“A Star in the Heavens”
Plot: Diana takes Tom home to meet Mom (which isn’t exactly a date, more like a trial by fire, actually) and then has to stop off in Hollywood for some serious business. Movie business.
Comments: Now this is more like it. All the clashing swords and ensorcelled shields and demonic possession soulless mumbo jumbo has been mostly left behind, as Diana gets back to what she does best: teaching Man’s World a lesson or two.
The sequence where Tom, as a guest of the Queen of Paradise Island, is put through his paces is a very intriguing one. Hippolyte gives credit to her daughter for her choice, and credit to Tom for his patience and obvious devotion, by conferring a precious gift upon him: he is accepted as an honorary Amazon. You can imagine an American male must be very confident to want to date Wonder Woman, but Tom (despite his mastery of disguise …or maybe because of it?) seems to be secure in his masculinity. Diana isn’t a prize to be possessed, but rather a woman he’s strongly attracted to, and already cares for deeply.
Though he’s hoping their date will get more serious, Diana thinks passing the Hippolyte test is enough for one night, and heads off to a pressing meeting with a movie studio. She brings Tolifar and Rhanda (two of her Gorilla City “ambassadors” and current house guests) along for a show of force, as she knows how the Hollywood games are played.
Chang’s inks are quite heavy, but subtle enough to convey a lot of interesting personal dynamics in this issue. The movie studio office is full of normal-seeming humans, recalling Diana’s previous immersion (in Greg Rucka’s excellent run) in the daily world of an embassy staff. This mundane world is the context where Diana really belongs, and having input on her representation in popular media (a Wonder Woman film is underway, without Diana’s prior approval) seems crucial to her mission.
Ms. Kirswel, the movie mogul is slick (and apparently not very tasty), but not all of her staff are on board with either the film or Diana’s visit. While the Gorilla’s provide amusing sidebar commentary, Diana discovers that the film is quite crass and even offensive in its scenario (there’s a love triangle between Diana, her mother, and Hercules, of all men). Simone nails the queasy dialogue of the script, but even this Altman-esque parody is just set-up for a further surprise: Ms. Kirswel isn’t all she appears. In fact, she’s something far more potent as Diana’s adversary, a Queen in her own right.
So we’re back already to a sorceress fighting our Princess, but Simone I think has hit on something by setting the subterfuge in Hollywood. By the end of the issue Diana has been attacked by several ersatz versions of herself, including the Cathy Lee Crosby version from TV, the powerless '60s Emma Peel-clone, and her '40s, '50s and '60s versions as well. If what the Queen implies is true, Simone seems to be setting up a meta-fictional analysis of Diana as an evolving archetype of fiction, and that’s a pretty fun level to work on with a character with so much history. Well, it’s the level her Alan Moore counterpart, Promethea, lived on in every issue. I’m intrigued.
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