Wonder Woman #34 Review: The Worst Family Reunion, On Multiple Levels


Although this is the 34th issue of the current incarnation of Wonder Woman, it’s also something more: When you add up all of the issues from past volumes together, this is actually the 700th issue of Wonder Woman! It’s a massive achievement. Apart from a few short breaks here and there, Wonder Woman has been published continuously since 1942, one of only a handful of titles with such a legacy. It’s fun to think back to all of the different versions of Wonder Woman we’ve seen in the series over the years, how she’s evolved and grown, overcome various setbacks, and continued to be an inspirational heroine for so many. While Wonder Woman’s status as a cultural icon often supersedes the ups and downs of her comic book adventures, those stories showcase one of the most fascinating and compelling journeys in the history of the medium. Hitting 700 issues is remarkable, and I’m glad that DC noticed the numbers and marked the occasion.

It’s too bad that the story inside is absolutely terrible. We’ll dig into it all, but first:


I am about to reveal the foolish twists and turns inside this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or really, just read this instead! The issue is awful!

I’m going to start with something really nitpicky, because for some reason I just can’t stand bad versions of Wonder Woman’s tiara. Sergio Davila penciled this issue, and we saw him a couple issues back in Wonder Woman #32. His art wasn’t great then, but it was serviceable and he had the tiara about right. We’ve got a few versions of the tiara going across DC’s line right now so there’s really not a definitive take on it currently, and Davila was in the ballpark of these various designs. Then, in this issue, it got wonky. The red star seemed to get smaller as the issue progressed, while the tiara itself grew wider and bulkier. It just looked wrong. And I know it’s a small thing, but when the writing is so bad, you look to the art for a little bit of spark. Unfortunately, in this issue the art just annoyed me further.

Not as much as the writing, though. Good lord. I mean, DC Comics is a professional comic book company. They’ve been publishing a comic called Wonder Woman for 75 years and 700 issues now! You would think they’d all know how to put together an enjoyable issue by now. But no. This arc has been absolutely painful thus far, and it’s not any better here. Diana’s reunion with her brother Jason was beyond corny. So sappy and over the top and just cringeworthy most of the time. Their conversation took up the bulk of the book, and while it was nice to actually have Wonder Woman show up in Wonder Woman for a change, their mutual fawning and getting to know each other was not pleasant.

And then we got a shocking turn of events. All of those insipid, boring pages we just sat through? They were a fake out! Jason is secretly evil, hates Wonder Woman, and has been working with Grail the whole time! Then Grail showed up and there was a big old fight and oh dear, a startling cliffhanger with Wonder Woman in a real bind. IT. WAS. SO. STUPID.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to dedicate half an issue to setting up a twist that then invalidates everything that came before, make those pages good. Make them interesting or fun or compelling in some way so that the reader gets emotionally invested. Sell me on this burgeoning sister/brother relationship! Give them an engaging dynamic, a connection that has me rooting for them and glad to have him be a part of a book! Whatever you do, don’t make these pages absurdly boring, because when you do that and your new good guy turns out to be a bad guy the only reaction you’re going to get is, “Well, that’s the first interesting thing he’s ever done.”

When the turn came, part of me was very much underwhelmed, but the other part of me was just glad that Diana’s bland, dull twit of a brother wasn’t going to be hanging around being a bore for the next few months. He’ll still be boring, I suppose. Being evil doesn’t make him any more interesting. But at least we don’t have to sit through another droning, hackneyed heart to heart conversation.

Anyway, this arc continues to be generally horrible. And the teaser at the end of the issue promised that the next outing is “The Story of Jason,” so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I prepare for this time of trial and tribulation. If I have to sit through another issue of Wonder Woman without Wonder Woman dedicated to the tedious backstory of some dumb ass side character I couldn’t possibly care less about, I’m going to lose my mind. Also, I know Jason’s backstory already. He blathered on about it in this issue, and while I’m sure some of it was lies, I’m guessing that the bulk of it is the same plus a couple of dark twists and some whiny brooding over his famous sister. And I don’t want to read 20 pages of that. Ugh.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

5 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #34 Review: The Worst Family Reunion, On Multiple Levels

  1. Having just finished the Darkseid War arc in JLA, I wonder if we’re stuck with this crap because Geoff Johns created Grail and he’s convinced she’s awesome. Which I would disagree with.

  2. I read all your Wonder Woman reviews, but this one has been the most entertaining for me. Clearly more entertaining than the current story line.

  3. Centering an issue or issues on the villain/s with barely an appearance by the title character is a technique put to good use by great writers. James Robinson is… Well, we’ll see.

    It looks to me like Jason will be sacrificed in the end. Again, we’ll see.

    For some reason, Jason reminds me of Jon Bogdanove’s Superman.

  4. That’s a sad 100 issues since #600, when Dan Didio turned fandom’s plea to celebrate the event into a dismal goodbye to Gail Simone.

  5. It is hard to believe that James Robinson is an experienced comic book writer, because the writing just feels so amateurish after he took over.
    The pacing is hair tearingly awful, their is zero buildup or foreshadowing, and yet you can see the idiotic plot twists coming a mile away because they are so painfully cliche. The characters have no character too them, because all anyone seems to do is fight or talk, but mostly talk. And everybody sounds the same because everybody talks in unnaturally sounding, overly long descriptive monologs of clunky exposition. And despite any semblance of storytelling having been completely crushed to death under the avalance of half-baked exposition there is still a major unaddressed point of confusion for me regarding the central plot of the story. Grail is killing the children of the old gods in order to regrow Darkseid. That is the central plot here, but as someone who has read Darkseid War, that is kind of ode to me, because in that story Grail was trying to kill Darkseid, so why is she now working to bring him back. You’d think this might be the kind of question you would want to answer, especially if you are going to dedicate a whole issue, just to show what Grail is doing (like last issue), but I guess not.
    On top of all that Robinson seems to have a lot of problems juggling the relatively few plot threads he has in play. So for instance. In the first issue we learned, through unmotivated exposition from Diana, that Giganta had been stealing mysterious artifacts for some unknown reason. That obvious plotpoint then gets no mention or development in the following issues until this one, where some random scientist tells Steve Trevor that the artifacts contain metal from Apokalypse. And then that is it, that is all the new information we get. The rest of the issue is Diana and Jason talking exposition, mostly about things we already know, until Grail shows up and we get a dumb fight scene. As the cherry on top the issue ends with a hilariously inept cliffhanger, where Wonder Woman is at the bad guys mercy, but any sense of tension is deflated by Jason telling Diana that they are not going to kill her just yet, but when they do he’ll totally be the one to do it. I’m sorry but, “we might kill you later” is not the kind of nail biting tension that makes for a good cliffhanger.

    I think this was the last straw for me. I want to support Wonder Woman because she is my favorite superhero, but I also don’t want to wast my money on thrash. More importantly than not wanting to wast a few dollars though, is that I almost feel it would be morally wrong of me to keep supporting DC in their misguided quest to seemingly ruin everything Greg Rucka and his collaborators just build for them, out of some weird sense of loyalty to the Wonder Woman character.
    Get your shit together DC and put some propper talent on the book, and I’d be more than happy to give you my money.

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