Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #4-6 review

First: A contest!

Etsy's "Good Mommy Ltd" has kindly donated a Wonder Woman decal set, suitable for your kitchen mixer. It's made for white mixers and has a metallic =w= with blue stars. This contest will run THROUGH July 4th. Just comment on this blog or on my Facebook page or Pro page to be entered to win! If you can't wait, just go to Good Mommy's site and order your own now! (They're available for different colors of mixers.) Put some WONDER into your cuisine!

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #4-6 (print #2)
Nov. 2014; cover by Gene Ha
“Brace Yourself” Writer: Jason Bischoff, artist: David Williams, Editor: Kristy Quinn

What a delightful difference from last issue this is! Captivating stories, lovely art, and a truly WONDERful atmosphere for both stories. Ahh. I Am Pleased.

That’s not to say my hackles didn’t rise because neither of these stories fit “my” version of WW, but I will graciously allow others to have their own. You're welcome.

We begin with an origin-ish story, in which Diana is already a young girl. Her mother, Hippolyta (blonde!), escorts her “cheeky lamb” to a mysterious chamber. There Diana learns the history of the Amazons—but even I stumbled at one sentence that made things unclear. Also, it paints all men as being bad, and says the Amazons have been in exile all these years and prevented from doing anything positive.

I prefer the mission to guard Doom’s Doorway. But…

A statue of Athena comes alive, and the goddess herself not only meets but teaches Diana. (How cool! It reminded me of WW (1st series) #147, in which Donna Troy received her official Amazon Test from Athena! That's one of my favorite Wonder stories!) Here and now, though, Diana makes a vow and pledges herself to hope, truth, peace, and justice. In return, Athena molds a silver bracelet around Diana’s right wrist.

But all the other Amazons have two bracelets. Hippolyta explains that the second must be earned in combat, and the only combat that will satisfy a princess’ requirements is a victory over her mother the queen.

From that day forth young Diana lays "crafty" traps and plans to best her mother, but she is always defeated. Diana grows to be the best of the Amazons, and one day appears with a red-headed (blond?) man bound by a lasso, a man who is no threat to the Amazons and someone who needs to be returned home.

The queen declares a contest to determine an emissary to the outside world who will accomplish this task and more. She commands that her daughter may not enter. But she recognizes her “warrior” (gosh, I wish the mythos wouldn't use that word) daughter as she defeats all others. (Unfortunately we get yet another fighting-only version of the Contest, which is something I do not believe in.) As a final challenger, the Queen names herself, and unmasks her daughter.

The battle is fierce. With great pride, the queen finally yields to the greater contestant, and her bracelet clones itself to become Diana’s left bracelet. The story ends with Hippolyta blessing Diana as she departs (in a boat, for those of us who take note of such minutiae):

“Go, if you must. Discover new worlds and dangers that will refuse you reprieve. But no matter how far you run, or what evils befall you—I am with you. I love you, daughter. My Diana. Weapon. Worry. Wonder.”

Ahh. Lovely! Lovely! This is a fabulous fairy tale to inspire children anew. Gorgeous art. Fabulous words.

“Taketh Away”
Writer: Ivan Cohen, Artist: Marcus To

For this story, Diana is an ambassador and is visiting Washington, where imho she should be located. The beginning of this story shows us why: the Wonder Woman mythos is a GREAT place from which to make pithy comments about the US government and politics/culture in general. But no, this story is from the Rucka era, so Diana’s home is NYC.

Circe has turned a number of Congresspeople into pigs. After Diana saves the day, the Speaker of the House calls Diana a “radical pagan with a Maxist agenda.” (Yes! This is the kind of thing that shows up in that novel that I’ll get published if DC will EVER make a deal with Kindle Worlds.)

Diana recounts this to a TV news show interviewer (the show is called Let's Be Frank, so perhaps his name is Frank? I don't see it noted, though the guy is a major player in the story), who is polite until he tries to goad her into confessing that she’s here to force her religious beliefs on people. “Do you deny that the gods literally made you who you are? Turning you from a clay statue into a super-powered spokesmodel?”

Stand back, Di— Let me hit him! "Spokesmodel." Rrr!

Diana argues, “I want people to pay attention to my WORDS, not my RELIGION.” At this point the interviewer becomes all sweetness and even asks her out afterward, which she declines. She can see that he is angry at this.

At the embassy, which is unstaffed for some convenient reason, Diana muses that “I just told the world my gods don’t NEED their worship.” Well actually, that’s not what she said at all. But let’s just pretend that for some reason she did, because the story relies on that.

What happens if the gods were watching?

