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‘Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1’ (review)

Written by Vita Ayala
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Published by DC Comics
Buy it Digitally from comiXology

 

What the hell was that?

Look, a lot of DC fans enjoy these darkest timeline versions of the world’s mightiest heroes.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy the Zack Snyder movies more than the average bear, because I too came up in the grim-dark fanboy ‘90s when every hero died or turned evil or whatever.

Quality dystopia in my superhero fiction can ring my bell, too.

The Boys?

Enjoyed the comic book, like the TV series even more.

The Injustice video games and comics are fun to play around in, and the parallel worlds of the Crime Syndicate and Flashpoint are all-timers. Also, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, which concludes the DC Animated Movie Universe, was thrilling in it’s everything-goes-gruesomely-wrong way.

However, I’ve mostly stayed away from Dark Multiverse, kicked off by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo a few years back. I heard those comics were solid, and I really liked Snyder and Capullo’s New 52 run on Batman. I just didn’t care to pick up even more of DC’s ever-jumbled cat’s cradle of competing continuities.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

I say all that in order to explain that I don’t care for The Batman Who Laughs (great, even more outsized market share for Batman, and I love Batman) and all this other stuff. I’m sure the event books have been fun, but do I need some side-story one-shots of other Dark Multiverse worlds?

But that’s what we get with Tales from the Dark Multiverse / Wonder Woman: War of the Gods. (Are there enough titles and subtitles in there? Do we need more?)

The bones of the story are fine: The world’s different pantheons of old gods fight each other, and the Justice League and other folks are drawn into the fray.

But the main event comes down to Wonder Woman, who uncovers that everything was put in motion by the witch-goddess Hecate. (That’s pronounced “heck-ah-tee” for the Greek believers, or you may remember “hekkit” from Shakespeare.)

In the proper multiverse, Hecate jumps into Wonder Woman’s body, they have a magic fight in some representation of Diana’s mind, Diana overpowers Hecate by using her own magic of truth and love against Hecate’s magic of hate and fear.

Battle is won, everybody goes for schwarma, roll credits and triumphant hero music –

CUE THE RECORD SCRATCH! Cue the extreme guitar riff!

But no, you radical readers! This is the Dark Multiverse!

Wonder Woman falls to Hecate’s possession, a bunch of characters you love die, the Amazons invade Washington, DC, even more people die.

That’s not all that happens, but I don’t want to spoil things. There’s more magic, more teamwork, more death, and things end with room for a sequel.

My biggest problem with this title is that, frankly, it has to churn through so much story that would could be an entire 12- to 15-part, multi-title crossover event. Instead, it’s all here in 45 pages!

Very little gets to land with the dramatic intensity demanded. A ton of crazy stuff happens in this issue, but it’s not as if Ariel Olivetti gets to illustrate much of it, let alone do so in any way that makes you feel anything. Which is super disappointing, because gruesome murders are half the reason you pick up something like this.

(Also, is Olivetti the only superhero artist alive who finds a way to make everyone look so … dumpy?)

The story’s breakneck pace also means you’d better know who all these characters are, especially given that you’re seeing them all as they looked in roughly 1986 to 1991.

There’s Hawkman and Hawkwoman in their Thanagarian police officers jumpsuits with the metal wings. Lobo’s here with nary a “bastich” uttered, but we do get a “frag.” Booster Gold, Fire, the female Doctor Fate, Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Batman in the blue cape and cowl, Zatanna with that cobra headpiece – they’re all here.

The action is rushed, and magic fights already are tough to illustrate. So we get a lot of Wonder Woman, both in her genuine form and here there-is-no-Diana-only-Hecate possessed form, standing in a distressed pose with glowing light around here as she goes “AAAAAARRRRRGGHHHH!” or something.

Sorry, folks. I was not entertained. Chalk this one up for Dark Multiverse completists only.

 

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