Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Brief Review of Wonder Woman #2

Oh my goodness, Dear Reader! Wonder Woman #2 is out, and in my greedy little hands.

Well, not at *this* moment, as I am typing, but you get the General Idea.

I trust Allan Heinberg the way I trust Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Brad Meltzer, and Brian K. Vaughan: utterly and completely. The Young Avengers has been one of my favorite runs since it started, and his work on Wonder Woman, thus far, has been truly great. My one complaint would be that we are spending a lot of time introducing the new storyline, and therefore not as much time on character development, but that feels in line with the One Year Later runs across the board. Time needs to be spent on the storyline, after all, before we can truly see how Diana, Donna, and Cassie have all changed since the tragic events of Infinite Crisis.

***Spoilers Ahead***




We begin with a beautiful image from The Past, of Donna in full Wonder Woman regalia, and the new suit is quite beautiful. My favorite WW suit is, surprisingly, the Red Son suit, but that's because it's just *pretty* (and scary, but that's another post). The Past Scene continues with a lovely and sad repartee between Diana and Bruce (in Batman costume) in which we get some glimpse of Diana's internal struggle in the wake of Maxwell Lord's death.

What surprises and pleases me is that neither DC nor Heinberg is tiptoeing around about the issue of Lord's death. Batman asks her, "So, killing Maxwell Lord was a mistake?" and Diana replies, "Some people think so." Thank you, thank you, DC. Thank you, Mr. Heinberg. I would have had a hard time forgiving either of you if you let Diana say "yes." Why? Because she made a decision. She made, for her, the right decision. Lord was trapped by the lasso, and when asked how to stop his mind control over Superman, he said, "kill me." So WW did. I'm not saying I'm pleased about the idea of murder; rather, I'm pleased that they have Diana struggling with a moral issue. To me, that defines humanity. We constantly struggle with moral quandaries, and Diana, more often than not, has not had the same struggle. Think back to the issue in which Flash appears to help stop a forest fire, and Diana won't let him. She tells him that the fire is the forest's natural way of cleansing itself, and we shouldn't interfere. In Rucka's run, he characterized Wonder Woman as having very black and white morals: either right or wrong, there was no middle ground. That felt very natural to me, because Diana, as an immortal princess from an island of warriors, would see things strictly in terms of right or wrong, of good or bad. Now, Heinberg's taking that and turning it on its head. We see her struggle, her determination not only to find herself, but also to find her place in humanity.

Diana says, "I think the only way I can accomplish my mission is if I don't have to be Princess Diana of Themyscira or Wonder Woman. If I can just be me," to which Bruce responds, "Who is that, Diana?" She doesn’t know who she is, or what it means to be happy. And she's determined to find out.

These inklings of characterization have me reeling a bit, because it's exactly what I want to see in my beloved Amazon (and how often does it happen, Dear Reader, that we see Exactly What We Want To See?). I want Diana to figure out who she is, and her place in a world than no longer supports Paradise Island or the Greek gods. Who is she outside of the costume, the title, the lasso, the mission of peace? Who is she beyond the warrior?

We jump forward months, or perhaps, a year, to present day, in which Diana is now Diana Prince, agent of The Department of Metahuman Affairs. She seems settled in her position, although her first impulse to deal with the Donna Troy kidnapping is to call in The Capes. But my one worry with the presentation of Diana in this scene is simple: this seems like yet another title for her. She's not *her*. She's playing a role that Bruce designed for her. Former head of security for WayneCorp, Army Intelligence, these are all bits and pieces of other Dianas, real and fictional, but perhaps not the Diana we came to love in Rucka's run. How can she find herself if she's still pretending to be someone else? Who, then, is Diana, if not Diana Prince, if not Wonder Woman, if not Princess Diana?

To be coy, who is this mysterious glassed woman?

I've adored Cassie as Wonder Girl for many reasons, but mainly for the humanity she brings to Diana. Cassie is a normal kid; sure, she has superpowers, but she didn't come from Paradise Island. She was Born of Human Woman, and she acts every bit of it. When she challenges Diana for leaving her in her time of need—-Conner's Death, the loss of the gods—-she is completely justified for it. Bruce didn't leave Tim behind, or Dick, but took them both, together, with him on his journey.

And what's this, Gentle Reader? Implication that he took Diana, too? The Mind Does Boggle!

I won't reveal much more, Friends, because I don't want to over-spoiler the spoiler warnings, but I will say this.

Um, that last page?

Hmm.

Very curious to see how this character introduction will play out in what I find to be a very female-centered book.

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