Monday, December 24, 2012

Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two Mixes Metaphor And Reality Until Its Powerful Climax!

The Good: Character, Plot, Most of the artwork
The Bad: Not the complete story, Irksome foreshadowing
The Basics: One of the smartest-themed graphic novels (or half of one!), Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two completes the story of the alternate Wonder Woman and her struggle on Earth.

When I reviewed the New 52 graphic novel that started out the reboot of Wonder Woman, Blood (reviewed here!), I realized that part of the reason that it was so disrespectful to the readers was that it was at least the third alteration of the reality of the Wonder Woman story within the span of two years! The first major alteration came in the J. Michael Straczynski-written Odyssey, Volume 1 (reviewed here!). That story, however, was a fundamental alteration that was obviously intended to be impermanent. The second half of it comes in Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two.

Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two works toward the inevitable realignment with the known, familiar, Wonder Woman story. After fourteen chapters of working hard to return Wonder Woman to her familiar state, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two is followed by the temporary reboot that came in World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman (reviewed here!) and then the New 52 reboot. In fact, one of the only real flaws with Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two is that the final few pages foreshadow the two DC Universe-changing events and it feels entirely inorganic. In fact, there is something of a robbed catharsis to read Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two only to end on the sentiment that none of it mattered because another, more fundamental and permanent change is around the corner. Given the tone and tenor of the rest of the book, one has the feeling that Straczynski was compelled to end on that particular note.

That said, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two is a largely incredible graphic novel and one hopes instantly that there will come an Absolute Wonder Woman Odyssey at some point soon (especially because we were robbed of the figure of Wonder Woman in her costume from this period when that line was pulled in February!). Like so many of J. Michael Stracynski’s works, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two is cerebral, heavy with symbolism and metaphor and ultimately explores much larger themes and idea than most, typical, superhero graphic novels.

Picking up where Volume 1 left off, Diana chases the minotaur that abducted Harry. Using her lasso, she gets the truth out of the Morrigan-altered Jason and begins hunting for the Morrigan. Diana is beset upon by Artemis, Giganta, and Cheetah, who are under the influence of the triumvirate Goddesses who have been hunting and killing off the Amazons. Rescued by the most unlikely of people, Diana’s mind is opened to all the possibilities of Wonder Woman. When Edgar (Dr. Psycho in the normal Wonder Woman Universe) gets her healed, Diana goes on the hunt for the Morrigan.

Lured into the center of the Morrigan’s power base, Diana helps her Amazon sisters see the truth and amid the destruction outside the seal that keeps in Nemesis, she finds the Olympian gods. Opening up the seal, Diana encounters Nemesis, the Spirit Of Vengeance and she fights to retake her own destiny.

Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two refreshingly presents the origins of the rebooted origin story and by the time that comes up in the book, one might almost have forgotten that it had not yet been presented and they were hunkering for it. Covering all the bases, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two so smartly develops into a treatise on the power of love and hope to combat vengeance and murder. In the DC Universe, I thought the Spectre was the Spirit Of Vengeance, but for the purpose of this storyline, there is only a new villainous god-creature, Nemesis.

Nemesis is also irksome, in name only, because in the storyline that immediately preceded Odyssey, Nemesis was the name of the master of disguise who was Diana’s love interest . . . to the point that they were looking to marry one another! Still, following on the heels of villains like Genocide, Nemesis makes for a compelling and surprisingly well-developed adversary. A classic foil to Diana’s heroism, Nemesis is dark and the embodiment of all that Diana is not with an equally classic goal; to turn her to its side in order to corrupt the purity of Diana’s hope and love.

All that Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two lacks is a compelling series of examples that illustrate how the altered Diana experienced love. Given that the power of this new incarnation of Diana is her love and hope, the story lacks the explicit backstory that illustrates how she developed that. In fact, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two only illustrates the loss and torment Diana has experienced.

Still, Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two is well-executed, though some of the artwork is erratic. The younger, altered version of Diana is usually rendered with clear lines and vivid coloring. Scenes like the vision Diana experiences when touching the seal are powerfully drawn and have a great sense of movement. Unfortunately, there is an erratic tendency throughout, with some of the panels featuring simpler artwork. Those panels have rounder faces and far less detailing. Moreover, one of the smartest moments in the book is entirely gutted by additional panels put over the main artwork. As Diana comes out of Edgar’s epiphanic vision of all the possible versions of Wonder Woman, the panels of the variants are covered with sloppier panels of Diana clawing her way out of the sea. The symbolism is great, but the presentation is utterly disappointing.

Wonder Woman: Odyssey – Volume Two finishes the story begun in Volume One in the most satisfying way possible. It’s enough to make one want to read anything else J. Michael Straczynski has written for the graphic novel medium.

For other Wonder Woman volumes, 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
Destiny Calling 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, be sure to visit my Graphic Novel Review Index Page!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment