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Cover date: Early November 2004
Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ron Garney
Inker: Ron Garney
"The Pain of the Gods: Amazonian Warrior"
Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito
At one point the female villain manages to pin Wonder Woman against the wall with a slice to the head from her Ax. Luckily Wonder Woman's tiara protects her skull. The dueling women claw and scrape at each other's faces, desperately seeking the upper hand in the life or death stand off. Wonder Woman regains her footing and with a mighty swat she chops the ax in half. Wonder Woman goes into full on attack mode; letting her warrior instinct take over, she pummels her opponent into submission and almost death. The battle leaves Wonder Woman drained, emotionally and physically. She collapses to her knees, crying with her head in her hands.
Later at the Watch Tower Wonder Woman arrives to find Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter enjoying some down time playing video games. They barely notice her bruised and beaten face. She confesses she was fighting a new villain who almost got the better of her. Green Lantern brushes it off, something very similar happened to him just recently. Wonder Woman wanders off to the kitchen where Martian Manhunter comes to speak with her. He noticed she may be in need of some emotional support. But instead of lending her a shoulder to cry on; he suggests she seek out Superman.
Meanwhile, Superman is looking after Joey; the son of the slain hero from Austen's first issue. Joey appears at a school yard and breaks up a fight started by some bullies. But he's wearing his father's super hero cape and boots. Before Superman can rush in to stop him from making a fool of himself Wonder Woman arrives. She suggests Superman let the boy falter on his own and stop protecting him. Superman immediately notices Wonder Woman is upset and pretty badly beaten. She explains the days events and confesses she was truly scared that she might've died today. It's part of their lives, that possibility, but today it really took her by surprise. Superman comforts her with a smile and a joke. He makes her feel better as only he could. Their happy moment is interrupted, however, by the bullies screams for mercy on the play ground. Little Joey has hoisted them over his head! The little man has super powers of his own!
To be continued...
Story - 3: Wonder Woman is a warrior. Tried and true she's the super-hero you want commanding your armies or watching your back when your out numbered 300 to one. It's in her nature to be a fierce and merciless combatant. Austen's opening volley displays her skills unequivocally. I was very impressed to see him find a functional use for Diana's tiara, more than a crown but less than a helmet.
By the end of the fight Wonder Woman is victorious; but for a second - just a split second - she thought she might be done for. This is handled very well. There's no cheese ball flashback to everyone she's ever loved or lost, and she never gives up the fight or considers caving in. That's just not in her warrior's heart. But the thought passes through her head and rocks her to her core. She's had the feeling before, after any number of battles no doubt, but it's just not something she'll ever get used to. I thought this was a great "pain" to explore for Wonder Woman. Her warrior nature and emotional weaknesses are totally unique aspects of her character that no other member of the JLA shares.
Her fellow JLA'ers expected her to just bounce back from the attack because of her Amazonian heritage. I thought this worked extremely well and spoke volumes about how her teammates see her. They don't expect her to need comfort or emotional charity, as far as they're concerned she's tougher than them.
What I didn't enjoy, however, were the out of character actions of Manhunter. In the past Manhunter and Wonder Woman have come to be close friends and confidants. I was really taken back by his reactions to Wonder Woman especially after all the help the JLA lent him just last issue. You'd think he might have come to appreciate the support structure the JLA is for other heroes and give back a little.
Art - 5: Well those first few pages tell it all really. Garney plots out a highly effective scenario that brings us from point A to point B with a few dramatic side steps along the way. The pacing really is beautiful and sets the tone for a battle that I could have flipped through for a whole issue. I mean seriously if this whole issue had been just page after page of fighting I still think I'd be pretty happy with it.
Cover Art - 3: Well drawn and representative of the contents within... But it's lacking the subtext that I loved so much about Flash and Green Lantern's covers.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.