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Wonder Woman #171-177 "Paradise Found" Talkback (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'DC Comics and Collectibles' started by DisneyBoy, Feb 22, 2004.

  1. DisneyBoy

    DisneyBoy Searchin' My Soul

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    Wonder Woman #171-177 "Paradise Found"

    [​IMG]

    Written by Phil Jimenez
    Art by Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning
    Cover by Adam Hughes

    Wonder Woman's world is falling to pieces.

    Her home of Paradise Island has faced a devastating civil war, and her mother, Queen Hippolyta, has abolished the monarchy, ending Diana's status as a princess. But the Amazing Amazon must contend with far worse in the adventures that confront her in this volume collecting WONDER WOMAN #171-177, as well as select Profile Pages from WONDER WOMAN SECRET FILES #3.

    Acclaimed writer/artist Phil Jimenez (New X-Men) is joined by inker Andy Lanning and cover artist Adam Hughes for one of the most difficult chapters of Diana's life. With additional art by Travis Moore, Brandon Badeaux and others, this story reveals a dear friend of Diana's transformed into a deadly enemy; a new, more menacing Cheetah; an intergalactic war — with terrible consequences for our heroine; and the return of an arch-nemesis that may spell doom for the male super-heroes of the world.

    The relentless onslaught is almost too much for Wonder Woman to bear! Arguing with her mother becomes the least of Diana's concerns as she joins countless heroes in the battle against Imperiex. And when Circe initiates her revenge against the Amazon, the world's super-heroines join Diana in a fight against the evil witch and several other female super-villains.

    With battle after battle facing Wonder Woman, is there any hope that Diana can find paradise?

    DisneyBoy's Comments:

    Last night, I was feeling down. Really, really down. DC's decided to cancel the awesome Batman Adventures series, which I've followed through it's various incarnations since the beginning, and it just plain hurts. So, I ran out into the streets and made an impulse buy of sorts. Last spring I picked up Wonder Woman Paradise Lost, and had been eyeing the second volume of Jiminez's work ever since. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and really feel the need to chat about it.

    Paradise Found picks up where the previous volume left off. (A little back-story for ya!) Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons has been abandonning her duties in favor of being Wonder Woman with the JSA (in the past or the present?!), leaving the two tribes of Amazons inhabiting Themyscira succeptible to manipulation at the hands of a sorceress, Magala, being controlled by the ancient spirit of the murderer of Hippolyta's sister. A civil war breaks out between the tribes, lives are lost and it's up to Diana, newly inaugurated Princess Donna and Hippolyta to bring peace to their people. Realizing that she no longer has power over them or wishes to, Hippolyta abolishes the monarchy, stripping herself, Donna and Diana of their royal authority, and leaving for Man's World to give the Amazons time to create a society they can all be happy with.

    Presently in New York, Diana and Hippolyta are having trouble discussing their concerns with one another (namely Diana's frustration with her "playing" Wonder Woman) when the long-forgotten Silver Swan strikes the home and school of Cassie, currently Wonder Girl. Much to Diana's shock and horror, her dear friend Vanessa Kapatelis ends up being the one in the silver wings, and she struggles to understand how her transformation occured. Vanessa meanwhile, is being manipulated by Sebastian Ballesteros, who quickly transforms himself into a new, male Cheetah and enters the fray, just as Circe appears in the sky, calling home her new "family members". Dumbfounded, Wonder Woman is then called off to aid in the battle against Imperiex, the villain behind the crossover event "Our Worlds At War".

    The reader is then thrust into the middle of the intergalactic war, which finds Diana gravely burned and Hippolyta, Superman and Green Lantern desperately trying to keep her alive. When the medical ship they're aboard comes under direct attack, Hippolyta dons her own armor and sets out to fight in her daughter's stead. When a large "hollower" begins hurtling towards earth, Hippolyta tries her best to stop it, only to be joined by a half-conscious Diana, who frantically tries to warn her that she doesn't have the power to stop it, and that she sin't Wonder Woman. Using the lasso of truth, Hippolyta rips the technology in two and a huge explosion sends them all hurtling to the earth, specifically, Athens, Greece. There, Diana holds her mother's charred body as she takes her last breath while Superman, defeated, looks on.

