Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some Stories Benefit From A Second Telling

Wonder Woman #224
Get out your handkerchiefs.

(Spoilers abound, here. Consider yourself forewarned.)

With Infinite Crisis #3 out for a week, the story in this issue was something of a chronicle foretold. In four well-wrought pages of IC we were shown the Amazons' deployment of the Purple Ray of Death (PRD), and Diana's realization that using the weapon to annihilate the OMACs would simply convince the rest of the world that her sisters were, to a woman, the crazy-eyed killers the world now thought her to be. Acknowledging that her mission had failed, Diana called upon Athena to move Paradise Island to another plane. After Diana takes leave of Phillipus and Artemis, Athena does the trick and the Island disappears. Our final glimpse of Wonder Woman is of a very small figure framed against the vastness of the ocean.

WW #224 provides an internal narration from the Amazon named Io to these events. Io is the Amazon's ironwright and weapon-maker, and it was she who built the dreaded PRD (after considerable coaxing, since she knew that Diana would disapprove). Io's voice is distinctive for several reasons, probably the most important being that she's carrying a torch for Diana that's larger than the one held aloft by the Statue of Liberty.

So the issue provides this human element to the cosmic events already described. IC #3 had a lot of ground to cover, and provided a macroscopic view of what happened, kind of like a breathless aunt or uncle telling a relative-packed, multi-generation story to you. WW #224, on the other hand, is like someone you know telling you what it meant for them to have taken part in a single important event. (With the event being a small portion of the breathless aunt's big-ass story, if you get what I mean).

I've been following a friendly exchange (and difference of opinion) about the nature of Wonder Woman between Ragnell and Zombie Mallet with interest. I agree with R. on this; my feeling is that it's misguided for us to think of Wonder Woman as an "everywoman" character. Diana's anything but ordinary. And what struck me about WW #224 was how hard (and successfully) the writer, Greg Rucka, worked to have the reader see Diana through the eyes of another Amazon. Here's how Io (no slouch herself) describes Diana:
She is the best of us in every way that matters.
She embodies every one of our ideals.
Wisdom, intelligence, compassion, and determination.
Strength and beauty and grace and devotion.
She is the best of us, and we gave her to the patriarch's world, so that they might learn.

In addition to this needed perspective, the issue also depicts Diana's farewell as something that carried more of an emotional punch for those involved. Diana's final moments with her sisters in IC #3 were kind of antisceptic-- imagine Casablanca ending with a close-in shot of Claude Rains' face as he delivered a spoken description of how Bogie took his leave of Ingrid Bergman!

Here are Io's thoughts at the close of WW #224:
Our princess, our most precious gift to the world ... Lost to us ...

Though I didn't care for the art in WW #224, several panels near the close of the issue are spot on. The penciller nails the moment that Diana actually recognizes what the effects of her separation from the Amazons will be. There's also a panel showing the reader that Diana "gets" how Io feels towards her. (For those of you who've read it, I'm specifically thinking about the panel prior to the one showing Diana's farewell peck to Io's cheek).

I've come to the point of view that it's actually a writer's job to manipulate and manage the reactions and emotions of her readers. (The nastiest epithet I could hurl at a book or movie in ye olden days was that it was manipulative crap. Don't get me wrong, I still call crap crap, but I don't judge things solely on the basis of their manipulative-ness.) Rucka plays his readers like a violin here, delivering a farewell that's emotionally satisfying (without being too maudin). With that behind me, I now look forward to seeing how Wonder Woman handles those menacing OMACs.

I enjoyed Wonder Woman very much, despite the fact that I knew what was going to happen prior to reading a single page. I agree that the narrative made it a more poignant version then the wham-bam one told in IC #3. I liked Jimenez' art better in IC, but Cliff Richards got the sense of emotion, and that is what counted here.

I am crossing my fingers that if IC beats Wonder Woman out the gate again, like I am sure it will, that there is a portion of the story we have to read HER book to learn.

I agree with your assessment- what a ride Rucka has put Diana on!
I really enjoyed this issue as well. Especially the exchange between Diana and Brother Eye. That satellite is quite the chilling villain. And I do so love good villains.
Thanks for commenting, Heidi and Diamondrock!

Here's hoping that WW #225 will scoop IC #4.

I find Brother Eye creepily good, too. You've gotta like how he addresses Diana as "Murderess."
I'm so going to miss Rucka. Great overview, I'll be checking your blog from now on. :)
Thanks, Nida.

I'll miss GR, too. I'm so ready to learn who will be writing the new title. I wonder if we should read anything into the lack of an announcement from DC...
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