Woman: Down To Earth
books that have been around since nearly the beginning of
comics that no one really reads, but everyone seems to know.
These are what are called the flagship books. Action Comics
and Superman are the best examples, published every
month featuring comicdom’s most well-known character
that no one will read unless DC puts a hot writer on the book.
The company simply can’t stop publishing Superman books,
because Superman is the character that launched the company
and cemented comic books into American culture. There are
people who still think red, blue and yellow are our nation’s
colors thanks to Supes and his “American Way.”
learn to accept these books as being there; in fact, it’s
rather comforting that no matter how many times I see a
new title run for a few issues and get cancelled, that constancy
is only a few spinners racks away. But you don’t read
them. I can’t remember the last person I met who even
reads a flagship book like Action Comics on a monthly
basis. (Rob Sparling has never actually met his editor,
and likely never will.)
I went insane when I decided to pick up a semi-flagship
book featuring comicdom’s most notable female character.
What it could have been that piqued my interest, I’m
not sure. It might have been the writing of Greg Rucka.
It might have been the artwork from Drew Johnson and covers
by various artists. Whatever it is, it added up to a surprisingly
excellent book that has brought a rather archaic character
and firmly entrenched her in the modern setting of today.
am floored at this very fresh look at Wonder Woman that
Rucka has put together. Here, Diana is the ambassador from
Themyscira to the world of the Patriarchy, and the narrative
follows her as she promotes her new book, deals with superhuman
crises and converses with the gods themselves.
doesn’t focus the story on Wonder Woman, but rather
on the world around her and the world’s reaction to
her. We begin rather mundanely as a new member is added
to her embassy staff, and we immediately get a feel for
the personalities that run the day-to-day aspect of the
Themysciran ambassador’s duties. It’s quite
interesting the way that Rucka mixes political intrigue
with public relations crises, all the while peppering the
books with bits of superhero genre. The way he sets up the
story is akin to the way The West Wing scripts
are crafted, where the president is the main character only
to a point, and the staff that surround him make up the
majority of the plot. Rucka seems to follow this in that
he assumes the reader knows who Wonder Woman is, which is
a valid assumption, and uses the supporting cast to flesh
out her character in lieu of focusing too tightly on the
Also of note
is Rucka’s treatment of the Greek Pantheon. Wonder
Woman has always had ties to Greek mythology, but the subtle
ways in which Rucka changes the divine portfolios of several
of the major gods and goddesses in order to update them
and contrast them with the older gods is both funny and
intriguing, accompanied beautifully by Johnson’s updated
character designs. Did I ever think I’d see Cupid
(Eros in the Greek) with blonde dreadlocks? No, but I certainly
of Johnson, I’m quite fond of his work on this book.
His style of drawing is smooth and curved in his work with
body design, but he shows himself able to do detailed and
angular work in his backdrops. While his characters seem
to have a tendency to pose, leaving their stances seem less
than organic, his style is good at conveying action and
movement, and he seems able to bring physical tension to
love the way he draws women. He is not afraid to show muscled
women, with larger than average shoulders and arms, especially
in the Amazons, where it would seem most warranted. There
have been times when I’ve seen depictions of the Amazons
as thin-limbed, vaguely Anglo-Saxon stick figures and it
never sat well with me. Johnson seems to understand that
these characters come from a warrior culture and their bodies
should refelect this. Nowhere is this more apparent than
in the Amazonian blacksmith Io.
story itself is tight and not too revealing, building plot
points and underlying the narrative with the mysterious
threat Diana is facing, while still developing several smaller
stories. It is well put together to say the least. Each
chapter break has the covers from the original run, plus
alternate covers and pin-ups from the likes of Phil Noto
and Adam Hughes, among others. The back contains some mock-interviews
and editorials discussing Wonder Woman’s radical ideals,
as well as a note-laden sketch gallery from Johnson.
excellent and well worth the $14.95 you’ll be paying.
All you have to do pick up the graphic novel and forget
that it’s a flagship title, and fork over the cash.
For some of us, this will be hard (I had to close my eyes
when I purchased), but it will be well worth it.