Wonder Woman #6
“Love and Murder, Part 1”
Writer: Jodi Picoult
Pencils: Drew Johnson
Inks: Ray Snyder
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$3.65 CAN
While the scheduling and release of the first five issue of this relaunched series proved to be a disaster, DC couldn’t have asked for better timing with the release of novelist Jodi Picoult’s first issue and foray into super-hero comics. Picoult is the Queen of prose fiction bestseller lists right now. I was walking through the local big-box bookstore the other day, and there was a big display of Picoult books that one couldn’t miss. I’ve not read her books, and after reading this Wonder Woman story, I don’t plan to do so. To be fair, writing novels is a radically different business than writing comics, and perhaps Picoult’s strengths lie with prose. The writer does nothing to distinguish her take on the title character from Allan Heinberg’s, and the script here is repetitive. Even more frustrating is a tired premise.
Though she’s assumed the mantle and mission of Wonder Woman once again, Amazonian princess Diana continues her civilian life as Diana Prince, special agent with the Department of Metahuman Affairs. She’s finding the job a bit frustrating, in part due to her personality conflicts with her partner, Tom Tresser, AKA Nemesis. Their latest assignment — babysitting the new Maxi-Man during a public-relations appearance — is far from exhilarating. And things are about to get really complicated at work with their next assignment, as their boss, Sarge Steel, orders them to bring in a certain fugitive from justice: Wonder Woman.
Drew Johnson is no stranger to the world of the best-known super-heroine in pop culture, having illustrated some of Greg Rucka’s solid run on the previous incarnation of this title. His work here doesn’t strike me as being nearly as strong. One of the most important action sequences in this issue unfolds in sketchy linework hidden in the backgrounds of small panels. My impression of his work here is that he’s endeavoring to capture some kind of look that’s consistent with Terry Dodson’s work from the first four issues of the book. As a result, his storytelling isn’t as compelling. The colors are vibrant, but there really aren’t any larger-than-life or exciting visuals that merit that bright energy.
The notion of Wonder Woman adopting a civilian identity so she can better relate to and connect with humanity is a solid idea, but when Allan Heinberg presented it in this title’s first story arc, there was something about it that didn’t quite sit well with me. And I finally understand what doesn’t work about this new take on the character. The secret identity is a great idea, but setting her up as a government agent who pursues superhumans and hangs out with uber-spies doesn’t seem like a way a super-hero can connect with everyday, down-to-earth life. Wonder Woman is still fighting super-crime, just as Diana Prince. What’s the point? Mind you, this is something Picoult was saddled with, not something she crafted for her run on the series.
Picoult’s script is an awkward one. She seems to spend the entire issue reiterating what Wonder Woman’s ethical conflict is. We keep hearing her struggle with how she can pursue herself. Picoult hammers away at this one plot point over and over, to the point that little happens in this issue. I also find it odd that the villain of this story arc — revealed at the end of the issue — is the same mastermind in Heinberg’s storyline. It feels incredibly redundant. Picoult also presents us with a scene in which it’s suggested that Diana is so out of touch with regular life that she doesn’t even know how to pump gas or what a credit card is. This would have worked with George Perez’s take on the character in her more innocent, new-to-Man’s World phase from 20 years ago, but here, it makes the heroine seem like the ultimate bimbo.
I think I get where Picoult is coming from with her approach to Wonder Woman. She’s turned the Silver Age secret-identity plot dynamic on its ear. A staple of comics in the 1960s was Clark Kent’s efforts to hide his dual identity from Lois Lane and his colleagues at The Daily Planet. Now, we have Diana Prince hiding her double life from Tom (who, of course, proves to be the ultimate Wonder Woman fanboy). But that’s really all we get… a Silver-Age premise and little else. As a result, what we’re left with is a comic book with only one character that developed in any way. Diana’s new supporting cast are little more than props. 4/10