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Sunday Slugfest: Wonder Woman #601

Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2010
By: Thom Young

J. Michael Straczynski
Don Kramer (p), Michael Babinski (i), & Alex Sinclair (colors)
DC Comics
To learn of her history and destiny, Wonder Woman visits an oracle who lives under a bridge. She then sets out to kick some ass.

Karyn Pinter:
Shawn Hill:
Dave Wallace:
Thom Young:




Karyn Pinter:

It's the first full issue of J. Michael Straczynski’s Wonder Woman, and we learn that the title character is one of a few hunted survivors from the Amazon nation after its invasion. This story seems to be an alternate path of destiny for Diana. She's fighting not only to save the scattered remnants of her people, but to right the wrongs of her fate.

Damn you, pants! Sorry, I just had to get that out.

Wonder Woman may be in pants for now, but it looks like things just might turn around in the future for our wardrobe-malfunctioning princess. I think all fans of Wonder Woman quickly and tempestuously crammed ourselves into the same boat when we caught the winds of change blowing in from DC. Honestly, I'm a little disappointed there were no riots; I had sharpened my pitchfork and everything.

It’s distressing that Wonder Woman's slate had to be practically wiped clean to boost sales. I know I haven't been the nicest critic of the series, but was it really that bad?

Yeah, there were stories that just went on and on, plot elements that were added and promptly forgotten, and characters that were less than appealing, and . . . alright, yeah, Wonder Woman was pretty mediocre. If it wasn't for the fact that it's Wonder Woman, the comic probably would have been canned.

What saddens me the most is that a female writer had the chance to really kick some ass with the series, but she didn't deliver. Gail Simone just couldn't bring it--not like Rucka brought it.

Even Jodi Picoult, who only wrote like five issues added some flair to the character.

It was Simone’s horrible combination of messy planning and lackluster storytelling that put Wonder Woman into such a state that erasing everything was the only way out. Now, after reading a full issue--rather than what was practically a back-up story last issue--I'm further convinced that whatever seems to be happening might have been for the best. I say that because I don't hate it; in fact, I just might like it.

Sure it's different--Wonder Woman is much younger than we're used to seeing her, and there's more of a contemporary action film feel to the story. However, it has substance. Instead of rolling my head around on the back of my chair wishing desperately for a villain-of-the-month comic, I'm genuinely interested in what's going on.

The Amazons have been slaughtered, a mysterious force is hunting the survivors, there’s a gum-addicted oracle, Hippolyta is dead, the Lasso of Truth is in the hands of an unknown enemy, and the world is depending on a girl who is going through superpower puberty. That's an intriguing story--something Wonder Woman hasn't had in a long time, and has been in desperate need of.

For anyone who is still weary of this new Wonder Woman, don't be too worried about the crossed planes of her reality. There is a hint of promise that things will be switched back to the way they were--but with better stories. It's a win-win.

I have high hopes for the outcome of all of this change; if I'm able to say that, then it has to mean something. Wonder Woman may have gone through a drastic change, but at least she's still alive and kicking. After all, it could be a lot worse--like "canceled" worse.

Not that DC would ever cancel Wonder Woman, because then there really would be riots.




Shawn Hill

There's some good stuff in this issue. I'm not sure it's the best stuff--or the stuff I would have preferred (I like the elder statesman sort of Diana, the seasoned warrior and practical tactician that she was for Simone, Rucka, and a few other writers before them), but it's not bad.

At least the destruction of Paradise wasn't a complete rout.

Well, it was, but the Amazon's clearly went down fighting. The soldiers battling the Amazons are paramilitary males, aided and abetted by some sort of "ensorcelled weaponry." Hippolyta manages to send her child and several of the Amazons to safety to fight another day. Then, when subjected to the Lasso of Truth, Hippolyta takes drastic action; you can clearly see where Diana comes by her "take no prisoners" sass.

Given a whole issue to stretch out in, Kramer turns in quality work, with impressive ruins littering the landscape, and he makes sure the Amazons are formidable warriors.

