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Wonder Woman #191

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Walter Simonson
Artists: Jerry Ordway (p), P. Craig Russell (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens on the island of Themyscira, where we see the Amazons' day to day business is thrown into complete disarray when the island is attack by a woman dressed in ancient Roman armor, and she appears hold a creature of myth under her command, as the mulitiple-headed creature Scylla is using its gaze to turn the Amazons into unmoving statues. While the Amazons put up a valiant fight, the Scylla proves to be too powerful, and soon every living soul on the island has fallen under the creature's spell. The book then looks in on Wonder Woman, who is paying a visit to the Themyscira Embassy in a bid to restore her memory, but when the building looks to be completely deserted, Diana is left to wonder where everyone went, and why it appears that no one has been in the building for at least the past couple of weeks. As Diana steps through a portal that transports her directly to Themyscira, the book turns its attention to Trevor, who has arrived in Africa, where he has an encounter with a being who claims to be a African god, and this entity bathes Trevor in a mysterious light that will aid him in a battle against a powerful evil which is building. The book then looks in on Wonder Woman as she deals with the Scylla, before fleeing Themyscira in her invisible plane.

Comments:
This issue does give us a better look at the forces that Wonder Woman finds herself up against, as we not only learn that the Gods of Olympus have vanished, but we get a pretty good look at a warrior woman who has taken advantage of their absence, and looks to have gained the control of a creature of myth to use as her weapon when she attacks Themyscira & its Amazon warriors. This in turn results in a fairly entertaining visit to Themyscira, which is a local that I've found exceedingly dull as of late. This visit to Wonder Woman's home island is thankfully free of the normal long winded speeches about how pleasant it is , and how peaceful & understand its population are. Instead Walter Simonson offers up a paradise whose peace is effectively shattered by the arrival of a mysterious villain, and while one would have hoped the Amazons would put up a more impressive defense of their home, I understand the idea that there simply wasn't enough room for a protracted battle. Plus, the simple fact of the matter is that Wonder Woman is the star of this title, and it does add a sense of excitement to the final battle when one knows the creature she's fighting has already secured a victory against the assembled might of the Amazons, and for the most part the battle lived up to it's advance billing.

The one area where I would take issue with this book though is the rather convenient way that Wonder Woman's memory is being returned to her, as it almost seems to be following a set pattern, that states if the story requires her to recognize something that would advance the story, or remember a detail that would allow her to make an easy escape than her memory loss never stands in the way. On the other hand if the writer wants to gloss over a story point, or conceal information from the readers, than all of a sudden her memory is fuzzy. I don't like the idea of selective amnesia, and I like it even less when it looks to be serving the contrivances of the story. Either you wipe her memory completely, and have her operating in the dark, or you bring it back all the way, as sitting on the fence and picking when it's convenient for her to remember something feels too much like a plot device that is serving the whims of the writer, and not the story itself. I mean the scene where she remembers she has an invisible plane was downright depressing, as itís the very definition of a writer going for the easy answer to a problem, rather than having to make an effort to come up with a solution that doesn't feel contrived. This issue left me a bit concerned that Walter Simonson has lost a step when it comes to his writing.

Jerry Ordway is delivering far better work over in the pages of this week's "Tom Strong", as his figure work in this issue isn't nearly as tight as it's been in the past, and his facial work is also flat & uninspired, which is a bit odd considering this is normally one of his stronger attributes. Now the art still holds its own during the action sequences, as the Scylla is an impressive creature, and one really gets the sense that the Amazons are hopelessly outmatched when this creature advances upon them. Now Artemis' efforts against the creature could've been handled better, as her explosive weapon was delivering some rather flat looking attacks, and one almost had to take the character's word that her attacks were actually doing damage. However, Wonder Woman's efforts against the same creature were quite impressive, as when she's knocked back through the courtyard on page eighteen thereís a nice sense of impact, and the same goes for her attack using the giant wooden spike on page nineteen. There's also a rather goofy charm to the scene where she is assaulted by the dive bombing seagulls. I also have to make mention of this month's cover by Adam Hughes, as it manages to perfectly capture the desolation of this moment, which is something that never really occurs inside the book.

Final Word:
There's nothing terribly wrong with this issue, but there's also not much about it that really makes it stand out either. The action is entertaining enough, and we do get a little more insight into the big threat that is building in the background. In fact to me the brief glimpse that we're given on the final page looked a little bit like the Anti-Monitor, and if this is the case then Walter Simonson has to be commended for thinking big. However, in all honesty the issue never really breaks loose of its rather conventional trappings, and the rather selective method that Wonder Woman regains her memory feels more like it's serving the needs of the writer rather than the plot. The battle between Wonder Woman & the Scylla was also handled a little quicker than I would've like to see, as one almost gets the sense that the it was racing the clock to be over & done with. Still, the book kept me entertained for the most part, and most of my disappointment stems from the belief that the creative talent involved should be producing far better.



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