Review: Wonder Woman #788
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan and Jordie Bellaire
Art: Emanuela Lupacchino & Wade Von Grawbadger and Paulina Ganucheau
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain and Kendall Goode
Letters: Pat Brosseau and Becca Carey
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Diana, Etta, Steve, and Sigfried get a helping hand from the Holliday Girls as Dr. Psycho’s plan leads to a demonstration against Wonder Woman outside the Hall of Justice.
There’s something interesting tonally that’s going on in Wonder Woman #788, and it’s subtle in some ways while more obvious in others. During Diana’s turn in ‘Afterworlds,” the tone of the book was fairly series with some humor thrown in for balance and it was just right. She was dead and had to get back to the land of the living.
The “Trial of the Amazons” was serious, much sadder, and didn’t really have much humor. Now that Diana is back to her stomping grounds in Man’s World, the stories seem to be taking a bit of a clandestine satirical approach. The best way I can describe it is that it feels very similar to William Moulton Marston’s original approach to the character in the Golden Age of Comics. I think this is completely intentional as there are a few other things going on content-wise that point to a heavy Golden Age influence on the bool.
Firstly, one of the premises of Wonder Woman in the Golden Age was that Diana knew what was going on, she could see through all the schemes, she had a clearer view of things- she literally saw the truth. Now, this wasn’t a plot point so much as it was the way in which Marston wrote her.
While Steve and Army Intelligence could be effective and were effective, the subtext was that Wonder Woman and indeed ALL women in the comic saw things differently. While this issue obviously has the ridiculous notion of milk (the most innocent beverage ever- not!) as the delivery device for the mind control, it’s really Superman and Green Arrow’s dialogue that throws things askew, like maybe they’ve been drinking Dr. Psycho’s tainted milk!
They are written as if they are in a fog. While I can see Green Arrow being a little off, Superman seems like he should be the one going outside running outside to give the demonstrators “what for.” Not because Diana can’t handle it, but because he’s Superman and would do that.
I’m reading it as a subtle commentary about subconscious toxic masculinity and negative opinion of women. We all know Superman isn’t like that but is he even aware of what he’s doing/not doing here? With Ollie’s history with women, despite all his liberal values, he has always come off as a bit of a womanizer. (No, he’s not good enough for Dinah!)
I think the inclusion of other Golden Age aspects like the Holliday Girls and the **** of ********* who shows up on the last page clearly points to the inspiration for this current arc. Plus, when we see Steve and Sigfred together as Diana’s “boyfriends” it is a flip of Marston’s relationship with his wife and their lover. I don’t think we’ll ever see Steve, Diana, and Sigfried all in bed together, but it’s clear that we are at least meant to think of Marston and his personal life with this arrangement.
It’s pertinent as well as enjoyable to see Diana Prince make an appearance as well. She hasn’t been a significant part of the Wonder Woman stories in a long time, probably before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Diana Prince can be an important aspect of the character, and it’s interesting to see how she will be utilized. It’s not even clear if Diana Prince is a person at all in the current DC Universe. In the Golden Age, Diana got her Diana Prince ID from a look-a-like nurse who was named Diana Prince- #identttytheft.
In “Adventures of Young Diana” we get young Diana and Antiope sneaking out at night and running into an unknown creature. It’s interesting that Diana expects her mother knows that she’s sneaking out. Parents may understand rebelliousness and why it happens, but not every parent will condone sneaking out!
I’m not sure there’s any sort of real negative for Wonder Woman #788.
Wonder Woman #788 is an interesting issue as it takes classic themes first present in the Golden Age feature and modernizes them. The approach and content call back to a lot of Golden Age aspects. It’s an astute move and it adds an extra layer or three to the storytelling. There are multiple levels on which this can be appreciated. It’s pretty darn FUN too!