Current Reviews


Wonder Woman #220

Posted: Monday, September 5, 2005
By: Shawn Hill

“Affirmative Defense”

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: David Lopez (p), Bit (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: Wonder Woman made a command decision when it came to Checkmate’s Black King, but not all her friends see it that way. Meanwhile, some housecleaning at the embassy is long overdue.

Comments: Rucka has done something many writers have failed to do, and that is find a voice for Diana. He’s upheld Perez’s tradition of the character as cultural ambassador for the ironically peaceful lifestyle of her warrior people. This issue is in fact entirely in her voice, as she shares her perspective on recent events relating to the covert operation to undermine all of DC’s meta-humans apparently organized by Maxwell Lord.

The recent event was her execution of said bad guy. And Rucka puts the issue at stake right up front in the story’s title, “affirmative defense" i.e., rather than simply committing a murder, can she claim her action was a reasonable and necessary response to an immediate and pressing danger? A traitor on her staff throws this option at her (like the good spin doctor he is/was), even as he explains why she is hated and feared. Without the support of the involved witnesses, her friends on the Justice League, mounting such a defense is going to be harder.

For me, it’s not hard. I’m reminded of Busiek’s Kang War story in Avengers, where Carol Danvers faced a similar conflict and judgment when she killed a foe in a strategic skirmish. Like Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel has had to prove herself to her teammates more than once, as her powers fluctuate and personal life decisions seemed at odds with the needs and even ethos of the team. Carol was excused in this case, and the Wasp told her to “quit beating yourself up, blue-eyes. You did the right and you’re cleared.”

Wonder Woman doesn’t have the circumstance of acting in a declared war. Instead, she was fighting a clandestine one, and she took an action that made sense, at least as much sense as anything else in a world where Max Lord is a raving madman, where Sue Dibny has been killed by a jealous ex-girlfriend, where Batman and other heroes offer no help to their friend and colleague Blue Beetle when he’s clearly in deadly danger, and where Batman’s paranoia has been magnified beyond reason by his worst fears (betrayal by his allies) coming true.

In this new world, Batman and Superman have unbelievable gall to condemn Wonder Woman for acting as a warrior does. It’s patently ridiculous, and it once again (as has occurred throughout her career) puts her on the outside of the JLA looking in, awaiting (male) judgment as to whether she’s really qualified to play on the big league at all.

Perhaps she’ll find comfort in the fact that the League isn’t such a
desirable place to be anymore anyway.

Housekeeping: David Lopez’s art is DC house style competent, a stiffer version of Jesus Saiz or Drew Johnson, and thus quite appropriate for the title (though Rags Morales more emotional and expressive work is missed). The developments among the Embassy staff seem trivial in the light of Diana’s day, though I’m happy to see her save lives, risk herself and continue to ponder and discuss the implications of her actions simultaneously. This woman sure is a wonder. Her decision was not made lightly, another point her supposed friends miss in their rush to judgment.

I want Clark and Bruce to grovel for forgiveness and soon. She just saved their ungrateful lives. The story will make even less sense if they don't.

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