Sunday, January 10, 2010

Comic Book Review: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

I was completely unimpressed with Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1. It was a fairly average story that moved at a slow pace and offered the reader little more than what we have gotten in the countless other Blackest Night tie-in issues.

 However, I figured that I would go ahead and give this second issue a chance. After all, this is only a three-issue mini-series, so it does not require that much commitment from me. Plus, I absolutely adored Nicola Scott’s artwork. So, I figured if nothing else Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 would be pretty to look at. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Mera battling Black Lantern Wonder Woman. During the fight, Wonder Woman’s inner voice pleads for Mera to stop her at any costs. Wonder Woman thinks how this is not her. Meanwhile the black power ring keeps saying “Flesh.”

Black Lantern Wonder Woman engages in tons of trash talking about how Mera is the queen of nothing. That Mera’s kingdom is gone, her husband is dead and her son is dead. Black Lantern Wonder Woman beats the hell out of Mera.

Finally, Black Lantern Wonder Woman’s trash talking fills Mera with rage. Mera then makes a rally and uses water to blast Black Lantern Wonder Woman. Mera then takes her trident and stabs Black Lantern Wonder Woman through her chest.

Black Lantern Wonder Woman pulls out the trident and then grabs Mera by the neck. Black Lantern Wonder Woman is about to snap Mera’s neck. Mera says that Wonder Woman was a friend of hers and then spits in Black Lantern Wonder Woman’s face.

Wonder Woman’s inner voice then gains temporary control over Black Lantern Wonder Woman. Black Lantern Wondy tells Mera to run. Black Lantern Wonder Woman then flies off into the sky.

Black Lantern Wondy then lands and thinks how she would rather die than become this abomination that she is now. Suddenly, Cassie arrives on the scene and tells Black Lantern Wonder Woman that she can fight the influence of the black power ring.

Black Lantern Donna Troy then arrives on the scene. Black Lantern Donna says that she has always hated Cassie. That Cassie doesn’t fit in with them. That Cassie is annoying. Black Lantern Donna says that she has always wanted to hear Cassie scream.

Suddenly, Black Lantern Wonder Woman rips Cassie’s heart of her chest. Black Lantern Donna comments that Diana always ruins her fun. Black Lantern Donna asks who they are gong to kill next.

Wonder Woman’s inner voice is horrified over what she has just done. Black Lantern Wonder Woman then attacks Black Lantern Donna and hacks Black Lantern Donna in half and kills her.

Suddenly, Wonder Woman’s mother, Hippolyta, appears on the scene and attacks Black Lantern Wonder Woman. Hippolyta says that Black Lantern Wonder Woman is not her daughter. Black Lantern Wonder Woman takes down Hippolyta and is just about to cut Hippolyta’s head off when a batarang hits Black Lantern Wonder Woman in the face.

Wondy looks up and we see Batman (Bruce Wayne) on the scene. Bruce tells Wondy to stop. Black Lantern Wonder Woman attacks Batman. Batman grabs Wondy by her throat and tells her that this is not her. Wonder Woman’s inner voice stammers that this cannot be real. That Bruce is dead.


We then see the Star Sapphire power ring flying toward Black Lantern Wonder Woman. We then see Batman and Black Lantern Wonder Woman in full embrace and kissing each other. (Wow! I did not see that coming!) Wonder Woman’s inner voice says “Bruce…”

The Star Sapphire power ring then flies up to Wonder Woman. Aphrodite then also appears on the scene. Aphrodite says that the color for love of all creation is Wonder Woman’s true color. Wonder Woman says that she cannot forgive herself for what she has done.

Aphrodite says that Wonder Woman has done nothing. That Aphrodite made this place and it is a figment. A place where Wonder Woman’s possession could play out without hurting anyone. Aphrodite says that she would not allow Wondy to be destroyed by evil. Aphrodite says that in darkness that love must survive.

The Star Sapphire power ring then slides onto Wondy’s finger. The black power ring then explodes into little pieces as its connection to Wondy is severed. The Star Sapphire ring says, “Welcome to the Star Sapphire Corps.”

Wonder Woman smiles and says, “It [love] must do more…it must triumph.” We see Wonder Woman, in her Star Sapphire outfit, flying off into the air. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Wow, I cannot believe it, but Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 was a good read. I was fully expecting another pedestrian read. However, Rucka delivered a much stronger issue with Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 than he did with the debut issue on this mini-series.

