Bonus Book #12 – Legends of the Amazons (1989)
Bonus Book #12 – Legends of the Amazons (January, 1989)
“Of Wings and Arrows”
Writer – Tom Joyner
Pencils – Neil Vokes
Inks – Fred Butler
Letters – Jon D’Agostino
Colors – Matt Webb
Edits – Joey Cavalieri
Executive Edits – Joe Orlando
Welcome to the penultimate Bonus Book, where we’re heading back to Themyscira… joy. I mean, it couldn’t be as bad as that one we looked at the other day, right? Speaking of the other day, I mentioned during that pre-ramble that there is some inconsistency in the titles for these Wonder Woman-adjacent gimmes. This one is called Legends (plural) of the Amazons, whereas our first outing was only touted as a singular Legend. I’ve “tagged” ’em both as Legends, so they’ll come up together if anyone happens to search the site for ’em.
This one came along with Wonder Woman (vol.2) #26 (January, 1989).
We open on Themyscira with a young Amazon named Janestra running around a track jumping some hurdles. She allows herself to get lost in thought after seeing a crane flying overhead… she hopes one day to fly herself. So out-to-lunch over this bird she is, that she trips over the next hurdle she was meant to jump. She is attended to, and then scolded by, a sister-Amazon named Olympia. Jan goes on about how, with wings, hurdles won’t matter… Olympia ain’t hearin’ none’a that. It’s all about being the best you can at things you can do… not dreaming about such silliness.
That evening, we join Janestra in the library… and, lemme tell ya, libraries on Themyscira are some pretty chill places! She’s literally laid out on a giant mattress reading. Suddenly, a parrot named… okay, gonna need a running start for this one… Aristarchus, swoops in and lands before her. She asks about the weird crane, but the parrot remains mum. It’s at this point that I’m realizing that Janestra has a rather bizarre hairstyle. From the front, it looks like a regular bob-ish haircut… but, when she turns around, we discover that she’s got like a mile-long rat-tail. Eesh. The 80’s weren’t kind… not even to the Amazons!
Janestra reveals to Aristarchus that she would do anything to be able to fly… and it just so happens that this entire exchange is being observed by a trio of creeps, who watch the scene play out in the waters of a putrid well. I dunno if these three are a reference to the classical “three witches”… or, if they’re eventual Wonder Woman baddies I’d recognize if I were ever bored enough to read Wonder Woman… but, the jist of it is, they’re trapped at “Doom’s Doorway”, and are looking for a way out. They see Janestra as perhaps a means to that end.
Ya see, there’s this thing called Abaris’ Arrow… from the Greek Myths, Abaris the Hyperborean was able to travel via a golden arrow. This arrow is believed to be in Themyscira, and might be the key to freeing these demons. And so, they concoct… a winged man to chat up Janestra.
The man arrives at Janestra’s window… and introduces himself as Icarus, son of Daedalus. He’s probably a little less obscure than Abaris the Hyperborean… he’s the kid with the wings made of wax and feathers, who in the myth, flew too close to the Sun. Janestra is gobsmacked to see this flyin’ fella… and is even more surprised when he asks if she’d care to go flying with him!
As they fly, “Icarus” tells Janestra all about the Arrow of Abaris… and how, legend states, that with it, man can fly. Invigorated, Jan heads into the Themyscira records room… which, is just crammed with wrinkly rolled scrolls… and, wouldn’tcha know it… she finds the Golden Arrow in no-time-flat!
Unfurling the parchment, she reads the historical records of the Arrow, which have more to do with Pythagoras and math than any flyin’ Hyperborean. Ya see, he stole the thing from Abaris after it was gifted to him by Apollo… then, he flew to Themyscria to… teach math? Okay, fair enough.
So, night falls… and “Icarus” returns to meet with Janestra and find out if she’d found the Arrow. She gleefully (and foolishly) hands it over… after which, Icarus’ drops his facade, and reveals himself to be a demon!
Then… he spends the next four pages having the ever-loving crap kicked out of him! Ya see, Janestra’s no shrinking violet or anything… she ain’t keen on being tricked, and so… she just beats this poor demon from pillar to post… before, ultimately just stabbing it through the throat with the Golden Arrow. I mean, wow… this is like “Demon Snuff” here. Just a brutal, one-sided beat-down.
We wrap up with the day saved… the Doom’s Doorway remaining shut… and Janestra inquiring to Olympia if she knows where she might procure mass quantities of feathers and wax.
Okay, this one… was pretty good! I could be a bit sarcastic and say something like, “When you go into something expecting it to be garbage, anything else is a pleasant surprise”… but, I feel like that would do this story a disservice. It was good. Not “in spite” of being an Amazon story, but just plain-ol’ good.
We get some mythical stuff… which, without the help of a Google-Machine might’ve been a bit maddening back in the day… or, a reader in 1988/89 could’ve just accepted the facts as written, and enjoyed the story for what it was. It was fairly light on “myth-facts”, which I feel is a good thing… because, at the end of the day, this was Janestra’s story. We didn’t need to be bogged down in Myths.
Janestra, who if the DC Wiki is to be believed, makes her only appearance in this story… is an interesting character. She’s depicted as both a naive dreamer… and an all around butt-kicker. Joyner really subverted my expectations once she handed over the Golden Arrow. I had assumed that this was going to be the story of how, one girl’s foolishness, led to these Demons being freed from Doom’s Doorway. Like, a “cautionary tale”, ya know? What I wasn’t expect was four-pages of pure Demon Snuff! I mean, she made it crystal-clear that “Icarus” was screwing with the wrong Amazon. I dug that.
Our writer, Tom Joyner, bucked the Bonus Book trend, and actually went on to do some more comics at DC… one of which, we’ve covered here! He was decently prolific during the early 1990’s, but doesn’t appear to have done much (in the industry) since. Tell ya what, though… he actually made me enjoy a Wonder Woman-adjacent story… which tells me, he’s pretty damn good at what he does!
Across the table, we’ve got Neil Vokes. He, like Joyner, was “decently prolific” during the 1990’s, with many of his credits coming from Superman Adventures… that comic based on the Superman Animated Series. After seeing his art here, I’m very curious to see how he takes to that DC-Animated style, that everyone except me seems to have great affection for. I thought he did a really good job with this story… bad hairstyles notwithstanding. Gotta wonder… are there salons on Paradise Island? If so… what kinda looks you think poor Jan got when she asked for that to be done to her head?
Overall… a decent little Wonder Woman-adjacent ditty. I could see this fitting in as a back-up feature, not unlike the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps that were so prevalent in the Green Lantern title during the 1980’s.
(Not the) Letters Page:
2 thoughts on “Bonus Book #12 – Legends of the Amazons (1989)”
See, Amazons can be in entertaining stories. All you need is a writer with passion for the subject matter to make "The Subject" MATTER. Clearly with all the Greek mythology references Tom Joyner had a passion for this subject.
Any clues/ hints as to where the ole blog will be heading after the Bonus Book phase ends tomorrow?
It's true! Joyner seemed to have a much deeper appreciation for making the Amazon lore "work/fit" with the Greek Myths. I'm very surprised I actually found myself enjoying this one!
About the future of the blog… that's the million-dollar question, my friend… I'm still brainstormin' our next direction. Have a few things in mind, will hopefully "launch" whatever it is I settle on on February 1. Right now, I'm just trying to find a few "shorter subjects" to pass the time between now and the blog's fourth anniversary on January 31!