donderdag 3 januari 2013

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder





I’ve been sitting on this for a week now. Time by time postponing the review because dammit, this is too hard. But let’s start at the beginning.
By some means (not illegal, trust me) I came in possession of a gift card of fifty euro. While strolling through the bookstore a philosophical problem came upon me. Shouldn’t I spend my hard earned money on a book I really like, and a book of uhm meh quality with money I got? So after 3 hours of indecisiveness I finally stumbled upon this Wonder Woman comic. In the literature fiction section. A DC comic just randomly stuck with other prose novels.
Yeah my country is odd.
So, back to this horrible horrible comic. Lets first see the cover.

Yeah, that’s a very very big author’s title there. JODI PICOULT. In fact, its bigger than anything else on the comic, just a bit smaller than Wonder Woman there, who is making an uninteresting pose. Yeah, that really catches my attention. A black background and a pose. We can’t have a scene in the comic to hint what it might be about, because hahahaha people might be interested in this. On the upside that is a well drawn wonder woman. Yeah, boobs and buts accentuated sides unnatural thin. That looks like every woman I’ve seen, and all the girls who don’t look like that should hunger themselves out to fit the ideal.
Yeah I went there, no its not nitpicking.
So anyways, Jodi Picoult, henceforth named JP, starts this soft cover TPB with an introduction about her experiences. This is little extra content, but I’m happy with it. I’m less happy here to see that JP claims it was her idea to resurrect both Wondie’s mother, Hypothelia and the sorceress Circe. She claims she wants to “explore” the mother daughter relationship while also pitting Wondie to a villain that matches her. Odd. When writers want to explore relationships, they sometimes create characters who in some way connect to the main character. Like in the Cassandra Cain solo Batgirl series she gained a friend at a local shop while also a possible love interest at a rock party.  And with the narrative thoughts and interactions with others we can see how she feels and acts when the topic of parents are brought up (her dad is a murderer and her mother an assassin). Wondie’s mother has been dead for quite a while, and in this issue, Love and Murder, we see her resurrection by the hand of the villainess Circe.

Who was also deceased.

Okay. A little interruption with backstory about the writer. Jodi Picoult is already well known for her prose novels Nineteen Minutes, Change of Hearts and many others. She’s an acclaimed writer and this book is her premier to comics (and if I did my research adequately, her last endeavor into the medium). So…this is definitely a writer who can write well.

So how did this turd happen?

Well before I recap the story, let’s go a bit in the background of WW.
Pre-crisis Wonder Woman (pre-crisis indicates the comics before Crisis on Infinitive Earths where reality god rebooted) was an Amazonian from the island Themyscira, living till adulthood exclusively around women. She ventured into “Man’s world” to learn more from the outside world and teach them about equality and stuff. Also, bondage. Lots and lots of bondage. But that’s the implicit stuff. After the famous asshole psychiatrist exampled Wondie as a negative example for girls (being strong, fighting and social roles not fitting for a woman) writers bonded her down for a while, making her as helpless and useless as any female character at that time. Well of course there was a time pre-crisis where the comic world matured a bit, and more social relevant stories were written. Wondie regained her original personality and had a many good time adventures, writers blissfully ignoring the many continuity errors plaguing comics at that time. Is it weird to team up with your teenage and baby self from previous timelines? Don’t tell Wondie.

Then the Crisis struck. During crisis, Earth 1 Wonder Woman got hit and apparently killed, turning back into the clay she was originally formed. Earth 2 Wonder Woman saw her world wiped out, alongside many of her friends. The Greek Gods invited residence among themselves, and so the original Diana of Themyscira ascended to Olympus. Of course, Crisis on Infinitive Earths was a structural strategy to sort the DC universe world and make things less complicating…by making it more complicating. See, the CoIE could’ve worked perfectly if writers weren’t so hung up to EXACTLY KEEP CONTINUITY AS IT WAS. For example: both Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were to be Batman’s Robin, but since the characters were too similar, they changed Jason to be annoying and unlikable. This resulted in his death. Meanwhile Frank Miller got the note to reinvent Batman’s origins, which he did. But then introduced lt. Gordon as a starting family guy with a baby son. And no daughter. But writers liked the daughter and didn’t know what to do with the son, so for the next twenty years they made complicated stories to shove the son out of Gordon’s life and introduced Babs as a step-daughter-cousin or something. But I digress. With the Wondie they wanted to keep the feminism part alive, and also the mythological part. So her story was that her mother formed her out of clay and the various God’s bestowed her life and abilities. She lived and trained with the Amazonian warriors, until she ventured out to Man’s world to learn more and teach compassion.

There were a lot of hit and miss stories, but between the periods of CoIE and Infinite Crisis (the sequel) Wonder Woman had proven time and time again to be a strong and confident character. She spends as much time among the people as she did the heroes, and even developed many friends and relationships. She helped bridge her home-island Themyscira with the outside world, and was thus appointed Ambassador. Both worlds prospered with the exchange of magic and technology. She wrote a damn philosophy book. So what changed?

Just before the events of Infinite Crisis Superman and Batman were captured and almost killed by former-friend-now-foe Maxwell Lord. To save Superman’s life Wonder Woman was forced to snap his neck – though this got recorded and streamed worldwide, making everyone afraid of Wonder Woman and paranoid of other “ruthless” Amazonians. Which makes no sense. Superman knows what happened, he might’ve not forgiven her for saving his LIFE in expense of Lord, but at least he could’ve floated down to Earth and explained what happened. He might’ve not approved of Wondie’s deed, but it did SAVE him and he OWES her to clarify things to the people. They saw those images out of context, and thus had only one opinion about it. Sigh but I digress (noticed I didn’t even start talking about the comic yet).

