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Pointless Flashbacks, Clunky Exposition Equal Another Atrocious Wonder Woman Issue

Gather round my friends for yet another installment of absolute garbage that is masquerading as a Wonder Woman series. Issue #42, part 2 of “Amazons Attacked,” has everything that we’ve come to expect from the talents of James Robinson: extensive focus on every character except Wonder Woman, unnecessary flashbacks to “explain” plot developments that are unconnected to the current story, and exposition & lore that is just staggeringly bad. Truly, this issue has it all.

But never fear, for I have finally decided to stop being angry—or even disappointed—over the sheer depths that this series tries to plumb. Instead I’m just going to lean back and let the filth wash over me because, really, what other choice do I have? If I let this comic continue to tear at my psyche there wouldn’t be anything left, and I won’t give it the satisfaction of taking me down with it. It doesn’t deserve my sanity.

Instead I’ll just shake my head and move on, because it’s not worth dwelling on.

Recap We’ll waste some time with Jason and then kick the mythology of the New Gods around a bit

The issue picks up immediately where the last issue left off, with Jason reappearing to Diana and Steve Trevor at A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters. Diana again asks him where he’s been—the comic specifically makes it clear that she’s had to repeat herself—and Jason can’t explain what happened to him or where he got his new armor. All he can do is say that it was “a dream of giants” as his hazy flashback shows him towered over by indistinct, gargantuan figures.

I’ll give the issue this much credit (but no more): the extended panel of minuscule Jason dwarfed by the beings that he can’t comprehend finally gives the series a scale and majesty worthy of the Greek pantheon and the New Gods. The surrounding explanation is vague and meaningless, and Diana’s expressive warmth to have him back makes no sense given that it’s only been a week and in the last issue she wasn’t even sure if she should be concerned at all, but that one panel at least got something right.

This is the appropriate level of “wow” that anything called a ‘god’ deserves.

Before they can dig more into what this all means, Steve is approached by an A.R.G.U.S. operative who tells him to report immediately since Grail has been located in Bavaria. It will take several hours for Steve and the Oddfellows to get to Germany, but Jason helpfully explains that he now has new powers (that he can’t explain), so he can fly even faster than Wonder Woman and get the two of them to Grail very quickly. He takes off carrying Wonder Woman, and Steve belatedly says that he’ll meet them there.

As they fly, Diana observes that Jason is being very quiet. Jason says that he is reflecting back on everything that has happened, specifically how he first met Grail.

The comic cuts to a flashback of Jason’s encounter with the Deep Six, who had ambushed him on the Aegean back when he was living as a “mere” fisherman. The Six attack him one at a time, each helpfully naming themselves in the third person which Jason mocks in his recap. Jason defeats five of them until the sixth manages to gain the upper hand. That was when Grail appeared from a Boom Tube, saving Jason’s life in what he can now realize was an obvious setup to earn his trust.

Jumping back to the present, Jason finishes his story as they approach Grail’s location after only twelve minutes of flight. Grail has overwhelmed and is about to kill the Wild Huntsman, a German superhero, but Wonder Woman has Jason throw her so that she can reach the scene even faster and knocks Grail aside. As the two of them fight, Jason is swarmed by Parademons, the footsoldiers of Darkseid.

Wonder Woman manages to ensnare Grail in the Lasso of Truth and force her to reveal Darkseid’s plan, which is to collect the various New God relics across the earth and use them to create a connection to the ‘energy’ of the Greek pantheon and Themyscira. As she speaks, though, Grail has been concentrating and preparing herself, and because of her combined Apokolips/Amazon heritage she is able to break the lasso and make her escape.

I’d make a “Next Time, Gadget!” joke, except that Dr. Claw doesn’t deserve to be slandered by association like that.

The issue ends back at the temple of the New Gods in the Amazon jungle with Darkseid planning an attack on A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters to claim the last of the relics and activate his machine.

Review Maybe we can pretend this is some sort of avant-garde art and that’s why it doesn’t make sense

Boy am I glad that I decided to stop caring about this series, because if I did care….whoooo would this issue do a number on me.

First off, there’s the fact that (like every single issue so far) Diana simply isn’t the main character. It is—again—an issue meant to explore the backstory of Jason and talk about how all of this story is about him. He’s re-introduced as now being more powerful than even she is, with explicit dialogue to that effect as Jason talks about how he’s even faster than she is now and how his control of the elements is even more easy and natural than it was before. Two issues ago his story was about how he needs to grow the hell up, and now he’s already coming back as the new Big Power guy in the story.

A completely silent woman being literally guided by the hand. Why yes, that is exactly what I think of when I think “Wonder Woman.”

We also get another flashback to his early life, four pages where Diana is theoretically present in the sense that Jason is telling this story to her, but during which she neither appears on the page nor has any dialogue. In fact, I counted, and Diana only has twenty-seven lines in the entire issue, which doesn’t even average out to two lines per page. Several sequences have her completely dialogue-less, even when she is on-panel. Jason, on the other hand, gets to give multiple speeches, and even Steve Trevor (Who only appears on four pages total) gets to have lines on pages where Diana is completely silent.

In fact, speaking of Steve Trevor and the way this series seems to go out of its way to deliberately sideline Diana, there’s the way that the A.R.G.U.S. operative goes to him at the beginning and tells him about Grail. When Wonder Woman—the SUPERHERO—is standing right next to him.

You might be inclined to say that it’s because Diana isn’t a member of A.R.G.U.S. and so the operative is just sticking to her official chain of command, except that Steve is also not a member of A.R.G.U.S. He works for the Picket, a completely separate government agency, and has neither authority within nor obligation to A.R.G.U.S. James Robinson clearly wants Steve to go back to working for A.R.G.U.S. given the way that it’s the primary agency of the series, but he hasn’t actually written that happening. He’s just stopped mentioning the Picket and hoped that the audience has forgotten about it.

Notice how they don’t even look at Wonder Woman?

But let’s back up a bit to that flashback again; the original flashback to Jason’s early life and his confrontation with the Deep Six was in issue #35. That’s seven issues ago, enough space for a different (competent) series to have written two full story arcs, or even an event minseries. It was published four months ago, which is time enough for other comics to have already begun publication and subsequently been cancelled. We have moved past that story, and returning to it now makes no sense. Most readers would likely have flat-out forgotten about it, and those who remembered probably just didn’t care.

And if they did care, if for some reason a reader really did want to know just how it was that Grail managed to trick Jason, well they would have been disappointed because this new flashback doesn’t actually answer any questions. We might know how Grail first introduced herself to Jason, but how she convinced him to turn against the father-figure he knew and loved (Hercules) there’s no mention at all. It is literally not even addressed how Grail turned “I saved your life” into “Now help me kill your loved ones” since the flashback just stops after she shows up.

Getting to the issue’s climax, the problem with the ‘reveal’ of what Darkseid’s plan is is that it isn’t a reveal. Diana might be hearing it for the first time, but we aren’t. Since it is literally just a double-page of Grail talking, and talking, and talking without the audience actually getting any new information, it is painfully dull and pointless. When you cap it with Grail somehow breaking the lasso of Truth, I just….I can’t even.

I will just close this review with a clip from Justice League Unlimited, which I linked in an earlier review, and which shows how Darkseid should handle regaining control of Apokolips instead of whatever the hell this plan is supposed to be.

It really should be that dang easy for him.


Images from Wonder Woman #42 Courtesy of DC Comics

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A fan of media and fandoms alike, partial to overly-analytical fixation on minute details that most people simply do not care about.

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