Scarlett Lynn is back with a new review. This time around she looks at the continuing story of the Rise of the Olympian in Wonder Woman 29:
Wonder Woman #29 continues the ongoing “Rise of the Olympian” story and contains an extra “Origins & Omens” story. Most DC comics this past February have had an “Origins & Omens” story that explained various characters’ histories and hinted at what’s to come. They’ve varied in quality but I enjoyed this one. Gail Simone was able to keep it a natural extension of the main story instead of having it just feel tacked on.
Speaking of the main story… When last we saw Diana everything had just gone “BOOM.” Or, to put it more accurately, it had just gone “BOOOOMMM.” (That’s two extra Os and Ms of lasso-enhanced, monster-God generated, psychic explosion that had just gone off in Diana’s face.) As this issue opens, Diana is crawling her way out of the wreckage and ruin that was once the Department of Metahuman Affairs.
An injured Green Lantern John Stewart tries to assure Diana that the death and destruction are not her fault but she doesn’t buy it. Trying to maintain her focus and keep it together, she asks John to take the injured to the hospital. Donna Troy, however, has decided to go for a different approach in dealing with the situation. Instead of “focused” and “together” she’s gone for a state of mind closer to “raving” and “lunatic.” Donna begins screaming at Diana, blaming her for the explosion, for Cassie’s injuries, and then starts going on about Diana killing her husband and child. If Donna hadn’t flown off (while threatening to kill Diana if she ever saw her again) she probably would have found a way to blame her for the state of the economy, global warming and the fact that telemarketers always call her during dinner. Diana explains that it must be Genocide’s influence. (Or perhaps Donna was just grumpy because she’s been stuck in the weekly series “Trinity” for how many dozens of issues at this point.)
On a battleship in the Persian Gulf, the Olympians are attacking and have essentially defeated the soldiers on board. Jason is demanding a sailor provide him the location of his Captain so that he can give him a warning that their conqueror days are over. When the soldier refuses to provide any info, Jason lets him in on the fact that his second-in-command, Euphemus, is the son of Poseidon. Cue a giant squid-monster-thingy attacking the ship.
At the blast site, Tom gets an exhausted Wonder Woman to focus back on the rescue efforts. She descends to the lower levels to look for survivors – which just happens to be where Director Steel (in Doctor Psycho’s body), Psycho (in Director Steel’s body) and Cheetah (in her own body) have been hiding. Cheetah has Psycho take off with Steel and sticks around to distract Wonder Woman. During their fight Cheetah reveals that Genocide has abducted Etta Candy. Coincidentally, Steve Trevor, Etta’s husband, has just arrived at the DMA ruins and announced to Psycho-Steel that he’s in charge now and is looking for his wife.
While Diana fights Cheetah, Zeus has gone to confront Kane Milohai, the God whom Diana pledged her loyalty to when the Greek gods had left Olympus and Earth. Zeus patronizingly asks Kane to renounce Diana but Kane respectfully refuses. Zeus responds to Kane’s respectful refusal with a respectful lightening bolt to the face. The two gods battle it out and in the end Zeus rips out Kane’s heart.
In the “Origins & Omens” backup story, Tom has been taken to the hospital by John Stewart and is in his hospital bed when Queen Hippolyta (or a dreamlike vision of her) comes in. She tells him Diana’s origin story and that, though he’ll forget this visit of hers, his heart will remember it. Before leaving she warns him to beware her daughter.
Rise of the Olympian, Part Four: 3 1/2 out of 5 – This issue was good but not quite as engaging as the last one. I really didn’t feel any interest in the Olympians this time out. We didn’t cover any new ground with them other than the fact that they have a giant squid-monster at their disposal. I can’t say I’m a fan of the giant sea monster . With all the obstacles, villains, gods and disasters looming on Diana’s horizon did we really need a giant squid thing too? Really? I could have done without it; it seemed sort of pointless. Jason and the Olympians had already easily defeated the battleship and all the soldiers. What does the squid add to the equation other than a desire to order up some calamari?
Another element that didn’t really work for me was Donna Troy suddenly going inexplicably insane. I realize that we’re likely supposed to be puzzled by exactly what’s happening to her; however, it played less like an intriguing mystery and more like a confusing, truncated plot point. I know that Gail Simone will elaborate on all this in good time but I think a couple more panels showing her being effected by the lasso-explosion would have been preferable to the little text box having Diana exposit that it must be Genocide’s influence. An extra panel or two for Wonder Girl wouldn’t have been a bad thing either considering all we see of her is her unconscious body lying there and Diana doesn’t even seem to check to see if she’s dead or just napping.
