Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wonder Woman: War of the Gods

Wonder Woman: War of the Gods (1991/ Collected 2017): written by George Perez; illustrated by George Perez, Jill Thompson, Cynthia Martin, Russell Braun, Romeo Tanghal, and others: War of the Gods was DC Comics' company-wide crossover for 1991 and one of its best from the first decade of company-wide crossovers that kicked off with 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths. And as with Crisis, writer-artist George Perez is a major component.

As 1991 was the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman, War of the Gods also served as a de facto anniversary celebration, centered as it was upon Wonder Woman, the Amazons, WW-foe Circe, and the Amazon island of Themyscira (aka Paradise Island). 

George Perez had been writing and/or illustrating Wonder Woman ever since her series rebooted post-Crisis in 1986. War of the Gods would also serve as a farewell to Perez -- his problems with DC's low-key anniversary acknowledgement of WW's 50th helped cause him to leave Wonder Woman with the issue that served as an epilogue to War of the Gods.

A lot of people help out on the artwork here, including two pioneering female artists when it came to mainstream superhero comics -- Cynthia Martin and Jill Thompson. They're very good. They also follow Perez's lead in giving Wonder Woman a realistic physique. Which is to say, she's not top-heavy. In mainstream superhero comics, that's something of a Mission Statement then and now. You can sort of chart sexism in superhero comics by the size of Wonder Woman's bust.

War of the Gods sees the witch Circe incite a war among various pantheons of gods. Initially, this involves the Greek and Roman gods. Initially, the similarity of the Greek and Roman gods also creates confusion as to who is who and why and what and what-have-you. Then other gods from the Hindu and Egyptian and Babylonian and assorted other pantheons start wreaking havoc on Earth. It's a good thing Earth has superheroes! If you've ever wanted to see Aquaman defeat the Babylonian demon Tiamat, this is the comic for you.

Wonder Woman leads the battle against Circe, with Earth's other heroes taking their cues from her. Perez and the other artists do a solid and often inspired job of depicting all these mythological battles and weird dimensionnal realms, including another take on Perez's M.C. Escher-influenced Olympus, the war-god Ares' realm of Areopagus, and the cosmic burial ground of of the dead Titan Cronus.

Still, this is a company-wide crossover, so many other heroes are involved. And even with the 'company-wide' part trimmed to just the miniseries and issues of Wonder Woman, things get pretty crowded. Omitting all the other issues that tied into the War of the Gods sometimes means 'not crowded enough,' though. Some events that clearly occupied entire issues of Superman or Justice League get only passing mention in this volume. 

I suppose there may some day be a War of the Gods Omnibus edition that compiles all the stories. For now, we're left wondering why, to cite one example, Firestorm is given such a major introduction in this volume before going on to do, um, nothing. I assume he had a pivotal role in one of the tie-ins. Or maybe not. Thanks for coming out, Firestorm!

There's some fairly typical Continuity Wankiness here, especially when it comes to Shazam. Why do the names that make up the acronym Shazam come from Greek, Roman, and Biblical figures? Well, now you will know! 

And the answer isn't 'Because they start with the right letters?' No explanation is given for Mary Marvel's different set of gods and legends, but I'm not sure Mary Marvel was in DC continuity in 1991. Hoo ha! 

Three characters from Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Harbinger, Pariah, and Lady Quark -- also make appearances here so as to tie in the universe-shaking events to the multiverse-shaking events of that series. Hey, it's always nice to see Lady Quark and her weird costume.

In all this is an enjoyable, sometimes choppy volume, that choppiness coming from the missing tie-in issues. I suppose if you're not going to reprint all the issues for the sake of brevity, you could always insert text pages explaining, 'Meanwhile, in Superman this happened, and in JLA that...'. But it's nice to see Wonder Woman figure so prominently in a crossover. Recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment