Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

November 25, 2018

 ·  1 comment

James Robinson's name still carries enough cache from his now long-ago run on Starman that the prospect of James Robinson writing Wonder Woman still heralded a significant event. But between those times, of course, we have Cry for Justice and Robinson's long absences from the comics scene, and I think that tempers many readers' expectations. Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods is serviceable, not a bad portrayal of Wonder Woman (certainly more on point with modern depictions than Shea Fontana's contribution just before this), but neither is it groundbreaking nor transforms our understanding of Wonder Woman in any way. In the mid-tier of DC Comics's writers stable, this would be fine; from Robinson, perhaps I was mistaken to be hoping for more.

[Review contains spoilers]

It's taken for granted in the story itself, but in making canon in the Rebirth era the New 52 concept that Diana is daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus (and not created from clay), Children determines Diana's point of origin that Greg Rucka's initial Rebirth run remained agnostic on. Though I like the idea of Diana as a "demigod," the superheroic equivalent of Greek and Roman times, today I feel more kinship with Diana as the fulfillment of her mother's heartfelt prayer to the gods than the product of a fling with the philandering Zeus. And the picking and choosing from the source material felt cowardly to me: Diana is Zeus's child, as with Brian Azzarello's stories, but whereas under Azzarello the Amazonian boys (conceived by Amazons seducing and slaughtering sailors) were killed or released to slavery, male child Jason (Diana's twin) is exiled for his own protection now, a wishy-washy avoidance of Azzarello's more difficult material.

So into Wonder Woman's complicated and ill-explained Rebirth origins (in which we still don't understand where many apparent not-Themysciras fit in) we now understand Hippolyta gave birth to twins, a fact no one's hinted at until now — because it's retroactive continuity, I know, but I find it far-fetched, and moreover I'm certain this will all be proven false by the end. My incredulity, at least in part, is because I don't think Robinson sells it; letterer Saida Temofonte makes far too melodramatic Diana's first inklings that Jason is involved, and Robinson writes Diana's meeting with Jason as sappy, almost romantic ("Diana! My name's Diana. Say it, please. I want to hear you say my name"), without a hint of skepticism. Diana is beside herself to meet Jason, but we never really understand why or what having a twin means to her.

That's letting alone, too, that the book simply embraces the male equivalent of DC's preeminent female hero as if there's no problematic implications. Robinson inherits this story from Geoff Johns' Justice League: The Darkseid War and DC Universe: Rebirth, not unlike how Dan Jurgens inherited the Mr. Oz storyline culminating in Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect, and I tend to wonder — two years later and buffeted by the various vagaries of comics — how close or far we are from the story that Johns originally imagined.

All of that said, I'm a sucker for a tale that, indeed some years later and under another title, brings together threads from Justice League and Rebirth, plus Robinson defers to a Dark Nights: Metal outlier, too. The friend-enemy-friend plot structure is pat (as is Wonder Woman's umpteenth face-off against Darkseid), but I liked the murder mystery tone of the beginning. Also, while the two "Times Past" stories here pale in comparison to Robinson's Starman "Times Past" stories of yore, Jason's foster father Glaucus is unexpectedly compelling, a kind of immortal Jonathan Kent; we've seen the broad strokes of that story before, too, but Robinson pulled it off with good humor.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods

All told, James Robinson will write twenty-some issues of Wonder Woman; given again the vagaries of comics, we know already that Robinson's run will be finite, that Steve Orlando will come on for a story, and then G. Willow Wilson takes over after that. For that reason, while I'm interested to see what Robinson does next following Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods, I'm not necessarily as emotionally invested as with Azzarello's or Rucka's recent runs; again, I have a sense all the toys will be back in the box by the end. If anything, I'm hopeful Robinson continues to use this as an opportunity to explicate what Rucka left vague — Diana's origin, to start, and the ins and outs of Themyscira, I think, next time around. Surely, I still believe, if anyone can take a twisty, knotted history and make sense out of it, that must still be James Robinson.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods
Author Rating
3 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. I found this story painfully ordinary. Its a shame as usually nothing peaks my interest more than seeing a long hanging plot thread from one title suddenly picked up in another title, it helps urge me to check out books I may not have had any interest in prior just to see the larger story continue. This however didn't do anything to build on what came before or set up anything interesting going forward. It just felt like it was an obligation for this stuff to finally be dealt with, nothing more.

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