Wonder Woman #602

You know, I said I wasn’t going to do it … but I did it.  I caved.

I read Wonder Woman #602.

I couldn’t help it!  Curiosity and outright fear got the best of me.  Stupid, stupid.  Clearly, I’m a glutton for punishment.  A comics masochist.  My reaction to the book went something like this:

RAAAAAAAAAGGGGGEEE!!!

Where do … where do I begin to describe how unbelievably wrong everything is?  I start to think about this book and get so overwhelmed by everything that’s bad about it, that I can’t organize my thoughts long enough to form a coherent sentence.  That sentence right there?  That just took me four hours.  My brain wants to explode all over the walls, because it can’t fathom what’s going on.  Therefore, please allow me to apologize ahead of time if I sound like a raving lunatic here.

So, I thought to myself—should I really be reviewing this?  It’s clear that I’m taking what’s happening to Wonder Woman far too personally, right?  But then, I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that.  Shouldn’t the experience of reading comics be personal?  I’m reminded of a scene in a Meg Ryan movie (I know, I’m sorry) where her character says “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”  I LOVE Wonder Woman, and I won’t apologize for being passionate about that love.  When DC messes her up, or any other character I love for that matter, I’m not going to be hesitant to air my dislike.

And boy, there’s a heck of a lot to dislike.

In this issue, Diana goes to a temple in Turkey where her Amazon sisters have congregated and are under attack by a group of male soldiers who intend to kill them.  I can’t tell you why, because it hasn’t been addressed, but it seems the popular thing for Wonder Woman writers to do—kill the Amazons and destroy Themyscira.  I think this is the sixth or seventh time now.  These soldiers have already murdered the majority of the women, but a handful of Amazons has retreated within the temple and is holed up in waiting, praying for the return of their princess to save them.  Long story short:  Diana appears, the Amazons rejoice, decide they need to make a run for it, some other stuff happens … blah, blah, blah.  It doesn’t really matter.

Here’s what’s actually important about the issue:  Diana, as the other Amazons escape, decides that the best course of action for her would be to slaughter the men who did this to her sisters.  Slaughter them out of revenge.  Retribution.  Now, if this were The Punisher, that would be okay.  It would be better than okay–it’d be expected.  But this isn’t Frank Castle—this is Diana.  What’s expected of Diana is love and compassion, not disembowelment and angst.  Who remembers all the past issues of Wonder Woman, going back years, but most recently during Gail Simone’s run, where Diana had the opportunity to kill her enemies and realized that she could not bear to do so?

WWPhillipusScan

Wonder Woman tells Phillipus she could not kill for revenge. (Click to enlarge.)

“I didn’t understand,” she tells the Amazon General Phillipus in the story arc just before this one.  “I thought I could kill it.  I thought I would be doing the world a service.  Leaving it to die, paralyzed and drowning.  But I couldn’t, sister.  In war, yes.  To save an innocent life in the heat of battle.  Yes.  But not for revenge.  Not the person I want to be.  Never for revenge.”

Allow me to reiterate:  Never.  For.  Revenge.

Diana has killed before, certainly.  But there’s a difference between her killing, say, Maxwell Lord in order to save Superman, as opposed to killing this group of soldiers.  Going crazy and extracting merciless carnage upon her enemies is not the Diana that’s been written about and celebrated for decades—it’s not the Diana with whom longtime readers have fallen in love.  And that’s the real problem, isn’t it?

I can hear the reactions to this.  “That’s the point—it’s an alternate reality.  It’s a different Diana.”

I get that.  I really do.  I just don’t see a reason why any reader should accept it.  The current direction for this title was stark, cold editorial mandate.  Is that good enough for you as a reader?  Because it’s not good enough for me.

