COVERGIRL: Ding Dang the Chiang is back! The artist Chiang, the gold-penned Chiang! Ding Dang the artist Chiang is back!
Diana the Warrior, fierce of face, has returned!
INSIDE STORY: Hermes, Diana and Lennox seek out gun-toting hottie Eros in Italy, where he’s pointing a gold-plated gun at the temple of a dissatisfied client. You wanted the guy, you got the guy, he tells his love-weary client. The guy is now driving you crazy? Not my problem.
Then he turns and embraces Uncle Hermes.
The gang wants Eros to lead them to The Smith, aka Hephaestus, here a red-eyed, mannish creature with a fierce overbite. Eros obliges, and the gang asks Hephaestus for weapons with which to battle Hades, who’s got Zola in his underworldly clutches.
Hephaestus runs a forge, and as the gang talks lassos, a Hades-sent hell-beast bursts out of a fiery pit and snatches the Smith between its jaws. Wonder Woman cracks her whip, saving the day, then looks around and realizes she’s surrounded by human men, the Smith’s workers.
Here the whole Wonder Woman mythology blows up. BIG TIME. See Ramble; I’ll stick to plot points now.
Turns out, the Amazons go sirening thrice a century, climbing aboard ships and then aboard the men on those ships, harvesting seed and giving the men the ride of their lives before dumping them overboard.
The lucky Amazons grow girls and are heralded for their good work. Those who deliver boys are rewarded for their labor by having their newborn sons snatched from their hands and delivered to the Smith.
Poor Diana; she thinks she’s made of clay but she’s actually born of dalliance. That she has only sisters, she assumed was due to divine intervention, but really, her sisters and aunts and cousins rip babies from each other’s arms and ship them to the forge.
Disillusioned and disgusted, Diana decides to set her brothers free, tying up Hephaestus so they can run away from the forge. Turns out, they love Hephaestus and consider themselves artists.
Diana is wrong. Again. And again and again and again. The issue ends with Wonder Woman weak, for the first time, clutching her muddled head in her hands.
RAMBLE: So when I set out on this pop-artful journey, I vowed to avoid criticism and commentary until I had settled in; until I had met my chosen superheroes and spent a little time with each. “A little time” turns out to mean 8 issues, at which point I will have blown you all away with my stunning Catwoman commentary and be caught up with the books as they appear on the shelves.
Even shielding my eyes, I picked up on some Twitterverse upset with this issue (@TimHanley, @girlsreadcomics). Even a superheroine’s most devoted fan allows for riffing; it’s part of the genre. But with Wonder Woman #7, the riffing has spun out of control, distorting the mythology beyond acceptable limits. So they argue.
I’m only passingly familiar with Wonder Woman’s original mythology. For Wednesday, I’m going to read 5 or 6 commentaries on this issue and read some background myth.
But for now … I don’t like it.
I know the superhero walks alone. And certainly smashing Diana’s world-view to smithereens heightens her loneliness. The narrative succeeds supremely as a device.
But do the admirable Amazons need to be debased, transformed from a mighty warrior band into a tribe of succubi who rip babies from the still-shaking hands of their sobbing mothers? Diana’s already realized she’s not of them; does she need to hate them? Do we need to hate them? Because I do.
And while I loved the art in general, and hail the return of Cliff Chiang, the sequence with the Amazons in the boats seemed ripped from a lesser episode of "Love, American Style."
On a more positive note, the constant introduction of new Olympian family members delights. Each has his own personality and look: Life-weary War’s long white beard and tired clothing stand in sharp contrast to his brother Appollo’s club attire. Similarly, Apollo’s buff love-me-ladies body poses a distinctly different allure than the all-gender-encompassing beauty of his nephew Eros.
To veer again into the negative, while I love the way these family members come together to bicker and bond, Diana’s starting to seem the weakest link. Physically, of course not, but she lacks the pizzazz of some of her siblings.
I’m not calling for a Diana with jazz hands or puns, but a little bit of me wants a little bit more of her.