It’s Amazon Season


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

Something tells me you really don’t want to mess with her today.

Wonder Woman #602, DC Comics, October 2010.

When last we saw Diana, she had hitched a ride on the plane of some soldiers working for a mysterious bad guy, on their way to wipe out an enclave of her fellow Amazons somewhere in Turkey. Just to recap, writer J. Michael Straczynski has suddenly stuck Diana in some altered personal timeline in which Paradise Island was destroyed when she was just a little kid, and she’s spent her life on the run with the rag-tag survivors. What the heck happened to so suddenly and thoroughly change her history we don’t know, and she doesn’t even know it has been changed, although she sometimes dreams of her star-spangled former self. All she knows is that she really, really wants to kill these guys. And fair enough: They killed her mom, and are doing their very best to kill her sisters wherever they can find them.

See, all you’ve done is piss her off.

It hasn’t been clear up till know what the extent of her powers is in this new reality. We know she can fight, we know she can’t fly (at least not yet), and we’ve seen her cling to the outside of a plane for a trans-Atlantic flight, even taking a nap along the way.  Here we get a little more sense of things. Her bracelets may be different than the ones we know, but she can still deflect bullets with them. Oh yeah, and she throws a jeep at a guy.

Yeah, that’s not exactly going to help matters.

The Amazons holed up here came to this ancient temple, hidden away by Aphrodite millennia ago, to pray for Princess Diana to come save them. No pressure there. After carrying on a long angsty argument with the broken statue of Aphrodite—you know, like you do—she fights the heck out of the soldiers to try to get all her sister-followers to safety.

No no, she ordered harpists, not harpies!

Wonder Woman #603, DC Comics, November 2010.

And lo, Diana did lead her faithful followers though the desert, where she came upon the Turkish guides and mercenaries the Amazons had arranged a rendezvous with. Unfortunately, the bad guys found them first, and they’re just lying around dying. And they’re being pecked at by Keres, harpy-like death spirits invisible to everyone but Diana, who of course has to fight them.

They’ll swallow your soul!

And, well, she loses. This leads to a detour into Tartarus, where the Keres want to feast on her soul. This doesn’t seem to have much to do with anything as far as the overall story goes—or does it? One thing we learn is that Hades is missing from his domain, and has been for almost 20 years, and the underworld is such a mess that Charon doesn’t even ferry people across the river anymore. That’s sort of interesting, although the “gods are missing” storyline is one that’s been overused in Wonder Woman in recent years. Also interesting: although Diana has to fight her way past the Keres to escape Hell, the three-headed dog Cerberus just curls up and lets her pass.

Good doggie!

Back in the waking world lickety-split, Diana finds the enemy soldiers ready to make a deal. They’ll let the others go if Wonder Woman will agree to face the unnamed boss bad guy mano-a-womano. Seeing as how that’s pretty much what she came for, how can she refuse? Oh, and he has her magic lasso—only it’s not exactly her magic lasso because in this reality she’s never seen it before, but it should be.

No noose is good noose.

Wonder Woman #604, DC Comics, December 2010.

The boss bad guy is some heavily scarred and charred naked guy, and he tells her his story. Once he was a mercenary torturer and murderer who was set on fire by rebels in some state where he’d done his thing for the toppled regime, and was spared from the flames by pledging his allegiance to some unseen god who says it’ll restore him once he kills all the Amazons.

I’m just hoping that’s not the new Steve Trevor.

So they fight, a lot, bad guy gloating all the way about how he killed Diana’s mom and he’s going to kill Diana and blah blah blah. He’s going to throw her into the mystical fire that consumed her mother. And she’s all, no, I’m going to throw you into the mystical fire that consumed my mother, burn ward boy. And then her mother emerges from the fire to say, no no, you’ve got more killing to do, I’ll drag him into the mystical fire.

I think you mean you can’t LOSE her again. At least you didn’t say “loose.”

With her dying-again breath, Hippolyta says Diana has to find the Morrigan, which is apparently the Big Bad that this bad guy was working for all along.  The Morrigan isn’t from Greek mythology at all—she’s an Irish war goddess or trio of goddesses—but we’ll be meeting them soon enough. So now Diana has a new foe to seek out, she has her lasso, and, as she soon discovers, now she can fly.

You can fly, you can fly, you can fly.

And no sooner is the bad guy dead than two guys in suits decide that now it’s time for them to step up and open the door that only their boss was allowed to go through and talk to his bosses. It seems pretty obvious that that’s not going to be a good idea.

Don’t go into the light!

Wonder Woman #605, DC Comics, January 2011.

