Thursday, October 14, 2010

What a strange and interesting new direction...

Wonde Woman is 600.

In recent months many of comicdom's greatest heroes have had milestone birthdays, and with Issue #600, Wonder Woman joined exclusive company. True, the numbering process hasn't been linear, being rebooted and restarted on more than one occasion means that the title doesn't have the continuity of an Action Comics or Detective Comics, but it doesn't make the milestone any less impressive. 600 issues of Wonder Woman, and there can't be any doubt that she is the comic world's most successful and recognizable female. I think that her success is the one thing that Marvel was never able to capture. Something about this female just struck a chord with the public.

Now, following a run that I've heard panned in numerous comic shops (I thought it was solid and I like Gail Simone as a writer) DC has brought in super-scribe J. Michael Straczynski to take over the franchise and while we get a tease of his plan in issue 600, it is revealed in it's full and slightly confusing glory in issue 601.

As near as I can tell it feels like an Elseworlds story - which is DC's version of 'What If?' In it, we open to a Diana who is being hunted by what appear to be black ops teams from some sort of government agency. As we read through the book we find out that Diana is in hiding, in a world that does not know or remember Wonder Woman. The Amazon's secret island was uncovered when their gods abandoned them, and many of them fled to hide amongst the earth's population, including a young Diana. Her mother, the incomparable Hippolyta, has hidden Diana away where she can be trained and prepared to one day gather and save the Amazons.

I read the book and scratched my head.

It is such an enormous detour from the current story arcs in the rest of the DCU that I was, at first, miffed by the decision to effectively remove the book from continuity in order to allow J. M. S. his own private playground. How do you take a cornerstone of your universe and separate it from everything else?  Upon reflection though, I'm equally intrigued by the story he's starting to assemble, and therefor willing to overlook her absence from what is going on in the bigger picture of the DCU. JMS has crafted some of my favorite tales, although one pattern I have found that I am not a fan of is that he starts out like a house on fire (white hot and burning it up) and then flames out as we start to approach the apex of the story. Sometimes he even vanishes from a book before the apex really happens, or just after.

I have to hope that, as I have heard, that is a result of what editors he was working with, and not the result of somebody who cannot remain focused and on task through the completion of his goals. In any event, his unique, and original twist on the Amazon might make it an interesting pick-up for those of you who have never read her before.

After all, this is the guy who created Midnight Nation, amongst other exceptional comic tales.

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