Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thoughts on Wonder Woman

(Mild spoilers to Wonder Woman #2 follow.)

Assumptions I've carried about Wonder Woman:

(1) Only a supervillain (wielding mind-control mojo) might keep Diana of Themyscira from doing her job for an entire year.

(2) The character is, simply, Diana of Themyscira.

(3) Except for impromptu missions that might absolutely require it, Diana would not plan to absent herself for an extended period without consulting with Donna Troy and Cassandra Sandsmark.

The planners behind DC's Infinite Crisis and 52 exploded the first assumption, and the re-launched series has done away with the other two.

Who is Wonder Woman? was not a question I had been posing recently. I didn't share the opinion that Diana's background and supporting cast had become overly convoluted and in drastic need of a re-launch.

And even though Themyscira has effectively ceased to exist, it's still where the character came from. Places can be erased; however, the memories, formative experiences, and the human connections tied to the place will persist. Recognition of this fact was handled much more sensitively in Supergirl #9 (believe it or not), with several characters linked to Themyscira actually dealing with it's absence.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the creative team chooses to work itself out of the various corners into which they have backed themselves by contravening these assumptions about the comic's titular character.

My really big question: why would Robin have been kept up-to-date about Diana's whereabouts and plans during the missing year, while Donna and Cassie were kept in the dark? The words thoughtless and insensitive were never ones I would have associated with Diana in the past. If it turns out that she has her reasons, they had certainly better be good ones.

A few additional observations on the first two issues of the new series:

(a) I'm disappointed that Donna Troy is so far serving as a plot device for the writer; she's simply an extended guest star/damsel-in-distress.

(b) Diana's killing of Max Lord has gone away as a legal issue, something rather clumsily revealed through the exposition/info-dump portion of issue #2.

(c) I'm finding it tiresome that each issue has been structured like a magic act, with the big trick saved for the final page.

Though I enjoy magic acts, I prefer to have the big, last page reveals in my comics accompanied by equal measures of character growth and plot development.

Interesting points. I don't agree necessarily, but they are valid. I don't share your assumptions re: Diana and I don't make judgments based on 2 chapters of a story, but I do want to see Donna do more. I'd come to expect that she was going to be the main character for this arc.

--Shelly, posting anonymously while waiting for Blogging to fix a posting glitch for us beta folks
Regarding Tim knowing what was going on: I'm going to say that during the year off, Bruce and Diana did a lot of text and/or instant messaging, and Tim, being the future Dark Knight he apparently is, spied on this.

And because Bruce was trying to be less of a jerk, he didn't call Timmy on it.
Yo, Shelly!

I'm aware that these are my personal assumptions about the character. My main beef, though, is that, in order to generate narrative tension and conflict, the writer has depicted Diana as someone who has (inexplicably and somewhat idiotically) chosen to keep A Very Big Secret from those who trust and love her.

This looks like a rather heavy-handed plot insertion to me, because (I assume) Wonder Woman would be smart enough to forsee that the info would eventually see the light of day, and that Donna and Cassie would take this as a pretty severe breach of trust when they learned about it. With this as a clearly forseeable outcome, I'd expect that the character would've chosen a Plan B to cover her year-long absence.

Calvin: That danged Internet, causing trouble again.
One thing I've thought over the years about the big three, mainly Bruce, then Diana, and to a lesser extent, Supes, is that they tend to decide things not just for themselves but for others. When we're in agreement with them, fine, but when not, that's when we have problems with the character.

If Diana really kept her location/activities for the year a secret from the people closest to her, I'm sure she had a reason, perhaps to protect them, and I think that's in character. That I disagree with her decision is another matter.

Actually, most of the major heroes in the DCU are like that. Ollie, especially, but he's not as cold-blooded as Bruce is.

And when it comes to Diana, a big problem in her characterization is that, for me, it's never been consistent. The book and character have been rebooted too many times, too many people have written her and put their stamp on her. Warrior princess? Powerless kick-ass heroine? Diplomat? Feminist? Peacekeeper? Celebrity? Who the hell is she really? She probably is all the above, but each writer seems to focus on just one aspect and that makes for a rather disjointed character.

I'm hoping this story arc will finally answer the question, or at least, til the next writer comes along. Since that will be a woman, Jodi Picoult who is new to the character, it should be interesting.

--Shelly, still anonymous, probably until everyone's on beta
I've taken WW off of my pull list. I've done this not because I disagree with the approach (which I do), but because of the quality of the writing. I don't like to read superhero fluff, and this is such shallow writing.

Two issues and we know nothing, really, of what's going on with these heroes. Diana adopts an identity (something for this character she has never done) then struts into the agency like she's been doing it her entire life. I would think there would be even a pause there, something, to reflect the change in her life.

Besides the spinning into her costume, which I despise, I'll take everything else and be quiet. What I miss is a character-driven story. Donna as bling-bling and oodles of villians and heroes is telling me nothing of what the characters are thinking. Well except Cassie, bless her heart. I swear, this is turning into COIE-lite.

My assertion is that they could have taken the "voice" of the last run and put Diana through the same situations of this reboot and it would be much stronger story. But, Allan is choosing to write Diana as a weak homage to the TV show, and that's just not going to answer the question it asks - who is WW?

- Nida, who is very tired and hopes she is making sense.
Shelley: Yeah, I'll concede that part of my frustration stems from the fact that AH has made Diana do something that I don't agree with, or believe to be "out of character." However, I also stand by my assertion that the Diana's big secret element is pretty much a big old plot contrivance deployed by the writer to generate conflict among the characters. (And a clumsy one, at that.) Perhaps worst of all, it sets the writer up to annoyingly deliver yet another "big reveal," the one which will explain to us all exactly why Diana chose this route.

Nida: I hear you. The satisfaction I derived from Moeller's League of One and from the Rucka run has been entirely lacking in the new series so far. I get exacty what you mean about the character's voice, too.
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