Wonder Woman: The Circle


Wonder Woman is the strongest and most recognizable female superhero ever, and she has stood throughout the decades as an icon and a symbol. Needless to say, women around the world look up to and are inspired by her…but for the longest time, I just couldn’t be her fan. I didn’t really know why, either. Was it because she seemed perpetually out of my role-model league, with her super strength and mythical origins? Because she is constantly considered a sex symbol? Or just because I grew up with Batgirl?

Well, whatever the reason, that time has passed. I can now appreciate Wonder Woman, thanks to–who else? Gail Simone.

Simone is my favorite writer, and under her direction Wonder Woman can finally be herself, completely. (Somehow I get the feeling that I couldn’t connect to Wonder Woman before because she was always written by a man!) But I digress. In “The Circle,” Captain Nazi and his minions declare war on Themyscira, once-paradise and home to the Amazons. Diana must return to her homeland from which she was exiled to protect her mother from Nazi, and  also Amazonian traitors.

How can I describe this adequately? Simone completes and harmonizes Wonder Woman. As Mercedes Lackey describes in the introduction, Simone does not ignore Diana’s past, nor her multifaceted roles and abilities she was given by past writers. Instead, Simone synthesizes them, so that Diana can be a warrior, a goddess, and yes, she can work for an undercover government organization instead of a silly secretarial job. Wonder Woman can be beautiful and strong and terrifying and compassionate; she can use her own blood as war paint (my favorite moment in the book).

Continue reading after the jump!

Even though Diana’s personality impressed me, the storyline itself was a little lackluster; in particular, choosing Captain Nazi as a villain was a biiiig mistake. Okay, fine, I hate him because of what he wears on his chest, but that shouldn’t be enough to make him a villain. I failed to be invested on that end, but if Wonder Woman is lacking anything it’s an opposite villain like Superman’s Lex Luthor or Batman’s Joker–and the traitorous Amazonian sisters were more like supporting villains. The next story has red Klingon looking guys and a rogue Green Lantern. Once again, meh. It would have been cool if Diana had created a big bad villainness for WW.

Dodson’s art is beautiful in “The Circle”; lush, gorgeous lining, and his rendering of Diana nicely communicated her strength and beauty without overdoing her figure. But midway through, the next story begins, and Dodson is suddenly replaced with Bernard Chang. It totally took me by surprise and threw me out of the “world” of the story. (It works for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but for very different reasons.)

I enjoy Wonder Woman immensely, more than I ever have, under Simone’s direction. Simone is the longest-running female writer on Wonder Woman, and also helped write the animated feature film Wonder Woman that came out last year. And yet all good things must come to an end: Simone is leaving Wonder Woman after the 600 issue–read her farewell post here. I know Simone supports J. Michael Straczynski as her replacement for writing Wonder Woman, but I’m less convinced. Most specifically, in what way is he going to bring “contemporary sensibility” to Diana in a way that Simone doesn’t? (from io9, here.)  But hey, I’ll get off my soapbox and we’ll see.


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