|bluefall (bluefall) wrote in scans_daily,|
@ 2009-03-19 17:15:00
|Entry tags:||char: wonder woman/diana of themyscira, creator: eric luke, series: when wondy was awesome, series: world of wondy, title: wonder woman|
When Wondy was Awesome, part 10 (Battle for the Godwave)
After Byrne, Wondy passed into the hands of Eric Luke. For the most part Luke's run was mediocre and unremarkable, a result of him overusing his big new villain and seeming a bit more interested in the trappings of the character than Diana herself - this is the Wonderdome era, where her invisible plane becomes her floating sky castle and ends up as significant to many of her victories as her own abilities are. But one thing he did do right was the truly awesome GodWar arc, in which (intermittently) spectacular art, fascinating mythology, and the only canon romance for Diana that has actually *worked* combined into one of my favorite Wondy stories ever.
We actually start with some foreshadowing in Luke's very first issue, in which Diana and Artemis fight weird gang activity and hear prophetic doom.
The Olympians then show up and strip Diana of her godhood; not really for any legitimate reason (and in fact in direct contradiction of Byrne's "she'll die if she loses her godhood," which Luke turns into "she'll eventually die of old age if she loses her godhood" - there's that immortality-removal bullshit again), but rather because Luke didn't have any idea how to write for a goddess. Which is mostly fair. Letting Wonder Woman run around the DCU on the Spectre's field of play would be pretty problematic.
Anyway, Diana assigns Artemis to train and protect Cassie, because if the Titans are coming, that's serious shit right there. She then spends quite a few issues fighting this chick Devastation, who's the avatar of the Titans the way Diana is the avatar of the Olympians.
She eventually kicks Deva's ass, of course, but meanwhile Deva was able to set up a significant cult to Cronus (king of the Titans). Since DCU gods' powers are generally proportional to the faith invested in them, this makes the Titans badass enough that they decide to storm Olympus.
Meanwhile, Diana gets called to a Waco-in-progress, which turns out to be a Cult of Cronus thing. She's floating outside the window trying to talk them out of their madness, when she suddenly falls out of the sky, lands on her ass, and yelps in pain.
She asks J'onn to send Zauriel around, since he can also cast plane shift. He takes her to Olympus and offers to help, but he's clearly profoundly uncomfortable with this whole "pantheon of gods who aren't the Presence" thing, so she sends him home with her thanks and heads inside.
She finds that her gods have all turned to stone, and Cronus is waiting for her.
He doesn't just kill her, though, because he hasn't read the Evil Overlord Handbook. (What's worse, the one who stops him and suggests the following Stupid Plan is Arch, the Titan who represents cunning and strategy. Yes, brilliant strategy, shellface.) Instead, he sends her back to Earth and has his cultists hunt her, because nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
Diana, not being stupid, tries calling her allies first, but she can't get a line to Oracle or the JLA and her mental summons to J'onn and the Wonderdome aren't working. So she falls back on solo asskicking.
While train-hopping, Diana realizes that her bracers are homing in on something.
Note that despite being without her powers, Diana's acquitting herself pretty damn well here. Those are Nightwing-level acrobatics she's doing.
The bracers lead her down an alley, where she finds a bedraggled hobo whom she immediately recognizes as -
Shortest identity crisis ever. But really, it would have to be. Powers or no powers, Diana does Good. Anyone would be shaken by what happened to her, but Diana's sense of purpose is strong enough that it would only take the smallest reminder to get her back on track.
Diana takes hobo!Zeus to a nearby Catholic shelter and asks the priest to take care of him, then heads off into the night again, to try to find an artifact that she hopes will help her contact her allies.
Meanwhile, Cronus wants to storm the gates of Heaven and take out the Pax Dei, but Arch offers a different plan.
Arch, by the way, looks really fucking cool. Anyway, he thinks they should attack the Vedic pantheon in India, because they squabble a lot and won't be prepared for an assault. And also, the spiritual mojo of the third largest religion in the world is a lot of good mojo if you can get it.
Back on Earth, Diana has been ambushed by the Cult of Cronus, and though she holds them off for a while, their sheer numbers threaten to overwhelm her.
Look, someone has come to her rescue!
... or not. Heh. I love that. Nice dramatic entrance, total anticlimax follows.
So, this is Rama. Rama is pretty cool. He is, as you can see, both a talented warrior and a compassionate man. He is also, like Diana, the avatar of gods, sent to this planet to vanquish evil that even the gods could not, blessed with wisdom and holy weapons, and charged with leading men and teaching them to live properly. And like Diana, he is a truly epic hero. No, seriously. He has an epic. Also, his best friend is a monkey. You don't get much cooler than that.
