Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Who Is Wonder Woman?" Reboots The Comic Book Series, But Does Little Else.

The Good: Good introduction/rebirth story, Generally good art
The Bad: Bland, Nothing superlative
The Basics: A remarkably average story, Who Is Wonder Woman? acts as a primer to the contemporary Wonder Woman saga with great art, but little else.

Wonder Woman is a comic book series that I have become interested in for several reasons, not the least of which was that I have watched the drama surrounding the would-be cinematic debut of Wonder Woman rise, fall, crash and burn. I still live in hope. It seems that one of the main problems with the character and her story is that there is no single defining narrative to make for a compelling (or in Hollywood, affordable) story to tell. This has made it a problem to create a script, cast the characters and make a live-action film happen. It would probably be a lot easier if the people at DC Comics knew what they wanted from the character. The problem is, Wonder Woman is the biggest hot potato in comics today and keeping writers working on the book seems to be a real chore. Following their massive crossover series’ Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, Wonder Woman was left in hiding and the comic book looked for a reboot. With Who Is Wonder Woman? the reboot stories are anthologized for the first time.

Who Is Wonder Woman? is a surprisingly coherent story which picks up a year after Wonder Woman went on vacation as part of Infinite Crisis and is oddly uninspired. Having read a bit of Wonder Woman comics before now, this reads exceptionally well as a “Who’s Who” of “Wonder Woman,” but little else. Even so, this is the essential framing piece for all that comes after, but with the changes in Diana’s voice that come with each different writer, it is surprisingly easy to skip this volume and pick up later on and not be worse off for it. There are, however, a few essential points that are contained in these pages and ultimately, that is what earned it a very soft “recommend” from me.

A year after Wonder Woman and Diana (they are different halves of the same person) decided to take a year off and let the world do its own healing and destroying, Diana finds herself watching chaos in Washington, D.C. Donna Troy has taken over the mantle of Wonder Woman and she and the Department Of Metahuman Affairs find themselves besieged by Cheetah, Giganta, and Dr. Psycho. It seems all of Wonder Woman’s old villains are out to get her and they figure that by taking out Donna Troy’s Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, they have a decent chance of making Diana show up.

Diana does, in the guise of Diana Prince, a special agent working for the Department Of Metahuman Affairs. She joins a task force with Nemesis to try to keep Wonder Girl from getting killed and save the others from the many others who are attacking. She is aided, unlikely enough, by Hercules, who is repentant for his past wrongs against the Amazons. With the help of Robin and a load of female superheroes, Diana reclaims the mantle of Wonder Woman and discovers Circe’s influence over the villains and works to undo her fiendish plot.

Who Is Wonder Woman? is an improbable enough story to be annoying. One has to wonder why all of the villains waited an entire year to go after Donna to try to get Diana to come out of hiding and this book does not do enough to satisfactorily address that. Instead, the story plods along trying to ignore both how strange it is that all of the villains are available to attack at this specific point and how it is only Wonder Woman who has any competence at knocking them off. One would suspect even Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl) could take out Angle Man. But no, this is very much a case for Wonder Woman and the insistence that Diana is the only Wonder Woman is irksome.

Even so, the book is redeemed in some ways by the fact that it does go somewhere. Wonder Woman is a vital and interesting character and her actions in this book actually lead somewhere and it is worthwhile, enough to make one want to read this. Allan Heinberg has a vision for Wonder Woman and the changes he makes actually have some powerful ramifications, even if the method is sometimes ridiculous.

The chief bone to pick in that regard comes in the form of Hercules. Hercules is exactly who the name implies, the Greek hero who in the Wonder Woman mythos raped Diana’s mother, Hippolyta, and was later redeemed by Wonder Woman when she helped him bear the burden of holding Themyscira up. But his reappearance seems convenient and Heinberg does not make the reader wait long before Hercules’ personality and true agenda become apparent and this is a huge disappointment.

On the contrary, the artwork is also pretty extraordinary. Anyone who likes lush colors and shapely women running around smacking things will seriously dig Who Is Wonder Woman? Agent Diana Prince is stacked more like Power Girl and despite the distracting skin tight rescue suit, the look works. But many of these pages are basically a tribute to the teenage ideal of women and girls and they look pretty airbrushed, unrealistically shapely and like the PlayBoy Mansion on “Clothing Required” days. Still, for the target audience, this works. Terry and Rachel Dodson deserve a lot of credit for making the reboot look good at the very least.

But only the die-hard fans need to read Who Is Wonder Woman? Everyone else can skip it and catch up when the story gets vital again.

This volume is followed by Love And Murder in the Wonder Woman storyline, please check out my review of that by clicking here!

If you’re into Wonder Woman, please check out the 1999 DC Direct Wonder Woman action figure review by clicking here!


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

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

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