Review: Wonder Girl: Homecoming hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

February 1, 2023

 ·  2 comments

Everyone, it seems, has a vision for Wonder Girl Yara Flor. Consider, indeed, the sheer variety of depictions of Yara among Wonder Girl: Homecoming’s issues' variant covers, from the noble seriousness of Bisques Evely’s and Jenny Frison’s depictions to the brave confidence of Jamal Campbell’s cover, the youth of Will Murai’s Yara contrasted with the cheesecake pinup of J. Scott Campbell’s.

It’s an indication that the age-old question rears its head again — who is Wonder Girl? Given so many opinions, the answer seems to be that no one really knows. Joelle Jones' Homecoming book provides no satisfying answers, though whether this is a failure of Jones or of the book’s collection schema remains to be seen.

After Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s entertaining Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Through a Glass Darkly (following their disappointing Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Afterworlds), I thought perhaps the Wonder Woman titles were on an upswing going in to Trial of the Amazons. But Yara Flor remains a trouble spot, seeming under Jones' pen to be all style, no substance, and no more fleshed out than she was after her first Future State appearances. In the run up to what was going to be, and then wasn’t, Yara’s CW television debut, there’s a certain “don’t ask, just buy it” aesthetic here, but it’s not nearly enough for this discerning reader.

[Review contains spoilers]

As a general example of Homecoming’s storytelling difficulties, consider the sixth full chapter, in which Yara has been imprisoned in Tartarus by Hera for refusing her offer of godhood (and with it, mindless servitude). Yara is confined to a cell, seemingly for all eternity, when suddenly the Greek Titan Menoetius (seemingly; he’s never identified by name) grabs Yara out of her cell and begins to beat her. The sequence takes about six pages, after which Yara, having defeated Menoetius, is able to escape her captivity.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

But if Yara is captured — the gods mean her to be imprisoned and not to escape — why have Menoetius attack her (and Yara still with all her weapons and armaments)? It’s possible this is meant to be punishment or torture, though the story never makes that clear (Menoetius is mute the whole time). Rather, as is indicative of a good portion of Homecoming’s plot (and also some of Jones' Catwoman), the how and why is not as important as the needs of the story, and so Yara is freed and a prolonged action sequence tries to paper over the hole in the plot.

The same is seen throughout Homecoming. Yara decides to go to her homeland of Brazil despite her aunt’s protestations, where she’s almost immediate pulled underwater by the serpent creature Iara, who bestows upon Yara her mystical weapons. Yara seems largely unfazed by this; if she struggles to activate the weapon, she never once wonders why a mythical creature took interest in her.

Earlier, Yara rescues a man from an exploding car, giving an intimation she might have superpowers, but the book never clues us in for certain one way or the other. Indeed, despite an offhand mention that Yara’s had some trouble with the law, by the end of the book we know no more about her home life than we did at the beginning — whether she goes to school or works, anything she enjoys doing, and what her previous relationship was to the superhuman world she now finds herself in. When Yara tells the specter of her mother that her “whole life I’ve had to fight just to exist,” we’ve no idea what she’s talking about and so really can’t relate in any way emotionally.

I would note that Homecoming collects Wonder Girl #1–7 and the 2022 annual (also the Future State story and a clip from Infinite Frontier). There’s a gap between that final issue and the annual, during which Trial of the Amazons takes place and also apparently Yara is revealed to the world as Wonder Girl. In fairness to Jones, there remains Trial of the Amazons: Wonder Girl #1–2, which may or may not be the same as/part of the cancelled Wonder Girl #8 or later. Given that, for instance, in Wonder Girl’s third chapter there’s the random appearance of a talking crocodile, which seems all but forgotten until the annual at the end, it’s entirely possible that what details are missing about Yara are told in the two issues not collected here. That would make at least some of Homecoming’s problems not its problems at all, but rather just the fault of collections vagaries.

But Homecoming’s other already established difficulties do make me skeptical that’s the case. They go on — on top of Hera tasking Eros with bringing Yara to Olympus, Jones also has Eros be so careless as to stab himself with his own arrow and also stab Yara, establishing three different motivations for the same plot point. Artemis battles two assassins that (I think?) are also Bana-Mighdall, but there seems no recognition among them; Cassie Sandsmark goes to great pains to find Yara and then just walks away from her; Cassie and Donna Troy seem blithely unconcerned about the Esquecida tribe’s plan to bring war to Themyscira; and that the Esquecida simply walk up to the gates of Olympus as if it were around the corner from their Brazilian home.

I’ve no concerns about Cassie and Yara sharing the Wonder Girl name, and indeed Cassie’s eagerness to work with Yara at the end of the book is endearing. But I’ll add that Jones has a considerably different conception of Cassie than I do; despite a “glow up,” I think Cassie ought remain the sensible, down-to-earth kid that once led Peter David’s Young Justice, and Jones instead writes her like the overeager newbie from the Young Justice cartoon. At one point the god Mercury appears (apropos of nothing, and then isn’t seen again) and Cassie chatters on so much as to bore him. That Jones, current arbiter of the Wonder Girls, can neither make Yara Flor appealing and also writes a foolish-seeming Cassie Sandsmark is bad ground to start on.

1.5

Rating

Yara Flor apparently has big shoes to fill coming up, but so far her contemporaries — Jon Kent, Jace Fox, Andy Curry — seem more ready to take that step than she. Again, I recognize the cancelled CW show may have been a factor here — for Wonder Girl: Homecoming, Joelle Jones might have been waiting on a Yara Flor origin from someone else that never manifested. It looks like perhaps Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad take up Yara’s story after Trial of the Amazons is said and done, and hopefully they can give the character some depth; Jones' art here is picture perfect (and Adriana Melo and Leila del Duca match their styles to hers well), but the story left something to be desired.

[Includes original and variant covers, character designs]

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Yeah, Jones' Catwoman drove me up the walls and this did the same.

    Of the ancillary Wonder Woman books going into Trial, Nubia was easily much stronger. In fact, I'd argue it was probably better than Conrad and Cloonan's WW was (it's not unlike how Peter Tomasi's GLC was arguably stronger than Geoff Johns GL during some of the lead-up to Blackest Night).

    But it's telling that while Nuiba's remained a vital piece of the post-Trials tapestry, Yara,,,well, she's technically still around and is guest starring in Dark Crisis and the main WW book's cast. But that drive and push from 2 years ago has fizzled out and it seems like nobody knows what to do with her.

    That being said, Cornad and Cloonan seem to have *some* kind of plan right now. Stuff that happened in this run's currently back in play and converging with events in the main WW book -- especially as it's just about to segue into the LAZARUS PLANET event. So, we'll see if they can salvage Yara for the immediate future.

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  2. > what was going to be, and then wasn’t, Yara’s CW television debut

    This is such vital context to this strange book and an even stranger moment in comics. Between the collapse of the CWverse and the 5G that wasn't, so much of DC at this time read like, "You're gonna love this in a year, just trust us."

    But I bowed out of the floppies for this and "I Am Batman" for the same reason - the creators were excited about building this world, but they didn't give the readers a reason to engage. Too many characters and plot points were being introduced as though we should already understand and care about them. I'm sure some of that is because these titles were repurposed from the 5G clean slate, but I think editorial needed one more pass at them before inviting the rest of us to the party.

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