Frankly, it’s been a rough start to the Finchs’ Wonder Woman. For the last three months, DC fans have vehemently argued who exactly Wonder Woman is or what she should be.
In these cyber battles people have been throwing around words like “feminist” and “sexist” and are even questioning the credibility of Meredith as a writer. So for a moment, let’s take a step back, breathe, and examine this latest issue from a fresh perspective. Is it good?
Wonder Woman #38 (DC Comics)
Similar to how Wonder Woman currently feels, the storyline itself is being overwhelmed by a number of different plots. So while this issue addresses multiple plotlines, it actually feels like very little is accomplished by the time you finish.
The issue opens with Themyscira being attacked (yet again. Like seriously? Why on earth is it called Paradise Island when it’s constantly bombarded by mythical beasts?), but this time the creatures are a bit larger than mechanical birds. While this attack ends with the realization it’s just a dream, it does suggest that some of Diana’s personal turmoil are simply effects from assuming the role of God of War. This dream also introduces Strife for the first time since Meredith took over, however that’s yet another player in this messed up game we call Wonder Woman’s life.
The issue also includes more of Donna Troy who is now being hailed as the new queen of Themyscira due to Diana’s “lack of commitment.” I realized that in my review of the last issue I failed to recognize and mention the fact that Donna Troy, the one resurrected from the cauldron, is the original name for Wonder Girl, thus making this her New 52 debut. While all this is happening in Themyscira, the Justice League is investigating the villages that are still disappearing around the world. The only thing not mentioned in this issue is the weird alien things from the end of last issue. While I recognize a number of these plotlines may come together, Finch needs to start providing answers quickly because the story is getting overly-complex.
As for the portrayal of Wonder Woman herself, I recognize Finch is trying to make Diana more relatable, but when you humanize a demi-god who is looked up to as a feminist icon, the character loses most, if not all, of her inspiration and influence. When dealing with a world full of superheroes it’s fair to make them intangibly strong, both physically and mentally alike. Diana’s conversation with Hessia is a short, but essential scene because it allows Finch the opportunity to use the God of War transformation as a scapegoat for why Wonder Woman has been such a weak character these past few issues. Oh the audience didn’t receive the humanized Wonder Woman well? Blame it on the God of War influence and wipe your hands of it (*Note: This is a similar technique used by both DC and Marvel when something goes awry and they have to use time travel to bail them out of it). You never know, maybe Finch has something up here sleeve that she’s been planning all along, but this issue is definitely a step in the right direction.
I would also like to personally thank David Finch for this artwork. And it’s not just David Finch’s illustration; it’s the inkers and the colorists that collaborated on making some beautiful images in this issue. I think the panel design and structure has improved since last issue, but the ridiculous two-page spreads have remained awesome. There has been some controversy over Wonder Woman being drawn too similarly to a bikini model and it takes away from her warrior persona (Seriously? People are complaining Wonder Woman is too busty? That’s like criticizing Batman for wearing too many dark colors). Anyway, I did notice that Wonder Woman is looking fiercer and less cherubic and has a bit more muscle tone in this issue.
Is It Good?
It’s hard to expect a writer with limited experience to take such an iconic character and immediately hit it out of the park. While there has been a lot of controversy over this portrayal of Wonder Woman, I believe she’s on the road to improvement and it starts with giving Diana a little bit of back bone.
This isn’t the Diana that went hand to hand with the First Born, but I think she’s getting there. While this issue feels like it’s on the shorter side, there’s definitely a lot at play and it’s all going to boil over in an issue or two. Aesthetically speaking the art is at the top of its game and it’s some of the best I’ve seen. I look forward to next month as well as the reactions to this week’s issue.