“The Circle” (part 1)
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist(s): Terry and Rachel Dodson
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ve remained faithful to Wonder Woman these past two years, since her series was cancelled only to be re-launched, through Amazons Attack where great writers got the shaft for a really bad storyline. Wonder Woman is integral to the DC Universe, is integral to comicdom; she is iconic, she is strong and she is neither Jessica Biel nor some teeny bopper. She is woman, hear her roar. Not all of the past 14 issues of this series have been steaming piles of dung; some things have just been poorly executed for the advancement of again, a really bad storyline. Readers have been anticipating the moment that came this past Wednesday when Gail Simone took the reigns of this title. Hopes are high that Simone can turn things around, bring Wonder Woman from the ashes and reassert the Amazon Princess as the #1 female in all of comics. Aside from Amazons Attack, Jodi Picoult managed to hit some strong plot points they were bogged down by the event, J. Torres did the same, but the title was still a mess. I had my fingers crossed for Greg Rucka to return as Wonder Woman’s savior, but perhaps Simone will do. So the question on everyone’s mind is: Does Gail Simone deliver?
Yes, Gail Simone has stepped in to start sorting out the mess left in the wake of Amazons Attack. The core ideas are still present, Diana still leads a double life, the relationship with Nemesis is thankfully intact and it would appear as though things seem to be turning around. Let’s also not forget that the Dodsons return and their artwork is still as stunning on this title as it has been from the very beginning. From the get-go, I could tell something was different about this title, it wasn’t going to be a whiny, sob fest of Diana trying to find her place in the world. It appears DC has finally moved on. Instead, this issue appears to set up the dynamic that has been trying to rear its head all along. While Diana is trying very hard to fit in as a human, her baggage and other life as an Amazon will catch up to her.
Now anytime a character is introduced in an issue battling super-intelligent Gorilla’s under Gorilla Grodd’s mind control you know you’ve got something interesting. Simone starts this off quite well, seemingly returning Diana to her role as a diplomat as she offers to care for the warped Grodd youth. Simone’s dialogue and Diana’s narrative is strong, witty and a pleasure to read. It seems as though Simone really understands her, or as though editors have backed off a bit and let the writer do what she does. The action sequence is fantastic, Diana is back in her element, she is Wonder Woman, she is the third and final part of DC’s trinity, and it feels like it once more. This action sequence of the gorillas against Diana only proves my point; Simone understands the dual role of Wonder Woman, warrior and diplomat. Everything from her battle strategy to the use of the golden lasso works flawlessly.
The real fun in this issue picks up when Wonder Woman’s alter-ego Agent Diana Prince comes into play. There’s great humor involved with five super-intelligent apes living in her apartment. There’s the classic moment where they all hide from Nemesis and clean up their mess at super-speed. No matter how many times that device is used, it always seems to work and it does here as well. The dialogue between Nemesis and Diana is great, these characters work very well together and each writer has handled their chemistry brilliantly. I hope the gorillas are right and Diana and Nemesis do mate soon.
Simone does the right thing with showing Diana trying to fit into the human world. Diana has a birthday party at work and she’s socially awkward, similar to a certain mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, but there is no more “whiny” Diana. There’s no inner narrative where she complains about trying to fit in, rather Simone has Diana analyze her surroundings and the activities that surround her, adapting as she goes. Of course, like any decent “dual life” story of our time, there’s got to be the storyline that a person close to Diana has to be suspect of her true identity. In this case it is her boss, Director Steel who has also hired a third party to investigate. Simone keeps Steel at bay and does an excellent job keeping him guessing by having Diana act almost too human.
I remember saying a while back that I love it when heroes do battle with Nazis. Personally, I think Nazis are the most vile incarnation in the history of mankind, but when they are used as villains in an action/adventure story, one can’t go wrong. Indiana Jones, Captain America, and the Justice Society, they have all had memorable battles with Nazis, but I think too often readers forget that the original Wonder Woman battled the Nazis in World War II. Basically, what I’m getting at is finally, there is no Circe, no Amazons, just Nazis. Wonder Woman against Nazis. Thank you, Gail Simone.
I absolutely love the Dodson’s work I think it is beautiful, detailed and stunning. They add a higher level of quality to whatever they touch and this issue is no exception. I hope Gail Simone keeps this going and that she and the Dodsons stay put for a long time to come, Wonder Woman appears to be once again back on her feet.
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