When a knock down fight between Wonder Woman and Giganta suddenly shifts into a pair of women engaged in girl talk about dating and having brunch, that tends to put a smile on your face and makes you want to read more. That’s what Gail Simone’s writing will do to you. She is one of those special writers, like Grant Morrison, who, at their best, take super-heroes as the jumping off point for something unexpected and fun. If only Megan Fox were to read what’s going on with Wonder Woman lately, she might not think she’s so lame.
Let’s take a look at a true flash point in comics: Gail Simone taking over the writing helm of Wonder Woman. It has been and remains an excellent run. This is a particularly good time to start reading Wonder Woman during Simone’s historic take on the mighty Amazon. I jumped into the last story arc, “The War Killers,” and it took a little adjusting to all the Greek mythos but thanks to Simone’s pacing and the eye-popping art of Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan, I got hooked. Given that Simone has been writing this title since 2007, I was impressed with how the story still feels fresh. And then to go back and read the opening arc, “The Circle,” I was pleased to find the starting points of an epic saga.
I think that’s the best way to put it: a sweeping epic saga. When Simone took over as writer at Issue Fourteen, people took notice, including The New York Times. The hook may have been that we were finally getting an ongoing woman writer for Wonder Woman but it was also simply the fact that is was Gail Simone. Like, say, Joss Whedon, fans could rely on Simone for distinctive character-driven stories. It’s interesting to note the struggle that Whedon had in attempting to script a viable Wonder Woman movie. It seemed to him that there simply wasn’t much there to work with. Apparently, Simone found what worked but then went about forging new ground.
Simone was willing to get her hands dirty and till the very soil of Diana’s origins which had been left undeveloped. Since all the Amazon women on Paradise Island have foresaken men, they have also foresaken ever experiencing the birth of new Amazons from within their own ranks. They all feel a maternal instinct but resist it. Until, one day, the queen, Hippolyta, creates a child, Diana, from clay and magic. Allowing this “dragon” to trespass this Garden of Eden, sets off a fanatical backlash putting the lives of Hippolyta and Diana in danger. But, most importantly, for the long term, it anchors Diana’s indentity and gives readers and future writers more to work with.
Wonder Woman is a woman to be reckoned with. Mercedes Lackey expresses that eloquently in her introduction to Wonder Woman: The Circle. She points out that, since the Greeks, there’s always been a fascination and fear of the Powerful Woman. That goes a long way in explaining why writers have steadily marginalized Wonder Woman over the last sixty years. I think it’s safe to say that Wonder Woman, as powerful and iconic a figure as Batman and Superman, had not been working up to her potential. Much like Spider-Man, even more so, Wonder Woman was in bad need of a relaunch. That effort was underway starting with the question, “Who is Wonder Woman?” and ended with a botched attempt to answer it. And along came Gail Simone and she has been making things so much better, probably paving the way for an awesome Wonder Woman movie someday.
Wonder Woman is a case of Simone pumping fresh blood into characters and stories just like she’s done with Birds of Prey and Secret Six. If Wonder Woman is capable of taking down whole armies, then Simone figures she can handle the complexities of a sexual relationship. Wonder Woman can also reason as well as she can fight and turn a whole pack of raging gorillas into her own personal entourage. And, with the lasso of truth, she can turn the most evil Nazi into a crying child.
When the time comes, if the rumors of his taking over are true, Grant Morrison will be inheriting a revitalized and relevant Wonder Woman. It looks like that will be happening once Wonder Woman gets renumbered to #600 and a new kick off is set in motion. For now, enjoy what remains of Simone’s run. Wonder Woman #40 starts a new arc, “The Crows,” and comes out January 27. And if you need a pitch for Wonder Woman, then these now famous lines by Gail Simone will serve that purpose: “When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. When you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.”