Wonder Woman #36 Review OR It Seems Our Concerns Were Well Founded


Today was a double whammy for Wonder Woman fans, with both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman debuting new creative teams and both books failing to deliver a decent Wonder Woman. I’ll have a review of Superman/Wonder Woman later in the week, but for today let’s get into Wonder Woman #36. It’s not good, gang. It’s not a complete travesty, so at least there’s that, but there’s really not much going for it. We’ll dig through it all momentarily, after this:


I am about to reveal everything that happened in this comic!

If you haven’t read it, turn away!

While I hate to be a downer and blather on about stuff I don’t like, I found nearly every scene of this comic disappointing on some level. It just continually missed the mark, in a variety of ways. Let’s go through it scene by scene.

The opening three pages are fine, a long rumination on the rain that cuts to a variety of locales and features some decent work by Finch. It’s not an exciting opening to the comic, but it’s scenic, at least. These pages are the best part of the book really.

David Finch is known for female characters in a manner that’s, well, what’s a nicer word for exploitive? He drew Catwoman with her zipper going down to her navel, he created a Batman villain who was essentially a Playboy bunny. His history with female characters is pretty bad. So it’s not great that the first time we see Diana, she’s in the shower. It’s not overly sexy, especially relative to some of Finch’s other work, but it’s a lot of flesh. It’s just a really bad decision for introducing the character given his track record.

The book then jumps to Paradise Island, where a group of Amazons are debating the new male members of their society. The two Amazons who are opposed to their presence, and thus to Wonder Woman, are complete stereotypes. One is all crazy eyed and borderline hysterical, while the other is an old crone. Amazons arguing amongst themselves isn’t something I’m keen about to begin with, and having the women who are against Wonder Woman be such blatant and clichéd villains is kind of cheap. It’s shoddy storytelling, and lacks nuance.

Next up is a double page spread of the Justice League. I am of the opinion that if you’re going to do a double page spread, you should make it look good. The art here is not strong. I don’t even know what’s up with Superman’s hair, Wonder Woman looks completely vacant, and the whole thing is poorly put together. Frankly, it’s something Finch will be able to sell for huge bucks, what with the size of it and six members of the Justice League, and that’s probably why he used up two pages for it. But the art isn’t even good! It’s just bizarre.

Wonder Woman goes off to investigate the mysterious destruction of some villages in Thailand, and when she finds Swamp Thing she attacks him immediately. She doesn’t ask why he’s there or talk it out first, she just assumes he’s behind it and launches a flying kick at him. It’s reckless and foolish and, more significantly, not at all how Wonder Woman rolls. Wonder Woman doesn’t punch first and ask questions later. Violence is a last resort for her. Nearly every single Wonder Woman run has established this basic tenet of the character, from Marston through to the present day. It turns out, Swamp Thing was investigating the destruction of the village as well, and wasn’t behind it. That double page spread of Wonder Woman’s flying kick will sure sell for a lot though…

Also, Wonder Woman loses the fight.

Then on the flight back, Aquaman tries to straighten her out. Wonder Woman then launches into a big thing about how she’s overwhelmed because she’s being pulled in so many directions with the Amazons, the Justice League, the gods, and more. Can a woman really have it all?! First, the woman overwhelmed by the busyness of her life angle is yet another cliché, as is the massive unloading of it all. Second, she’s Wonder Woman. She can handle it. It’s what she does.

But if she didn’t already have enough problems, guess what? When Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island, she finds out that her mother, who had been turned into a clay statue, is now dead. The statue melted in the rain; it seems that no one thought to bring it indoors. Hippolyta dying is the oldest story in the book. It’s happened so many times, to the point that this dramatic final page reveal barely elicited a shrug from me. In a recent interview, Meredith Finch mentioned that she didn’t read up on Wonder Woman’s comics much because she wanted to focus on her own approach to the character. She probably should have, because killing off Hippolyta has been done to death.

Throughout the issue, Finch’s art is inconsistent and his Wonder Woman is poor. With Cliff Chiang, we had a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. With Finch, we’ve got the head of a sultry teenager, with her snub nose, big eyes, and lips constantly slightly agape, and the body of an adult, shapely woman. Her head is also often over-sized, making her look more like a child with a lady’s curves than a grown woman. It’s an uncomfortable combination, and very offputting.

