Superman on Television
Justice League: Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episodes 7-8: "Maid of Honor"Superman spotted at Smallville Drive-In with famed Daily Planet reporter; Wonder Woman shines as "Maid of Honor".
Reviewed by: Barry Freiman
Faced with the challenging task of reviewing a Superman-less episode of Justice League for the SUPERMAN Homepage, I considered sending my editor a blank file. Then I contemplated the horrible thought that this could happen again and realized I had to find something to write about. "Maid of Honor" has more to do with Superman, however, than just the evocative reference of the Maid of Might, Supergirl. This is Wonder Woman's time to shine and it makes perfect sense that Superman be absent during that pivotal moment in the Justice League's evolution.
The episode centers around Diana's private life and the parallel is certainly there to the deceased Earth Prime Princess Diana of Wales. Wonder Woman is a celebrity and she's even more "out of place" in a black cocktail dress than red and yellow hubcaps attached to tightie blue shorts with stars people immediately recognize her wherever she goes and an immediate contrast is made to another princess, this one the spoiled daughter of the King of Kasnia, who has arranged his daughter's marriage for political reasons.
The complexities to the relationship that Diana forms with the Princess of Kasnia finally reveal more of who Diana is in animated form, which, to date, has been the show's biggest flaw. Diana definitely shows a hint of being an aristocrat, not just in attending an Embassy Party in Paris that drew the likes of Bruce Wayne, but in both tolerating her new friend's wild last night of being single and being a part of it. Diana may be Wonder Woman, champion of equality, but that didn't stop her from crossing the velvet rope at a fancy exclusive night club.
But there's more to Diana than meets the eye. When Bruce Wayne dances her away from the crowd of Wonder Woman devotees, it's clear that Bruce has not shared his secret identity with the entire Justice League yet. Diana appears in the dark, in fact, until the last scene where the Amazon, alone with Batman, tells him that they never got to finish their dance. Again, Batman has his Batman moment, in retorting "I have no idea what you're talking about." Batman may get some of the better lines in every show, but the interplay between Batman and Wonder Woman was quite different than a Batman/Superman team up. It had a grittier feel to it especially as the rest of the League (Flash, Green Lantern, and J'onn) had to disable a space weapon (more on that later) leaving the jeopardized Wonder Woman and Batman to fend for themselves.
The episode goes from being just a character piece on Diana, however, when it's revealed that her new friend's fiance is the evil Vandal Savage, whose origin as the immortal Neanderthal is retold in this episode. His time as a Nazi war criminal is remembered from "The Savage Time" episode from Season One. This Savage, however, identifies as the third generation of the bad guy (LIAR!) and trying to atone for past family sins. Diana is immediately suspicious and does not give him the benefit of the doubt as Superman might.
And it's a good thing too. Because it is Vandal, he is immortal, and he's constructed a space weapon so destructive that even Green Lantern John Stewart has heard stories of its destructive power in outer space. Vandal Savage is the consummate world conqueror and nothing less will do.
The secondary story, integrally tied to Diana's influence, is the gradual change in the Princess from spoiled to dutiful wife to independent world leader. The writers again prove that the best comic book stories are being told in animated form (and live action on "Smallville" but that's another reviewer's bailiwick).
Faced with the challenging task of defining Wonder Woman as more than an iconic presence, the writers clearly made a conscious decision to exclude both Superman and Hawkgirl from the story as she has been most derivative of them when they've all been together. So much attention went into creating essentially new character Hawkgirl that she has been such a well-defined character in stark contrast to Wonder Woman. And Superman's personality and power are so incredibly iconic that he can overpower any presence, but most especially Wonder Woman's, as she has always had the P.R. problem of being interpreted as just a female Superman. However, now that they've let viewers know this Diana a little better, it won't be as easy for her to fade into the background the next time Supey and Hawkgirl do show up.
On the SUPERMAN FAN WATCH OR NOT SCALE, this Superman-less episode gets 5 speeding bullets for proving that Superman has such an incredibly strong iconic presence he had to be excised from the JLA Roll Call for the animated creators to tell the first great Wonder Woman story on Justice League.
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