Wonder Woman #33

A much-needed return to form for Princess Diana.

A much-needed return to form for Princess Diana.

“Rise of the Olympian Finale: Monarch of the Dead”
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Aaron Lopresti & Hi-Fi
Variant Cover Artist: Bernard Chang
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein

The cinematic opening of Wonder Woman #33 promises a return to form for Gail Simone’s flagging run on the series, and I’m happy to say this issue delivers on that promise.  With a giant clam shell falling from the Hunter’s Moon, this story picks up from before it all went so wrong – that is, before Genocide.  Perhaps it was an issue of tone after all.  This overtly grim Doomsday clone sapped all the magic and charm from a series that dealt chiefly in magic and charm.  Over seven issues, no less!  Well, Wonder Woman fans, it’s safe to come out now, the bad creature has gone.  But already we’re at the eighth and final part of “Rise of the Olympian”, and I’m wondering where it all went – it all went to Genocide, that’s where – is it too little too late for Simone to make us care about this story?

The answer is no, surprisingly, and it causes me to wonder if the problem was simply an editorial one or not.  In the course of a single issue, Simone has managed to accomplish everything she needed to accomplish with this storyline, without it feeling rushed, all the while drastically changing Diana’s status quo.  Judging from her earlier work on this series, and her stellar run on Secret Six, Simone deals primarily in short three-issue arcs and one-shots, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what was originally planned to be a three-issue story arc was forced on her as an eight part epic by editorial.  After all, Batman had “R.I.P.” and Superman had New Krypton, what was the third pillar of the Holy DC Trinity going to have?  In light of this issue, the preceding seven issues of mindless brawling were clearly filler (and admittedly, by filler standards it was not too bad).  Still, I can see how Genocide, or something like her, was somehow necessary to reach this interesting point B.  In retrospect, this could have been done more easily by restoring a villain that requires no introduction, and that of course is Cheetah.  That Cheetah *did* appear in a greatly limited capacity just screams to me of missed opportunity.  Instead we had to deal with seven issues of build-up for a villain we didn’t care about, and never really had more than two dimensions to begin with.  But enough bitching and moaning about the waste of ink that was Genocide – she’s gone now, so let’s get on with the story.

Wonder Woman returns to Themyscira in dire need of medical attention.  To make matters worse, the island is being attacked by gigantic sea monsters, which is awesome.  Diana’s mother Hippolyta shows her true strength as a woman and a leader, as she prepares to lead her people into battle.  Now, I don’t know where Hippolyta stands in current DC continuity, but I get the sense that this is the same Hippolyta that was Wonder Woman in previous iterations, and if that’s the case, Simone makes it fit quite nicely here.  The stubborn warrior-woman that she is, Diana ignores all emotional pleas and medical advice, binding axe and lasso to her severely burnt hands, and goes into battle.  This is awesome to watch, because you know in your heart of hearts that this is exactly what Wonder Woman would do.

The battle itself is fun and reminiscent of those big monster films and Moby Dick-style epic sea stories.  All of the action is cleanly and wonderfully drawn by Aaron Lopresti, who seems right at home with horror themes and Greek mythology.  The battle yields revelations that the gods are once again involved in foul play, Zeus and Ares in particular.  Diana’s had just about enough of this, and the result is more than shocking.  The gods finally play their hand, and so does Wonder Woman.  I don’t want to spoil it by going into detail, but one can’t help but feel that she’ll never be the same again.

Everything about this issue is a shock, in what is essentially the boldest Wonder Woman story in a long time.  Just when I’d lost hope in this series, Simone leaves me hooked on all the charm and magic that brought me to her series in the first place, along with a smorgasbord of new story possibilities.  It’s time to start reading Wonder Woman again, people.

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