Monday, June 12, 2006

WONDER WOMAN #4-6 DC Comics, 1987

In 1987, George Perez relaunched Wonder Woman, which had long been one of DC Comics most recognizable properties. Let's be honest - up until this point, Wonder Woman comics weren't very good. They sucked major ass, actually. Perez was tasked with overhauling the Amazon princess Diana and making her the equal of her male counterparts Batman and Superman.

He nailed it.

Perez (with scripter Len Wein) revisited Wonder Woman's origin from square one, with a heavy emphasis on her Greek mylthological origins. He kept some iconic elements and characters (Steve Trevor, Etta Candy) but reworked them for his own purposes. Perez wisely ditched some classic elements that didn't work with his more serious take on the character, like the Invisible Plane and Wonder Woman creator William Marston's fondness for bondage and all-girl marching bands.

The Ares storyline running through issues 4-6 of the series is Wonder Woman 2.0's first full-on adventure in Patriarch's World, aka 20th Century Earth. Diana is a fish out of water, trying to adapt to her new environment while spreading the Amazon tenets of peace through superior firepower. While she's trying to adjust, Ares, the Greek god of war, is hatching an evil if ultimately self-defeating plan that may wipe out all life on earth.

Over the course of three issues, Wonder Woman and her somewhat bloated cast of supporting characters are harried by Ares' agents until they finally figure out what his deal is. First there is Decay, the Joan Rivers of supervillains. "Her touch means death!" She has the power to turn anyone she touches into Keith Richards.

Here, Wonder Woman figures out that the key to defeating Decay is by using her magic lasso, which hurts like a motherfather if you're a demon:

After kicking Decay's shriveled ass all across Boston, Diana is lauded in the press, which has decided that she's a superhero and thus needs a superhero name:

Thus the name Wonder Woman is born! Since this is Boston, shouldn't it be "Wicked Strong Woman?" I kid, Boston! Stay sexy.

In the next issue, Diana and Co are that much closer to figuring out Ares' plan. They do battle with his kids, Deimos and Phobos, who are not attractive godlings at all. While Wonder Woman grapples with Deimos and his beard o' snakes, his troll-like brother Phobos steps up to take out her friends:

Phobos is aptly named, because he can rip your deepest fears out of your mind and make them For Reals. Here the supporting cast is menaced by their various fears:

Dude is afraid of cats? I can understand spiders and drowning and being buried alive - but cats? I know, I know - phobias are irrational fears, but man, if I had a fear of cats I would feel like a big pussy.

Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the steak.

To be fair, the guy is facing off against a Giant Cat with Eyebrows, which anybody would be afraid of. Maybe the caption should read: "For the one called Matthew Michaels, the ancient fear of fuckin' huge cats with eyebrows!"

You're probably dying to know what Ares is up to, aren't you? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. He has possessed an American general and a Russian general and their respective troops, causing them to simultaneously hijack missile silos in both Russia and The States. (1987, remember?) The two generals are going to trigger a massive global thermonuclear war, the ultimate expression of Ares dark art.

Wonder Woman and Her Amazing Friends get hip to the God of War's plot, and they battle the possessed troops inside a missile silo in an attempt to stop them from launching the missiles. Lots of 'splosions, lots of bullets-and bracelets action.

"Again they use the flashing thunder--? Is this their answer to every problem?"

Speaking as a man, Wonder Woman, I can say yes. Yes, the flashing thunder is our answer to every problem. The printer at work breaks? Flashing thunder. Can't figure out how much to tip the waiter? Again, bring the flashing thunder. In my defence, I should say that it's not the answer to every problem. Sometimes I bust out with my hurricane kick, and sometimes I use a mega-earthquake punch.

Ultimately, Ares and Wonder Woman face off in an otherworldly realm. It's not much of a face-off, really. Ares beats her up and calls her names. I really like Perez's design for Ares - he looks scary and powerful and very very tall. That's what a godly diet of ambrosia and nectar will do for you.

Diana turns the tables on Ares with her handy Lasso of Truth. Is that your answer to every problem, Miss Patronizing?

The unbreakable Lasso of Truth forces Ares to confront the reality of his plan: if he sets off a global nuclear war that wipes out mankind, who will worship him? Who will be around to wage war? Nobody, dumbshit! He needed somebody to point this obvious truth out to him? They should call it the Lasso of Duhh.

The two-page sequence where Ares hallucinates the ultimate consequences of his plan is brilliantly laid out and drawn, and is a great example of how sometimes comics can just kick ass over other mediums. It's the climax and high point of the story, and is just Pure Radness.

So there you go, Wonder Woman # 4-6. Do yourself a favor and go check out the trade paperback that collects these issues.

Oh, have I mentioned that there are flaming soldier zombies? Well, there are.


Anonymous said...

First blood? Wow.

