The Brand New Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman #601

The first full issue of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on this title. History has been rewritten — Themyscira was destroyed decades ago, and Wonder Woman has been on the run ever since. A blind oracle grants her a vision of the final days of Paradise Island, after the gods withdrew their protection of the Amazons. A mysterious force attacked the island with superior magical firepower, and Queen Hippolyta died rather than betray where Diana was being hidden. After she leaves the oracle, Diana tracks the men who’ve been pursuing her, but before she can attack them or their shadowy leader, she learns that some of the surviving Amazons are about to be attacked and destroyed. Can she make it halfway around the world in time to save them?

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up. I was not expecting much from this, because in the past few years, J. Michael Straczynski hasn’t done much to justify the very high opinion that people have of him. His work on “The Brave and the Bold” has mostly spotlighted a lot of stories where JMS mangles characters’ personalities, and his just-begun run on “Action Comics,” where Superman sets out to walk across the country, has been greeted with howls of derision. In contrast, this one is… not bad. It’s not the best comic of the week, but it isn’t bad at all.

So why is this one better than his other DC books? My theory is that JMS does his best writing on his own characters — “Babylon 5,” “Rising Stars,” you name it — but when it comes to characters that he didn’t create himself, whose personalities were crafted and established by other writers, he doesn’t do as well, because he gives them the personalities he wants them to have, rather than the personalities that readers have come to expect. And this Wonder Woman, with her completely altered origin and history, with none of her previous supporting cast, is a completely different character than any previous Wonder Woman. Will he be able to write a decent Wonder Woman when the reality-altering storyline is over? Or is JMS hoping we’ll all forget what Wondy was like before he came along? Only time will tell.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4

Welcome to the Wild West, where murderous thugs execute homesteader families and no one defends them… except for a time-traveling bat-obsessed masked man wearing a black cowboy hat and duster. Vandal Savage, the immortal caveman, has survived to the 1800s and has hired Jonah Hex, the West’s foremost hired gun, to protect him while the diabolical Dr. Thomas Wayne tries to open a mysterious box with a bat emblazoned on the cover. Can Bruce Wayne save the innocent, punish the guilty, preserve the future of the Wayne family, and avoid getting gutshot by Jonah Hex? Hmm, well, maybe not all of that…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice Western fun with a little Batman flavor to go with it. I completely approve.

Supergirl #54

We start out with a great moment — with disaster all around and a little kid in grave danger, Jimmy Olsen shows up to save the day. But he runs into trouble soon afterwards after he gets abducted by a Bizarro Supergirl. And where’s the regular Supergirl? Angsting it up at home because she doesn’t want to be a superhero any more after the destruction of New Krypton. When Lana Lang discovers what’s tearing up Metropolis, she calls Kara and convinces her to go take care of the Bizarro. But is Supergirl prepared for the new Bizarro superpower?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great stuff with Jimmy Olsen at the beginning, and decent superheroics, elsewhere. The Bizarro Supergirl is very nicely creepy, and I’m generally happier with the art style than I’ve been with a lot of previous incarnations of the main character. There are also some nice plot complications going on in the background that will be a lot of fun eventually.

Comments are closed.