Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wonder Woman #4 (February, 2007)



The Bunny Bar. San Jose, California. Home to human trafficking no more. “…In Circe’s first twelve hours as Wonder Woman… she’s liberated over two thousand women on three different continents. And murdered every man who stood in her way.” Unlike the persecution of Princess Diana, Circe’s killings were going unchecked. It would be especially difficult to stop her, with the powers of Diana, Donna Troy, and Cassandra Sandsmark at Circe's disposal.

The JSA were helping the heroines with their power loss, and Stargirl insisted that between the JLA and Zatanna’s contacts in sorcerous spheres, no stone need go unturned. Diana refused all their aid, feeling such a mass assault would be figured into any trap laid by Circe. Cassie felt Diana had given up, but had no right to bundle her own Zeus-bestowed powers with Wonder Woman's stolen identity. The more agreeable Donna also intended to have that discussion with Zatanna.

Diana Prince couldn’t stop them, so instead allowed them to serve as a distraction during her own gambit involving the depowered Hercules and an Invisible Jet. “Not as invisible as the one I had as Wonder Woman, but my friend at Waynetech tells me it’s the latest stealth technology.” Diana admitted to Hercules that she missed being Wonder Woman, but teaching peace was the reason she came to Man’s World. “Actually, it turns out mankind never asked for my instruction. Nor does it believe in my gods, who-- it turns out-- are not all that peaceful themselves.”


Diana Prince and Hercules landed on “The Greek island of Aeaea, Circe’s home for the last few thousand years.” Prince provided a tranq gun for any roaming beastiamorphs, and the moly herb to counteract any attempts to turn Hercules into one of them. Circe was immediately aware of their presence and attacked. After Hercules’ rape of Diana’s mother and enslavement of the Amazons, Circe couldn’t believe Diana with ally with him. Penance and forgiveness were spoken of, and Diana was able to wrangle the Lasso of Truth back, which she used to gain mobility through a winged beastiamorph burning to help undo Circe’s spells.

Diana Prince reached Circe’s temple, and within it her grimoire, before being tied up with Wonder Girl’s Lasso of Lightning. Given the chance, Diana’s own rage might have fueled her agony, but Hercules got the drop on Circe before it could be fully employed. Diana could use her Lasso of Truth to trick Circe into saying the spell necessary to restore everyone’s powers, but Hercules got the drop on Prince before it could be fully employed. Just as Circe had hoped she wouldn’t have to kill a powerless princess, Hercules had hoped to make her his bride, but both had realized Diana was too dangerous to live. “Mankind doesn’t need a godly hero to save it from itself… it needs a god to worship and obey.”

“…When Athena decided to withdraw Olympus from the earthly plane,” Hercules decided to journey to the underworld in search of the God of War, but found Circe instead. The pair decided to team-up and love-up, until Circe managed to betray Hercules before he could do the same to her. Diana pulled her gun on Hercules, who threw Circe’s tiara at her. Diana caught it, and with a well placed throw retrieved the moly and the Lasso of Lightning. Hercules tried to compel Circe to transfer everyone’s powers to him, but Diana understood a new spell couldn’t be cast before the old one was reversed. Restored as Wonder Woman, Diana was prepared for a fight, and one had certainly found her. She was surrounded by the Cheetah, Dr. Psycho, Giganta, and many more…

Part four of “Who is Wonder Woman?” was by Allan Heinberg, Terry & Rachel Dodson. The book was already very late, thanks to the writer, so this would be his last regular issue. The story would finally wrap up months later in an annual, which as I recall was among a very few released that year (not that the industry has exactly been flush with them over the past decade or so.) I liked the idea of Wonder Circe, since it paid off on the influence Diana had over Donna Milton, and the softening of Circe's character ever since. At the same time, Circe's engaging in a feminist crusade seems to go too far the other way, and it's never really addressed why it would be such a bad idea to let it continue a while long. Don't launch a series by having a villain outdo the heroine unless you're going to address the matter with more conviction than "but she was going to lord it over us." I'm fine with that. Let Circe kill a few thousand more pimps (at least) and then defeat her, or else reveal that she gets her powers from inducing spontaneous abortions or something. Otherwise, she remains a better Wonder Woman than Diana, and that's the wrong way to leave things.

I also dig evil scumbag Hercules, since it returns him to the status quo of the Golden Age, and differentiates him from the Marvel Comics version. I have to ask though, if Hercules knew Diana Prince was Princess Diana, why didn’t she just disappear with Donna and Cassie in #3? What's the point of luring her to the island? Little help in backstabbing Circe, I guess?

Brave New World

5 comments:

Luke said...

Some of the better elements of this story would carry over into that done in one issue which followed (#5 I think?) but I don't know if that issue was ever followed up on itself. Circe didn't really do it for me as a foe in this storyline, but I have to admit I liked the revamp of Cheetah. But that's just me.

FLD said...

Cheetah is a problematic villain in that she became so popular after Super Friends, she became Wonder Woman's go-to punching bag. It requires her to transform/power-up pretty regularly to pose any serious threat. I was fairly indifferent to the take here, mainly because she sort of faded into the mob scene. The ones that stood out were Giganta, Dr. Psycho, Hercules and Circe. I will say that I haven't cared for any of Cheetah's permutations since Underworld Unleashed, so in that respect, indifference was a step up.

Circe was pretty heavily mischaracterized in this story. Some of that I was fine with (as mentioned,) but she ended up really making Diana look bad to readers.

FLD said...

I read and have written up the trade following this one, but #5 slipped through the cracks of the two volumes. I've never read it.

Luke said...

Yeah, DC, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to collect #5. The story essentially dealt with a series of "Wonder Woman Women's Shelters" popping up all over the country, without Diana's endorsement. The thrust of it was that Wonder Woman was a symbol of empowerment for trapped women (abused wives, prostitutes, domestic slaves, etc.) and that the Shelters were a beacon for them because she inspired them. The ending seemed to suggest a larger plot was building but as far as I know nothing ever came of it.

FLD said...

That sounds pretty interesting. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the back issue...