Diana and the Oracle conclude their discussion amidst some light humor, and Diana's foes (definitely men with high-tech tools) have a surreal humor about them as well. I think Straczynski is trying to lighten the dour mood of so much mayhem, and it works even though it's a bit of an odd fit--a laughter-through-the-tears sort of thing.

Diana homes in on some of the paramilitary males, gathering intel covertly, and kicking some major butt--flying without a plane or powers of flight. She stows away on the outside of a plane for six hours, and seems no worse for the wear.

She's badass, and a smart flashback sequence reminds us that she's "always" been so precocious (given that this reality is a bit like when Dawn suddenly became Buffy's sister, which everyone had "always" known except for when they didn't). She nails a landing from hundreds of feet, and stumbles into a firefight between the quasi-military and a hidden pocket of her sisters in Turkey.

Her job, apparently, is to protect them. She still seems a lot like Diana to me, so maybe all of this is about having her be the woman who killed Maxwell Lord rather than the woman who was a peaceful diplomat. I'm not sure yet, and a lot depends on why Aphrodite abandoned the Amazons, and who is trying to erase them--but, no, it's not a bad start. There's plenty of potential in this new setup.




Dave Wallace:

If Wonder Woman #600 polarised opinion with its brief preview of the new direction in which J. Michael Straczynski planned to take the character, this latest issue should do a lot to set the minds of JMS’s doubters at rest.

Although largely an issue of setup, it addresses many of the concerns and questions that fans have raised ever since they heard about the changes that were on the way for the title, and it clearly and comprehensively lays out JMS’s plans for Wonder Woman (well, for this first story arc, at least).

Although an extended history lesson might not sound like the most thrilling way to kick off JMS’s first full issue of the title, Diana’s conversation with the Oracle is a perfectly serviceable and functional way to explain the changes the writer has made to Wonder Woman’s origin whilst also establishing the idea that some of the story’s characters know that this isn’t how things played out in the original timeline.

The changes JMS makes to Diana’s origin are fundamental. Yet, at the same time, they can’t help but feel familiar and predictable. Establishing some sly parallels with Superman’s origin--and of course, with the story of Moses that inspired Siegel and Shuster’s story in the first place--JMS casts Diana as a refugee from a destroyed Paradise Island, with little knowledge of her origins and few memories of her fellow Amazons, most of whom perished in the bloody assault on her home.

Whilst this action is ably illustrated by Don Kramer, there’s a sense that it loses some of its immediacy through being related to Diana by a third party. (Perhaps if the book had begun with a more immediate and less impersonal look at the fall of Themyscira before cutting to the present day to reveal that the story was being related to Wonder Woman by the Oracle, it would have seemed a little more exciting.)

That said, the method used by JMS gives him a chance to showcase the Oracle’s character a little more fully(we saw her briefly in issue #600). She provides an enjoyable mix of ancient and modern character traits, thus subtly pointing readers towards JMS’s take on Wonder Woman, too.

Most crucially, though, this opening section establishes the changes to the timeline in a very straightforward manner, and it sets up two clear goals for Diana: avoid the villains who are trying to wipe out the last remaining Amazons, and attempt to somehow change the timeline back to how it originally played out.

The second half of the book wisely recognises that the first has been a little light on excitement, and so JMS gives us an extended sequence of the “new” Wonder Woman in action. It’s a little jarring to see Diana held back by relatively low power levels (JMS explicitly spells out that she’s currently unable to fly, for example), which forces her to adopt a slightly more restrained and shadowy approach to addressing the threat posed by the book’s villains.

Rather than a bold warrior, Diana comes off as more of a super-powered secret agent here, which might be off-putting for those who enjoy seeing Wonder Woman as a character of great strength and bravery. Yet, the action is well enough choreographed and illustrated that it’s easy to put aside preconceptions about how Diana “should” act, and enjoy the story for what it is.

Additionally, JMS isn’t afraid to remind us that he knows that the “real” Wonder Woman looks (and behaves) quite differently to this version, as he provides a dream sequence that indicates that Diana might remember some of her “other” life.

Don Kramer’s artwork suits the tone of the story well. His Wonder Woman is beautiful and imposing, whilst also retaining a certain sense of vulnerability in keeping with her newly de-powered status.

He provides detailed backdrops that help to establish locations as diverse as Themyscira and the urban environs of a modern-day city. He also proves just as adept at handling small character beats as he is at dealing with bigger moments (such as the montage of the battle for Paradise Island, or the enjoyable James Bond-esque antics of Diana hitching a ride on the tail of an aircraft).

Kramer’s only weakness--an occasional sense of flatness and a lack of dimensionality--is overcome by Alex Sinclair’s colours, which lend Kramer’s linework an important sense of depth and definition at key points in the story (such as Hippolyta’s fiery death).

I imagine that a lot of JMS’s detractors will say that there’s nothing new in this book that we haven’t seen countless times in superhero comics (and elsewhere) before, which may be true. However, I don’t think that these qualities makes the book worthless.

The story is well written, with JMS’s voice proving a slightly better fit for this book than it did for his first issue of Superman. Unlike that book (in which Superman’s interactions with regular people came off as pompous and hectoring), JMS’s slightly pretentious and formal writing style suits the mythical Amazons a little better. The action also feels more flowing and natural here than it did in Superman.

Some of the dialogue here may occasionally be a little heavy handed (such as the Oracle’s clunky reference to the idea that living close to a bridge is a metaphor for being torn between two worlds), and JMS sometimes seems a little eager to show how clever he is (although I did enjoy the fairly witty pun of the title). However, this issue is still a pretty solid job overall.

The greatest success of the book is in clearly and concisely setting out JMS’s view of what happened in the past, giving us a strong sense of what’s happening now, and providing a fair idea of what has to happen in the future if Diana wants to correct the timeline and restore her true origin--whilst also leaving some minor questions unanswered, to be explored in future issues.

So, whilst JMS’s Wonder Woman isn’t my favourite take on the character (that honour is still reserved for Darwyn Cooke’s version in New Frontier), it’s not a disaster either. In fact, contrary to what you might have been led to believe by the hyperbolic reactions of fans to the changes wrought to Diana’s costume and origin, this story is shaping up to be a fun (if fairly ordinary) superhero romp in a rather traditional mould.




Thom Young:

There’s much to like about the new direction that both Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman has taken with J. Michael Straczynski and Don Kramer’s soft reboot of the series and character. Unfortunately, there’s also much that could be handled more effectively.

The obvious aspect that deserves praise is Kramer’s work as illustrator. Of course, he is ably assisted by inker Michael Babinski and colorist Alex Sinclair, and their combined efforts have made Wonder Woman the best the series has looked in years--perhaps ever.

Kramer’s work here is excellent in almost every panel. His Wonder Woman is not only as beautiful as we are often told she is, she actually looks Greek (or Turkish)--which is something only George Perez and John Byrne have appropriately captured before. Obviously, indications of Wonder Woman’s Mediterranean origins have always been hampered by coloring that clearly presents her with northern European skin tones (much as traditional depictions of Jesus would have us believe he was Germanic rather than Semitic), so her genetic qualities have had to come through in the texture of her hair and her facial features.

I can’t really fault Sinclair for not making Wonder Woman look Mediterranean, as he obviously needs to keep her skin tones the same as they’ve been for the past 70 years. Still, this soft reboot of an alternative timeline would have been an ideal opportunity to introduce a slightly olive complexion.

However, much more problematic in terms of accurately depicting a sense of Mediterranean genes and culture is the notion of a blonde oracle from Themyscira who wears peace-sign earrings and sports an ankh on a choker around her neck.

Straczynski and Kramer’s chewing gum-loving oracle looks as if she has a Germanic heritage and shops for her clothes at a young adult’s “fun, funky fashions” store that mixes and matches alternative clothing styles from hippy to punk to goth.

It also appears that she frequents a trendy beauty salon every week or two for expensive hair styling and manicures (and undoubtedly a pedicure, too, of course). However, she also lives under a bridge in a slum neighborhood, and she claims, “I can’t go any further . . . I’m kind of bound to the bridge. It’s like a mandatory metaphor, I guess . . . for being between two worlds, two places, two realities.”

