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On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.

Man, I’m ready to be done with J. Michael Straczinski and Phil Hester’s “Odyssey,” the 2010-11 storyline in which Wonder Woman suddenly has a new costume, a new history, a new personality, and no idea she ever was anything else. The Amazons were mostly killed when she was a kid, and she grew up on the run with a rag-tag team of survivors. Nobody else remembers things any other way either, but there are plenty of hints of her old life left lying around as a sort of promise that she’ll find her way back to it somehow. And well, now would be the time. Here we look at the four issues that make up the last half of Wonder Woman: Odyssey vol. 2. (They do like to draw these storylines out as long as possible nowadays.)

I don’t know if it’s the crazy eyes or the half-gloves and jagged tiara that makes it.

Wonder Woman #611, DC Comics, July 2011.

We open with the Morrigan—the triune goddesses of war, who are down to only two because one of them died before this story began (and this is the first storyline we’ve ever seen them in, so no need to start searching your back issues to find out when that happened)—interrogating Wonder Woman’s old enemy Doctor Psycho, who’s seemingly the only one who remembers the way things used to be, because he’s crazy and has a pretty loose grip on reality in the first place. Missing his old sparring partner, he helped Diana start finding her way back to who she used to be, which puts him momentarily, bizarrely on the side of the good guys.

He’s enjoying this a little too much. He does that.

This isn’t great news for the Morrigan, because they’re the ones who arranged the slaughter of Paradise Island. At first it seemed like it was this heavily burned, sadistic soldier guy who was behind it all, but no sooner did he die than we found out he was working for the Morrigan. And now we’ve learned that they in turn are doing the bidding of their mistress, some yet-to-be-revealed embodiment of vengeance. It’s like Russian nesting dolls of bad guys.

Who could it be? And why does she have a Wonder Woman pattern on her door?

Another thing the Morrigan did was turn a few fallen Amazons into crazed Amazon-hunting versions of old Wonder Woman antagonists—Cheetah, Giganta and Artemis—who proceeded to kill pretty much all of Diana’s remaining retinue. But Diana used the lasso of truth to show them how they’d been perverted and misled, which gives her a whole new posse of Amazon sisters highly motivated for payback. Or, seeing as how they’re going up against goddesses and all, some badass cannon fodder.

That’s the spirit! And it’s been nice knowing you.

They do manage to kill one of the goddesses, anyway, which pretty much lays to rest their plan of making Diana into their new third goddess before they’ve even gotten around to giving it any effort.

Whatever that means.

Still, Anann, the remaining goddess, seems to give it the old college try. Diana gets roped into an extended fantasy sequence that shows her as a cold-blooded goddess of war, slaughtering her old friends from the Justice League, even Superman and Batman. The problem with this, of course, is that this version of Diana doesn’t even know Superman and Batman, so any poignancy this may be intended to have doesn’t really work with her.

Yeah, this is a thing that happens in this issue, but it’s not that interesting.

Wonder Woman #612, DC Comics, August 2011.

So yeah, Annan is doing the whole “Join me and we will rule the galaxy together” thing when Artemis kills her with her dying breath. This is getting to be a theme in this story arc, because that’s pretty much with the first bad guy, too—Diana’s mother Hippolyta came back from the dead to drag him down with her.

Well, that takes care of that.

That means, okay, another stage cleared. Time to go on to the boss level. And I’m not just being flippant when I say that—the way the story progresses really is kind of like a videogame.

And sure, Artemis’s death is sad and all, just like Philippus’s was, and Hippolyta’s before that, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. They’re dying within this messed-up timeline (which is specific only to Wonder Woman characters, while the rest of the DC Universe goes on unsuspecting), and if the old one ever comes back, none of this may even count. And even if it doesn’t, the “New 52” reboot of the entire DC line of comics happened right after this story concluded, and who knows how many of these characters even exist in that new continuity. Come what may, nothing that happens in this story matters at all to anything that follows it.

That goes double for the revelation that Diana’s talking cat survived Cheetah, Giganta and Artemis’s slaughter of the Amazons. That’s great, but let’s face it: We’ll never see her again anyway. But she shows up to give Diana a pep talk when she’s on the verge of giving up just because everyone she knows is dead.

And the burka-clad figures from the sewers who at first looked like they might be her fellow Amazons—yeah, they’re totally not. Surprise surprise, they’re the gods of Olympus who have been AWOL throughout this storyline. They explain that they’ve been hiding out from the goddess Nemesis, because she’s nuts and a big meanie, and they’re all scared of her.

