The third year of the George Perez Wonder Woman, as I blogged about previously, was much better than I remembered it. Year four, however — issues #36 through 48 — was much inferior. Chris Marrinan’s interior art doesn’t work for me (Jill Thompson, who took over penciling by year’s end, did much better) and the stories are a mixed bag. The first story arc, by Perez, Mindy Newell and Marrinan, is every bit as tedious a slog as I remembered it.
The story involves a group of philosophers, thinkers and religious leaders visiting Themyscira to meet the Amazons and learn about their ways. It’s a tense moment for the Amazons, as some of the visitors are men; some of the visitors are disapproving too. It’s a perfect opportunity for Eris, the Goddess of Strife, to spread her malevolence among the guests and hosts alike. Her accursed apples poison minds; some individuals are completely replaced by magical clones. With some help from Lois Lane, Diana eventually saves the day.
That’s a story that could have worked but it bogs down in endless talk (I think it’s the main reason I remember Perez’ run as being talkier than it is). We get far more detail on the visitors’ backstory than we need. Lots of discussion about faith, and how Amazon society runs (including that some are lesbians while others practice celibacy or “the way of Narcissus” — Perez didn’t think he could get away with openly saying they masturbate). Some of it is just dull, while the rest is dull because it’s such a huge mass of static discussion and conversation, issue after issue, with hints of something sinister going on.
Things pick up when the Silver Swan returns following Eris’ defeat. Her abusive, manipulative husband has gaslighted her into even greater hatred of the Amazing Amazon; the Swan will prove to the world that Wonder Woman is a terrible image of womanhood, a standard no ordinary human being can hope to achieve! Can Wonder Woman defeat her foe? Can the Swan’s former pen-pal restore her sanity?It’s a good, action-packed arc which doesn’t stint on the character side of things. As witness Silver Swan does break free of her hubby’s control and start to rebuild her life. She even succeeds — when Phil Jimenez brought the Silver Swan back, she had a new identity, so presumably this incarnation turned out okay.
Next comes a one-shot story hinting at ties between Pandora and Wonder Woman, which I think pay off later in the War of the Gods crossover event. Then comes a more effective than expected story in which one of Vanessa Kapetelis’ friends commits suicide. Nessie has to deal with it and so does everyone around her. The non-linear story got me lost in spots, but overall it worked.
The third arc is intriguing but also confusing. In the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman history, Wonder Girl was an orphan Wonder Woman rescued and brought to Paradise Island where she trained as an Amazon and took the name Donna Troy. In the reboot era, Wonder Girl was around as a Teen Titan years before Wonder Woman appeared; a retcon eventually explained that she was an orphan trained by the Greek Titans as a gift to Earth, a champion wielding their powers. The similarity of the names, IIRC, was just a coincidence. In Wonder Woman #47-8, they finally meet.
The story involves some leftover “bestiamorphs,” the monstrous creations of Circe, and a cabal of rat creatures created by alien DNA that the Titans (the former Teen ones, not the Greeks) once battled. And mysterious dreams in which Donna sees through Diana’s eyes and vice versa. It turns out it’s all a scheme by Circe, who was behind the ET rat creatures as well as her bestiamorphs. Why? No clue. I’m not sure we ever learned (time will tell). It’s fun seeing Donna and Diana meet, but at the same time it’s a little unsatisfying. Given all the history they used to have together and no longer did, I suspect that was inevitable.
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