I guess she must have the expensive beauty salon come to her when she needs her hair and nails done.

As Dave indicated, the oracle’s bridge metaphor would have worked better had Straczynski not chosen to hit his readers over the head with it. Her association with the bridge should have been implied, and no explanation of what the association signifies should have been offered. Intelligent readers would be able to interpret the symbolism for themselves, and the connection would have seemed more significant by being less overt.

In fact, Straczynski shows he is capable of being less obvious; he succeeds in trusting his readers to interpret meaning for themselves when he has the oracle refer to the Amazon’s island home as merely “Paradise” rather than as either “Themyscira” or “Paradise Island.”

While Themyscira would have been more culturally accurate as the name of the mythological city of the Amazons, that culturally accurate name would not have served Straczynski’s purpose here. Similarly, “Paradise Island” diminishes the full symbolism Straczynski is relying upon--a diminishment that has become even more pronounced since the development of the real-life Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.

Instead, by having the oracle refer to Wonder Woman’s home as simply “Paradise,” readers who are aware of the Wonder Woman mythos will instantly know the reference is to Themyscira/Paradise Island--and new readers who are unfamiliar with the character’s history might be in an even better position to interpret the story in the way Straczynski has in mind.

As for the destruction of the Amazons’ ancestral home, it is clearly not an attempt to make Wonder Woman into a female version of Superman--which is what Gloria Steinem claimed in her comments to the Associated Press regarding Wonder Woman’s new look:
There are at least two things about the Wonder Woman change that are in the Olympics of blunders.

First, the guys doing this--and they seem to be all guys--cite no research from the generations of girls and women who've loved Wonder Woman ever since she was invented during World War II; an alternative to the sadism and gore in boys' comic books that were so extreme, they inspired a Congressional hearing. Instead, Wonder Woman converted her adversaries, compelled them to tell the truth with her magic lasso, and otherwise made the world safe for girls, women and democracy.

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Second, the new Wonder Woman birth myth has her arriving as a baby after her Amazon home of Paradise Island is destroyed; an exact copy of Superman who came as a baby from the exploding planet Crypton [sic]. This destroys her home, her Amazon mother and sisters, and gives her no place to go to gain strength and create an inspiring story line; something the original Wonder Woman often did.
However, it’s actually Steinem who is guilty of participating in “the Olympics of blunders.”

First, the only research DC needed was their own monthly sales reports.

Sales of Wonder Woman were hovering at just over 25,000 copies per month, which was not low enough to move the company towards canceling the series, but was less than a third of what Batman’s top-selling titles pull in each month--and just over half of what Superman’s best-selling titles achieve.

If all the “girls and women who've loved Wonder Woman ever since she was invented during World War II” were actually reading the series each month, DC would not have brought Straczynski in to make this change.

However, more to the point, is the implication in Steinem’s comment that Wonder Woman is now going to engage in “the sadism and gore [that we once saw] in boys' comic books that were so extreme, they inspired a Congressional hearing.”

Obviously, Steinem is engaging in some rhetorical misdirection that I won’t attempt to sort through other than to say that the changes in Wonder Woman have nothing to do with what comic books were like in the early 1950s, nor is the issue whether Wonder Woman has ever been more “wholesome” and more “democratic” than “boys’ comics.”

Steinem’s comments were made after the debut of Wonder Woman’s new look last month, which means it is unlikely that she had read this current issue unless DC sent her an advanced copy. I suppose, though, that Steinem’s comments could be tangentially connected to Wonder Woman’s claim in this issue that the best way she can protect her sister Amazons “is to get rid of those who want to hurt them.”

I was initially taken aback by this shocking claim for two reasons:
  1. It doesn’t sound much like the “violence as a last resort” philosophy that Wonder Woman has mostly espoused over the years.

  2. It sounds a lot like a conservative/Republican view of how such threats as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Sadam Hussein’s regime in Iraq should be handled.
Politically, Straczynski seems to be a Republican or a conservative (he endorsed Ron Paul for President). In fact, he had Superman espouse a conservative/Republican view in of how to clean up impoverished urban areas--you need to force the undesirable elements to relocate to other areas (Superman #701, page 10). Of course, that solution doesn’t solve the problem of urban crime, it just moves it around in a type of shell game.

