“Wonder Woman” continues its winding unsatisfying arc toward something nobody is quite sure of in issue #609 as Dr. Psycho leads Diana by the hand to all her supposed potential and greatness..
In this issue, Diana has been badly injured and is taking a mind trip with Dr. Psycho (going by “Edgar” here, taller and with a more handsome visage) as he leads her to all her “past lives” which are really just potential incarnations of Diana’s spirit. Phil Hester is clearly trying hard to get Diana back to who and what she should be, but it’s not effective or very compelling. At one point Dr. Psycho proclaims that, “Every era somehow finds a way to create you,” which is a nice sentiment in that it shows how necessary Wonder Woman is to the world. Later Dr. Psycho says, “It is not enough to merely become Wonder Woman, you must choose it. Create yourself,” which nicely reinforces the agency that Diana needs to have in her own life in order to be successful. However, since Diana has to be literally led by the hand to these revelations by her former enemy, the reality we experience as readers is of Diana continuing to be a tourist in her own life and book.
For the last year, “Wonder Woman” has fallen prey to all the bad traps that come with a story based on amnesia of some sort. It’s hard to blame Phil Hester for this mess, as it’s clear he’s trying his best to correct the path Wonder Woman has been on thanks to the J. Michael Straczynski plot ’em and leave ’em situation. Unfortunately, Hester came in too late, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to turn this mess around. As readers we’re continually told “everything is designed to payoff [in issue #612]”, but that’s a year of waiting for a book to payoff. A year. There’s nothing wrong with a story taking a year to deliver some of its payoff, but that year of reading and waiting has got to be wildly compelling rather than just treading water. Instead, the book continues to feel painfully unimportant, not only to Wonder Woman, but to the DCU at large. It’s hard to imagine any payoff at this point, no matter how important to Wonder Woman or the DCU, that could make it worth nearly a year of running in place.
There’s some nice art here by Don Kramer, and some particularly gorgeous stuff toward the end when readers are treated to many different reflections of Diana as Wonder Woman. However, the art is inconsistent and sometimes really out of synch with who Diana should be, even in this incarnation. There are far too many panels of doe-eyed innocence, paired with “seductive” constantly open mouth syndrome. It’s pretty off-putting overall.
At the end of the day, the book is sadly in a state that begs to be reset back to zero (or pre-600), to give Diana a return to the glory she deserves, even though another reboot seems painful to even think about. It’d be wonderful if the end of the Odyssey arc brings things around as promised, but at this point it seems unlikely at best, and impossible at worst.