Review: WONDER WOMAN #36


Written by Meredith Finch
Art by David Finch, Richard Friend, and Sonja Oback
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 19, 2014

I wasn’t going to write this review. Having adored the last three years of stories crafted by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, I knew this book was going to be a hard sell for me.

Any time a new creative team comes on after a long run concludes, expectations are high — or low — depending on your perspective. Comparisons are natural, but every team brings its own flavor, its own fragment of the mythology, to the table. And in the case of Wonder Woman, it’s clear upfront that this next iteration will have a different angle than the one that preceded it.

And it does. Wonder Woman #36 brings the Amazon Princess up to the present day portrayed in the Justice League monthly, synchronizing everything that would touch upon Diana’s involvement in the past three years across DC’s entire line — from her relationship with Superman to her JL membership, her newfound godhood to the new inhabitants of Paradise Island. No longer an isolated title, Wonder Woman will now have the fortune — or burden — of connectedness with her other portrayals.

Unfortunately, that connectedness doesn’t bode well for this particular portrayal. It is true that a mythology as deep and varied as that of Princess Diana’s can flex quite a bit — from harsh warrior to compassionate advocate to super-hero to savvy diplomat. What it can’t support is a Wonder Woman who seems infantilized in both writing and art style from out of the gate.

Meredith Finch crafts a Diana who is supremely insecure and overwhelmed to the point of uncontrolled mood swings, given her mounting responsibilities as Justice Leaguer, God of War, Queen of the Amazons, and partner to Superman. In and of itself, this is not the worst scenario for the heroine, but that the way she chooses to deal with this overwhelming challenge is so passive and — quite frankly — whiny, it adds a hollow ring to the entire narrative. I shouldn’t want to shake Wonder Woman and tell her to suck it up. Yet, I found myself losing patience with her character, as if she was a 14 year old slacker complaining about her homework.

David Finch’s rendering of Diana as doe-faced and physically miniscule by comparison to the other (oddly stern and angularly drawn) Justice Leaguers may have been an attempt to soften her, or set her graphically apart as the star of the title, but it comes across as pure diminution. She’s the only character here, amid both the League and the Amazons, that acts without intellectual drive and her appearance throughout reinforces that perception. Huddled down, clutching a teddy bear, in the seat next to Aquaman, Diana looks like she’s 12 years old, 14 at the most. And that’s not acceptable when every other hero is portrayed firmly as adults.

There are some moments, independent of the lead character, that show promise in both writing and art. The debate among the female Amazons about the acceptance of their newfound brothers is well-crafted, deeply dramatic, and shows a range of age and look to the women that is wonderful to see. These few pages are by far the most compelling artistically, surpassing the strange confrontation between Diana and the Swamp Thing, and other similarly static scenes of talking heads. The shadowing, expressions, and perspective, particularly of the crone, are quite masterful. Would that this range of emotion and care been featured throughout the remainder of the issue.

A very disappointing start to a new run that fails not by comparison to its predecessors, but by its lack of understanding of Diana’s basic nature, Wonder Woman #36 infantilizes DC’s most powerful female character at the very moment her strength and maturity should be shored up. The tension on the island is a strong plotline, but it’s unlikely I’ll be able to follow it through. The creators here just aren’t giving Diana her due.

The Verdict: 4.0/10



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  1. Sean said:

    I went into the issue with low expectations, and even those weren’t met. This was a terrible issue. The dialogue was terrible – vegetative injustice? – the characterisation was terrible, the pacing was terrible. It’s immediately apparent that Meredith Finch is a new writer, and she shouldn’t have been given a job this important on her first assignment. David Finch fares better but, as you’ve mentioned, his take on Diana is terrible; she has the face of a child, but the body of a gigantic doll.

    Something else that really miffed me: did they not read the last three issues of their predecessors’ run? Hippolyta going from conscious to an immobile statute is a glaring continuity error.

