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Wonder Woman #198

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Down to Earth part three"

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Drew Johnson (p), Ray Snyder (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
As Ares plots and negative public reaction to her book builds, Diana pays a visit to Vanessa's clinic in Buenos Aires, only to find her sick young friend has been abducted. Again.

Comments:
First let me say that, while I don't prefer the art of Drew Johnson, he's making some strong choices when it comes to depicting the Amazons of Themiscyra. In the opening sequence, Artemis looks formidable (and she's lost that ridiculous prehensile ponytail Byrne saddled her with), Phillipus is impressive, and Io has developed a singular and recognizable character. He manages to make these women warriors look like women: very strong, tall, tattooed women. As to the writing, Rucka's even fresher in his hilarious depiction of life on Olympus. The idea of Eros as a somewhat recalcitrant, nervous teen is hilarious, especially with Ares for a devious dad and Zeus for a lofty but befuddled grandfather.

What I've been waiting for is for Diana to assert herself in this storyline, which has thus far been dominated by supporting characters. The title has a variety of ironic meanings (especially by the final page surprise reveal), not the least of which is the contrast between her god-like near-divinity and the sordid reactions of the American audience to her book, determined to bring her down. But in this issue in search of her friend, and last issue in a conflict with the Flash, Diana's concerns are coming into focus.

What I love about this issue is the West Wing feeling of the story; the dedicated staff working overtime to manage and support and aid their leader in every way. Just as with Martin Sheen's president on that show, there's a feeling that no matter how controversial, no matter how risky or even ill-advised her moves may be, her staff will go to any lengths to protect and to serve their ambassador. Rucka writes wonderfully realistic characters, and he's fleshing them out issue by issue, with complexity and a clear political agenda.
The forces aligning against Diana are putting their plans into place as well, making the countdown to the approaching anniversary issue fun to anticipate. I can't remember the last time the book was this good.

Yes I can: it was 1987, and for about three years thereafter. Refreshingly, Rucka has not abandoned the work of the previous regime (despite the quick write-off of Trevor Barnes in the transitional Simonson story). The Jiminez run is under-appreciated; he factored in many guest stars from the larger DC universe, repositioned Themyscira and set up the new politics there, and looked into Diana's personal feelings far more than many writers do. He also explored Wonder Woman's past and family. Julia and Vanessa Kapetelis are definitely part of Diana's family, and the fate of Vanessa is clearly an open wound that Diana is fervent to heal.



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