However, despite his own political conservatism, I don’t believe Straczynski plans to make Wonder Woman a war hawk permanently.

For one thing, Ron Paul (Straczynski’s initial choice for President) was one of only six Republicans in Congress to vote against the Iraq War Resolution, and he later sponsored a resolution to repeal the war authorization--so I don’t know that Straczynski personally believes that getting rid of your enemies before they have the chance to attack you is the best philosophy.

Of course, I have a theory regarding what Straczynski is actually planning with Wonder Woman’s hawkish attitude--and I’ll get to that theory after a few more paragraphs.

Additionally, it is more culturally accurate to present the Amazons as war hawks. In Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus called them, “The warring Amazons, men-haters, who will later dwell in Themiscyra,” and Greek mythology presents them as warriors who are always trying to invade (and overthrow) male-controlled city-states.

In other words, Frank Miller’s characterization of Wonder Woman in All-Star Batman and Robin is about the only thing that made sense in that travesty of a series--except, perhaps, her sexual attraction towards Superman since the actual men-hating Amazons were a lesbian society. I doubt, though, that Steinem would care for a more historically accurate representation of Wonder Woman as the princess (now queen) of the Amazons.

Second, Steinem’s idea that the destruction of Themyscira is an imitation of the destruction of Krypton in the Superman mythos would only be valid if Straczynski’s changes were meant to be permanent. However, it is clear that they are not going to be permanent. This story is meant to create media attention and increase sales through its novelty before returning the character to the status quo.

As the oracle in the story stated at least twice, the destruction of the Amazons’ homeland is the destruction of Paradise, and Wonder Woman’s actual is the restoration of Paradise through the restoration of the timeline. Wonder Woman is going to get her people (and us) back to the Garden, as it were.

However, she doesn’t know that her actual mission is the restoration of Paradise; only the oracle knows her true mission, and Wonder Woman isn’t listening closely enough to what the oracle has been saying, “The past you saw . . . isn’t the past that was . . . something happened, and we have to put it right . . . something changed . . . something.”

However, Wonder Woman misses the point of the oracle’s guidance,* as she responds by proclaiming, “I’m going to kill them. I’m going to kill all of them”--a statement of vendetta that causes the oracle to fall silent and not reveal more about Wonder Woman’s destiny for restoring Paradise (page 10).

While I firmly believe Straczynski’s story of “the Restoration of Paradise” has the potential to be the greatest Wonder Woman tale of all time, I don’t expect him to write it as well as it needs to be executed. Some of the problems with the way he executes a story are evident in this issue. The first is that we are only told that Themyscira was Paradise, we are never shown its paradisical nature.

Beyond the Doric architecture,** Themyscira should have been shown to be a pastoral island--an idyllic Eden, as it were--in which the warrior women found tranquility through communion with nature and contemplation of Platonic Ideals. Of course, longtime fans of the Wonder Woman mythos know that Paradise Island is supposed to be just such a place. Nevertheless, those paradisical aspects need to be shown (not merely told) in this story for Straczynski’s intent to work as effectively as it should--particularly since one of the goals of this story is to bring in new readers through the increased media coverage the character has received.

Additionally, I normally find fault with stories that rely on a great deal of exposition before moving into the actual drama and action, and Straczynski begins this issue with 11 pages of exposition. However, there really isn’t an easy way around this need for intrusive exposition; the readers (both new and longtime) need to quickly come to understand in what ways this timeline for Wonder Woman differs from the traditional take on the character. Thus, I don’t have a problem with Straczynski front-loading the issue with 11 pages of exposition.

However, it seems odd that Wonder Woman has reached adulthood in this alternate timeline (she looks to be in her early to mid 20s) and is only now learning about the fate of Themyscira and her mother, Hippolyta. Ever since the Diaspora her people underwent when she was an infant in this timeline, Wonder Woman has been raised and trained by some sort of shroud-covered sect of Amazonian priestesses, yet she is only now being told (and shown) what happened to her homeland and mother.

