Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 05, 2019

The idea of giving Wonder Woman a long-lost twin brother is a controversial one, ill-conceived I think even if with the best of intentions. It wasn't writer James Robinson's idea and I believe he's trying gamely to make something out of it; unfortunately, we've got what doesn't feel like it has a lot of gusto here on one hand and what feels too familiar on the other.

The result is Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked, a story that's by no means insulting to Wonder Woman and her ilk, just one that does not necessarily get the blood pumping. Notably, when Robinson abandons the twin brother/Darkseid plot for an issue and does his own thing, that issue is much more compelling, suggesting the direction DC maybe should have gone with this fill-in run.

[Review contains spoilers]

The naming of this book is itself pretty gutsy, as Amazons Attack was a historically much-maligned Wonder Woman event over a decade ago. Robinson draws no other overt ties between this and that; instead, Attacked more distinctly evokes the scores of battles Wonder Woman has waged against Darkseid previously.

That's one of the difficulties Attacked has to deal with, though again much of this Robinson inherited, not created. We have seen Wonder Woman vie with Darkseid before, whole operatic battles of the Amazons against Apokolips under John Byrne and others, such that there is not the tension in this face off that's surely intended. And Robinson's Darkseid is far from menacing, needlessly cackling his plans and often using "human adages"; Darkseid plays the role of generic alien despot here, as much Mongul as Darkseid, and it makes this too-familiar conflict even less impressive.

Again, the mere presence of Wonder Woman's male doppelgänger is problematic, and Robinson had a stumble in Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods in that not only did Diana naively welcome her brother with open arms, but he also of course turned out to be evil. In this volume Robinson transforms Jason swiftly from slovenly party animal to superhero by dint of a sudden, yet-unexplained abduction and return. This puts Jason on the right path for the needs of the story, but fleshes him out not at all such to make the audience care more about him.

Robinson even wastes five pages of flashback showing us the end of Jason's fight with the Deep Six of which we basically already knew the outcome, rather than using that same space to deepen Jason any. (One suspects, knowing Robinson's love for esoterica, this was more an opportunity to write the Deep Six with the stilted dialogue of their original era.) I'm guessing that where Jason got his new armor and such will be the subject of Robinson's next and final Wonder Woman book; between that and whatever Zeus wanted Diana to tell Jason, my fervent hope is that Robinson can find a way to write Jason out — that he isn't Diana's brother, that he doesn't exist — such to bring this silly Wonder Woman chapter to a close.

That Jason arrives for a short time on Themyscira, and that Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta recognizes and accepts him, is one sticky widget in the idea that Jason is just a simulacrum. That's not impossible for Robinson to write out of, but it's tougher. Spending some time on Themyscira, and having some (albeit transformed) Amazons now on Earth is perhaps this book's biggest "get," and Robinson did well using Themyscira without bringing about the big reunion between Diana and her mother. It might have been nice for Hippolyta to have at least asked about Diana or sent a message back with Jason; that much I was surprised didn't happen.

Attacked kicks off with the three-part "Swan's Song," in which Robinson revamps the origin of Wonder Woman foe Silver Swan. She is, consistent with her latest incarnation, Vanessa Kapatelis, though her new origin contains elements of that of Helen Alexandros, the original Bronze Age Silver Swan (ballet, the presence of Dr. Psycho). I don't mind, especially, that Robinson tries to bridge the Swans, but the story starts with about nine pages of narration, telling us instead of letting us feel in any way about this newly recreated friendship between Diana and Vanessa. Given that Vanessa was a stalwart of the George Perez era, those emotions aren't hard to find, but this all feels lesser, like when the New 52 truncated all of "Lonely Place of Dying" into one Robin Tim Drake origin issue. Continuity is all over the place, given that Superman apparently still fought in the Imperiex War but Vanessa isn't the original pre-Flashpoint Vanessa; I'd have much rather that Robinson had worked here to integrate that Silver Swan into the present goings on than created someone new trading on the memories of old.

The book's fourth chapter (issue #41) is strongest among them, mostly a conversation between Diana and Steve Trevor about their respective days; Robinson does well depicting the two as friends and lovers confiding in one another. That conversation is a framing sequence for Robinson to reintroduce a bevy of old Wonder Woman villains: Zara, the Blue Snowman, and the new Angle Man, "Anglette." These are characters will less modern baggage than Silver Swan and I have no objection to Robinson refreshing them, and then even better he ties their attacks to Diana's best new foe of the modern era, Veronica Cale. Though billed as the first part of the "Amazons Attacked" storyline, the issue is strangely irrelevant, and so feels like Robinson doing his own thing rather than telling the Rebirth-led Jason story. Unfortunate, I thought, that this book didn't contain more of that.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked

Again, Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked by no means presents Wonder Woman poorly. Between a book that gets Diana wrong (too sheltered, too needy, etc.) and one that just isn't all that exciting, I'll take the one that respects the hero any day. I am excited for the final book of James Robinson's run because I'm eager to see if and how he can go ahead and dispense with this Jason mess.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked
Author Rating
2.75 (scale of 1 to 5)
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