Or – “Why Has No One Commented On The OTHER Big Controversy?”
Although a wise woman was once heard to say “Math is HARD! Let’s go shopping!”, I feel compelled to do a little arithmetic on the latest attempt from the Big Two to retroactively engineer an anniversary issue…
Wonder Woman V.1 (1942) numbered Three Hundred Twenty-Nine issues total.
Wonder Woman V.2 (1987) numbered Two Hundred Twenty-Eight issues total.
Wonder Woman V.3 (2006) numbered Forty-Six issues total.
Thus, ladies and gentlemen, it would seem to this reviewer that questions over whether or not Doctor Doofenschmirtz did a bad thing in hitting Diana with “The Pantsinator” are irrelevant to whether or not ANYBODY in comic publishing believes that we have a grasp of basic mathematics. Without further ado, I give you my review of what is actually Wonder Woman #604.
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, GEOFF JOHNS, GAIL SIMONE & others
Art by GEORGE PÉREZ, PHIL JIMENEZ, JOE MADUREIRA & others
Cover by GEORGE PÉREZ
“DC 75th Anniversary” variant cover by ADAM HUGHES
“DC 75th Anniversary” variant black and white cover by ADAM HUGHES
Published by DC Comics
Previously, on Wonder Woman: Hippolyta (whose named can be sung to Coach Ernie Pantusso’s legendary ballad, “Albania, You Border On The Adriatic”) was the Queen of the Amazons, and lived for centuries on Themiscyra alone with her Amazon sisters. After centuries of loneliness, the queen wished for a child of her own, and fashioned one from mystical clay. Diana grew up mothered by an entire island full of thinkers, philosophers, scientists and warriors, and eventually came to “Man’s World” as an ambassador for her people. She became known as one of the greatest heroes of the DC Universe, and nearly everybody had an opinion about what the “one, true Wonder Woman” really entailed. Thankfully, Princess Diana continued to reinvent herself over and over to vex those who thought they had her figured out, and eventually, it came to pass that people only began shrieking about ‘the destruction of the real core of Wonder Woman’ every five or ten years or so, and most of the people involved in the debate weren’t really even paying attention to her adventures anyway. Now, the Amazon princess has reached another turning point in her life, but before we find that everything we know is wrong, we have to remember what it is that we know…
What’s Past Is Prologue…
The issue opens with one of those wonderful moments that tends to happen in Wonder Woman comics (I seem to recall a similar battle drawn by Phil Jiminez a few years ago) wherein all the male superheroes are out of action, and Wonder Woman leads the distaff heroes into battle. A task force of women (Skyrocket, The Dove, Lightning, Supergirl, Miss Martian, Black Alice, Terra, Cyclone, Manhunter Stargirl, Batgirl, Grace, The Question, The Ravager, Batwoman, Judomaster, Misfit and Bulleteer) stop a scheme by Professor Ivo to use “Siren Robots” to enslave the men of Washington, DC. Batwoman reveals for whom she voted, and Wonder Woman is asked out for drinks, but she instead goes to the graduation of her old friend Vanessa Kapatelis (from the George Perez Run on the title 30 years ago.) Wonder Woman and Vanessa have a wonderful moment together, closing a former era in a touching and wonderfully drawn way. Gail Simone and George Perez should have six comics together and be paid millions of dollars to do them. Geoff Johns, make this happen! We get another touching story wherein Amanda Connor gives us Power Girl and Wonder Woman fighting Egg-Fu, bonding together over a special someone who has been treating Kara badly. (Turns out it’s her cat.) There’s also the indication that P.G. has to explain hentai anime to Wonder Woman, which is a conversation that I’m glad we didn’t get to see…
EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS… Gone?
Amidst many, many pinups and splashes (and, yes, commenters who noticed that Diana’s leg-lines were AWFULLY high have a point, especially in the Adam Hughes and Greg Horn pieces) we get a Superman/Wonder Woman teamup, a quick Geoff Johns written recap of Wonder Woman’s life, and we’re then launched into the new JMS version of Wonder Woman at high speed. A now Pantsinatored Diana races down a back alley, dodging bullets and being considerably younger than I remember her. “I don’t know who I am,” she remarks, “The only thing I know for certain is that they’re trying to kill me.” A little fighty-fighty ensues, and the All-New, All-Different Wonder Woman proves herself to be every bit as combat-savvy as before, even escaping a massive explosion in cinematic fashion. Penciller Don Kramer is good, and the filth and squalor of her new existence is clearly delineated, while we watch Wonder Woman slog through a sewer, (where mysterious hooded figures guide her) visit an oracle, (who lives under a bridge in a decimated urban wasteland) and return psychically to a completely devastated Paradise Island. Hints are dropped that “the gods” have somehow rewoven Diana’s life and history, that her world has been rewritten to get her out of the way for some sort of awful plan. Her mother has been murdered, because DC characters have to have dead parents (Kind of ironic that Disney bought MARVEL Comics?) and her mission is now as unknown as the invisible hands that work against her. So, that’s new…
Overall, this issue does what it needs to do. Gail Simone’s final issue of her run closed up her various plotlines, and gave Diana a nice happy ending, allowing this issue to come in and blow everything to hell and gone. JMS is a good writer, and I’m content to see what he’s got for Wonder Woman, but that mostly comes from a vague, undefinable dissatisfaction with what has come before. Wonder Woman always seems to be somehow separate from her JLA pals, segregated not by her gender, but by the fact that she’s a strong female character from an alien point-of-view. Even when people write her well (George Perez, Denny O’Neil, Gail Simone, Roy Thomas and others) there’s always an element of “Here’s a completely different take on a character that everybody recognizes.” That is exactly what has happened here. Hell, when I think back on what Wonder Woman stories stick in my mind, it’s nearly always a ‘rebuilding’ story: Mike Sekowsky’s powerless go-go dress run. Greg Rucka reimagining the Olympian gods as modern captains of industry. George Perez changing EVERYTHING. This weekend, Deon and I began processing a HUGE lot of Silver Age comics, including Wonder Woman, and we both wondered why it was that nobody ever seems to bring in WW comics for sale. My theory is that (like the war and crime and romance books) nobody really thinks of them as valuable in the long term. Wonder Woman has long been more interesting as a “property” than as a comic book, and even people who LOVE her as a concept have never read a Wonder Woman book, and certainly haven’t done it recently. So, here’s another big shakeup to remind us what’s awesome about Wonder Woman, along with a leather outfit and a dark and gritty status quo. Will it work? Dunno. Is it interesting? Yes. Yes, it is. JMS throws in a lot of little bits of brilliance and happiness here and there, with portents of great things to come.
The Leather-Clad Verdict
Do I love this book? I love parts of it. I love the Simone/Perez pages a lot. I want to see where the new era takes us. It’s not perfect, and it’s hard to remove the plot and story from the costume fooferfaw. It has potential for disaster, but all great stories do. Based on what works, and the appearance of Misfit (“Man,I’m about to lay some serious Dark Vengeance on these guys!”) as well as the sublime moments in Amanda Connor’s story, I’m going to give Wonder Woman #600 3 out of 5 stars overall. It’s an intriguing start,and I hope it goes somewhere that makes Wonder Woman comics super-awesome and worthy of the icon-slash-intellectual-property juggernaut that she is.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Without discussion of uniforms or costumes, what Wonder Woman moments stand out in your mind as indelibly archetypical and quintessential to the character?