Wonder Woman #14 (January, 2008)

It's been a longstanding truism in Hollywood that female-starring action films are box office poison. Warner Brothers president Jeff Robinov was infamously rumored to have declared in 2007 that his company, the one that owns Wonder Woman, would never again make another such film after the twin failures of The Brave One and The Invasion. Never mind that those were both deeply flawed movies. Never mind the $675M earned by the Resident Evil franchise. Never mind Underworld's $460M. Tomb Raider's $404M? Kill Bill's $333M? How about the $557M in unadjusted dollars earned by Ellen Ripley across a quarter century, versus the $301M made in "current" money by combining Aliens and Predators? No wonder the grapevine says Robinov's got Wonder Woman back in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, DC's had two Wonder Woman related "event" series in the past twenty years. One was 1991's justifiably forgotten War of the Gods, which was merely Catwoman in comparison to 2007's Amazons Attack!, the Cutthroat Island of comics. Wonder Woman #11-13 were direct tie-ins. Let us never speak of them. There's nothing wrong with a female-driven extravaganza (The Hunger Games alone made more than any one of the previously mentioned franchises combined,) but when you do it bad, it quickly becomes an epic scale boondoggle.

Speaking of which, Gail Simone, the first long term female writer of Wonder Woman, had a lot of expectations over her head as she picked up the threads from-- ahem-- you know. Hippolyta was back to normal, but plagued with guilt and living almost alone on Themyscira. While the other Amazons were in magical exile, four prisoners at as many points on the island were checked on once a year by their former queen. One crafted the dethroned monarch a crude new crown with her teeth, and promised that for the good of all Amazons, she would slay "the dragon" Diana.

Wonder Woman was in Africa, battling a troop of armored gorilla soldiers brainwashed by Grodd. The Amazing Amazon took down the troops' leader, Tolifhar, by force. Then, she won the lot of them over with her kindness and grace. In fact, she ended up putting them up in Diana Prince's apartment for a while.

Tom Tresser set up a surprise birthday party for his partner. It was interrupted by Sarge Steel, who wanted them to follow up on a tip Agent Prince had gained from her new simian allies about a cell of the super-villainous Society set up in Toronto. Steel didn't trust Prince's inexplicable "tips," and suspecting her of having a connection to the Amazons that tried to overthrow the U.S. government, brought in outside help. Lt. Colonel Etta Candy was to spy on Prince, and to prove her worth, had already uncovered Steel's abuse of antacids, anti-anxiety meds, and alcohol.

Diana had gotten Bruce Wayne to donate billion dollar "invisible" stealth technology to the Department of Metahuman Affairs. Their suped-up helicopter and tank rolled on the Society compound, but found it mostly abandoned. That was, except for Captain Nazi, who proceeds to try to end Agents Prince and Tresser. Meanwhile, his new Nazi army was invading Themyscira, intent on killing anyone there and claiming it for the Society.

"The Circle Part One of Four: What You Do Not Know Yet" was by Gail Simone, Terry & Rachael Dodson. For my money, Simone is one of the finest writers in modern mainstream comics. She is about the only legitimate female "star" comic book writer in pretty much ever, which is why getting her on Wonder Woman seemed so obvious. It's a shame that her strengths as a writer make her a poor choice for the character. I'll be making criticisms as I go through the issues, but for now, the first page of her first issue sets up an "everything you knew about the heroine's origin is wrong" riff. Rookie mistake. New writers always want to screw with a character's origin, which immediately alienates long time fans, and never sticks with the iconic characters. Has there been a single run since 1987 that didn't try this at least once? Write stories that move the character forward, rather than having her chase her tail.

Unlike a lot of people, I liked the gorillas, but making Etta Candy slender and radically altering her m.o. was not cool. Then there was the bit where Batman, who already got Diana her a job in the totally superfluous D.M.A. (DC already had the established the nigh-identical Department of Extranormal Operations,) invents the invisible jet and doesn't use the tech himself. Bad enough that it doesn't make a lick of sense, but it also makes a big chunk of Wonder Woman lore dependent on friggin' Batman. Diana is a magical princess and a third of the DC Trinity. She should gift lesser DC heroes, not be a Wayne charity case. By the way, was the raid on Canadian soil sanctioned, or did WayneTech facilitated an illegal operation? Finally, for the second time this issue, Wonder Woman fights a villain from another hero's rogues gallery, Captain Nazi, instead of one of her own. I get that she needs to prove herself amidst the greater DCU to establish her abilities, but I don't think a guy who fights Captain Marvel Junior really helps in that department. By the way, how dumb was it for a powerless Diana Prince to enter a building known to have housed super-villains? At least the Dodsons keep it all pretty.

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