Thursday, November 15, 2007

"I know exactly who I am."

So, Gail Simone's first issue of Wonder Woman came out yesterday, sort of. "Sort of," because last week was her All New Atom #17 which started a two-part Wonder Woman story. Meaning that people who really wanted to know how Gail was going to write Wonder Woman got to see a week early.

I know there are folks who don't care for the secret agent aspect of Wonder Woman's new status quo, but like I said before, I dig it. Thanks to Amazons Attack it hasn't been able to be exploited very well, but it's a great way to get Diana involved in some honest adventure rather than making the book focus on themes like her mission in Man's World or her identity as an Amazonian ambassador.

Fortunately, DC editorial's given Simone the room to play in both Atom and Wonder Woman and she's able to just have some fun without having to tie everything into Countdown or whatever. In Atom, which I don't usually read, Wonder Woman shows up looking for Giganta, who is apparently a supporting character in the series and dating the Atom. Diana tries to recruit the Atom to help her and he's uncertain about what to do. Mixed and hurt feelings follow and there's some good fighting, including one of the best uses of the golden lasso ever.

Plus, Simone manages to poke fun at Jodi Picoult's Wonder Woman run in a couple of panels.

Speaking of Picoult's run, Tom Spurgeon reviews both it and Wonder Woman #14 and feels generally the same way I do about both. He gives Picoult the benefit of the doubt by complaining that DC owes her an apology for burdening her run with Amazons Attack, but I remember those first horrible issues of hers before the crossover business started. She got Wonder Woman completely wrong, hence Simone's joke above.

Spurgeon likes Wonder Woman #14 for what it is: a standard comic book, but he seems to be looking for something deeper in it than I am. "Unfortunately, those (positive) aspects only pop out in terms of a comparison to the more ragged work in the (Picoult) collection combined with the reduced expectations that still seem to go hand-in-hand with the common, humble funnybook. Taken on its own, this is really no better than a standard, forgettable comic book..."

True enough, but Simone's not going for literature here and it's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for Wonder Woman fighting gorillas and some shadowy spy intrigue, and that's exactly what Simone delivers.

Well, I'm also hoping that Simone gets Wonder Woman and, yes indeed, she does. "I know exactly who I am," Diana says. Perfect.

Also, Simone's funny. After Wonder Woman defeats the talking apes, she invites them home to live with her for what I hope will be an extended subplot with lots more scenes like this:

It may not be high art, but it's a beautiful start to what I expect will be a legendary run for the series.

I also bought Fantastic Four #551, continuing Dwayne McDuffie's very cool run on the series. Like Simone, McDuffie proves that you can tell fun, exciting stories without bogging down in angst and baggage from the latest company crossover. In this issue, Black Panther and Sub-Mariner from the future accompany future Doctor Doom back in time to try to convince the FF not to initiate a plan to make the world a better place. The FF's response creates an unbelievable cliff-hanger, but there are also some nice character moments along the way. Especially for the Invisible Woman, who's the reason I started checking out Fantastic Four.

My favorite moment is when Reed looks like he's once again about to forget how evil Doom really is and Sue has to remind him. I love her response. It's a mother's response and it's one of the things that makes her such a cool and unique character.

At first, I didn't care for her defense to Ben and Johnny about Reed's 100 Ideas. You know, his list of things like "Start Civil War" and "Clone Thor." I felt like she was at best letting Reed off the hook too easily, and at worst defending something that she'd previously expressed herself to be completely against. But then, thinking it through some more, I realized that she'd already started to soften a while back when Reed actually took the time to explain himself to her. Her biggest gripe with him wasn't that he was taking a moral stand that she didn't understand or agree with, but that he was keeping secrets from her. Once they cleared that air, that opened the door for their honeymoon on Titan and some healing to take place.

I still don't like that she takes his side in the scene, but I don't know her well enough to claim its out of character. Actually, from what I know about her, it's completely in character. Sue's too good for Reed and her sticking with him in spite of that is either her biggest strength or her biggest flaw, depending on your point of view.

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