DC Ruins Wonder Woman, Twice in One Day

The women of G3 stopped buying Wonder Woman months ago. But on occasion, I still read the issues in order to review them. Today, I read Wonder Woman #25 for that very reason (review forthcoming).

EDIT: Here’s that review.

***SPOILER WARNING***

The issue opens with Zola, Hera and Diana having coffee talk. In a flagrant “Fuck you!” to the Bechdel Test; first they compare notes about Hermes spying on them, then they expound upon how Apollo affected Hera and then Orion shows up to “save them” from Hermes’ watchful eye. The pixie-dream Strife punctuates the family gathering with an obvious attempt at subversion. Strife doing what Strife does, gives Diana a gift. It’s the helmet of the recently deceased Ares and we are presented with this gem of a panel …

Wonder Woman #25 - You Bitch

That’s Diana calling Strife a bitch.

^That’s me being as painfully obvious as the female characterization in this issue.

It wouldn’t be an issue of Wonder Woman if prime panel real estate (and actual storytelling) wasn’t given to characters other than our prosaic Princess. One of them being the First Born chained down, roasted-pig style, while Dio cuts him open and serves his spleen to Apollo in a lovely plate presentation. With cannibalism being a serious human taboo and all, this scene is plenty horrifying. Yet it falls squarely within the realm of characterizing these gods as being so far beyond mortality that they can chat casually over “dinner.” It’s decent writing … and far less disgusting than the above panel.

Diana’s outburst reduces her to some derivative of a pop-culture, 20-something, faux empowered “chick” that we have plenty of already. I would know. I watch TV with my 14 year old daughter. And really, it’s more of the same from Azzarello and company on DC’s flagship female led title, profound disappointment and palpable frustration.

It is known

As if reading Wondy turned Mean Girl wasn’t enough for one day, DC released the variant cover art for Superman/Wonder Woman #3.

superman-wonder-wonder-3-var

There are no fucking words.

EDIT: I came up with some words for that image – absurd, unbelievable, insert Fabio where Supes is, absurd, ill-proportioned and ridiculous. Just to be clear, I am not offended by the amount of skin or the connotation of sex in space. It’s just so silly.

After reading Wonder Woman #25, I guess needed a good belly-laugh.

ron-swanson-laughing

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40 thoughts on “DC Ruins Wonder Woman, Twice in One Day

  1. I dropped ww-book too long ago to start the “bs that does not compute” anew.

    As for superman/wonder woman, it might surprise you how good this comic is being so far. Charles S. gotta struggle with this version of Azz-Diana and her entourage (for that’s the current canon), but at times he does make her work and even deliver some brutal-but-not-too-
    gross kickassery. It’s not the greatest book ever, but it’s decevenent and good looking, and is definitely better than I hoped (and I hoped big for that comic).
    This cover on the other hand…. uh. So much wrong in it, who even drew this?

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      • I like that she thinks about her family and mother’s state in it (at least once in two issues, I’m sure it’s more than in the last 10 of her OWN book). That there’s slight nods to the fact that she had got her ability to fly only recently; her no-nonsense “my hands are broken? so what, it’ll heal”-approach. And – minus the variant #3 cover (of course) – I really like how this book is drawn, a lot.
        Also, she totally allows Superman to “defend her honor”, and afterwards he does say “sorry for that, I know you’re able do this yourself” – so I think I can forgive that burst of chivalry, as well. Besides, you gotta admit that it is done in a kind of cool ad hilarious way, too.
        I just hope they don’t get to the usual “boyfrend/girlfriend, superpowers for sprinkles” way of dealing with the plot. So far, I’m good with this book.

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  2. That SMWW cover sets off so many of my buttons. Basically they are taking all the great images of Lois Lane and Superman and substituting Diana in the picture. There are so many great and sexy pictures of Lois wrapped in Superman’s cape that this image really makes Diana seem like a stand in for her. Ugh! The queen of all female superheroes is little more teenaged fangirl hot over the godlike Superstud. I really just hate you DC.

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    • Not to mention that Supes’ anatomy is ridiculous and Diana clearly had a not very successful facelift and/or nose job.

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      • Yeah it kind of is going all the way back to Margot Kidder in the old Superman movies. There are so many pictures of Lois wrapped in his cape that it is almost iconic.

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  3. V, as you so succinctly put:

    “There are no fucking words.”

    That sums up how I feel about Azzarello’s runs ( and when I say runs in this case I mean the ‘s’ and I mean diarrhea, I loath his/this version of WW). And it also sums up how I feel about Diana FINALLY getting a second title because she is now SM’s girlfriend. She did not need nor deserve another title before it seems.
    I am beyond tired and very sad about this DC jagfest that is called Wonder Woman.

