Pick of the Brown Bag
July 19, 2021
In this next series of July, possibly August, POBBs, I'll be checking in on Wonder Woman and her books.
Given that Diana's one of the Big Three in the DCU, it's high time she stars in more than one title. Batman and Superman books still outpace hers, but this era of Wonder Woman is at the very least a start in the right direction. As always should you not have the moments for the deep, rich full reviews on the blog, you can always check me out on Twitter: #PickoftheBrownBag.
Wonder Woman's status changed thanks to whatever she did in the never-ending series, Death Metal. Diana apparently saved the multiverse from destruction, at the cost of her life. Sort of.
Diana incarnate serves as witness to the big reordering of the multiverse in the highly disappointing Infinite Frontier. At the conclusion, she returns kind of dead to her name book and a mythological realm she's not usually associated with.
More on that later. The seventies creation Nubia becomes Queen of the Amazons. And yes, Nubia is Black. Always has been.
Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta ventures back into man's world and serves in the Justice League. The third version of Wonder Girl is still around. Known to Hippolyta.
Wonder Girl seems to be the original Cassandra Sandsmark, created by John Byrne. He also first drew Hippolyta into costume as the Golden Age Wonder Woman. His idea of Hippolyta filled a perceived gap left behind by George Perez in his prime reboot of Wonder Woman in the nineties.
If you read the text between Hippolyta and Wonder Girl, you can see the former Queen manipulating Cassie into seeking out Yara Flor. The new Wonder Girl. Cassie even thinks it's her idea. To be fair maybe they both came to the same conclusion independently. Nevertheless, I love writer/artist Joelle Jones' body language for the two Wonders. Hippolyta is Shakespearean. Regal and filled with guile. Cassie is modern and just bouncing with energy. These two figure in the latest issue of Wonder Girl.
Also featured in Wonder Girl, Artemis. Artemis is in good with the Arabian Amazons of Bana-Mighdall. Or as good as Artemis can get with anybody.
Created by William Messner-Loebs and Mike Deodato, Artemis replaced Diana in the mid-nineties as Wonder Woman. This substitution complex happened to every major hero. Artemis however had staying power. She came back from the dead and emerged intact from numerous reboots.
It's inevitable that Wonder Girl and Artemis will reunite. There will of course be hugs, kisses and discretely nude pillow fights.
Nah. Nah, mate. It's not that kind of a book. It is however hilarious. In fact most of Wonder Girl is perfectly timed comedy, a motif that runs throughout all of Wonder Woman's titles.
Sure, you can select moments of joking in Wonder Woman's vast history. However, I don't think the Powers That Were designed Sensation Comics or Wonder Woman to be thematically funny. Nor have the various writers and artists that came after tried.
Most stories in Wonder Woman are po-faced serious. Certainly the originals where Diana fights the Third Reich.
Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl and The Sensational Wonder Woman exhibit different types of humor. Wonder Girl stands out as a sophisticated chase caper.
Hippolyta, the Amazons of Themyscira, Artemis, Wonder Girl, even the Olympian gods seek out Yara Flor, the new Wonder Girl. Apparently, her becoming portends doom for the world. Somehow.
Yara hasn't a clue to all the parties involved in the hunt, nor is she aware of being prey. Furthermore, she doesn't even know that she's Wonder Girl.
In the present day, Yara believes she's tougher than most. She believes she's stronger than most. In her premiere proper she rescues somebody from a fiery wreck without being burnt to a crisp, yet she is oblivious to her true power and her connection to the world of myth.
In the conclusion to the previous issue, Yara fell into the waters of Brazil. There she meets an unusual denizen. In this issue, she's seduced by the watery Sir Hiss, while Jones lays out some Brazilian mythology in the narrative.
Jones' and Adriana Melo's art in this scene overflows with sensuality. You want some lesbian subtext? It's there if you wish it. You want to believe that Iara is seducing Yara for her own designs? Go for it. Of course, it's unusual to seduce somebody to give them a gift, and that's where the encounter leads. Iara gives Yara a gift.
Jordie Bellaire's hues evoke the depths of the waters without losing important detail or Iara's contrasting bright colors. Imagine if you will a low budget movie made by horribly inept filmmakers. They just might light that movie with a match not realizing that the all consuming shadows hide the monster too much. The darkness doesn't create the goal of mood and tone in the filmmakers' minds. It's just a total blackout. Bellaire on the other hand nails it. The grays and greens hide just enough. They also create a feeling of uniformity. That Yara is becoming one with the water as she "drowns." The colors burst out, signifying difference in the being. A split from the natural world. As Yara and Iara swim to the shallows the shades become a sheen not a shroud. Then there's the gift and how it sizzles, how it changes the ambiance. How it symbolizes power so great that it overcomes the elements.
The scene with Iara furthermore acts as an allusion to the fables of Wonder Woman. For example, in Sensation Comics #6, Wonder Woman's originators link the Golden Lasso of Truth with the mythology of Aphrodite and Athena. This is the first appearance of the lasso, but already it has a story behind it.