Wonder Woman #40 Review OR The Amazon Civil War Begins


I was going to open this review with an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke about how great this issue was, but it just seemed mean to get everyone’s hopes up. Today’s Wonder Woman #41 is more of what we’ve seen since the Finches took over the series in November: lots of violence, angry Amazons, and an ineffective Wonder Woman who keeps screwing things up. It’s a book that’s devoid of fun or humour or feminism or charm, and reading it has become a very frustrating experience each month. We’ll discuss it more momentarily, but first:


I am about to reveal ALL OF THE THINGS that happened in this comic!

Look away if you do not want to be spoiled!

Stay if you do want to be spoiled!

This is the fifth issue of Wonder Woman I’ve reviewed since the Finches took over, and I’m feeling like things are getting a little stale on my end. I have little more to say than “This is pretty bad”, and the book remains consistently unpleasant in the same ways. So today, I’ll start with a brief recap and then we’ll come at things from a different angle.

So, Donna Troy is queen of the Amazons and Wonder Woman is not happy about it. They fight for a bit and then Diana agrees to a challenge in two days time to prove she is worthy to be the queen of the Amazons. Then with the Justice League, Wonder Woman finds the source of the mysterious village disappearances and it’s a predatory subterranean race that awoke when Wonder Woman reburied the First Born. So it’s all Wonder Woman’s fault, because of course it is. Finally, Donna Troy and her Amazons are sick of the Manazons and launch an attack on their camp, and it looks like they kill a whole bunch of them. Maybe all of them. Ugh, more Amazon murders.

All together, it’s a bad issue that in no way captures the spirit of Wonder Woman or the Amazons as they’ve existed for nearly 75 years, but you’ve heard me go on about this before. So let’s turn this around and talk about what the Finches seem to be trying to do here. They’re obviously interested in putting Wonder Woman through a very rough time in order to break her down and then presumably build her up later. It’s a common narrative arc in comics, and anywhere, really; a bunch of bad stuff happens to the protagonist, the protagonist gets overwhelmed, but then the protagonist finds new strength within and overcomes the obstacle, emerging changed but victorious. We’ve seen it a million times, because it’s a very effective storyline and a good framework for digging into a character.

There’s a similar arc going on in Batman right now with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Endgame” story. I don’t want to spoil too much of it for you, but basically the Joker is back, all of Gotham is infected with a new, ominous Joker virus, everything is falling to pieces, and Batman is rapidly losing control of the situation. Also, just to add a weird, existential crisis into the mix, it looks like the Joker might be some sort of immortal being, and that’s really screwing with Batman’s head.

So the basic situations in Batman and Wonder Woman have a lot in common in a broad strokes sort of way. Batman is in over his head. Wonder Woman is in over her head. Batman has lost his home, Gotham City, to an enemy who is the opposite of him in every way, the Joker. Wonder Woman has lost her home, Paradise Island, to an enemy who is the opposite of her in every way, Donna Troy. The big difference is that Batman is really good, both a sales behemoth and a favourite with critics, while Wonder Woman isn’t going over particularly well with anyone. So what does Batman have that Wonder Woman doesn’t?

A more experienced writer, obviously, and that’s part of it, but it ultimately boils down to how these stories are told. Batman and Wonder Woman both screw up, both lose control of situations, both find themselves overwhelmed and facing great odds. But there’s an assuredness to Batman that keeps the reader cheering for him. Part of it is his own confidence, as he keeps on battling despite a dangerously worsening situation. This confidence comes from within, but also from the people around him who support him, and this camaraderie adds warmth and humour to the story even in the worst of circumstances. The book is dark and often grisly, but it’s not just dark and grisly. Batman can still crack a joke.

Wonder Woman, on the other hand, is perpetually flailing. She’s overwhelmed and unsure of herself, and we know this because we’ve had to read several long monologues where she says just that. Moreover, she’s got no support. Her Amazon sisters have deserted her, her mother is dead, and every time she talks to a fellow Justice League member they react harshly (probably because they’re sick of listening to the aforementioned monologues). Wonder Woman just seems to be sinking further into a hole, and that’s ALL the book is about. There’s no joy or light, just Wonder Woman having terrible day after terrible day with no end in sight. It’s a one-note pile on and the creators have given the reader no reason to believe that Wonder Woman is able to get out of it. The gal’s a mess.

What’s particularly bizarre about this is that Batman is just a man, albeit a supremely talented one, and he’s confidently trucking along. Wonder Woman is an Amazon and now a god, and she’s buried under some problems that should be simple for her. You have to be a queen and a superhero? No problem, you’re WONDER WOMAN. Donna Troy is stealing your crown? Take her down, you’re WONDER WOMAN. Weird subterranean people are invading the surface? Defeat them and send them back, you’re WONDER WOMAN AND ALSO THE ENTIRE JUSTICE LEAGUE IS THERE TOO. Batman’s facing more than Batman-sized problems, and running at them full tilt. Wonder Woman’s facing very manageable situations and is crying in the corner like a child. These are superhero comics. You give the heroes more than they can handle and have them win nonetheless. You don’t give them less than they can handle and have them flounder and collapse.

