Wonder Woman (vol.2) #190 (2003)

Wonder Woman (vol.2) #190 (May, 2003)
“The Game of the Gods, Part 2: Red Eyes in the Morning…”
Writer – Walter Simonson
Penciller – Jerry Ordway
Inker – P. Craig Russell
Letterer – John E. Workman, Jr.
Coloring – Trish Mulvihill
Separations – WildStorm FX
Editor – Ivan Cohen
Cover Price: $2.25

Welcome to Wonder Weekend… where we’ll pretend that the weekend consists of Friday and Saturday in celebration of some movie that I’m not going to see* coming out!  Let’s not get it twisted, I don’t have any problem with this film in particular… I just don’t see comic book movies… ever.  If you’re a long time reader/listener, you already know the deal.

Anyhoo, I wasn’t quite sure where to start with Wonder Woman… which reminded me that, back around the turn of the century… I felt quite the same way.  Wonder Woman was the only member of the JLA who had an ongoing book that I just couldn’t get into.  It felt like it was too dense, and far too uninviting for a relatively-new DC Comics fanatic… and I don’t think there were trades (at least easily-accessible ones) collecting the Perez run at that time.

I kept waiting for an opportunity to jump on… and in early 2003, the news broke that there was a jumping-on point on the horizon!  You couldn’t miss the news if you were a comics (or pop-culture) fan, because this one was going to start with… Wonder Woman getting a haircut.  Sounds silly, yes… but this tweak in Wondy’s appearance made the actual (non-comic) news.  I saw it in the newspaper… and it got a mention on the television news as well!

I figured, well hell… here’s my opportunity to finally get “in” on this character that had eluded/intimidated me for so long.  Then I get to the store to pick up the iconic “haircut issue”… and find that it’s Part Two of a story-arc.  Wonk wonk wonkkkk.

Well, no bother… we’re gonna discuss it anyway.  In honor of the film, here is the first issue of Wonder Woman I ever bought.

* This doesn’t mean I don’t want anyone else to see it.  I hope everyone who goes… which I’m guessing will be a lot of you… has a Wonder-ful time, and enjoys her long-time-coming silver screen feature!

We open with Diana appearing in the middle of Columbus Circle in New York City.  Her clothes are torn, she looks freaked out, and… oh yeah, she’s carrying a baby… or a figurine that looks like one.  She works her way through some very confused New Yorkers and heads toward the park… with designs on stashing the tot.  She uses an errant kite-string to tie the tike high in a tree for safe keeping while she… tries to figure out who she is!  She’s got amnesia, by the way.

As she walks down the crowded street, the eyes of each person she passes begin to glow red.  One ordinary-looking (if we discount the glowing eyes and vampire teeth) businessman coming out of the subway suddenly pounces!  Diana easily mops the floor with him… slamming him into the wall.  His eyes go normal, and he has no idea how he wound up there.  He offers her all the money in his wallet not to involve the police.  Just so happens Diana needs a few bucks for some non-ripped duds, so she takes him up on it.  She chops him in his carotid to ensure she gets far enough away from him in case he “goes red” again.

And so, she buys herself a new non-ripped outfit and peruses the web at an internet cafe.  Imagine a time before folks didn’t carry the internet around with them in their pockets all the time!  I should mention that the computer she uses is one of those old chunky Macs with the bright colored housing around the monitor… haven’t thought about one of those in… probably 15 years!  As she leaves the cafe, a pair of elderly folks take notice… and their eyes glow red!  They follow her back onto the street.

Diana’s no dummy, she knows she’s being tailed.  She leads the couple into an empty park… which Diana knows is usually empty, so it would seem that her amnesia is limited to things about herself.  Anyway, before they can jump her… she grabs them… and before she can question them, they whither away to dust.

Confused and frustrated, she plops down on a park bench to think.  In a nearby tree, it would appear that a pigeon and a squirrel are having a full-blown conversation.  The pigeon flies off, and Diana gets it in her head that she ought to follow.  It’s a good thing too… because it leads her to… her number one fan?

The young lady excitedly invites Diana inside… and she accepts.  Her small basement apartment is almost completely decorated with Wonder Woman tchotchkes… and it’s here that Diana learns that she is actually Princess Diana… otherwise known as, well… you know.  She ain’t buyin’ it.

The fan, Becca Doherty, intends to prove it… and makes sure there’s nobody on the streets before asking Diana to… spin!  Diana’s still not convinced, but in order to pacify her pal… spins!  Before long, she is Wonder Woman… only without her bracelets or tiara.

Wonder Woman is still confused, however, it just so happens that Becca has been keeping a scrapbook of Diana’s exploits since she arrived on the scene.  Convenient, sure… but a helluva way to give a new reader some exposition without it feeling forced.  We (and she) learn about Paradise Island, and Diana’s upbringing… her tenderness as well as her combat prowess.  The story continues to include Steve Trevor, the man who arrived and would ultimately change her life.  I should mention that, at the moment, Diana is dating… a different Trevor… Trevor Barnes.

