Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

26 September 2009

Wonder Woman: The Ends of the Earth

Collects: Wonder Woman #20-5 (2008)

Released: March 2009 (DC)

Format: 144 pages / color / $24.99 (hardcover) / ISBN: 9781401221362

What is this?: A man with no soul sends Wonder Woman on a quest against a great evil, along with Beowulf.

The culprits: Writer Gail Simone and pencilers Aaron Lopresti and Bernard Chang

And to end Gail Simone Week, we have Wonder Woman: The Ends of the Earth. This is Simone’s second volume as writer of Wonder Woman (although again, it’s not like DC will tell anyone, omitting volume numbers).

Issues #20-3 make up the eponymous story, in which a nameless man with no soul forces Wonder Woman to gather Beowulf and a barbarian to fight the demon who has taken his soul. It’s a straightforward story, although Simone manages to get a few twists in. However, the major drama in “Ends of the Earth” seems to be whether Wonder Woman will lose touch with mercy and / or kill someone. Although that is threatened, it’s something that doesn’t seem very likely … Wonder Woman’s death seems more likely, since you can come back from death but not from being a murderer.

Wonder Woman: The Ends of the Earth cover On the other hand, Wonder Woman has murdered a man, and the demon torments her with the knowledge. Wonder Woman did it for a greater good, but … the mercy / murder dichotomy seems to be part of Simone’s grand unifying plan for Wonder Woman, the idea that assimilates (or tosses aside) all the piecemeal characterizations Wonder Woman has had and finally gives her a proper concept. It doesn’t quite work here, I think; the opponent feels generic, and the threat doesn’t have enough dramatic heft to make Simone’s concept stand out.

The final two issues have two stories: Nemesis meeting with Wonder Woman’s mother, Hippolyta, for half an issue, and the rest with Wonder Woman on the set of the Wonder Woman movie, which has been hijacked by a villainess. Both of these B stories are better than the main tale. Hippolyta and Wonder Woman put the bewildered Nemesis through hell, tormenting him both as a test and because they can, and it is, at times, hilarious, although it is over the top. The Wonder Woman movie is amusing as it goes through all the bad ideas that have been thrown at the Wonder Woman character over the years and forces the character to face them. She is rightly embarrassed and wishes they would go away. The villainess is forgettable, but Diana’s superintelligent ape advisors amuse me greatly. I’m not sure I’d want their help on contract negotiations, as they’re too distracted by offers of fresh fruit, but I’m sure they’d be a benefit if discussions got too sticky.

The Ends of the Earth features a couple of strong artists. As I mentioned in my review of Wonder Woman: The Circle, I like the work of penciler Bernard Chang, who drew the final two issues. His Wonder Woman stands out as a warrior and not a pinup. Aaron Lopresti penciled “Ends of the Earth” and did a very good job, although his work is a little too generic — or perhaps Dodson-like — to truly stand out. Still, I have no quibbles about the art itself.

This one’s out only in hardback, which I’m a little disappointed in; the paperback is due out next March, according to Amazon. (Obviously, solicitations aren’t announced that far ahead of time.) DC often waits a year before putting out paperback version of hardbacks. I don’t like that, but it’s their company. On the other hand, this is my review, and I can’t recommend buying this in hardback. If you’re a Wonder Woman or Simone fan, by all means, get the paperback — but $25 is too much for this.

Rating: Wonder Woman symbol Wonder Woman symbol (2 of 5)

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Blogger Marc said...

The plot of the final issue in this collection sounds a lot like a story Simone wrote for X-Men Unlimited a few years back, in which the X-Men show up on the set of a movie that's being made about them. I'm not a big Wonder Woman, but I may have to check this out just to see how similar the two stories are.

11:43 AM  

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