Government intrigue, Gorilla Grodd, a famed literary character, an appearance by the devil, an oracle with no legs, a battle with Claw and a mysterious dead beast that promises trouble for the Themyscira. Whew. A lot going on in this book and it will probably take a second read for it to all sink in. In terms of setting, this issue leaps from an opening scene at the Department of Metahuman Affairs, to a dimension where Diana battles alongside Beowulf (yes, the Beowulf…but maybe also the version from the short-lived ‘70s series?) against hordes of trolls, to yet another dimension where Wonder Woman seems to be battling Conan (I’m not kidding), and finally landing on Themyscira where a gigantic shark washes ashore, seemingly bearing some apocalyptic meaning. The casual reader will be left drinking a big, hot cup of “What the #%@&?”
I really liked this issue and Gail Simone’s fast-paced narrative. Indeed, readers of Wonder Woman know this to be Simone’s MO and, if that’s too your taste, this issue gives you Simone to the tenth power. Moreover, I’ve been enjoying the current arc in which a mysterious stranger has sent the Amazon Princess into the world of Anglo-Saxon myth (and eventually other dimensions as well) in order to kill a being called D’rgth. We know this being, the stranger told us last issue, “as the Devil.” Meanwhile, a seer, who lost her legs after having made a poor bargain with demon lords, has predicted that Wonder Woman will kill this dimension-devouring being but that she will pay a high price.
Mystery abounds as issue #21 completes the second part of this arc. After their battle with the trolls, Wonder Woman and Beowulf find themselves again transported to another dimension and fighting a warrior that, as noted above, really does look and sound like Conan. But don’t get your underoos in a wad because he turns out to be, apparently at least, Claw the Unconquered (keep an eye on that red glove he’s wearing). Diana’s last panel in the book has her looking in terror at her own hand, itself transformed into a blood red claw. What is Simone up to?
I do have a minor concern. I love Lopresti’s art. The pop art feel to his pencils and Matt Ryan’s inks makes their work perfect for the character. But why did he make Claw look exactly like (not a little bit like, but exactly like) Marvel’s most popular barbarian. Keith Giffin’s pencils did this in the old days but since its 2008 lets turn the character into more than a bad Conan knock-off…please.
Finally, a nice, if odd, lagniappe for all you English majors out there. Simone has Diana ask Beowulf if he is more pagan or more Christian and tells him that scholars disagree, a nod to the debate over the literary influences on the great Anglo-Saxon epic. Beowulf is cagey on this point, and so the debate continues.
A fun issue, though I would try and pick up #20 if you haven’t seen it yet before going on Ms. Simone’s wild ride.
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