We shift scenes to a place that reminds me of Zeal from ChronoTrigger.  I’m not entirely sure where we are, but there are Amazons here, including Artemis and Chancellor Phillipus.  They are concerned that they haven’t seen Diana in two-weeks… in fact, nobody has seen her.  She’s skipped out on Justice League meetings and everything.  While they talk, a panicked Catalyn arrives to inform them that she had just returned from Olympus… where she found that all of the Gods have disappeared!

We shift scenes again, this time we’re back on Earth… the Deccan Plateau in India to be (more) precise.  It’s here that we (well, I… for all I know, you already knew him) meet Trevor Barnes.  He’s arrived at a small settlement in search of a called Darryl Souder.  The locals tell him that his friend has entered the “cycle of rebirth”… which, back in 2003 India didn’t mean you were getting a bi-weekly ongoing… instead it meant you was dead.  Trevor is a bit incredulous… and asks to be taken to the last place he was seen.  They take him into the fields… where it is believed that demons tread.  Barnes manages to find Souder’s body, however, when he goes to touch it… it turns to dust!

And that dust stirs into a dust devil, and begins to spin out of control.  At this point, Trevor begins to hear a voice… one he’s heard before.  He looks to the sky and sees Karisin, the Hindu God of Wealth looming over the city.  She speaks to him of receiving sacraments.  No sooner does a plane arrive, with news of a dire emergency in Zambia which requires his attention.  At this point, Karisin has vanished.

Back at Becca’s apartment, Diana realizes that there is someone or something tracking her… trying to kill her, and so she decides that she might be able to buy herself more time by… changing her appearance.  She asks for a pair of scissors and plunges them into her hair… until, Becca stops her.  She cries that it is sacrilege to do such a thing, but agrees to perform the haircut for her… as luck would have it she is a hairstylist by trade.

She says it’s better for her to do it, because if Diana does it herself, it would look like she stuck her head in a blender.  Hmm… it’s funny you say that, Becca… considering the “style” you foist upon her. After the deed is done, Diana bids Becca adieu… and heads off on her way to the Amazonian Embassy.

The issue wraps up on, of all places, Oa.  There’s a mean bit of energy at work… and it’s causing all sorts of havoc at the center of the universe.

Well, I’ll be damned… this was a pretty good jumping on point.  As I read through this today, I’m about 90% certain that I never had before.  I gotta figure that I got home… saw that it was a “Part 2”, had thoughts about heading back to see if I might find Part 1… then ate and slept… and completely spaced it.

I have somehow amassed a decent-sized collection of Wonder Woman in the time since… mostly grabbing whatever I could out of the cheap-o bins, which, lemme tell ya… pre-New 52! Wonder Woman is an absolute rarity in the cheap-o’s in my neck of the woods… so they immediately stand out.  I just haven’t really had the opportunity to sit down and give them a fair shot.  I’m probably at a point in my fandom where I need to do a little less buying and a lot more reading.

Now, for the issue… it was a good jumping on point, yes.  We got some Paradise Island (which I’m gonna call it here because I can’t spell Theme… Thema… Themy… ya know, the other name) backstory and we were introduced to some of the current cast.  With all that said… was it a good issue?  Well, I enjoyed it… so, I’d say yeah… this was a good issue.  Having Diana be partially amnesiac for this issue was an excellent narrative tool to allow exposition to be shared without it feeling like we were being clobbered by it.  Having her run into her #1 fan was a nice touch as well… it facilitates there being a scrapbook from which to educate her… and me.  Really liked that.

Now… the “big deal” of the book, Diana sticks her head in a blender.  I kid, but… wow, that’s not a good look for her… for the couple of panels we see it.  I definitely gotta say she looks excellent on the (Adam Hughes) cover though.  He makes the new-look work in all of the covers for this arc.  It’s funny how back in 2003, after the initial mainstream reaction to the “event”, it kinda just went away.  Nobody really complained about it… nobody swore off the book… nobody made any silly comments.  Maybe that’s just because this is from the halcyon days before Twitter and Facebook (you can follow me at both places by the way, links on the top right) where people could lob complaints and insults at a creative team without abandon.

I’m thinking about when, in 2010, J. Michael Straczynski took over the title and Diana was put in those Jim Lee designed duds, which included the tiny jacket and pants.  People were ticked… and that was just an outfit.  What Simonson and Ordway did in 2003 was a much more (relatively) permanent change to the character.  I mean, she could have kept the shorter hair from that point on for all we know… it’s not like she had a movie coming out back then.

Hindsight (and Google) tells us that this new look only lasts until Greg Rucka arrives on the title about 6 months down the line.  I haven’t read this arc through, so I’m unsure if there is any in-story reason for her rapid hair growth, or if the next creative team just decided to go back to the way it was.  If I remember right, she didn’t appear in JLA with this look… or anywhere outside this title, not that that really matters.

Overall… I think this was a lot of fun.  A nice introduction to the character, a strange, almost horror-inspired threat, and nice dialogue and art.  I now really want to see what I missed in Part One of Game of the Gods.  I’d certainly recommend this to Wonder Woman fans, new and old.  Great novelty value with her new appearance, and a good story to boot.  This is available digitally.

Hope everyone who got out to the Thursday showing of the film had a Wonder-ful time!

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