On Wednesdays I look at various chapters in Wonder Woman’s history. Click here for previous installments.
I’ve complained in the past about how DC Comics has never given Wonder Woman a headlining role in an intercompany crossover. Catwoman, Batgirl, sure, but never Wonder Woman. And now that DC and Dynamite Comics are collaborating on Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet and Django/Zorro, I’ve asked when the heck they’re going to do a Wonder Woman/Red Sonja crossover. Heck, Gail Simone has done great work writing both of them—get her on that project!
Well, I recently ran across a cheap copy of a crossover that of course didn’t give Wondy title billing, because apparently DC isn’t interested in that, but at least featured her pretty prominently on the cover, and that’s 2000’s JLA/Witchblade, by writer Len Kaminski and artist Mark Pajarillo, who’d drawn several issues of JLA at around this time.
JLA/Witchblade, DC Comics/Top Cow Productions, 2000.
I don’t know much about Witchblade because the whole extreme!!! wave of ’90s Image and Image-style comics bored the crap out of me. But as far as I can tell, the Witchblade is some kind of magical gauntlet that symbiotically bonds with a female host and grows into a very, very skimpy costume with claws and swords and stuff. (Another one of its powers seems to be to make you otherwise naked.) And yeah, that sounds exactly like Spider-Man’s alien costume, but no, see, this one’s totally different, because it’s ancient and magic, not from outer space, and it’s just for ladies.
So in this comic, a guy named Mr. Irons, who I presume to be a regular Witchblade adversary, makes a deal with Lex Luthor to try to obtain the Witchblade from its current host, police officer Sara Pezzini (sometimes spelled Pezinni here, because who the hell cares, I guess). Sara’s badly wounded in Gotham, so she looks up her old friend Barbara Gordon (formerly Batgirl, and then the computer genius Oracle). Of course, we never knew before that they were old friends, being owned by two different companies and all, but they’re both from cop families, so why not?
Babs beams Sara up to the JLA Watchtower on the moon for immediate medical attention. The trouble is, while Sara is out of action, the Witchblade goes poking around for a new host. First it turns Oracle into some kind of crazy spider thing (because she hangs out on the web, get it?), and then it grabs the Huntress. But as it seeks out stronger and stronger hosts, you know it’ll end up with Wonder Woman, and not just because the cover pretty clearly shows that.
Because this is coming right off of the 1990s, everybody’s hard-edged and grim ’n’ gritty. Batman particularly is ridiculously gruff and kind of a crank. He even goes off on Babs for drinking chamomile tea because “you know how I feel about drugs.” Has Kaminski ever read a Batman comic? He’d be shocked, shocked at all the tea and even coffee drinking that goes on there.
Pajarillo’s art isn’t exactly any less ridiculous. I mean, look at Wonder Woman’s legs in this next page. From the knee down they’re almost plausible, but from knee to waist, what the hell is going on there? And don’t get me started on her posture, either.
So anyway, the Witchblade possesses Wonder Woman and makes her a wee bit tetchy. Addressing the UN, she calls upon the women of the world to “rise up and throw off the yoke of patriarchal tyranny.” And that’s before the metal spiky bits start sprouting all over her.
It’s heavily implied that the reason Wondy’s so susceptible to the Witchblade’s influence is that she’s just not edgy enough. She’s so pure of heart that she just can’t handle the darkness, which seems like a pretty condescending view of Wonder Woman. But hey, at least she’s really strong. It takes the entire combined force of the patriarchy—I’m sorry, I mean the Justice League—to hold her off longer enough for a newly revived Sara to take the Witchblade back.
All in all, it’s a pretty ridiculous comic, but if you’ve ever craved a matchup between Witchblade and the JLA, well, this certainly is that. And if you’re into Witchblade enough to want that sort of thing, you might well think it’s awesome. Me, not so much.