The writing itself isn’t terrible, but the story is awash in clichés. Moreover, the first issue fails to give Wonder Woman a single strong moment. She’s an emotional mess, and her fight with Swamp Thing is entirely wrongheaded. She never smiles, and she never does anything heroic. This is not a good way for a new creative team to introduce the character.

There was one thing going on with the story that I did find mildly intriguing. In the shower scene, Wonder Woman is washing off blood, and when she gets out of the shower there’s a drawing of her and a young girl, clearly made by a child. Later, while baring her soul to Aquaman, Wonder Woman holds an old teddy bear. Plus, she seems generally angry and upset throughout the issue. I think these things hint at a past tragedy, perhaps a young friend recently lost. I assume we’ll find out more in future issues.

Overall, though, this wasn’t a good issue. More damningly, it was a bad Wonder Woman issue. She didn’t come off well, visually or via the story. Maybe things will pick up as the story progresses, but given this first issue I have very little hope for this run now.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

23 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #36 Review OR It Seems Our Concerns Were Well Founded

  1. Out of curiosity, I looked at Meredith Finch’s twitter feed today. It’s essentially tons and tons of RTs from Superman/Wonder Woman shipper sites begging her to put the romance in the book and praising her. Some of the tweets are from people who, frankly, are famous for misogyny if you have spent anyone in feminist comic circles. And she’s RTing them. Oh boy…..

    So…yeah. I would say that Meredith Finch is clueless. She doesn’t understand the history of Wonder Woman and she doesn’t seem to care to educate herself. She doesn’t seem in tune with feminist commentary or discussions. And she panders to the Superman/ Wonder Woman shippers seemingly without any recognition for just how many people reading Wonder Woman might find pandering to that group pretty off-putting.

    Poor Wonder Woman. She deserves better than this on all fronts.

    1. I very much agree with what you’re saying. I’ve actually had this conversation a couple of times today, about how the Finches don’t seem to at all appreciate the feminist history of Wonder Woman, or even really understand Wonder Woman. And boy oh boy, did it show today. They seem out of the loop in a variety of troubling ways.

    2. So funny. All the Azzarello/Chiang haters were thrilled over his run finishing. They proudly said anyone would be better especially a female writer. Looks like you got what you wish for.

  2. Oh lordy! I am sooooo damned relieved that I decided to drop Wonder Woman once Azzarello & Chiang’s run ended. This sounds horrible. I am not touching Finch’s run with a ten foot pole.

    Y’know, Tim, while I do appreciate that you are suffering through this in order to give the rest of us a detailed description of the book’s new direction in all its awfulness, you really have to remember one thing: vote with your wallet. If you do not like the WW series any more then stop buying it. The ONLY thing that will convince DC to drop Finch from the title is low sales.

    I speak from experience as someone who bought Captain America every single month for over two decades. Because I was a huge fan of the character I stuck with the book through some genuinely awful periods. In hindsight I definitely should have just dropped the series on a few different occasions.

    Anyway, I still think Diana is the bee’s knees (does anyone even use that expression any more?) so I’ll get my fix with Sensation Comics, at least for as long as that book continues to have good stories & art.

    1. Wonder Woman’s sort of my beat, so I really can’t stop buying the book. But yeah, if it was any other character I’d be out, for sure. At least Sensation Comics is great!

  3. So they just decided to unceremoniously kill of Hippolyta in the first issue… “sigh.” Why do so many writers think that they can just do with WW’s supporting cast as they damn well please. It is not like writers routinely just kill off Alfred because now Batman needs to be tested or something.

  4. DC doesn’t give a rats ass about Wonder Woman and this just reinforces that for me. They gave her to Azzarello that has spent 3 years tearing her down and making her vastly more violent than ever before. they left huge chunks in her life and now.. they put an inexperienced writer on her title that really cannot handle it and is doing storytelling techniques that she isn’t capable of pulling off.

    This was a Justice League comic w/random bits of Wonder Woman shoved into it. Also, anyone notice the really pointless shower scene where Diana was washing blood off herself? Or the random teddy bear that just appeared on her lap during the Aquaman talk? Meh. It’s just.. bad.

    DC needs to give Wonder Woman to someone who loves her and respects her history, give them carte blanche and let them take over and reboot this mess. Fix everything. Get rid of the boy Amazons. That whole story angle is just dumb and it’s really leading no where. They also need to fix the Amazons from the top down. How is one of them some crazy old crone? And is she Hippolyta’s sister because it seemed like it? Ugg.. so much that is so bad.

