Or – “Curse You, Perry The Platypus!”

With the new Wonder Woman costume brouhaha (“BROUHAHA?  HA! HA! HAAA!”) having mostly died down to a syndrome I call “Slownewsday-itis,” we’re left to analyze the new direction and new adventures of their own merits.  J. Michael Straczynski has done a soft reboot on the world of Wonder Woman, putting Diana (and the reader) in a strange and unfamiliar territory. 

 So, the question is simple (though this sentence is not): Will Diana’s New Direction end up being “Watchmen-Came-Out-Of-Charlton’s-Action-Heroes” super-elegant rebootery, or just another case of “Youngblood: Bloodsport” coyote ugly…

Wonder Woman #602
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Art and cover by DON KRAMER and MICHAEL BABINSKI
1:10 Variant cover by ALEX GARNER
Colors by ALEX SINCLAIR
Letters by TRAVIS LANHAM
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Wonder Woman:  Princess Diana has faced foes large and small, from gangsters to the Angle Man, from Hitler to Zeus,from Doctor Psycho to Doctor Cyber, from Satchel to Paige and has triumphed over Nazi, gangster, psionicist midget and crazy-purple-haired-emo-witch with equal alacrity.  But somehow, none of that has ever happened anymore, as the last daughter of Themiscyra’s past has been erased, her mother murdered, her life shattered, and her iconic thighs tragically ensheathed in cowhide.  After visiting the last Oracle who now lives in a bombed-out urban wasteland, Diana has witnessed the death of her beloved Themiscyra, the last moments of her mother, and has been set on the trail of a lost sect of Amazons, holded up in a temple somewhere in “Man’s World,” with a vicious militia outside waiting to cut them in half.  Now unable to fly, Diana has hitched a ride on a wayward airplane and is now looking for a way to free her comrades from their siege.  (I figure it might involve punching the living $#!+ out of some people, but I’ve been wrong before…)

Step One:  Identify Targets

We open with the evil mercenaries massing their forces, gauging the threat level of the trapped Amazons, and how far off the beaten path they’ve ended up.  The two mercs end up discussing how “many places aren’t on maps…  Sometimes places come and go of their own accord.”  It’s an oddly poetic sentiment from a hired gun about to murder unarmed women.  Before that statement can fully sink in, there comes a ruckus from the rear echelon, and the soldiers are attacked by Wonder Woman, hurling jeeps, busting heads and basically punching the living $#!+ out of them.  (Toldja.)  Fighting her way into the temple, Diana finds a group of seemingly peaceful Amazons unable to effect their escape due to their wounded.  Apparently, so the expositionary dialogue tells us, they came to Turkey after the destruction of Paradise Island some time ago, and have been hiding out here.  Diana finds her sisters oddly serene about their situation, and questions their (and her own) faith in the gods of yore due to their dire straits.  She is touched to find that one of her sisters has cast a shield bearing her lost mother’s face, and explores the damaged temple on her own.  This solitude brings her to a shattered statue of (I b’lieve) Aphrodite, where she rests for a moment.  And then, the voices in her head kick in…

Step Two: Hit Them So Hard Their Mommas Lose Teeth

The goddess speaks to her of her own lack of faith, and tells her that the gods cannot explain WHY she is being so tested, only that it is necessary.  Aprhodite patiently tells her that this is a test, to allow her “to learn to bear a queen’s burden of life and death, and not let it destroy you.”  Diana loses her cool at this revelation, and roars at her own personal goddess to come down and fix it her own damn self.  The sequence does a little bit more to show us Diana’s new mindset, and explain what’s driving her, something that the previous issue might have skimped on, just a bit.  The big reveal of the issue comes where she decides to fight her way out, allowing even the injured Amazons to escape as she provides cover.  They spray Greek fire as a covering tactic, and Wonder Woman strips off her bolero jacket to reveal her “bidness clothes” underneath.  (Don’t make her take off her earrings!!!)  I have to say, without the jacket, her new uniform works a bit better, with it’s network of straps and belts and like that, and the corseted portion and belt emulating her old battle togs pretty well.  It’s fighty-fighty time, and Diana even takes a bullet, proving that she’s more human than before.  She is about to get gunned down when her sister Amazon saves her Captain America-style with the shield of Hippolyta.  A sniper takes out the Amazon, and an enraged Wonder Woman takes a sword and (presumably) kills them all.  As the Amazons evacuate, they notice that they’re being followed:  A dead-serious Wonder Woman, covered in blood, with sword and shield, does her bad-ass-power-walk away from the burning wreckage of tanks and jeeps.  It’s a pretty nice image…

