Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

May 15, 2019

It remains a curiosity what James Robinson might have done on the Wonder Woman title if left to his own devices. Instead, Robinson spends his last volume, Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods, tying up others' storylines, none of which were particularly well imagined and none of which Robinson is able to wring anything particularly dramatic out of. After a strong Rebirth start, the Wonder Woman title has floundered, and I sincerely hope G. Willow Wilson can right this ship when she comes on the volume after next.

[Review contains spoilers]

Robinson posits here that the Dark Gods target Earth due to Wonder Woman's wish-gone-wrong at the end of Dark Nights: Metal — that apparently she wished for the gods to return, but didn't specify which ones. That's rather ridiculous, a clunky bridging of "Dark Gods" and Metal, made all the more so by the fact that the narrative really takes Diana to task for this as if she should be a more skillful wisher. The Dark Gods are exceptionally plain (to say nothing of Diana, Steve Trevor, and Diana's twin brother Jason under Robinson's pen), with names like "Mob God" and "Savage Fire." The writer who gave Copperhead hobbies surely has something better in his arsenal than this, and it contributes to the sense of Robinson as pitch hitter here, not driving force.

Thankfully Robinson does away with Jason at the story's end, though simply to send him away with the Dark Gods and not to erase him from existence or reveal his origins to be a lie. While my guess is Jason will actually never be mentioned again, the object concern is that now in any telling of Wonder Woman's origin, one has to mention that Hippolyta had two children that night, though one was immediately hidden away, and now he's in another dimension, and wait, what were we talking about, etc. Jason's weird, complicated origin distracts from Diana's, letting alone that it adds a proto-equal male figure to the origin of one of the most prominent female superheroes.

For those reasons — and the inevitability that Jason would have to be done away with to reestablish the status quo, thus making all of this rather predictable — this was never a good idea in the first place. Again, Robinson mitigates rather than erases, which is unfortunate. Seeing it through to the end, Robinson gives Diana some angst (but thankfully not too much) about Jason's sacrifice, something that it's hard for the reader to share since Jason was never especially likable, from villain to party animal to clumsy hero. That Robinson dedicated a whole issue to Jason on his own didn't bother me as much as that Jason doesn't do anything particularly interesting in it, that Robinson names Jason's spear "Polly" so that Jason has to call out "Polly!" at odd intervals, and that there's actually a moment where Jason has to note that he and Supergirl have been talking too long and really ought be fighting the destructive Gods instead.

Robinson uses Veronica Cale again briefly, the best part of Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked, and also Cheetah, and I'd have much preferred more of that than the amorphous Dark Gods. The Wonder Woman Annual #2 collected here sees Diana detour to help the Star Sapphires fight the Dark Gods, and that too was unique and unexpected and in that way far more enjoyable than another encounter with Darkseid as in the last volume. Robinson references the Star Sapphires' pre-Flashpoint history, including Blackest Night, which is fun to see even if DC's catch-all approach to its continuity still befuddles.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods

James Robinson has Steve Trevor leave in the finale of Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods, a strange exit to cap off Robinson's run, and I'm not sure if that's simply to reinforce Diana being alone at the end, whether it's a lead-in to Steve Orlando's story upcoming, or if Trevor might actually be off the title for a while. I'm unconcerned; it just struck me as odd (and that Trevor grew back his beard for an issue, which makes me think maybe one of the artists involved in Wonder Woman #50 was drawing off-model). Ultimately I think Robinson writes a good portrayal of Wonder Woman, with nothing wrong or offensive; it's just been 20 issues in which Diana not only discovered a twin brother but also battled Darkseid and it doesn't feel as though my blood was pumping for any of it. Hopefully there's stronger things to come.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods
Author Rating
3 (scale of 1 to 5)

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