    DC just give one of the many great Sensation Comics writers and let them reboot Wonder Woman. Fix this mess. Get rid of the angry violent character we’ve had and go back to the basics.

    1. Yeah, both of Wonder Woman’s New 52 series today demonstrated an appalling misunderstanding of the character. That DC let this happen depresses the hell out of me. I think you’ve laid out exactly how to fix it, really. It’s not at all complicated. Get rid of the stupid crap and hire a decent writer and artist. It’s pretty easy, but I’m not optimistic it will happen.

      1. It won’t if we keep buying unconditionally whatever crap they throw at us. for 3 dollars/comic in this economy we deserve something quite extraordinary. We can’t support a company that treats the readership like we’re a bunch of fucking idiots. Hiring Finch of all people and his wife, I’m not sure was just a “bad decision”. DC gave me the middle finger far too many times, it’s time I show them mine

      2. @Cow Commando, well.. I think this is the whole idea that DC doesn’t care about Wonder Woman. They’re not about keeping the character, her message, her ideal. They just want her in print to make money off her merch, image, and status. They don’t want an actual feminist Wonder Woman running around the DC Universe and they don’t want a character that is unique with her own voice.
        I think not buying Wonder Woman is a good start. Instead get people to buy Sensation Comics. Support the Wonder Woman you love, not the one you hate.
        And while anyone can walk away from DC all together at any time, I don’t think just not buying all of DC will really matter in the long run. It just might end up with solid titles that you love getting axed, but that’s your decision.
        I just won’t and haven’t supported Wonder Woman since the new 52 started. I don’t support any title she’s in except Sensation Comics. I don’t buy her in her solo title or the terrible relationship title. I do support other titles I want to see.

        As for hiring Finch, after thinking about it.. I think honestly the whole comic was just David Finch did art that he wanted to do and.. Meredith just had to fill in.
        I also think that DC went with the Finches because.. not a lot of people seem to want to write Wonder Woman. I mean a bunch of people SAY they’d love to do it, but they never have time when the title comes up and following after Azzarello’s “epic run” (of absolute shite) is going to be daunting for anyone. I just don’t think Meredith has the writing chops for this title. She should have broken her teeth on something like Batman.. that people will buy regardless.

  5. Can Finch draw women above the age of twelve? Honestly, the art is simply awful- in that two-page spread with the JLA, there was Wonder Baby and fish-mouthed Superman with Christian Slater’s hair. What the hell?

    1. even his rendering technique is disgustingly ugly, I don’t get how this man can be considered one of DC’s top-rate artists, it’s a mystery to me though I’m quite art-savvy

      1. I’m an artist myself and I don’t get it. I guess that he fools the people who think that excessive detail = quality. The complaints I kept hearing about Chiang was that it was ‘too simplistic it looked like a child had drawn it.’

        Obviously the morons are not aware of Michelangelo’s maxim of beauty being the purgation of the superfluous, nor of how hard it is to actually draw like Chiang- to get a simplicity that has just enough detail to convey the essential without appearing to lack anything, and yet where the adding of more details would be superfluous.

      2. Yeah when it comes to detail there’s a tipping point where too much becomes noise. Not enough and it doesn’t seem quite right even when all the ingredients are seemingly there. What I love about Chiang is the professionalism, he’s a very thoughtful artist and his style is just incredibly attractive, he makes the world look cute and that makes me wanna be part of it. Chiang can honestly sell me anything

      3. Chiang, David aja styles are so good and so hard to do.
        Finch put a lot of detail that doesn’t matter but he doesn’t know how to draw humans

  6. The most comical observation you made Mr. Hanley was noting that it never occurred to any of the amazons to remove the clay Hippolyta from the rain. Hilarious. Tragic and insulting to the amazons, but funny.

    With respect to some of the plot points touched upon:

    1. I am prepared to give Meredith some slack given the obscene number of ‘roles’ that Azarello’s run imposed on Diana.

    2. Hippolyta “dying” is indeed a well used plot device, but NOT in the new 52. Technically, in the new 52 history this is the first time it has happened. Accordingly, this, by itself does not bother me.

