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Wonder Woman #189 By Matt Martin
DC Comics – Walter Simonson (w); Jerry Ordway (p); P. Craig Russell (i)
Well, it’s only six months until the fabled debut of Greg Rucka within these pages. By all accounts (I can’t speak from experience, I foolishly never sampled the man’s work), Phil Jimenez did a good job on the book during his run. So in the interim between Jimenez’s final issue and Rucka’s first, DC lined up a team of veteran comics pros that should have, be anyone’s reckoning, done a more than bang-up job of a fill-in arc. However, that has not proven to be so.
Now, I don’t know exactly how Jimenez left the state of things when his run on the book wrapped up, but as Simonson’s story opens, Wonder Woman is missing from New York City and has not appeared for her regular meeting at the United Nations Rural Development Organization, a group headed up by her current love interest, Trevor Barnes (a subject of some controversy recently, since he is not only Diana’s only overtly sexual entanglement in the modern age, but he is also of African descent). As well, a longtime friend and colleague of Barnes’ disappears from his station at the same time. This, by itself, has the makings of a decent, if not entirely original, story.
However, Simonson just continues to pile plot threads on.
In addition to what’s already going on, there’s the issue of what exactly the connection between Diana’s disappearance and an ancient coven known as the Silver Iris is. In the book’s opening scene, we are shown that in 1879, through a series of archaeological discoveries and arcane ceremonies, the order discovers a disturbing possibility about the nature of human existence. However, that one scene is all we’re given to work with.
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Then there’s the matter of Diana herself, who turns up midway through the issue, albeit in an unknown (and decidedly otherworldly) location, interrupting a funeral of some sorts by armored, demonic creatures that masquerade as humans and entirely sans her memory. The tie between Wonder Woman and the clay doll seems fairly obvious (Diana was born when Aphrodite breathed life into a clay child sculpted by Hippolyta), but no explanation is given to where Diana appears from (a lightning bolt strikes the grave and Diana suddenly appears, albeit in street clothes) or what she’s doing there.
Compound all this with a very ham-fisted scene where Barnes convinces a young boy in his neighborhood to stay away from drugs and it’s simply too much for one issue. The dialogue is clunky and sounds dated and frankly, it looks like they had to cram it all into each panel; there’s just so much of it sometimes.
The real problem, I suppose, is that since nothing at all is explained or resolved, this is a pretty poor initial issue. The reader is left wondering what exactly is going on and there’s no indication whatsoever that the confusion one feels is all part of the desired effect. Rather, it leaves you with the impression that you’ve been reading a story already in progress and that’s not a feeling that makes you want to spend money on the book again next month.