We’ll close out the year properly tomorrow on a high note, with a review of the latest two issues of The Legend of Wonder Woman, far and away the best Wonder Woman series being produced currently. But for now, we’ll spend the penultimate day of the year in the doldrums of Wonder Woman’s mainline continuity, pondering what deities we must have offended to continue to be subjected to this series. Meredith and David Finch have been on Wonder Woman for over a year, with several months to come yet, at least, and the book continues to be mediocre comic booking. I’m starting to run out of ways to say “This book is bad.” I’ll try to come up with some more for today’s issue, but first:
I am about to reveal every plot point in this issue!
Look away if you haven’t read it yet!
Not that this story has any real consequence, but still!
No one likes to be spoiled!
Many recent issues of Wonder Woman haven’t had much going on in the way of a plot. There’s a lot of conversation and a fight or two, but the story doesn’t move forward in any real way; by the issue’s end, we’re no further ahead with things than we were a month ago. This is a book that likes to tread water and then have a million things happen at once. Last month’s comic was such an issue, and that flurry of revelations has been followed by a meandering tale that seems to add nothing to the overarching plot in any sort of story or character way. Ares and Apollo returned and Donna Troy is now the Fates personified, so Wonder Woman has a lot of balls in the air right now, but none of that played much of a role in today’s issue.
Instead, we get an entirely inconsequential Cheetah story. The Cheetah came to Paradise Island to steal the Eye of Antiope, a jewel that’s key to the Amazons’ immortality. Wonder Woman goes to stop her, they fight for a couple of pages, the ghost of Hippolyta tells Wonder Woman she can’t enter the temple of Hera because she’s the god of war and Hera would be offended, Cheetah gets the jewel from the temple but then has to throw it back because the deity who is the source of her powers is offended and was starting to take them back. None of this is terrible, really. It’s not particularly compelling or well-written, either. It’s just bland, and sort of pointless, a limp heist story for no good reason.
Furthermore, it doesn’t even take up the full page count. The story gets fleshed out with bits meant to make Wonder Woman feel bad, because constantly highlighting Wonder Woman’s failings has been a hallmark of this series since the dawn of the New 52. First, an Amazon named Dessa tells Wonder Woman that her mood affects the whole island because the Amazons are all linked, and so Wonder Woman worries that her internal discord over being the god of war may have infected her sisters and led them to follow Donna Troy and kill all of the male Amazons. Then, while running through the jungle to find Cheetah, she comes across the last surviving Manazon, battered and furious, who blames her for the attack and yells at her for not saving the men. It’s a real morale boost all around for our heroine.
It’s also done in Meredith Finch’s tell and not show fashion, with lengthy conversations explaining the ins and outs of every plot point in detail. Were you wondering about the Eye of Antiope and the specific benefits and limits of its powers? Fear not, because the book spends two full pages running through ALL of that. Were you wondering how Cheetah knew where to find the Eye of Antiope? Look no further than this poetic dialogue: “According to this old map I stole from A.R.G.U.S. before I left, I’m almost at the temple, and then the Eye of Antiope, and the key to Amazon immortality will be mine!” What a handy reminder of the information we learned in the earlier Eye of Antiope report, too.
Finch then hammered home the moral of the story as blatantly as possible, as if this were a comic book for a five year old. It was hardly anything deep; the Cheetah showed that getting what you want can come with a price, in a very obvious fashion. Nonetheless, the book ended with Wonder Woman underscoring the moral just in case as she declared, “Sometimes getting what we want comes at the price of sacrificing who and what we really are. Today, that’s a price even Cheetah wasn’t willing to pay.” This series would be at least 20% better if Finch realized that the readers can fill in some of the blanks and don’t need every little thing spoon fed to us.
The other half of the Finches, artist David Finch, was off this month, which may explain the issue’s inconsequential feel. It may have been written to serve as a fill-in issue, and the main story will continue next month when David returns. Replacement penciller Miguel Mendonça was fine, if fairly straight forward. Everything looked okay and the story read well enough, but the art felt a bit static and lacked much in the way of unique style or pizzazz. It was all very middle of the road for me. The old costume is back, though! I was glad for that. The new costume they’re trying to make work is just god awful. Hopefully the change here marks the end of the outfit, and wasn’t just a miscommunication.
Overall, this issue wasn’t terribly good, which isn’t much of a surprise at this point. I suppose we can be glad that it wasn’t actively bad, because we’ve certainly been there before. There’s nothing here to get upset or offended about, so much as it’s just a very bland, kind of pointless issue. Actually, all of the blaming and shaming Wonder Woman stuff was sort of terrible; that’s worth getting bothered. This book needs to cool it with constantly trying to tear her down. But the main plot was all just boringly below average, which is disappointing because the Cheetah can be cool when done well. But not today.