The gods must be chickenshit.

Mind you, this means that whatever so sorely altered Diana’s timeline must have worked on the gods as well, because this story pays no attention to the gods’ status quo. Just a couple of issues before this arc began, Athena and Ares were dead, and Zeus had gone off to spend eternity traveling with space gods, but here they all are as if none of that ever happened.

Nemesis, they explain, is “the goddess of the unjustly slain,” their pain and their vengeance, and Diana has to counter the power Nemesis draws from despair with the power of hope. They’re all counting on her. Behind the door bedecked with her own old symbol, Diana makes her way through the ashy husks of the familiar dead (thus the cover image) to meet Nemesis—who, wonder of wonders, looks exactly like Wonder Woman used to before all this started.

In addition to being one of the lesser-known Greek gods, of course, Nemesis is also the codename of Tom Tresser, Diana’s last romantic interest before the current story began. That’s not mentioned here because nobody knows about it anymore, and in fact because of the series of reboots it may never come up again. Those of us who thought it was a terrible pairing that should never be spoken of again should have been careful what we asked for.

If you have new Wonder Woman battling old Wonder Woman on the inside, why on earth wouldn’t you put that on the cover?

Wonder Woman #613, DC Comics, September 2011.

So Diana is battling the bejeepers out of Nemesis, who looks exactly like the previous version Wonder Woman. And Diana’s gods-given powers don’t work in Nemesis’s realm, so it’s not looking too good for her.

Yeah, I wouldn’t bet on the one in the stretch pants. Or even root for her, really.

But in the course of the battle she flashes back to how she got here in the first place. She was still Wonder Woman, and she was battling the Morrigan—all three of them—presumably for the first time but at least the first time on record.  And she’s pretty much kicking their asses, enough so that one of her opponents accidentally kills another one, turning the trio into a duo. But then Nemesis strode in, stuck her sword into Diana and stole her form and essence—or at least most of it, while the fates quickly wove a whole new life for Diana to save her soul.

And suddenly these goddesses may as well be the Riddler, Penguin and Calendar Man.

Now, Nemesis was planning to kill the Amazons, and OK, she did that. Then she was going to kill humanity, she says, and apparently that’s another one of these master plans in this story that the villain hasn’t even lifted a finger to try to accomplish, like the Morrigan’s talk about making Diana one of them. What has she been waiting for And for that matter, if she stole Wonder Woman’s form, why hasn’t Nemesis done anything with it? Why hasn’t she used it to take down the Justice League, disguised as one of their own? Of course, the JLA doesn’t remember Wonder Woman anymore, but seriously, what was her plan?

She sure does like stabbing.

While Nemesis is pretty well creaming Diana, our heroine tricks her into close quarters, where she can use Clotho’s strand of fate to—um, I’m not sure exactly. It makes the two one again, reuniting Diana and Wonder Woman and leaving Nemesis to, well, be herself again, too.  Sadly, being Wonder Woman again doesn’t come with the costume, and she’s seemingly stuck with the silly redesign for now. Not that it matters. So now, they fight some more!

It’s over!

Wonder Woman #614, DC Comics, October 2011.

And now, the stunning conclusion!  Or the end anyway, stunning or not. There’s a whole lot of fighting, and I guess that business of Diana’s gods-given powers not working here doesn’t apply now that she’s Wonder Woman again. She prevails pretty readily, only to find that she who slays Nemesis becomes Nemesis.

Batman would have had an antidote for that in his utility belt. Just saying.

Not to get into the details too much, which are hazy at best anyway, but she overcomes this dark destiny and does away with the power of Nemesis entirely—which magically makes everything better!  Paradise Island is back, her friends and mother are alive again, and everything’s just like it was before, except that stupid costume.

I feel a great disturbance in the continuity, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

But even Diana knows it’s not going to last. In fact, she states outright that she can feel reality’s going to change again—which turns out to be an understatement. This was the last issue of the Wonder Woman series before the reboot, followed by the dystopian altered reality of the Flashpoint crossover, moving directly into the “New 52.” After her whole world changed and was brought back for a moment, it was only going to change again, twice in rapid succession, each time bearing very little resemblance to the life of the Wonder Woman we know. So she should enjoy the return to her beloved old life while it lasts, because it’s only going to be a couple more pages.

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