Friday, January 28, 2011

Great hera...picoult takes on wonder woman

A few weeks ago, I picked up a Wonder Woman comic. I didn't look at the author, as I was transfixed by her...bracelets.

Fast forward to me heading out to the bus one morning. I'm barely awake. I need a book. I look through my stack and select Wonder Woman: Love and Murder. And what do I see taking up 1/3 of the cover...but Jodi Picoult's name. In my sleepy stupor I can't be. Surely there is another Jodi. And yet I still threw the poor book away from me like it was lava, or My Sister's Keeper.

Weeks later, I've now read it. I'm really trying to hold back my cynicism for Ms. Picoult due to several factors. 1. I've never read any Wonder Woman, so I really have no basis to judge this Wonder Woman. 2. Perhaps her gigantically noted authorship will cause more people to hear Wonder Woman's story. 3. Wonder Woman is "as beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury." Who could mess that up?

And yet.

Ms. Picoult attempts to assuage fear of her name being attached to such an iconic symbol of womanhood and power and justice and kind of answers questions like: who do you think you are and what have you done with Wonder Woman and why hasn't she lassoed you?

Of course, this is half DC Comics' fault. They approached her. She was wary, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to "flex" her "comedic muscles." Then she cited that she wanted to put her own spin on Wonder Woman (WW)...mainly if WW "continued to be the strongest, smartest female on this planet...but had some doubt in other areas of her life..."

I began to worry that this comic was going to be like an episode of Dr. Phil. Like, sure WW kicks it in battle, but can she do "real" woman stuff, like cook a roast? And who cares if she can get to the truth and save the world, why has she let her nail polish chip? And when will she find someone to love?

Blech. You know what's better than feelings and conforming to society? A freaking truth lasso, that's what.

So the story...
In previous episodes, WW had to save Superman and Batman from this evil guy who had turned them into evil robots or something. However, in order to do so she had to kill a human. That's a big no-no for WW and the Bat and Superman are kind of mad she didn't find another course of action.

So WW is wandering around, all emo, and not being WW...instead she is being an agent for the government...and attempting to act human. Which brings us to the "comedy" such as WW doesn't know how to pay for gas and WW doesn't have a credit card and WW doesn't understand how to use the subway. Ha ha ha isn't it so funny to see a super hero brought low cause she is super bummed about killing someone.

WW is going to need to step up soon, however, as evil Circe (I'm thinking that Circe) has resurrected WW's Amazon mom from the dead so that she will attack Earth since they are dissing WW by imprisoning her for killing that guy...which they did do, but only because Circe and some guy named Everyman were meddling and pretending to be people. Phew. So there is a huge battle. Which the story ends in the middle of.

Oh yeah, and a love story. Obviously. WW falls for her partner who is a wise cracking shape shifter guy (and p.s. flirts with anything that walks). There are a couple funny parts that reference former WW stuff, but then there are parts where people say things like: "Being dead makes you weird, darling. Just look at the Spice Girls, or Chicago Cubs fans."

That just feels awkward.

Aaand we're back to the whole "feelings" thing. I get it, WW is having an identity crisis cause she killed a person and the people she protects don't get her. Couldn't she just have a meal with Batman and talk through it? I don't need creepy voice-overs asking...who am I? like she's Derek Zoolander.

It doesn't help when Circe tries to tell her that the two most important parts of being human are love and murder. Say what, crazy?

Then there is the whole weird thing with her mom. Definite mommy issues and a communication breakdown. And in the end *SPOILER, WW gets all martyr-ish and gives her mom (who has just bombed out a city) a knife to kill her since the fight was about whether WW would kill her mom and now it is all turning of tables, ball's in your court mom...will you kill me?

Pretty much, I saw what the plot was trying to do. Integrate WW into society through love. Give her mom an opportunity for salvation. Deal with morality issues. But it fell short. I didn't get enough information on any facet to really feel anything.

Luckily, Picoult doesn't write the next installment. I really hope it gets things kicked off by someone punching WW's mom in the face and throwing her back to space, WW realizing the difference between love and adrenaline, and then showing the government who's boss (and oh yeah, stopping that nuclear weapon).

Then she can have dinner with Batman.

"Of all people, you know who I am...who the world needs me to be. I'm Wonder Woman."
a different WW who didn't need a pep talk (Infinite Crisis #1)


  1. I haven't read Jodi Picoult and will avoid her now. Not that I had any plans.....anyway.
    I love your angry posts about bad writing - they always make me giggle.
    I am totally intrigued - why do you seethe when you think of My Sister's Keeper?

  2. I agree about the dubious qualities of the comic, but there is at least a reason why WW couldn't talk things over with Batman over dinner: Batman, at least in the comics, is a serious jerk who utterly refuses to listen to anyone who isn't him.

    Well, supposedly he's lightened up a bit as of late, but back when this story was published? Between trying to talk things over with Batman and having to listen to creepy voiceovers, give me the creepy voiceovers any time.

    Didn't make the story any better, mind you.

  3. Jabba - My Sister's Keeper makes me angry because it is one of those books that deals with terrible subject matter and I'm like people, put it down! Reading it is like literary cutting. Not healthy.

    Hyaroo - Oh man, thanks for the Bat insight. I knew he was freaking moody, but refusing to listen or help out people going through what he went through? Not. Cool. Do you have a recommendation of a comic I should read to cleanse my palate?

  4. Yeah, Batman was on a serious "everyone sucks except me" bend for a while there, and he was at his absolute worst during the time the Jodi Picoult story came out. It was like the guy was trying to make an enemy of the whole world, and especially his friends and allies.

    Recommendations? That depends a lot on what you like. I've heard a lot of good things about the Gail Simone run on Wonder Woman, though... that came immediately after the Jodi Picoult issues and the stories are a lot more fun. So if you want to give WW another chance, that's a good place to start.