Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Wonder Woman #600, Pt 1

With the comic world awash in Wonder Woman talk, I wondered if it was okay for me to join in the fray. I figured why not; I'm a Wonder Woman fan too. So here is the review of Wonder Woman #600. Plus, Supergirl appears in the first story so it is an easy rationalization.

Much like Superman #700, this is a over-sized anniversary issue with multiple stories, the last being an opening chapter of a radical new arc by J. Michael Straczynski. And just like Superman #700, there is too much to cover in one post.

My thoughts on the new arc are here.

But the thing that bothered when reading about this issue was the "need" for this new direction; many of its proponents imply that something is wrong with the character of Wonder Woman or her current stories/fan base ... something so wrong that her very history and look need to be completely torn down and rebuilt. And frankly I don't agree with that assessment.

Ironically, I thought the very issue that introduces the new arc does a great job of showing everything that is right about Wonder Woman.

The first story, 'Valedictorian', is written by Gail Simone and drawn by George Perez. It showcases both of these mega-stars' talents perfectly while encapsulating everything that is Wonder Woman.

A story of two halves, it opens with Diana leading a veritable army of women super-heroes against Professors Ivo's Cyber-sirens, robots with the power to enslave men.

Look at the fierce expression on Diana's face as she jumps into the fray.

Diana the Warrior.

Okay, I feel compelled to show the Supergirl parts of the story too.

The sirens have two major pieces of artillery, a grounded war wagon and a flying tank. Wonder Woman sends Supergirl (Diana's big gun in this group?) to take out the airship.

As with his interpretation of her in Brave and The Bold, Perez does a great job with this Supergirl. She takes off to handle the gunship.

Diana the Tactician.

It is something of a motley crew that Wonder Woman has brought together. It includes anti-heroes like Ravager and innocents like Misfit. Why would someone like Ravager join? Because Diana asked her too.

Diana the Unifier. Diana the Ambassador.

As expected (hee hee), Supergirl is able to corral the flying tank and toss it. Wonder Woman hoists the assault vehicle and flings it into the tank, ending the fight.

Diana the Powerful.

With the battle over, the members of Diana's army fall over themselves to talk to her.

Despite the utter respect they all have for Diana, they also want to be friends with her as well. Batwoman wants to hang out in a bar with her.

Diana the Friend.

Unfortunately, Wonder Woman has a prior engagement. She can't stick around. She praises her friends for fighting so bravely and leaves.

The heroes all wish they were her, have whatever it is Wonder Woman has. Even a gadfly Black Alice has a look of grudging respect on her face. They would all follow her again.

Diana the Leader.

Diana had to get to Vanessa Kapatelis' graduation and her Valedictory speech.

Vanessa had a rough time with Wonder Woman in the past, even being changed into the villain Silver Swan for a time. But Vanessa acknowledges that you need to have the strength to make it through the hard times. As Diana has taught her, you need to keep the faith.

Diana the Role Model. Diana, who Perseveres.

When Diana bemoans the fact that she could have done more for Vanessa. Maybe if Diana was there more, Vanessa would have had an easier life. She could have been a better friend.

Diana the Humble.

Vanessa chastises her; the world needs Wonder Woman. She taught Vanessa to face her problems and conquer them.

Diana the Teacher.

Diana the super-hero.

In 7 short pages, Gail Simone boiled down the character to her essence and showed how great stories are possible with this Wonder Woman. Heck, Simone had been doing it on the title for a while already.

I mean, that is just a great great comic story.

But wait there was more.

In another great story, written and drawn by Amanda Conner, Wonder Woman gives Power Girl some relationship advice. Not relationship advice about men ... it's about Karen and her cat.

It is a fun little story, showing a Diana during a down time, relaxing.

It also has a hysterical opening where the two fight Egg Fu.

And there is another great story by Louise Simonson and Eddie Pansica in which we see the friendship that Supermand and Wonder Woman share, the respect they have for each other. While Superman is on rescue duty, Wonder Woman does the heavy lifting by fighting the magic-powered Nikos Aegeus, laying him out with a bone-crunching right hook.

Nothing but home runs so far ...

And like the best anniversary issues, Wonder Woman #600 also includes a gallery of her by great artists. This also felt ironic since the costume change was such a big deal about the upcoming Straczynski run. Again, there was this undercurrent that the old costume just can't work any more. And yet we are treated to images like these ....

This one by Shane Davis, my favorite in the book. Nothing wrong here.

And this one by Nicola Scott, which came in a very very very close second to Davis'. This is screaming to be made into a poster.

Nothing wrong with the costume here.

Even this one by Guillem March while provocative in showing a sultry Diana (and maybe a little too much butt cleavage), is great. Here it isn't the costume which shines so much as the layout. The angle looking down from directly above, the 'animation' of her arm blocking the bullets, the lasso coiled and ready to lash out ... it is innovative a 'pin-up'.

And I didn't even scan the Adam Hughes, George Perez, Ivan Reis, and Francis Manapul ones ... all of which are stunning.

With all this sheer goodness in the issue, it made me wonder why there is a need for an extreme take on the idea of a 'bold new direction'.

Kudos to all involved here ... especially Gail. Your Wonder Woman will be missed.

Overall grade: A+

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder Woman thinks to herself
"I need someone to smash up something real good...
Hmmm Power Girl
Nooo
Star Girl?
Donna?
Maybe not...
SUPERGIRL!
YES by Hera gotta go with a classic!"
This is the essence of "Karatharsis", and kudos to George Perez for some great looking art. If I haven't said it before he is officially forgiven for his part in COIE #7
***
As for the Wonder retcon, it stinks and so does the new costume, whenever a hot-stuff new writer comes on board and makes radical changes first thing it's dead certain they are uncomfortable with the character on a vert basic level. You'll see this'll go off the tracks soon enough.
Just sayin'

John Feer

Gene said...

I'm glad Gail Simone was able to give us a Wonder Woman/Supergirl teamup before leaving the title.

Mart said...

Loads of great stuff in that issue. Wonder whether the 'Return of the Real Wonder Woman' issue will be giant-sized too.

Anj said...

As for the Wonder retcon, it stinks and so does the new costume, whenever a hot-stuff new writer comes on board and makes radical changes first thing it's dead certain they are uncomfortable with the character on a vert basic level. You'll see this'll go off the tracks soon enough.

I agree that the initial major shakeup always makes me wonder why the writer took the job.

TalOs said...

GREAT HERA! Just WHAT were DC thinking with not only, de-aging Diana (to being that of 25) but messing around with her origin on top of giving her that "costume" to boot!?! O_O *shakeshead in disgust*

Diabolu Frank said...

Say Anj, your link to DC Bloodlines goes to the "Edit Post" page, rather than the published one.

I dug the Power Girl story, and "Valedictorian" brought much needed closure. No complaints about the pin-ups or Lynda Carter here. The rest? Blech.

Anj said...

your link to DC Bloodlines goes to the "Edit Post" page, rather than the published one.


Oops.

Should be fixed now.