Saturday, June 27, 2009
Rise of the Olympian
I finished reading Wonder Woman #33 about 15 minutes after I purchased it on Wednesday. This issue was the last in the 'Rise of the Olympian' arc that has dominated Wonder Woman for 8 issues. It has taken me this long to decide how I felt about the conclusion of this story. In fact, I decided to re-read the entire arc this weekend to re-familiarize myself with the entire story.
Please note, there are spoilers for those who have not read it yet
I am left a little underwhelmed by the story. This was to be a story which would alter the status quo for Wonder Woman. If you judge the story just on that criteria, Gail Simone succeeded. Wonder Woman's mission, supporting cast, secret ID, and heritage have all been altered. I have to say I am looking forward to how this all plays out. I also must say that Simone has an incredible handle on Wonder Woman's character. Her inner monologue, speech, and actions are clear cut, and totally within the range of what I think Wonder Woman personifies. I love the dialogue. For that I have to give credit where credit is due.
The problems I had with the story concern the plot and the execution thereof. I think the range and scope of this arc was too ambitious for 8 issues. The idea was great, it just started to fall apart under it's own weight. To recap, we had:
Genocide - a new villain with an origin that needed to be told
The return of the Gods
The return of the Amazons
The relationship between Wonder Woman and Tom Tresser
The creation of a new race of beings and an island home for them
The Cheetah and her Secret Society
and of course, The Rise of the Olympian
Now, you can take any of these plot points and create a 4 or 5 issue arc out of them. Sandwiching them all into one eight issue arc meant that much of the story was inferred or happened off-panel. The biggest gap for me was between the end of issue 31 and 32. I had to go back and re-read the end of 31 because I thought I had missed an entire issue. It began to feel rushed. Plus, Athena began to talk to Wonder Woman through several other characters, essentially moving the plot along through large chunks of exposition. I would start to become interested in one facet of this story when the action and story was moved to another place with different characters.
The arc started out well, lots of mystery and action combined. The resolution of this arc is what has me bothered. The previous seven issues had a lot of buildup and a lot of unanswered questions. The implication was that the eighth issue would tie everything together. Wonder Woman lands on Themyscira on one of her magic clamshells, badly wounded. However, at the end of issue 32, she appears in much better health, hovering over the ocean where she had just dispatched Genocide. As amazons (including her mother, Hippolyta) gather around her, they are attacked by sea creatures. We learner in the last issue that Euphemus, son of Poseidon, has turned traitor and is assisting Ares, the God of War. When this happened is unclear, as we have been seeing Euphemus throughout this arc with no hint of his treacherous nature. Also, Ares has been in his full God of War regalia, when the rest of the Olympian Gods are walking around, partially dazed in Star Trek uniforms. Still unclear about that. Wonder Woman figures out Ares plan (with the help of Deus Ex Machina Athena) and flies to him, cutting his head off with her ax, breaking the ax in the process. Ares has been Wonder Woman's most formidable foe since her 1986 relaunch, and to see him dispatched like that just fell very flat to me. Especially when he had just masterminded this entire plan (and done it without even being seen or mentioned for 4 issues). It was not the way her most recognizable nemesis should have exited the book. It's like having The Joker slip on a banana peel and crack his head open. And I am not so sure what the big deal is about her breaking her ax. It's not like it's an everyday part of her weaponry. We already know that the lasso has been contaminated. That merits some follow up and should be interesting.
Wonder Woman's dialogue with Zeus was absolutely the best part of the story. Having been a pawn of the Gods for so long, she renounces her heritage and her pantheon. This is where the story was going and I am very excited to see what happens next.
Where Wonder Woman ended up at the end of this story was great, I am just not thrilled with the way she got there.