Wonder Woman #32 Review: Children of the Gods Continues, Unfortunately

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Let’s start this review with a question: How many female characters other than Wonder Woman have speaking parts in this issue? During the initial “Rebirth” arcs, there were a wide variety of women in the mix, from allies like Etta Candy and Barbara Minerva to villains like Dr. Cyber and Veronica Cale. Plus Amazons. A whole lot of Amazons. Wonder Woman‘s last arc, “Heart of the Amazon,” was essentially a Diana/Etta team up story, and it featured an array of women in all sorts of different roles, good and bad, primary and incidental. There was even an entire team of female assassins, with several deep cut characters from DC’s history. So now with “Children of the Gods,” the story that’s introducing Diana’s brother to the world for whatever reason, how many women other than the title character are involved? For this issue, one. One woman in the entire book. Her role takes up about half a page, and she directs Diana to her brother. That is all, and I think that speaks volumes about this arc and it’s creative team. We’ll get into the issue as a whole, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss all of the dumb things that happened in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

So the lack of female characters is disheartening, especially since the book spent the last year and a bit building such a stellar cast of women around Wonder Woman. On top of that, it’s just not a very good comic book, on any level. The story is clunky, the writing is poor, the art is middling. It’s not an enjoyable read, and it’s so awkward that it’s hard to feel any connection to the story. Even the big emotional climax at the end of the issue when Diana sees her brother for the first time falls absolutely flat because it’s so painfully clichéd; they immediately recognize each other because they’re twins and feel their connection, and I rolled my eyes so hard that I may need to go see an optometrist.

James Robinson’s writing is unremarkable throughout the book. For example, there’s two pages of Diana and Hercules’ lawyer driving to his home to read his will that are an enormous waste of space, as well as a battle with parademons that reads like it was tacked on to add a bit of action to this otherwise lifeless issue. The whole thing felt like filler, as if Robinson knew he wanted to end this issue with the reveal of Jason and just threw a bunch of things together to fill up the nineteen pages before that. We get slightly more information on the dead gods, I suppose, but it’s nothing that we didn’t already know from Grail in the last issue.

The art didn’t help matters, either. Sergio Davila’s pencils, with inks from Scott Hanna and Mark Morales, were generic superhero fodder. I didn’t find much in the way of a unique style or artistic flair. It was standard cape comic art, and not particularly strong art at that. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but there was nothing interesting about it. It was serviceable at best. Though I did like how Davila drew Diana’s hair later in the issue in a sort of up-do thing with her tiara perched higher up. That was kind of a cool look. I’m always down for a creative use of the tiara.

There were also two story choices that rubbed me the wrong way as a Wonder Woman fan. First was the depiction of Hercules. Back in the 1940s, Hercules was a villain. His betrayal and imprisonment of the Amazons is what led Hippolyta to leave the world of men and take her warriors to Paradise Island to live in an all-female utopia. For William Moulton Marston, Hercules represented the worst of men’s aggression and dominance, and most incarnations of the character have followed suit. We don’t know what, if any, role Hercules played in this modern version of the Amazons; all of the New 52 stuff is up in the air after “The Lies” and “The Truth,” and our knowledge of the true Amazons is limited. But introducing Hercules as a dude who’s done some good stuff and some bad stuff, and who admired Diana, largely ignores what he’s represented in past incarnations of Wonder Woman. I don’t hate that he’s sorry for his past mistakes, since it’s always good to show how people can change. It’s more that Hercules carries a lot of baggage in terms of the history of the Amazons, and his depiction in this arc doesn’t acknowledge this in the least. He’s kind of a loaded character, and they’ve ignored that entirely.

Second, this issue introduces the Oddfellows, Steve’s tactical team that is comprised of modern versions of his associated from the Wonder Woman movie. We’ve got Sameer, Charlie, and Chief, all written much like their film counterparts, just jumped ahead a century and given some heavier artillery. This annoyed me, in part because this arc has been so bad thus far that I hate to see these characters that I quite enjoyed on the big screen put to such poor use here. I also found it very telling that the creative team borrowed a bunch of the fellows from the Wonder Woman film, and yet Etta Candy has been absent from both issues of this new arc. I mean, come on now.

So, I did not particularly care for this issue, and I am not enjoying the specter of five more months of this that lies ahead. It all feels fundamentally flawed across the board, like the creative team and the editors just don’t understand what a Wonder Woman comic should be. We’re only two in, of course, and it may well pick up eventually. But thus far, this arc has done nothing but confirm all of my worst fears from when the storyline was first announced.

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11 Responses to “Wonder Woman #32 Review: Children of the Gods Continues, Unfortunately”

  1. frasersherman Says:

    I don’t think I’ve liked anything by Robinson since Starman. Looks like this isn’t going to break the trend. Fortunately as our library has lots of WW TPBs, I’ll probably get to read it without paying for it.

  2. Robert Baytan Says:

    I’ve been waiting for you to gripe about the issue since it came out. And, here you are. Keep griping. I quite enjoy it.

  3. rperlberg Says:

    “I am about to discuss all of the dumb things that happened in this issue!” LOL.

  4. Sarah Says:

    This issue was an absolute mess – from the first page I was praying the Zeus origin wouldn’t rear it’s banal head and there it was, Diana claiming to be Zeus’s daughter. It’s a shame as I didn’t mind the origin when in the Azzarello and Chiang context but the Finches’ and the film have put a bad taste in my mouth.

