Sunday, December 16, 2007

New School: Wonder Woman

When people talk about comic books, there are a few characters that are always mentioned. Spider-Man is the Marvel stand-out: everyone knows who he is, and most people geeked out to him at some point in their lives. He's the big guy for Marvel - yeah, a lot of people know who Captain America, the Hulk, and Wolverine are, and a few others, but none of them have the power over your average American that Spidey does.

DC is fortunate in that they have three such individuals: Batman (and, by extension, Robin), Superman, and finally, Wonder Woman.

Now, Spidey, Superman, and Batman all have had some good runs on their books, created memorable stories. People know what they're about.

Wonder Woman, on the other hand? ...Amazons Attack. ...Love and Murder. It's stories like those that have given Wonder Woman a bad name recently. More than that, it's that no one knows who she is. I've really only read one Wonder Woman run that I really liked: Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman, for me, nailed a lot of things about the character that I thought had been missing. But, in the end, Rucka had to leave, and she was back to the status quo of terrible-bordering-on-nonsensical writing...

So, when fan-favorite writer Gail Simone decided to take on Wonder Woman, a lot of people were pretty happy to hear the news.

Her first issue, Wonder Woman #14, was okay. Not spectacular, not amazing, and not what the character needed, it was still a step up from the average Wonder Woman story. I wasn't sure if I was going to keep buying it, but Gail Simone is on a very short list of writers who gets 4 issues on anything they do. If I don't like it after that, I'll occasionally check scans to see if it's picked up, but she always gets 4 issues.

Wonder Woman #15 came out on December 12th, and it's in the run for my favorite single issue of the month. Gail Simone was telling three different stories in the issue, and shockingly, they were ALL good. She made me care about characters in four pages that I had never cared about before; I learned things about Amazon culture. Oh, yeah - Amazons have a culture now! There were super-intelligent gorillas, a whole crockpot of gods, Wonder Woman has a new patron deity, and Hippolyta is fighting a guerilla war against super-powered Nazis who have come to take over Paradise Isle. Think about that: Wonder Woman's mom killing super-Nazis...

It's important, however, to pay attention to what Hippolyta is saying, because it looks like it's going to be an important part of Wonder Woman in Gail Simone's run: Amazons are NOT afraid of bloodshed. They are NOT afraid to kill. BUT: they don't want to. They want to forgive you, if you'll just let them. They want to help you. If you won't let them, if you want a fight, they'll jump in without hesitation, without shedding a tear. But they want what's best. Even for their worst enemies. The issue is worth buying alone for Wonder Woman's scene with Captain Nazi, in which she explains the Amazon philosophy for such matters.

I think that's what sets her apart, to me. At her best, Wonder Woman is more dedicated to truth than Batman or Superman ever will be. She may not be as smart as Batman, or have the senses of Superman to allow her to discern truth...but when it comes down to it, it will be Wonder Woman who discovers the Truth. The motive. She'll understand. She'll fight with the best of them, but where Batman would despise you and Superman wouldn't get why you were doing it...Wonder Woman would understand why you were doing it, and if you wanted, she would help you undo it, too. You would still be punished, because punishment is important to learning, but she would help you make things right.

Anyway, what this all boils down to is this: give Wonder Woman a shot. She's got a good writer, finally, and the arc is literally just now starting. It's a great place to jump on, even if you have no familiarity with the character, and Gail Simone is one of the classiest writers working today.

And if you need just a little more convincing...

Yes, Wonder Woman is currently living with a group of super-intelligent apes. Go buy it.

Reading List

Greg Rucka has written some wonderful Wonder Woman stuff. This is the first arc in his respected run.

Alternatively, DC publishes archives of some of the older stories. I can't speak for their quality, but it's certainly a place to start.

Finally, Gail Simone is currently writing a fantastic Wonder Woman title.

No comments: