Monday, September 3, 2018

WONDER WOMAN #12 & #13

Plot & Layouts: George Pérez | Script: Len Wein | Finishes: Bruce D. Patterson
Letters: John Costanza | Colors: Carl Gafford | Editor: Karen Berger

The Plot: (Issue 12) As Hippolyte descends into the caverns beneath Paradise Island, her daughter comes face-to-face with the woman for whom she was named, a redheaded American called Diana. Diana begins to explain the strange, intertwined history she shares with the princess, while elsewhere, Pan plots against Hippolyte, setting multiple obstacles against her. But, led by the vulture which brought her into the caves, Hippolyte proceeds on her way.

Soon, after Diana finishes her story to her namesake and departs, Pan appears and sends Wonder Woman off to the home of the Green Lanterns to aid them against the extraterrestrial Manhunters. Still on Earth, Hippolyte continues her trek and finds herself in the company of a massive Heracles, apparently changed to stone by some unknown force.

(Issue 13) Hippolyte continues her trek and comes across the form of Heracles, trapped as a living statue. Soon after, she finds the horned skull of Pan. Zeus and the other gods, observing Hippolyte’s quest, realize the Pan who has recently counseled Zeus is an imposter. Hermes fetches Diana from the Green Lantern citadel in California, returning her beneath Paradise Island to team up with her mother. The two battle several monsters and free Heracles, but countless demons escape as well.

Diana follows and traps the creatures within the amulet of Harmonia, which is then pulled—along with Diana—to Ares, who takes the amulet and disappears. Immediately after, Hermes appears and tasks Diana with one final challenge: to return to Man’s World and avenge his son, Pan, by finding and killing the Manhunter who took the horned god’s life and impersonated him.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Issue 12 continues the story of Steve Trevor mourning his father, and drops a continuity bombshell on readers: Diana, the woman for whom Themiscira’s princess is named, was Steve’s mother! She was a transport pilot in World War II and met Ulysses Stephen Grant when he showed up one day as her military contact. They were married and had Steve, but when Diana left to fly a simple mission, she crashed near Paradise Island and aided the Amazons in their fight against Echidna, dying in the process. Though they didn’t know her, the Amazons gave Diana a warrior’s funeral. At the issue’s conclusion, she is taken by a surprisingly benevolent Hades to be reunited at last with her husband.

Thus, the crashed plane Princess Diana found last issue, as well as the handgun which resided in the Amazons’ vault, were brought to Paradise Island by none other than Steve Trevor’s mom. Additionally, the star-spangled outfit worn by Wonder Woman is revealed to have been fashioned by the Amazons to honor the fallen Diana, based upon the American markings on her clothing.

As described above, Wonder Woman is spirited away between issues for her contractually-mandated appearance in the “Millennium” crossover. No idea why that appearance couldn’t have simply been set after the “Challenge of the Gods” storyline concluded, since it’s a really weird and abrupt hiccup mid-storyline. Admittedly, Pan’s death seems to be tied into “Millennium” somehow, but one wonders if that was truly Pérez’s original intention, or if he’s been forced to work the crossover into his pre-existing plans.

Hippolyte hears Heracles wailing from within his stone prison, though no one else detects the sound. Realizing the two must somehow be intertwined, Diana uses her lasso to link them together in a sort of mind-meld, which is what ultimately frees the imprisoned demigod.

My Thoughts: Like I said a few week back, much as I enjoy the Greek Gods in other incarnations, their appearances in these Wonder Woman stories are just incredibly dull to me for some reason, so it’s nice to see “Challenge of the Gods” approach its conclusion. With any luck, the series will go god-free for a while after this arc finishes. Diana’s “fish-out-of-water” adventures in Man’s World are a lot more fun.

With that said, however, it’s nice to get some of the mysteries about Paradise Island and Wonder Woman’s origins out of the way. Tying Diana in so closely with Steve Trevor’s mom initially seems a little odd and painfully coincidental, until you remember just how steeped in Greek mythology this series is. It’s no coincidence; it’s very deliberately fate at work — and when viewed in that light, the revelation is really pretty cool — though such preordained stuff should be doled out in very small increments, lest the concept go stale and readers begin to feel like the characters have no free will of their own.

So the Challenge of the Gods is (mostly) over, Diana has learned her true origin, and something is brewing with Hippolyte and Heracles. Though a lot of the mythological stuff makes my eyes glaze over in this format, from a storytelling perspective, this arc has at least delivered some developments of interest.

Next Week: It's Lois vs. Lana in ACTION COMICS #597, plus an all-new villain in SUPERMAN #15.

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