Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wonder Woman (vol.2) #121 (1997)


Wonder Woman (vol.2) #121 (May, 1997)
"Stone May Grow"
Writer/Artist - John Byrne
Colorist - Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor - Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor - Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.95

How curious... just a random issue of Wonder Woman from the late 1990's.  I wonder why we might be discussing this book...

Well, to explain why... I will write this as though it's a line item in an Wizard Magazine's price guide:

                   Terry Long: appears (dies)

Yup... today we're shuffling our old friend off this mortal coil... in a random issue of Wonder Woman.  Hell, I've made my indifference-slash-dislike for this character well known, but even I think he deserves better... well, we'll go further in depth after the spoilery synopsis.  Let's see just how well we do reading an unfamiliar era of Wonder Woman, with absolutely nothing in the way of context!

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We open with Randu Singh doing some astral plane mojojojo to follow up on a mental message Diana had received regarding the death of her mother, Hippolyta.  Singh is most certain that a young woman did indeed make contact.  Speaking of which, that woman is named Angelica Wallis... and is no stranger to psychic flashes.  These, however, are different... these are controllable.  We see that she is in the same hospital as Hippolyta, who lies in the Intensive Care Unit... and has been turned completely to stone!


Wonder Woman and the gang, including a very young Cassie Sandsmark and Jason Blood, head to the roof of the latter's apartment building.  Diana attempts to summon her invisible jet so she and Singh might seek out this astral interloper, but only produces a coagulous mess.  I should mention that she currently has a badly injured right arm/hand.


Diana has no choice but to request the aid from a Harold Campion... the Champion!  It seems her current entourage is less than comfortable with this idea, and suggest she reach out to the Justice League instead.  She declines.  Champion arrives and immediately agrees to aid Diana in her travels.  Jason Blood grabs Randu Singh and asks that he keep Mr. Campion at arm's reach... as he fears there's much more to him than meets the eye.  And, we soon learn that he is wise to think that.  The gang leaves, and a Satyr all but confirms that the master has a "true nature" not yet seen by Wondy.


In the panels that follow, Diana arrives at the Wallis' doorstep.  That was a mighty quick trip... especially with the vague directions Randu provided.


Next we get the first of two interludes.  This one has Artemis receiving some intel by a Nathaniel (who I wouldn't recognize if he delivered a pizza to my house).  The information involves Etrigan the Demon.  Artemis promises to do what she must.


We rejoin Diana as she enters her Mother's hospital room.  She grows ever weaker (and whiter!) the closer she gets to her.  She concludes that they must return to Paradise Island, lest they both become completely stone.


They board Campion's airliner, and head toward Themyscira.  Along the way, Diana faints.  Ol' Hank carries her to a bed... and reveals (at least to us, Di is on dream-street) that he came to Gateway City in order to coerce her into falling in love with him... this would somehow grant him vengeance against Hippolyta... okay.  Anyhoo, he claims it is he who fell in love at this juncture.  He feeds Diana some of Dionysus' wine as the craft descends on the island.


We shift to the second of our interludes... and ladies and gents, this be our main event.  The reason why I'm discussing this issue.  We see Terry Long, and his children Jennifer and Robert driving along a New England road in the midst of a terrible storm.  He becomes distracted by the high-beams of an oncoming truck, and veers off to the side... where he winds up driving off a cliff!  Upon impact, his mid-sized sedan goes boom.  Hmmph... that was underwhelming, wuddn't it?


Back on Paradise Island, Diana and company head into the square.  What they find there is of great distress to Wonder Woman... everyone she knew and loved on the island has been turned into statues!


Diana goes deeper... until she comes across a body who hasn't completely transitioned into crag.  It's a blind Amazon named Eudia.  She reveals that Champion is in fact Heracles... the son of Zeus!  Hmm, well... that makes certain New-52! revelations a bit icky, right?


Diana is furious... and proceeds to beat on her would-be lover... different-timeline lover... until she begins to come apart, like literally.  Her body parts just begin to shatter upon impact!


Until all that's left is a pile of shards and a leotard.  Obviously, we are... [to be continued].


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Well... I'm gonna start with what made me pick this issue up... the death of Terry Long.  Ya ever dislike someone for such a long time that when you actually stop to think about why you dislike them... you just can't figure out why?  Well, make no bones about it, I'm not becoming a Terry Long fan here... but I'm starting to realize that my initial reaction to seeing him in a given comic is far less "Grrr!" and more "Oh brother... it's him".

The dude's not fun... he kills the joy of most scenes he takes part in... If I were in charge of the Crisis, I'd have had the Anti-Monitor snuff him out as though he were a cigarette in an ashtray... but even I gotta say, he deserved a better exit.

While we're at it... he deserved his own exit.  Perishing alongside his children makes his death seem far less important.  He cannot (and would not) be mourned as a man... just one of the victims of an accident.  Whether we like it or not, he was a supporting character in one of the biggest books of the 1980's.

Seems his death was something of a throwaway... and, honestly an unnecessary one.  Terry was already divorced from Donna by this point, and could have just disappeared into the world.  Not sure why Byrne felt the need to draw such a dramatic line under the Longs.

Well... not much left to say about Terry (for today), so I'll end this bit with our first... and last look at Terry Long.  Abyssinia, you creepy bastard.

Terrence Arthur Long
March 5, 1981 - March 26, 1997
Forever in Our Hearts

For the actual Wonder Woman story... it was interesting.  Can't say that I was captivated by it or anything, but it was a decent enough read.  I dig the idea of Wonder Woman, a hero born of clay... returning to a clay-like form.  The issue was perhaps a bit on the talky side... but whattayagonnado?  

I've noticed that folks point to this era as when Byrne's art quality was deteriorating somewhat.  Unfortunately, I think I'd have to agree.  The art here is a bit on the rough side... almost feeling rushed.  The lack of backgrounds in many of the panels also lends to that.

Overall... I'm not sure I'd recommend this one, unless you just really gotta see/own the death of Terry Long (like I did).  If you do wanna check this out, it has been made available digitally.

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