    In order to save the planet, Diana then asks her sister Amazons to offer their faith and their warrior abilities to fight off Imperiex, and Themyscira is used as a blockade in space between the enemy and Earth. With their faith powering Darkseid's home planet, they muster enough strength to send Imperiex back to the dawn of time and the war ends.

    Back in New York, though, Circe has turned all the male superheroes into beastiamorphs so Diana allies herself with all her fellow superheroines to free the men. Circe's new daughter, Lyta (cruely named after Hippolyta), becomes president Luthor's barganning chip to freedom while Diana tries to keep a quasi-Doomsday Superman from killing her, while the world watches on global broadcasts. In the end, the men are freed and Diana hunts down Circe for a one-on-one battle, during which she plays on her regrets regarding Hippolyta's sudden death. Diana refuses to kill her, once again in front of the cameras, and then goes to visit Julia Kapatelis in order to try and figure out what has become of Vanessa. Cassie uncovers the name "Sebastian", but little else is resolved. Instead, Artemis brings Diana to the ruins of Themyscira where the Gods of both tribes of Amazons agree to help them rebuild their glorious Paradise Island in a way that can benefit the modern world. At the opening ceremony, guests from around the world witness Chancellor Phillipus declaring Diana the Ambassador of Themyscira once more, and returning her tiara to her. Overjoyed, Diana is visited by the spirits of her namesake, Diana Trevor, her Aunt Antiope, and her Mother Hippolyta, who praises and encourages her to continue her mission, despite her longing to join them in the afterlife. Diana is relieved to see her mother once more, and after accepting a dinner invitation from guest Trevor Barnes, dons her Wonder Woman garb once more to fight for the ideals of Gaea.

    Woah! Not the shortest summary ever, but necessary, I think in order to back up my opinions of this ambitious volume.

    Firstly, I felt that Paradise Lost was already far too crowded as it was, considering the themes involve. The first half of the volume featured a rather stretched-out "Gods of Gotham" storyline, which forced the much more engaging Civil War on Themyscira to be squished into only two issues. While this volume does pick up where the last one left off, it still doesn't give the readers much time to absorb just what kind of changes are occuring on Diana's home turf. However, Phil Jiminez does brilliantly bring back supporting character Vanessa Kapatelis in a horrifying new way. Her anger at Diana is understandable, and her mocking of her ideals is quite chilling. "I grew up to be just like you", for instance. I really wanted to know why Sebastian had transformed her, but suddenly he became Cheetah, and then Circe showed up, and then woosh - we're off to outer space for the death of Hippolyta.

    I don't really know how things work in terms of crossovers, but if Jiminez knew that he had to include the death of Hippolyta as well as the OWAW story in this bunch of issues, I think he, once again, should have made room for them by cutting out the unnecessary cameos from the Gotham crowd, namely in the "Witch and the Warrior" arc, which was nothing more than pages and pages of nameless, out-dated superheroines fighting for no real reason. Paradise Lost should have really focused in on the political problems on Themyscira, as well as the Hippolyta/Diana relationship, while Paradise Found could have brought that relationship to a more satisfying conclusion before then diving into the horrible implications of Vanessa as the Silver Swan, and then ending off with the rebirth of Paradise Island. Those were the big stories here, but they were all cramped together.

    I'm not trying to say that there weren't some really powerful, well-paced moments though. Hippolyta's death scene brought me to tears. Diana's ability to speak clearly at the time would have seemed unbelieveable if not for Jiminez's beautiful depiction of the horror, anguish and pride on her face. As much as I believe Hippolyta was killed simply to further "up the ante" and validate the importance of OWAW (which, from what I've heard was a failed crossover), there's something really interesting and unsettling about how it all occured. She and Diana still had much to deal with, and really, the Queen of the Amazons had no place being in space to begin with. Seeing as how we've already seen several Amazons die nobly on the island (Diana Trevor, Menalippe and the first Captain of the Guards) and others in Man's World (during the War of the Gods), I'm almost glad Phil tried something new with Hippolyta. It's nice that her death didn't seem like deja-vue, but I still feel that she deserved something more regal, and more tied-in with her history. In these stories, she lacks the Royal grace and Amazon nobility she had when George Perez introduced her. Instead, she's turned into an out-dated Mom, trying to tag along with her daughter and protect her, all the while coming across as kind of lame.

