  So, how does the issue pan out?

WW2.jpgPreviously, on Wonder Woman:  Diana has had a really spectacularly bad time of things lately.  Final Crisis turned her into a pig-faced madwoman, led to the death of one of her most trusted friends, and led another to give up Earth for New Krypton.  Her associates at the Department of Metahuman Affairs have been tortured, mind-swapped, and otherwise hassled, and her fiance, Nemesis, has point-blank returned her token of affection after she was forced to admit that she doesn’t actually love him.  A routine battle ended up with Diana’s savage beating at the hands of Genocide, a creature seemingly built out of her own deceased remains (thanks to an accident involving time travel and that crazy mortuary guy from “Phantasm,” we presume.)  While she was focused on the creature, her patron deity, Zeus, forsook (forsaked?  forseek?) her Amazons sisters and formed his own male version thereof out of sailors from the Argo and various and sundry fellers from myth, and created a male counterpart to Wonder Woman called Achilles and/or The Olympian.  Recent events seem to have the Amazing Amazon and the Boring Behemoth on a collision course, but Achilles may still have some tricks up his lack of sleeve.

We open with Wonder Woman considering her mistakes with regard to Nemesis, preoccupied with his emotinoal state while simultaneous confronting an even bigger threat:  Giganta.  She thinks how, even though she’s renounced their patronage, her gods have given her a couple of gifts: a beautiful sunraise, and a focus for her rage.  Wondy and Gigey duke it out for a bit before Diana realizes that she’s the only one throwing punches.  Giganta finally grabs her and stops her cold, roaring that she hasn’t done anything, she WASN’T doing anything, and she was just on her way for a coffee date.  Giganta accuses her old foe of not understanding dates because they don’t have them on “her perfect little island,” leaving Wonder Woman taken aback.  Back on said island, Achilles has been tryin to woo Alkyone, the Amazons general at arms, offering her his hand in marriage.  She grudgingly accepts, warning him that there will be no “physical congress,” throwing Achilles off his guard.  He fumbles for a bit before her warriors and his break up the moment.  “Five of the Amazon women, they say they are with child,” warns an Argonaut before explaining that none of them has actually done the fun stuff that would have gotten them in their delicate states.

Wonder Woman and Giganta settle on the beach for a long, and vaguely entertaining discussion on men and the universe and everything (during which Giganta reveals that her date is with Ryan Choi, the Atom.)  Wonder Woman tells her old enemy about the events of the night before, during which she finally got to explain to Tom Tresser (Nemesis) how she really felt about him.  Using the magic lasso, she admitted that she doesn’t actually love him, but she IS attracted to him, and that she is cautiously optimistic about what might happen, even considering the possibilty of marriage and family with him.  Tom is stunned by all of this and explains how this doesn’t actually help her case:  “I’m a spy, Diana.  I live for a living.  I hurt people…  My luck isn’t infinite.  I can’t have kids.  I can’t DO that to kids.  And you didn’t ask.”  With a final kiss, Tom returns her spear of betrothal and steps away from her permanently.  It’s sad that her attempt to tell him the truth made things even worse than the lie that started it all.  Giganta commisserates with her, just as Pele (the goddess of the volcano, and WW’s new patron) arrives to tell her that Achilles is on the move.  Wonder Woman confronts him, even countering his army with Giganta (Huh?) and the two women lay into The Olympian and his “Manazon” troops.  It’s a confusing bit of business, ending with Achilles held at bay with his own spear.  Giganta urges her to just kill him, already, but Diana holds off, offering a peace treaty.  Achilles responds that it’s not happening.  “When next we meet, Diana…  you will not interfere…  Your MOTHER, princess, in a hangman’s noose.  This war is over.  You lose.”

Wait, what?   I can certainly see the charm in Diana and Doris (Giganta’s) moment together, sharing a bonding moment.  In a way, fighting somebody for years probably allows you to get to know them pretty well.  I’m even on board with her revealing her breakup story to her “frenemy,” but I’m a bit lost on much of the motivation in this series.  Alkyone’s acceptance of Achilles’ proposal, Giganta going along to fight somebody she’s never heard of on the advice of her oldest enemy, even The Olympians “Save Hippolyta, Save The World” routine doesn’t really parse for me.  It doesn’t help that Achilles is kind of a cypher right now (thought his distress at the prospect of sex with an Amazon was kind of interesting) and that his army is a faceless sea of dudes, but overall, I’m just not feeling the “Manazon” bits.  The breakup sequence is very strong, well-handled, and well-written, and the entire issue is drawn quite well, but the A and B plots don’t dovetail that way I really wanted them to.  Gail Simone’s dialogue carries it’s usual brilliance (“I think I swallowed a fishing net,” laments Giganta, having walked out of the ocean) and the art by Aaron Lopresti is everything you’d want out of the title of the most significant female superhero, but there just hasn’t been a clear enough focus for me on the Olympians threat and what the heck it is that he wants.  Wonder Woman #36 earns 2 out of 5 stars overall, falling more into the “awww, I had real hopes for this” category than into any sort of failure.  The spark that returned with the Black Canary two-parter is still here, but it just feels a little bit dimmer this time ’round.


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. eric
    October 4, 2009 at 8:53 am — Reply

    I love Gail Simone, but I am glad I stopped with this version of WW when I did in the beginning. I love WW, but this version / series just cant get it right. Granted I dont have the solution for this series, but there was nothing better than the George Perez version after the first crisis. Long live that version. I hate to say it, but I dont think even Gail can help this series. Even I dont want to collect this series in Trade Paper Back. DC and DD I hope you pay attention to these comments.

  2. BiffordMichael
    October 4, 2009 at 11:32 am — Reply

    I want to like this so much but it just seems to sputter along sort of getting close but never taking me there. It’s sad, it’s a pretty to look at book and the characters are all there…again with the guy above I just think nobody can touch the Perez version. To be honest Rucka’s WW was the same way, it always seemed to just ALMOST get me where I wanted to go with the series!?!


  3. October 4, 2009 at 8:00 pm — Reply

    See, for me, I keep flashing back to Denny O’Neil’s run back in 1970 where she was a two-fisted adventurer in white leather with no powers. That’s my favorite run of WW to date.

    There’s so much good going on here, it’s just frustrating the heck out of me that it isn’t quite gelling.

  4. October 5, 2009 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    When I read this:

    “… just as Pele (the goddess of the volcano, and WW’s new patron)…”

    The first thing that popped into my brain was Pele the spccer player. I thought “Why is a Brazilian sports star Wonder Woman’s patron? That’s awesone!”

    Just wanted to share.

  5. ~wyntermute~
    October 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm — Reply

    Holy Broken Trinity, Batma…. Wait. Does that joke still work if the Boy Wonder is wearing the cowl? Anyway, put me among those who had hopes that this would be W-Squared’s ‘Big, Attention-Getting Storyline’ and those who subsequently feel a bit disappointed. It feels really disjointed, somehow. :(

  6. Brent
    October 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm — Reply

    When I read this:

    “… but overall, I’m just not feeling the “Manazon” bits…”

    I thought, “whew that’s a relief”.

    Those easy access skirts are not an open invitation to grope Manazon bits. I am sure the Olympians appreciate your sense of restraint. :-)

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