Hey, remember when I said that Diana seemingly lives in the sewers with the other Amazons?  Well, apparently not. Actually she has a palatial apartment in what looks, from the outside, like Brooklyn. She has a talking cat, Galenthias (actually a priestess of Hecuba under a spell), and Amazons standing guard outside disguised as homeless people—if indeed it is a disguise. A whole lot of other Amazons seem to be living in the streets, or under them, while Princess Diana laps it up in luxury. She has all kinds of home entertainment systems and drives the cat bonkers with her loud rock and roll music. Oh, and Philippus, the captain of the guard, now has an eyepatch and is really into football.

Kids today with their rock and/or roll.

Straczynski, by the way, is notorious for being unable to finish an arc that he started, and by this time Phil Hester is cowriting the story with him. Similarly, artist Don Kramer is assisted by a growing horde of other pencillers—Eduardo Pansica, Alan Goldman and Daniel HDR—with Pansica taking over entirely in the next issue.

The Morrigan, we find, is indeed a trinity of war goddesses, in this case a cross-pantheon one: the Roman goddess Bellona, the Irish Anann and the Greek Enyo—the last of which doesn’t seem to be around at the moment, and may in fact be dead. It’s not even properly addressed; the only mention of the third goddess is by one of the Amazons, filling in a rookie with a huge exposition dump at a crime scene. Otherwise, all we know is that the Morrigan is supposedly a triune goddess but there appear to be only two of them.

We also find out the name of that guy who was working for them; if anyone cares, his name was Lucius. And they have a big freaking room full of mythological objects: Zeus’s thunderbolts, the sword in the stone, Pegasus. As soon as I saw it, I started looking around for the Marvel-style hammer of Thor, thinking surely it had to be there somewhere, and indeed it is. There’s also the head of Medusa, which was bad news for those two guys who barged in there uninvited. But they’re in luck; the Morrigan have use for them, so they don’t have to stay statues but get turned into monsters instead.

Apparently they’re the goddesses of hoarding, too.

We get a glimpse of Diana as a kid, beating the crap out of some abusive dad in Turkey, and we see her threatening a pawnshop owner into giving her a huge sum of money for an ancient gold statue, wrecking his shop in the process. She’s essentially pulling an armed robbery, even if it is a fair price for the artifact, but I guess we’re supposed to think it’s okay because she needs the money to help other people—a battered wife and her child who need the cash to get out of town.

Yeah, I’m not exactly on her side here.

Philippus and other Amazons find a makeshift temple to the Morrigan, with a pit of human sacrifices and a whole lot of Wonder Woman dolls, which they don’t recognize because they’re wearing various variations of Wondy’s costume from the old timeline. And the adorable kid of the abused wife draws a picture for Diana of her fighting crime in her old costume—which, again, no one remembers anymore. What can all this mean?

All these teasers of WW Classic get repetitive, but for an old-school Wondy fan like me they’re the only thing that keep me reading. I’m not much interested in this all-new Wonder Woman, and JMS has to hold out the promise of the real WW coming back to keep me following his slow and meandering tale.

Yeah, it’s a boring cover, but they were all like that at DC that month.

Wonder Woman #606, DC Comics, February 2011.

More fighting!  Remember those two guys who were turned into mythical monsters? yeah, Diana and Philippus have to fight them. Diana’s been sneaking out from Amazon protection at night to defend the defenseless—and shake down pawn shops, apparently—and Phillipus tracks her down to scold her that the bad guys could find her too, and the monster guys gladly oblige to illustrate her point. One of them is a stag-horned centaur god of the hunt, and the other is a Minotaur. Things don’t go so well, and there are deaths on both sides (hint: Diana isn’t one of them), and the adorable little kid is abducted by one of the beasties. Who knows what that’s about?

Prosaic justice!

And the Morrigan keep manufacturing more beasties to hunt down the Amazons. This time they use dead Amazons as raw material, creating a new Giganta, Cheetah and Artemis to hunt down their sisters. I imagine we’ll be seeing them in the next issue.

They’re like Charlie’s Angels, only … not.

So I guess whatever altered Diana’s timeline affected her rogue’s gallery as well. I can only hope that the real Giganta and Cheetah weren’t being used to fight someone else around the same time, because the rest of the DC universe was just carrying on with its business, having forgotten all about Wonder Woman.

And that’s it for the first volume of Wonder Woman: Odyssey, ending on what I guess could be called a cliffhanger, but not more so than your average issue of your average superhero comic: Oh no, more bad guys! What’s going to happen? I’m guessing more fighting.

WONDER WOMAN BONUS LINKS! DC Women Kicking Ass has a good roundup of Wonder Woman news and opinion this week. and Entertainment Weekly looks back at “10 super sexist moments” from vintage Wonder Woman comics.

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