    And then there's the grieving period. Hold on...Diana didn't get one, which is another big problem. Once the manditory Space War story concluded, I would have much preferred to see Diana and the Amazons deal with the huge implications of the death of Hippolyta, rather than a "Girl Frenzy" story. Still, Jiminez provides two really nice mourning scenes for Wonder Woman. I was particularily moved when Diana began to plead with the Gods for her mother's salvation in the ruins of Themyscira. For the comic book heroine Wonder Woman, it could be entirely possible, but rather than magically restore her, Diana is left crying and angry, much like we mere humans are when dealing with the death of a loved one. Phil could really get to the heart of Diana's grief, and I really wish we'd seen more of it. Later on, when her Gods finally return and Diana rebuilds Themyscira, things happened in a matter of two or three pages. Bing Bang Boom. Why didn't she seize the opportunity to plead for Hippolyta with her Gods? I also missed the point that Themyscira had actually been DESTROYED during OWAW, so I only picked up on that when the renovations were being made.

    And what renovations! It is now a intergalactic university, with an open door policy? The Amazons are now living wherever they please? Seems to me like Wonder Woman just lost all her heritage. Gone is the Greek isle of peace and prosperity. Gone is the Mother who lead the Amazons. Gone are the Amazons, period. Is Diana the chairperson of a company that no longer exists? Once again, Phil doesn't really explore these thing, but should.

    In the end, we're supposed to be happy that Diana finally sees her mother's spirit praise her, and that she regains her tiara and confidence, but it's rather unrealistic. She'll live the rest of her life knowing that she wasted her final weeks with her mother arguing and disagreeing. Those are things that happen to ordinary people all the time, and I'm sort of glad Diana has to deal with them too now.

    For those of you who followed this story and the issues that came after it, which of these plotlines were followed up on, if any?

    And then there's Circe. Is she mortal now? Reincarnated or something? Why is she able to change her face and body, and yet still remain cursed with purple hair and bad fashion sense? And more importantly, what became of Vanessa? Considering that she opened and closed the story in a way, we really didn't get any details behind her startling transformation.

    As for the art, it fluctuated quite a bit, and I had trouble telling which pages had and hadn't been done by guest artists, despite Jiminez's distinct style. Lyta even looked really different from page to page. For the most part, though, I'm extremely pleased with the look of this book. There are several stunning pages and two page spreads. Anyone know how much he sells his pages for? Might try to pick one up. Even though Diana seemed to wear the "shocked" face every few panels, I really want to applaud his depiction of her grief, of the charred Hippolyta and of the new Themyscira, although I don't know how any other artists could manage to keep it looking quite so magnificent in the same way, consistantly from issue to issue.

    I know this post has been a long read, but thanks for reading it and please chat with me about this. I don't often read mainstream stuff, and I think this may be my last foray for quite a while.

    Cheers.
     
    #1 DisneyBoy, Feb 22, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2004
  2. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    Howdy,

    Thanks for the detailed review of the TPB, DisneyBoy. I thought it was the second half of Jimenez's run on the title, but since it's missing the second "Day in the Life" issue that was his last issue, I'm thinking there's at least one more possible Jimenez trade. Then again, I don't think his run set the comics press or the sales charts on fire, so that third trade may not show up.

    To answer your question about which plot threads have been expanded on in Wonder Woman's main title, the Silver Swan just got into a Great Big Fight in WW#200. They're still making references to the Amazon war on Themyscira (or they were...) and Hippolyta is still dead (which is, sadly, unusual these days in comics :)).

    Greg Rucka has hinted that the losses Diana has gone through over the Jimenez and Simonson run that preceeded him are going to factor into an upcoming issue in a big way, and color a lot of the run after that. I think it may even be in #201.

