Superheroes don’t take vacation.
When was the last time Bruce Wayne took off to the Bahamas just to chill, heal up, and get his mind back in the game? Nope — it just doesn’t happen. When you become a superhero, your work is never finished. Every moment you’re not on the battlefield, it’s research and reaction. Blood pressure probably claims more superhero lives than any particular villain.
In Wonder Woman #37, we see how the God of War copes with also being Queen of the Amazons and a member of the Justice League. She’s also in a relationship with Superman, and when last we saw her, Diana Prince found her clay mother in pieces — a new development that would push non-wonder women and men to the precipice.
It’s a whirlwind of torment and responsibilities that’s worsening by the moment — issue #37 starts in the midst of another attack on Paradise Island by Ares’ Stymphalian Birds. Annoyed that the Queen hasn’t been present to help fend off the birds or even see what’s been happening on the island, the Amazons have become increasingly vocal about their displeasure. Elsewhere on the island, a sorceress prepares a human sacrifice in a bid to take control.
So what is Wonder Woman doing while her people suffer and practice dark magic — training with boyfriend Clark Kent and brushing off his attempt to discuss the emotional impact of her mother being broken into pieces. Though she acknowledges the thought of her mother haunts her every day, she’s just too busy to mourn.
Back on Paradise Island, the governing council has requested an audience with the Queen. An ultimatum is given — remain permanently on the island as its queen or abdicate and let another lead. Wonder Woman ignores the council’s wishes and chooses to remain as Queen of the Amazons, member of the Justice League, and God of War in spite of what’s best for her people. You’d think the perfectly timed return of the Stymphalian Birds would give Diana some perspective, and she promises to deal with the birds only to ditch everyone in the meantime to go help the Justice League.
I mean, seriously, really?
The choice is literally between saving her people from a problem caused directly by her killing Ares and investigating the disappearance of a village as a member of a superhero squad in which she’s neither the strongest member or, let alone, the world’s greatest detective. Diana is making the worst of two choices, and the consequences — which Derinoe hints at — will probably add another level of pain in Diana’s downward spiral.
One can argue that Meredith Finch is getting it all wrong, but I’m inclined to believe her purpose is to create an emotionally complex story that doesn’t immediately set up the superhero for an easy win. Superheroes need to learn from their mistakes, and Meredith has stacked the deck against Wonder Woman for a really, really bad day that she’s helped to create. In terms of scripting, things move pretty well, scene to scene, though there’s a bit too much explication this time around — the entire scene with Clark and Diana could have been left out, and no one would have missed it. There’s also something a little cartoony in Derinoe and the sorceress — a bit of Destro and Cobra Commander. These two are supposedly up to no good, and they’re just counting down the days until things get topsy turvy.
David Finch’s pencils are better this time around — Wonder Woman looks less like a doll and more like the character we’ve seen on television and comic books. It’s not perfect, but it’s something I’ll have to accept since the creative team isn’t about to jet after a couple of issues, nor should they. Finch delivers some eyebrow-raising panels, and his action sequences have a flow to them that makes it very easy on the eyes, panel to panel. Compositions are great with lots of detail filling in the background and particulars.
On inks, Richard Friend’s lines on David’s pencils are probably my favorite for the combination. Friend keeps it clean in most cases, reserving crosshatching and shading when it’s necessary for the story’s tone. The final product is cohesive, though I wish something more subtle could be done with Diana’s lips. They just seem to demand too much attention.
Sonia Oback’s colors have taken a turn for the worse since last issue — things seem muddy and a few shades too dark. The battle scenes take place in two different times of the day, but the characters from each scene look like they’re plucked from the same lighting. Going through the pages, the colors — choice and application — look inconsistent. The first page of the human sacrifice is visually striking with its bright green and sharper lighting, but the following page looks like the darkness setting just took over.
This current Wonder Woman arc reminds me of ’90s era Image titles. Most of them ended up being variations and knockoffs of the X-Men, and they didn’t survive long because they didn’t measure up. Right now, Wonder Woman looks like it’s trying to distinguish itself from the first 34 issues, and while these two issues haven’t been awesome or classically bad, subsequent issues need to find their identity rather quickly and bring some sort of wow factor. I’d like to see the comic with a bit more finesse and some heavier tension that doesn’t default to explication-heavy scenes to make sure readers aren’t being left behind. With an artist as talented as David, let the visuals carry silence and some of the expression. I’d also like to see steadier plotting that doesn’t take the first issue’s water-theme and relegate it to a cameo appearance here. It’s starting to feel like the story itself is becoming saddled with too much goings on.
Wonder Woman #37 (2011)
[usr 3 text=false]
Words: Meredith Finch
Pencils: David Finch
Inks: Richard Friend
Colors: Sonia Oback
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Previous Issue: Wonder Woman #36 Review