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‘Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2’ (review)

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick; Art by Gene Ha
Published by DC Comics

 

In short, go get this comic now. If you missed book one, get ‘em both. Then tell your friends to get theirs. This is a classic in the making. I said this before, and I say it again.

Part one of this DC Black Label reimagining of the Amazons’ history arrived last fall with strong excitement from yours truly. A prestige-format story of Wonder Woman lore from the Kelly Sue DeConnick, who combines righteous feminist rage with next-level storytelling that wraps you within the world she creates? Someone whose stories stew in their anger, and you know that anger is justified, while also filled with a love of humanity that wants so much better for women the world over to be full human beings?

The second issue gives you all of that, and so much more. Six of the Olympian goddesses, save Hera, set out with their tribes of daughters to restore justice in a world dominated by men in which women collectively are treated as property and prey. As the Amazons’ exploits spread throughout the misogynistic world, killing rapacious men in the night, they’ve attracted a follower: a young woman named Hippolyta.

What happens when mortal beings, saved by the Amazons, wish to join them and become Amazons themselves? How does divine judgment fare against mortal wisdom?

DeConnick’s prose captures the elevated poetic speech of Greek epics. “In stories told by fireside, we are monsters come to devour men whole. Sometimes we spit out the bones. It depends on the night … and the wine.”

Just as I was ready to devour more breathtaking, painstakingly detailed art from Phil Jimenez, I was pleasantly surprised to see Gene Ha’s name on the credits for this go-around. Makes sense if this book, already published every six months, would ever keep to a production schedule.

Gene Ha makes all the sense in the world to carry the torch forward, thanks to his photorealistic abilities combined with the mind-bending magical realism this project requires. Yet his compositions are standard enough to not distract from the story in the way a J.H. Williams III might. (Also, Williams would want to write this story, and that wasn’t happening.)

Ha’s art works best in the sequence when Hippolyta meets the goddess Artemis. Ha employs negative imagery to create Artemis’s physical presence as the trees themselves. Her face is seen in the shapes of the forest, or when Hippolyta’s horse eats fruit off a branch that also is Artemis’s hair. Then to see the panels change into vertical slivers once Hera gets involved and sends inspiration to Hippolyta – she desires to be an Amazon.

The moment is a testament to divine inspiration as a feminine power, and to the nature of indirect “shadow work” by the disenfranchised to tip the scales in the favor of the oppressed. Hera’s too close to Zeus to openly fight against him, but it’s also telling that she has suffered at his hands before.

Colorist Wesley Wong has a hefty assignment here because so much of the issue takes place at night, having to take the colors of each character and then bathe them all in shades of blue and purple moonlight. His style combines watercolor effects with stippling to add grit and heft to Ha’s sleek artwork. It works tremendously.

Of course, none of the Amazons’ actions in this story can go without consequences.

Hippolyta not only becomes an Amazon, but the women she and the goddesses save also join their ranks. The Amazons have been careful to travel and attack only at night, away from Apollo’s sun and the gaze of their male counterparts. So this couldn’t be much of a story if the Olympian gods never found out, right?

They’ll surely engage the goddesses in a nuanced, thoughtful discussion, yes?

The next issue sets up that this world, even amid gods and goddesses, requires blood to capture and defend freedom.

Book Three is scheduled to arrive this fall. Based on the afterword, Nicola Scott – another Wonder Woman hall-of-fame artist – is due up. Can’t wait.

Grade: A+

 

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