Next morning, Diana flies across town concerning a report of a gunman at a hospital. Her head begins to buzz, making it difficult to concentrate. She’s arrived at the wrong location, but corrects herself and consults with a policewoman.

“Tell your snipers to stand down and pull the rest of your men back,” Diana tells her. “My negotiations often involve RICOCHETS.” Oh yeah!

Diana confronts the gunman and he fires. She pulls a Bullets & Bracelets on him… but one bullet gets through. It hits her shoulder. The gunman begins to ridicule her for having an inflated rep, and that she can’t be as good as Super-MAN or Bat-MAN, “because THEY have something you don’t! You know what that is?”

“Is it a code against KILLING?” Diana asks him just before she tosses him out into the street hard enough to divest him of his armored vest. The cops collect his sorry butt.

Luckily for Diana, her wound closes (why? how? She was a fast-healer back then, but that fast?) before she reaches the embassy. (And what happened to the bullet inside the wound?) (Shut up!) She wants to use the portal there to go home for counsel, but encounters “drakons,” or snake-like dragons. “Why did it have to be drakons?” Ha ha, I've seen Raiders too!

Ordinarily, such would be a hard battle for her, but now she has to give it her all. She finally makes her way across the chamber to the magic portal, only to have the portal implode on her, eliminating the drakons in the process. When she recovers, she looks into a mirror to discover that her “beauty of Aphrodite,” which she refers to “the most superficial of my gifts,” has left her, and she is ordinary-looking. Horreurs!

The next day Diana tries to clean up the mess, but doesn’t have the strength. “The Olympian abilities that were my birthright are truly gone.” She goes out into the city, unrecognized, to consider her options. “Even without my powers, I am an AMAZON. And Amazons do not ask for help… we GIVE it.” So when she hears a cry for help, she reacts.

Cheetah is in the zoo, killing animals and eating them. (A misplaced sound effect makes it seem like the dead animal is purring.) Cheetah implies that Diana’s gods have betrayed her. Their fight is one-sided, as Diana feels like she’s “moving through molasses.” Her lasso can’t contain Cheetah, and the villain tosses Diana into an aviary. Dazed, Diana lies with birds all around her before Cheetah rushes in.

Diana runs to open the door to a snow leopard’s cage. The rather human-looking beast attacks Cheetah, and that is that. (My logic circuits kick on again. Cheetah is not just a were-cheetah; she has suped-up powers. That's why she's suitable to be a Wonder villain. Couldn't she have kicked the larger beast's butt?) (Shut up!)

After all has been cleaned up, Diana returns to Washington (? might be NYC) and the Let’s Be Frank studio, where Frank awaits. She asks him if he still finds her attractive. He replies, “Not in the slightest, but I can work past it. And we’ve got the studio to ourselves, so we can keep the cameras rolling… if that’s what you’re into.”

Diana drinks from the goblet he hands her (why?), then hears Greek-accented (why “accented?”) voices call her foul names. They tell her that they’re taking away her life force and returning her to clay. She freezes into a crouch.

Frank asks if “it” is done, and from the seats, Dr. Psycho replies that it is. Wonder Woman might stay immobile for centuries, thinking she’s a statue.

Psycho plots Frank’s upcoming college tour with “so many NUBILE young fans,” and Frank says, “Please… I have a wife… a daughter…” Apparently Frank has, at some point, thought to be Psycho’s partner, but now he is his plaything. Psycho has manipulated Diana’s confidence, as well as the gunman and Cheetah.

When Psycho goes to Diana to gloat more, Diana grabs his wrist. Next time we see him, Psycho’s in restraints and splints as well as a neck brace (eat dirt, Psycho!), being hauled away by paramedics.

Diana excuses Frank by saying he was as much a victim as she. Well… okay, if you say so. At any rate, he's learned his lesson, which is the result she's always after. Y'see, Psycho forgot that Diana can talk with animals like birds. She had already been suspicious. “If [Diana's gods] wanted to punish me, they wouldn’t do it by a thousand cuts… they’d just cut off my HEAD.”

She concludes with, “It’s not my belief in THEM that’s important. It’s my belief in ME.”

Okay, good story! Sure, this is the “got her powers on a silver platter; didn’t have to work for ‘em” Wonder Woman whom I think took the wrong road, but if we put ourselves in her continuity, this plays very well. Plus it has that “confidence” thing at the end, always a plus. I don’t even mind— much— the use of that— gahh!— stupid “talking with animals” crap, or the bit about how WW can only be important if she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Aren’t we beyond that now?

I thought Psycho could have looked a lot more, you know, psycho, but all the art here was handsome, the action clearly delineated. There were a lot of solid dialogue lines and situations.

Just a satisfying issue all around. Yeah!

So what did you think about this issue?

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