To make a long story short, Walmart signed a deal with DC to produce “exclusive” comics for their stores. But in all their capitalist wisdom, DC is double dipping us fans and re-releasing these comics as traditional issues. So far we’ve had Superman from Tom King and Batman from Brian Bendis. Now it’s Wonder Woman from… Amanda Conner.
And before we begin, I have to preface and come clean: I’m not crazy about Wonder Woman. But that’s why I’m perfect for reviewing this. See, these Walmart books have been all about defining world and character. King and Bendis have been able to play in sandboxes they don’t usually, er, play in, delivering stories that engage long time fans but also kids just picking up a random comic. Since I’ve struggled to like Diana, this book should–in theory–help me dig her shtick. Alas, that didn’t happen.
Conner’s done a lot of individual issues across many books, but her main claim to fame is doing Harley Quinn. Personally, I can’t stand Harley Quinn as a character or her comics. In fact, humor comics rarely land for me. But Conner has impressed with Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, making the best out of an artistically bankrupt gimmick.
G. Willow Wilson has written some great Wonder Woman issues in the past year or so. She understands that Diana is a bit like Superman or Captain America–they’re Boy/Girl Scouts. They’re role models that us puny mortals can look up to. A complaint often lodged at them is: “I don’t like them because they’re too perfect.” I feel that way about Wonder Woman most of the time. However, Wilson did what writers for Superman and Cap have been doing for years: putting them in difficult, real-world moral quandaries.
Superman got tired of America and revoked his citizenship. Cap keeps having to choose between world order and freedom. Wilson has put Diana in the middle of civil wars and righteous claims to vengeance. Sadly, Amanda Conner does not challenge her hero in a similar way.
Of course not every story has to define a character for a new generation or some crap like that. There’s a place for fun stories. But this issue isn’t fun. It’s corny. Half of the issue is wasted on some ridiculous, throw-away subplot with very low stakes involving endangered grizzly bears. Conner bends over backwards to highlight how perfect Diana is. There’s barely any stakes through this whole thing, and even when there are some, they’re weak.
Eventually and predictably, Steve Trevor gets himself in trouble, so you’d expect to find some conflict, right? Well, Diana finds Steve’s location fairly easily then encounters a massive sea monster even she hasn’t seen the likes of. What does she do? Fell it in one punch. No tension, no real danger, no real conflict. Even the set up is poor. The first few pages, which immediately objectify Diana into leering oblivion, are as sugary and saccharine as a sugar cookie with frosting, taking pains to show how lubby-dubby Diana and Steve are. If I was a reader who had no idea who Steve was or his history, I’d wonder why these people are together other than: “two attractive people must bang.”
Diana, for some reason, brings along Evee, a mere mortal who has the misfortune of rooming with the lovebirds. Evee is only here so Diana can relay exposition to some poor soul without talking or thinking to herself and…comedic relief? Comedy is subjective, so this is truly just my opinion–but this issue isn’t funny. Beyond that, Evee has no discernable personality worth following. It’s such a shame to see an African American female character with so little depth.
As for the art…it’s passable. Jimmy Palmiotti’s art is fetching when he puts in a wealth of details, like he does in the first few leering panels. I mean, he really took time to detail Diana’s musculature. From there, it’s a downward spiral of blandness. Palmiotti is mostly decent at storytelling, but some pages/panels are shockingly repetitive.
At the same time, there are panels with too many tiny details. There’s no sense of depth when a car in the far background is as detailed as a face in the foreground. Everything, no matter how important or not, is rendered at the same level. It’s exhausting to read.
Unfortunately, the colors can’t even save this. Alex Sinclair’s work is about as bland as you can imagine except for one page when there’s a “magic hour” palette going on. Like the art and script, there’s no ambition or artistic edge. Just paint by numbers. Literally.
This is a problem that lays on more shoulders than Palmiotti’s, but there are plenty of panels crowded with dialogue. It can look as if characters are literally struggling to be seen in a crowd of words, words, words.