In an effort to get Geek Out Online more regular in the posting area, I am assembling a team. (Yep, just like Nick Fury.) The first member of said team I want to introduce to you is Amie-Lynn also known as ScarlettLynn (her name on the forums). Scarlett is a comic book reader and knows her stuff. You can find her waxing eloquent in the comic books section of the forums and you’ll find she knows her stuff. In her first outing here at Geek Out Online, she tackles a book that yous truly doesn’t really pick up, so it’s nice to have a different take on things. Here’s ScarlettLynn’s review of Wonder Woman #28.
When Steve asked if there were any comics I was interested in reviewing for Geek Out Online my thoughts instantly went to “Wonder Woman.” While Superman and Batman might be getting all of the attention lately for their storylines, Wonder Woman is now three issues into her current big story: “Rise of the Olympian”. And if I might be so bold as to borrow an expression from the gracious host of Geek Out Loud (the official podcast of Geek Out Online.com)… Oh. My. Lanta!
In Diana’s first confrontation with Genocide she was badly beaten, injured, had her lasso stolen and was left bound with rebar to the rubble of what was once a downtown shopping mall in Washington, DC. Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, Tom Tresser and Etta Candy are all trying to help the fallen Wonder Woman. Though injured and weakened Diana knows that she has to go back to fight the creature because no one, not even the Justice League, knows what her lasso is truly capable of.
The creature was created by Dr. Morrow and others at the Secret Society of Super Villains but despite Cheetah’s insistence that the “experiment” was his idea, he is horrified and believes the idea came from Satan. When it stole her lasso it went back to the Society and had them surgically implant it in its body. Despite apparently being an experiment of the Society, Diana felt that the creature was a god during their battle. Cheetah doesn’t seem to have any qualms about ordering it around, however, and sends it to attack the Department of Metahuman Affairs (where Diana works in the guise of her secret identity, Agent Diana Prince). Despite the combined efforts of Black Canary, John Stewart, Red Tornado, Vixen and Firestorm the creature is easily defeating them all.
Meanwhile, the Olympian gods have returned to Olympus to discover that Darkseid’s crew didn’t exactly take good care of the place while they were gone. (Mercury doesn’t elaborate on what they did to the throne room but we get the idea that it ain’t pretty.) Much like their home isn’t in the best of condition the gods themselves aren’t quite at their peak either. Many do not remember much of the past. Athena remembers a bit more than the others, however, and decides that they’ve lived past their time of relevance and they are no longer needed in the world. Though they’ve fought in the past, when Athena decides to renounce her immortality and die, she asks Zeus to look out for her Amazons and help them in their mission for peace. And in classically less-than-helpful fashion Zeus promises… except his idea of helping them is granting them the gift of the eternal peace of death. (Pretty sure that’s not what she meant, Zeus.)
When this issue starts Diana is back at her place in D.C. putting on her battle armor. And let me just say this right now: this issue is cover-to-cover images of Diana looking incredibly heroic, determined and formidable and in every image you also see just how vulnerable she is because you see the cuts and scrapes and injuries from her fight with Genocide. Tom Tresser, her boyfriend and partner at the DMA, is trying to talk her out of going back into battle with a creature that was able to defeat her when she wasn’t already suffering from internal injuries. She can’t be talked out of it though and before she goes off to war she sweeps him into a big romantic kiss reminiscent of any “soldier kissing his woman before going into battle” image… except this time she’s the one doing the sweeping. (Though he is definitely not complaining about that.) Even though he doesn’t want her to go, there’s no way that he’s not going with her.
Just before she goes downstairs he delivers one of my favorite lines: “You, Mademoiselle… might be the worst ever at keeping a secret identity.” One of my favorite things about Gail Simone is her ability to keep the humor and wit in the dialog and story. Even when things are at their darkest… Wonder Woman about to face her possible death… she injects a touch of lightness or sarcasm that keeps things feeling natural and real.
