She’s on the Warpath


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.

Yes they do. Sadly, they do.

Amazons Attack!, DC Comics, 2007.

OK, so, bear with me here, it case this gets too complicated. The premise of this miniseries by writer Will Pfeifer and artist Pete Woods is that the Amazons…attack.  There are some Amazons, and they attack. The longer version is that the immortal witch Circe brought Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, back from the dead, as shown in my writeup of novelist Jodi Picoult’s brief and problematic run on Wonder Woman last week. And pretty much the minute Circe does that, she shows Hippolyta footage of her daughter Diana, Wonder Woman, being held prisoner by the American government. And as easy as that, Hippolyta immediately leads the Amazons to attack the United States.  Never mind that Diana’s almost immediately busted out of jail by her annoying new romantic interest, the master of disguise Nemesis (alias Tom Tresser): the Amazons are already laying waste to Washington, DC.  Let the crossover event begin!

Hey, there’s a woman symbol on that banner! Because they’re ladies!

Amazons Attack! #1, DC Comics, June 2007.

This one’s pretty much just the Amazons wrecking stuff.  It starts with a nice young dad and his little boy looking at the Lincoln Memorial. The kid has apparently never even heard of Lincoln, which isn’t exactly credible because he looks like he’s of school age. Too bad for him, because with a loud “BOOOOM” the entire Mall becomes full of the Amazon army, files and files of them, plus some giant cyclopses with siege machines. Oh, and then some Amazon warrior kills them both.

Well, that’s not very nice.

Two Amazons basically take up the conversation the kid and the dad were having before they chopped them up. “Who was he?” one of them asks, pointing at Lincoln. “A man. Just another man,” her compatriot says. “This city is full of them. Not for much longer.” Poignant!

It’s all ironic and shit.

Meanwhile, more attacking!  Black Lightning has to save the president from two Amazons who say Hippolyta wants the leader’s head on a stake. I guess Amazons must always do their attacking two by two, like Mormons! Hippolyta’s commandeered the Smithsonian as her base of operations, where her old pal Circe—and by “pal” I mean enemy, but never mind—whispers sweet poison in her ear about those mean ol’ men (and misspelled poison at that, like how she needs to “excerise” patience). And goaded by Circe, Hippolyta instructs her Amazons to tear shit up. Blow up the Capitol! Behead the Lincoln Memorial!

Screw you, Lincoln!

Sarge Steel of the Department of Metahuman Affairs is apparently coordinating the response, not because that makes any sense in terms of his job description but because he’s the primary military-type guy who happens to be part of the Wonder Woman cast at the moment. In fact, Steve Trevor would make a lot more sense, because he was the deputy secretary of defense when last we saw him, but he’s not part of the story right now, so shut up. But uh-oh, Sarge Steel is a fake! With the real Sarge Steel bound and gagged in a closet! Pretty much exactly like when Doctor Psycho was posing as Veronica Cale and had her bound and gagged in a closet a couple years before when Greg Rucka was writing the comic! Not that Pfeifer needs new ideas or anything. Ideas would only confuse things.

Oh, and some nameless Amazon makes the mistake of asking Circe didn’t she have a daughter or something, and Circe kills her on the spot.  Now, obviously any Amazon would know perfectly well that Circe had a daughter, because that daughter had been living with them until quite recently until Ares stole the kid back, but not this nameless cannon fodder Amazon.  But the fact is, all the Amazons in this series are nameless cannon fodder.

Alas, poor whatsername. Ah, who am I kidding? She never had one.

There are a whole lot of individual Amazons whom we’ve gotten to know over the years, and they have names and personalities, but Pfeifer doesn’t bother with any of that. Aside from Hippolyta, there are no individual Amazons here—there’s just “the Amazons,” en masse, the entire faceless warrior population of Paradise Island come to lay waste to America.  And in a perverse way, it serves the story he’s telling here (if “story” isn’t too generous a word) not to acknowledge any individuality among the ranks, because every damn one of those individual Amazons knows better than this nonsense. The less you acknowledge that there are actual people with actual brains involved, the less plausible any of this becomes. Hippolyta behaving this way is bad enough, because as I mentioned last week, she can be stubborn and hotheaded, sure, but she’s a former member of the Justice Society of America who’d certainly take the time to check her facts before laying waste to the country she’d fought for like this. It’s ridiculous nonsense, but we still have five more issues left of it to go.