It would have been more believable for her (and thus the reader) to have been given pieces of the puzzle of the Amazons’ fate while she was growing up--similar to the later flashback scenes of her youth when the priestesses explained to her about her inability to fly in the current timeline (page 18), and about her “obligation . . . to locate and protect the others who escaped the slaughter” of Themyscira (page 21).

I would have preferred Straczynski to have taken a more natural approach to the history lesson, with the oracle playing a role other than being the vehicle for the exposition. After all, oracles are meant to infer the future rather than reveal the past. With that approach, Straczynski could have still worked in the symbolism of the oracle being bound to the bridge that symbolizes Wonder Woman’s two timelines (alternate realities).

However, the oddness of the expository situation is the least of the problems in the way the story is executed. The larger problem is the contrived situation in which Straczynski gets Wonder Woman started on her mission to locate and protect the surviving Amazons.

Following the 11 pages of exposition, we are shown an ice cream vending truck that is parked on a dark street in a slum neighborhood late at night. A reader’s (and thus Straczynski’s) first thought should be, “what type of idiotic ice cream vendor would park in such a neighborhood at any time--let alone late at night--unless he’s not actually selling ice cream?”

We quickly learn, of course, that the people inside the truck (undoubtedly employed by the god Ares, who has shaved his head to look like Lex Luthor when we see his silhouette) are not actually there to sell ice cream; they are part of a surveillance team that is searching for Wonder Woman by parking ice cream vending trucks on dark streets in slum neighborhoods late at night. Thus, the reader’s next thought (and Straczynski’s, too) should be, “what type of idiotic surveillance team thinks that an ice cream vending truck makes an effective cover late at night on a dark street in a slum neighborhood?”

Of course, the assumption is that there is a reason a team looking for Wonder Woman believes the likely place to find her is late at night on dark streets in slum neighborhoods. However, we should have been shown why such a location at such a late hour is a likely place and time to see Wonder Woman out and about.

For instance, perhaps the surveillance team is privy to police reports that a beautiful woman in a red bustier and black spandex pants has been bashing the heads of drug pushers, muggers, and pimps who have been preying on the women in this slum area. Unfortunately, Straczynski left out this type of information that would have been much more useful (and entertaining) than the page he provided of a kid trying to buy an “Orange Doodle Whizbang”*** from the fake ice cream vendor.

Another significant problem with the execution of this scene is in how Wonder Woman managed to hitch a ride on the roof of the ice cream truck as the surveillance team returned to their base of operations. They were watching several monitor that are obviously linked to closed-circuit TV cameras located along the darkened slum street--and at least two of those cameras are focused on the ice cream truck itself.

Of course, it’s obvious how Wonder Woman knew to target that truck. After all, it’s an out-of-place ice cream vending truck on a dark slum street late at night! It just looks incredibly suspicious!

Yet, how she was able to sneak onto the roof without being seen or heard is something that should have been shown. Instead, readers are just supposed to go along with the situation as if this was a comic book story from 50 years ago when Wonder Woman was written for 10-year-old kids.

Then, upon arriving at the base of those dastardly ice cream vendors, Wonder Woman overhears that Amazons have been discovered living in an uninhabited area in Turkey--so she hitches a ride on the back of what looks to be a Tupolev Tu-114, which is the world's fastest jet propeller plane. It has a maximum speed of Mach 0.78 (or roughly 600 mph).

I’ll accept the idea that Wonder Woman could dig her fingers into the metal plating on the back of the plane and hitch a ride across the Atlantic all the way to Turkey while traveling 600 mph at an altitude of approximately 30,000 feet (where the air would be very thin).

Yes, I’ll accept that. After all, she’s Wonder Woman. She has super strength and can probably survive with minimal oxygen for the 10 to 11 hours it would take to fly from the eastern United States to Turkey (rather than the six hours that Straczynski notes in his narrative). However, she falls asleep during the flight!

