Chain Reactions | Wonder Woman #600

by  in Comic News Comment
Chain Reactions | <i>Wonder Woman</i> #600

It was virtually impossible this week to escape coverage of Wonder Woman’s costume change, even if you didn’t visit any comic websites. The announcement was made Monday in The New York Times and quickly spread to The Washington Post, BBC News, the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and well beyond. Reactions to the makeover were virtually instantaneous, of course.

But what about the response to the milestone Wonder Woman #600 which, in addition to contributions by the likes of George Perez, Gail Simone, Geoff Johns, Amanda Conner, Louise Simonson and Scott Kolins, features a 10-page prologue to J. Michael Straczynski and Don Kramer’s yearlong arc? It’s a story that not only introduces the new costume but establishes a new, if perhaps only temporary, timeline in which Themyscira is destroyed and an infant Diana is bundled off to be raised in an urban setting.

Here’s just a sampling of reactions to Straczynski and Kramer’s “Odyssey” prologue, and to Wonder Woman’s new origin timeline:

Gloria Steinem, to The Associated Press: “It’s an exact copy of Superman, who came as a baby from the exploding planet Krypton. This destroys her home, her Amazon mother and sisters, and gives her no place to go to gain strength and create an inspiring storyline.” The whole idea, she said, is based on “what seems to be the brainstorming of a very limited group of brains.”

Dan Phillips, IGN: “Fortunately, not even the ridiculousness of the new costume can rob JMS’s prologue of its overwhelming sense of excitement and, for lack of a better term, wonder. It’s been ages — and maybe even forever — since I’ve been this excited about a Wonder Woman story, and that excitement is due in large part to JMS’s decision to try something new with the character. Because let’s face it: even Wonder Woman’s biggest fans must admit the character has never enjoyed a level of success in her actual stories equal to her iconic status. It’s long overdue that someone with the mammoth stones of JMS tried to breathe new life into Wonder Woman without worrying about fussing up what’s come before. Diana’s new look aside, JMS’s plan has a ton of potential.”

Brian Hibbs, The Savage Critics: “The goal seems to be to make Diana as important and significant as any other character, but the way they’ve appeared to try and make that happen is to essentially remove her from DC continuity. This is partly because two things in opposition can’t be true at the same time — if Diana was ‘never’ star-spangled WW, then what happens to the JLA? To Donna Troy, or to Wonder Girl? If she never was, then she never killed Max Lord, in which case he couldn’t have ‘come back’ in Brightest Day, could he? War of the Gods and Amazons Attack then never happened (well, that last one is not so bad, is it?) Hippolyta would never been in the JSA. I can go on, but what’s the point? There are characters and situations that can be retconned, but star-spangled WW really isn’t one of them, because there are too many other things happening to and around her — pull a thread like this, and the whole tapestry collapses — she is, or at least should be, central to the underpinnings of the DCU.”

Brittany Summers, Weekly Comic Book Review: “I’m withholding judgment on the idea as a whole (this is, after all, just a prologue), but from what I see here, I think I understand where JMS is trying to go with this, and I believe I approve. […] Here’s the way I see it: this arc is called ‘The Odyssey,’ right? And what is the very first thing that should come to mind when you hear that? A person yanked away from everything they know and love, who must then overcome obstacles to earn the right to return home, and to return things to the status quo. I think that’s exactly what we’re going to see here: a year of Diana’s journey to find herself again, and recover what has been taken from her. Not only will this allow us to see our favorite Amazon in a different setting, it’s going to allow the creative team to explore parts of her character that were impossible to delve into before because of her lofty position as a demi-god, and her personal ties and dedication to both Themyscira and the Amazons, and the rest of humanity. It’s going to be very, very interesting to watch her operate with so much of what made Diana Diana stripped away.”

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “It’s hard to ignore that Straczynski all but admits that this change in Wonder Woman’s status quo is going to be temporary. (After all, how many times has Paradise Island been destroyed and then later reborn?) As the Oracle notes, ‘It might help you to understand … to see what you are fighting to restore … to save … to avenge.’ Sooner or later, the subtext is yelling at us, Paradise Island will be back and presumably so will Wonder Woman’s previous origin as an ambassador to Man’s World.”

Otomo, True Believer Reviews: “JMS has a habit of doing this with his main characters, isolating them, establishing them on their own as they grow into their full form. He did it with Spider-Man, isolating Peter with MJ being away as he discovered his roots. He did it with Thor, as Thor had to discover his supporting cast. He’s doing it in Superman, as Superman wanders across the country, and he’s doing that here. This is his way of laying the groundwork for very deep, character driven pieces which you can only get to when you have that character really established as who they are, not defined by other characters. This is a great approach for Wonder Woman, a book that has a small readership and by all rights should be a much better selling book. It’s a great way to draw in a lot of new readers to check out the book and learn who Diana is, and I have high hopes for the story in that regard.”

What did you think about Wonder Woman #600 and our introduction to the “Odyssey” storyline?