Review: Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack collected hardcover (DC Comics)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's something of an understatement that a lot of people didn't like Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack (and some of them even let writer Will Pfeifer know about it). I just read it, and I understand the outcry -- there's a lot wrong with this story. But if you ignore those shortfalls -- and I think Amazons Attack is a story where it's possible to ignore the drawbacks and enjoy it nonetheless -- Amazons Attack actually has a lot going for it on a cosmic, summer-blockbuster scale.

Before the naysayers jump on: I understand the Amazons would likely never act this way. I understand the violence here was considerably gratuitous. I understand Wonder Woman does a lot of standing around and being told what to do by Batman. But man alive, they decimate Washington, D.C. Air Force One goes crashing to the ground. Hippolyta stands in the ruins of the White House, one wall completely gone, and screams for her daughter. Sometimes when I read comic books, I'm looking for strong characterization and intellectual debate, but sometimes, I just want to see the Justice League fight bad guys and watch things blow up. And in the "things blow up" category, Amazons Attack is bar none.

Pfiefer does a good job with the plot he's dealt. Yes, the Amazons act out of character, and yes, never in a million years would they trust the witch Circe. But in terms of the plot, it makes sense -- the Amazons have been brainwashed. I especially liked the final sequence, where Batman, Supergirl and Wonder Girl, Hippolyta, even the Amazons Phillipus and Artemis who didn't intervene, are all called to task for their role in the battle. Amazons Attack is an ill-conceived lemon, no question, but it's obvious Pfeifer tries his best to make lemonade.

Amazons Attack is also a great Justice League story. Yes, Wonder Woman is largely ineffectual here, and yes, Red Tornado and Hawkgirl don't get speaking roles, and yes, Vixen only appears somewhere toward the end. But in a story that mainly consists of a lot of fighting, it's a thrill to see the Justice League fighting in the background together. Pfeifer also throws in a bunch of nice Superman and Superman/Batman scenes; with art by Pete Woods, Pfeifer's Superman looks like he came straight out of Superman Returns.

Admittedly, Amazons Attack represents some of the worst attributes of the crossover genre, and the collection only makes this more apparent. There were so many crossovers connected to Amazon Attacks that each of the six chapters of the hardcover requires a text page explaining what's happening elsewhere. Indeed, some of the more integral scenes, including Wonder Woman's confrontation with the goddess Athena, appear in a crossover issue instead of in this book. Though Amazons Attack has an ending of sorts, the epilogue serves to turn the story on its head in service of Final Crisis; this is hardly a story so much as an advertisement for another story.

The bottom line is, I understand all the negatives about this collection, and I just don't care. Final Crisis is in the air, and I've got crossover fever. The heroes of the DC Universe come together over the skies of Washington, D.C in a big, monstrous battle royale, and I couldn't be happier. It's Amazons Attack -- buy it, shut off your brain, and let it just wash all over you. The collected Final Crisis can't get here soon enough.

[Contains full covers, more text pages than you can shake a stick at, Pete Woods' sketchbook]

Speaking of the Justice League, we're on now to Justice League: The Lightning Saga, and then we'll check back in with Bart Allen just in time for ... oh, you know. Thanks for reading!
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7 comments:

  1. Love your site. I usually agree with most of what you say.

    I've been waiting for you to review this because it screws up everything you love about the trade, trying to turn it into a complete story.

    I felt like most of the important story beats happened outside of the book and they should have collected it with crossover issues if they wanted it to make sense.

    "Bee's, my god they are using bees." :(

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  2. Thanks for the link.

    Man I hated that book. In part because one person could do better, but a committee seems to go forward with the worst ideas of the individuals in the room.

    It is nice to see someone give a charitable look at material. Final Crisis (which is not that bad) is not getting that kind of break.

    Best,

    Bill

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  3. Something like Amazons Attack is so interesting because where the flaws are is so clear -- and perhaps conversely, it's so apparent how this book could have been a winner, there but for the grace of.

    Bill, it'll be interesting to see how Final Crisis stands up in the end; the good thing about the serial nature of comics is that the end of Final Crisis will offer a natural "start-over" point for the DC Universe to correct some of the mistakes of the past year.

    (If they even were mistakes. It's tough to tell these days in comics what's a mistake, and what's just bad PR, you know?)

    Thanks both for your comments.

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  4. Normally, I wouldn't even care that this is a bad story. However, it's not just a bad story; it actively sought out and ruined other stories.

    Case in point is the tragic story of Green Arrow and Black Canary. For any comic fan, this wedding was monumental. And yet, they ruined that story (proven by the fact that if you ignore the fight to the death in the final panels, it's a fairly cute, campy and fun wedding story), along with the first arc of the new title, for what resulted in nothing more than a cheap plug for a terrible story.

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  5. So Amazons Attack crosses over with the initial issues of Green Arrow/Black Canary? I did not know that. I'll have to look for it when I read those trades; hope it won't be too long from now.

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  6. The story idea of Amazons attack Man's World is actually pretty cool, but a cool story is only as good as the writer in charge of it. What could have been a cool story ended up becoming the worst Wonder Woman story ever. The writers obviously did not do extensive research into the mythology, leading to plot holes, ridiculously bad physics that shouldn't be possible even in comics, and idiotic behavior of EVERYONE -- Wonder Woman not doing more to actively contain this situation; the Amazons acting like ax crazy straw feminists or just following increasingly insane orders against their better judgment; the President ordering the detainment of any woman even remotely associated with the Amazons per a Cold War act that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and mostly repealed, if not completely, by Congress against his advisers' wishes; the military just slaughtering Amazons; etc., etc., etc.

    It didn't help that much of the major plot points were occurring in the tie-in issues. If they were going to do a Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack graphic novel, they should have at least put in the relevant tie-ins from the main Wonder Woman title, Teen Titans and Supergirl.

    The worst part of all this is that they destroyed the Wonder Woman mythos for a plotline for an even more terrible series -- DC Countdown.

    Thank God for Gail Simone.

    Incidentally, you should check out Atop the Fourth Wall blog. The writer on the web show did a funny piece on this travesty that dares calls itself an event.

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