I’m still working through Wonder Woman’s Bronze Age WW II period (following the Twelve Trials phase), but I also picked up a couple of out-of-continuity graphic novels featuring the Amazing Amazon. So …
WONDER WOMAN: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette (cover by Paquette, all rights to current holder) starts with Hippolyta strangling Hercules (who enslaved the Amazons in WW’s backstory) with the chains he placed on her. The Amazons then butcher Hercules’ army, relocate to Paradise Island … and centuries later Diana stands trial there for violating their laws: after Steve Trevor crashed on the island, Diana saved him (men on Paradise Island must die!) and then went with him back to Man’s World. Not for love of him, as it’s shown she’s been restless for years to get away (it’s also shown that yes, she’s had lovers among her fellow Amazons). Despite such changes, it’s the Golden Age origin pumped up from a few pages to graphic-novel length, which is not a plus.
One change, making Steve Trevor black, works fine. Turning Diana’s WW II sidekick Etta Candy into a plump, confident, fun-loving bisexual woman works even better — Etta’s an absolute hoot (like Jimmy Olsen in Morrison’s All-Star Superman it’s the first time since DC’s 1980s “post crisis” reboot someone’s figured out something interesting to do with her). And Diana’s confusion in “man’s world” is decently handled, though not new. It’s also nice to see that she’s more a diplomat/caregiver than the Amazon warrior people have been writing her as in recent years. Other changes don’t work, like turning her into a child of Hercules rather than the magically created clay of the original (as in the Azzarello/Chiang version, that’s a lie to conceal her true origin).
And then there’s the Amazons. Morrison’s portrayal of them comes close at times to man-hating feminist stereotypes, which I could have done without. And at other times, they’re horrendously judgmental of other women’s looks — their first reaction to Etta is outrage that she’s fat, which they somehow blame on patriarchy (we don’t keep our women fit enough or something). Plus Paquette’s art is in full male gaze mode, from the sexy Amazons to Diana’s overgenerous cleavage.
WONDER WOMAN: Odyssey by J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester, and multiple artists starts out way better than Straczynski’s usual comic output (Babylon 5 I like, his comics work not so much). Diana’s hiding out in the sewers because someone has launched a genocide against the Amazons. Paradise Islands is ruined, the Amazons scattered or dead. Wonder Woman’s mission: protect and gather the survivors and stop the killing. Although “the Amazons are gone!” is a stock premise — this is around the fourth reboot to use it — it’s an effective premise. And now that we’ve been through the New 52 reboot, I have less of a “Great, another reboot!” reaction to this one.
But then Phil Hester comes aboard as cowriter for the last couple of issues and everything changes. When she’s not hunting the genocides, Diana’s living in an apartment with some other Amazons, helping out her neighbors (although intimidating a pawnbroker to get a fair price for an artifact is not as cool a thing to do as the authors think. Instead of the shock troops working for whatever cabal killed the Amazons, we’ve got the Celtic goddess Morrigan sending monsters and undead armies after Diana and her new chums. It felt a lot less fresh than the first few issues. The trousered costume isn’t bad, but I could have done without the artists giving Diana what appears to be a push-up bra.
I’m not actually sure this was intended to be out-of-continuity rather than a complete relaunch, but I know how it wrapped up and the end makes it such. Unfortunately Vol. 2 isn’t at the library yet, so it’ll be a while before I read further.