Review by Ian Keogh
Grant Morrison’s initial presentation of an alternate Wonder Woman wasn’t entirely satisfying. Certainly decoratively drawn by Yanick Paquette, and certainly faithful to Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s wacky ideas, but Earth One presented a very limited and vengeful vision of Amazonian society.
Morrison begins this sequel by introducing more of Marston’s strange ideas via the devices he introduced to guarantee a harmonised society, the venus girdle employed to ensure a Nazi invader learns obedience. It’s that ability to force people to submit, extended to Wonder Woman’s lasso compelling truth, that becomes the issue at the heart of this story. Marston introduced other means of domination, and Morrison exploits that amid a plot of paranoid military minds not trusting anyone preaching a message of peace.
A triumph for Paquette last time was casting Rebel Wilson as Wonder Woman’s friend Etta Candy. This time it’s Nick Cave as Dr Zeiko, hostage negotiation specialist and psychological manipulator, but Paquette impresses well beyond cultural likenesses. It’s presumably led by the script, but Wonder Woman rarely wears the same outfit, Paquette designing interesting variations, and instead of lined borders the panels are separated by coils of gold, threads, ropes and jagged lightning bolts. The decorative framing wouldn’t be worth much without decorative figures and faces, and the Amazons have a statuesque presence, while Paquette convincingly conveys Wonder Woman’s mixture of strength and vulnerability. There are occasions, particularly in crowd scenes, when individually detailed faces detract, but better more detail than not enough.
In addition to Zeiko, an alias any Wonder Woman fan will penetrate instantly, Morrison also involves Nazi supremacist Paula von Gunther, another familiar name from the Wonder Woman canon. This is clever. She’s introduced entertainingly and at length in her 1940s wartime pomp, and her present day actions have grave reverberations. So do Zeiko’s manipulations.
This is more enjoyable than the occasionally awkward first volume, rarely departing from a premise of exciting superhero adventure. It’s when it does depart that the plot grinds, Morrison attempting to cover all bases by raising questions that have no definitive answer and leaving them hanging. By tinkering with the fundamentally repellent idea of changing someone’s personality to fit someone else’s idealised definition of ethics Morrison opens a large can of worms in a venue too confined to explore the ramifications properly. It’s now apparent his and Paquette’s version of Wonder Woman is to be a trilogy, so perhaps those issues will have a bearing on the conclusion.