Something finally happened in Wonder Woman #18, which is a very nice change of pace. Wonder Woman’s been looking for Zola’s baby since August, and now she’s finally got him back with his mother after months of what felt to me like a rather slow moving story. So that’s good. However, I’m of two minds on the execution. We’ll get into it all momentarily, but first:
Every twist and turn in this issue will be SPOILED if you read any further!!
ALL OF THEM!!
Okay, back to the book. Let’s start with the callback to Orion slapping Wonder Woman on the rear last month, as it’s a good example of my general two-mindedness on this book. Orion reveals that the slap was in fact a ruse to he could get some of Wonder Woman’s DNA and thus track her to Demeter’s lair in case Ares pulled something:
In an interview with Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers, Azzarello said that the slap was intentionally offensive and unresolved (ie. Wonder Woman didn’t retaliate) so as readers would remember it when the next issue came out.
It’s an interesting tactic, to be sure, and we can read it two ways. First, Azzarello came up with a clever way for readers to remember an important plot point. He was screwing with us, knowing everyone would get up in arms about it. Second, it was kind of a cheap way to make us remember it. Orion touching Wonder Woman so as to have her DNA could have been emphasized in any number of memorable ways, but Azzarello went with the ass slap. Even as an elaborate ruse, Wonder Woman was still offensively touched in an unwanted way. So which reading do we focus on?
Before we get to that, let’s look at a dual reading of this issue more broadly. On the one hand, Wonder Woman and her team defeat Hermes and Demeter and rescue Zola’s baby, the task they’ve been working towards for months now. Zola and her baby are reunited, and the issue ends with a very nice, heartwarming shot of the whole family sitting together. Chiang does a great job with the page, and it’s lovely all around:
On the other hand, Wonder Woman is the least effective part of this rescue. She and Hermes are going toe to toe, and they’re very evenly matched. But Hermes has the advantage of speed, and it’s not until Orion swoops in to save her that she has the means to slow down Hermes with a well placed sword stroke (Hermes is having the worst luck with leg injuries in this series). While Wonder Woman distracts Hermes, Ares is the one who actually rescues Zola’s baby. Wonder Woman is a diversion at best. Orion’s speed and Ares’ sneakiness are what really save the baby.
Furthermore, Wonder Woman is entirely in the dark about what’s going on. Unbeknownst to her, Orion tracked her to come save her bacon. Then, when she learns that Ares has left with the baby, she’s distraught because she thinks Ares has stolen the baby for his own nefarious purposes. She’s completely surprised to see that Ares has brought the baby back to Zola on his own. Here’s Wonder Woman freaking out after she learns that Ares has taken the baby from Demeter:
So are we glad that something finally happened and that Zola got her baby back, or are we annoyed that Wonder Woman was outshone by the men and completely unaware of what was actually happening? It’s a little bit of both for me… things are rarely all that cut and dry. I’m glad this story finally got resolved, and the last couple pages were great. That being said, though, we’ve got yet ANOTHER issue where Wonder Woman is in the dark about some important things AND basically plays a background role in the actual goings on. It’s getting really old.
While Wonder Woman is in the book more than usual, it’s in the context of another confrontation where her opponent talks shit about her. This has been a common occurrence. Wonder Woman doesn’t just fight people, she fights while getting harangued by her opponent the entire time. I know she’s Wonder Woman and she can take it, but she’s WONDER WOMAN. She doesn’t need to be perpetually behind the eight ball and talked down to every issue. Do you know what people say when they fight Batman? They say “Oh shit, it’s Batman!!” and try to run. Even when he’s up against a bigger villain smack talking him, there’s usually a begrudging respect for Batman’s skill. Perhaps because he can take down bad guys by himself, while Wonder Woman always needs help.
It would just be nice for Wonder Woman to be straight up awesome for an issue. No getting duped, no help, just kicking ass and maybe even duping someone else. Wonder Woman is smart and impressive, so I would really enjoy reading a comic where she got to be smart and impressive. This constantly getting the rug pulled out from under her and such is driving me batty.
So ultimately, some things got resolved in this issue, which is nice, but it was the same old when it came to Wonder Woman. I know the gods are all tricksy and powerful opponents, but I really miss the heroine from Wonder Woman #1 who busted up the centaurs, saved Zola, and was generally bad ass and cool. It’s been downhill for her since then.
Elsewhere in the book this month, the First Born battled with Poseidon, and it looks like the First Born and his pal Cassandra both ended up swallowed by Poseidon. Next month could be a Jonah and the whale adventure!! If I were a giant fish creature, I would not want the First Born in my belly. That dude is rough stuff. It’s going to get unpleasant in there.
On the art side, the book did seem a little bit rushed this month, with three different art teams doing various sections, but overall I think it turned out a bit better than last month. It looks like Matthew Wilson had a little more time to smooth out the colouring, which helped the look of the book a lot, and generally things felt a lot less roughed in on this issue. Plus we got three pages of Cliff Chiang, which is always fun. Hopefully we’ll see more of him next month.
Overall, I’m very glad that the baby searching story has been resolved and the ending was very nice and heartwarming, but the characterization and treatment of Wonder Woman still gets on my nerves. They’re not doing anything egregious with her, but seeing the same annoying little things over and over with nothing else to counteract them is getting old.