My entire gripe about this book has been the fact that DC felt the need to change the character in her entirety—not tweak things here and there, not clean her up, but rather alter her to such a degree that she is woefully unrecognizable to her fanbase.  This, for the purpose of gaining new readers, yet at the risk of losing the current ones.  I said it last time, and I’ll say it again:  this is a blatant slap in the face to Wonder Woman fans.  You can be a Batman fan and have a number of Bat books to read (too many perhaps), some with alternate versions of the character.  A reader who doesn’t like Grant Morrison’s Batman can read Paul Dini’s, and so forth.  The same is true of Superman.  Yet, for Wonder Woman fans, we have one book and one book alone in which to get our fill.  And if you don’t like what’s going on in that one book—tough noogies.  Too bad for you, says DC.  Her one title isn’t selling enough for them, so why should they bother with any more?  Why bother with different options?

And yet, as much as I truly despise this premise, here I am again reading it.  Because I need my Wondy, and this is clearly the only way I’m going to get her.  Wait it out, right?  Try to make the best of it?  Ride out the storm until things are back to “normal”?  Who knows–maybe Straczynski’s entire point in the garbage he’s creating is to make bizarro-Diana turn into current-awesome-Diana by the end of this.  I still wouldn’t agree with the means to the end, but at least I’d have her back.

But there’s one more thing … one more horrible, hideous, nightmare-inducing thing that I simply cannot ignore—the costume.  What would Wonder Woman say?  “Hera, give me strength!”

Because I could easily go on about this for another five pages without pause, I’m going to keep it as brief as possible with just two observations:

Wonder Woman removes her jacket to show the ugly bondage beneath.

1.) Diana removes her jacket just before her fight with the soldiers to reveal tight criss-crossed straps going down the length of her arms.  “The jacket has a purpose!” they told us.  “It’s essential to the story, you’ll see!”  Oh, I see all right–I see a blatant bondage reference to go along with the ugliest halter top I’ve ever witnessed, and a chest so abundant that I nearly thought I was reading Power Girl.  Quick, Diana, put the jacket back on!

2.) The idea of putting pants on an Amazon is one so absurd in and of itself, without DC adding to it by stating they needed to “cover up” Wonder Woman.  And yet, cover her up as they did, her pants are still being shaded and colored in such a manner as to highlight what can only be described as the constant glow of her ass cheeks.  Thumbs up, guys.  Really.

During Gail Simone’s tenure on Wonder Woman, her love for the character shined through with the respect in which the writer treated her.  Simone handled her with care, dignity, and most important of all–understanding.  This could not be more evident than in General Phillipus’ response to Diana’s unwillingness to kill for revenge:  “No.  That is why, Princess.  Why you are the hope of all of us.”

Like an Amazon in waiting, I’ll continue to hold out hope for the real Diana’s return.

Publisher:  DC Comics
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Don Kramer
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Letters by Travis Lanham
Price:  $2.99 (Not worth it)

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2 responses

  1. Gordon Dupuis

    I had a huge problem with Straczynski’s Wonder Woman. the whole point was supposedly to make her less “Stuffy”. I suppose that’s meant to be translated to “make the fanboys think they have more of a shot in bed with her.” Why do my fellow male comic fans so often feel the need to act like super-heroines are potential date material and that they themselves are fifteen years old.

    Dianna is SUPPOSED to be put on a pedistal. A younger, more violent, sexier her defeats the purpose. Wonder Woman is meant to represent EVERYTHING positive about women (a lot of which is in men too) and NOTHING negative (most of which is in men too.)

    I plan to keep spending my money on the comic in desperate hopes that it will change and soon. (Sue me if I can’t handle a hole in my collection.)

    Try not to let the power of the Red Lanterns get to you too much. I hope knowing that someone else is mad too helps.

    09/22/2010 at 4:29 AM

    • Knowing that other people feel the same way DOES help–thank you for your comment! I agree with everything you said. It’s a shame that DC doesn’t see it the same way, despite claiming to. I’m voting with my wallet on this one, though, and hoping that a drop in sales will make them realize this was not the way to “fix” Diana–nor does she need fixing in the first place.

      10/23/2010 at 6:06 PM

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