Aside from a few pacing issues (and an unnecessary sea monster) I did like this issue. I thought it continued the theme of the gathering storm in Diana’s future really well. Every issue of this story arc has continued to build the obstacles that Diana is going to have to face. Every time Diana is confronted by a new problem there’s at least two or three more that we find out about. Diana now knows she’s going to have to deal with Genocide, her stolen lasso, a kidnapped Etta, Donna going crazy, Cheetah’s involvement and her own injuries. She’s got no clue as to the fate of the Amazons, Doctor Psycho’s body swapping shenanigans, a giant sea monster, Athena’s death, the creation of the Olympians who are running amok on the open sea, Zeus killing her God and planning to create a champion who’ll now have his heart. It’s exhausting for Diana and they were really able to sell the weariness she’s feeling.
Diana is always so focused on her mission that it was almost shocking to see her thinking about her “damnable responsibilities” and “cursed duty.” All these trials that she’s facing are probably not going to wind up killing her but I’m wondering if they’re going to crush her spirit enough that she might not want to continue on when all the dust has settled. At the very least… after this “Rise of the Olympian” arc is over and done with… I’m hoping for an at least two-part story of Diana getting to take a nap, drink some margaritas and relax at a beach side spa for a little while. I’m feeling tired for her at this point.
The arrival of Steve Trevor at the end was pretty much the sole bright spot in an issue that was really comprised of a lot of hopelessness. The guy gets one panel or so to inject a slight amount of hope that at least Diana’s not going to have to deal with Psycho-Steel being in charge of whatever remains of the DMA. Who knows how long that hope will last into the next issue but for now he was definitely a welcome sight.
Origins & Omens: 4 out of 5 – There was such a compelling sense of foreboding throughout the whole backup story. Instead of a been-there-done-that refresher course in Diana’s creation from the clay, it somehow feels vital and important to the story at hand. There’s definite dark times in Diana’s future and you can feel it from the way they laid out her past. But I’ve grown to like Tom and Diana’s relationship and this story made it seem as though it might not last as long as I’d like it to. I hope that’s not the case. I’d really like Tom to be around in the long term. Overall, the story did its job; it peaked my curiosity about what’s to come and creeped me out about Diana’s past. (I only hope that last part is what they meant to do.)
ART: 4 out of 5 – The art throughout the issue was great. There were less of the “wow” moments that the last issue had but I love the emotion Aaron Lopresti is able to convey in the characters’ faces. There were a couple of images here and there that didn’t really work for me. The giant squid-monster, for example, felt really cartoonish in comparison to the rest of the images on the book. I really appreciated the way he uses each page in a different way and never allowed it to get dull and repetitive despite keeping it consistent.
He especially earns major points from me when it comes to the “Origins & Omens” story. There’s a true darkness and sense of foreboding that comes through from the art in this section. Diana’s birth from the clay is a amidst a blood red moon and a shadowy rain storm. It gives the whole thing a very unsettling feel.
Main Cover: 2 out of 5 – I really didn’t care for this cover. All of the angles just felt off and I really didn’t care for the way Diana’s face was drawn. Something just felt wrong about the picture. The way the characters arms are being held and the way their bodies are turned just didn’t seem to make sense the more you looked at it. Maybe at first glance I might have given it a 3 but the longer I looked at it the less I liked it. I’ve been loving Aaron Lopresti’s art but this cover just didn’t work for me.
Variant Cover: 4 out of 5 – I really liked this cover. I basically had the opposite reaction to this one then I did to the main cover. At first I thought it was kind of boring but the more I look at it, the more I wish I’d gotten this one instead. I love the old fashioned style used to draw the character and costume. There’s a great sense of movement to the image too. The washed out colors really give it a classic 30s/40s animation quality. Where last month’s variant cover was all shining gold, this one appears as though all the gold has been drained right out of it. It’s not a literal cover for the events of the story but it definitely captures the mood of Diana right now.
Diana (thinking): “My cursed duty. My damnable priorities.”
Cheetah (whispering as Diana approaches): “What toys of mortals these demi-gods be.”
The Dreamlike Vision Queen Hippolyta (to Tom): “My daughter has been surrounded by unwavering, unquestioning love, since the moment of her birth until she left our island. Perhaps too much love. She… I’m not sure she understands the full value of it.”