After several years, I find Greg Rucka’s take on WW overrated

June 29, 2012

By Avi Green

In the past decade, I may have thought positively of the pretentious Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman (though I certainly did drop it wisely around the time Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis were vomited out by DC editorial). Over the years however, as my opinions evolve and I try to better my directions, I have looked again at what material I still have of his run, and my opinions have changed.

His run began on issue 195 of the 2nd volume in late 2003 with WW putting together a book of her opinions on life and how it could be led, and at the same time hiring a would-be law expert named Jonah McCarthy to work at the Themysciran embassy.

The book Diana of Themyscira writes causes quite a bit of controversy in the public, and draws the attention of an alleged family group advocate who’s actually working for Veronica Cale, the co-chairwoman of a pharmaceutical development firm in Texas, who hates the Amazonian princess because she supposedly hasn’t ever worked seriously, and wants to destroy her publicly.

The story does have some left-wing leanings littered around, but there is also some very embarrassingly bad characterization of WW to accompany it too. Including how, after receiving word of a forest fire not far from a neighborhood where she’s supposed to give a book signing, she goes there to deal with it, but while she is concerned about the state of any nearby houses, she objects to the Flash using his power to extinguish the fire, arguing that it should be allowed to burn within a limited area just so that the forest can pick up and grow again from there. All without any point made that she doesn’t have authority to decide what forest fires can be kept burning in controlled levels, and the Flash doesn’t even try to argue seriously! This little chit-chat between them is filmed by some civilian enemies of WW’s, who splice the recording to blot out the better parts of her dialogue and an attempt is made to use it against her. It doesn’t work, but that aside, the story in itself was ridiculous and didn’t portray Diana very flatteringly.

And the way Cale is set up as an adversary is absurd. After abducting an employee who leaked info about her plans to defame Diana, she tells her hostage (whom she later poisons to death) that her mother, a native of northern Florida, had spent time working as a stripper in a dance hall in Texas, for an audience mostly consisting of rich oil men, including one whom she ended up having an affair with that led to Veronica’s birth. Guess what? The oil baron she’d had a tryst with wouldn’t marry her or pay any child support, and when she was trying to persuade him, he smacked her to let her know his answer was no.

It was only then that she took to working at housecleaning to help support young Veronica. Frankly, what I don’t get is: why she didn’t think of that before? She says her mother couldn’t find a decent job, but housecleaning is about as decent as one can get, so it only ends up hard to swallow. She ends up falling ill during Veronica’s teen years, and even after daughter blackmails her illegitimate father into paying the money for healthcare for her ailing mother, it’s just too late, and she passes on 2 years after. Veronica goes onto college, working in computer game designing (which honestly sounds contrived), and uses this to finance her own medicine researching company.

And yet this Cale harbors an illogical, irrational hatred of WW for reasons still not entirely clear. She also claims herself as an alleged patriot after she helps the resurrected Medusa make her way to the White House in hopes of turning WW to stone. Did I mention the jaw-dropping lapse in logic when, as Medusa first breaks into Cale’s office building, she turns a security guard to stone by staring at him through a closed-circuit camera (this also happens when she enters the White House), yet when Cale stares at her through a mirror and the fight with WW in a stadium later on is broadcast to the world live on television, neither Cale nor anybody else is turned into granite?

Greg Rucka once said he wanted to make Cale a variant on Lex Luthor as a leading adversary. But when the Countdown crossover (and Villains United) came into effect, this whole plan was abandoned. Not that it would have worked well to begin with if Cale was going to be characterized with such a ridiculous “right-wing” persona.

He didn’t do the Greek pagans any favors either when, after Medusa turned the son of Peter Garibaldi, WW’s public affairs director, into stone: Hera, who’d already pulled a most absurd act after she knocked Themyscira onto Earth doing a lot of damage and injuring a number of civilians visiting, came and told Diana that the son’s transformation into rock was justified.

And Rucka destroyed things even further when he took part in the storyline that saw WW breaking the neck of Max Lord, who’d been subject of lurid character assassination in the Countdown prelude that saw Ted Kord, the Iron Age Blue Beetle, slain in a bloody mess. All because – get this – Max, as out-of-character as he was being written, was controlling Superman’s mind forcing him to rampage, and she wanted to stop this! Just what’s so wrong with that, save for the misuse of Max Lord?

In the end, what Rucka did was just so numbingly wrongheaded that it’s not worth reading again. He’s mostly departed from DC contributions, and I’d say it’s just as well. He was pretty overrated to begin with.

Copyright 2012 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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