Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon (2003)

Seven years earlier, writers Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier with artist Ted McKeever had begun a series of Elseworlds prestige one-shots imagining the DC Trinity through the lens of German Expressionist cinema from the early 20th Century. The first was pretty obvious, setting Superman in Metropolis, one of the earliest and most revered science fiction movies. No one knew if a book with such idiosyncratic talent would take off, so it was fairly self contained. Batman was tied to Nosferatu, one of the earliest and most feared horror movies, as well as the classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Superman's lore intruded heavily on Batman's, but it was still the Dark Knight's book. Finally, there's Wonder Woman merged with The Blue Angel, a non-expressionist talkie that introduced the world to Marlene Dietrich as a cantina singer/whore who lures a schoolteacher to ruin. What in the high holy if you see Kay were these douchebags thinking? To further drench this project in excrement, the narrative is entirely dependent on Superman and Batman, while Wonder Woman is actually far more passive and certainly more victimized than the opportunist for whom this project was named. The creators might as well have all gotten together to gangbang an actual Wonder Woman comic book and suffer through their well deserved paper/staple cuts.

Rather than a pilot, "Trevor-Son" was an architect who worked to preserve the legacy of Metropolis' grant designer, Jon Kent. The significant other of Jon's son, Lois Lane, helped the architect search for texts from before "the time of smoke and soot." Lois discovered evidence that beyond Kent and his partner Lutor, there was a third designer, "a beautiful woman, with eyes of ice, but the text has faded..." Rather than continue searching out this mystery, Trevor-Son had to excuse himself for his twice weekly trip to Dr. Psykho's Palace of Sin for the burlesque performance of his beloved Blue Amazon. After her performance, literal clowns (the evil, creepy kind) kept patrons at bay. Roses were hurled to Diana, as she made her way backstage. Trevor-Son managed to talk his way through the clowns, as Diana liked him. "I have seen you. Every night you have come to watch me sing. Yet you are not like the others. You listen with your soul, with your eyes closed. Thank you. Diana gave him a hug.

Out on the city rooftops, an animal stalked. "As the Cheetah prepared to move, she smelled the men. The Cheetah had never known fear. In fact, she had never known men. She knew only immediate wrath and fury in the face of aggression. She struck, smiling, almost not knowing she did it. She felt like singing. With a swipe, a man was beheaded, blood shooting from the stump of his neck. More deaths, male and female, followed.

Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler was another stated influence on the project, most embodied by Dr. Psykho, who might as well have channeled the creators, as well. Trevor-Son followed Diana and Dr. Psykho down a spiraled staircase through infernal dens of opium and lust for sale. Reaching its bowels, grinning spectators watched as Diana was whipped onstage. Diana did not moan of whimper at this assault while she shed her clothes for the amusement of sadists. Afterward, Trevor-Son tried to help Diana escape, but they were captured by Dr. Psykho and his clowns. Dr. Psykho revealed that he had been given Diana by the late Lutor for safekeeping, but despite his hypnotic powers, he had been unable to break Diana's will to learn why she was so precious.

The Nosferatu (Batman) caught up with the Cheetah during her massacre, and didn't last long himself against her claws. Slinking off into the dark, the distraction made way for the Cheetah to burst in on Dr. Psykho and company through a window. However swiftly she dispatched the clowns, Cheetah fell under the spell of Dr. Psykho's gaze, and old secrets were finally revealed. Being a good and proper super-villain, Dr. Psykho proceeded to explain the whole convoluted story in his moment of triumph.

The third "savanti" was Paula Von Gunther, the "Life-Giver." Paula and Lutor quarreled during the construction of Metropolis, so Von Gunther struck out on her own to create Heaven, a floating island. The scientist created new, were-form "angels" for her Heaven, even though the authors offered no attribution to The Island of Dr. Moreau. Cheetah was first among equals in Heaven, but not a true daughter to Queen Paula, who created Diana to serve that role. Eventually, the Amazons suffered from genetic fragmentation, behaving erratically and engaging in mutual strife. Diana was sent to Lutor in search of male seed to replenish the gene pool, and was gullible enough to meet the blunt end of a rifle. Lutor reprogrammed Diana as he had Jon Kent, and sent her to Dr. Psykho for safekeeping. Meanwhile, bloody war raged in Heaven, with the Cheetah killing Paula Von Gunther herself.

The Cheetah needed Diana to activate the purple ray that created new Amazons, as only her genes would do. Dr. Psykho cut a deal with the Cheetah to hand Diana over if the beast would be so good as to kill the Super-Man. Trevor-Son was to be killed, now that he served no clear purpose (not that he ever did) while Dr. Psykho used his newfound information to psychically probe Diana. He should have waited five minutes, since Trevor-Son managed a well placed kick, which magically restored Diana's psyche. The Wonder-Woman broke free of her bonds, and the rest of Dr. Psykho's story was relegated to a footnote 21 pages later.

The Cheetah gave the Super-Man a good fight before the Amazons descended from Heaven on wings en masse to not manage to kill the Super-Man, even with that en masse part and the part where the Cheetah alone was dealing damage. However, the Super-Man was not alone, as Nosferatu opened up his asylum to create an army of cybernetically enhanced inmates to do his bidding. That's right, the scrawny geeks Batman usually fights (without any serious period redesign) plus friggin' Bane and some nigh imperceptible steampunk affectations versus Amazons in a junkyard rumble. At least the Super-Man and Nosferatu double-teaming still wasn't enough to take the Cheetah down. Can I please lay off all the hyphens and the's before every name?

No. The Wonder-Woman showed up, on page 57, to battle the Cheetah to the death after she had already been softened up. Super. For someone whose life had been saved by the Cheetah, the Wonder-Woman engaging in mortal combat for the throne fairly reeked of ingratitude. "You raped and killed our mother! You tore Heaven apart! What you could not rend with your claws, you poisoned with your lies!" Um... I don't remember that stuff. I just remember Lutor and Dr. Psykho owning this book while Diana was a submissive plaything and the Cheetah was the only powerful female kicking any ass. So of course she's a wretched abomination who refuses surrender and dies bu suicide, skewered on a bunch of phallic rods.

In the end, Lutor's evil was once again acknowledged as being at the heart of this mess, because women can't have their own story or make their own troubles. Diana noted, "His lust for the woman that spurned him made us all his puppets." Then Diana carried Trevor-Son off to Heaven so that he could "father a new race on Angels," because narrow genealogy wasn't what caused a lot of this trouble, and one good man is the solution to all of the woes of women. Dr. Psykho was placed in The Cabinet of Dr. Wayne-Son with whatever other loonies survived the Amazons, while the last page was devoted to the Super-Man and Lois Lane looking at a mural of Lutor, Jon Kent, and a woman identified as Paula Von Gunther even though she looks completely different from her depiction in flashbacks, so it's probably Marta, Superman's mom. Yeah, let's ditch the titular star of this book two pages earlier, because it's not like she got in much heroism in this book. God, I want to punch this book in its stupid ugly face, if I didn't think it would shoot a load in its trousers like a dirty boy. Dirty, dirty boys!

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1 comment:

LissBirds said...

I think if they hadn't tried to connect all three books, they would've been better. (Not that I've read them.) Let each story have its own space!

As soon as you said Marelene Dietrich, I knew this was something I'd pass on.