Allan Heinberg exploded onto the comics scene with his brilliant "Young Avengers" series for Marvel, one of my favourite recent comics projects...and then it slowed to a crawl, before vanishing for years with no sign of return; nevertheless, DC tapped him to handle the relaunch of "Wonder Woman" following "Infinite Crisis". I was hopeful, initially, given the high quality of his "Young Avengers", but the result was less than satisfactory.
At the end of "Infinite Crisis", Diana of Themyscira's status quo was not in an inspiring place. Geoff Johns (a friend of Heinberg's, a factor which doubtless influenced the reboot negatively), the author, believed very strongly that the version of Wonder Woman created by George Perez in 1987 was seriously flawed by her lack of a secret identity and because her purpose was to teach Amazon philosophy to the rest of the world, rather than to be shown how wrong her whole culture was an adopt American culture (said Amazon culture is blatantly misconstrued in many ways as well). Not a particularly inspiring place for a reboot to start, but Heinberg takes this concept and runs with it. Moreover, as Heinberg himself has said, his primary interest in Wonder Woman comes from the camp 70s Lynda Carter TV show, not from any of the comics produced with the character in the last 20 years, and so he sets out to remake George Perez's wonderful reboot with a massive nostalgia injection (dispiritingly, this is DC Comics' answer to a lot of things these days). In short succession, we get:
- Secret Agent Diana Prince as a secret identity, complete with campy spin transformation.
- A heavily reimagined Nemesis as a sexist, arrogant love interest (if you want to bring back pre-Crisis Steve Trevor, which I would strongly discourage, just bring back Steve Trevor).
- Wonder Woman and "Diana Prince" actually being different bodies, along with it the idea that Wonder Woman literally doesn't bleed.
- The idea that up until this point, Wonder Woman has thought of herself as not being anything more than a golem brought to life, which is completely wrong.
Finally, and, for fans of the character as she existed from 1987 to 2006, most gallingly:
- Diana's 'answer' the question 'Who is Wonder Woman?' concludes that she was originally sent by gods to preach to mortals, "but she learned to be human instead", and protected mortals from gods; this is, quite frankly, a monstrous abortion hackjob on George Perez's story, where the representative of an enlightened culture was sent by the benevolent Pantheon to prevent the rogue War God Ares from destroying the world. By the end of the story, Diana has embraced the idea that she has nothing to offer the world other than punching people, and that her whole culture is wrongheaded; how wonderful. Of course, looking back, the worst ("Amazons Attack") was yet to come.
Quite apart from the broader issues with Heinberg's relaunch approach, the story is not fitting the character's stature. She had a whole year to take a vacation and work out her issues, but, based on Heinberg's story, that whole year accomplished absolutely nothing; for a character known for intelligence and decisiveness, this is nothing less than an insult. Also insulting is her general portrayal here, as well as those of supporting cast members like Donna Troy, as generally hapless and stupid. The big finale sees the entire DC Universe arrive to lend a hand, since Diana can't defeat her own villains by herself, apparently.
The villains issue is, by the way, both the strongest and the weakest aspect of this arc; Heinberg has actually dug up a bunch of old Wonder Woman rogues (her rogues gallery is notoriously weak for a character of her professed importance) who hadn't been seen in twenty years or more, and, for the most part, they actually seem interesting. Reintroduced at a solid pace, with focus and attention, one could see most of them being put to good use; but Heinberg's only doing five issues (thank God, given how long it took for him to write even that), so he just throws them all in at once with captions saying who they are, with the result being that they all get lost in the shuffle and make absolutely no impression.
For a positive, the art by Terry and Rachel Dodson is wonderful stuff, generally; it's a shame they didn't get a better story to illustrate.
Avoid at all costs.