Batman with a sword! Bet those Amazons are worried now!

Amazons Attack! #2, DC Comics, July 2007.

The Amazons, they’re still attacking, and from what I can tell America’s superheroes pretty much aren’t doing a damn thing about it. Sure, they’re rescuing people here and there, but they’re not confronting the Amazons and trying to bring an end to the attack.

No no, we have some important sitting on our hands to do.

That makes no sense if you think about it, but it kinda-sorta makes sense in terms of this miniseries having to go on for six issues, because if the Justice League and pals actually fought the Amazons, they’d win pretty quickly and handily. The American military, on the other hand, is helpless before the Amazon’s spears and arrows.

Also, Amazons are just plain jerks.

We get a glimpse of the unmasking of the fake Sarge Steel that happened in Wonder Woman #9, which only worked because there were two fake Sarges—one of which was Nemesis who managed to unmask the other one instead of being unmasked himself. Here, though, no sooner does he reveal that the other Sarge was a fake than he turns back into Nemesis and continues to run the show, and no one even bats an eye, tries to detain him, or even wonders where the real Sarge is. That may seem like sloppy storytelling, but only because it totally is. You might think maybe this transition was covered in Wonder Woman in more detail, but no, far from it.

They’re all used to fake Sarges by now. I’m increasingly convinced we’ve never seen the real Sarge.

Batman tells Nemesis that the troops need to pull back, so that I guess no one will be fighting the Amazons. I guess he’s really, really invested in prolonging this as much as possible. Meanwhile, Amazons attack southern California!

One person we haven’t seen at all so far is Wonder Woman, and Batman says, “We’re still not sure what side she’s on.” This is in the context of keeping Superman close by, so I guess he’s saving the big guns for her.

Donna Troy comes by to have words with Hippolyta, who basically brushes her off, saying, “Yeah, yeah, bring me my real daughter, and then we’ll talk.” So Donna goes off to find Diana, but runs into some mysterious stranger on the way out the door, who I guess will be taking her off on some other adventure entirely.  In fact she goes off to the godawful Countdown series, which is the lead-up to yet another multiverse shaking mega-event, Final Crisis. Considering that this is pretty much right after the Infinite Crisis crossover, that’s pretty bad.

Whoever it is, tell him to buzz off.

And hey, it looks like I spoke too soon. Two of the Amazons do have names! It’s Phillipus and Artemis, who were the rulers of Themyscira while Hippolyta was dead. And, come to think of it, they were the rulers before she died, too, because Hippolyta gave up her crown some time before that. But once she came back from the dead she took it back immediately, probably because neither Picoult nor Pfeifer even knew she gave it up, and the editors don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff anymore. Also, that’s supposed to be Philippus, not Phillipus, but Pfeifer consistently misspells it here, so let’s just say it’s Phillipus the fake Philippus. It may make it easier to take.

And, as I predicted, once you have any Amazon with a half a brain involved, they say this is insane. They seem to be totally on board with the initial attack, which is vexing, but they decry the attack on California as dirty pool. But Polly’s far beyond listening to anyone.  Including Circe, by the way, as she casually mentions that she’s already killed her. None of this makes a damn lick of sense, but never mind.

You should punish Artemis’s barber while you’re at it.

Wonder Woman shows up and Batman confronts her, but it’s a pretty short conversation because she’s totally on their team as usual, even if at this point it may as well be called the Doing Nothing League of America. But uh-oh, Kansas is on fire. Yes, the entire state.  Superman’s gotta go!

Uh-oh, now they’ve got the superpowered Twihards on their side.

Amazons Attack! #3, DC Comics, August 2007.

