On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments, including Greg Rucka’s run, the earliest 1940s comics, and the current “New 52” era.
Wonder Woman #11, DC Comics, September 2007.
People tell you that things can always get worse. And sure, you agree in principle, but you don’t really believe it, especially when things are as bad as they were with Wonder Woman in 2007. Coming off Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run, the Wonder Woman comic was derailed by the events of the crossover Infinite Crisis, then restarted and mucked up further by the one-two punch of Allan Heinberg and Jodi Picoult’s short and hamhanded stints on the title, saddling the Amazon princess with a secret identity she hadn’t had since the 1980s (and this version of Wonder Woman had never had at all) and a cringeworthy new romantic interest in Tom Tresser, alias Nemesis, a master of disguise who’d become a misogynist raging asshole for the occasion. And then the haymaker came in the ill-conceived miniseries Amazons Attack!, in which the entire population of Paradise Island decides to invade the United States for no particular reason.
Picoult’s five-issue run basically served only to set up the events of Amazons Attack! before ending abruptly in the middle of that story, so writer J. Torres stepped in to finish things up in three issues that have yet to be reprinted—and reading them now, that’s understandable, as vexing as it is to a completist like me who thinks that every Wonder Woman comic should be collected in reprint volumes. Torres has had some success with comics for young readers, most notably Teen Titans Go, but his work on Wonder Woman is pretty clumsy and cursory, as if he’s just been brought in to wrap things up from the miniseries to clear the decks for the next writer. Paco Diaz’s art in this issue and the next is pretty good—he draws nicely expressive faces—although it gets a little rougher and hasty-looking in issue 12.
Number 11 starts right where the last ish left off—and also exactly where Amazons Attack!#4 takes it up—with Superman interrupting one of those tender moments where Diana is daring her mother to kill her. Diana has to go back to Themyscira (Paradise Island to the old-schoolers among us) to retrieve the only cure for some killer bee stings that Tom’s currently dying of (don’t ask), and because the island is currently located in the dimension of the gods, she has to pray to Athena to transport her there.
In fact she does pretty much nothing but pray in this issue, as if it’s her only power. She prays to Athena to get her to Themyscira, to send her back to Earth with the cure (which is so easy to find that we’re not even shown the thing) and to stop the nuclear missile that’s on its way to Themyscira, courtesy of the machinations of the witch Circe. And when the goddess doesn’t fix everything for her, she gets really pissed off.
Now, this has never been Wonder Woman’s thing. She’s never been one to just sit back and ask the gods to do stuff for her. Sure, she might appeal to them to fix something horribly broken, usually something that was their damn fault in the first place, but she’s not one to just invoke the gods willy-nilly to work magic for her like a cleric in a Dungeons & Dragons game.
And sure, okay, once Athena prayer-blocks her, Diana is forced to get old-school and ride that missile, pulling out its wires and then doing it again when they (gulp) grown back magically.
Finally, when she’s at the end of her rope, she saves the day by…bitching and moaning to Athena, who finally sick enough of her shit that she shows up just to tell Diana to shut the hell up, getting rid of the missile in the process. In fact, it looks a lot like Athena is about to attack her, but don’t worry, nothing whatsoever comes of it, and the next issue starts like, “Oh what? That? Oh, that was nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
In the meantime there’s some stuff with a few members of the Justice Society of America trying to stop the launch back at the Department of Metahuman Affairs, which for some reason is equipped with nukes. But oh well, they fail. One of them is Wildcat, and I kind of hoped that there would be some sort of acknowledgment that the invading Queen Hippolyta had a romantic relationship with him when they both served in the JSA together, but you can forget that. Any acknowledgment that Polly actually has very close ties to and in the country she’s demolishing would only highlight the stupidity of the whole story, and we can’t have that.
Wonder Woman #12, DC Comics, October 2007.
This issue just speeds through the events of the last few issues of Amazons Attack!, happily leaving out the truly ridiculous shock ending. Yeah, yeah, Athena sent Diana back to Earth. Yeah, yeah, killer bees, Circe banished to Hades, the Amazons cursed to live as amnesiac humans. Oh yeah, and a whole lot of talk about hubris.
One of the little footnotes of Picoult’s run that set all this in motion was that a shapeshifter called Everyman was posing as Department of Metahuman Affairs chief Sarge Steel, setting everyone on the road to war. Only now that it’s all over does it occur to anyone to wonder where the real Sarge is. Apparently Everyman was keeping him in a closet—yes, just a closet—but while everyone was otherwise occupied he snuck back in and took Sarge somewhere else. So now the search begins!
Recovering from his bee stings—people keep correcting that to say they were Stygian Killer Hornets, which may be a running gag but not at all a funny one—Tom goes after Everyman and conveniently finds him, whereupon they take turns cosplaying as other people. Ever the loveable—I’m sorry, I mean loathable—misogynist, Tom takes the opportunity to have an existential crisis about whether his manhood is threatened by both of them posing as females so much.
The dialogue here is painfully clumsy, like something you might expect from the Spidey Super Stories comics of the 1970s. And don’t get me wrong, those things were awesome, but they were also laughably simplistic by design. Nemesis and Everyman talk like grade schoolers tussling in the schoolyard, only less sophisticated.
Anyway, yeah, they find Sarge, and Tom has apparently forgotten that he figured out Wonder Woman’s secret identity as his secret agent partner Diana Prince, so that’s nice. It’s all pretty anticlimactic really. I won’t rest until we find Sar… oh, there he is. And did we mention hubris?
Wonder Woman #13, DC Comics, November 2007.
Lucky number 13 is the last issue before Gail Simone comes in as the first female ongoing writer on Wonder Woman ever, which is a pretty sad statement seeing as how her comic’s been published and written by dudes more or less continually for 71 years. Simone’s run is a good one, for the most part, but first we have another J. Torres issue to get through.
Basically, nothing happens in this issue. Sarge Steel grouses about how he doesn’t like these gods and Amazons and whatnot, while Nemesis is a big Wonder Woman fanboy. Meanwhile her secret identity Diana Prince fetches takeout for them like a good girl. Protestors mob the museum where Helena Sandsmark (Wonder Girl’s mom) works, demanding that it take down its Themyscira exhibit, and Wonder Woman makes them all run away with just a sidelong glare.
Diana stops for some chitchat with a few old Justice Society types who are rebuilding a hospital, presumably damaged in the Amazon attack, and here at least there’s some acknowledgement that they knew her mom, but it’s only in passing and doesn’t amount to anything.
Vixen has the weirdest cameo ever, in which we don’t even get to see her face, just the back of her head, her cleavage and her crotch. Classy!
Julian Lopez draws a fetching Wonder Woman who carries herself with a bit more attitude than usual—a lot of arched eyebrows and blasé frowns, almost haughty.
But everybody else is pretty funny-looking. Especially Sarge when he’s sucking on a cigar, which is always.
Wonder Woman stops at a school reopening to inspire some young girls. Then she tries to go see her mom on Themyscira, and apparently the whole method of getting there has changed entirely since two issues ago, when Diana had to pray to Athena to be magically transported there. Now she can just fly out into the earthly ocean to get there, but it’s blocked off with some kind of force field, seemingly controlled by Hippolyta, who just sits there on her island alone, sulking. So Diana will just have to go her own way and be awesome. You know, like she does.