Review: Wonder Woman #800
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad and Tom King
Art: Joelle Jones, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Nick Robles, Todd Nauck, Skylar Patridge, Cully Hamner, Jen Bartel and Daniel Sampere
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Tamra Bonvillain, Jen Bartel and Tomeu Morey
Letters: Pat Brosseau and Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Wonder Woman #800 wraps up “Whatever Happened to the Warrior of Truth?” that concludes the Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad run on the character while also introducing the new team of Tom King and Daniel Sampere in a story called “Trinity” that introduces readers to Wonder Woman’s daughter.
Wonder Woman #800 opens with Diana in the jungles of Brazil with Yara Flor, and the art is simply incredible. Joelle Jones who did the heavy lifting on Yara Flor in her solo series makes you lament the short life that series had. The art is simply BREATHTAKING. Daniel Sampere also does a nice job on “Trinity,” but Jones is the standout artist of this issue. The design on Trinity aka Lizzie Marston Prince is good. She has enough references that she feels like a legacy character. Plus, her name is a tribute to William Moulton Marston’s (Wonder Woman’s creator) wife, Elizabeth.
As Diana continues what she began in Wonder Woman #799, she traverses the hopes and dreams of her super-powered allies, Yara, Donna Troy, Cassie and of course, Bruce and Clark. Again, we get personal insight into how these characters view Diana and vice versa. Not surprisingly, they each have a slightly unique angle, but they all skew positive which makes sense. Combined, it’s a fitting tribute to Wonder Woman in the vein of “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” as mentioned in the review for #799.
As Diana visits her friends, there are some interesting passages that stand out. What is said between Donna and Diana almost sounds like an apology for Donna getting left by the wayside as her place in the Wonder Woman mythos has been supplanted twice. Donna has never been able to get her due on her own like Dick Grayson, despite being just as deserving of it. It’s a nice acknowledgement of what’s happened to her character over the since Crisis on Infinite Earths made her more and more difficult to explain.
Additionally, when Diana meets her mother on her journey, her mother speaks to her in a way that references her original origin as a clay figure molded by Hippolyta’s hands into which the gods breathed life. We know Diana is still currently the daughter of Zeus, but it’s a nice touch by Cloonan and Conrad to reference this traditional origin. Somehow, Hippolyta’s speech also works as a backhanded critique of the daughter of Zeus origin. Hippolyta’s words of encouragement outline how the original origin makes Diana a more unique and special character. This is a very clever bit of writing because it works as straightforward encouragement of Diana by Hippolyta, but it is also clearly an argument for restoring the clay figure origin.
While some of the art sequences in “What Ever Happened to the Warrior of Truth?” appear to be a bit rushed, the bulk of the negatives for Wonder Woman #800 come from “Trinity.” Tom King is a polarizing writer, at times even being divisive to a single reader in a single issue. Often, he can execute a script with technical excellence, but fail to capture the spirit of a character. Despite this he can sometimes capture Beauty as seen in Superman: Up In the Sky and Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. With “Trinity,” King leaves this reader with an overwhelming sense of dread. Not excitement, not engagement, simply dread.
The idea of Wonder Woman having a daughter to pal around with Damian Wayne and Jon Kent sounds like a good idea on paper. The trio doesn’t even look bad together. However, you can only make a first impression once, and Lizzie doesn’t come off well, here. There’s nothing wrong with a confident, strong and independent female character…look at Power Girl. Unfortunately, there’s nothing charming or endearing about Lizzie. She seems to be a classic “Mary Sue.” But, it goes even further, she tells Jon and Damian how great she is spending the first half of the story belittling the erstwhile Super Sons. King knows what he’s doing, he even has Damian make a comment under his breath that reveals what Damian thinks of Lizzie.
While it’s always great to have the Super Sons together, and I do want to see the babysitting story that’s teased, King writes these adult versions of Jon and Damian as if they were still 10 and 13 respectively. Their banter shows no signs of maturity and they are far too deferential to Lizzie as they appear to be drinking her Kool Aid. King manages to cobble together bits and pieces of a mystery, but with the little we get it feels like waiting for a car wreck. Will readers not be able to turn away when Wonder Woman #1 (Legacy #801) hits the stands in September?
It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly, but when reading “Trinity,” I was reminded of what happened 200 issues ago in Wonder Woman #600. DC attempted to do an in continuity reboot of the character with the “Odyssey” storyline complete with new costume. With Lizzie, it looks like DC will finally get long pants on Wonder Woman. “Odyssey” retooled everything we knew about the Amazons and Diana. While King’s upcoming run doesn’t appear to be of that order, it feels jarring already. It has a very different spirit than what I associate with Wonder Woman. I suppose the good news is that the “Odyssey” iteration didn’t last very long as it was replaced by another reboot, The New 52 just fifteen months later.
Wonder Woman #800 is a story of well…two stories. “Whatever Happened to the Warrior of Truth?” Part Two is a loving look at Diana and her relationships with her super-powered friends. It will make you smile and remind you why Wonder Woman is important and special. As it wraps up and Hippolyta gives Diana her “pep” talk, the language brings the reader full circle with the character as we are meant to see Diana as that figure of clay brought to life by Hippolyta’s love and the will of the gods, reaffirming the themes of love and compassion. Instead of whetting the appetite, “Trinity” leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t really want to know what happened to get these characters to this point, especially when it would be more entertaining for Damian to shiv her when Jon’s not looking.