I was out of town yesterday so I’m a day late getting to read this month’s Wonder Woman, but going through the issue today tells me I really didn’t miss much of anything. This issue is kind of a mess, and honestly at this point I’m not sure how the editors at DC Comics think this book is something worth putting on the shelves. It’s harsh to say, I know, but this is such sub-par comic booking. I know DC puts out a ton of books each month and some of them are going to fall through the cracks, but this is WONDER WOMAN. She’s the most famous female superhero ever, plus she’s going to play a key part in the upcoming film universe. You might want to put her in a book that’s not so aggressively bad each month. Before we dig into the issue, first I need to say:
I am about to reveal everything that happened in this comic!
If you haven’t read it yet, look away!
If you have read it, my condolences! It’s rough stuff!
Let’s start with the writing. The writing on the series hasn’t been great as a whole since Meredith Finch took the helm, but this issue is a special kind of bad. It just doesn’t work on any level at all. First, her use of space is bizarre. The book opens with four pages of Wonder Woman finding out Donna Troy has escaped and trying to figure out what’s happened when Strife is RIGHT THERE. It’s so drawn out, and largely unnecessary. The book could have started with Wonder Woman meeting Milan to look for Donna and added a quick paragraph explaining Donna is gone and she can’t find her and the book wouldn’t lose anything. We know from last issue that Strife was getting into Donna’s head. There’s absolutely no new information presented in these pages.
Speaking of which, when we finally catch up with Donna in London, we’re met with three pages where Donna recounts her entire life story. Literally, all of it. Granted, she’s only a few weeks old at this point, but it’s nonetheless a lengthy recounting of things we already know. I understand the need to remind people of what happened, and even to make the book accessible for new readers; every issue is someone’s first issue. But three pages is beyond excessive and, yet again, adds nothing new to the story.
Donna is in London to find the Fates, and Finch writes them like Yoda but more incomprehensible. I had to read several of their panels more than once because in her attempt to make them sound mystical and mysterious, Finch made their dialogue just a straight up mess. One of the lines is, “Your thread, spun not have these hands.” What the Fate is trying to say here is, “These hands have not spun your thread,” and putting the words in a blender to make them sound fancier just doesn’t work.
After Donna’s visit with the Fates, Wonder Woman shows up, but here’s how she found them: Milan explained his vision to her and it was all vague and such, and Wonder Woman picked up on one of the words, “fate”, and made a list of all of the places in London with the word “fate” in the name. She then checked them out, and wouldn’t you know it, she found them at the very last place on the list. It’s so dumb. She literally flies to this place, holding the dang list. What this means is that Wonder Woman went to the trouble to get this mystical vision from Milan, sat down with the London phonebook, and wrote out every place with the word “Fate” in the name. At least that wasn’t a three page scene in the book. It’s all such a bizarrely basic and silly way for the god of war to interpret a divine vision.
Then a random street urchin shows up, followed by Aegeus (we know it’s Aegeus because he tells Wonder Woman “and the name’s Aegeus”) and his golden arrows. He shoots Wonder Woman and causes her to bleed out of the eyes before she collapses in the street. Cliffhanger! Oh, plus someone kills the Fates and in a classic Frasier-style mix up, Wonder Woman thinks it was Donna when it was actually someone else who has yet to be revealed to us. What hijinks that misunderstanding should cause. It’s all just such bad writing.
I also read Superman/Wonder Woman #20 today and while I really don’t enjoy that series in the slightest, it was a well constructed issue. The story flowed logically, it wasn’t mired in redundant information, there was a dual narrative that worked well and unobtrusively, and no one did anything blatantly ridiculous. Peter J. Tomasi knows how to put together a story that makes sense and doesn’t make me shake my head every other page. Even if I don’t like the story he’s telling, he knows how to construct the bones of a story in a way that works and isn’t structurally problematic. This is probably because he’s written a ton of comics. With this issue, her tenth on Wonder Woman counting the annual, Meredith Finch has written a grand total of eleven comic books, and it really shows.
I expected that this review would be more about the art, because Ian Churchill replaces David Finch for this issue, but then the writing was so bad that I had a lot to say about that. The art doesn’t help the writing, though. There’s a lot of pursed lips and tall hair; it all felt very early 2000s to me, more so than some of Churchill’s previous work that I remember from the actual early 2000s. The whole thing seemed very dated. Also, all of the women looked about the same. The pursed lips and big hair was part of this, but even with the Fates, who were supposed to be old, it just looked like Churchill drew his usual female facial structure and added a bunch of wrinkle lines on top of it. This was most telling with the Fate with the mad cleavage. This busty Fate wore a revealing dress, and it was wrinkle lines all the way down until her balloonish, smooth breasts. It was a bizarre artistic choice in a variety of ways. I did like Churchill’s Donna Troy, though. He nailed the costume, which I love anyway, and because her hair is a little different he couldn’t draw her quite in the same way he drew everyone else, and the result was some decent work.
Overall, this is a very bad comic book. I hoped that Wonder Woman would get better at some point, but it’s just treading water at this point. Thus far, this second arc has presented a less terrible take on Wonder Woman herself, at least, but the structure of the book is such a redundant mess that it’s just painful to read. Also, I’ve been hard on Meredith Finch here, but the editorial team really needs to step up and help shape this book into something more readable. They’re falling down on the job massively, because with some tweaks this book could be a lot more bearable. Not good, but better. Inoffensively bland instead of full on awful. A lot of this stuff is fixable at the script stage. When there’s an unnecessary three page flashback, maybe someone should say, “There are perhaps better ways to spend our time.” That might help things.