But it’s back to business now as downstairs she assembles her Gorilla Knights and they prepare for battle. (The simple fact that Diana lives in Washington, D.C. with an army of loyal gorilla knights as roommates while trying to maintain a secret identity is one of the many things I love about this book.)
At the DMA headquarters Director Steel has headed down to the prisoner cells where Doctor Psycho is being kept. Steel has been acting like he’s lost his mind. He’s killed one of his agents for conspiring with the Amazons and the metas, he’s locked down the DMA not allowing anyone to escape and now he’s headed down to Psycho’s cell to kill him. Genocide had been looking for him but Steel’s apparently not about to let him get found alive and points a gun at Psycho’s head.
The Justice League is having no luck with Genocide. She’d already taken out John Stewart and Red Tornado in the previous issue. She’s done the same to Firestorm. Just as she’s about to take out Black Canary and Vixen we see three small panels with someone speaking… a pair of pinkish-bronze armored boots (“Well, well, well…”), a silver lasso hanging off of the belt of someone clad in stars (“Hello, monster.”), and the battle axe we’d seen Wonder Woman carrying (“We meet again.”)
And then… Wow. Turn the page to this incredible two page spread of Wonder Woman in her gold battle armor, battle axe in hand and sword at her side. Donna Troy at her right in her armor that’s a combination of silver and her characteristic star-field with a silver lasso and her hand on the hilt of her sword. At Diana’s left is Cassie, Wonder Girl, with her pink-bronze armor and sword in hand. Behind the three Wonders are her armored Gorilla Knights and Tom in his DMA uniform, spear in hand. It is one simply awesome, bad ass hero shot of them towering over Genocide as they stand atop some rubble and Wonder Woman saying: “Will wonders never cease?” I think if this book was only those two pages long I would have still paid full price for it and been talking about how awesome it was.
The fight begins and it’s brutal. For a moment though you almost believe that the tide has turned in Diana’s favor and that she’s going to win. And then Genocide reveals the lasso that is looped throughout her flesh and bone and slips it onto Diana’s wrist. Wonder Woman screams and simply thinks: “She… she has ruined it. My lasso.” It’s surprisingly chilling how disturbing it can be for Wonder Woman to sound so weak and defeated even if it’s for just a moment. Donna leaps to her sister’s rescue. Wonder Girl rallies Vixen and Black Canary to get back into the fray and the battle continues.
Cheetah arrives at Psycho’s cell and they remove the inhibitor from Doctor Psycho’s head revealing that he is actually Director Steel who has been trapped in Psycho’s body while Psycho has stolen his. Steel is confident that his agents will be able to stop them but Cheetah assures him that they won’t. She’s planned all of this and says his ridiculous organization only has a couple more moments on this earth.
At that moment Diana finally gets in this one strong blow that is able to knock the mask from Genocide’s eyes. From far enough away they might just look like solid, reddish-brown eyes but we get a close up and can see the detail. It’s eyes are made of countless corpses and skeletons. It says “Do you like what you see at the end of your life?” and we cut to the various horrified expressions of Diana, Tom, Vixen, Donna, etc and the sneering face of Cheetah who simply says “Checkmate” before we get a shot of the entire building exploding.
Director Steel had been acting oddly for a while now but I never expected that he was really Psycho. It was such a great reveal. Doctor Psycho is one nasty villain and adding him to the situation just makes everything even worse. So far all Diana’s had to deal with has been the threat in front of her in the form of Genocide, which has been formidable enough. All the machinations of Cheetah and Psycho haven’t even gotten on her radar yet. Plus, there’s still the entire situation with Zeus which has been intercut through this story.
