Well, the latest issue of Wonder Woman isn’t as terrible as it was last month, so that’s something, I suppose. It’s still really, really bad, and sort of floundering and pointless and lacking any kind of forward momentum. But August’s issue was god awful and September’s is only awful; that’s technically progress.
This book makes me sad, gang. I don’t even know why DC is bothering to publish a Wonder Woman comic if they’re going to make one that is so poorly done on every conceivable level. If this is the best they can do, maybe DC just shouldn’t bother. Anyway, let’s do a review, but first:
I am about to reveal all of the secrets contained in this issue!
I mean, there really aren’t many!
Next to nothing happened!
But still, if you don’t want to know the details, look away!
So let’s start with that, the fact that nothing really happened in this issue. Donna made a friend, we got some unnecessary backstory for Aegeus, and Wonder Woman got better after she was shot with an arrow last week. Then Aegeus showed up at the end in a cliffhanger attack on Mount Olympus. That was it, spread out over twenty pages. There were a few little things along the way, like Hephaestus saying the arrow that hurt Diana was made on his forge but not by him, but nothing really significant. Just a few scenes, stretched thin over far too many pages, none of which moved the overarching story along in any significant way. Literally, the only big change from where we were at the end of last month is that Donna has a friend now. The rest is little fiddly stuff of minor consequence.
And really, that would be okay if the book was good. If the characters are well written and drawn and have real life and personality, I’m totally fine with a comic book having a laid back month where everyone chats and figures a few things out without moving the overall arc forward very much. In a good comic, it’s just fun to spend time with characters you enjoy. But when a comic is as flat and personalityless as Wonder Woman has been lately, an issue where there’s no story to push the cardboard characters along makes for a painful read.
It doesn’t help that the book is blatantly surface level. There’s nothing twisty or clever or deep going on here. Characters express their thoughts and feelings as directly as possible, which makes for awkward reading. Meredith Finch seems unable to communicate emotion through her writing. Comics are great because you can show and not tell. Through body language and action a writer can direct an artist to illustrate aspects of a character’s state of mind. Finch doesn’t do this at all. Writers can show and not tell with their text as well, using dialogue and internal monologues to communicate what the character is feeling without addressing it directly. Perhaps a usually loquacious character is now brusque. Perhaps a usually calm character is now frustrated with something menial. There are ways to show feelings without explicitly telling.
Meredith Finch only tells. The way she seems to write is a straight forward “I feel x because of y” formula. In the scene where Wonder Woman returns to her apartment after surviving the arrow shot, the character’s internal monologue is just a straight up recap of what happened in the past few issues. Then Wonder Woman thinks to herself, “I can’t seem to make sense of it… and right now… I think I’m just too tired and too heartbroken over Donna’s betrayal to even try.” We know how Wonder Woman is feeling because she states exactly what she’s feeling and why. Then, just in case you weren’t 100% sure that Diana is upset about Donna, on the very next page she angrily yells into the mirror while brushing her teeth, “Gods! I feel like such a fool. Damn it, Donna! Why?! Where did I go wrong?!” The writing could not possibly be more surface level and simplistic, and is thus very boring to read.
Sometimes good art can make up for bad writing, but that is not the case here. David Finch has gotten a lot better at drawing Wonder Woman, and I’ll gladly give him credit for that. The difference between his early issues and now is night and day in terms of exploitive creepiness. But in general, his art here is average at best. Wonder Woman’s been saddled with a terrible new costume, his female characters are all the same brand of generically attractive, and he has a terrible fashion sense. I didn’t mind his Hephaestus, though; Finch is good at the dark and grotesque, and I think that’s what he’s best suited for. The rest is just sort of bland.
Plus, he got rid of his one good costume choice! I absolutely love the new Donna Troy costume, with it’s cool skirt and fun arm things and cape and dramatic shoulders. I think it’s great. But in this issue, Donna’s new plucky street urchin friend advises her to ditch her costume to blend in better, and now Donna’s wearing black pants, a black belly top (of course) and a black jacket with silver cuffs, along with some silver boots, all of which is oddly shiny. It’s so boring. And it doesn’t say anything about Donna at all. It’s simultaneously completely dull and unrealistic. No one would ever wear an outfit like this, especially if the point is to blend in. Something as unexciting as jeans and a t-shirt would have been a better choice; at least that’s realistic. This weirdly stylized yet bland outfit is just kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, it wasn’t a great issue this month. I’m bummed about losing my favourite costume in the book, I’m bummed about the painfully on the nose writing, and I’m bummed that the story is moving like molasses because that means it’s going to continue for months to come. This book needs a full revamp, and the sooner the better.