Now, it is incumbent upon me to openly disclose that I have never been a fan of Wonder Woman. I have never read her comic book and I know little about Wonder Woman outside of what I have read of her character in titles like Justice League of America and such.

Having said that, Rucka actually managed to get me to like Wonder Woman’s character in this issue. Rucka constructs some solid dialogue. Rucka obviously feels comfortable writing Wonder Woman’s character and it shows. I liked the trash talking from Black Lantern Wonder Woman during her fight with Mera. That was a nice way to remind the reader of all the losses that Mera has sustained.


Rucka also served up some good character work on Wonder Woman. After all, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 was simply a character study. The reader already knew the outcome of the fight in this issue that we got over in Blackest Night #6. The only purpose of this issue was to allow Rucka to show the reader the internal struggle in Black Lantern Wonder Woman’s soul and to help explain why the pink power ring chose Wonder Woman.

I have to admit that I was not too keen on Wonder Woman being picked by the Star Sapphire ring in Blackest Night #6. However, I did a little research and came across an article by Marguerite Lamb in which she said that William Moulton Marston struck upon an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love.

Rucka does an excellent job picking up on that essential theme of Wonder Woman’s character in this issue and, in particular, in the final scene. I enjoyed how Rucka emphasized the fact that Wonder Woman is a noble warrior who fights for the preservation of life. That it is Wonder Woman’s great love for all things living and the Earth itself that is the impetus for her being a hero.


I loved the final scene with Aphrodite approaching Wonder Woman and encouraging her to accept the Star Sapphire power ring and reject the black ring. Rucka takes a cue from Wonder Woman’s pre-Crisis origin when Wonder Woman owed her abilities to the goddess Aphrodite. The use of Aphrodite as Wonder Woman’s guiding force worked seamlessly with the theme of the Star Sapphires and their belief in love allowing them to overcome all evil. The scene with Aphrodite made Wonder Woman being chosen by the pink power ring an obvious and logical choice.

I liked the use of Cassie, Donna and Hippolyta in this issue. Particularly enjoyable was when Black Lantern Donna trash talked Cassie. Cassie has always seemed like the odd man out in the Wonder Woman family to me. Rucka does a good job playing with this dynamic.

Of course, in the end, what made Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 more than an average read for me was the appearance of Batman at the end of this issue. And I mean the real Batman, Bruce Wayne. I loved it. This plot wrinkle totally caught me by surprise. Rucka takes a cue from the DCU Animated stories that played with the idea of a romance between Bruce and Diana. I liked it during the Justice League cartoon and I liked it here in this issue.

I know that Catwoman is a classic pairing with Batman, but I have to admit that I have lost just about any and all interest in Bruce and Selina. We have been down that road too many times. The Zatanna/Bruce pairing that Dini played with over on Detective Comics was certainly interesting. However, it seemed more like Dini just inserting one of his pet characters into the story rather than a logical romance blossoming between the two characters.

However, the Wonder Woman/Batman pairing is the one that intrigues me the most. This relationship is such an interesting study in contrasts. You have the ultimate human in Bruce Wayne who is the very embodiment of the human spirit and potential. On the other hand, you have Wonder Woman who is a creature of myth and magic. It is interesting to see the man of science who has become, quite literally, a god-killer being paired with a woman created by the gods from clay. I would like to see DC play with this relationship a bit more.

Even though this issue was first and foremost a characters study, that does not mean it was a slow read full of nothing but endless amounts of dialogue. Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 provided the reader with tons of bloody action. Rucka kept the action scenes flying at the reader from start to finish. The pacing was nicely done, as this story never drags for a moment. The story has a pleasant flow as each scene unfolds into the next one. Rucka had a clear direction in mind with this issue and the story moved with a purpose.


Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 boasts some fantastic artwork. Nicola Scott’s artwork was just beautiful. If nothing else, I am glad I decided to get the Blackest Night: Wonder Woman mini-series because it introduced me to such a wonderful talent in Nicola Scott. I have never seen Scott’s work before. Scott has never been the artist on any title that I normally read.

Needless to say, I remain blown away by Scott’s attention to detail. Scott certainly produces plenty of dynamic splash shots. However, Scott is just as good at sequential story telling as she is as making dramatic splash pages. Scott was able to inject plenty of emotion into the characters and helped to bring Rucka’s story to life in a proper fashion.

