Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fun with a magic lasso

Hasen sketch courtesy of Wonder Woman Museum

After much buildup and delay, Gail Simone has taken over as the writer on DC's Wonder Woman monthly. The changing of the guard came with issue #14, which I think hit the stands the Wednesday afore last. Didn't buy comics that week, so I just saw it for the first time today.

Simone is--at least in recent memory--the first woman to take on scripting chores for Wondy on an open-ended basis. Novelist Jodi Picoult did write her for a few months recently, but that was always meant as a limited run, and wound up getting overshadowed by the soul-draining "Amazons Attack" storyline. Men can write the character well; any author should be able to take on characters different from themselves. But the fact that for most of her existence only men were writing/drawing/editing her has probably skewed the character.

The obvious question, of course, is how does Simone do? Quite well I'd have to say. #14 does take place in the framework of decompressed storytelling. And if you interpret that as "nothing much happens" you've pretty much got it. But what we do see shows that GS gets the character.

For instance, before going mano-a-mano with a unit of albino gorillas (and that phrase in itself should establish some interest) Wondy says, "You're fighing me to see if you can defeat Superman? I'm honored. Shall we?" It's cocky, but an unflashy kind of cockiness. Her Amazon warrior training appears to include minimizing tiresome bluster.

More importantly, after fighting the apes to a standstill, she talks to them. She comes to an agreement with them. They, in fact, wind up crashing at alter ego Diana Prince's apartment. This is the kind of action that should define her. Justifiability aside, breaking Max Lord's neck isn't characteristic of her, or at least it shouldn't be. So yes, raise a glass to strength and mercy, and let's hope it lasts.

Fans of the Amazon Princess may also be interested to know that Etta Candy has been worked into the continuity again. She's a fed now, apparently assigned as a kind of Internal Affairs shadow on Wonder Woman herself. In a way I wished the company had kept the obese chocolatier/therapist Etta that Grant Morrison introduced in his Zatanna miniseries. But this one is a little different-looking in comics context. She's frumpy-sexy (frexy?) in a kind of Midwestern way. She also susses out that Sarge Steel has more chemical dependencies than Pete Rose and Gregory House put together. Smart girl, shows potential.

There's also a scene of Hyppolita, WW's mom, back on Themyscira. As long as we don't go back to Amazons assassinating random ten-year-old boys, their involvement is a good thing.

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