Sunday, February 19, 2012

George Perez Ends His Run On Wonder Woman With The Narcoleptic Destiny Calling.

The Good: Decent backstory work, Moments of artwork
The Bad: No real plot, Adds nothing significant to the Wonder Woman mythos, Much of the artwork, No real plot development.
The Basics: After the gods leave the ruins of Olympus, the Amazons allow visitors from Man’s World and nothing much happens in Wonder Woman: Destiny Calling.

For many months now, I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Wonder Woman: Destiny Calling, if for no other reason than it was the last of the George Perez volumes I had to read. Now, I find that I have both very little to write about in relation to the graphic novel and that I had remarkably little enjoyment of the experience. In fact, I am somewhat baffled at how Wonder Woman survived as a comic book after this point.

In an effort to say something positive about Destiny Calling up front, I will say that I like the book’s verbosity. This Wonder Woman book is intended for literate, thoughtful people and as such, it is packed with words. Far from the stereotype of a comic book, at least in terms of the level of verbiage, Destiny Calling frequently packs in the words at the expense of the artwork. This is intended to be a book filled with stories, in the best tradition of graphic novels, as opposed to a simple, vacuous comic book. No, this is more about the words and that makes it a very dense book.

Unfortunately, it does not have much in the way of a story to truly back up the verbal density.

Following her first encounter with Circe, Diana returns to Boston somewhat shaken. Her friend Julia Kapatelis is glad to see her, as Julia’s daughter, Vanessa. When Diana is called back to Themyscira, Vanessa witlessly pines for a boy who is more interested in the school’s new ditsy blonde. On Themyscira, Diana discovers that the gods are eager to ascend to a new state of being, but they need the help of the Amazon priestess, Hippolyte, and Diana herself. Despite the warnings of Hermes, Diana aids the gods in their endeavor and Paradise Island continues on as an immortal realm without the gods watching over them.

Following that, the Amazons vote on whether or not to allow visitors from Patriarch’s World. The vote goes in favor of visitors and Diana returns to Boston long enough to recover the Kapatelis’s. Bringing Julia and Vanessa to Themyscira serves as an excuse to tell stories about the Amazons and pretty much put the reader to sleep. Long after the reader has stopped caring – after a memorial for Myndi Mayer – Hermes appears on Earth to help Diana, but his appearance leads to the arrival of the Gorgons and Ares’s children! With Ixion, Euryale, and Phobos on a rampage, Wonder Woman must return to save the day!

Destiny Calling is a rare trade paperback anthology where the story entirely meanders. There is no grand villain to thwart, the stakes are not the existence of the universe. Instead, much of the book reads like a mythology text or a text book of Amazonian history. While it has moments of entertainment and the lessons are worthwhile (this is a good book if you are raising your child to believe as the Themyscirans do), Destiny Calling is devoid of grand conflicts. There is a minor adventure story threaded through the latter half of the book, but largely, this is a winding philosophy story that is surprisingly dull.

The artwork in Destiny Calling is shockingly erratic. The book frequently sacrifices art for long passages of expositive writing. I’m generally fine with that, but in this case, it fails to use the medium particularly well. Most of the panels lack a sense of movement within them and they also suffer from being very underdetailed. As a result, much of Destiny Calling looks like a comic strip instead of a sophisticated graphic novel. The colors in Destiny Calling are similarly underdetailed. The book lacks a strong sense of shading and color, instead presenting strong colors without variations or gradations to them.

While the book picks up in the last third with the arrival of Hermes and the rising of the demigods, Destiny Calling is a surprisingly monolithic book that is dull. There is no real other way to say it; it is dull and it takes so long to get interesting, readers are likely to quit well before there is anything worthwhile to the book.

For other Wonder Woman volumes in this incarnation of the Amazon Princess, please check out my reviews of:
Gods And Mortals by George Perez
Wonder Woman: Challenge Of The Gods by George Perez
Beauty And The Beasts By George Perez
The Contest By William Messner-Loebs
Wonder Woman: Lifelines By John Byrne
Paradise Lost By Phil Jimenez
Down To Earth By Greg Rucka
Eyes Of The Gorgon By Greg Rucka
Land Of The Dead By Greg Rucka
Mission's End By Greg Rucka
The Hiketeia


For other book reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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