Review: Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's first Wonder Woman: Earth One volume, touted as a sexual gauntlet thrown, arrived as less than that. Though Morrison's sex-positive Diana was good to see, it came after the New 52 iteration of the character finally had an adult relationship (with the Superman of the time), making Morrison's story not so much a vanguard of change as a secondary thumbs up. Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2, emerging now post both the wildly successful first Wonder Woman movie and the start of the #MeToo era, needed to reflect these important times and does so with a villain rooted in the pickup artist and incel subcultures. But again the story feels not quite up to its potential; a couple of times it feels Morrison goes right up to the edge and then blinks. How Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One books will ultimately be regarded is now going to depend a lot upon how he finally concludes the series.

[Review contains spoilers]

At Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2's climactic moment, Diana has the villainous Leon Zeiko in her Lasso of Truth and asks him "What makes you so afraid of us?" -- "us" being the Amazons, but by implication all women. "Zeiko" is Morrison's take on Wonder Woman bad guy Dr. Psycho with modern trappings (whom Paquette draws for some reason as Benicio del Toro). Perhaps the point is in Wonder Woman's question, that "afraid" suggests these gatekeeping and other subcultures are rooted in their fear, but still it seems a missed opportunity when Zeiko's answer via Morrison is simply a stuttered "I can't."

There is surely no one explanation for the rise of these groups, but we look to fiction to make sense of our world, and Morrison's story leaves the reader with no greater insight than they had before. This book ends on a cliffhanger, with "to be concluded," cementing what was stated in interviews that Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One would be a trilogy. My hope then is that Morrison doesn't really mean to leave it at this, but rather that Diana will confront Zeiko again and that his non-answer now was meant to build suspense for his actual answer later.

But this reinforced my feeling of the second volume being somewhat sparse. Mid-book, Diana rescues Zeiko from captivity (not knowing it's all a set-up) and develops a friendship while talking to him later. The very next time we see Diana is when Etta Candy and Steve Trevor set up an intervention with her to talk about "how you've changed since you started hanging around with this Zeiko dude." We see this change not at all; the demonstration is not subtle, but non-existant, since there's no story space between when Diana meets Zeiko and when she's confronted about it. Following is a scene where Diana is somewhat flirtatious with Zeiko, but not necessarily more so than we've seen from the character so far. After that is a scene where Zeiko does ultimately mind control (and possibly assaults) Diana, but he compels her only to hurt and not kill Steve -- good for the good guys, though Morrison offers no reason for Zeiko's restraint.

Given all that, this just doesn't feel like Morrison's best-plotted story, surprising as that is. Zeiko needs establishing as the villain of the piece, of course, but Morrison devotes seven pages to Diana and Zeiko's initial "meet cute," and from there the book speeds to its climax in very short order. There is a lot of the "what happens" here, but not as much of the "why," "how," or what it means; the book feels desperately in need of taking a reflexive beat. Again, as it turns out this second volume is the bridge to a conclusion, and my hope is that the second volume doesn't address certain things here because it intends to do them in the third volume instead.

I am dismayed, however, that said third volume seems to be leaning toward a war between Themyscira and "Man's World." We've seen this played out too many times already, with and without bees; the number of times the enlightened island of Amazons (both under coercion and not) has been brought to war with modernity begins to feel defensive, a kind of knee-jerk undercutting of the idea of a peaceful, wise female society. I don't question Morrison's intentions, but once again, a lot rests on this third book and what else Morrison has up his sleeves.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2

To be sure, Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 is breathy and fun, and part of the joy from the outset has been Morrison overlaying essentially the oldest Wonder Woman trappings on a present-day story -- Kangas and Paula von Gunther, Etta Candy's brother "Mint" and the Amazonian "mental radio." But at this moment, perhaps what Morrison offers in his standalone Wonder Woman graphic novel is not exactly what the audience needs; where the first and second volumes didn't quite align with the times, maybe the third one will.

[Includes sketchbook]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)


Post a Comment

To post a comment, you may need to temporarily allow "cross-site tracking" in your browser of choice.

Newer Post Home Older Post