Wonder Woman #38 Review OR Dreams, Darkness, And Diana Deposed


Well, I’ll say this for Wonder Woman #38: It’s probably the least bad issue of the Finches’ run thus far. It’s not good by any means, but it’s less aggressively bad than the last two. Still, the issue is rife with problems, starting first and foremost with the depiction of Wonder Woman herself and cascading down from there. We’ll discuss it all momentarily, but first:


I am about to reveal EVERYTHING that happened in this comic book!

If you haven’t read it yet, leave now!

Unless you’re skipping the book and just reading this instead, in which case, here we go!

Let’s start at the beginning. Literally the first half of the book is a dream sequence; it’s ten pages long. A hydra attacks Paradise Island, and kills scores of Amazons before Diana arrives to stop it. When the hydra sees Diana, it bows down to her because she is the god of war and the beast is now her pet. Then Diana is confronted by a version of herself who’s fully embraced her god of war status and the two fight for a bit before Diana wakes up in her bed, covered in blood.

From a storytelling perspective, this dream sequence went on for WAY too long, and had a bunch of double page spreads and splash pages that were generally unnecessary, the original art for which should sell for a bonkers amount of money. And really, a lot of the art is quite good. David Finch draws an excellent hydra, and while I still don’t care for his Wonder Woman he’s definitely doing a better job of making her look like a grown woman instead of a curvaceous adolescent. For example, look at this face from this issue:


As compared to this face from Wonder Woman #36 in November:


The first looks like a woman, the second looks like a girl. Proportionally as well, her head fits her body better now. He’s definitely improving, and deserves some credit for that.

However, the dream sequence as a whole is pretty on the nose in terms of Diana’s anxieties about her role among the Amazons, and goes on for much too long for something that communicates feelings and anxieties we already know she’s dealing with.

Also, here’s something to look forward to and/or dread: The dream sequence ends with Strife watching Wonder Woman, and hints at her involvement in the story down the line. Strife was sort of a breakout character during Azzarello and Chiang’s run, a wild and enigmatic goddess who twisted the story in unpredictable ways. While she was a lot of fun in the hands of the old team, I’m worried about her with the Finches at the helm. They’ve botched up pretty much everything thus far, and that doesn’t bode well for their take on Strife.

The second half of the book, ie. the part of the story where things actually happen, isn’t great. Diana has a conversation with Hessia, a former Amazon who now lives in the world of men. Hessia makes some excellent points about how being the god of war will affect her, but Diana is petulant and angry, and doesn’t want to listen to her at all. David Finch may be drawing Wonder Woman to look more like an adult, but Meredith Finch still has her behaving in a very childish manner.

I understand what they’re going for in this storyline, trying to communicate the pressures of being Wonder Woman and the difficulties of managing it all. They’re trying to give her some emotion and problems that she’ll eventually overcome, of course. The thing is, they’re making Wonder Woman look like a childish idiot in the process. She’s an emotional wreck, she’s being a jerk to her friends, her attitude and issues are obviously affecting her performance of her myriad duties, and she doesn’t seem to notice. This Wonder Woman is in no way self-aware, and Wonder Woman has always been a character who knows herself and what she represents. It’s just an entirely off base characterization. Wonder Woman should be far smarter and more in control than they are making her, and this frazzled, irritable take on the character is wearing very thin.

After the Hessia meeting, Wonder Woman shoots off with the Justice League to investigate another odd occurrence. Wonder Woman gets snippy with Batman, and Superman gets attacked by a swarm of weird bugs, and we’re left hanging on what’s happening there until next issue. My best guess is that it’s another god of war situation, much like the birds that attacked Paradise Island in the last issue, but we’ll have to wait until next month to find out.

Finally, we return to Paradise Island, where the old witch-looking Amazon presents her new heroine, Donna Troy, to her fellow Amazons and proclaims her as their new queen. First off, as a I said last week, Donna Troy’s costume is pretty rad. I’m saying a lot of nice things about David Finch’s art today, and it’s weirding me out, but it’s a fun outfit.

Second, how are the Amazons on board for this? The creepy old Amazon lady shows up with a new champion, and everybody’s going to be, “Okay, cool. Let’s all be ruled by this gal we’ve never met before”? The Amazons can’t be that dumb. I’m hoping that there’s some more debate next issue and Donna Troy isn’t just automatically the queen, because that would be ridiculous. That any real Amazon would accept some new, random lady as their queen is a silly enough idea, but that a majority would be on board seems completely unlikely to me. The Amazons have not been coming off well AT ALL in the New 52, though. They’re pretty much unrecognizable at this point, so my idea of smart, rational Amazons may be an antiquated one.

All together, there were actually some decent moments in this comic. The art is improving. The hydra was cool. Donna Troy’s costume is spiffy. But overall, it’s still a mess with a half-baked storyline and an entirely out of character Wonder Woman. Also, it remains entirely joyless. It’s just dark, all of the time, with no fun and no jokes and no levity. Wonder Woman is traditionally one of the happier characters in the DC universe, even when things are bad, but here she’s just perpetually dour and upset. It’s all getting very old, and we’re only three issues in.