    Thanks for doing this review.

    p.s. me saying this is something because a) I do not use profanity and b) I am never scatalogical.
    This is what DC’s new 52 WW has brought me to. ; )

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  4. So I’ll never like Wonder Woman as much as I enjoy her with Gail Simone Helming the book. However, Azzarello’s run right now is one of my favorites. I haven’t read #25 yet but I’m as excited as can be for it.

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    • Have fun with that, Jimmy. I know you are not alone considering the fervor I elicit when I rail against Azzarello’s Wondy. But I have found 21 of the last 25 issues to be profoundly uninspiring among other things.

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      • Hope my comment didn’t come off as insulting. I know fellow blogger Martin Gray of the awesome British comic book world dropped Wonder Woman like a stack of hot cakes after the first arc and has no intention of returning. (http://dangermart.blogspot.com/) The appeal for me is its stand-alone status. For over two years it hasn’t relied on tie-ins or crossovers. I’m also a little twisted so it’s gruesome nature is definitely appealing.

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        • Of course not! No insult taken. Pardon my sort of impatience with giving this book accolades. There are just so many things wrong with it for me.

          But your points about being self-contained and gruesome are fair … and accurate. Rock on!

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          • While I believe your views of the book to be a bit distorted (Come on, Orion didn’t save anyone. Only thing he achieved was another jackass award.) I understand if BA and CC’s take on the character is a bit off for some readers.

            But I think you’ll be better off soon enough. The third year very much feels like the third and final act. So here’s to HOPE that the book will have writer that you’ll like better.

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          • I make no secrets or apologies that my opinion is biased heavily towards nostalgia … towards a Wonder Woman that exhibits some grace and wisdom, among many other things. I have written about this before.

            I am also well aware that Azzarello is attempting to write a Wonder Woman like no other that has come before. He is intentionally taking the character into uncharted territory. I just happen to think that territory sucks. I DO NOT think Cliff Chiang’s art sucks. I happen to think that is pretty amazing. And I have enjoyed some of the other characters, especially the incorporation of the New Gods – but more the aesthetic of it than the narrative.

            But based on interviews and podcasts with the writer … he doesn’t care much about Diana. He is much more interested in the supporting cast, and I think that is evident in his story. I am interested in reading a Wonder Woman story … this just isn’t it.

            So, hats off to the hope that whenever a new writer comes along … it will be more enjoyable than this.

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  5. *sigh*

    The Olympus storyline in Smallville Season 11 was so good. It’s the only current WW story I was reading and I’m mad it’s over. I really hope they bring it back or, even better, give WW her on digital-first book.

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  6. Actually, the Greek gods did not eat human flesh — it was a serious taboo and they were always outraged when some stupid mortal invited them to a feast and gave them roasted human as the main course. One example was Licaeus (sp?), a Greek king who wanted to show his appreciateon to Zeus for making him prosperous — he killed and roasted one of his captives and served the guy up tp Zeus who, when he realized he was being served human flesh, was so outraged he turned Licaeus and all his sons into wolves. Thus the word Licanthropy for werewolves. So along with everythiong else Brian Azzarello doesn’t know — or doesn’t care about — Greek mythology.

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    • You are spot on mswuff.
      Azzarello has jacked up the Greek myths, Diana’s origin, the Amazons, he does not care at all.
      When he is finally gone from writing/mapping Wonder Woman, that will be a happy day for me.

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    • The Olympians didn’t eat roasted flesh of any kind (animal or human). They liked the smell of the roasted animals sacrificed to them but they only ate ambrosia.

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    • Guess what, Apollo is cited as having no respect of tradition in the book.

      And these Greek gods are not the mythical ones, they’re nu-ones. They are FORMED by their believers. Take for example Ares who lost his mind over all the mindless conflict that is in the world. Something that didn’t became any easier when a 13 year old Diana influenced him into showing mercy.

      And no, that very Diana isn’t perfect. She’s not a perfect princess that’s as strong and boring as Superman. She’s like a person while the gods act like spoiled children.

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  7. Hey,

    I’ve been following your posts about Wonder Woman with a sense of resigned agreement and shared frustration. And I’m trying to think — somehow, though I grew up on superhero comics and the Wonder Woman tv show, I can’t call to mind many truly great WW comics. So while we’re talking about the stuff that’s not working, can you counter-suggest any comics that feel like WW written right? I just… I want to wash the recent stuff out of my mind and not let it stick. Thanks.

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    • Hi Karen!

      You read our minds. We’ve actually been working on a substantial piece that highlights moments through Wonder Woman’s continuity that really worked for the character. Coming soon … to this blog right here.

