I have always liked Wonder Woman as a character, but I have to confess that I have read precious little of her comics over the years. Still, I enjoy dipping my toe into Amazonian waters now and then and have always enjoyed these jaunts with the princess from Themyscira.
Her turn in Convergence was no less enjoyable, especially since she’s at war with vampire Joker, Poison Ivy, and Were-Catwoman. Of all the Convergence stories we’ve had, this one feels most like the Dome is almost incidental. Other than some profound consequences for the Wonder Woman of this world, the battle for worlds feels secondary to the personal struggle Diana Prince is up against when she must try to save her city from the gruesome three-some.
Seriously: how wicked it that?
Larry Hama writes the tightest of all the Convergence scripts I got to review these last two months. Whereas some of the other books felt a little waffly in the first issue as they set up the Dome and angled the characters into position for the fight (while inundating us with copious exposition to get us up to speed on pre-New 52 conditions), Hama’s story manages to tell us everything we need to know quickly and effectively and in context of what’s happening. The opening scene in the first issue (“I Sung of Chaos and Eternal Night”) between Diana and Steve is practically brilliant (and Joshua Middleton’s art and coloring deserves a big nod for setting a perfect tone as well). In just four short pages, we know everything we need to know about Diana and Steve, about Etta Candy, and the punk named Julio who will figure into the action later.
I also love the crazy cult, which is something right out of the Bronze-Age when mysticism was at its peak in comics. Some may find it a little goofy, but it’s exactly right for the era. Additionally, Hama gives all of the characters something purposeful to do; they’re not just in it to make cameos or provide backstory.
Joker is written brilliantly. He’s awful and funny and very, very sinister. Were-Catwoman and Poison Ivy are a little silly on the other hand, with their quips about eating people, but not to the point of distraction.
The first issue ends on a compelling cliffhanger that perfectly raises the stakes.
The second issue (“A Fellow of Infinite Jest”) has a completely different art team (Aaron Lopresti on pencils, Matt Banning on inks, and Tanya & Richard Horie on colors). It would have been nice to have had art continuity through these two issues, but both books have their advantages. Middleton’s work in the first was more moody, more noir (and his vampires much more scary). Lopresti, however, draws an amazing Wonder Woman and does a lot of great perspective work once the action is overtaken by an earthquake. The two artists’ composition strategies are very different, but both are effective in their own ways. Middleton did both covers, so there’s that. The cover for issue no. 2 is particularly striking, even if it is merely representational of the spirit of the content rather than actual.
Hama also ends this book with a very dark victory in the best way. I won’t spoil it here, but it actually surprised me a little and for that reason was very satisfying.
Powerful and beautiful
I just have a handful of quibbles with this outing, some of them about the art and some of them about the story.
Let’s talk for a moment about poor Steve Trevor. Diana ditches him in the church with a pack of blood-hungry vampires with an off-hand remark that he can take care of things himself. Steve isn’t a superhero and he only has so much ammunition. Points for her confidence, but did she really think he’d be okay. Even so, I was actually much amused at Wonder Woman trying to simultaneously battle the baddies and juggle a useless Steve. If nothing else, it was a great nod to Steve’s general uselessness years past when it came to Wonder Woman’s super-powered and demigod challenges.
There’s also a funny moment in the first issue when Diana escapes from the cult, shredding her Emma Peel-inspired whites so that she can don the Red, Gold & Blue. I admit I laughed a little because if ever there was a Wonder Woman comic in her early days in which she wasn’t tied up half-naked, it was a rarity indeed. And yet, for all the nostalgia of that, it did feel just a little awkward and exploitive. Nothing to lose sleep over, but I can see where there might be a wee bit of just criticism there. Otherwise we’ve got a Wonder Woman who’s all business and Lopresti in particular shows her to her best strengths.
Not a lot of lasso action here, but her bracelets do come in handy.
And for the third time in as many months Joker gets his neck snapped. At least this time around it’s played a bit for laughs. He is undead after all.
Wonder Woman can defeat an army of slavering vampires even with Steve hanging off her arm.
- You didn’t get enough Red Rain nightmare fuel from Convergence: Swamp Thing.
- You want a good healthy mix of testosterone and estrogen! Best of all worlds!
- You wish Diana Prince and Steve Trevor were still a couple in the New 52.
- You’ve missed having a well-written Joker in the old vein–even if he is a vampire.
Larry Hama gives us a comic book two-parter that finds the fun in comics again. Despite the darkness of this tale and what feels like actual stakes with actual consequences, this is just a great afternoon read with a satisfyingly complete story that you can treat as part of the Convergence or just another Elseworld. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the vampire Joker and the full-circle plotting that provides Wonder Woman with a complete physical and emotional journey. It goes to show once again that we don’t need a 12-part saga with 7 crossovers to tell an impactful tale about our favorite heroes and their mighty feats.