“…what have I done?”
The Just War rages on, as we pick up with Diana and Ares’ duel in the war-torn nation of Durovnia. The entire issue, much like the entire story arc up until this point, is framed as a philosophical argument between the characters, with action being used to simply dramatize and literalize the argument further. It’s classic superhero comics, but the way it plays with divine beings who represent eternal concepts is also incredibly Sandman. Superhero Sandman is certainly the underlying intent of the book and it’s interesting to watch.
Ares speaks on what Justice truly is as the two struggle, expressing the sincerity of his new crusade. Diana argues that his ‘justice’ is merely revenge and reminds him that nothing will truly come of it. The battle doesn’t last long, with Diana shattering Ares’ axe and knocking him down. They’re evenly matched and Diana understands this, their struggle is endless and fighting now would yield very little. She extends her arm and promises to help, to find a way forward, if Ares truly is sincere.
A cry then cuts through the events as both Ares and Diana head to the nearby wreckage, caused by Ares’ actions. Ares pulls a baby from the destruction and is horrified by his actions. Realizing the true nature of his deeds, he exclaims “Justice is not taking the side of the righteous at any cost. Justice is simple– the absence of conflict. What a fool I’ve been. To think I would be so easily redeemed…Henceforth, I will not interfere. Like the goddess Iustitia, I will be blind– let both sides struggle as they may. It is not the place of the gods to choose sides.” And with that bold declaration, Ares flies up into the sky, abandoning the lands of warring lands of Durovnia.
Diana is then met with the arrival of the men who followed Ares into war, ones who will not relent, despite Ares’ departure. They ask what right she has to intervene in their struggle, the battles they fight for their children. Diana, relenting, states she is merely here out of love, not to wage or intervene in any war. Looking to the skies, Diana realizes that only the man that began the conflict can truly put an end to it. Flying up to Ares, she pleads with him to intervene once more to resolve the problem. But Ares tells her no. He reminds her that she was the one who told him to stop and now he has. After his grand epiphany, Ares is absolutely unrelenting, more so than ever before. Diana looks at him, terrified, whispering “…what have I done?”
The story then moves to Steve Trevor and his captors as they head to their leader. They come to a river by the mountains, where a giant statue of a nearly naked woman is erected. The statue also includes a gigantic seashell, by which the woman stands. And underneath this great structure, within the water, two green mermaids float about. And at the center, the source of their adoration and the master of these mythic captors lies in waiting. It’s none other than Aphrodite, the goddess of love, the central patron of Wonder Woman and the Amazons, going back to William and Christie Marston, Olive Byrne and H.G Peter’s original rendition of the character. The divine being whom Greg Rucka restored to prominence at the heart of his thematic story during Rebirth.
It’s interesting to see how the gods of love and war, who have a fairly interesting history intertwined with one another, have evolved and reshaped themselves for this contemporary era. The final page, with Aphrodite relaxing in a simple gray shirt with a dove on it, is something that would easily fit into a Neil Gaiman story or take on the divine. The series wishes to fundamentally question and examine the core dual and opposing ideas at the heart of the series. The gods are sentient ideas, evolving, changing, ever malleable to their environments. What is justice in this world? What is war? What is love? How do they work and operate and how have they changed? These are questions that drive the entire arc as well as the overall run thus far, being the key thematic ideas Wilson, Nord, Gray, Fajardo Jr. and Brosseau want to explore.
Wonder Woman #60 builds on the foundations laid thus far, moving to more interesting places and putting a fresh perspective on all that we and Diana think we understand intimately.