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Wonder Woman #199

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Down to Earth Part 4"

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Johnson and Snyder

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Wonder Woman arrives in Olympus to check up on a calculating Ares, while Dr. Cale risks the lives of innocents to sick Dr. Psycho on Diana at an already charged and rowdy public appearance.

Comments:
Rucka's version of the Gods of the Amazons is a unique and refreshing take. It's a new stance in the mythos of the book, as these Gods are neither the eldritch powers of the Perez era nor the goofy, whim-driven bunch of elitists from Byrne's stories.

Using Ares as his mouthpiece, Rucka articulates a theory of the pagan gods that leaves them neither out of touch nor unworshipped in this still very Christian era. Ares argues for the still vital impulses and actualities of war and strife as a sort of continuous power source for him, not to mention the heartbreaking chains of love that ring the world and feed his sister Aphrodite as well. Athena, too, with the stress the modern world places on both wisdom and warfare is in no danger of fading into obscurity.

Sadly, Zeus and Hera are, as Rucka portrays this long-warring couple as a satire on unhappy marriages. Zeus strays almost by compulsion, and Hera's become a shrew in retaliation. Meanwhile, Eros flirts with Demeter, and who knows quite what the other gods are up to. As I said, this realization of their continued relevance is a new way of looking at the gods (or, in-story, for Gods like Ares to look at themselves). I think it's fairly shortsighted, though, as there seems to be little reason to so simplify and relegate Zeus and Hera to the sidelines. Surely emblems of both patriarchal authority and matriarchal might still matter in the modern world as well. Rucka's rendering of the Ur-parents of the gods as simpletons seems too facile, almost clumsy.

Diana puts Ares to the test as to his unwelcome attentions towards the Amazons, but she should remember that just because he tells the truth doesn't mean she knows the whole story. When she gets back to Earth, Diana is distracted immediately by Psycho's attack. I'm not quite sure what his mental invasion will reveal in next issue's anniversary extravaganza, but I fear it will bode ill for the positivist Diana thus far presented, as well as her Amazon family.



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