Unfortunately, the first panel on page 19 shows Diana asleep with her right hand lying limp on the surface of the airplane (not digging into the metal plating)--and her hair looks unaffected by either wind or gravity. Realistically, she should have been whisked off the back of that plane somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic seconds after falling asleep and losing her grip on the plane.

Instead, despite the 600-plus mph winds, she looks like Sleeping Beauty with every hair in place. It’s undoubtedly Kramer’s fault for depicting her that way--though Straczynski should have written a more believable description of the situation into his story.

Speaking of unbelievable images, upon reaching Turkey, Wonder Woman jumps off the back of the plane without a parachute. The plane is probably only traveling 300 mph at that point, but because she doesn’t have her ability to fly (it used to be her ability to glide on air currents, but she doesn’t have that old Golden Age and Silver Age power either), she plummets to the ground in a quick, straight-line drop that ends with a sickening “whump” as she hits the ground off in the distance.

I expected to see Kramer illustrate an amazing image of Wonder Woman crawling from the crater--dirt clinging to her hair and clothes as she tenderly checks to make certain she hasn’t suffered any broken bones or internal bleeding. Instead, we get an image of Wonder Woman performing a ballet move in the center of a shallow crater--a graceful move that looks to be the conclusion of a lyrical dance routine.

I guess the point is that even when she falls thousands of feet to impact the ground at 120 mph (based on my belief that she weighs about 120 pounds and fell about 3,000 feet), Wonder Woman looks amazing! Grace and Beauty are her constant companions.

However, I’d rather have seen her clawing out of the crater she made--just as I would have rather seen the oracle who lives under the bridge wearing a grungy sack dress and sporting dirty, matted hair (she could have kept the peace-sign earrings).

Still, the problems with execution and appearance in this first issue are rather minor. In subsequent issues, if the creators give more thought and attention to details throughout the story (perhaps with some authentic editorial guidance), this tale of reclaiming Paradise could be a powerful and moving literary work in which Wonder Woman will discover that leading a life of death and destruction is not the way to restore an Edenic ideal.

Thus, I think Gloria Steinem might be happy with the outcome if she actually waits to find out what Straczynski's story is rather than making wild, unfounded claims about “sadism and gore” along with veiled implications of male chauvanism.

At this point, Wonder Woman believes her mission is a vendetta in which she plans to “kill all of them” (the men who attacked Themyscira), and that she will fulfill her obligation of protecting her sister Amazons by “get[ting] rid of those who want to hurt them.” However, I fully expect her attitude to change. She will learn that love is the answer--that peace, not war, is what’s needed to get ourselves back to the Garden:
We are stardust; we are golden;
We are billion-year old carbon,
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden. --Joni Mitchell






* Last month, in the prologue, the oracle indicated that Wonder Woman would miss the point: “that is always the curse of the oracle and those who seek her. They can’t hear . . . will not hear” what the oracle is actually saying.


** Which should probably be Ionic since Themyscira is an island (undoubtedly in the Aegean), and since the mythological Amazons were traditionally considered to be from Asia Minor somewhere near the Black Sea (essentially Turkey). Thus, the architecture of Themyscira should be Ionic, as it in the Aegean and Turkey.

Kramer used Ionic designs on the cover of #601, but he used Doric styles for the interior illustrations. Of course, last issue, Kramer made the columns a combination of Ionic and Corinthian, so I guess Themyscira in the DC universe just has some mix and match styles of classical architecture.


*** An “Orange Doodle Whizbang”?

I worked in an ice cream warehouse for 12 years while I was working on my BA and MA, and I know the types of novelties that ice cream vendors would stock, and Orange Doodle Whizbang is not a name that would be attached to a warehoused product for general sales to a variety of vendors; it sounds more like the name of a specialty novelty that would available at an upscale ice cream boutique that makes their own novelties in their store.

Straczynski should have just had the kid ask for an orange cream bar, and the clown in the truck should have given him a free blueberry shortcake ice cream bar rather than an “Electric Blue Blueberry Blitz.”

Rather than silly names for ice cream boutique novelties, Straczynski should strive for verisimilitude in his work so that the fantastic aspects of his story grow out of a believable environment.



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