Thousand Faced: Wonder Woman-Spirit of Truth

Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth
Written by Paul Dini
Illustrated by Alex Ross
Published by DC Comics

Okay, let’s just get this said here and now. I’m not really that much of a Wonder Woman fan. She is a great character that has been mishandled for decades at a time and then a good writer/artist team will run with the title and a breath of fresh air blows over the collective stinkage that editors allow this title to become. Although I will say Gail Simone’s recent writing of the comic was one of the best runs they’ve ever had. They used different artists as well; some were very pleasant to look at, others were industry standard when the standards are really not that high. Speaking for myself, I like Diana because I have a weakness for super heroic women and have known several. They are hotness.

Here’s some fun background. Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marsten invented the lie detector and was what I guess you could consider a trailblazer in the bondage and discipline universe. It certainly showed in the Wonder Woman stories of the 40’s. For an Amazon, she was awfully submissive and fit to be tied on a regular basis. Cripes, they did all but spank her star-spangled bottom. He made Wonder Woman the Betty Page of comics and yet she endured. They didn’t even single her out in the anti-comics Kiefauver hearings about decency in the 50s. Strangely enough, The Republican politicians of the time were much more into going on and on about homo-erotica in Batman. They just couldn’t get enough of it apparently. Hey, if you step in it don’t whine about my bias for telling you what is stuck to your jackboot. I freakin’ read Burroughes too, Edward and William. Tarzan would tell you in a minute what is stuck at the end of your fork.

Spirit of Truth is everything that Wonder Woman should be. If girls need a female hero to call their own than this one will do it for them. This is the third one I bought in this series done by Dini and Ross. Like the other two, it features what is considered one of the big three of DC super heroism. The back story you need to know is done in a beautifully rendered montage of sepia and then the last panel shows Wonder Woman in full costume and color stepping out of the page toward you.

Wonder Woman is gorgeous. She has to be. The character is supposed to be of beauty that only the Gods of Olympus could create through their magic passed into Hippolyta’s hands into a child formed of river mud. You see Lynda Carter’s strong and lovely face in her features but with a frightening intensity not required of 70’s TV characters. The first page is full of small panels to describe a series of quick shots of action moving so fast you can’t even determine what exactly is going on. Turn the page and there she is, my darlin’ girl, vaulting through a glass window and somersaulting into a mass of masked, but wide-eyed, terrorists. With Wonder Woman it’s always a mix of lust and bloodlust. There is something erotic about a beautiful woman wiping the floor with some psychotic assholes. The splash page of her doing all the cool Wonder Woman things is big thrills. She cuts guns in half with the edge of her hand? I didn’t know she could do that. Next panel they’re bound by The Lasso of Truth and she stands in cool victory, in profile and yet in a way that draws men to look at her figure. If you’re a male and don’t feel you need to look at that perfect bottom, you are dead, my friend. Every time she does something heroic, you can’t help but notice her femininity as she is posed. Until she comforts a child and then she looks like the essence of all mothers.

She returns to Paradise Island where no man may set foot and women, I assume, enjoy the company of other women in all things. Just gets better and better doesn’t it?  There are idyllic scenes of rest and repose and then a meeting with Hippolyta who looks just like Lynda Carter does now. Nice touch. The Queen doesn’t understand that humanity doesn’t see the divinity in her daughter she sent us as an envoy. Diana doesn’t even try to explain us. How do you explain monkeys propensity for flinging excrement? Because they can?….And it’s off once more into the invisible plane to save the world.

Wonder Woman goes to one of those horrible third world countries where killing off it’s citizens is easier than turning the tap for water. There is unrest in the street and the politicos send in tanks and soldiers. Wonder Woman lifts a tank before it runs over a young lady and she is just as terrified of Wonder Woman assuring her that they are the same as from being crushed under steel treads. Once more, one of these iconic beings is forced to examine their own connections to humanity by those they would save. Okay, so Dini is doing variations of the same epiphinal moment. When you wallow in archetypes many things will repeat but still hold up if they ring true. Of course, the creeps who execute their people claim innocence and ethics prevents Diana from using the lasso to force them to tell the truth. There are layers of complexity in that realization. What if they cover up the murder of thousands? Would we let her off the moral hook if it were Pol Pot or Hitler? Are the delusions of autonomy worth the lives of thousands or even millions? When does the body count get too high to suspend right and wrong?

She arrives in an Islamic country to connect with the women there. Soon women in burkas and angry suburban turbaned men are hurling rocks at a wide-eyed Wonder Woman. Her costume alone offends them to violence. She never even has a chance to peddle women’s rights.

Now to my favorite part of the book. Wonder Woman is “humbled and heartbroken” and seeks the advice of a friend waiting for her in the rain at the top of The Daily Planet building. Clark Kent in all his sweet-natured, calm, confident glory tells Diana over coffee that being perceived as perfect intimidates normal people and it is better to work alongside them than above them. It is a nice tie to the book a couple of issues ago too. When your god-like friends need advice and a human perspective they go to Clark from Smallville not Superman.

In disguise she intervenes at some ubiquitous political rally in the U.S. and breaks a shotgun in half clearly violating the shooter’s second amendment rights. Doing what she believes is right she destroys the equipment used to deforest a rain forest before the construction crew disregards a court order and does it anyway. So now she’s an eco-terrorist is she? She disguises herself as a physician and helps children maimed by indiscriminate land mine planting done the world over. By the way, the U.S. munitions corporations sold a good many of these and that is not comic book conjecture. She also goes out into the field and disarms them by hand to better understand what risk is taken by those who do this every day.

She returns to the Middle-Eastern country she was driven from wrapped in the culturally approved women’s clothing. She saves women and children from the violence of the Taliban and leaves without hesitation when her job is done.

The only scene in the book which makes reference of the old 40’s Wonder Woman is one of her kneeling in spiritual supplication during a Paradise Island sunset. It’s striking. Then she is in disguise once more calling Clark from a public phone to thank him and fade into the background of common humanity. Good. She’ll need that when she finally gets Bruce Wayne to admit that he’s not so self important that he can’t finally admit he loves her and get on with it like my wife believes he should. Oh yeah. All the clues are strewn all over DC comic titles and animated projects. Why did she break Maxwell Lord’s neck in front of God and everybody because he compelled Superman to kill Bruce Wayne and there was no other way to stop it, Lord told her while encircled by the Lasso of Truth. She’ll kill for that man. She will submit and “there shall be a great rubbing of parts.”

by Bill Hilburn

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