    3. The comments by the random amazon and the old witch-looking amazon (who refers to Hippolyta as “my sister”?) seem very odd to me and I share the view that their comments reflect very cliched characters. But more specifically, they ignore established history set by Azarello’s story. I found one comment particularly off-putting; namely the random amazon utterance:

    “Diana has always acted like she was above us, and now this?!”

    It seems to me that even if an amazon personally hated WW, she would have to acknowledge that Diana has ALWAYS been heir-apparent to the throne of Paradise Island and therefore IPSO FACTO above them in station. Furthermore, having recently attained God-hood status embodying war, I would think that any amazon (given their reverence of the Greek Pantheon of Gods) would be even further inclined to accept Diana’s higher station. Come to think of it, shouldn’t the average amazon worship her as a god? It is one thing to disrespect one’s Queen. It is quite another to disrespect a God.
    As a further aside, in all of their pontificating about removing the “stink of man” from Paradise Island, would not those minority?/majority? of amazons pray for guidance from their gods? And if so, how do they reconcile the fact that the very person they are bitching about is among the very pantheon of Gods that they worship?

    4. I hope we get a sense of other more rational amazonian views on this subject. At the risk of sounding like a prurient-unapologetic-fanboy, shouldn’t there be at least a handful of amazons that thoroughly enjoy (in all kinds of wonderful ways) the very recent company of men? Would I be presumptuous in expecting that not all amazons are male-rapists?

    5. Was that baby Zeke on page 7? Surely Diana informed the amazons must have been told that Zeke is really the incarnated Zeus. If so, would rebellious amazons be so flippant with their views in his presence? He might look like an infant but I suspect he picks things up pretty quick. And if one thing that all greek gods have, it’s a looooong memory. (They never forget a snipe).

    6. I enjoyed the dialogue between Diana and Arthur. In fact, it was that very dialogue that saved the issue for me. It summarized nicely what has happened over the last 35 issues and had Diana echo the obvious (i.e. that she is afraid of letting people down). Aquaman’s reply that Diana make sure she does not let down herself was a nice ending to the scene.

    7. A central reality of the Amazon’s new status quo is that male amazons are among them. I hope that one of the ‘new’ characters Meredith talked about (in her interviews) includes at least one male amazon. I am a little surprised that we were not introduced with some male amazons in this issue. If the presence of the male amazons is causing dissension amongst the women, I am very interested in knowing how the men view their new circumstances.

    8. My own theory on the inclusion of Swamp Thing is that his connection with the ‘Green’ will shed some insights on the fate of Hippolyte and her inevitable return.

    As for the art, I found the issue a visual feast. The images are beautiful and are eye-catching. I do find that Diana looks too much like a teenager, but the prurient fanboy in me is all forgiving in that regard. 🙂

  7. On a positiv note, Dc is right now doing a Wonder Woman 101 sale on their online store were you can buy WW issues for 99 cents a pice including the entire Azzarello run up to issue 31 and the entire Gail Simone run plus a number of other issues (including the first six issues of superman/wonder woman for the morbidly curious).

  8. I’m confused. Did I miss something?

    In all the time Hippolyta sat out there in that open air rotunda, it NEVER rained?

    Wasn’t it actually raining the very night she was turned into a statue?

    Did she revert back to a lifeless statue at some point after the battle with the First Born? She was still kicking some ass the last time I saw her…Am I nitpicking, or has something gone completely over my head?

    Otherwise, I would have to agree that it was a pretty weak first step into another one of Wonder Woman’s “Bold New Directions”. With so much left to deal with on her home, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for Diana to be side tracked into a League mission that anyone else could have handled (I’m assuming that “mission” was to just basically swat at Swamp Thing for a few pages, and not come away with any substantial answers as to what s causing whatever present crisis).

    The nauseating “We Hate Men” thing on PI has been done to death. Amazons disliking Diana, also done (And done better in The Circle). “Killing” Hippolyta – also covered, and covered, and covered again!

    What’s bold and new about any of this??

    1. I share your confusion and echo your questions. Having said this, perhaps we are assuming too much from what the Finches have shown us thus far. We don’t actually know for certain that Hippolyta was changed back into an immovable statue. The second page shows that Hippy is/was? crying. Perhaps the yet unexplained change in the weather/nature caused her to become immovable again and then crumble. (And her tears are a sign of her helplessness. Perhaps she even saw her killer?) Hopefully more will be revealed in future issues.

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