Trouble on all Fronts

September 28, 2004

Wonder Woman #203-205: Bitter Pills 1-3

By Avi Green

Wonder Woman #203
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Drew Johnson

Diana deals with trying to help save the life of Vanessa Kapetelis, and at the same time, she’s got to deal with the fact that Themyscira’s been knocked into the sea by ways of Hera’s “mystical” assault on the island, an unintentional way of taking out her anger on Zeus for his infidelity, and also gets some help from Batman in investigating the murder of the Cale goon who was terminated by Doctor Psycho during the riot he caused at the Themysciran embassy in NYC. And if that’s not bad enough, Circe is planning on helping Euryale and Sthenos, the sisters of gorgon Medusa to revive the mythological humanoid with snakes for hair to life again!

It’s always the Bat, isn’t it? But relax, it’s not being done as a sales gimmick from what I can tell, and the Masked Manhunter’s role here is considerably minor compared to that of Diana and company, who rightfully get the main attention in her own book.

It’s interesting that there’s probably 4 different plotlines being presented here in the same issue, but Rucka makes it work well with all of them. Vanessa is in danger of dying because of the cybernetics that were forced into her, and removing them could also prove fatal, and the NY district attorney’s demand that Vanessa be handed over to the authorities on accusation of being an urban terrorist, since being in an embassy protects her from them, doesn’t help matters.

This is a pretty good issue for starters, and the part I dig most is how Diana can bounce back to beautifully bouncy look even after a battle like what she had with Vanessa in the 200th issue of WW’s second volume, which had her sustaining some pretty bad cuts, is also impressive in that it’s a good way of emphasizing Greek mythological physics as well. Plus, Johnson’s drawing Diana with slightly darker skin to give her a more Greek look is also an impressive idea.

Wonder Woman #204
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Drew Johnson

Diana turns to Veronica Cale’s colleague, Leslie Anderson, at her company to ask if she can help in curing Vanessa of her cybernetic implants, while at the same time, Doctor Psycho breaks into Cale Enterprises while disguised as Veronica and holds the real one hostage.

I can see that things are certainly going to start getting complicated for Cale, now that Diana’s become acquainted with Anderson in her quest to cure Vanessa of the cybernetic nightmare that befell her. And not having a full knowledge of the post-Crisis incarnation of Doctor Psycho until now, well, I was pretty flattered by how, for a crook who’s as short-sized as he is, he’s got the ability to disguise himself as people taller than himself, including Cale as well. Plus, the part with Themyscira having to rope in a lot of the mythological beasts they keep on the island was an interesting chance to see some and what they’re like.

However, that cover drawing for this issue is lousy!

Wonder Woman #205
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Drew Johnson

Diana arrives at Cale’s offices to look for Doctor Psycho, but he’s not about to be taken down so easily, and brainwashes a whole squad of vice cops as a distraction for Diana while he makes a getaway. While over in Greek mythology land, the Gorgon sisters and Circe succeed in reviving Medusa!

If Dr. Psycho’s ability to disguise himself as people taller than himself was impressive, then his ability to feed them illusions, in this case making two people think they’re on fire and making a vice squad of police think that they’re seeing the Joker in the place of Diana, was pretty impressive too.

And now that Medusa appears to have been revived, well, let’s just say that this should be exciting to see how she’ll no doubt be menacing Diana and her Themysciran sisters, and how they’ll deal with it, knowing what Medusa is like, with her ability to turn people to stone with her stare. Simply put, Rucka is certainly brewing up a challenging foe for the Princess of Power.

Another one of the good things about Rucka’s writing here is that he’s taking the ideal step of creating an actual supporting cast for WW, including Ferdinand, the mythological humanoid chef of Diana’s embassy. Supporting casts that are meaty enough aren’t something I seem to see enough of these days, and this is taking all the right steps.

2012 Update: I no longer stand by this review. I've since written off these stories as pretentious.

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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