Wonder Woman #43 Review: Diana Takes a Backseat, Once Again

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At some point, I think that DC will eventually realize that people buy Wonder Woman for Wonder Woman. It’s a simple idea, and one they’re pretty good at with their other characters. Batman is mostly about Batman. Superman is mostly about Superman. And yet here we are once again, with another run of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman all too often feels like a side character. Such is the case this week, in which a significant portion of the book is dedicated to a lengthy conversation between Diana’s boyfriend, Steve Trevor, and her brother, Jason. Diana gets a few pages, fighting a couple of Furies for no good reason and to no gain, but the core of this issue is two dudes chatting away and doing a bit of macho posturing. What’s even more irksome is that the conversation is largely pointless, a rehash of past events and mysteries that remain unsolved. This is indicative of a larger problem with the book: In twenty pages of comics, only one significant event occurs, and it’s one we all knew was coming in some form or another. The rest feels like filler. So yeah, this garbage run continues to be garbage. We’ll discuss it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to tell you the ONE SOLITARY THING that happens in this issue!

And it is neither good nor interesting!

Why must DC make us suffer so?

Hold onto your hats, gang, because I’m about to unleash the book’s big reveal. You know those artifacts that A.R.G.U.S. has? The ones that Darkseid has been jonesing for over the past few issues because they’re central to his big, evil plan? Well get a load of this: He attacked A.R.G.U.S. and got them all, and now his big evil plan can come to fruition. Your minds are blown, I know.

There was one almost interesting thing about this wholly expected development. I was waiting for a fight, some sort of major assault on A.R.G.U.S. with lots of action and drama, but for perhaps the first time in this entire run, James Robinson zigged when I thought he was going to zag. Instead of a battle, Darkseid just straight up steals the entire building, and I didn’t see that twist coming. It’s not a particularly good twist. Or a fun twist. But it is a twist, and for that I commend him.

And now I slowly walk that commendation back because lord knows there was a lot of space for a big battle on offer in this issue. Everything apart from the last handful of pages was useless conversation. Not to say that all conversation is useless in comics, of course. I like some banter. I like to learn about the characters and have them bounce off each other. Chatty books are fine with me. I don’t need loads of battles and action and whatnot.

The problem with this issue’s conversations, though, is that they were largely pointless. Steve and Jason just rehashed old stuff without adding anything new to the mix. Wonder Woman interrogated/fought the Furies and learned pretty much nothing from it. Darkseid said vague things about his evil plans. None of it added to the ongoing story or moved it forward in any real way. It just filled the pages until Darkseid attacked. That, combined with the fact that James Robinson seems to have lost the ability to write dialogue that resembles actual human speech in any way, made this issue quite a slog.

The art team did their best, however. I’m not terribly familiar with Marco Santucci’s work, but he acquited himself well here. The big test for every Wonder Woman artist is their ability to draw Wonder Woman, and he did a nice job from the very start, opening the book with a splash page that had a bit of a Phil Jimenez vibe. And Romulo Fajardo Jr. was amazing with the colors, as always. I know I say this all the time, but he really is the MVP of the series right now. We’ve had so many artists during this run, but his colors help give the title a consistent, high quality look. His steady excellence is the only thing stopping this runaway train of a series from barrelling into a ravine some months. Luckily with this issue, Santucci gave him a hand and we got some decent artwork throughout.

So we’ve got what, about seven more issues of this run, at least? Good gracious. It looks like Wonder Woman’s battle with Darkseid is coming sooner than later. A tie-in to DC’s big Metal event looms on the horizon as well, so that should mean that the Darkseid story will be sorted out before long. Wonder Woman looks to be playing a big role in the post-Metal DC universe, co-starring in the relaunched Justice League along with leading a new version of Justice League Dark. Perhaps her increased profile across the line will bring some creative changes to her solo title, finally. Not only is it long overdue, but these big changes present a fine opportunity to make the switch. I know I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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3 Responses to “Wonder Woman #43 Review: Diana Takes a Backseat, Once Again”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Pointless filler is right. I haven’t read much from James Robinson, but based on this run, I have to conclude that he’s not very good at his job. The opening splash page is the perfect example of his ineptitude. This is presented as if it’s an enticing tease of what’s to come, but Diana posing against a generic backdrop, delivering a generic line is…not how that technique is supposed to work. There’s nothing in this panel–no context, no stakes, nothing askew to make us wonder what is going on–to excite us for the scene this is excerpted from.

    This is followed up by a quick action scene (again, with no stakes and no context, which makes it pointless and boring). Steve then lectures Jason about destroying the drones, and I guess I’m on Steve’s side by default, because I hate Jason, but I don’t care about any of this petty drama. Steve then tells Jason that he doesn’t trust him, and how his heroic turn has been too rushed to not be suspicious, and that piques my interest ever so slightly. I mean, finally, someone is stating the obvious! It made it seem like maybe Jason’s accelerated character arc as well as his unearned, forced sibling relationship with Diana might be an intentional plot point, rather than lazy writing. All hope of that gets washed away by the end of the issue though, when Steve’s like, “I trust you now for no reason! I know I criticized you for changing allegiances too quickly, but what can I say, I’m a hypocrite. Anyway, here’s our plan.” So the whole subplot was…wait for it…pointless.

    Speaking of pointless, Diana knows she’s in a race against the clock to find out Darkseid’s plan. So naturally, she decides to free the Furies and engage in a drawn out fight with them instead of just lassoing the information out of them in mere seconds. And of course, who could have ever predicted that the fight would distract Diana long enough for Darkseid to enact his evil plan.

    Oh, and to keep the whole “repetitive filler” theme going, we get another scene of Darkseid vaguely but ominously monologuing about his evil plan, and casually murdering a minion for not minioning fast enough. You know, just in case we didn’t get the point the first couple of times he’s done that through the course of this story.

    Poor Wonder Woman has been so ridiculously dumbed down by Robinson. If the only way you can move your plot forward (and it’s BARELY inching along) is to make the hero stupid, you’ve got some big problems.

  2. Anuket Says:

    I am a life long Wonder Woman fan. I had to drop reading it during New 52, which I thought was the worst thing I could ever read about Wonder Woman. Didn’t pick it up again until they “fixed” her in Rebirth. Now they’re doing it AGAIN. The only reason I’m not dropping it this time is because I know Robinson’s run has an end point. Please, all the Gods in the Universe, do not keep this travesty going. And I am so glad I’m not the only one who’s seen the wretched print-on-the-page that they call dialog!!!

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