Friday, November 8, 2013

Color Me Unimpressed: Wonder Woman – Volume 2: Guts Disappoints!

The Good: Good character motivations, The plot progresses
The Bad: Choppy writing, Poor artwork, Uninteresting plot and unsurprising character development
The Basics: Wonder Woman goes to hell for no particularly good reasons in Wonder Woman: Guts.

I have not, honestly, been a huge fan of the concept of the DC Universe “New 52” strategy. Any time one reboots an entire company based on a catchy slogan that forever ties them to the concept is just begging for disaster. Even so, I have diligently read many of the books in the New 52 and I was not about to let a little universal reboot stop me from enjoying one of my all-time favorites, Wonder Woman. Even though writer Brian Azzarello and DC Comics took Wonder Woman in a completely different direction than before with the New 52 reboot, I did not hate Wonder Woman: Volume 1 – Blood (reviewed here!).

The same cannot be said for Wonder Woman: Volume 2 – Guts.

Wonder Woman: Guts is one of those rare volumes of comic book literature that gets worse the more I consider it. In fact, more than any comic book anthology in recent memory, Wonder Woman: Guts made me second guess what I had just read and in doing so, I found myself feeling more disappointed and angry than anything else. In fact, Wonder Woman: Guts just might be the worst Wonder Woman book I have yet read (and I have read at least thirty, including this volume)! It is also worth noting that it is impossible to discuss Wonder Woman: Guts without revealing some aspects of Wonder Woman: Blood, so consider that a spoiler alert!

Picking up right where Blood left off, Diana (Wonder Woman), Hermes, and their hardheaded companion Lennox meet up with Eros. Eros brings Diana to Hephaestus, where she learns the horrible truth of what happens to the Amazon men that have never been seen on Paradise Island. From there, the group heads to the underworld in search of Zola, the woman Diana promised to protect and who is carrying Zeus’s latest baby. That child, if it is born, is prophesized to kill the Greek gods, which puts all of the deities on edge. In the underworld, Diana confronts Hades, in the form of a small child with a candle head (which, admittedly, is pretty cool character design).

After almost marrying Hades and defeating him, Diana returns with her companions to the mortal world where Apollo and Artemis are making their own play for Zola. With the birth of Zola’s baby imminent and the gods and goddesses duking it out, Wonder Woman tries desperately to keep her friend safe.

Wonder Woman: Guts is hampered entirely by a lack of a sense of consequences. The threat to Wonder Woman is minimal. Despite Eros’s weapons being used to shoot holes in the heroine, there is a general feeling that there is nothing consequential happening in the pages. In other words, the consequence for Diana failing or surrendering, for most of the book is . . . she is not able to live up to her promise. While I admire the integrity of the superhero quite a bit, when the stakes are that others might not be able to trust her to protect them simply because she vowed that she would try to save them, it’s not exactly earth shattering.

In fact, Wonder Woman: Guts creates an odd ethical stance for Diana. In protecting Zola and Zola’s unborn child, she is abetting murder; the baby is supposed to kill at least one of the Greek gods . . . so knowing that, Diana is helping to kill one of the gods, if she succeeds. And if she fails, the fetus dies, but the petty Greek gods live on. It’s a real “who cares” dilemma, especially when it becomes clear that Diana is in no mortal danger and there’s little chance she will marry Hades.

Therein lies the other serious problem with Wonder Woman: Guts. The book has a choppy sense of flow to it. Diana goes from committing to marrying Hell to being in conflict with him and the whole episode reads like there were interstitial bits missing.

Even more serious a problem is the artwork. The entirety of Wonder Woman: Guts, the penciling is blockish and almost every panel is troublingly underdetailed. There is a poor sense of movement within and between panels. In fact, the only truly exceptional bits of artwork in the book are the covers included for the fans and the design (and for some panels, the execution of) of Wonder Woman’s would-be wedding dress. Despite the underdetailed and blockish characters throughout, the coloring in the book is consistently good with steady vibrant colors throughout.

But in the end, Wonder Woman: Guts is a dismal continuation of the Wonder Woman story where the protagonist wanders through the political machinations of the Greek gods, which is hardly an engaging way to reinvent the iconic heroine.

For other New 52 works, please visit my reviews of:
Green Lantern: Sinestro
Green Lantern: Revenge Of The Black Hand
The Flash: Move Along
Justice League: Origins
Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection
Batgirl: Knightfall Descends
Green Lantern New Guardians: The Ring Bearer
Red Lanterns: Blood And Rage


For other book reviews, please be sure to check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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