Friday, March 14, 2008

The Woman Beneath the Wonder: A Brief Review of Wonder Woman #18

It is not often, Gentle Reader, that I both Love and Hate something at the same time. I am, if I may be so bold as to say, a Woman of Strong Emotions. I am in a job that I love, and how could I not? This Humble Author reads books for a living, and writes about them, and discusses them. In my spare time, those ten to fifteen seconds a day I can Call My Own, I aspire to Write Books, albeit Rather Poorly, if the Large Stack of Rejection Letters is Any Proof of my Ability to write a Marketable Novel. But when I love, I love deeply, and when I decidedly do not love, I do that deeply as well.

I expect that Constant Readers of This Humble Blog are shocked, absolutely shocked to see the word Hate in the same Blog Post as Gail Simone’s name. Wait, Friends. Let me explain. We are all Well Aware that This Humble Author thinks Ms. Simone can Do No Wrong. Even in her titles that I am not reading—All New Atom, for example—I never doubt her talent. But Ms. Simone has presented This Humble Author with a conundrum in issue #18 of Wonder Woman: she has given me a scene I love with a character and storyline that I hate.

I do not like Tom Tresser.

At all.

It is solely courtesy of Ms. Simone’s talents that I deign to tolerate him, in that she offers sneaks and peeks into his character that make him consumable by me, even just for a moment. A few issues back, she even made him somewhat charming, a near-impossible feat for This Humble Author. I do not like him, and frankly, I cannot determine why. Part of it is, I think, due to my Absolute Adoration of the Amazon Princess. She is my idol, the Super Hero Young Amy Reads aspired to be. I cannot imagine the Future Queen of Themyscira dating someone so very twenty-first century as Special Agent Tresser.

But.

But, Ms. Simone offers perhaps one of the most beautiful glimpses into Themysciran culture in the first pages of issue #18: a courting ritual, explained to and accepted by Tom Tresser before he even begins to comprehend what the Amazon Princess is offering him. He is offered both Beauty and Pain, Fear and Hope, boiled down into so many nectarine pits and thorns and colorful ribbons. It is the ritual that is important; he is to be courted, Diana tells him, “In the manner of [her] people.”

Tom comprehends the import of Diana’s language a few pages later, and notes, “But all your people are of the female persuasion...!” To which Diana responds, “Aren’t you the observant one?”

The Hate, Gentle Reader, is the, in This Humble Author’s opinion, Unworthy Object of the Amazon Princess’s affections.

The Love, Gentle Reader, is in the quiet dignity of the ritual in this scene.

This quiet dignity is not necessarily a dominant trait of Ms. Simone’s run on Wonder Woman as of yet. Not that Ms. Simone is incapable of writing Wonder Woman, the character, with quiet dignity. Nor is This Humble Author stating that Ms. Simone is incapable of writing quiet dignity. Rather, we see glimpses of this throughout her work. The first issues of both Welcome to Tranquility and Gen-13 offer this rare tone for the author, as do the more intimate moments in Birds of Prey. In This Humble Author's opinion, there is nothing, absolutely nothing Ms. Simone does better than the team-up. She is a master of the team-up, in that she offers a wide range of characters and tones and ideas without ever losing the depth of each individual character. There is the quiet dignity, the snarky irony, the comic relief, the gentle persuasion. But these softer moments come through more in her characters than in her writing. She is a weaver of many personalities and storylines and ideas; to see her, then, weave together all of the same in Wonder Woman, and to Weave Well, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Further, to see this moment, to experience such a soft scene from a character who will just a few pages later defeat scores of warriors, to see the Woman beneath the Wonder, is to see the fulfillment of those glimpses here and there: the introduction of the characters in Gen-13 #1, the slow destruction of Maximum Man as evidenced in Welcome to Tranquility #1, Wonder Woman’s love of cake in Wonder Woman #14, all of these small moments have led to this one: the hushed revelation not only of Wonder Woman’s heart, her future, but also of Wonder Woman’s broken heart, her past.

I despise Tom Tresser. Gentle Reader, I find him Completely and Utterly Unworthy of Diana. But the depiction of Diana’s nervousness, her presentation not of other’s ideas of courtship but rather of her own people’s, gives us a Diana we haven’t seen in Some Time. I welcome more of her, and I find myself surprised to say that I do, even if it means the courtship and dating (!!!) of Nemesis.

6 comments:

Gail Simone said...

Dang, Amy!

Even when you really, REALLY dislike something, you are one of the best commentators in comics. I LOVE your writing!

:)

Gail

Robert Jones, Jr. said...

Wow. Your writing is lovely and recalls early Woolf. Love it!

Amy Reads said...

Hi Ms. Simone,

Dang, Amy!
Even when you really, REALLY dislike something, you are one of the best commentators in comics. I LOVE your writing!
:)


You are Very Kind to say so! I love *your* writing--even that which contains Tom Tresser (!). Truly, if it were anyone else writing the Amazon Princess, I would Bite My Nails in fear. But as it is Yourself, Ms. Simone, I trust you Utterly and Completely.

And in all sincerity, please, please keep writing Wonder Woman for as long as you can. Please. It is the brightest spot of my Comic Book Month!

Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Robert,

Wow. Your writing is lovely and recalls early Woolf. Love it!

Huzzah! What a compliment indeed! Thank you for visiting my little blog, and thank you very much for the lovely words.

Ciao,
Amy

Icha said...

Amy, it's a wonderful post! And like you, though I dislike, dislike, dislike this incarnation of Tom Tresser (I kinda like the pre-crisis, more somber and lone-ranger one), I am also willing to see how it's unfolded, as Ms. Gail Simone is writing it.

Great read, thanks!

Amy Reads said...

Hi Icha,
Amy, it's a wonderful post! And like you, though I dislike, dislike, dislike this incarnation of Tom Tresser (I kinda like the pre-crisis, more somber and lone-ranger one), I am also willing to see how it's unfolded, as Ms. Gail Simone is writing it.
Great read, thanks!


Thank you, Friend! I trust Gail Simone In All Things, and even as I dislike Tom Tresser in many of his various incarnations, Ms. Simone has made him charming at times (as only Gail Simone can do). I'm always willing to let her do her thing and let it just happen.
Thanks for reading!
Ciao,
Amy