      But for the sake of this comment – my fallback for Wonder Woman tends to be Greg Rucka. More specifically her battle with Medusa and then her face off with Max Lord. The Medusa battle really drives home the mythic proportions of this character – and gives a great “Fuck yeah, Wonder Woman!” moment. The Max Lord thing explores her warrior ethics and courage to do the thing that most superheroes would just as soon let the collateral damage rise then be the “villain.” What DC did with the character POST Max Lord, I don’t agree with. E. did a great essay about THAT here. (Funny enough, at the time that article was written, we were positive about Azzarello’s Wondy.)

      I recently re-read Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman and I enjoyed it much more than the first time. What Simone did with Wondy was much more subtle and layered, particularly in her first arc, The Circle. The rest of the run has some really great moments. I particularly enjoy the Black Canary/Wondy team-up. It’s fun and feminine and gives a different context for Diana.

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      • I will look forward to that! And check out Rucka’s work. I was disappointed with Gail Simone’s run (mainly because I expect great things from her) but I agree that on rereading The Circle, once I’ve given up on the plot, what comes through is a more genuinely women-centric Amazon culture and some subtlety in their interpersonal dynamics that didn’t feel like a betrayal of the Wonder Woman I love. And all of Simone’s work with Black Canary alongside other women makes me happy. Still, though. I could do with more “Fuck yeah, Wonder Woman!” moments, in general. Keeping an eye on your blog for good reading material, thanks.

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  8. I think Azzarello’s run is perfect. It is the best series of the new 52. They make a great use of greek mythology. Just take War for instance or Hephaistos…
    In fact, after reading the first trades of Azzarello’s WW I bought some back issues of WW (many Singles and trades from Byrne to Perez) and, although I did like the most, none of them comes close to the “new” WW.
    Just my humble opinion.

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  9. You’re seriously misrepresenting the Bechdel rule if you’re suggesting Hera, Zola, and Diana are sitting around talking about men. In the first instance, they’re talking about Diana and her ability to forgive. In the second, Hera reveals her newfound understanding of mortality.

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  10. I love the character WW. If Azzarello just wanted to write about Greek mythology why didn’t he petition Didio for a new title, this was the New 52. As I have stated before, to me WW is an ideal, she stands for something (this is usually different for people). If all he wanted was to tell a story concerning the Greek pantheon I am sure he could have come up with a unique character and told this story. Heck. he could have pulled an Alan Moore and found some B or C character and built them up to be a little more significant in te New 52. Maybe introduce Donna Troy? I have yet to see where WW is crucial to the story he is telling. All of you ladies do fine work in upholding WW’s legacy. I seem to remember Roy & Dann Thomas did some nice storeis WAAAY back.

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  11. “Diana’s outburst reduces her to some derivative of a pop-culture, 20-something, faux empowered “chick” that we have plenty of already.”

    Wow. You hit the hit nail right on the head. Everytime one of these characters appears on the screen, I sigh and think, “Her again.” It’s basically the same character, with a different name and actress, in every show. No characterization because her empowered attitude is all we need. It’s very similar to when comic books went through its “grim and gritty” phase of the 1990s — Every character had a “dark side,” so no further characterization was needed.

    The latest similar trend is the insane villain. No plot required because they’re insane, so “they can do anything.”

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  14. Vanessa — I’ve appreciated your thoughtful criticism of Azzarello’s Wonder Woman run. For me, it was my first real exposure to Wonder Woman, so I didn’t have any particular problems with his decision to change her mythos, and I thought exploring Greek mythology was a cool idea. I also was really drawn to Chiang’s art. So I had no problem with the series in concept. But I quit after laboring through 18 issues or so, because I couldn’t stand the writing. Like you, I feel like Azzarello’s gotten way too much praise for this series.

    Aside from your valid criticism of him making Diana a bystander, I think he’s a boring and uninspired writer who leans heavily on cliches, awful puns (which have killed the comic for me more than anything — “Hello? Hell low, indeed,” are you serious? Does he just write down the first thing that pops into his head?), and — as you’ve noted — dumbed down language. Like a lot of his dialogue in the series, I think a line like “You bitch” is offensive, among other things, for being badly written. That’s really the best thing he could come up with?

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    • Thanks for your input, Matt! I appreciate the validation. A great deal of what I here from readers who’s first experience with Wonder Woman is this current run … is extremely apologetic to Azz and as I have made crystal clear, I’m at a loss to the appeal apart from Chiang.

      I labored through about just as many issues as you and a couple more – and it’s TRUE. Azzarello’s writing is boring and uninspired. And those puns … so. many. bad. puns. ACK!

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