He's come looking for Diana because he needs her help. It's hard to have a conversation when you're being overrun by crazed, kill-happy cultists, though, so they beat the horde back long enough for Rama to take them to Mount Mandara, home of the Hindu gods (he too can plane shift; it seems to be a less rare talent than advertised).
Diana thinks Rama is hot. She's not wrong.
Rama takes Diana inside and introduces her to the gang, including Hanuman and the Triumrti (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the prime manifestation of Brahman, which, briefly and imprecisely, is the universal spirit aka Everything, capital E).
I like that Brahma is all casual and cheery and a bit of a goofus. It seems very apt somehow.
Vishnu calls the rest of the gods together and Diana explains what she knows.
A moment to introduce the cast: The portly, amicable elephant fellow is Ganesh. The lovely lady in pink is Mahadevi (a Mahadevi introduced in the first act must become a Kali in the third). And the cute Mowgli-looking kid is Kartikeyya, the god of war.
Unfortunately, as the Trimurti are gathering allies, so are the Titans.
For those not in the know, rakshasas serve essentially the same function in Vedic myth as Titans do in Greek myth or giants do in Norse. They're the big nasty bad guys who give the gods trouble. And they do not, despite what Wizards of the Coast would have you think, look like bipedal cats. That guy in particular is Ravana, Rama's archnemesis and all around a very dangerous sort of fellow.
Their new allies at their side, the Titans assault Mandara.
Diana immediately and instinctively directs the battle, which would be cooler if Luke had any idea what he was talking about ("don't fight the big guys one-on-one" is hardly the level of innovative, no-one-else-would-have-thought-of-that sophistication that Luke is trying to convey here), but is still a good character moment in theory. Also, Jimenez and Picoult take note: this is how you write a non-demeaning Wondy romance.
The battle is joined, and the Titans soon bring their abilities into play.
Even as a mortal, however, Diana is not easily duped.
Diana stabs Disdain, but she's too late to save him (where's a blue Lantern ring when you need one?), and Mahadevi becomes Kali (told you) as the Trimurti and Cronus go at it.
I just love that image, Shiva and Cronus grappling while Diana and Rama fight back to back with enemies all around them. Nothing could look more natural. They're such a brilliant match.
Unfortunately, Cronus kakks Shiva and Vishnu, and Brahma cedes the battle and vanishes. (The theology here is more than a little wonky, for reasons I won't get into here, but Brahma leaving instead of being slain helps somewhat.)
Man, that has to suck. I can't even imagine.
Defeated, Diana, Hanuman and Rama retreat to earth and the shelter where Diana left hobo!Zeus.
Rama and his fake Korn jacket are the most hilariously awesome thing in the world.
While Diana shakes Zeus back into cognizance, the Titans blast their way through the gates of Heaven and shred some angels.
Diana is very, very clever. And Luke scripted this well - the clues have been there.
I've always liked Zauriel's design a lot. I think he could stand to be a little more androgynous, but on the whole it's a very cool concept for an angel.
Anyway, what Diana has figured out is this:
Look how proud Rama is! And please note this is Diana winning the day through judicious use of the truth, once again. Also, Zaur? Lay off the mascara, emo kid.
Rama gets sent off to fetch his own gods, and by appealing to their humble natures, he wakes them up as well and brings them back to the war council on Olympus.
What I love about this? There are two entire pantheons of gods here, and Diana just takes charge and everybody lets her. I mean, it only makes sense - she knows all the players, she's a trustworthy third party rather than a member of a competing pantheon, and it is, after all, her book - but it's still pretty damn awesome in principle.
So off they charge to Heaven to back up the angels with, as Vishnu puts it, "The most precious power in the universe... life itself!" Apparently I'm kind of a sentimental sucker because I am all about that. (Really though, what could be more terrifying to a god than the prospect of a mortal death? Go them! Brave-ass fuckers they are!)
... I kind of feel like it should be much weirder than it is for Diana, of all people, to say something like "this usurper shall not take the throne of Heaven."
Anyway, Cronus makes some "kill you" sorts of noises at Zeus and Zeus realizes that Cronus is storing the stolen Godwave power in the sickle, rather than in himself. He shouts at Diana to that effect, and so she grabs the thing, and snaps it in half. Power pours out of it. The illustration fails to do the concept justice. There is a moment's pause.
Then they all kick ass.
Hades' kiss of death is so much cooler than I can express.
At this point, Cronus does a very stupid thing, and reaches out and grabs the Presence with his bare hands.
