By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Geraldo Borges (pencils), Marlo Alquiza (inks), Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: Diana is forced to take on Cheetah and the other fallen Amazonians in a brutal, bloody battle that the princess does not get the better end of. Fortunately, although the terrible trio manage to destroy most of the rest of the surviving Amazons, Diana has another, more unexpected benefactor come to her aid.

What’s Good: Wow, this issue was…unpleasant. I don’t mean that pejoratively; the violence is extremely effective and well-handled, but is not exactly what I’d call “fun” to read (especially not for someone who loves Diana as much as I do.) Pain of all sorts abounds in this issue for the Amazon Princess, in fact–20+ pages of physical and psychological asskicking.

Here’s the thing though: this NEEDS to happen, if she’s ever going to return to become the Wonder Woman we know she is. No successful heroic journey has ever been completed–in movies, literature, or in real life–without the hero going through either literal or metaphorical hell. This is clearly that moment for Diana–there’s not much father down she can go. But she has her talisman in her mother’s shield and–more importantly–she has hope. Does that sound completely saccharine and corny? Perhaps. But it’s necessary if we’re ever going to make our way (sanely) out of this cluster of a storyline. Diana was so warped and changed so suddenly that the writers (thank you, Phil Hester!) are being forced to take some time, and get back to the absolute essential core of the character, so she can take her rightful place back in the DCU pantheon with a minimum of fuss when this is over. And what is at the core of Wonder Woman? Hope, and compassion. I’m more than happy to sit through a little cliché to get this (more and more ill-fated) change in her character and her status quo out of my face.

What’s Not So Good: That makes it sound like I’m not enjoying this story, which is not entirely true–I really like where it’s been going for the last couple issues. I just don’t see why it needed to happen in THE Wonder Woman book, when this exact same story could have been told in an alternate universe mini-series, or hell, even an OGN (JMS apparently really likes those these days.) There was no need–none–to completely shoot Diana’s character, and her place in the DCU, all to hell for the sake of a 12-issue story. Now, I understand that this (in theory) is supposed to tie into the “reality storm” going on over in Flash, and that the events of Flashpoint will probably act as some sort of deus-ex-machina for resetting the status quo…but I still contend that this whole arc was just unnecessary.

I have no problem with characters evolving, or their status quo changing. But this whole arc has been so…weird and (again) unnecessary. I think it will end up being a fine story to read as a cohesive trade, but for month-to-month, main Wonder Woman title continuity, it just leaves me thinking, “why?”

Conclusion: Objectively, and when taken in tandem with last month’s issue, this arc is starting to become a very, very strong story. Diana is coming into her own as a character, and the plot and stakes are starting to become very interesting and very high. If you don’t bust your brain trying to figure out where, when and how all this is happening, it’s an excellent read.

Grade: B


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