Forgive me if this is a brief review, but after being thoroughly disappointed by Wonder Woman on Wednesday I am not looking forward to digging into another poor portrayal of my favourite Amazon in Superman/Wonder Woman. The Finches’ take on Diana didn’t do much for me, and Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s approach to the character was also a letdown, albeit in different ways. Basically, their Wonder Woman is just the worst. We’ll get into it all, but first:
Do not read further if you haven’t read this comic yet!
The book begins five years in the past, with a Wonder Woman who doesn’t at all care about the innocent people who are being killed by attacking parademons. She’s far more interested in fighting the bad guys than saving people, and generally looks down on human frailty. She lacks compassion entirely, a trait that has been a hallmark of the character from the early Marston years to the present day. I know she’s fresh from Paradise Island, but that doesn’t change anything. Compassion is who she is.
However, I thought that perhaps they were setting up a contrast for when the book jumps to the present, where we’d see a kinder, gentler Wonder Woman. They were not. The first time we see Diana in the present, she’s yelling at Clark because he’s late for a date. And not in a fun, playful way either. She’s full on furious.
Things don’t get better from there. When Clark lets an elderly couple take their cab in the midst of a rainstorm, a soaked Wonder Woman fumes angrily. She sneers at him, her contempt not veiled in the slightest.
Luckily, some villainous shenanigans are afoot, and Wonder Woman gets to take a break from being the world’s worst girlfriend to become an ineffectual superhero. Both she and Superman are taken out by super-villain D-listers Atomic Skull and Major Disaster, before a new hero named Wonderstar shows up to handle the villains with ease in a final page reveal. I’m still holding to my theory that Wonderstar is Wonder Woman and Superman’s son from the future or an alternate timeline/universe; we’ll have to see how that plays out in future weeks.
Wonder Woman comes off very poorly throughout the book. She lacks compassion, she’s a jerk to Clark, and she’s bad at fighting villains. Superman, on the other hand, comes off wonderfully. He’s a compassionate hero, doing all he can to save the imperilled citizens of Metropolis. He’s an artist, writing a personal piece about the loss of life during the recent Forever Evil event. He’s a domestic wizard, cleaning a stain from his shirt after Wonder Woman’s barking startles him into spilling coffee on himself. He’s a gentleman, offering his cab to an elderly couple. He’s a saint, for putting up with a shrew like Wonder Woman. Sure, he loses the fight at the end of the book, but up until then he’s a real swell guy.
I was expecting a lot better from this issue, especially in terms of the writing. While Meredith Finch is new to the writing game, and thus expectations were low, Tomasi has been around for a while and has done some good work. I was hoping he’d be a step up from previous writer Charles Soule’s Superman-centrism, which relegated Wonder Woman to the background. She’s front and center in this issue, I suppose. She’s just an awful person.
Mahnke’s art is far less creepy than David Finch’s Barbie doll Wonder Woman, but that’s not saying a lot. While his art here is solid, I’m not sure that it plays to his strengths, especially facially. Mahnke excels at angry, dark characters and capturing those emotions, and he certainly communicated Wonder Woman’s rage and spite well in this issue. However, comedy and lighter, softer moments don’t seem to be his game, and they come off a little stiff. It’s not bad art by any means, though. He’s just good at what he’s good at; his villains were particularly ominous and nicely done.
Overall, this was not a good comic book. The terrible portrayal of Wonder Woman aside, the entire structure of the book was weak. The five page flashback served no real purpose, the domestic drama was offputting, and the fight was unconvincingly lost by Wonder Woman and Superman solely to set up the final page reveal. My recommendation to everyone is to skip Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman this week and go pick up Sensation Comics. It’s so much more fun, and Wonder Woman actually seems like herself.