We’ve just finished a multi-parter, and another is due to begin in a couple of months, so in between writer Gail Simone gives us a breather. She’s too savvy a writer, though, than to fob us off with a palette-cleansing but meaningless entertainment; this story matters to the series. Maybe not so much the second part, in which an old foe returns, but certainly the beginning of the book.
Said beginning sees another stage in the baffling romance between Diana and Nemesis. I say ‘baffling’ because there’s been no chemistry between them – Diana is formal towards Tom Tresser while he’s awkward around her. I don’t believe they’re courting for a minute – it’s either staged for the benefit of the ever-suspicious Sgt Steel, to who knows what end, or a production number scamming her mother, Hippolyte.
With this issue, I’m tending towards the latter, as Diana takes Tom to Paradise Island for a formal meting with her mother (she and Nemesis have met in passing previously). Hippolyte takes Tom off for a chat and to bestow her blessing while Diana . . . now there’s the question – what is Wonder Woman doing while her mother and supposed intended feed the royal menagerie and chew the fat? Heaven knows, but I find it tough to believe she’s just standing on her floating seashell transport all that time.
Working against this theory is the fact the when they’re away from Hippolyte, the pair continue their odd dialogues. Then again, in a world of all-seeing gods, telepaths and crystal balls, it could be they have to keep up the charade when not in a suitable shielded location.
I hope something is up, otherwise Diana really is carrying on a terribly formal courtship of unequals – everything is being done on her terms, and that’s not a Diana I want to know.
Whatever, it’s fun stuff and Simone is having great fun teasing us that Nemesis may be a tad gay (he never used to be, but who knows what the biannual reality shifts suffered by the residents of the DC Universe can do to a guy). Consider this exchange:
TOM: I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to act.
DIANA: The only safe approach is absolute truth, Tom. No hesitation. No equivocation. I know you hide your true self, Tom. I understand that’s necessary in your line of work. I can handle it. I’m a modern woman.
So, is Tom truly attracted to Diana, as a bisexual, but worried about meeting her mother (understandable after the events of Amazons Attack, even if we accept that she was completely addled by Circe’s magic/resurrection)? Is he gay, but on some kind of romantic team-up? Something else? I can’t wait to find out.
There’s a moment of foreboding as Alkyone, leader of the recently defeated Circle, watches Diana and Tom lead the island. She’s now interestingly scarred after an encounter with the giant sharks who bask in Amazon water and wouldn’t you know it, one dives up to frighten Tom. Has Alkyone made friends with the sharks and commanded one to burst out of the sea, or is it a coincidence? It could be Diana having fun, she can commune with beasties, after all. Whatever the case, it’s good to know Alkyone is still around and, no doubt, plotting.
The rest of the issue is less important to the series (well, seemingly, but Simone is the Trickster of DC Universe writers, so there’s a decent chance I’m off-base) but every bit as entertaining. Diana goes to Hollywood to talk to creatives making a film about her life, starring a lady who looks like CSI:NY’s Melina Kanakaredes, and it’s as rubbish as you might expect, full of creative liberties and slanders. Among the people Diana meets is a new character, Allison Condero, the legal brains. She’s dismissive of Diana’s mission (in a way that’s reminiscent of Greg Rucka’s character Veronica Cale) and borderline hostile. Asking the others to leave, Diana throws herself into a sisterly, cringingly inappropriate, embrace with Allison, and invites her to turn her life around, in a suitably ambiguous manner. I look forward to finding out more – I don’t believe Allison is going to turn out to be anyone from Diana’s past so much as a woman with problems, which may or may not impact on her opinion of Wonder Woman.
The issue closes with a villain revealed, the Queen of Fables, who uses her storytelling powers to throw some fun spanners into Diana’s works. Happily, Diana has a couple of her Gorilla City pals (the super-intelligent comedy relief or Amazon agents hiding their true purpose?) to help out. The final page, especially, will have fans of screen Wonder Women squealing with delight.
Simone’s regular artistic partner, Aaron Lopresti, is absent this issue, but Bernard Chang – who filled in a few months back – is here, and his work is better than ever. He’s softened his Diana face, in line with Lopresti, while showing us just what he can do as he relaxes into his role as regular pinch-hitter. His Hippolyte and Nemesis are great, his Paradise Island majestic and when we get to Hollywood he envisions an icily gorgeous Queen of Fables. Plus, in movie director Denny he gives us an ordinary fella who happens to have receding hair. Yeah, this seems an odd thing to mention – I deny a fetish – but how often do you see this in a superhero comic? Usually Diana is surrounded by regular Samsons.
Lopresti is around for the cover, and a very attractive one it is too – a cute reflection of the issue’s Hollywood sequence.
Remember when this book relaunched and we’d have months to wait between unsatisfying issues? Those days are long gone and I couldn’t be happier.