Comic Book Storytelling: Wonder Woman #36-39

It is time to talk about Wonder Woman.

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The New 52 Wonder Woman recently got a new writer and artist team.  Not a lot of people have been happy with the direction the title has been going since then, but people seem to forget that whatever problems this title has started before David and Meredith Finch ever got this job.  The problems started when Brian Azzarello was writing it and he was allowed to change the history of Woman Woman’s people the Amazons to make it as anti-feminist and offensively sexist as possible.  DC comics could have stopped him from turning the Amazons into bloodthirsty man hating murderers but these days if a comic book writer does one good series he gets a free pass to do anything for the rest of his career.  And the fact that Wonder Woman is now the God of War shows that they have a complete misunderstanding of who she is and what made her a feminist icon.  Or they do understand and are doing everything they can to sabotage her status as a feminist icon to satisfy their need to make everything as “edgy” as possible.

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Okay now that I have that rant out of my system lets try to actually look at the story being told.

There are some natural disasters happening that turn out to be not so natural and it seems some underground bug people are behind it so they can use people as fertilizer for their eggs.  Yeah that’s a thing that happening but its really more of a B or even C plot to the stuff happening on Paradise Island with the Amazons.  Not all of the Amazons are happy with Wonder Woman’s leadership, they think she should spend more time on the island being queen instead of running around with the Justice League.  Its kind of a valid point.  Wonder Woman is now the leader of her people and she is not doing much leading and she is so far not doing much delegating or responsibility either.  The most vocal critic is an old lady who looks like a witch.  I’m not sure who she is really.  She might be Wonder Woman’s aunt unless she was referring to Hippolyta as a sister in the sense that all Amazons are sisters?  Oh yeah and Wonder Woman’s mom Queen Hippolyta is dead.  She had previously been turned into a clay statue.  Then they left her out in the rain and she dissolved.  Yes it is just as stupid as it sounds.  I’m hoping there was some other nefarious cause to her demise beyond the Amazons forgetting to throw a tarp over her.

Meanwhile the old lady is conspiring against Wonder Woman.  She makes some kind of deal with some green lady with spikes coming out of her head.  It looks like they are going to sacrifice a baby but instead they sacrifice the baby’s mother and use magic to age the baby into an adult woman and now we have the New 52 Donna Troy.  So the old lady magically aged up this baby girl so she could claim the throne and usurp Diana’s rule, I have no idea why that was necessary to depose her but okay lets see how it turns out.

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Now one of the complaints about this run has been how Wonder Woman has not been acting very heroic.  She has been coming off as petulant and immature at times.  In issue 38 she has a conversation with a friend about her current God of War status.  They talk about there being a danger of Diana losing herself to the power of war.  Now I think this should have been the first scene in the first issue of this story arc.  It would be really interesting if this story were an exploration of Wonder Woman’s struggle to retain her identity as the god of war’s power tries to overtake her.  It would also explain how she has been acting.  It would explain why she attacked Swamp Thing when she should have been talking too him and why she keeps whining about her responsibilities instead of acting.  Its too bad none of that is actually going to happen.  In issue 39 Wonder Woman has a talk with her mother Hippolyta.  It seems that Hippolyta is now part of Paradise Island so her daughter can talk to her spirit.  And she tells her daughter that being the god of war is not changing who she is, in fact its making her even more of herself… ugh.

The thing that really bothers me is that there is clearly a good story in all of this somewhere and its trying to come out.  Plus they are making the mistake of assuming we will sympathize with Wonder Woman and be on her side no matter what she does just because she is the main character.

Okay enough about that lets take a moment to talk about the art because that is something else I have heard people complain about.  David Finch is best known for his work at Zenescope who are most infamous for having lots of sexy pin up ladies.  So this team was going into this run with things pretty loaded to begin with.  Then the first issue of their run hit shelves.

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Look at Wonder Woman’s face.  It looks sort of doll-like which looks really weird to me.  In fact this doll-face on Wonder Woman was so distracting it kind of took me out of the story for  moment.  I think the art has improved to make Wonder Woman’s face less baby-dollish as the run has continued but still, that was weird.  However not all of the art has been like that.

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This is from a battle in issue 37.  Its Wonder Woman fighting giant evil mechanical birds.  Come on that one is kind of cool.

I will be back with more on Wonder Woman some other time.  I don’t know how much longer Meredith Finch will be writing or how much longer David Finch will be doing the art.  Also I don’t know what kind of editorial interference from on high they might be dealing with.  As I said before Brian Azzarello is a big enough name in comic books that DC seemed content to let him do whatever the hell he wanted and leave the next team to deal with the mess.  I doubt the Finch’s get that same pass.

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