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Wonder Woman #196

Posted: Saturday, September 20, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Down to Earth" Part One

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Drew Johnson(p), Ray Snyder(i), Trish Mulvihill(c)
Publisher: DC

I don't normally compare and contrast vastly different comic books and their creators' abilities. Such elaboration however better highlights the quality of Wonder Woman.

Most of my faithful readers know how much pain JSA has caused me these past months. For those who have just discovered my reviews, reading JSA felt as if my brain were being repeatedly bashed in by a sack of bricks.

The most recent issue of JSA featured ciphers who spouted off mechanical dialogue that had the tensile strength of cotton candy. Polluting the speech balloons were lines like "It's beautiful Jay, the JSA headquarters always is." and "The latitude and the longitude aren't of any obvious significance."

Greg Rucka fills Wonder Woman with volumes of dialogue. Each word he carefully considers. Each sentence packs power and sounds natural. Each phrase is a joy to read. Let me stress that I am not even a Greg Rucka fan. I felt his Batman was one of the worst versions of the character. The man knows Wonder Woman.

Every line in JSA lacks energy and purpose. In Wonder Woman Mr. Rucka includes a conversation about cilantro that delights readers with Diana's sense of humor and her personal preference. The conversation reveals a shared history with a character who happens to be a minotaur yet still sounds more substantial than Jay Garrick and creates, through a brief gag, a sense of community.

The JSA under Geoff Johns' sloppy command feels like a generic super-team whose members have the resonance of the awe-inspiring Blasters. Through Rucka's ability to have the cast of Wonder Woman interact so smoothly, you get the impression that the Themyscira Embassy and its staff have long been established even though they and the establishment are entirely new.

In JSA Jay ushers Jesse Quick into their butt-ugly headquarters as if she were a tourist and not a practical neice. Diana's encounter with the smashingly named Io, an Amazon weaponsmith, whom I never before met in the pages of Wonder Woman conveys warmth and friendship that displays their past.

In JSA Geoff Johns likes to throw characters together regardless of legalities and previous encounters. Mr. Rucka opens Wonder Woman with a humorous mythology lesson that keeps two characters who have a past history away from each other. He also reestablishes continuity and uses it in a unique and more sensible way.

Where as Don Kramer in JSA follows the golden rule of Power Girl's Russell Meyer mammaries, Drew Johnson in the opening reveals more skin for one character, still makes her sexy but also funny since her style of undress alludes to classical art. That the sequence eschews the characters' comic book traditional trappings is an added bonus.

In JSA "Peaches'" power apparently comes from her pumpkins. Rucka shows Diana to be a wonderful, awe-inspiring person, and Johnson captivates the reader by having the personality that Rucka imbues to Diana manifest physically. Even without a costume, there's no doubt whom in the book is Wonder Woman.

Geoff Johns in JSA reintroduced Eclipso as a tattooed reject from the Village People. Mr. Rucka returns Dr. Psycho to readers in the form of Drew Johnson's diminutive, depraved Rasputin. This incarnation fits with his powers and his characterization. The appearance furthermore remarks on some of Wonder Woman's dramatic appeal for adults.

Jesse Quick was supposed to be a C.E.O. but as depicted in JSA has the fashion sense of a color-blind chimpanzee that wandered into grandma's wardrobe. In Wonder Woman Drew Johnson and Trish Mulvihill actually appear to have researched women's and men's couture. Even Io's braided headband matches her trousers. The color compliments her eyes and her skin tone.

Whereas in JSA's "Princes of Darkness" storyarc, the JLA's presence was never felt despite the fact that one of the plot points involved moving the site of their bloody headquarters. Mr. Rucka is not afraid to mention Diana's involvement with the Justice League since two members--cleverly positioned--attend her book signing. That's right Diana writes! While Power Girl "was never much of a computer whiz" Diana writes! While simple arithmetic would seize up the current Hawkgirl's brain, Diana writes a non-fiction book, which serves as the impetus for the story and the conflicts.

JSA appears to exhibit as much thought as it takes for one to jot down a grocery list or to stick a fork in a toaster. Every aspect of Wonder Woman gracefully conveys the writer's control and the artists' mastery. Reading Wonder Woman actually gives me hope that somehow DC will pull themselves out of the rusted tin age and actually leap into a new golden age.



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