Things that personifications should not do, #1, double-underlined and circled in red: attempt to encompass something too big to be personified. (Apparently, there is a Jesus exception. You have to be willing to get crucified, though, so I think I'd still pass.)
(This theology is *also* a little wonky, but that's nothing new as far as DC Christianity goes).
So Cronus goes poof, because no one being is meant to encompass so much of the Godwave (presumably if he'd been able to suck it up with his sickle, he might have managed it, since he'd be tapping the power rather than truly possessing it, so this isn't a deus ex [well, literally it kind of is, but you know what I mean], because Diana's contribution is the essential act in the defeat of the bad guy). The two pantheons say friendly farewells and go back to their respective homes. But Diana is still somewhat troubled by her experiences.
You know, she is hanging out in Hephaestus' home, you'd think she could get him to fix that hole in her armor for her.
This is really, really important. There are occasional writers out there who are completely fascinated by the concept of "made from clay," because they've apparently never heard a single creation myth, ever, and who like to think that Diana's some kind of inhuman golem thing who you can suck the magic out of and force her to devolve right back into mud. This entire storyline is a direct, forceful refutation of that. She is flesh and blood. She's a demigod, a personification of Truth, and like other gods, when you take away her magic, the person is what's left. A human. Not clay. She has a soul; it was right there in her origin story. She's a person. No golems here; like Rama tells her, she's more alive than anyone.
Speaking of. God damn those two are cute. Which is why it should come as no surprise to anyone when Diana invites Rama to come back to Earth with her and hang out for a bit.
Seriously! The cute! It is TOO MUCH!
Happily the world they inhabit is full of evil spider attacks and other such misery to punctuate the fluff.
So the deal with the spider is, Devastation (told you Luke relied too much on the his one bad guy) has been providing Dr. Poison (Luke's turn at a reintroduction of a Golden Age rogue) with her magic-laced blood. This has allowed Dr. Poison to create a wierd drug which preys on mankind's innate need for/fear of/connection to myth in order to transform normal humans into dangerous creatures. She calls it the Pandora virus. It has made this man into a spider. Here endeth the lesson.
The spider bites Rama.
(That's a car bumper wrapped in her lasso that she just whacked it with. I... couldn't tell you why, exactly, but it does seem to have been effective.)
Unfortunately... a funny thing happens to Rama when he's on the verge of death.
We are now officially way off the map for any kind of real-world mythology, and in the fine tradition of Spectre, Thor, and Wonder Woman herself, have stopped Stretching Things and begun Making Shit Up From Whole Cloth Because It's Cool.
So Diana and Kali!Rama beat down the spider, and Diana's sheer force of myth-y, Truth-y spirit somehow forces it to revert to human form. Kali!Rama, however, is of the old-school "redeem the universe through annihilation" tradition, and subsequently turns on cars, buildings, Diana, and anything else within convenient reach.
Diana tries to contain him, but Kali!Rama is also insanely powerful on a divine scale. So Diana asks her own gods for the same gift - to directly channel the Godwave, like she did when she was a full deity.
Their fight gets crazy nasty, as in every punch shatters things in a three-block radius kind of thing. Also, even beyond the violence, it's clearly not healthy for either of them.
Eventually, Diana manages to get him in a headlock and pull him back to his true self (that's what she does, after all), allowing both of them to relinquish the Godwave and return to their normal states. With Rama restored, Dr. Poison is a cakewalk, and everything seems fine again, except...
And, as ever, Diana is totally nonjudgemental. She accepts and loves Rama for everything he is, the good and the bad.
Unfortunately, Rama never will find his balance, and we'll never see him again; DC apparently got complaints about misuse of Hindu theology after this story, and DC does not want to have the cultural appropriation debate over Wonder Woman. Which is really a shame. Rama and Diana are genuine equals: they have a complete understanding of each other's worlds and responsibilities, their moral codes and sense of priorities line up, each is equally interested in the other and they're able to tease and flirt and rely on each other for aid without either of them coming out of it looking diminished or not themselves or not performing up to their full capabilities. And these are all qualities that are desperately lacking in Diana's romantic history, particularly in combination, so it would have been really nice to have more time to enjoy this one relationship that had some hope of a future. Still, I'm glad we got him as long as we did, and he got a strong send-off; his reason for leaving is amicable and virtuous, we get a chance to see Diana's compassionate, nonjudgemental nature, and man is the blue-and-white Wonderdome scene there gorgeous.
Scans from v2 147-152, not collected and never will be. However, if you want more Rama goodness without my annoying commentary, I can send you here.
Next time: Diana takes on the Justice League, does battle with a dragon, and looks really, really pretty.