Wonder Woman #73 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Aaron Lopresti, Penciller; Matt Ryan, Inker; Romulo Fajardo Jr., Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Choices, Choices
Ray: Before G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman began, Steve Orlando did a short but excellent run focusing on several generations of Amazons as they unlocked one of the darkest secrets of Themyscira. He returns to the title for this done-in-one issue that both works on its own and sets up one of the big mysteries of Wilson’s run – the legend of Dimension Chi, where Diana, Maggie, and Atlantiades found themselves at the end of the last issue. Wonder Woman #73 is a flashback, showing Diana and Hippolyta’s first encounter with this dimension. Dimension Chi appears to be a twisted alternate version of Themyscira, ruled over by a ruthless Empress Hippolyta who rejected motherhood and dedicated herself to military superiority. She immediately orders a teenage Diana arrested and jailed, while she forces the real Hippolyta into an extended combat challenge to determine the superior Amazon leader.
The twist that really makes this issue is that this dimension was created not by a villain, but by Hippolyta herself as a way to check if her decision to become a mother was the right one. Diana is at first horrified by this, wondering if her mother regrets having her, but Hippolyta’s explanation is satisfying – she’s trying to balance her responsibilities to her people and to her daughter. The evil Hippolyta makes for a compelling foe, but some of the challenge scenes are kind of funny – there’s still a dramatic storytelling competition. The action picks up near the end as one of Empress Hippolyta’s imperial forays comes back to haunt her in an invasion, and that allows Diana and the real Hippolyta to turn the tables and win the peace. Like many great Wonder Woman stories, this is a story about how the greatest victories are won through non-violence. Orlando continues to be one of DC’s most underrated writers and it’s great to see him back on this book.
Corrina: It’s a good story. It’s well drawn. I like that Hippolyta struggled with the balance of motherhood and her work (Amazon Queen, basically).
And yet, I’m also incredibly frustrated because of the intense opposite directions taken by Hippolyta/Dark Hippolyta.
Yes, motherhood might make you more compassionate, I suppose, but it doesn’t change your essential nature as a person. The suggestion in Wonder Woman #73 is that without motherhood, Hippolyta dedicated herself to conquest and became cold and cruel. If the Amazon Queen was bent on conquest, she would stay with that, children or not perhaps even using the justification of having an heir to pass the empire onto to engage in more war.
Not being a mother wouldn’t make Hippolyta into a conqueror. It wouldn’t shut her off from compassion.
It might make her pour more of herself into her people, be more involved intimately in their lives, but that doesn’t mean that involvement would lead to warlike conquest. If I weren’t a mother, I would probably write more, yes, and might have stuck with a full-time journalism career. But I’d have the same basic personality. Being childless wouldn’t make me cold or hard–my compassion might be spread out more among friends and family, that’s all.
I’m talking about this at length because I see this problem so much when many writers tackle a character who becomes a mother. (I’m looking at you Lois Lane writers over the last five years.) Sure, it changes your life. It brings out different things in your personality. But it doesn’t change your personality. Lois Lane will not suddenly not be an investigative writer (or be driven to do so) and instead is happy to stay home and bake pies.
Hippolyta would not suddenly decide Amazons needed to conquer everything if she’s not essentially warlike and bent on conquest in the first place.
What’s more, the suggestion that those who choose to be child-free somehow find themselves lacking in compassion over time is insulting to those who are child-free.
I have liked and even loved some of Orlando’s stories. See Martian Manhunter. But, this time, he mishandled an idea.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.