So here’s the thing: Wonder Woman is not a good comic book right now. We all know this. Neither of the Finches are well suited for the book, and it’s just been a chore to read since they took it over. Trust me, I’ve read every issue. They’ve ranged from full on terrible to blandly bad. That being said, this issue definitely felt like Meredith Finch was really trying. The end result still wasn’t great, but you could see the effort. There were, at the very least, some potentially interesting ideas in the mix here, and that’s not something you can say about most of this run. We’ll get into it all, but first:
I am about to discuss ALL of the things that happened in this comic!!
If you have not read it, look away!!
Following up on the big reveal at the end of last month’s issue, the big bad behind Aegeus’ attempts to kill Wonder Woman and take her mantle of the god of war is Eirene, the god of peace. The initial explanation of the conflict is somewhat interesting: Wonder Woman hasn’t been a very war-like god of war, and it’s upsetting some kind of divine, cosmic balance, with Eirene bearing the brunt of it. Wonder Woman shirking her mantle is causing harm to Eirene.
What followed was a lengthy conversation on the nature of war. I feel like Meredith Finch was trying to be thought provoking here, but garnered very mixed results. I was actually intrigued by the first angle, a visit to a sweat shop with child labourers where Eirene explained that without the power of the god of war active in the world, the children had lost the will to revolt and fight back against their oppressors. That’s kind of a cool idea, and one I would’ve liked to see explored further. It was less about war itself than about a fighting spirit, something Wonder Woman could definitely get behind. She may not be a fan of outright warfare, but people standing up for themselves is her kind of thing.
But instead of delving into that, Eirene ramped up into different scenarios and took on more of a distinctly villainous vibe. Whenever someone starts talking about “the beauty and tragic glory of war” and “war in all its bloody, beautiful glory,” you know they’re on the bad guy side of things. Eirene tried to explain that peace needs war, that a lack of war doesn’t automatically create peace but that war is a necessary exercise for then creating peace, a balance that perpetually tips back and forth. Wonder Woman rightly decided that Eirene had gone off her rocker, and they punched it out for a while. Poor Eirene was pretty hung up on Ares, and seems to have gone a little bit crazy after his death.
This whole discussion took up more than half the book, which really isn’t particularly interesting comic booking. In the end, it all just felt like a pretense for Zeke to use his powers to bring back Ares and Apollo, as well as Donna Troy, who got shot and turned into stone last month. Apparently Donna is the new Fate now, because the Fates are dead, and the gods are immortal again or something. That part all kind of unspooled quickly without much in the way of detailed and/or sensible explanation.
The annoying part is, they were on to something kind of cool here. Wonder Woman fighting with a crazed, war-hungry deity is pretty old hat, but exploring a more nuanced take on war that would force Wonder Woman to confront her lack of engagement with her divine status could have been interesting. I mean, it’s a comic book; we want the punching and the action and whatnot. It’s a staple of the genre. Thoughtful re-examinations of one’s choices don’t bring that so much. It’s a lot easier when Wonder Woman’s opponent is clearly crazed and villainous and they can just duke it out. Nonetheless, I feel like the Finches let an intriguing idea slip away here.
I will say this: the book did a lot of heavy lifting in twenty pages. Donna’s alive again, we know all about Eirene and how she’s wacky for war, Ares and Apollo are back. The latter is particularly significant, because the obvious question now is with Ares back, what does that mean for Wonder Woman’s god of war status? And with Apollo back, what does that mean for Hera’s rule on Olympus, since last time we saw him he’d seized the throne? There’s a bunch of new stuff in play. I’m not optimistic that it will pan out to be anything interesting or fun to read, but things happened and big changes are afoot. There have been several issues of this run where it seemed like nothing really happened at all, so all of this activity is something at least.
Ultimately, this was yet another not great issue of Wonder Woman. Things happened, but they weren’t all that exciting, and some potentially interesting stuff quickly fell by the wayside. I got more out of it than most of their previous issues, though; I was slightly less bored than usual. Nonetheless, the book is still a long, long, long way from good, and Wonder Woman’s New 52 incarnation is absolutely crying out for a revamp.