All right so IC happened, day was saved, Superman forgave WW yabayabayaba. STILL the people are paranoid of Amazonians and afraid of Wondie. In Love & Murder we even see WW’s toys getting cancelled and replaced, among WW losing her image as a hero. In fact, in her secret identity (I will address that in a minute) she is even ordered to bring Wonder Woman in!
 
Well quick info about her secret identity. During an previous run on WW, the writer had an ingenious idea to give this ONE superhero who didn’t need a secret identity, a secret identity. Because she needed to be “closer” to the people she saved daily. So she could “feel to be human.” Dude didn’t realize that Wondie IS human, albeit super powered, but she lived among people her whole life and the outside world for the past ten to fifteen years? (DC comics is like an top model; they refuse to accept the passing of age). All right, I’ll give ya the benefit of the doubt. Tell me, genius writer, what job will bring her closer to the life of a normal human?

Secret fucking agent.

Wait, don’t misread that. I mean she’s a spy. A secret agent going on dangerous mission all over the world. Please lets agree to visit the writer’s house and force a facepalm on him. So that’s where this comic starts. Jodi Picoult writing WW in her secret identity as secret agent, ordered to bring herself as WW in.
Sigh.

She has a partner called Tom Trevor, who is a shapeshifter. Do you like shapeshifters? You better cuz this comic is plagued by them. Admittedly there is some fun characterization here. A bit of chemistry between Tom, showing his playful sides when he’s alone or with Wondie, but a strict side when he’s working. There is humor, a few laughs, and some heart touching stuff.

One thing that bothers me though…

THIS IS NOT WONDER WOMAN. That…woman that calls herself Diana Prince and claims to be WW, just isn’t her. WW lived among the outside world for YEARS. She knows how use money – she wrote a philosophy book! She knows what coffee is – She wrote a damn Book! – She knows HOW to refuel a damn car – SHE WROTE A DAMN BOOK. This characterization would work if it was someone else, ANYONE else. Someone new from Themyscira even. But no, Wondie is a total dumb-ass here. She doesn’t feel like she’s human – which she clearly is! –and doesn’t know how to use basic mechanics in society. This is like Superman suddenly not knowing how trains work, or complaining how he feels detached from society. Hell even in All-Star Superman when his mind and body was ascending to a higher level he felt closer to humans and his loved ones than ever.

But the writers weren’t planning on telling a WW story – no no, they wanted a fish out of the water WW story. Didn’t want to check continuity or actually read some good WW stories to see how WW works from the inside. Jodi Picoult who is known for doing precarious research before she writes, plainly writes WW as the most dullest and Hollywood-cliché character, relying on the contrast of WW being alien to the society to tell a story rather than live in WW as she’s supposed to.

This review is way too long.

To sum this up: Wondie and Tom are tasked to find WW and bring her in. Tom gets kidnapped by a now-returned Circe and Wondie goes saving him. After trying to find shelter and info about Circe, Wondie walks into a trap and is captured by her own agency. Circe returns to Themyscira and resurrects Wondie’s mother, telling her her daughter was kidnapped by the USA. Meanwhile Wondie gets tortured and interrogated about “Amazonian weapon technology”. Tom Trevor uses his shapeshifting abilities to free Wondie, and the two escaped from the base.

That is part one, and the best part of the comic. But trust me, good it isn’t. But part two is even worse. Especially since to what it will lead to..

So Wondie and Tom are free, but they are in Washington DC and they see some parts are ravaged. Wondering what’s going on, they find out the DC heroes fighting against Amazonians. After some very confusing dialogue we learn that the Amazonians under guidance of Wondie’s mum have attacked Washington DC. The funniest subtext is them smashing an obelisk (hi hi). Well there is some chatting and oh hey they meet Circe again, who for some reason is holding a box with “deadly Amazonian weapon technology”. After a fight Circe is killed…by WW’s mom. Another fight breaks out and Tom gets the box in possession, but accidently opens it. And it reveals…the most deadliest Amazonian Weapon!

Bees.

My god.

Dumbasses of the USA, please feel free to use these “deadly Amazonian weapons” to your advantage. Oh wait they do, Tom gets stung and is mere “hours” away from dying. So then our comic ends with Wondie facing her mother challenging to choose between her disillusioned ethics or her daughter’s life.
For those who have not read the comic and are unaware, Wondie’s mum is INSANE.

I hate this comic. I’m happy I didn’t pay a single cent for it and I’m happy no one else paid to get this copy. This comic does two things right: it blatantly disregards Wonder Woman as an unique and iconic character and her whole of continuity, and makes her dumb and dull. And it also targets her mother, and all of the Amazonians just for the sake of story.

Second: it’s an offensive attempt for allegory (the Amazon/Washington war satirizing the Iraq war) where they turn an island of independent free-thinking feminist into shallow misogynist. Many times we’ll see the Amazon’s killing without thought or compassion, just because the enemy is from Man’s world. Many times they regard to the outside world as a lower species that needs to be exterminated or ruled. DC comics turned the Queen of the Amazon’s into the stereotype of the “angry feminist” who always rants about injustice towards women and men being the cause of all evil.  DC thinks that Wondie killing Maxwell Lord is the issue that makes her unpopular in her world, but the real issue is them insulting feminist all over the world using one of the most popular female characters ever.

I may have omitted this in my anger, but the events of Love and Murder lead directly into the company wide event “Amazon Attacked” a series so utterly criticized people actually mailed back their copies of it to DC. It is an event full of needless padding, dumb characters and offensive violence just to make a buck.

And this comic lead to it all. *punches comic*.

1/5 stars (art is adequate though unrealistic).

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