At one point in Wonder Woman #38, Batman compares Diana to a lightning rod.  It’s an apt description.  It seems that Wonder Woman has gone from a powerful actor affecting the world to a channel through which other forces work their will on the mortal and immortal realms.  It is a sad decline for a queen and a god.

That isn’t to say that Diana has become a victim, precisely.  She suffers, to be sure.  However, the forces at work do not use her as a puppet, but rather flow alongside her own will and intention.  Her duties as queen conflict with her role as friend and member of the Justice League.  That much might be expected, although Meredith Finch’s handling of the conflict seems sadly flat and uninspired.

Where Finch’s writing does show originality and even a certain amount of verve is in examination of Diana’s other role as god of war.  Throughout her publishing history, Diana has been a figure of strength and of compassion.  It is the balance of those two attributes that has, arguably, most defined the character, along of course with her gender.  Meredith Finch has taken a daring move in moving to explore a storyline that has the potential of challenging some of the basic understandings of the character, both understandings by readers and understandings by the character herself.

I don’t believe this has anything to do with Finch’s much reviled and possibly misunderstood remarks about Diana not being a feminist.  The storyline she is exploring has nothing to do with challenging Diana’s status as a woman.  Rather it has to do with challenging Diana’s personal attributes of compassion and mercy.  War is fierce.  War is cruel.  War is bloody and vicious and unjust.  How can a god of war maintain compassion and mercy and still be true to her godhood?  All of this is teased, but the treatment so far seems superficial.

Unfortunately, Finch also does not develop the promising storyline with Donna Troy, re-introduced last issue, very far.  Diana’s enemies on the council present Donna as an Amazon untainted by the world of men, a fitting queen where Diana is not.  And that’s where it begins and ends.

David Finch’s art continues to impress, with his trademark rounded features, large lips, and prominent eyes.  Frequent splash pages and insets provide a sense of grandeur, although at the cost of slowing the pace of a story that could now use a bit faster rhythm.  Grand poses and epic reveals are all very well, but the plot beats need to start turning over at a quicker clip to really engage us in the story. The colors have grown darker this issue, as the problems grow more intense.  Similarly the inks grow thicker and deeper as the shadows encroach.

Grade

B-

Conclusion

Meredith Finch teases a very important and interesting quandary. How can a hero characterized by her compassion and mercy make a fitting god of war? How can someone who has stood for justice and wisdom embody blood and pain and sorrow and destruction? Diana is a creature of righteous duty, but what if duty is not righteous and will destroy her? The execution is not yet very impressive, and the dialogue continues to be stiff. But the themes and the art can carry the book for a while longer.