Wonder Woman: Love and Murder

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Oh boy.

Do you know what I’m going to say? You probably do. I feel like I say the same exact thing after every Wonder Woman trade I read.

I wanted to like it.

I was excited to delve into this trade. I hadn’t loved the first few issues to the storyline, but my interest was peaked when I saw that the author was a woman.  Given that Jodi Piccoult would only be the second woman to write for the title, I was excited.  I was also a little weary, because I knew she was an author, and wasn’t too familiar with her style of prose. I wondered whether she’d be able to write Diana in a believable light that fit in with the rest of the storyline.

I wish I could say she can. Unfortunately, this comic just felt a little too disjointed and light-hearted to convey the deeper meaning she’s trying to present.

The story itself was a decent premise: Wonder Woman is wanted by the Dept. of Metahuman Affairs, but since Diana works for them, how can she capture herself?  Then, the Amazons attack the U.S. after Circe resurrects Hippolyta.  Okay, I can get on board with that, even though it’s a bit odd that the Queen is back from the dead. That’s what comics do after all, isn’t it?

The tone was a big issue for me though.  Diana should be conflicted and unsure of what she’s doing, yet she’s cracking self-conscious jokes in the middle of battle.

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Circe taunts her about saying, “Great Hera!” and Diana responds with, “I rarely say that anymore…”.  This felt much more like Piccoult infusing her own opinion into the story, or even perhaps what she believes to be the opinion of her readers.  It just didn’t feel right for the scene, when Diana is supposed to be battling one of her greatest enemies. There’s a time and a place for levity in comics, but this storyline just didn’t feel like one of them.  To be fair, maybe it’s because Diana is so infrequently funny that it felt odd with it happening so often in this trade, but given the storyline itself, I couldn’t help thinking the story needed a little more weight and gravitas than it was given.

Another big issue I had was the whole “Diana versus her mother” storyline.  Again, I get where Piccoult was trying to go with this one. Diana needs to realize that maybe she’s changed, and that her opinions and views differ from her mother’s.  Okay, fine. Given that Diana’s been around for almost 70 years by this point, it feels a little late to be having this crisis, but whatever.  Better late than never, I suppose. I just didn’t like the way it was handled.

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The fact that Diana would even hold a blade to her own mother’s throat feels so out of character that I can’t begin to fathom it.  Sure, the comic ends with Diana saying she won’t kill her, placing the blade in her mother’s hand, and asking if she could kill her own daughter, so I guess that’s supposed to be the pacifist Diana showing through?  It just felt ridiculous that this scene could even be happening. Would Hippolyta ever murder her own daughter just because they disagree?  For me, that seems too far-fetched to make this story even remotely plausible, and it really damages the underlying message of the story. Yes, you can grow up and realize your views are different than your parents’, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to such drastic measures, or that you can’t both coexist with your own opinions.  Here the pair quickly revert to violence, and that feels out of character for them both as Amazons and as mother and daughter. It really took me out of the story, and left me feeling like this was all a big ploy to try and be “edgy”.

I don’t want to completely bash the comic, since there were a few moments I enjoyed.  The banter between Diana and Nemesis was entertaining, especially when she purposely dropped him for making a sexist remark.

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I liked seeing Wonder Woman not tolerate such comments, and would have preferred scenes like this popping up more frequently in the trade. Instead, Nemesis continues to make obnoxious comments, while Diana basically shakes her head and doesn’t do anything else. I just expected her to have a stronger reaction to such constant (and supposedly unwanted and unwarranted) flirting.

Overall, not a fan. It’s also surprising that Piccoult’s run on the series was a mere 5-issues long. She made quite a few changes in such a short time, so I don’t know how another writer is going to carry on the story. I don’t quite get why they would change the writer on this serious quite so frequently, whereas other titles get a single writer for a more substantial amount of time. It seems a setup for disaster, with disjointed storylines that end before they can begin, or with writers being forced to sloppily tie up loose ends before they can continue on with the story that they want to to write. Like I said before, I wanted to like this trade, but once again Wonder Woman has failed to impress me. I really want to love Wonder Woman, but time and again I’m let down by her stories. It’s bizarre given that most other female hero stories I read are much better written. I don’t know why they just can’t get Wonder Woman right. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll grow to love her, but that hope is dwindling as we get closer and closer to modern times.

-Jess

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