Wonder Woman: Can’t Win for Losing

October 1st, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

Wonder Woman #36 came out on Wednesday, and things are happening in the Wonderverse.  The Amazons are in a state of bubbling, barely-restrained rebellion against Achilles, their new king.  Wonder Woman and Nemesis seem to have ended their courtship, and Diana is ordered by the daughter of Kane Milohai, the volcano god, to ‘remember her vow’ which means openly standing against Achilles.  In other words, things are looking very, very grim for our heroine.  Again.  I swear that woman has Peter Parker’s luck.  Everytime she does anything, she ends up the worse for it.

I’m pleased and impressed by the characters in Wonder Woman.  Nemesis is convinced that he’s not on Diana’s level (the one weakness in his characterization is the fact that we never see him do anything which would lead to this conclusion) but that’s not what ends their relationship.  Neither is Diana’s ‘lie’.  It is only when he realizes that Diana wants marriage and kids, a normal life, that he pragmatically states that that can never happen after the life he has led, and breaks up with her.

Achilles is a surprisingly likeable character, despite his deep flaws.  We see him trying, again and again, to do what is right while obeying orders that are wrong.  He’s not a bloodthirsty zealot, only someone too mentally subjugated to follow his conscience.

Diana continues her quest to find out who she is, which is a legitimate quest.  The problem, though, is I don’t know who she is.  She’s supposed to be honest, but all that her honesty has shown me is that she loves her family and she’s compassionate.  What does she enjoy?  What particularly drives her?  What feels personal to her?  What about the world she lives in does she identify with?  What gets under her skin?  What foolish faults does she have?  I can fill in all these blanks for Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, Stephanie Brown, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake, Dick Grayson, Scandal Savage and dozens of other characters.  Wonder Woman remains a fog of admirable virtues, and not much else.

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6 comments to “Wonder Woman: Can’t Win for Losing”

  1. Nice turn of phrase, “fog of admirable virtues.” I don’t think she’s all that foggy, though. I don’t mind that she’s sort of a step removed from humanity. The humanity shines through. The problem is in the supporting cast. She doesn’t really have a LIFE. This issue, she pours her romantic heart out to Giganta, partly because if she goes home to eat a pint of ice cream over her heartbreak, she will have albino apes there. She still has those, right, in her small apartment, like a half-dozen? This is very dumb. Funny for one or two issues, then the “man, that’s unworkably dumb” sets in. And she has the dumbest secret identity and day job ever.

    I loved when Rucka had her living in the embassy, with a cast of human friends/colleagues she could talk to, person-to-person. She was still this amazingly composed and virtuous heroine, but there was the chance for her to be as much a normal woman as she’s gonna get.

    Gail Simone has had Diana running around like crazy, really trying to deliver nonstop action and thrills, but not really giving her good sounding boards for characterization. The reason you feel like you know Scandal Savage better is that, for all the crap goin’ on in Secret Six, those characters bounce off each other so well, you get to know all six a little better each issue, whether it’s through real character moments or just stock comedy quirks.

    I think Simone knows Diana very well and has a well-rounded vision that includes a human side (of an Amazon golem truth-avatar former-goddess agent of mythic deities) but not so much an environment to let it out. One of the best bits Simone does, though, as seen in the Black Canary issues, was the dry humor with which Diana herself deals with the issue of being this legendary heroine while also just being … Diana.

    So, I dunno … mostly working for me, I guess, though every issue I have my quibbles.

  2. I personally like her WW well enough, but her writing is better suited for stuff more along the lines of SS. I mean Rise of the Olympian wasn’t bad, but it was underwhelming.

    Plus I’m holding her to the same standard I held Greg Rucka’s run, which is terribly unfair to Gail.

  3. @Guy Smiley: Yeah, I’ve read a few issues of the Rucka run, and I do like it. I actually like the albino apes, too, (didn’t they stay on Themyscira? I thought they were out there.). I don’t know if Wondy is suffering from hero-itis, meaning she’s too busy being perfect to have the nuances of the other characters, or if I’m just not a fan of her in general. The more I read about her, the more I feel like I’m climbing a blank wall. There’s just nothing there to hold on to.

    I need a little pettiness in my heroes, I guess.

    @Nathan: I like her run better than the Rucka run, although to be fair, I haven’t read much of that, because of the secondary characters, who are deeper and richer than the back-ups are allowed to be in his series.

  4. “I haven’t read much of that,”

    the fuck are you doing sitting there typing? go rectify this.

  5. I really liked the Rucka run until editorial diktat killed it, around the time they make her kill Max Lord. It was the only run since Perez restarted the character that dealt with the idea that she had a MISSION in our world, that she was something other than a perfect villain-punching machine. The run had its flaws, but the TPBs makes a great bookend to the Perez reprints — Diana as she starts out, kinda wide-eyed and inexperienced, and Diana as the mature heroine/diplomat.

  6. Indeed, Rucka more than any other writer got what drove WW, I mean just read Hiketeia.

    Rucka also wrote a great Ares, he came off as a douche and yet that wasn’t all there was too him. Simone wrote a bad ares in RotO, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that the crappy way she used him will pay off in a future story.