The Last Word: It’s Got Potential

Of course, the pictures are good throughout the issue, as Don Kramer gives us a younger-looking Wonder Woman, wild-eyed and emotional, who is still clearly a force to be reckoned with.  Removing the jacket really improves the character’s look, and I hope that she stays in her new harnessy-suit most of the time.  One of the problems with this relaunch so far has been an overreliance on fight scenes and flashbacks to try and set our tone, with the main heroine pretty much a blank slate.  We don’t know how different Diana is due to her new status quo until her freakout this issue, and even falls under the heading of “Show, Don’t Tell.”  JMS’ revamp of Wonder Woman is off to a slightly slow start for me, wobbling under the weight of battle scenes and flashbacks that still somehow feel incomplete, and the overall effect is like that of an Elseworlds.  It’s hard to measure whether these issues will be successful in their attempt to rework the character, or if we’re looking at another powerless-Wonder-Woman run, but there’s at least the building blocks of something awesome in play.  Wonder Woman #602 is well drawn, and has some strong character bits in it, but so far the book is still a work in progress as far as finding the right tone to make the revamped WW a success, earning a cautiously optomistic 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It is by no means the disaster that some predicted (mostly based on the percieved heresy of Wonder Woman wearing pants) but it’s still got some ground to cover if it really wants to reposition this beloved 40’s icon for the 21st century…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  If you could make ONE unilateral change to improve the character or intellectual property of Wonder Woman, what would it be?  (“Anything but this” is not a valid answer…”

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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10 Comments

  1. Doctor Sleepless
    August 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm — Reply

    Have her villains pop up in JLA books and crossovers. Give the lady some coverage… And maybe some better villains, there I said it. And generally underline her uniqueness of being DC’s magic brawler, like Hellboy but with a nicer body.

    • Rob
      August 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm — Reply

      It seems to me that all of the successful stories and characters all have one thing in common: great villains. It’s what makes them interesting. I haven’t ever really read Wonder Woman but the only villains I know of hers are the chick that dressed like a Cheetah on Superfriends and that giant lady from Justice League Unlimited. Those both sucked. (By the way, what makes everyone think that just because she’s a girl all of her villains have to be as well.)

    • Crash
      August 29, 2010 at 2:55 am — Reply

      “And generally underline her uniqueness of being DC’s magic brawler, like Hellboy but with a nicer body.”

      They already have someone like that, his name is Blue Devil.

      • Doctor Sleepless
        August 29, 2010 at 7:15 am — Reply

        I knew either he or Etrigan would be brought up ;)

        “Premier magic Brawler then”

  2. Brent
    August 30, 2010 at 9:55 am — Reply

    I agree matthew, taking that jacket off transformed her costume a hundredfold. I’m not totally on board with the “bracers” yet. But a “battle corset” is a MUCH better reinterpretation of the Wonder Woman costume. Not sure how folks feel about the black leggings, but the battle corset could remain after the character returns to status quo.

  3. DMC
    August 31, 2010 at 12:21 pm — Reply

    Sorry but “HOLDED UP?” Are you kidding? Is our children learning (GW Bush)?

    Your an educated person, how about trapped, stuck, confined you know anything that MAKES SENSE!!!

    • August 31, 2010 at 9:42 pm — Reply

      Mind your apostrophes friend, your argument’s leaking.

      • Damascus
        September 30, 2010 at 9:35 am — Reply

        I saw the apostrophe drop, but I was even more aware of a few missing commas that would have helped his point come across more resoundingly.

        By the way, I’m assuming that he was meaning to say “holed up”, as in to hide, as from pursuers, the police, etc.: The police think the bank robbers are holed up in Chicago.

  4. Brainlock
    September 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    I was more against Jim Lee’s “so hip in the 90s” costume more than I was JMS’ plot. I do agree that losing that damn jacket was a step in the right direction, but Joe needs to give us that direction by next issue.

    “One unilateral change”? George Perez already did it, but most of his changes were ignored after he left the book, turning her into Superman with b00b!EZ!! Hopefully, once JMS finishes this arc, we can get back to some of that, with Diana as a peace loving ambassador to “Man’s World”, not a modern day Xena.

    and I still have no idea where her continuity lies. Is JLA: Year One in effect with Canary subbing for Diana in the formation of the League, and Diana does not appear until right before the G. Gordon Godfrey anti-cape incident (Legends) or was she an established heroine when the JLA forms? It’s been established that this no longer affects Donna either way, so I’m confused as to which is “current continuity”.
    (which doesn’t matter, as they’ll reboot this in another few years, anyway.)

  5. Damascus
    September 30, 2010 at 9:36 am — Reply

    One unilateral change that might turn the character around, I say we go back to the old costume and we switch her gender to male, that’d really get people talking.

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