Ah, now this issue is going to be controversial … or not. On the one hand, one of the most popular characters in the Wonder Woman mythos meets a sticky end. On the other, well, it’s ‘only’ an alternate world story.
Of course, we don’t know what elements of the Odyssey storyline will bleed back into the official DC continuity once J Michael Stracyzynski’s hobbled run ends. So maybe Diana’s loss here will prove permanent – I hope not, as this issue shows just how cool the Amazon general can be.
Scripter Phil Hester continues where we left off last issue, with the Huntsman – muscle for triple war goddess The Morrigan – about to gore Diana. Luckily, Philippus is on hand to save the injured Diana from the centaur. The tide of battle runs both ways until, finally, Philippus is killed, staked on the horns of the Huntsman.
Meanwhile, Diana’s friend Brianne is attacked by another beast, a minotaur, who steals away with her son Harry. Diana has her hands full, as a rage fuels her renewed fight against the Huntsman, making for the best showing in battle the new Wonder Woman has had. And while her killing of the killer isn’t what I like to see from this heroine, it’s followed by a telling line, as one aspect of the watching war goddess tells another: ‘She is in the full flower of her vengeance now, her hatred for her enemies smothering the innocence at her core.’
All credit to co-writer Phil Hester for making it clear that the bloodthirsty young woman we’ve seen since the first issues of this story, which began in #600, isn’t how he sees the character. And further thanks for a gripping superhero comic in which Diana, while not yet the full Wonder Woman package, makes a good showing. Yes, she’s fierce, understandably so. She’s also loyal, passionate, compassionate and even, when necessary, commandingly royal.
The Elseworlds aspect of this storyline is pretty much laid bare as The Morrigan summons a trio of familiar faces from the realm of death, apparently the regular DC Universe, to act as their latest agents against the Amazons. Cheetah, Giganta and foe-turned-friend Artemis are filled with new memories as they’re renewed physically and sent out to kill.
There’s also more on those mysterious dolls of old continuity Dianas, being left around Brianne’s building by a cloaked figure (Dr Psycho, the gossip says); The Morrigan being beastly to an ancient lackey; Amazons organising; and a trip to the temple for some Jason and the Argonauts-style skeleton smashing.
As last issue improved on those before it, this month’s story is another cracker. Hester piles on the action and character without the issue seeming cluttered. He gives Philippus her moment in the spotlight prior to her death, spurring Diana on to beat the Huntsman and emphasising that in this reality, no one is safe. I’d not be surprised if even Diana were taken out by the end. And the Huntsman, who could have been a grunting throwaway, is given such entertaining lines that I hope he turns up again some time, some continuity.
Penciller Eduardo Pansica turns in page after attractive page, filling his panels with dramatic, dynamic figures. In one well-thought out shot he shows the terrifying size of the minotaur in comparison to Brianne and Harry, while the two battles against the Huntsman are simply enthralling. I’d be very happy were Pansica to get the regular pencilling assignment (God knows, someone should be given it). He’s aided by four inkers, but the quality remains consistent, due in part to the commendable colours of Alex Sinclair.
The DC Icons cover is Sinclair working with artist Don Kramer, and it’s lovely so long as you don’t look at the legs.
I said don’t look …