"The Passion of Trevor"
Writer: Walt Simonson
Artists: Jerry Ordway (p). P. Craig Russell (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Simonson's six-issue fill-in run on this title (after Jiminez and before Rucka) has to be judged a disappointment. It all sounded so good at first; a mystery featuring a white-suited Diana (reminiscent of her sixties Mrs. Peel phase), with the cosmic element of the gods from her pantheon, and the human element of her most recent love interest, UN diplomat Trevor Barnes. With art by one of the industry's top inkers, over one of the most reliable and disciplined of pencilers.
But "Game of the Gods" didn't really come together. Ordway is not the go-to guy for cosmic adventure, and his best here wasn't enough to really capture the grandiosity of Simonson's concepts. Ordway's strength is the human figure, and so even his gods look like humans in costumes.
As is so often the case with Diana, her supporting characters are more vivid than she is. Is she just too noble, too perfect an ideal to permit the depiction of normal human emotions and foibles? Perez captured the sense of a real personality at the center of all her gifts and duties, and Morrison has captured the warrior aspect in the JLA. Jiminez touchingly showed some of Diana's vulnerability and even her own idol worship, but Simonson uses the unfortunately all-too-frequent tactic of depowering our heroine and making her forgetful in order to bring her down to earth.
Diana was at a loss since the beginning of this story, awakening with no memory in a non-worldly sphere/graveyard. Simonson soon had her in Central Park, relying on convenient fragments of memory to move along the plot. Meanwhile Trevor traveled the globe, and the unfolding mystery of their parallel plots was one of the brighter spots of the arc.
But it turns out it was all the work of an ancient god coming back into coherence, and out of all the universe needing Diana and the humanist pantheon of Earth-based gods to make his mad plan (to restart the universe) work. The Shattered God, as ornate and distant as Marvel's concepts of Eternity, Infinity, etc., is the Anti-Monitor without character or definition. Generic, and his threat and ultimate defeat are both clichés. The idea that the earth-based gods were betrayed by Diana's Roman avatar Diana is left unexplored.
Portraits of Trevor's family life are the most memorable part of the arc, as he works almost unwittingly to serve the goddesses in foiling the Shattered One's plans. In the end, his noble sacrifice seems pre-ordained; but it also clears the deck of one of Diana's most complicated personal relations of recent years.
The strongest feature of this issue, which is all exposition and formulaic conflict, is Ordway's art. He brings Ganthet's Oa to life again, and his visuals for when the god merges with Diana (producing a retro composite being reminiscent of the robot from Metropolis) and then Trevor (producing a Species-like alien) are striking. Trish Mulivihill uses shades of blue for the god that effectively set him apart from everyone else. Hughes' cover shows a valiant WW in battle, toning down the sexism that has characterized his covers in this arc.
In fact, Hughes succeeds where Ordway falters, in depicting the temerity of Diana's attempt to wield Zeus's thunderbolts. One wishes Simonson's story had better meshed with Ordway's strengths, and hopes only that Rucka actually has a plan for Diana that remembers she is a person as well as an ideal.
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