Book of Doom: Wonder Woman #9

Welcome to this week’s edition of our weekly roundtable discussion of the newest issue of Wonder Woman, a tie-in to the current big event Amazons Attack! This week, the Legion is joined by special guest reviewer The Fortress Keeper from The Fortress of Fortitude. Overall, the issue seems to have caught all of us off guard, since it was fairly confusing and, for the most part, not a lot of us read Wonder Woman or keep up to date on her current status.

For a quick background, the general idea is that Wonder Woman was falsely imprisoned by an impostor posing as her friend, Sarge Steel. She was interrogated primarily about her knowledge of the Amazonian weapon The Purple Death Ray. Kinda lame? Check. Kinda boring? Check. Somebody gonna overreact to this? Check-a-rooni. The Amazons launch a full-fledged assault on the nation’s capital, starting in issue one of Amazons Attack. In case you missed that issue, not a whole lot happened. The Amazon army amassed itself in DC, and Wonder Woman’s mom (?) chopped the head off the Lincoln Memorial statue. That brings about a really good question, actually. Why Lincoln? His most notable legacy is that he fought hard to free the slaves. He was a thoughtful, honest president who worked hard in the name of civil liberties. Shouldn’t the Amazons applaud a figure such as that? I mean, why not go after the Jefferson Monument? He cheated on his wife. Oh, wait, because nobody cares about the Jefferson Monument. My point is, the Amazons aren’t exactly rational characters. The problem is that they’re not written as intentionally irrational. They just are. Kinda like my girlfriend! Oh, snap!

Anyway, in this issue, we get a bit more of the attacking, plus the brief appearances of a few other superheroes, and a whole lot of non-explaining explanation. Oh, and a bad joke regarding blowing up a penis-looking monument. Lame.

Part of me thinks that I should be offended by how they characterize women in this issue, or, more to the point, how men treat the women in this issue, and the other part of me thinks that I should simply ignore all of that and be more offended by the fact that this issue is simply bad. This whole “event” is. It’s convoluted nonsense, and it’s neither compelling nor entertaining. It’s insulting.

I’m done with it, as far as I’m concerned.

But, before I go thinking that I have the last word, let’s see what everybody else has to say:

Fin Fang Doom:

First things first: I don’t read Wonder Woman. I bought the first Jodi Picoult-penned issue and was extremely underwhelmed. Then DC announced Gail Simone would be taking over the title in six months and I decided to wait until then to give the title its third chance to impress. Then Doom DeLuise decided for me to give it a third try this week. Dick. Also, I’m not reading Amazons Attack, so I have no idea what’s going on there. I assume it has to do with Amazons attacking something. DC has been advertising that series as the Infinite Crisis lead-in they decided wasn’t important enough to do two years ago. I’m not sure why they think that’s a positive thing. Now that all that’s out of the way, on to my review of Wonder Woman #9…

Man, that was pretty bad. Sure, it looks pretty, but the story was just way too damn fast. I know Jodi Picoult only has a five-issue run on the series, but I’m sure DC would have been happy to give her a few more issues if she asked for them. Unlike her predecessor, Picoult’s actually been able put out issues on a regular basis, and stability is one thing Wonder Woman has been sorely lacking since it rebooted last year. As it stands now, DC’s going to be treading water for a few months after Picoult leaves anyway, with a couple fill-ins from Amazons Attack writer Will Pfeiffer coming out before Simone takes over. I’m sure DC would have given Picoult those extra issues if she wanted them, and it seems quite obvious from this issue that she definitely could have used them. So much happened so quickly this issue that the confusion just piled upon itself to the point where I couldn’t even follow the story anymore.

Now for the nitpickiness. There was so much stuff I’m just going to go through page by page and ridicule the hell out of this thing:

Page 2-3: When the Amazons attack Washington, their first step is to destroy the Washington Monument. Those of you unfamiliar with reality may not know this, but the Washington Monument looks like a penis. So there’s a very subtle symbolism behind the penis-loathing Amazon society destroying it. I doubt anyone but the most astute reader would have caught that double meaning. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t notice it. Some literary devices are just a little too understated for the casual reader.

Page 5- Oh, so in case you somehow missed the phallic imagery I just discussed, here’s Batman to the rescue. Somehow it seems a little out of character for the Dark Knight to make a dick joke. And is it just me, or is characters within the story commenting on the ridiculousness of what’s going on a sign that maybe the story is maybe a little too over-the-top? It might work in the context of Formerly Known as the Justice League, but not so much when a super-powered army is invading the country.

Page 6- So does anyone know why the Amazons are attacking? The characters don’t, and I sure don’t. Is Nemesis supposed to be an obnoxious self-centered prick or an endearing self-centered prick? I’m not quite sure.

Page 8-10: It’s time for the standard “hero peacefully confronts former ally turned enemy while enemy reveals illogical chain of thought” scene.

Page 11-12: Wait, who’s Tom? Sarge Steel or Nemesis? Can Nemesis shapeshift? I thought he was just a guy. Note to Jodi: there’s a nice median between assuming the readers know everything and assuming the readers know nothing (Like Tad Williams did on Aquaman). Find it.

