When Wondy was Awesome, part 16 (Rules of Engagement)
For this chapter, we go back to JLA and Kelly again, who still writes a very good Diana. You know, the Morrison-Waid-Kelly sequence really was some of the best the JLA has ever been. Years of solid gold, there, occasional bizarre missteps aside. Anyway, this isn't a Wondy story, just a short little post-"Obsidian Age" arc about the JLA beating up some aliens, but it hits some fabulous Diana character notes and is just generally fun, so it merits posting.
Place and time: the Watchtower, fresh off some nasty dying and time-travel and cast upheavals (Faith, Major Disaster, and Manitou Raven have all just joined up). So they deal with some minor asteroid thing and make Ghostbusters jokes, and Diana outstares Bruce's avoidy ass, and it's all really very fabulous, but would put me over the page count. So I'll just skip right to where they accidentally intercept a threatening subspace transmission.
This is the "Peacemaker" who looks like a walking pile of ground beef. Not to be confused with the "Peacemaker" who loved peace so much he could kill for it and went on to mentor an earnest young El Paso boy (though come to think of it, the slogan's not that dissimilar).
Heh. Bruce is such a speceist.
Note Diana's perspective here. My feelings on the bathing suit are not a secret, but I do think that stuff like this helps a lot. Despite what she's wearing, it's always been incredibly clear that her mandate is not local, not national, not even planetary - it's galactic, universal, a duty to bring peace and understanding everywhere no matter the race, creed, species, or even basic chemical composition of the life she meets. It's impossible to think of her as a US-centric hero, she just doesn't act remotely like one, which, while it makes her costume that much more ill-fitting, does negate some of its inherent jingoism.
Anyway, you can probably guess who wins this argument.
Apparently Kylaq has a yellow sun. Very convenient, no?
There's that title I was talking about. "Bright Lady"! Is that not the most awesome, accurate, and brilliant thing ever? Especially from a magic user; to anyone who can see auras or magical essence, Diana's probably a small walking sun. In fact I'm sure I've seen a panel or two to that effect somewhere in canon.
Anyway, the JLA easily rout the Peacemaker's forces, and pack them off home.
Possibly that's still the ring translating, but I love the fact that it's equally likely Clark and Diana have just picked up on the language by then. They certainly know it by the time they're eavesdropping on the council members later.
Major Disaster has a bit of a reckless streak, y/y?
If you pay attention to this series of scans, there's a sort of subtle vibe of Clark saying mildly foolish things and Diana being annoyed and correcting him every time he speaks. He's so very earnest, and she can hardly just tell him to shut up, but this is her element, and he keeps getting it wrong. I kind of love that.
Oh noes! (For those who don't know, Kanjar Ro is an interstellar dictator, slaver, conqueror and freelance baddie, perhaps best known for making the JLA into galley slaves. He's also tried to take over Rann a couple times and I think he's messed with Thanagar as well, and currently has a meaningful role in TRINITY. It's good that he announces himself here, though, because he's not drawn recognizably at all.)
So half the League sticks around on Kylaq to try to deal with Kanjar, who's kind of being a bastard (shocker).
I'm really very fond of Major Disaster.
Meanwhile, they send Diana to the Peacemaker to try to reason with him.
I know John is there and all, but it totally wouldn't shock me if she's learned their language too.
The facial expressions there are priceless. But fortunately for the Peacemaker, Diana isn't the type to lose her temper over a little ad hominem, and satisfies herself, for the moment, with mere witty repartee.
I'm having a hard time figuring out that robe, but I do kind of like it. The whole white and gold drapery look works very well for Diana.
Anyway, for all Diana's charisma and Disaster's conveniently timed interference, nothing's going too well on either end, frankly.
Urgh. Diana's got some Benes boobs happening in that second panel. That aside, it's funny how Supes tries to take the blame for this, when Diana was the first and most strident advocate of getting involved while he was still musing over it as a suggestion.
I happen to agree with Faith here, but I still object to her use here and especially to giving her this particular "up and at 'em" speech. She's not really a Mary Sue, as she's been accused of - she's far too much of a cipher for that - but ciphers aren't good writing either, and the Buck Up, Campers lines in a group like this should go to one of the established leader/ralliers - John or Clark or Diana.
That said, I love the look on Diana's face when she says that. And the dynamic of Clark, still hopeful for a diplomatic solution, versus Diana, wise in the ways of ground-meat-sacs who call people whores, having tried it and already moved on.
She does still give him a final chance, though.
As you might expect, he doesn't take it.
Kelly never deigned to inform us what the hell it is that Faith actually does, but it sure is pretty, isn't it?
Worthy of note here: across multiple authors in multiple publications and regardless of how accurately anything else about her is written, there's one thing that stays consistent. With incredible frequency, anytime there's a group scene and Diana's in it, and someone needs to be caught, Diana's the one who does it. Now in a battle situation with a Green Lantern ten feet away that's a tremendous misuse of resources, but it does say to me that there's something deeper and more primal going on there with Diana's character. Jimenez gives Lois a really great line in #170 - "Last thing I see before JLA teleporters break us into energy and fire us across the world is her smile... and I've never felt more safe." I think that's it. Diana's the one who keeps you safe. Every time. Warrior or not, if there's a life to be saved, getting in one more punch can wait. Even if an author doesn't understand a single damn other thing about Diana, they still get that; she's always, always there to catch you.
Anyway. Peacemaker soundly defeated, our heroes go back to the tricky conundrum of Kanjar.
Man, Manitou can conjure one heck of an impressive dreamcatcher when he has to.
Smug Diana is sexy.
Heh. The Justice League: Interstellar champions of democracy. Despite the fact that a number of them are or have been reigning monarchs. (Also: can we spot the self-consciously relevant social commentary? Why yes, yes we can.)
And then they go home and J'onn goes nuts and tries to kill them.
So, like I said, nothing super-special, but we don't often get to see that aspect of Diana properly represented - the charismatic, speechwriting master who can change worlds with her words alone - and I like the way it's showcased here. She really is the perfect war-stopping package; powerful enough to destroy warships and carry out an audience, unescorted and unafraid, with a warmongering tyrant, and eloquent and persuasive enough that she has some hope of success once she gets there. Equally happy is the fact that she rolls with the whorecalling punches. Some of your Wondy writers, say Perez or Jimenez, might have had Diana be all sad or dismayed or astonished when she couldn't talk it out, but this is far more true to who she is. She gave it her best shot, but hey, shit happens. Now it's time to make with the crushing of tanks.
All scans from JLA vol 3, TPB'd in JLA: Rules of Engagement.
Next time: Rucka!
What, you seriously need more than that? Fine. Dr. Psycho! People getting humiliated on national television! Riots outside the embassy! Minotaur chefs! Greg fucking Rucka!