Anyway, that was a lengthy discussion that was half about a comic that has nothing to do with Wonder Woman. Great work, me. What I’m trying to get at it is how people tell stories, how they treat their characters, and how that affects the reader’s experience. We cheer for Batman because he keeps on fighting against increasingly terrible odds. Right now, I’m full on Team Donna Troy because she has a rad outfit and Wonder Woman is useless. I LOVE Wonder Woman, but I’ve got no reason to cheer for her in this comic. She lacks agency, she lacks confidence, and she’s just not Wonder Woman to me right now. That’s kind of a big problem.


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9 Responses to “Wonder Woman #40 Review OR The Amazon Civil War Begins”

  1. mrs.meows@gmail.com Says:

    what do you think about the theory that Mark Millar ghost wrote this issue? http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/04/01/mark-millar-has-ghost-written-todays-wonder-woman-40/

    awesome analysis, btw. i trust you for all Wonder Woman related things.

  2. Foggy (@PeterFJohnson) Says:

    “It’s a book that’s devoid of fun or humour”

    So you missed the part in the issue where Wonder Woman is discussing her issues with Superman while they’re saving a bunch of kids on a school but and the boy says “My brother is going to be so mad he skipped school today!”

    I thought that part was cute, fun, and humorous. I guess you didn’t.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Fair point. That was a cute line, albeit one in the middle of another “Wonder Woman complains about her life” conversation from a nameless character we will never see again 🙂

  3. Jeppe Dittmer Says:

    I don’t think one can fault any writer for not being as good as Scott Snyder, because few are (within comics at least), but one can always fault a writer for writing a terrible story. Scott Snyder has talked about how Wonder Woman is the next character he really wants to write for if he gets the chance, I desperately hope that happens at some point, because Wonder Woman (ironically) really needs to be rescued from this shit that she is in.

  4. Dwayne G. Says:

    To be fair here, let us remember it was Azz who gave us angry hatefilled man raping amazons who abandon their male offspring. It was also Azz who changed Dianas origin and made her a demi god. I honestly feel the Finches are just working with what they inherited and trying to make something out of it. I still like the few issues the Finches have done better than anything I read in the first 35 issues. If I had my way Convergence would have led to a total reboot of Wondy. I would have like to seen something that was more a conbination of the Perez version and Heinbergs handfull of issues. I really think the fault lies with Azz’s vision of Diana as it was untrue to any version of Diana that had came before. The amazons should always be peace loving noble women and Wondy should just be another amazon who is maybe gifted but not a demi god.

  5. Shiva Says:

    I respect your view regarding Azzarello’s run (Dwayne G.); however I believe that a lot of the damage done by his ideas could have been minimized by a firm editorial vision for WW and careful writing by Meredith Finch; neither of which exist in on this title.

    Meredith Finch had some good ideas but she has failed quite spectacularly IMHO to execute them. I am still aghast that Diana decided to go for a walk on the beach after discovering that a faction of amazons are treasonous. And it bothered me that Diana never even bothered to ask who Donna Troy was until AFTER the amazon assembly during her stroll on the beach??!! And by accepting a challenge Diana is tacitly recognizing the potential legitimacy of Donna Troy’s claim. Finch ought to have set out the rules of regime change for Themyscira because I cannot believe that anybody alleging clay origins can make a claim. If that is the case, why not have all the amazons eat sand and have another tournament; winner gets to be Queen!
    And poor Donna Troy. All those pre-New 52 incarnations may have led to confusion as to her origins but she was never a cold blooded murderer. The New 52 Donna Troy is now nothing but a carbon copy of WW but with more drive, passion and willingness to lead (which is oddly confusing and tragic on multiple levels).

    Also, wasn’t it established in Azarello’s runs that Diana is over 300 years old? Or did I dream that? If so, one would think she would have gained some insight on leading just by observing her mother during that time.


    At least I have Harley Quinn to keep myself entertained. Despite being deliberately being written to disregard the fourth wall and continuity issues, Harley makes more sense as a comic and character.

    Oh Diana. How far you have fallen.

    If Finch is attempting to tell a redemption story, she has chosen a rather odd narrative approach. I find redemption stories more compelling when the heroine at least attempts to succeed beyond mere platitudes and rhetoric. What is WW waiting for? Why is she not acting? How can someone who became the God of War be more impotent after Godhood than before?

  6. Devlin Tay Says:

    Just read Wonder Woman #40. I so despise what DC Comics have done to Wonder Woman these days, I don’t even know where to begin. Wonder Woman hasn’t been herself for years (since Infinite Crisis, as succeeding writers after Greg Rucka tried and failed to re-define her) but this current incarnation is the absolute pits, she’s hardly recognizable as the warrior for peace and the Goddess of Truth we all knew and loved. The Amazons have fared even worse, having lost all of their previous nobility of spirit, and becoming nothing more than man-hating murderous harridans. And what they’ve just done to Donna Troy. That most beloved of the Teen Titans. It is totally unforgivable. I call down the curses of all the Titans of Myth upon the heads of those who have done this deed.

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