Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wonder Woman Annual #1: “Backstory” (2007)

At the Department of Metahuman Affairs in Washington D.C., Sarge Steel assigned agents Diana Prince and Tom Tresser to target Wonder Woman for observation. “According to her press conference today, she’s returning to active duty after a year-long absence… a self-imposed exile brought on by the death of the former chief of both the Justice League and Checkmate, Maxwell Lord… the man Wonder Woman murdered.” According to her testimony before the World Court, which dropped charges against Wonder Woman, this was done in self-defense. Regardless, the public still didn’t trust Wonder Woman, so neither did the department.

Sarge Steel didn’t trust anyone. He was originally Special Forces assigned to Army Intelligence overseas, until a terrorist’s grenade blew up in his hand. “Outfitted with a high-tech prosthetic made of solid steel, Sarge became a high ranking government agent… and proved himself particularly adept at working with superheroes.” These included Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, Peacemaker, the Question, Judomaster, and a thinly disguised Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. The Central Bureau of Intelligence and Task Force X were under his supervision before he was transferred to his current assignment, where his paranoia kept him in the field and his own agents under surveillance. Only his assistant Bess Forbes was exempted, “the only person on the planet he’s afraid of.”

Wonder Woman’s post-Crisis origin was recounted, as was Wonder Girl’s most current one as a magical twin of Princess Diana of Themyscira created by the sorceress Magala as a playmate. An enemy of Diana’s mother called Dark Angel kidnapped the twin by mistake and kept her in suspended animation for years “…until fate intervened,” vaguely alluding to a rescue by Wonder Woman that recalled her early ‘80s origin. The twin returned to Paradise Island for more training under the Amazons and the Titans of Myth before joining the Teen Titans, and was now known simply as Donna Troy.

Cassandra Sandsmark “borrowed” Wonder Woman’s Gauntlet of Atlas and Sandals of Hermes to become a new Wonder Girl, and was granted permanent powers of her own by Zeus, who was later revealed to have secretly fathered her.

Agent Tresser knew all of this, and had recounted it to Agent Prince, as well as confiding that he believed Wonder Woman was justified in killing Maxwell Lord. A hydra attacking the Greek Embassy seemed a likely place for the Amazing Amazon to show up, so Tresser excused himself to observe the site alone. All three heroines discussed made the scene to do battle with a number of mythological threats. Afterward, Wonder Woman decided to approach the agent, to compare information.

Tom and his brother Craig had been government agents, until Craig was brainwashed into assassinating their mentor. To avenge the death, Tom used his inventive skills to become Nemesis, a master of disguise and key agent of Task Force X. Wonder Woman also knew Tresser had relationship troubles, including a stalled stint with the heroine Nightshade. Their conversation was interrupted by a sphinx with a message from Olympus, but Tresser mistook its approach for an attack, and shot it out of the sky. It wasn’t a major faux pas, because the gods wanted Wonder Woman dead these days. Both she and Nemesis had already been dead a few times, because neither was good about doing what they were told. Wonder Woman flew off, then used teleportation technology wielded by the department to appear as Agent Prince immediately afterward, helping to put Tresser off her scent.

“Backstory” was by Allan Heinberg, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal. The tale did a nice job of serving as a primer for the ongoing series, so of course it was released around the same time as its thirteenth issue due to delays caused by the writer. I miss the gentler, prettier Frank of old, but this was still a good looking story, and it’s always nice to see Donna back in her only great costume, the red & yellow number.

Brave New World


mathematicscore said...

The scheduling on this series was super wonky for a while. I still rather liked it, warts and all. And you're right, Gary Frank has seemed to do odd things when it comes to female characters lately. Facial expressions, etc. Still love him for the Christopher Reeve-ing of Superman recently...

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm definitely down for Frank's Superman via Reeves, especially when Batman: Earth Deuce is the alternative.