I have a "friend" who is deathly afraid of my cat. Yes, that obese patch of fur that sleeps 23 hours out of the day and is too stupid to check his food bowl before miewling up a storm of "I'm hungry dumbass!" Every time the cat comes near him (he must be sitting in one of a 100 sleeping spots in the appartment), he gets up on the furniture like a little girl who saw a rapid rat.

He's also afraid of shooter bars, so who figure this guy?

glen davis said...

Dr. Tzin Tzin tried almost the exact same thing that very same year.

Just a couple of years before the Cold War was over too.

Owen Hargreaves said...

Phew, for a while there I thought there would be no flaming soldier zombies.

Perez, great man, great artist, great creator; but I dont think I can ever forgive him for dropping the invisible plane.

Matt Chaput said...

When I was a kid,the Perez/Teen Titans look in evidence here *was* "comics". It's sad how dated it looks now because it uses so much ink instead of color (this was still before digital color, presumably).

Anyway, now everything besides the Diniverse clean-line style looks horribly busy to me.

kalel666 said...

As a Bostonian (unfortunately), I have to say it would be "Wicked Pissa Woman".

Don't ask.

Dan said...

The best thing about the Perez-era WW is that it lasted, at least for a couple of years. It wasn't a new creative team coming in every six months talking about their brilliant ideas for making Wonder Woman kewl and whatnot.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 62 issues, a nice, healthy run.

Bill Reed said...

Oh, so the papers named her Wonder Woman? I suppose the twin doubleyoos on her chest were a fortunate coincidence, then.

But, dammit, it's not Wonder Woman without the invisible plane.

Anonymous said...

I think the twin doubleyoos are meant to be an eagle.

Anonymous said...

Little known fact: "Deimos And His Beard O' Snakes Guest Starring Cat With The World's Largest Eyebrows" is a long-running variety show on Greek television, winner of seventeen Greek Emmy Awards and innovators of such classic comedy sketches as the "pita in the face" gag and the man whose moustache control his mind and forces him to eat puppies (it's funny to them).

Clearly, Perez was paying homage to this wonderful show in these comics.

Word verification: xzugqqvg, which is a famous punchline to another sketch on the show.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

Puppy eating would not go unnoticed on American tv. So, that's a load on cow (or is it bull?).

Kevin Church said...

I found these comics to be godawful boring and now hate you, David Campbell, for your enjoyment of them.

The end.

Anonymous said...

I find your breakdown far more entertaining than the actual books. I don't know whether to admire Perez for treating the character with great respect, or to deride him for making her impossibly self-important. I think I might prefer the William Messner-Loebs era when she worked in a fast-food joint.

And because I can't help myself, "the flashing thunder" is something very different in my house.

Anonymous said...

How you manage to review Wonder Woman, and pick the ONLY ISSUE I"VE EVER BOUGHT is beyond me. The universe is an amazing tapestry... or something. But WW #5 entertained me as a kid, simply because the idea of a man with a snake-beard was so absurd and neat.

David Campbell said...

You are an Enemy of Freedom, Kevin Church.

Anonymous said...

There's been that one lingering aftereffect of Perez's WW run, though, that irksome way WW get's all patronizing about how people not from Amazon Island live and work and interect, sometimes. Some writers just seem to ramp it up now and then.

Anonymous said...

I think the invisible plane didn't show up until after World War II -- so really, it isn't Wonder Woman without the bondage.

gwalla said...

Deimos is totally getting his Overfiend on on that cover.

Anonymous said...

Hey, isn't this the issue where she takes off her tiara and totally decapitates the snake guy with it? Ain't that a Fuck Yeah! moment or what?

Anonymous said...

After reading your blog for a few months (and digging through most of your archive), I've realized something: I much prefer it when you write about the comics that you love, rather than deriding lesser examples of the medium. I'm not even a card-carrying comic fan, but there's something vital and vicarious about you recounting a fuck yeah moment that assured this blog's spot on my RSS feed. I just reread that post about Skurge (was that spelled correctly?) and his last stand, and just the description (to steal a phrase of yours), really gripped my shit.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Gosh, this page takes forever to load :-(

Shana said...

Um, I'm kind of a teenager, almost, I'm more or less a pre-teen, but no one syas ''Dig'' anymore. No one. So, yeah...

avantika said...

I used to be a freak reader of all kinds of comics, now as usual working long hours get just few minutes to leaf thru some mysterious super power comics, me some time jot down few lines when my imagination runs wild.

Shauma Mohapatra said...

hi, nice reviews. i might finally read some comic books now!!! (i'm a real girly-girl)
from shauma

Anonymous said...

Deimos is totally getting his Overfiend on on that cover.

Metz77 said...

"And because I can't help myself, "the flashing thunder" is something very different in my house."

And yet it's still the solution to every problem.

Daniela Ferpe said...

A Mulher Maravilha é simplesmente a melhor heroína já criada pela dc Comics, e isso não se contesta, simplesmente, maravilhosa!

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