Sunday Slugfest: Wonder Woman #603

A comic review article by: J. Michael Straczynski
Hey kids, this month we’re doing something different with the Wonder Woman review. It’s our own little Point/Counterpoint.

In this issue, Wonder Woman has led the stranded Amazons out of the ransacked temple and into the desert, but the trial is far from over. Wonder Woman goes to hell and back, and will finally face the man responsible for the downfall of her nation.

Jason Newcomb:
Karyn Pinter:

Karyn Pinter:

Karyn Pinter: I've been doing reviews of Wonder Woman for more than a year now, and when this whole thing started I wasn't too sure what to think of it, but it's grown on me. Straczynski really impressed me with the first issue, and the second was okay, too, but now we're four issues in and I'm not so awed anymore.

It seems that in the previous issue, and in this one as well, Straczynski has abandoned words in favor of action. He's a good writer, and I really enjoy his scene layout, but I would like more story in the form of words.

What did you think of this issue?

Jason Newcomb:

Jason Newcomb: I think the overall approach of the series is very compelling. I particularly like the themes that are interwoven in the plot. How Wonder Woman doesn’t have a faith of her own, only the one that was passed down to her. Thus, she searches for The Truth. As she gradually reveals layer after layer of truth, she seems to become more powerful but her journey also becomes more complex and arduous. Straczynski’s run is my first experience reading Wonder Woman, and I'm certainly excited about it.

His previous issues had me enthralled at every panel. However, this issue seemed dry. Though it had dramatic sequences of Diana going through Hades, the moments were marred by stiff dialog and jarring scene-to-scene transitions. I interpreted this issue as a cursory installment that gets us from plot point A to plot point B.

I am still very interested in the direction of the story and the development of Diana's character. How did the art strike you?

Karyn Pinter: I really enjoyed the use of lighting in the comic. The way characters’ faces are highlighted and shadowed helped capture the mood of the scenes. That sounds cheesy, I know.

A fair part of the comic takes place in the Underworld, and I like the use of the red--the way it made the Underworld seem more brooding than fearful. I do feel it's a bit stereotypical though, and that it looks just like a classic version of Hell. Someday I want to see a really somber Underworld, like the emo version where everything is gray, slow moving, and generally sad.

On a mostly unrelated note, I also liked the use of mythology in the issue. Because of the general lack of dialog, the addition of the Keres and Charon the ferryman was fun, and it will be appreciated by mythology lovers. I liked seeing that detail put back into the Wonder Woman comics. For a long time it seemed as if this part of Wonder Woman's heritage was missing.

That's one thing I really have to hand to Straczynski; he's put some thought into the Greek history of the character and comic--such as using the Oracle in the first couple of issues. Yeah, she's an updated street punk version of the Oracle of Delphi, but we still understand who she is supposed to be and her role in the story. With the Keres it's a little different; they're traditional Greek mythology, which means there's no new spin on them. They are death demons in every sense.

Jason Newcomb: The use of multiple artists here was very distracting to me. In one scene Diana appeared one way, but in the next scene she looked different. Sometimes the lines were crisp, clean, and bold; at other times they were more gestural and expressive. None of the artists drew poorly, but the different styles took me out of the story. The colors and lighting, however, were consistently gorgeous throughout. The color contrasts are appropriate to the setting, and the lighting is moody.

Karyn Pinter: Usually the multiple artists on a comic drive me crazy, but I didn’t mind it too much this time. Perhaps I was too distracted this time by trying to figure out who this new Wonder Woman reminded me of.

It’s Michelle Ryan--known for the American remake of The Bionic Woman, but more for the British soap EastEnders. It drove me crazy for the longest time.

Will you keep reading this series?

Jason Newcomb: Yes! Though this particular issue was somewhat of an awkward three-bullet book, but the previous chapters are solid enough to warrant further reading. I'll stick with this story as long as the themes are elegantly woven and the character moments are meaningful.

Karyn Pinter: Of course I’ll keep reading, too. Some might see the series as some form of torture test, but I’m not ready to give up on Wonder Woman. I agree that this wasn’t the best issue, and a few kinks need to be hammered out, but it’s Wonder Woman and she’s worth it.

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