Thursday, February 20, 2014

Girl Power: WONDER WOMAN #310

In the previous two issues of Wonder Woman, a gypsy survivor of the Holocaust named Zenna Persik used her powers to swap bodies with Black Canary.  This resulted in Dinah getting captured by a mad scientist bent on world domination yada yada yada, and Wonder Woman and Zenna (in Canary's body) had to go stop him.  The two-part story ended with everyone getting their bodies back and Zenna sacrificing herself to kill the mad doctor.

Wonder Woman #310: "All's Fair" is written by Dan Mishkin with art by guest penciler Mark Beachum and inks by Pablo Marcos.  It was published in December, 1983.

The story begins with Dinah and Diana playing Null-Grav Handball, the kind of competitive sport they don't play at the Winter Olympics because the athletes need access to the Justice League Satellite to play.

Black Canary calls for a timeout so she can catch her breath.  She makes the excuse that her play was disrupted by Wonder Woman dropping the bombshell that she plans to reveal her secret identity to Colonel Steve Trevor.

Woah! Waitaminute... Hippolyta bequeathed the powers and title of Wonder Woman on Artemis thousands of years ago!  Is there some kind of crisis looming in the near future that'll ret-con this little factoid?

Anyway, Wonder Woman continues the tale.  Back in Homeric times when Greece was carved up into city states, a powerful and charismatic ruler name Cleon is leading his forces across the Aegean Sea when angry waves of Poseidon wreak havoc on his fleet.  Cleon's ship is destroyed and all aboard are dumped into the sea sure to drown.

The ancient Wonder Woman, Artemis, helps the storm-tossed sailers and dives deep underwater to rescue Cleon.  She carries him to safety and flies off, but not only does Cleon owe her his life, he's quite infatuated by her beauty.  But one of Cleon's lieutenants has been possessed by Ares, the God of War, who gives him some, let's say questionable advice on romance.

Ares tells the young Amazon princess that she could be the greatest warrior queen with his support, but she rejects him and goes to see Cleon.  Eros strikes the man with an arrow of love and Cleon and Artemis give in to their passions.  They become lovers and conquerors, ravaging neighboring cities and ravishing each other.

Their lust for power consumes them so that Cleon wants Artemis to lead them to conquer her sister Amazons on Paradise Island.  Artemis refuses, though.  She will not willingly betray Queen Hippolyta--"willingly" being the key word there.

Sometime later, while they're getting it on under a tree, the Ares-possessed soldier tells Artemis and Cleon that Hippolyta has fallen in battle.  Distraught with grief, Artemis leaves Cleon and their army to sail back to the secret home of the Amazons.

Once there, she discovers that Hippolyta is alive and well.  And, of course, Cleon's fleet followed her.  The queen demands to know why Artemis would betray her sisters by bringing a hostile force to their shores.

The Amazons defend their island, and though the battle is fierce, they prove to be the superior army, killing most of the invaders.  Artemis is prepared to slay her queen when Hippolyta realizes that an insidious presence is the cause of this battle.

Hippolyta exposes Ares' manipulative involvement in the current strife.  In a rage, Artemis blames Cleon and threatens to kill him despite his protestations that he really did love her.  In the end, she cannot execute him, because she too really did love Cleon.  But the treachery of Man's World has left a permanent shame on Artemis and she flies off, abandoning her home, her people, and her lover.

This is a total filler issue, but it's a pretty enjoyable one.  Mishkin kills some time waiting for Don Heck to return to the main story, and in the meantime tells a nice little parable of love and duty.  Even though the story sounds like a perfect example of why Diana should not commit herself to Steve Trevor, she sees the opposite as true.  She sees the deception between Cleon and Artemis as their downfall.

Mark Beachum's art is pretty great throughout this story.  I can't think of what else I've seen him draw, but his style strikes me as a cross between Gene Colan and George Perez, and that's pretty high praise indeed.  His panel construction and layouts especially remind me of Perez only more freeform and spread out.  Take a look at Page 7 up above and see how he blocks the eight panels on that page.

Black Canary for her part serves as the audience and reader.  It's nice that Mishkin continued to include her after the adventures of the past two months, and Beachum makes her look terrific, but really, Dinah could have been replaced by any League member and the story wouldn't have changed.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favourite WW preCrisis issyer and I'll tell you why - at a time when most DC books were preparing themselves for COIE and its ramifications WW was still putting out superb stuff wuth long running story lines such as here where Diana debates whether to tell Steve hdr secret identity ( which she almost came close to destroying altogether in issue 300 which you reviewed on your Sandman blog).
    Yes there was a WW before Diana! We saw her in issues 301 and 302 of this title. And the lost Amazon tale Diana mentioned here wSas evocative of the sub plot involving the South American Amazons we already knew of. This issue might look like a filler but it beautifully illustrated the myriad sub plots that made this early 80s WW so entertaining.
    But speaking of superb illustration. ..Mark Beachum's art here is lovely. I first noticed him on a three part Huntress back up he did in WW and immediately wrote in to DC demanding he start drawing WW. I didn't get it published!
    His finely structured panels are eye pleasingly perfect. Do check out his Huntress work. Whatever became of him?!?