    Rucka's run (starting at #195) is a definite change of pace from almost any other superhero title out there. Some people are finding it too political and lacking in action, but I think it's a creative approach to WW and he's a terrific writer. Some of the new characters he's introduced are already absolutely priceless, and the villains he's set up (a billionaire industrialist, the Silver Swan, the gods of Olympus, and the exceedingly creepy Dr. Psycho) look to keep Diana's life interesting for a while. #200 is a decent jumping on point, with one main story and a number of backups by a variety of people (including Robert Rodi, Ty Templeton, Christina Weir & Nunzio DeFillipis, and Linda Medley). I don't think Drew Johnson is as good a penciller as Phil Jimenez (Jimenez has done the most memorable comic Wonder Woman for a good long time, IMO), but he's still very skilled and getting better with every issue.

    -- Ed/Ace
     
  3. DisneyBoy

    DisneyBoy Searchin' My Soul

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    Heya Ace!

    Congrats on the promotion by the way! It's nice to know I have someone to chat with Wonder Woman about. Not many folks here seem to read her title, and yet she's still respected among the fan base. Not to provoke a debate or anything, but is she still being considered "Pretty to look at, but not worth listening to?" Boy that would make Diana furious...

    Strangely enough I gave WW #200 a quick flip through and it was there that I learned that Vanessa had become the Silver Swan. Thankfully though, I'd managed to forget it by the time I sat down with the trade. I wonder how Julia Kapatelis has been handling not seeing her daughter for all these months. And was the male Cheetah ever expanded upon? And what of Circe? She's probably the biggest mystery to me...I know she died in the conclusion of the War of the Gods, but in Paradise Lost, Diana refers to how she sent the Bana Amazons to Themyscira, so my only guess is that she struck a deal with Hades or something. Anyhoo, if you know of a place where I could read up on Circe's history, that would be grand.

    Also, I couldn't quite tell if you're sad that Hippolyta's remained dead, or glad...do tell.

    Drew Johnson's work didn't really impress me much, otherwise I would have started buying the Rucka issues a while back. If the art doesn't look like Perez or Jiminez, in the case of WW I just stay away from it. Maybe I'll give a Rucka trade paperback a look.

    Any idea why they changed Diana's breastplate to the two "W" JL animated version? I much preferred the original logo.

    Finally, how many stories after the 2nd trade were written and illustrated by Jiminez?

    Sorry for all the questions :D What can I say - you're a fountain of knowledge!

    Thanks again!
     
  4. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    Howdy,

    Thanks for the kind words, DisneyBoy! In order, minus quotes for space:

    I think Diana still has an image problem. Someone has pointed out that Superman and Batman are largely the same characters as they were in the 1930's, but Wonder Woman has changed every decade or so as the role of women has changed in American society at large. This might be why she doesn't have the traction that the boys have. The complete lack of a consistent supporting cast doesn't help, either. You are defined in some way by your friends, but Diana hasn't had any permanent ones the way Superman has Lois, Jimmy, and Perry, and Batman has Robin (whichever one it happens to be), Alfred, and Jim Gordon.

    After checking a preview of WW #201, it looks like Circe has been stuck on Themyscira since the end of Pardise Found. It also looks like Greg Rucka has plans for the character.

    My comment about Hippolyta still being dead was more of a comment on how rarely comic book characters stay that way, really :p.

    I kind of like Drew Johnson's pencils on WW now, although I agree he's not in the same league as Phil Jimenez. IMO, Jimenez produced one of the truly iconic images of the character. Then again, I think Johnson's work does a lot to bring Diana and her world a bit more down to Earth, which I believe is intentional. If I had to identify my beef with Johnson at all, it'd be that I fully buy into his people (and Ferdinand) and usually buy into his superheroes, but I'm not as impressed by his gods. It takes a truly stellar artist to be able to whipsaw between those two worlds, which may be another reason why Diana has had as much trouble with traction.

    Finally, I'm a fountain, but more of quasi-intellectual babble than actual knowledge, I think. The Internet makes me look much smarter than I really am, and a Google eventually led to this page on the continuitypages.com, which reviews Jimenez's whole run and covers all the issues which he wrote and pencilled. Looks like they have one more trade to go, if the powers-that-be at DC think it's worth doing.

    -- Ed/Ace
     

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