Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Wonder Woman #79

Wonder Woman #79, "Taking the Spear," Cover Date October 1993
Written by William Messner-Loebs, Penciled by Steve Carr and Deryl Skelton, Inked by Andre Parks and Aaron McClellan

It seems like ages ago I reviewed Wonder Woman #78, where WW and her salad-eating friend were attacked by "Mayfly," a villain with super speed, who shoots the Flash and seems poised to kill our hero at the end of the issue. And now, the thrilling conclusion!

We start where we left off, with Mayfly saying "Tick tick, bang bang, time to die," as she apparently doesn't really understand how guns work. Etta Candy tosses a salad plate in front of her, blocking her shot, and somehow that gives WW and Etta time to get to safety, even though Mayfly has super speed? It's really not clear. Mayfly lugs Flash's unconscious body to the edge of the food court, telling Diana that she'll kill him if she doesn't surrender herself. Wonder Woman draws up a play, and makes herself a target so that Etta can blind Mayfly with a fire extinguisher. That provides enough of a distraction for Wonder Woman to save Flash, but she leaves Etta alone with a disoriented Mayfly. Mayfly goes to shoot Etta when she gets lassoed. Wonder Woman assumes this means Mayfly will surrender, but Mayfly spins the lasso around her until Wonder Woman is in range, then, according to the comic, lands "a thousand blows, landing in less than a second, crash against her diaphragm," sending Diana reeling. Mayfly then does the old "crack the whip" move that every flying villain uses against Spider-Man, sending Wonder Woman through a window. Mayfly goes to finish off the dazed Wonder Woman with a hose when Etta returns, spraying her with a hose, knocking her out(?).

What's even going on, panel to panel?

We cut to the mall "ladies lounge," where Etta reveals that Mayfly just ran off after getting wet, because as a hemophiliac, she's worried she'll somehow get hurt? Etta says Diana has pretty serious rope burns and should go to the hospital herself, but Diana says "you have to accept" damage as part of what her mother called "taking the spear." Etta's brain goes where everyone else's does, and Wonder Woman has to tell her to get her mind out of the gutter, recounting that amazon war tactics are pretty bad- they'd drop their guard enough to take a wounding blow, in order to make a killing blow of their own. I guess that beats Boudica's strategy against the Romans.

Nice to see Etta makes the joke everyone else was thinking.

Wonder Woman's story of bad tactics is interrupted by a call from Inspector Indelicato, who says he just got off the phone with "the president" and that the cops aren't to use lethal force, as we get cuts to a SWAT team wearing American Gladiator equipment, as padding is supposed to stop Mayfly. Meanwhile, watching the footage, Ari Buchanan, his eyes glowing, talks to his attorney about her planned "spy mission."

I assume this song was playing as the cops surrounded the building.

Wonder Woman heads to the sporting goods store and picks up an arrow, then goes through an emergency exit towards the roof, telling Etta it's a good day to die. What is it with female superheroes and assuming they'll die? Mayfly is outside just sort of mocking the cops, when she notices Wonder Woman. She fires her gun, leaving Diana on the ground bleeding in the time it takes for the arrow to jam Mayfly's gun. Somehow, Mayfly is so flustered she allows herself to be covered in a net and hit with those Gladiator poles. Diana's landlord turns off the news, complaining of the violence, as the now-disguised Donna Milton asks if she can stay at her place. Well, there might be a new vacancy, as the issue closes with Wonder Woman on the ground bleeding.


I should preface by saying I do enjoy Messner-Loebs take on Wonder Woman, and I definitely understand what he's going for. That said, this issue is awful, a huge step down from the previous, and a reminder of just how terrible DC's fill-in art was around this time on a second tier title. It's done by two guys, one of whom (Steve Carr) never did much of anything of note, while Skelton can at least say he worked on a few issues of the Star Trek: the Next Generation comic. It's not enough that this art is aesthetically ugly (it is, though), it also doesn't tell a story from panel to panel. It's impossible to have any idea what's going on. Almost the whole issue is laid out on basic six panel grids like this was a comic made on a rushed schedule, which doesn't make much sense if true, since this is a fill-in. Mayfly is so overpowered she can kick someone a thousand times in a second, and yet she just sort of futzes around, without the art or the writing explaining why. The whole Amazonian flashback is a decent enough idea, but it doesn't really make sense in context, since Diana is giving this lengthy explanation even as her friend the Flash is lying there bleeding. We're also meant to believe that Mayfly, who is apparently Flash-level fast, has to be brought in non-lethally by orders of... the president? Why would the president in the DC Universe get involved with a relatively mundane superhero fight?

Wonder Woman hits the ground before an arrow can hit its target. And where'd her bow go?

Also I guess Wonder Woman's not quite as invulnerable here, so fine, that's cool, but how does it make any sense that she's on the ground before the arrow hits? I mean, I get that (somehow) Mayfly having super speed means she can shoot a gun dozens, if not thousands of time in a second without just... breaking it, but realistically the arrow should be in flight about a second, and in that time, Wonder Woman is not only shot, she's on the ground, with blood comically spurting out of her. Again, it's not so much that the idea is dumb (although it's not great), it's that it would be improved immeasurably if the image of the arrow jamming the gun was juxtaposed with Wonder Woman slowly falling over from being shot a bunch of times. And then we close the issue with the blood. And that's excepting how someone who can kick someone "a thousand" times in a second is so distracted a bunch of goons just tackle her and knock her out while she looks at her gun like "how did Wonder Woman do that duhhhh?" instead of, I don't know, running away? Again, I get why Messner-Loebs went this direction, injuring Wonder Woman so that she's not at full-strength for her upcoming showdown with Ari Buchanan, but it'd be nice if the execution wasn't so sloppy and hideous to look at. On the flip-side, Brian Bolland's cover is nice.

1 comment:

  1. I agree this is terrible.
    I have been trying to catch up with William Messner Loebs run, read all the issues from Wonder Woman Special, to #63 through #79. they are all awful! Such a disappointment after Perez's run. Diana's origin got badly and unnecessarily retconned in #72. She gets into space gets kidnapped and becomes a pirate queen. She loses all her money and works at Taco Whizz. These concepts may seem interesting but the writing is terrible. There is no suspense, no logic. Dianna keeps slipping out of character, she gets magical powers in one issue which disappear the the next one. Bad pacing, bad characterization, weak dialogue. The lee Moder art is amateurish at best.
    I really wanted to like this run, or at least some of it. Every issue was bad. #79 was possibly the worst. The only saving grace are the wonderful Brain Bolland covers. Bolland probably spent longer drawing one of his beautifully detailed covers than Bill Loebs wrting the whole messy run. What a sorry waste of my time it's been to read it!