Page 13: Where’d all those Amazons come from? Where they just standing around while the Sarges were playing the old “He’s not me! I’m me!” doppelganger game. [Under closer inspection, they were.] Why didn’t those SHIELD guys try to shoot them instead of just standing there? I must not know enough about the Spice Girls or Cubs fans, because I didn’t realize either were dead or weird. Or maybe it was just a terrible joke. Yeah, it was probably just a terrible joke.

Page 14, 16: Everyman can replicate any living thing by ingesting part of it. He did it with Blue Beetle in the pages of Manhunter. In fact, he’s so good at it that Wonder Woman’s lasso and Batman’s DNA test were fooled. So this guy is pretty much the greatest undercover agent of all time. I really like that he’s getting around the DCU, whether he’s hassling Manhunter or Wonder Woman or the Department of Metahuman Affairs or whoever Lex Luthor has a beef with. I think Everyman could one of the best things to come out of 52. But where does he keep finding all these bits of guys to eat?

Page 15: Why one earth would you introduce an animated stone gargoyle into a fight scene and then not have it actually fight anybody? Wonder Woman vs. a gargoyle is money. Instead, we get an extended exchange between Circe and WW about impostors. Hooray for more shallow metaphors! At least we got this gem of an exchange, though:

Circe: “Nothing is ever real.”
Wonder Woman: “Except love and murder.”

Give that woman an Eisner.

Page 17: Who’s narrating right now? Anyone?

Page 18-19: “Villains rarely reveal their diabolical plans on request, Circe.” If the “love and murder” line didn’t tip you off, Wonder Woman is apparently an idiot. And why she may “rarely” say “Great Hera” anymore, she certainly seems to say “rarely” a lot. Personally, I rarely use the word “rarely.”

Page 21: Wow, two “Death of a Salesman” references in one comic. That has got to be a record.

Well, that’s sort of a weird note to end on, but it somehow seems incredibly fitting.

Jim Doom:

Admittedly I wasn’t going to be able to jump right into Wonder Woman #9 because I haven’t been reading it, Amazons Attack, or anything to do with Wonder Woman. But I think that I have a pretty good idea what’s going on.

Wonder MILF is back from the dead and she’s leading the Amazonians against the mortals because they are mean and want Wonder MILF’s weapons. Wonder Woman is trying to stop the Amazonians from destroying the humans.

The complicating factors are that Wonder Woman thinks Wonder MILF isn’t really Wonder MILF, but a fake Wonder MILF, and Nick Fury isn’t actually Nick Fury, but a Nick Fury doppelganger, and even when the doppelganger is exposed, the one who’s left might not really be Nick Fury. Right?

I don’t know, it wasn’t awful, but there was way too much “Is so and so who they really say they are? Or is it a phony?” throughout this book. And one of my HUGE pet peeves is when writers give characters snappy dialogue just to show how cute and hip they are, such as “Being dead makes you weird, darling. Just look at the Spice Girls. Or Chicago Cubs fans.” Ha ha ha! I just got so much cooler by reading this!

Why doncha just go ahead and give me a wink-wink, Wonder Woman, since I’m already supposed to be imagining you naked. Even when Wonder Woman is a fierce warrior, the creators just can’t help but make her the object of someone’s junior high affections. She’s just that beautiful, unfortunately!

It’s too bad that Wonder Woman isn’t treated with the same respect as Superman and Batman. We’re told and told that she’s part of the “Big 3,” but it’s hard to see how DC could make a claim to walking the walk.

And now, we turn it over to special celebrity guest reviewer The Fortress Keeper, from The Fortress of Fortitude, for the last word:

The Keeper is confused.

Why would DC recruit a high-profile author like Jodi Picoult for a story arc that has little chance of attracting a “mainstream” audience?

As Superman himself says, “That … doesn’t make any sense.”

Based on interviews, Picoult has little understanding of how “New Earth” works. (A trait she shares, unfortunately, with a great number of comic book fans.) Therefore, there’s no way she can satisfy hardcore readers enamored with the continuity porn espoused by Geoff Johns.

Likewise, if Picoult’s own audience picked up this book they would have no clue regarding the identities of Nemesis, Sarge Steel, Everyman or even Circe.

Seems like DC has set up a lose-lose situation here. (And you know it’s bad if it forces your friendly neighborhood Keeper to speak like a Realtor!)

That said, the story has its moments.

Some of the banter with Circe, Superman and Batman (!) seems a mite precious, but we did enjoy the brief sequence where Nemesis flirted with Black Canary. (Dump Ollie now! He’s no good for you!!)

The “Great Hera” remark was genuinely funny and Diana’s refusal to accept her mother would act so savagely was a nice bit of characterization. Wonder Woman’s refusal to accept the worst in people is one of the character’s strongest attributes.

We enjoyed the Dodsons art during the aborted “Who Is Wonder Woman” arc, so we’re a bit mystified why their work looks so loose and sloppy in this issue. A rush job, perhaps?

At any rate, Wonder Woman #9 is a mediocre read connected to yet another mediocre “event.”

What’s the point??