Each issue now starts with a sensationalistic TV report on the war with the Amazons on LexNews, which I guess is the DC universe version of Fox News. Suffice it to say it involves a whole lot of exclamation marks. This time the recap actually becomes a plot point, as the broadcast is interrupted by Hippolyta demanding America’s complete and unconditional surrender. At this point I’m really, really hoping that Hippolyta turns out to be yet another fake, or at least mind-controlled, because this series makes her pretty much irredeemable as a character, between the hubris, the lack of honor, and, well, the knee-jerk idiocy.  I don’t think she can help that last part, though, because everyone in this series acts like a complete moron. It’s just the way they’re written. I know Will Pfeifer has written some comics that were pretty well regarded, such as his Catwoman and H.E.R.O., but this series makes that very, very hard to believe.

You can bend but never break me, ’cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal.

Hippolyta’s announcement pretty much acknowledges that it makes no damn sense for the Amazons to be attacking. She says the goal was originally her daughter’s freedom, but Diana was freed pretty much before the Amazons even hit American soil. Now the queen says “that time has passed. The stakes have risen.” Now, this is obviously not because of the United States’s entrenched resistance, because as has been shown, their defense has been pretty half-assed. No superheroes seem to have been deployed against the Amazons (because, as I said, if they had the invasion would be over already), and the armed forces are under the command of a minor agency focused on metahuman relations. The stakes have risen simply because Hippolyta says so, and now she wants the whole damn country.

Her generals Artemis and Phillipus-the-fake-Philippus just shake their heads and say she’s mad, I tell you, mad!

Meanwhile, the president is hiding out on Air Force One, just like Bush on 9/11, and he decides that the only thing to do is to round up suspicious individuals and put them in internment camps. Because obviously that’s the only thing to do when you’re being invaded by an obvious threat from outside your shores—make up an imaginary enemy from within to fight instead of them. As little as anything else in this series makes sense, this takes the cake. There’s absolutely no hint of a domestic terrorist threat that led up to this decision.  It’s just, mythical Amazons are attacking? Better round up any political dissidents!  Absolute idiocy.

I’m calling it. All the leaders in this comic are Dr. Psycho in disguise.

The guy he’s talking to, by the way, is not even a character. He has no name. He’s just this guy who’s been hanging around to give the president someone to talk to.  Let’s call him Generic Unnamed Aide Number One, or GUANO for short. That said, I’m not sure this president has a name either.

But hey, remember that women’s shelter from Wonder Woman #5, that godawful fill-in issue that Pfeifer wrote a couple months previously?  Well, guess who are the first people to be rounded up and put in camps!

On the plus side, Superman throws a dumpster at a nameless Amazon in this comic. Vive le resistance! And it also features the single most notorious panel in the whole series: Batman’s classic soliloquy, “Bees. My god.” Delivering it over the dying body of the all-new, all-douche Nemesis is just icing on the cake.

It speaks for itself, really.

Green Arrow finds some kind of high-tech bomb that was supposed to set off a nuclear reactor in Star City. And because it’s high-tech, Batman concludes that it can’t possibly be an Amazon weapon, because they’re all into spears and shit. Never mind that the Amazons have long been established to have advanced technology in addition to their immaculately preserved ancient Greek culture.  Never mind that the ostensible reason that Diana was being held prisoner in the first place, in the set-up to this very story, was that the US wanted to get hold of Amazon Purple Death Ray technology.

So, basically, Batman’s an idiot.

But the point is, Batman says, there’s someone else involved—someone high-tech!  Now, granted, what he says makes no sense because he’s ridiculously wrong about the Amazons, but it’s not at all clear that Pfeifer knows that he’s wrong. In fact, it’s altogether probable that he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, Artemis and “Phillipus” start to think they’ll have to do something about Hippolyta. Supergirl and Wonder Girl just show up to talk to Hippolyta, presented by some mysterious Amazon whose face is in shadow—or at least she might be mysterious if any of the Amazons were individuals in this series to begin with. Grace Choi of the Outsiders is recruited by…someone. GUANO talks back to Nameless President. Oh, also, Supergirl and Wonder Girl bring down Air Force One.  For some reason. What’s going on here? Who cares? Not me, but we’ve come this far, so we may as well see the damn thing through. To be (sigh) continued!

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