Wonder Woman: Odyssey

Wonder Woman - OdysseySummary: Wonder Woman gets a new costume in this start to bestselling writer J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the iconic character’s series, collected from issues #600-606. Diana must track down the truth behind what’s happened to her timeline and face the biggest stunner of all: Who destroyed Paradise Island? All bets are off as Wonder Woman embarks on an odyssey to find her past, getting a new costume, a new set of foes, and a new tone from the ground up!
Wonder Woman: Odyssey, by J. Michael Staczynski and Don Kramer 6.75

Well, it finally came in! After weeks of wait, this collection of Wonder Woman comics, the one that initiated my quest for anything by J. Michael Staczynski, has fallen into my hands.

Alas, it is not nearly as superb as I was hoping it to be – first, due to my quick glimpse through its pages, and then due to Staczynski’s skill at delivering modern spins on old classics. Given how unattached I am to the character, I thought this completely new take would win me over.

Not quite. Surprisingly.

In this iteration of the superheroine, Diana is a supercool, superhot chiquita who wears leggings, small boots and an ’80s-style jacket (complete with shoulder pads!). She is young, angry, and morally ambiguous. But, most of all, she doesn’t fully understand her past.

What’s confusing is that her reality appears to have been altered. While it’s a reboot, for all intents and purposes, this book suggests that someone’s messed with the “real” Wonder Woman and that this version of her needs to right things again.

Presumably, this was DC’s way to get back out if fans hated the revamp; this setting is not necessarily permanent. But it could be. Clever? Or merely disingenuous? Hmmmm…

Anyway, Diana tracks down The Oracle, discovers the truth about her origins (in this version, that Paradise Island was destroyed and that she is one of the few survivors of the massacre), and goes out for vengeance. It’s indeed a very different character, and one more attuned to modern sensibilities.

In other words, it’s not really fresh.

Much like Staczynski’s take on Superman in ‘Earth One’, we are tossed a revenge story in lieu of a tale of morality – the story of a hero who fights the good fight because the fight itself is worth it. It greys out what was once a rather pristine heroine by even allowing her to willfully kill one of her aggressors.

While I commend the writer for taking on the hefty challenge of redoing an icon from scratch, I also found myself bored with the direction that it he took. Perhaps it’s not so much the writer’s fault as my own undervaluing of the character in the first place, but I wouldn’t be able to say without reading old school WW books – which I’m wont to do.

What I find interesting is the timing of this story arc, which came around the time that DC was trying to get a Wonder Woman television show off the ground. While the origins are completely different, the character’s looks are more akin than not. I’m curious to know if there was an attempt at bridging the two mediums – not that it matters, since the show’s pilot was so bloody awful that it never got off the ground.

The art, thankfully, is quite good. Kramer’s pencils are detailed, the panelling is coherent and everything is inked and coloured beautifully. I still wonder about Jim lee’s design for Wonder Woman, and I also have a bone to pick with the fact that all the women in this book have big boobs – including the Amazons, which, so the legend goes, would most certainly not.

I wish that artists would realize that a DD-sized superheroine would have back problems or knock herself out fighting crime – it’s just not realistic, from a practical standpoint, nor statistically-speaking.

Okay, okay.. I know that it’s a male fantasy. But perhaps it would be great for the women to be more realistic – both for real men and women’s sake. It just doesn’t create role models that one could ever hope to be or be with. Of course, the same could be said for all the groinless, insanely muscular men that parade in these comic books, too. But are the scales balanced? I’m not so sure… that’s a discussion for another time – and at greater length.

All this to say that this was a serviceable new take on Wonder Woman, but nothing more. It didn’t challenge itself or its audience in any major way, other than to force them to accept something entirely discrepant with the series’ legacy. Beyond that, it’s run-of-the-mill stuff and it doesn’t even really warrant mentioning. It’s a blip on the radar, in the grand scheme of things. In fact, DC has already rebooted the series since – and all of their other series. So it’s inconsequential.

What do you think?

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