I so dislike Meredith and David Finch’s take on Wonder Woman that I’m currently cheering for the bad guys. I am full on Team Donna Troy at this point. I don’t like the Manazons, and she doesn’t like them either. I don’t like this Bizarro version of Diana, and Donna dislikes her so much that she’s deposed her as queen of the Amazons. Plus she’s got a super rad costume. I feel like we’ve got a lot in common, evil sorceress origins aside. This Wonder Woman is an unlikeable hot mess, and so I’ve gone to the other side. Let’s dig into this terrible issue, after the requisite:
I am about to spoil this ENTIRE comic book!
Turn away if you haven’t read it yet!
Unless you’re reading this review because you can’t bring yourself to buy such a terrible comic! In that case, read on! I can understand that!
So Wonder Woman #39 is a doozy. Last month, I still thought that the book was terrible but I found both the writing and art to be slightly less awful than usual. It was a step in the right direction, however minimal. This month, it’s just the worst.
The book opens with a full page spread of Wonder Woman and Batman that David Finch can probably sell for some decent cash. In terms of storytelling, it’s quite useless. It doesn’t even tell us where the scene takes place, who they’re looking for, or what’s happening. To know any of that, you have to remember that at the end of the previous issue the Justice League was investigating a missing village and Superman went into a cave to look around. As this issue begins, presumably he hasn’t come out yet and so Wonder Woman and Batman have gone in to find him.
Which they do. They also find a gross cocoon of mangled humans, and Wonder Woman full on flips out. She sees the dude responsible, some sort of weird, alien looking guy, and launches herself at him. They sword fight for a bit, with Wonder Woman being all, “I’m the god of war, so back off, sucker!” I’m paraphrasing, but this dialogue isn’t actually worse than what’s in the book. Ultimately, Wonder Woman stabs him through the chest and is about to deal him a death blow when Batman steps in to stop her from killing the guy. Her emotions all riled up, Wonder Woman then tells Batman and Superman, “I really just need to be alone right now” and sits down to have a cry. Seriously, that’s how the scene ends:
I’ve got a lot of problems with this scene, the first and foremost among them being the lazy hysterical woman trope. A gal going off the rails, a guy having to stop her from taking things to far, and the subsequent overwhelmed sobfest is all such tired cliché. It was sexist junk back when the mod Wonder Woman was doing the same thing in the late 1960s, and it’s just as bad now nearly fifty years later. So much for progress, it seems.
Furthermore, things quickly turn to familiar territory when Batman chastises Wonder Woman for almost killing the villain and Wonder Woman argues that some villains deserve to be killed. All of this was explored in “Sacrifice” in the lead up to Infinite Crisis, when Wonder Woman killed Max Lord because it was the only way to stop him from controlling Superman’s mind. Meredith Finch has said that she didn’t read a lot of Wonder Woman comics in preparation for this gig in hopes of bringing a fresh take to the character, but here’s an instance where some knowledge of the character’s history would go a long way. Someone else has already done this story, and much better.
Then Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island, and runs into her mother’s ghost or some such. Apparently being clay rooted her to the island, and she’s still connected to it even after they left her statue out in the rain and it melted. Hippolyta tells Diana that her decisions weren’t made because she’s the god of war; instead, she explains that “Amazons are taught to channel their fear into battle rage.” And that sentence encapsulates everything wrong with the current take on the Amazons. Historically, if anything, Amazons are taught to channel their fear into compassion. If they’re scared of something, they try to understand it and find a peaceful solution to the problem, and if that doesn’t work THEN they fight it. They’re not a bunch of berserkers, with their rage constantly cranked up so they can leap into battle at any time. Amazons should be happy and controlled, capable of excellence in battle but only when it’s clearly called for and all other options have been exhausted. From their earliest days, the Amazons have been all about love, not rage.
But these Amazons are sure angry. Donna Troy, who apparently became their new queen with relative ease after showing up out of nowhere at the end of the last issue, has the Amazons all riled up to go kill the Manazons and rid their island of men. Wonder Woman shows up to tell her that the men are under her protection, Donna doesn’t give a hoot, and the issue ends with them about to fight each other. Again, I’m totally on Donna Troy’s side now. I’d depose this mopey, ineffectual Diana too.
All in all, this issue was yet another fine example of a creative team who just doesn’t understand Wonder Woman or her mythos in the slightest. She’s an absolute mess of a character right now, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The Finches are unintentionally rehashing old storylines that have been done better and tired tropes that need to stay buried. It’s just painful to read at this point.