  2. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    I actually did a double take when I saw Hippolyta immobilized again, making me second guess my recollection of last month’s issue. Seems to me that’s not the writer’s fault, as so many comics are written in advance, especially for a slower artist. That falls squarely on the editor, and it’s clearly something that should have been caught.

  3. Danny said:

    Well, Zeus is the one that freed her so that she could help in the battle against First Born. Hera wasn’t even able to free Hippolyta. Zeus could easily have put her back into immobile form after the battle because he wanted Diana to step up to the role of Queen of the Amazons in the same vain that he had her step up to the role of God of War.

  4. Sean said:

    But back into her original position? As Matt noted, it’s probably the result of poor editing but it’s such a glaring continuity error that it really took me out of the issue.

  5. Dean said:

    I think your review is dead on. Two things that I have to wonder…
    1) If your mother is made of clay, wouldn’t you at the very least throw a tarp on her on a rainy day?
    2) Do you think Aquaman will ever make the mistake again of asking her what’s bothering her? That info dump of a monologue felt like a lead ballon landed at the tail end of this issue.

    Kidding aside, some people will find this the Wonder Woman they have been waiting for. For me, it’s kind of sad. Wonder Woman was the only New 52 title I never thought of dropping. It was my first proper introduction to the character. Perhaps this is a good time to explore earlier runs.

  6. Taurus Walker said:

    Damn man after one issue?

    I can understand your frustration with Diana’s Characterization in this after Azzerello’s “Like a Boss!” one but He only told the story from a closed universe perspective (No Justice League or Super boyfriend). He loaded Diana down with a ton of new responsibilities then left the next writer to try to integrate all that with the regular DCU. Hinse the Info dump. Every issue is someone’s first.

    Personally I think Azzerello did Meredith Finch no favors here, not only was his last issues late but since comics are produced months in advance I don’t think he even let her know how his run was going to end.

  7. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    I don’t think it’s Azzarello’s responsibility. It’s the editor’s.

    But that aside, this isn’t just poor characterization compared to the last run. It’s antithetical to pretty much every run since the early 60s, where she ended up the passive bride of some alien every other issue.

    And if Diana can’t be self-possessed and have active agency in her own book (no matter how it ties into the greater universe), then why bother having a book at all? Although it should also be said that this is not an issue in either Justice League or Superman/Wonder Woman, from my perspective.

  8. Jason Smith said:

    The other thing people have to realize.. Azzarello didn’t give Meredith Finch much personality or depth to deal with in Diana. He barely explored her at all. He made her very surface while the story pushed the whole thing alone. Diana wasn’t developed or explained all.

    Now Meredith FInch’s version of Wonder Woman is pretty terrible and yes the writing is bad, but ANYONE who had to pick up the shambles Azzarello created and then ran from has a huge amount of crap to deal with. He made her God of War, then ignored it. He made Zeus her baby daddy, then didn’t explore or explain it at all. He made Amazons rapist, murdered, slavers, and misanderists then.. turned them to stone only to have them come back for the big fight. He made Diana completely oblivious to her people and her Gods then bound her to them.. but never really explored how any of it effects her on any level. His complete and utter lack of developing Diana into a full-fledged person has lead to the 3 different incarnations of Wonder Woman across the DC Universe. We have angry, aggressive Wonder Woman in JL, the “I’m better than you, but I love you so much and have no life of my own” version in Superman/Wonder Woman, and the.. “I love and trust everyone, period. Now let me murder my mentor for his power” Wonder Woman in the title. It’s insane.

    DC should just let this run it’s course until Convergence, then after Convergence reboot it completely with a writer that can handle Wonder Woman (Meredith Finch can’t) and loves her like Azzarello never did. One of the writers from Sensation Comics, given carte blanch to do whatever they want to fix her and bring back her feminist origins and just pretend the last 3 years of wonder Woman has been an Elseworlds. (It would have been perfect if DC had revealed her as Superwoman in Forever Evil.. would have explained SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH).