Superman/Wonder Woman Futures End #1 came out last week. It is written by Charles Soule. It has strong art by veteran artist Bart Sears. It looks five years into the future at a desperate Wonder Woman trying to save the world.
I can't remember ever being this torn about how I feel about a comic.
You see, I have read the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman since the New 52 started. And while there are aspects of that Diana and her story that I don't particularly like (daughter of Zeus not animated clay, Amazons killing men and male offspring, Diana as War), I have liked the book. It has internal consistency. It is written well with a flair for mythological politics. That Diana has passion and integrity and love for her family and other. But ... and it is a big but ... she is also not animate clay, the product of a murdering society, and War.
In the end, I have decided to read Wonder Woman as if it were on ongoing Elseworlds book. The problem is that Diana also exists in mainstream books like ...well like Superman/Wonder Woman. And as it is, even in the mainstream books, Wonder Woman has been much too bloodthirsty, much too sword happy, much less interested in being an ambassador of peace lately. I want to go back to a more classic interpretation of Diana.
But I also like the Azzarello book ... even if its days are numbered.
With that conflict of Wonder Woman characterization in mind, lets look at this book.
In that book, the Greek deity Nemesis has raised an army to try to take over the world. Wonder Woman, as War, has raised an army of dead warriors (with the help of Hades) to try to keep Nemesis at bay. But she is losing ground.
Suddenly Superman appears to help.
At first Wonder Woman thinks he has joined Nemesis' army. But Superman sets her straight. If anyone is fallen it's Diana.
And if you take a step back and think about Diana's character and its history, he is right. Do we want a Diana wearing a horned helmet, so quick to slit a throat, so eager to slaughter her enemies?
The speech by Superman snaps Diana back to reality. It turns out the entire first part of this story was an illusion Nemesis put into Wonder Woman's mind. While she thought she was fighting Nemesis' armies, she was really fighting demons in Tartarus. Superman went into Tartarus to get her out.
I have never been a big fan of the Diana/Clark romance. But this panel worked. The exhausted Diana ruing what she has done and Clark supporting her saying they can repair things. Even the way they are holding each other. That is support and feels like love more than the raised eyebrows and make out sessions we have seen in this book in the past.
And then this scene. Diana wonders why Superman would risk everything by entering a labyrinth like Tartarus to save her.
"Isn't it obvious?" Because he loves her.
Even that feels more real than the 'romance' we have seen in this book before this. (Indeed, the romance part of this title has always been the weakest part.)
But wait ... isn't Superman brooding in the desert in Futures' End? How can he be here?
It turns out he is a Superman from one year in the future (not five) pulled forward in time by Amazons so he can help Diana.
I love that this Superman hasn't lost hope yet and wants to talk to this Superman in hiding.
Superman shouldn't hide from humanity.
While Diana was lost in Tartarus, Nemesis' army has taken over the world. Only Themyscira stands free. (Is this the threat Batman fought in the future in Batman/Superman? Or are there multiple world threats five years from now?)
Soule does a good job at explaining Diana's life as God of War here. She tried to reward the noble warriors. She didn't help those on the wrong side of a conflict.
But it turns out she couldn't change war even as its avatar. If anything war changed her.
Nice panel here, defeated appearing Diana without background, making her seem as isolated and alone and defeated as she sounds.
Superman and Wonder Woman leave for Olympus, asking the Amazons to buy them some time why Diana tries one last stratagem.
It turns out Nemesis killed the Eirene Goddess of Peace early on in the conflict. By making Earth only a planet of war, without an avatar of peace, Nemesis could succeed more easily.
I thought this was a nice little plot wrinkle.
And then we get into my problem.
Diana enters Eirene's tomb. While Superman tries to hold off Nemesis' army, we hear Diana's voice.
We hear her say words that ring true to her character historically.
War is terrible. You can be a warrior but not embrace war. War is death. Diana loves life.
As Superman says, it is wonderful to hear her say that.
Because historically, Diana was an ambassador of peace, sent to our world to teach us the error of violence and oppression.
And just like that, in the future, Diana is the new Goddess of Peace.
I like Diana turning away from war, realizing she has fallen away from her ideals, and embracing ... becoming (!!) peace.
But it also seems like a bit of a slap in the face to Azzarello and Chiang's work. And, as I have said, while I don't agree with all of it, it has been a tight and entertaining story of a possible Wonder Woman.
But Azzarello's Diana isn't what I think Diana should be in continuity.
But Azzarello's book was quality for the story it was telling.
I guess since this is as much an Elseworlds as anything I can enjoy it for what it is. And that is a story that finally shows me who Wonder Woman should be. Not the sword wielding, stab first, 'kill your enemies' person. But a hero who is looking to move away from war and death.
Overall grade: B/B+