Friday, August 13, 2010

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult. Terry Dodson, Drew Johnson and Paco Diaz

Princess Diana, better known to the World as Wonder Woman, is a testament to being raised by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, the virtuous and gracious leader of the Amazons. While her mother long fought for justice, and ruled the woman-only island of Themiscyra, she realized that the world needed a champion, and when Diana turned out to be that champion, Hippolyta tearfully let her daughter go out into the world of men.

But even legends can die, and so it is with Hippolyta. After taking her daughter's place when Diana became the Greek Goddess of Truth, Hippolyta took on the mantle of Wonder Woman, but instead of fighting with the Golden Lasso of Truth, as her daughter did, Hippolyta used a broadsword. And during the war against Imperiex, fighting as part of the JLA, Hippolyta laid down her life to defeat Imperiex. Diana, who had already returned from Godhood a year earlier, wept over her mother's body, and laid her to rest on Paradise Island, in a hero's grave.

Diana, meanwhile, returned to her life, fighting crime under her assumed name as Diana Prince. But now the American government wants to find Wonder Woman, to get the secret of the Amazon's Purple Ray out of her for their own use on their enemies. And when a woman looking just like Wonder Woman kills American soldiers, they have a pretext on which to do so. Diana and her partner, Thomas Tresser, go out to look for Wonder Woman, while Diana tracks down the "Wonder Woman" who attacked the men at night on her own after she and Tom part.

She discovers that the bracelets that "Wonder Woman" wore were indeed authentic, as she donated one of her past costumes to the Wonder Woman Museum for their display. But the museum has closed permanently, even though all its artifacts remain. Someone stole the bracelets from the costume and used them to impersonate Diana. But for what reason? Discovered, Diana is taken captive by U.S. Soldiers, and Diana refuses to kill anyone to get free. She is taken to a high security prison, where her captors tell her what they want. She will not tell them, so they begin to torture her.

Back on Paradise Island, a woman approaches Queen Hippolyta's Tomb and brings her back to life. She regales Hippolyta with news of her daughter. Hippolyta knows the woman for who she is: Circe, the sorceress, who hates all the Amazons and wants revenge on them for past defeats. Nevertheless, Circe tells Hippolyta that she is telling the truth; her daughter is imprisoned by the Americans and being tortured to reveal the secrets of the Amazon Purple Ray. Hippolyta looks for herself, sees the truth, and is enraged. Before long, she declares war and she and her Amazons attack Washington D.C. to try and get her daughter back.

Meanwhile, Tom Tresser is trying to find Diana and free Wonder Woman. He manages the latter, and when Diana sees that the city is under attack by Amazons, she goes to her mother to try and get her to stop the attack, but Hippolyta will not, going so far as to declare war on the entire United States. But Hippolyta's fury astounds even her Amazon generals, who feel that she is not the woman she once was. Diana tells her mother to kill her rather than continue the Amazons attacks, but Hippolyta cannot kill her own daughter. Neither will she stop, however.

Diana learns from Circe that Circe added a bit of her own soul to Hippolyta's in reviving her, tainting the Amazon Queen with Circe's evil and vengeful qualities. But as Hippolyta continues to attack the United States, can Diana break through the Queen's obsession with vengeance and persuade her to see reason? Or will Diana be forced to kill her own mother to end the attack?

It's amazing that in all this time that the Wonder Woman comic has been around, there hasn't been a single female writer assigned to a run of the comic. Everyone who has been writing her has been male- even the writer who created her was male. And now, Jodi Picoult, the writer, took over as writer of Wonder Woman.

And the story is good. This pulls at the very heart of who Wonder Woman is- tearing at her self image, and also at her mother. Hippolyta was everything for Wonder Woman when she was growing up, and she raised her daughter right. Essentially, she was the perfect mother. And now, the dark side of Motherhood has come out- Mother as defender, to the point where she loses all reason.

The sight of Wonder Woman on her knees before her mother, offering to let her mother kill her rather than stop defending the country and the men who threatened her and tortured her- it's a very powerful image, and it's ironic that Hippolyta, who fell in love with a fellow JLA'er, Ted Kord aka Wildcat, passes on that torch to her daughter, who ends up making a connection with Diana Prince's co-worker Thomas Tresser.

Of course, their romance ended up being kiboshed by yet another reboot of the DC Universe, and it's gotten to the point where all these reboots get ridiculous, because everytime someone new takes over, they reboot, and all the interesting storylines get blown out of existence. I still remember with fondness when Diana was interested in Steve Trevor... and that was AGES ago.

But this is a really good graphic novel with a compelling storyline and good, but not amazing, graphics. seeing the JLA trying to hold off the Amazons was very interesting, and rather made me smile. Recommended.

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