    I can’t agree with you more about that ending – I was asking myself whether any of this can be true or just the build up for a clever “aha we tricked you, her brother is another lie!” moment. Suffice to say that I’m pretty disgusted with this run already, whether it’s from the flat emotionless writing or the shear filler space.

  5. Jeppe Dittmer Says:

    The writing was a little bit better this issue than in the last one, or at least the dialog was. Instead of being head-slappingly-awful it was just kind of generically bad in the way a lot of superhero comics are. Unfortunately the artwork took a step back this issue. I didn’t find Sergio Davila’s pencils nearly as appealing as I found Carlo Pagulayan’s pencils last issue. The coloring is still great though.

    I also agree with Tim that the whole issue pretty much feels like filler. Steve even points out that there is no link between the hive of Parademons they are fighting in the Paris’ catacombs and the death of Hercules. Underscoring how pointless that action scene is. I would also add that, as of now, neither seems to have any connection to the “mystery” from last issue about Giganta stealing ancient artifacts. That seemed like it was going to be an important subplot last issue, yet it gets zero mention here.

    I don’t know if James Robinson has any passion for Wonder Woman beyond the fact that she is a famous character, but I suspect not. Like why do a story based on a reveal that happen in Darkside War, a pre-Rebirth Justice League story ark? I can’t help but wonder if this story only exists because Geoff Johns thought there would be a good story or at least something interesting about this whole twin brother idea. But instead of letting the idea die with Rebirth or fucking writing the story himself if he believes so much in it. DC just asked around, and James Robinson was like; “yeah sure, I’ll do it. Who doesn’t like to get paid?”

    • ellieawilson Says:

      AFAIK, Robinson contacted Geoff Johns because he wanted to come back to DC and Johns offered him Wonder Woman, with the caveat that DC wanted to bring back the Jason and Darkseid stuff because they thought it wasn’t finished yet. Robinson is being careful to put the responsibility on DC when he does interviews, lol. But he absolutely didn’t come in asking to write WW. Which is infuriating because you can bet there are dozens of great, passionate writers dying for a chance to write her, but they don’t have Geoff Johns’ phone number.

      • Jeppe Dittmer Says:

        Thanks for the info. I thought it would be something like that.

        I do wonder if you are right about there being dozens of great, passionate writers dying for the chance to write Wonder Woman though? I would love to believe that is the case, but I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason why WW has so few great or even just good comic books, is partly because there is actually very few writers like Greg Rucka who are A: good writers. B: love the character and C: work in comics.
        I’ve sometimes seen the argument made that, Wonder Woman havn’t got those great books that becomes revered classics that Batman and Superman’s got (Hush, Long Halloween, Year One, Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke, All Star Superman, Birthright, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Red Sun, Kingdom Come etc.) because DC doesn’t prioritise the character, and put their best talent on the title. And there is definitely some truth too that, but at the same time, when you look back at the creative teams that have been on the title over the last twenty years, it is not like it is complete garbage either. Far from it actually. Greg Rucka & Drew Johnson, Allen Heinberg & Terry Dodson, Gail Simone & Terry Dodson/ Aaron Lopresti, Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang, Grant Morrison & Yanick Paqette. Greg Rucka & Lima Sharp/ Nicola Scott. These are all really strong creative teams, and they have certainly delivered some of the best Wonder Woman stories ever. But apart from Rucka and co.’s rebirth stuff, I can’t help but feel that all these teams under delivered compared to what I would expect given the talent involved. That is just my opinion of course, but I can’t help but wonder if part of the problem is that the passion for the character just wasn’t there to begin with. Not saying that these creators phoned it in, just that maybe the stories they gave us weren’t as good as one would have hoped, because they weren’t fans of the character, with stories they were dying to tell.
        Of course that doesn’t mean that there aren’t talented creators working in the comic book industry, who’s got Wonder Woman stories they are dying to tell, and DC just isn’t hiring them. I just kind of doubt it. Still DC could surly do better than this, if they really cared to.
        Anyway. Sorry about this really long reply. It’s just something I’d been thinking about for a while, and this was a chance to get it off my chest.

      • ellieawilson Says:

        I mean, it’s technically possible that the Venn diagram of those three things just doesn’t intersect, but with such a major legacy character, it seems unlikely to me. And if DC is willing to give Robinson the title without thinking too hard about it, that signals to me that they’re really not prioritising passionate, talented writers for Wonder Woman now that Rebirth is off the ground. They can definitely do better, and now is the time. (FWIW I don’t feel Gail Simone under-delivered at all! Her run really cemented my love of the character.)

  6. ellieawilson Says:

    Argh, I didn’t want to drop Wonder Woman off my pull but I can’t face another five months of this! How did writing this bad make it through the editing process?

  7. Clint Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! This issue is just a mess and I’m really disappointed how male-heavy it is compared to Rucka’s (and even Fontana’s though I wasn’t a fan of her stuff). I also think it’s strange they added the Oddfellows when they already had a trio of Steve-ites (Chris, Manny, and Davy) from Rucka’s run. I guess they’re just getting rid of them despite their semi-importance in Steve’s and Diana’s lives?

  8. Darci Says:

    The comments here have me wondering if Greg Rucka is sharpening his pen to write “The Lies Part 2”?

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