The Bad: While I enjoyed the character work in Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2, the fact that the reader already knew the outcome of this fight from over in Blackest Night #6 effectively robbed this issue of much impact or excitement. There was no tension at all in this story. The reader simply flips through the pages in order to get the inevitable conclusion of seeing the Star Sapphire ring destroying the black power ring.


I know this is a minor complaint, but is it possible for editors and writers on these big event tie-in issues to make sure they mesh properly with what happens on Blackest Night itself. In Blackest Night #6 we saw Black Lantern Wonder Woman and Mera engaged in a titanic battle on land in Coast City where the rest of the heroes were brawling with the Black Lanterns when the Star Sapphire ring approached Wonder Woman. Hal and Carol then watched as Black Lantern Wonder Woman tried to fight off the Star Sapphire ring before the pink power ring slid onto Wonder Woman’s finger and destroyed the Black power ring.

However, in Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2, Rucka has Black Lantern Wonder Woman telling Mera to run and then Black Lantern Wonder Woman flies away from the fight scene. There, in the other location created by Aphrodite, is where Wonder Woman gets the Star Sapphire ring and the black ring is destroyed. Wonder Woman, in her Star Sapphire outfit, then flies away from that location and back to the battle scene.

It is the editor’s job to make sure writers on tie-in issues are kept in line with what is going on over on the main story. Little details like this is what can give a story a nice professional look. In the matter at hand, the editor fell asleep at the wheel and did not make sure that Rucka’s accounting of this fight meshed properly with Johns’ version of this fight.


The result is that the reader gets the feeling that there is no communication over at DC between the different editors and the different writers. It also gives the story a generally sloppy and chaotic feel to it. I know this is nitpicking, but a company like DC should be held to a higher professional standard than some bush league independent comic book publisher.

This just furthers the impression that I have had about DiDio’s tenure at DC, which has been marred by a lack of communication between editors and other editors as well as a lack of communication between editors and writers. This lack of communication has prevented DC from being able to generate cohesive stories that mesh together in a proper and consistent manner.

Overall: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 was a solid issue. This issue was certainly better than the debut issue of this mini-series. However, even though I liked this issue, there was really nothing that occurred in this issue that you did not already get over in Blackest Night #6. Therefore, readers who are reading Blackest Night should not feel required at all to pick up Blackest Night: Wonder Woman. I would only recommend picking up Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 if you are a Wonder Woman fan.
____________________________________________________________
Rokk

10 comments:

Danny said...

I agree with just about everything in this review. It was satisfying, but didn't quite mesh with the main title.

Mera continues to be the breakout character of Blackest Night. I've always thought the Aquaman family was kind of lame and limited in their abilities. Thankfully this fight took place near water, so she was able to hold her own. Here's hoping she comes off Blackest Night with some non-water based powers, because I'm really starting to like this character and would like to see her as a force away from the ocean.

Still, this ranks up there with Blackest Night: Titans #3 as one of the few tie-in issues I didn't hate and actually enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that JLU was the first instance of Batman/Wonder Woman love story. I'm fairly sure it was part of Joe Kelly's run on JLA. The story arc called the Obsidian Age. It's really good actually and Doug Manhke did the art.

Jimmy Bag said...

Hmmm... I wonder how will they kill off Mera in the end?

Maybe I'm mistaken (more likely jaded), but it's a modern comic book trend to hype up a character and making him/her all badass over the course of a story just to have him/her killed off towards the end. Let's hope this doesn't happen with Mera. Hey, she could be the new main face of the Aquaman family, which has certainly seen better moments.

I think the editor thing is not just DC's. I mean, remember Civil War and Sue Storm's departure being different in the main series and in the FF tie-ins. And this is just an example. More often than not, the "big" writers like Morrison, Bendis, Johns and Millar tend to overlook not old continuity, but the stuff that's CURRENTLY happening. This is not the case, but it is certainly an annoying trend. I am a bit of a continuity freak, but I don't think I'm overreacting when I say that I would like a little more coherence in my books.

Joan said...

