Wonder Woman #164-170 "Paradise Lost" Talkback (Spoilers)
Wonder Woman #164-170 "Paradise Lost"
Written by Phil Jimenez,
J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Kelly, George Pérez and Devin Grayson
Art by Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning
Batman's home, Gotham City, is being transformed into a land resembling ancient Greece, lorded over by evil gods. And once the gods of war, discord, fear and terror combine their essences with those of the Joker, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy, Batman finds himself in the need of help from Wonder Woman. But when the gods decide to merge with Batman as well, the Amazon princess finds that even the aid of Gotham's other protectors, Nightwing and Robin, as well as her own protégé, Wonder Girl, may not be enough to end this evil reign.
On Free Comic Book Day, I stopped in to pick up Batman Adventures #1, and saw the Paradise Lost trade paperback sitting on a table, labelled "70% off!", so I picked it up, read the back cover and said "What the heck!" I'm a really big fan of George Perez's 1980's relaunch and figured that if his name was on the cover of this piece, it may be worth checking out. Besides...70% off!!!
I finished reading it last night, and must say I was impressed. I've stayed away from any issue that followed Perez's departure from the series (back in issue #62), mainly because I heard a lot of goofy things started happening. Thankfully the arcs in this book brought me up to date on most of the changes since the 80s, and focused in on the main characters in Diana's life. Much to my surprise, Phil Jimenez's art looked extremely reminiscent of Perez's original issues, which put a huge smile on my face. Ever panel was detailed and clean. The only disappointment was discovering the reason behind the large price reduction: Two pages were ripped.
The first half of the book focused on Wonder Woman and Batman's attempts to free the bodies of Poison Ivy, the Joker and Scarecrow from the vengeful spirits of Eris, Phobos and Deimos. The tale was extremely interesting at first, but after some twenty pages of Godly banter in a Nexus, I started to lose patience. The conclusion wasn't all that clever, (Is it just me, or does Ares always end up agreeing with Diana?) and I felt a bit unsatisfied.
The second half of the book started off by focusing in on Donna Troy (who I knew nothing about) and then the two tribes of Amazons coexisting on the Island. It was pretty simple to pick out the foreboading, scarred woman in the hooded cloak as the orchestrator of the subsequent War, but since I knew little about who she was, I wasn't really interested in her. The conflicts between Diana and her mother had really grabbed my attention, but were quickly overshadowed by the writer's need to get the violence going. Consequently, the battle was abrupt and uneventful. Hippolyta's decision to abolish the royal heirarchy was surprising, if only because there wasn't much of a lead-up to it. The book concluded with a long, drawn-out story which did little to clarify Lois Lane's disgust towards Wonder Woman...which is ironic coming from a book which spends endless pages recapping the twenty-year history of the characters since the relaunch. And then, the final page resurrects one of Diana's original villains - The Silver Swan - for reasons unknown.
Still, it's hard not to like this collection, if only because it is so reminiscent of the first few years of the title. The art is near-flawless, and almost makes up for the fact that the stories are sensationalistic and poorly paced at times. If this is the best recent that recent issues of Wonder Woman have to offer, I'm concerned for the future of the series, but confident that there is still hope for renewal. I'm glad I picked it up, but deeply hope that there's some more WW work out there with the same art and better stories.
For those of you who have read this, could you tell me if this storyline continues in "Paradise Found" or "Our Worlds At War"? I already know that Hippolyta dies, but I'd rather not read it if the art and story don't do her demise justice. Still, I'm curious....
I believe the upcoming "Paradise Found" TPB will pick up from where "Paradise Lost" leaves off. Phil Jimenez wrapped up his run on Wonder Woman a few months ago, and Walt Simoson has a six-issue stint (currently half over) before Greg Rucka takes on the Amazing Amazon.
I agree with you that the artwork in the TPB is fantastic, at least at the single panel level. Jimenez really knows how to make Wonder Woman exude both power and sexiness in equal quantities. However, I found the storytelling to be way too muddled, both from poorly developed ideas, from too many players involved at once, and from bad panel flow.
I think the one major redeeming story in the book is the last one. True, the explaning away of the Lois/Superman/WW love triangle is pretty hokey (boiling down to "Superman loves you just because he does"), but I thought the rest of the story was a fantastically thought-out and well-executed "day in the life" of Wonder Woman, with all its ups and downs.
Edward Liu | Disney Forum moderator | Toon Zone News Interviews Editor
"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so."
-- Josh Billings