This week, Stephen and Matthew take a peek under the hood of Wonder Woman #37 and hope the Princess of Themyscira doesn’t crack them on the head too hard.

wonderwoman37COVER.jpgWonder Woman #37
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Bernard Chang
Cover by Aaron Lopresti

Previously, on Wonder Woman: The last few months have been traumatic ones for Princess Diana.  What seemed to be just another battle turned out to be a life-threatening ordeal with a monster called Genocide.  The creature threatened her friends, destroyed her job, even turned her sister Donna against her, leaving her scarred and untrusting.  Moreover, her relationship with Nemesis has dissolved (since she admitted that she didn’t love him) and even a run of fun issues with an underground fight club and Black Canary haven’t raised her spirits.  Even Diana’s deities have turned against her, as Zeus has put his money behind Achilles, a male version of Wonder Woman in a ridiculous hat, and his band of “Manazons,” who have come to Paradise Island and started trying to fit in.  It’s been over a year of this plotline thus far, and there’s still no clear idea of what Achilles is up to or where he’s going, and now Amazons are turning up pregnant without even getting the Super-Happy Adult Fun Time that makes it worth the trouble…  Can even Wonder Woman survive this latest battle?

Stephen: I really like Gail Simone’s work, but to be honest, I haven’t really been reading Wonder Woman these last couple of months because things really started heading off the deep end when Genocide showed up. If it wasn’t for that well written recap, I would never have known what happened with her beau, and even though he’s out I really don’t care all that much. That being said, it’s pretty easy to follow along with what is going on in the issue even though I’ve been out for several months. I know you’ve been faithfully following this series since Simone jumped on board, what struck you most about this issue?

Matthew: My first thought upon opening this issue is “HOLY CRAP,EVERYONE LOOKS FREAKY.”  Bernard Chang is handling art chores, and from page two, where Ares shows up, we’re given really disturbing eyes and tortured faces.  Even a half-naked Diana in silk sheets is offset by the horrifying staring orbs that Chang draws.  Ares is incredibly disturbing, and I suppose that’s intentional, but Diana shouldn’t look demented in every single panel.  Did the art give you the creeps as well?

Stephen: I really didn’t think it was that bad. Chang did a good job of trying to bring more of the Mediterranean look to the characters than other who have come before. Still, those glowing orbs did distract from the conveniently placed hair and shadows covering up the other orbs in the scene. I think the biggest problem with the art is all of the noses on all of the characters look incredibly thin to really work as a breathing device and thus throw all the facial features of everyone.

Matthew: This is one of those ominous issues that feels like we’re finally bridging a gap between chapters, as Ares comes to give Diana a warning about her recently resurrected mother, an omen of coming doom. On Paradise Island, that same mother (Hippolyta) investigates the reports of pregnant Amazons when, suddenly, Artemis returns from her cameos in ‘Secret Six’ to deliver her Bana-Mighdall home to Themiscyra.  The panel of the returning Amazons once again has characters with giant staring eyes looking RIGHT AT ME, and I can’t help but feel a sense of dread at their appearance.  I don’t know if that’s intentional.

Stephen: When stories get really deep, and when story threads are introduced and then disappear, an issue like this is needed to bring it all together. On the down side, I’m afraid there are many more readers like myself who drifted away before the major plot points converge into one of those “Uh-Oh, this is about to get hairy, I want to follow this more” kind of stories.

Matthew: Achilles and Alkyone fight in a manner that is quite clearly sexual foreplay, and she makes it clear that she wants Diana’s homecoming to be unpleasant, ordering her lover to kill the white apes Diana left as guard and to capture and bind the queen.  When Wonder Woman arrives, she is blindsided by an attack from Donna Troy, and is forced to drop her lasso into the ocean to save the day (I’m not entirely clear on WHY.)  When she finally gets to see her mother, Hippolyta tells her not to fight, not to stop her ritual execution, saying that Zeus chose Achilles, and Achilles chose Alkyone, making Themiscyra Alkyone’s rightful dowry…  At least we finally get to see the “Manazon” plot in action.

Stephen: There’s obviously some connection between Wonder Woman’s lasso and Donna, and dropping it in the ocean allowed the spell over Donna to be broken. I agree with you it is a little forced and not clearly explained. The rest of the issue really seemed like something out of some CW or Universal HD fantasy drama that Rodrigo is always going on about, so nothing seemed too shocking or out of the blue. Power struggle leads to choosing sides, leads to fallen heroes, leads to big battle, leads to return to power. Repeat.

Matthew: I’ll be honest – I can’t really give what I think it a balanced review because of how distracting and disturbing the art was for me.  Chang takes repeated panels of the story to draw characters staring straight at the reader like a painting in an episode of ‘Scooby Doo,’ and it’s so jarring, so unattractive, that the plot could be ‘The Tempest’ with dialogue by Orson Welles and Oscar Wilde and I’d still be going, “Lord, why are they staring at meeee!”  I like that we’re finally getting some forward motion in the Achilles plot, though.  Have you found that part of the plotline to drag the way I have?

Stephen: Wait a minute. There’s a plot line where a bunch of men are trying to put down women? If this wasn’t on an island devoid of technology, I’d half expect Simone to get back at all the misogynists by featuring Achilles in some form of refrigerator when this arc wraps.

Matthew: If I were to break the issue down, I’d say that I like Diana’s recovered resolve, I like the appearance of a god to herald unpleasantness (just like in the Greek myths) and I even like Hippolyta’s refusal to try and defy her All-Father.  What I *DON’T* like is how very long we’ve spent on this part of the story, and how grim and depressing it has been getting here.  Achilles seems to be a creature with a conscience, leading me to believe that he will be the key to saving Themiscyra and Diana’s mom, but Alkyone strikes me as nakedly aggressive and ambitious, so much so that I can’t believe that everybody doesn’t see her perfidy clearly.  Overall, Wonder Woman #37 earns 2 out of 5 Stars from Matthew, with some sag in the plotting and some very pointed problems with the art distracting from most of the enjoyment that I expected here.


Stephen: The whole of Wonder Woman has been quite depressing lately. Not in the stories told are that bad, but that Diana hasn’t really had a moments happiness since Final Crisis ended. I will agree with you that this issue earns 2 out of 5 Stars simply because it’s taken us this long to get this far in the story.


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