Argh, again with the "Diana Prince of Earth". That's not her name! She doesn't think of herself as Diana Prince, and has no reason to. It's not like Superman, who's Clark as much as (sometimes more than) he's Kal-El. Diana Prince is not a "real" person, not even in the complicated way that governs secret identities. Princess Diana of Earth, Diana of the Amazons, Diana of Themyscira... it's not like she lacks for names! But "Diana Prince" is not an identity with any weight or meaning. Her family doesn't know her as Diana Prince, her gods don't know her as Diana Prince, and she would never call herself that in her own head. If it's supposed to be at all meaningful that the ring chooses her, it could at least call her by the right goddamn name!

It didn't surprise me in Blackest Night proper, because Johns' writing for Diana has always been hack work, but seriously, I expect better from Rucka. It's out-of-character, illogical nonsense in the service of nostalgia, and it bugs.

Heh, sorry, hit a nerve there. Ahem.

Anonymous said...

The first time there was a hint of Bats and Wondy was in a story by Christopher Priest in Legends of the DCU... in the story Wondy tells Bats about a villain who has offered to stop a war in exchange for sex... anyway Bats says something along the lines of I would stop a war to sleep with you too... I get the sexual tension btwn Bats and Wondy... but love??? that's for Wondy and Kal

- Seafire

Van said...

Batman and Wonder Woman are basically the perfect man and the perfect woman. I can see the potential of the stories they could come out of that and I would like to read them

Anonymous said...

Hmmm that's interesting... I've always thought that Diana and Kal were the perfect woman and the perfect man respectively... Batman was always the scarred flawed soul b/c of his parents violent dths.

But you are right, the Bats and Di can have interesting stories.

-Seafire

rizzyh said...

Aw, come on, people! I'm so tired of the whole "WW & Supes" pairing bullsh*t!

Superman is an alien, first of all, a demi-god more than anything. So yeah, strongest man in DCU pairing with strongest woman in DCU makes sense, but only as far as representing the super powered "establishment" as it has been portrayed numerous times (such as in Dark Knight strikes again & Kingdom Come...neither of which portrayed SM & WW as particularly "heroic")

Part of Supes character is that he represents the "qualities & characteristics" of a perfect earth man, foremost of which includes monogamous love for a strong and independent woman: Lois Lane. That love is as much a part of Clark as is his upbringing in Kansas. You can't separate it, unless you are doing a hypothetical bastardization of his origins (ie: Red Son) But overall, Supes and Wondy don't make any real character sense.

Bats & Wondy, on the other hand both represent people who have had to train themselves to not only help others but also stand head & shoulders above others like them. No powerless man can touch Bruce and no amazon can take on Diana, but Clark gets his butt handed to him by various Kryptonians on daily basis: Supergirl, Zod, residents of new Krypton?!?! I mean, compared to others from his planet, the only thing that makes Clark truly superior is his morals, take that away and he's nothing but a superpowered alien.

That's what sets Bruce and Diana apart in terms of power, since no human or amazon can truly replace them.

Also, unlike Supes, their romantic lives have never been all that phenomenal: Diana has always had a tremendous respect for soldiers and ordinary men who put themselves in harm's way to help others, except she just represents too much of an emasculation for any non powered man. And despite his best efforts, Bruce always ends up with the misguided or treacherous femme fatale. The fact that the lives they lead don't allow them to meet anyone else makes their not so perfect love-lives so tragic. Which is why their pairing works so well, you genuinely feel happy for both of them, not just in the usual "Goddess falls for normal human" or "good girl falls for the dark and brooding guy" kind of way.

What do you guys think?

DaisyJane said...

Rizzyh I could agree with you more and I couldn't have stated the reason better. BM and WW are just so interesting together and there is such sexual chemisty between them. But they also have friendship and love to going from them too. I think they can understand each other in a way few others can. They are both warriors driven by their missions. I just love that her heart led her to Bruce to break the hold of the black ring.

Icha said...

Wow. Just Wow... Rokk, thanks a lot for your amazing review. For a Batwondy fan like me (who have liked them since 2003/4 when the JLA Obsidian Age came), it's a refreshing thing to see a serious comic critique liking the idea of Bruce and Diana together.

And aside from that, I've loved BN WW since #1, I think Rucka gave an amazing story there. Diana saying "Love can't be taken. Only given." ... that's SO Diana.

Here's the link to my own blog review of the BN WW#2:
http://becomingicha.blogspot.com/2010/01/in-darkness-love-must-triumph.html

And I've added yours in the PS note because I love it so!