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11 Responses to “Wonder Woman #38 Review OR Dreams, Darkness, And Diana Deposed”

  1. Mark Gill Says:

    Thanks for another great review. I agree wholeheartedly on the artwork, it was great to see Diana looking more like Wonder WOMAN as you say. I don’t know how far ahead the art is created but hopefully this is a response to the criticism, as clearly David Finch is a very fine artist. Interesting to see Donna with brown (well they look orange on the digital version) eyes in contrast to Diana’s blue ones. Has that always been the case or is this another aspect of the new spin on her? Cheers!

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised with the improvement in the art. Finch can be really good when he puts his mind to it. As for Donna’s eyes, I noticed the colouring as well and I think it’s a new thing. My best guess is that the orange/brown colour is reflective of the clay they made her from.

  2. Vonter Voman (@VonterVoman) Says:

    I know a lot of people say that the past run was too decompressed… but this is a new record. ANOTHER issue that’s basically only about Diana not being able to control anything (except for being a JL member, apparently she’s fully capable of handling that)… 10 pages of a dream sequence about things we already know is a waste of time, and then some important stuff is just crammed into 2 pages. We should have known by the first issue that the council was set by Diana, for instance.
    You have 3 issues talking about the same thing (Diana is a shitty queen), while the plot is still “WTF are those monsters; Donna is back.”
    And maybe next issue we get some advice from Barry. Each member of the Justice League got to say something, right?

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      These chats with the Justice League are reminding me of Wonder Woman in the 1970s when she had to prove herself to each individual Justice League member in order to rejoin the team over the span of 12 issues or so.

    • Natamaxxx Says:

      “We should have known by the first issue that the council was set by Diana, for instance.”

      Seriously! This should have been one of the FIRST things depicted in the first issue of this run! There is a big difference between “I just don’t give a crap about being your queen” and “Hey ladies, instead of a monarchy, why don’t you rule yourselves.”

      I think there are some good ideas lurking in this story somewhere… How this story is being told, though, is pretty disastrous. Diana dealing with the “God of War” mantle foisted upon her is an interesting concept. Dealing with it head on – maybe trying to find a way to get rid of it – would be much better than childishly complaining about it to whomever will listen. Dissent among the Amazons when faced with change is also an interesting idea. (Especially if Strife is strifin’ her way through Paradise and messing with peoples heads. That would at least explain why some of the Amazons are acting so bizarrely. I’m not sure if this is actually the case, or if she’s merely observing.) But just having Amazons running around being pissy for the sake of being pissy is just no good story wise.

      I’m still on the fence about Donna Troy, though. I need to see where this is going before I make up my mind about how they’re using her. I think I read somewhere that the “sorceress” who brought her to life is Hecate..? Also, if I wanted to see the Justice League, I would be buying that book. I do think that Diana being “snippy” with Batman was completely warranted. Probably because I LIVE for moments when people tell him to just STFU and mind his own business!

      There was definitely an improvement where the art is concerned. Diana looks more like a woman, and Donna’s costume is certainly cool! I like some of Diana’s God of War outfit elements, and I wish they were part of her regular look. If David Finch keeps this up, I wouldn’t mind him on the book a bit longer, but Meredith..? She just needs to go!

  3. Jeppe Dittmer Says:

    So a 10 page dream sequence out of a 20 page comic? this really sounds like the rookie mistakes of a totally green writer.
    Pretty much everyone raised their eyebrows when DC announced that writing duties on Wonder Woman would be handed over to a woman who had written like half a comic book, and it would have been really nice if Meredith Finch had proved us all wrong, but this just feels like total confirmation that she doesn’t have the writing chops yet.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I agree. The inexperience is really showing thus far, and doesn’t seem to be improving. Though to be fair, this is only the FOURTH comic book she’s ever written so it’s still early days for her.

      • merryjest Says:

        Giving Wonder Woman to a complete beginner is probably the dumbest move DC has done as of late. I do believe it reset the Dumb counter over at that site…

  4. Anthony Says:

    HA! So much for meredith And david finch’s wonder woman XD
    read all about it.

    Another sign of New 52’s failure

  5. Mel Dyer Says:

    I’m not interested in reading ‘He-Woman and the Misses of the Wonderverse’. I’m not interested in reading a comic about an Amazon queen, who happens to be WW ..or think that the WW comic should be about Amazons, witches and moldy, old temples. Is there some reason Zola couldn’t accompany Diana to the Island, while Hermes reacquaints Zeke with matters on Mt. Olympus? I think Meredith Finch should have balanced this return to Paradise Island with, at least, a cutaway ‘meanwhile’, catching us up with Zola and Lord Hermes, ..whom I desperately MISS, right now. I am very strongly against writers putting Paradise Island at the center of everything happening in this comic, because writers tried that for the last TWENTY-SIX years, and it was disastrous. I am so strongly against it I’m dropping WW, until, at least, Zola and Lord Hermes return to the comic and are firmly established as the regular supporting cast – something I thought Mr. Azzarello had already done and done, well.

  6. Dwayne Says:

    I am sorry but I HATED the Azzarello run. Anything to me is an improvment over it. I have been reading Wonder Woman for close to 40 years and the Azzarello run is the worst run yet. I say give the Finches a chance and lets see where this goes.

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