Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

In its musings on love and immortality, Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield seems to hint at the upcoming revelations of Wonder Woman #750, on the way to the new DC timeline and the 5G event. That's all in flux now, of course, another element frustrating G. Willow Wilson's run, which we already know has ended with Steve Orlando taking over.

There's nothing particularly off-putting about this volume, which is an improvement over Wilson's previous in that Wilson does more that's new and different here, introducing her own threats and own situations. There's also an issue or so where Diana hardly throws a punch, which I appreciate in terms of emphasizing Wonder Woman as a thinking person and not a bruiser.

But the first three issues mainly just see Wonder Woman and Giganta battling generic rock giants, and the second three issues offer a lot of standing around and talking, even for my tastes. Essentially, this eight-issue trade feels like it could be compressed into six issues or less, and while the plot moves, nothing is particularly shocking, surprising, emotional, or seems like it's going to have significant impact. Especially given that the next volume of this series won't be released until December(!) and it's Wilson's last, there's not a sense of ramping up here — basically, the book is good but flat, unlikely to grab new readers arriving from the movie theaters.

[Review contains spoilers]

In broad strokes, Wilson's Wonder Woman run appears to be something of a road trip story, in which Diana, the goddess Aphrodite, and a waitress, Maggie, are "questing" to find the missing Themyscira. Maggie comes to them having befriended a couple lost mythical creatures and ultimately seemingly being "chosen" by the Amazon Antiope's sword. In this book's titular story, they stop off in a Connecticut town that's been bewitched by Aphrodite's child, Atlantiades, lending aid when the townspeople turn on them. Within this, Wilson highlights both Diana's love for Steve Trevor and her concern for his mortality (since, as Diana says here, she's been alive "a long time," as long as "centuries"), contrasted with Giganta's challenge, in the volume's first story, that Diana doesn't use her god-given powers to their fullest extent.

In Wilson's scant time left, I'm skeptical whether we'll see this fully played out, some combination I expect of Diana fully embracing her godhood while making peace with her loved ones' mortal lives. That's not a new arc necessarily — this "Wonder Woman holds back and isn't as much as she could be" trope feels awful tired — but what's intriguing is the new, straight-from-the-movies idea that Diana is hundreds of years old, at play here for the first time. With 5G on the rocks, however, this story is over almost before it began; that's annoying for a constant fan, but must be downright mind-boggling for someone trying to make sense of these comics fresh.

So, there's good drama in Diana's dealings with Atlantiades, but it seems unlikely to matter in the long run. Equally, Wilson's writing of Diana and Giganta as frenemy teammates in the first story is also entertaining, but again, Wilson intersperses intermittent bickering with repetitive fight scenes over the course of three issues. There's something good at this volume's base, but it's undercut by how long it goes on.

It seems wholly possible some of the trouble here has to do with editorial changes or rewrites. At least two covers show Steve Trevor in the fray, when he doesn't even physically appear in the book. There's also a couple spelling errors and a time or two, especially toward the end, where it seems like art and dialogue aren't necessarily in sync, all of which suggest that maybe hurried changes are part of why this book comes off somewhat flat.

There's a final one-shot here by Orlando, following from Willow's storyline and giving some background on the "Dimension Chi" that Diana and her companions find themselves in. Curiously, though characters like Queen Atomia featured here are callbacks to old Wonder Woman villains, the bizarre Dimension Chi is brand new. The dimension is a Star Trek-style mirror universe of sorts where an "Empress Hippolyta" rules over Themyscira, her militant ways at least in part due to her deciding not to become a mother (notably here the Empress refers to forming Diana from clay, when I thought in this continuity Diana was still Zeus-sired).

What's strange is that Chi is apparently a war-torn dimension replete with living, breathing beings, created entirely by "our" Hippolyta for the purpose of playing "what if" with her life, essentially. No one treats this as strange at all — neither Hippolyta's ability to create a universe nor that she did so simply to sate her own curiosity nor that Hippolyta had cause to wonder that strongly about a reality without Diana at all. It's so weird I was sure it would turn out to be a Golden Age concept reused, but apparently that's not the case.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield is therefore a mixed bag; I've read much worse Wonder Woman stories in my life, but this one lacks a certain verve. I am excited for the next volume, which offers some ties between Wonder Woman and "Year of the Villains," but moreover I'm eager for a steady team on this title and some adventures with consequence to them.

[Include original and variant covers]

Summary
Reviewer
Collected Editions
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield
Author Rating
2.75 (scale of 1 to 5)
Get the Collected Editions scoop before anyone else -- on Facebook!

5 comments:

  1. I had high hopes when Wilson came on (I really enjoyed Alif the Unseen and Air), but nothing I've seen from reviews of issues or collections has tempted me to jump in. Especially not with her run being so short. It's really a shame DC can't find a long term writer for WW who'll create and sustain some momentum and critical excitement for Diana. I liked Orlando's issues bridging Robinson and Wilson's run, so I'll grab his next collection, but he's off the title so quickly I will not be expecting greatness. Oh, well

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Orlando's off too? I hadn't heard. Have they announced yet another replacement?

      Delete
    2. Yup, happened right before the panic hit so it went largely unnoticed.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/screenrant.com/new-wonder-woman-comic-writer-mariko-tamaki/amp/

      Delete
    3. Pandemic, not panic, stupid phone.

      Looks like Orlando will get about two trades worth (11 issues if I counted right) before we change writers again

      Delete
    4. Ooh, I liked Tamaki's Supergirl: Being Super and her New Super-Man one-off, so high hopes.

      Delete