Or – “The Jacket’s Already Gone, Can The Leather Pants Be Next?”
In the last issue, Wonder Woman got into her first scrap of the new JMS era, a battle that began with her losing her bolero and wading into a pack of attacking soldiers John Cena-style, even taking a bullet to demonstrate her new power limits and skillset. The uniform is actually much cooler with the entire battle corset exposed, which I’m sure was the creators’ intent from the beginning. I strongly suspect that the use of the jacket was to hide the similarities between the classic uniform and this one. But if her new Buffy leather slacks rip to reveal blue star-spangled underthings, I’m out…
Wonder Woman #603
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Art and Cover by DON KRAMER & MICHAEL BABINSKI
1:10 “DC 75th Anniversary” Variant cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
Colors by ALEX SINCLAIR
Letters by TRAVIS LANHAM
Published by DC COMICS
Previously, on Wonder Woman: Princess Diana’s world has been turned upside-down, as someone with immense power has retroactively destroyed her people’s home, killed her mother, and scattered the Amazons to the four winds. Her new mission is to gather and protect the shattered remnants of the Amazon people, to find out the secrets of Queen Hippolyta’s murder, and to (theoretically) discover those responsible for the atrocities visited on the once and future Wonder Woman. Last issue, she engaged in hand to hand combat with armed and armored soldiers, saving a tribe of Amazons and leading them out across the desert. In so doing, she found a sword and a shield that may or may not be her new weapon of choice, and was unexpectedly thrust into a leadership role… It is not one that she takes to naturally.
In The Long Gone Days Of Myth…
We pick up not long after the events of last ish, with Diana and the Amazons heading for their original extraction point, a place in the desert where Turkish mercenaries are supposed to be waiting with their ride. When the find them, though, the mercs have been attacked, blown to smithereens by an unseen something that Diana worries is last issue’s attacking force of other mercenaries. She checks on the dead mercs, only to see an unearthly sight. One of the dying men’s spirit (his soul, if you will) is hovering just above his body, begging her not to let “them” get him. She is surprised to have the power to see such things, but becomes doubly flummoxed when he speaks of “The Keres” and monstrous winged creatures swoop down out of the sky to attack her. Diana holds them off with her shield and magic hew-met new sword, but is grazed by the clawed monsters, who laugh an evil laugh that they have successfully taken her soul!
Diana finds herself transported to an otherworldly chamber of horrors, a room of stone filled with the smell of blood, and more creatures descending upon her to kill her. She is saved by a hooded man who reveals himself to be Charon, the ferryman of the dead in her legends and lore. Charon shares some backstory (apparently Hades and the other deities of Olympus were also affected by the retcon changes in history, and has left his realm unmanned for years) and shows her the shores of the river Styx, now clogged with the dead of two decades, all fighting savagely for seemingly no reason. It’s a really stunning and impressive sequence, kudos to the art team on this one. Charon shows Diana the way out, but she has to fight her way past the Keres to get there, and then get past Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guards the gates to Hades, but shows why she’s called Wonder Woman by threatening to kill a Kere (Kera? Ker?) thereby bluffing the sister Keres into letting her past. Cerberus lets her pass unharmed, but when she returns to reality, she finds that she has been out for hours, and the Amazons are once again under siege. Amazingly, the leader of the mercenaries arranges for safe passage for her sisters, if Diana meets him in battle, and we end the issue with our mysterious villain revealing that he still carries the magic lasso! “One of us will leave this place alive. It will NOT be you…”
You’re A Wonder, Wonder Woman!
For all the short term falderal that surrounded the costume change, the subsequent issues haven’t been bad ones. Some of their content has been puzzling, but there’s at least a clear vision for the character that’s something different than what we’ve seen before. Each step in her journey seems designed to rebuild that which is essential about the character without having to deal with the consequences of UNDOING things (which is the reason why retcons EXIST, and also the reason why they work when they do.) Straczynski’s work here is engaging for me in ways that Gail Simone’s run (and Gail is a very talented writer AND a favorite of mine) didn’t, ways that I haven’t felt about this character going back to John Byrne’s run in the 90’s. It’s weird and off-putting at first, but it’s growing on me in a very natural and organic way (as disgusting as that sounds.) The youthening and pantsening are no longer the focus of the story, and the events are very mythical and extremely well-drawn by Don Kramer and company, causing Wonder Woman #603 to earn 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not just the same old thing, and with a character of this vintage, that’s a damn good thing.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Afternoon: Assuming this is the first time you’ve seen it, does the battle corset work better for you than Superboy’s old jacket?