As Diana’s been fighting for her life, Zeus has been giving his new Olympians a tour of their new island home. Rivers of gold, a city of crystal and the only woman allowed on its soil is a statue of the goddess Athena. The one whom Zeus has chosen to lead is Jason (as in Jason and the Argonauts) and he tells him he plans to create a son for him. (Sheesh, Zeus, plagiarize much?) All the other Olympians will be men who died in battle so that they understand the value of peace. However, according to Zeus, peace will come in the form of them killing every dictator and warmonger in the world. The very final page of the comic is Jason leading his men in his ancient looking ship as they prepare to sink a modern American battleship
STORY: 4 1/2 out of 5 – I love what Gail Simone has been doing with this story.
Wonder Woman is going through these hellish battles with Genocide and it’s been taking everything out of her to just survive these fights. If that was simply the story it would be amazing and exciting and more than enough. Instead she doesn’t even know yet that Doctor Psycho has taken over her boss, Director Steel. She doesn’t know that Cheetah is masterminding this plot with the Secret Society of Super Villains. Worst of all she doesn’t know anything about Zeus’ plans for her, her people and the world. Whenever she’s fighting Genocide you get so sucked into the the intensity of the battle you almost forget that she’s only reached the tip of the iceberg of what she’s about to face in rest of this story. When you cut away to all the other forces that are conspiring against her you really get a sense of peril for Wonder Woman. You actually don’t know how she’s going to survive this.
They’ve also been laying hints that there’s more to come as they begin to examine exactly what her lasso is capable of and I’m really curious to see where they’re going with it. Basically I just can’t wait for the next issue and I think that’s the hallmark of a great story.
ART: 5 out of 5 – I can’t say enough good things about the art in this issue. This entire story arc has been good, but especially in this issue. There are so many great visual moments that completely stayed with me and made the already great story even better. The best had to be the two-page spread of Wonder Woman with Donna Troy and Wonder Girl at her side – all in full battle armor – and her gorilla army and boyfriend, Tom, providing back up. And the removal of Genocide’s mask? So disturbing. The big thing for me when it comes to art is the faces of the characters. Aaron Lopresti can really sell the emotion, tone and intent of the characters through his art and it really works for me.
(Plus the man owns me for life now that he’s drawn that hella-awesome panel of Diana in full battle armor sweeping her man into her arms and leaning him back into one heck of a kiss.)
Faces of Evil Cover: 4 out of 5 - This is the cover on the issue I have. I wasn’t even aware of the variant until later but I’m happy with the cover I’ve got. There’s a great, menacing look on Cheetah’s face as she looks out, off the cover, at the reader while torching the Department of Metahuman Affairs. The whole cover just draws you straight to her eyes. (Although I’m sure a few eyes drifted south with her standing at that particular angle.) The artist, Aaron Lopresti (with Hi-Fi), captures her moment of triumph with her smirking expression and arched eyebrows. The way she’s standing there with her hand outstretched looks like she’s a puppet-master, pulling the strings of everyone in the building below her. (Which is exactly what it turns out she’s doing.) The bottom half of the cover – her setting fire to what looks like a small model of the DMA with a match – isn’t quite as interesting but the way she’s lit from the flames looks great. No one can say it’s not emblematic of what’s happening in this issue.
Variant Cover: 3 out of 5 – I like its simplicity. The gold and the muted colors on her costume are nice. But the shield is just a little bit gigantic. Plus this is issue three of a larger arc and while it’s a nice picture… it’s just too calm and serene for the chaos and hell being unleashed in the story.
Tom: “There’s one last thing I have to tell you.”
Tom: “You, Mademoiselle… might just be the worst ever at keeping a secret identity.”
Diana: “Will Wonders never cease?”
Gorilla Knight: “Do you know how to use that weapon, Mate of the Princess?”
Tom (holding a spear): “Not a clue. Isn’t it just sorta plug and play?”
Gorilla Knight: *silence* … “Stay behind me as best you can.”
Diana: “Steel your nerves and find your courage, for tonight we fight a god!”
Wonder Girl: “You guys ready for some hardtime smackdown uglygirl payback?”