In Wonder Woman #44, the god of war discovers that even deities can’t move the world if they don’t have a firm place to stand. Diana’s world is coming apart, but in truth that is nothing new for her considering her history since the beginning of the New 52. More importantly from a reader’s perspective, Meredith Finch’s story is breaking up with two distinct plots vying for space and attention in an already crowded book.
The first, primary, story concerns Diana’s duel with the would-be assassin Aegeus. As the last issue closed this new adversary, who in truth resembles a petulant, spoiled brat more than a super villain (although if anyone wants to bring up the unlamented Superboy Prime that is fair enough) managed to wound Wonder Woman with a golden arrow. Diana opens this issue by ripping the weapon out of her shoulder in a display of bravado that is impressive if stereotyped. Luckily for her, she still has supernatural regenerative capabilities, and is soon consulting with Hera and Hephaestus, none the worse for wear save annoyance. The god of the forge observes that the arrow’s edge extends into multiple dimensions, an effect that David Finch proves, unsurprisingly, unable to illustrate using the normal two dimensional plane of a comics panel. Such weapons are god killers, and only Hephaestus’ forge can make them, although the smith god has no idea who created this one.
Hera has even worse news. It turns out that once humanity ceased worshipping the Olympian gods, those beings depended on the Fates to maintain their divinity. She does not explain exactly how that supposedly works, leaving it to reek of poorly preserved plot device. In any case, now that the Fates have been murdered, the gods are no longer immortal when they are away from the safe environs of Olympus.
This touches on the second plotline, the ongoing saga of Donna Troy. Diana believes that Donna killed the Fates, although readers know that she left them very much alive in the last issue. Fleeing from her confusing encounter with the keepers of destiny, Donna wanders through London, coming to the rescue of a young woman, apparently a prostitute, being beaten by her “protector.” The young Amazon makes short work of the assailant, finding herself a much-needed guide to the world beyond Themyscira. It is a completely paint-by-numbers set of developments, right down to the new clothing the young woman provides her Amazon friend.
The issue closes on Olympus as Diana confronts Strife, accusing her of being behind Aegeus. Strife admits to having freed Donna Troy, but defends herself from complicity in the assassination attempt on the reasonable grounds that she would not be so obvious as to employ a killer mounted on a winged horse named Discordia. The conversation ends at that point as Aegeus himself arrives, eager to continue his duel with Diana.
Both of the storylines in this issue are crafted competently, but neither shows much originality or sparks much interest. The story is showing the hallmarks of a narrative only two steps removed from the outline stage, with each component moving forward like a clicking metronome. This run has risen above its rocky initial stage, but has not matured into a worthy and sustainable tale. At this point, it is beginning to look like rather a lost cause.