Thurday Comic Review
One of my primary goals in these Thursday Comic Reviews is to offer convenient “jumping-on” points to great series, stories, and characters. Considering the upcoming Wonder Woman television show, which has been unearthing some interest in the character from a broader standpoint than from just her specific long-time followers, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to look at some Wonder Woman reading options.
I want to preface by saying that I have not been a steady Wonder Woman reader by any means. Though, it was the first comic I ever bought. I’ve always wanted to get into her story, but never really found a good place to get some traction on her long-winded biography. But I think perhaps this makes me a good candidate to review Wonder Woman #601-608.
#601 begins a new and different story arc for Wonder Woman. As I understand it (and this is important information for anyone new to the series and deciding to pick it up for the first time) there has been a major disruption in the normal time stream. In this new time-line/origin of Wonder Woman Princess Diana’s home of Paradise was destroyed in her childhood. Years later a grown Diana must figure out how to save the surviving Amazons from those who still seek to hunt them down. Though writer J Michael Straczynski has hinted that this time-line and new origin are temporary and that the original storyline of Wonder Woman will eventually resume, this arc seems to offer a good chance for new readers to get a taste of the series without over sixties years of back story to cloud their understanding.
I particularly loved the fact that the series is elbow deep in roman mythology that is portrayed as a modern obstacle even in its antiquity. JMS really uses this mythology to show how Diana is both a contemporary woman, with her relatable propensity for sarcasm, as well as a woman taken right out legend who talks to gods; fights Keres, minotaur, and average men with high-powered guns; and discovers her ability to fly.
I also want to take a moment to appreciate the artwork. Don Kramer and Michael Babinski are a great team. The expressions on the characters faces were extremely reflective of the story itself. The scenery was detailed and picturesque. I was moved by both the story and the art in a seemless way and as the issues progressed, I felt that the team only got stronger and better at what they were doing.
Unfortunately, this new turn in the Wonder Woman series seems to be getting some slams. First of all, it is being slammed for her practical new costume choice. She is wearing a jacket, red tank-top, and dark, flexible looking pants. Honestly I love it. If I were going to fight to regain my proper time-line and race of people, I’d much rather be doing it in these comfortable street clothes than a freaking leotard. Honestly I don’t see the problem. Is it the lack of stars and stripes? Well, this story arc isn’t about Diana fighting for America, as it was in the 40s. This is about her fighting for Paradise, her original home and the home of her Roman-like-cultured people. Is it the lack of skin? That barely deserves recognition as an argument. Get over it. So there’s a woman fighting with more skin covered than not. What a novel idea.
It is also being slammed for trying to “re-invent” Wonder Woman. What the set-in-their ways DC fans don’t seem to understand is that something new and different needs to happen in order to expand the fan base as well as the market. DC is notoriously difficult to delve into as a new reader. I know. I try here and there, then I become tired of trying to elbow my way into being a member of the super-secret club and I walk away. But this story arc has me ready to come back for issue #609 and try to elbow a bit harder for new information.
If there was any complaint that I had, it was that so much of the focus was on our heroine, that there was really very little focus on the villian/source of conflict. We never really feel a strong drive for why everything happened the way it did. It just kind of happened, and therefore Wonder Woman has to make it right. She is fighting for her people, and that is heartfelt. But why there is a need to keep the fight going feels a little forced.
In closing, this is an ideal time for DC to try to pull in new readers – particularly females. The Diana of this series has real emotions, and yet she knows how to hide them long enough to deliver a few whammies to the enemy. That’s how a super-heroine should operate. I found it very realistic. I’m not an expert in Wonder Woman pre-issue 600, but I can tell you that the lady who appeared in these books appealed to me as a new reader. I recommend to others (frankly, mostly to women. It just feels like a story arc that will particularly perk the interest of ladies) as a good starting point for Wonder Woman.