Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Lackluster Adventure Into Ridiculous, Amazons Attack! Is A Poor "Wonder Woman" Outing.

The Good: Completes the story begun in Wonder Woman, Goes somewhere.
The Bad: Entirely too fractured, Ridiculous, Mediocre artwork, Despite consequences, plot doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
The Basics: A disappointing conclusion to a cool concept, Amazons Attack! takes a good story and dilutes it with threads from the disturbing to the absurd.

As I continue my “Wonder Woman” Year, I am discovering a number of tangent stories that I need to read in order to make the primary “Wonder Woman” story actually make sense. Some of them are actually fascinating stories which have a lot to recommend them where Wonder Woman’s actions change the entire thrust of the DC Universe. Arguably the best among those is The OMAC Project which has Wonder Woman displaying arguably the highest IQ of any DC Universe character I have ever read. But since then, I’ve had to read some stories that are less compelling. One of them is Amazons Attack!

Following the events of Love And Murder (click here for review! ) the United States is besieged by Amazons who are laying waste to Washington, D.C. Hippolyta leads her army with the stated goal of getting Diana, who had been captured by the Department Of Metahuman Affairs released. But soon, there are attacks in California and in Kansas which cripple the United States and put the Justice League on high alert. As the Amazons lay down an ultimatum, the United States and the superheroes prepare for a final assault.

In the meantime, Wonder Woman tries to figure out just what is going on. Unfortunately for her, Wonder Girl and Super Girl accidentally take down Air Force One and Amazon-related support groups for women are interred. As the battles rage, Wonder Woman confronts her mother only to be given answers that make little sense and are utterly unsatisfying.

Amazons Attack! has rightly been panned by readers since the day it first appeared. First, the story is absolutely ridiculous and in the trade paperback anthology it is annoyingly incomplete. The story actually begins well before the point where Love And Murder left off, so readers are likely to be annoyed by the backtracking and not understand quite why it is important. Alas, it feels like filler to see the opening salvos of the Amazons’ attack and the attack on Kansas. Indeed, the whole “Kansas Gets Nuked” seems like just a cheap excuse to use Superman more than Wonder Woman in the story.

Sadly, it is not the only such conceit. Amazons Attack! is annoyingly choppy and the comings and goings of the heroes seem to be a smokescreen to not show as much of the carnage the Amazons are allegedly actually doing. This is beyond annoying. This reaches its peak with side stories involving Supergirl and Wonder Girl and the use of Grace Choi, whom the opening notes say is a member of the comics team The Outsiders. I don’t know who they are, but Grace’s melodramatic and annoying outing in Amazons Attack! does not make me want to read them.

The story seems to be designed by Will Pfeifer to turn on reversals that are less audacious and more annoying. In fact, by the time the Bana – the sister tribe to the Themysciran Amazons – arrive the reader is unlikely to care about them and pretty much figure they had to be involved in some way shape or form.

Also especially annoying is the gutting of the climax of Love And Murder in this volume. That story ended with a powerful moment where Wonder Woman does her thing, trying to push for peace and she confronts Hippolyta. This is the opening of Chapter Four and the resolution is ridiculous and unsatisfying. Wonder Woman confronts her crazed, resurrected mother and . . . Superman flies her away. What the hell?! Seriously. Anyone looking for a powerful conclusion to that will feel like they just wasted their money and their time.

Sadly even the artwork in Amazons Attack! is mediocre at best. Pete Woods has a very comic strip style to his artwork and there is terrible flow. Panels like the ones on 66 and 67 which feature the ultra-buff Superman and Batman appear more like thumbnail sketches of the heroes as opposed to well-rendered, powerful imagery. On the plus side, the colors are good. The colors are bright, though without much real sense of depth and shading. Given that far too much of the story is fragmented and the artwork is done by so many different pencillers, there is an erratic quality to the book that is not overcome by the inherent quality of the storyline.

The result is a story with an uncompelling and often annoying villain (Hippolyta makes a problematic villain) which leads to a revelation that only those deep in the DC Universe reading camp will truly understand (I know I didn’t until the Afterword explained it). Despite how the book was set up, most readers will find this a much more disappointing set of answers than a worthwhile read.

For other graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Who Is Wonder Woman?
Lost Girls


For other book reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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