Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #2 – Daniel Warren Johnson; Writer/Artist; Mike Spicer, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Severely Disappointed in the Amazons’ Fate
Ray: Daniel Warren Johnson of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #2 is one of the most talented creators working today, weaving dense and often horrific tales of war and grief. You might expect his first foray into the DCU to pull back on those rough edges a little – but it doesn’t. At all. Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #2 is one of the bleakest DC Comics I have ever read, and a near-perfect comic. However, it’s also a deep plunge into an unspeakably dark world, and I expect it won’t be for everyone. It picks up in the aftermath of Diana saving a colony of enslaved humans last issue, becoming their new leader and imprisoning the dictator. They’re planning to move out shortly, and Diana proves her natural good instincts by even being willing to give the dictator a second chance as a member of the community. I would suspect it would be a decision she’d regret, but they’ll have far bigger problems soon.
The story shifts dramatically as it enters the second act, and a trek through the wilderness soon turns into a pitched battle for survival as the travelers are attacked by what looks like a massive underground worm-monster. This is where the Black Label format really pays off, as Johnson goes full widescreen for some of the most dazzling battle scenes I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Lots of people we’ve never been introduced to die, but this issue manages to show the impact of their loss. The eventual downfall of the monster is brutally violent and inventive, showing Diana’s strength as a combat strategist. This book has many roots in Mad Max: Fury Road, and it feels like Johnson combining the brutal world of Extremity with the kaiju combat of his follow-up Murder Falcon.
Then the series takes a wide left turn, and I expect this might be where it loses some people. The story’s been doing some flashbacks to Themyscira, particularly exploring the origins of Diana’s immense strength and showing how she interacts with Hippolyta and Nubia. As the issue winds down, Diana decides to return to Themyscira and see if she can find her family. There, she discovers the true roots of the end of the world and the post-apocalyptic thriller becomes a hard-boiled horror story with a horrific truth buried in the island. And that leads Diana to make a decision that I can’t imagine any version of Wonder Woman making – although has any ever been pushed this far? I don’t know, and there are no easy answers in a Daniel Warren Johnson comic. There’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done in the rest of this series, but thankfully he has two issues left to bring all he’s set up to a satisfying close.
Corrina: As much as the talent is on display, as much of a mood this creates for the reader, I cannot get behind yet another story that turns the Amazons into crazed murderers and monstrous ones in this story as well. That, predictably, also turns Wonder Woman into much less than a hero.
There could be ways this might work. Wonder Woman:Dead Earth #2 could have taken us to those who betrayed and destroyed the Amazons and held them responsible. It may do that in another issue. But by going down this road first, it turned from a bleak story with all possibilities available in the DC Universe in front of it to yet another in a long line of tales that show Amazons turning evil and destructive.(After being destroyed, of course, which happens over and over too.)
Evil Amazons happened in Flashpoint, they happened in Amazons Attack. Heck, Amazons Attack even has a TV Tropes page! I don’t think this series would like to be compared to one with prominent “Straw feminists” and “does not like men” tropes. But that’s immediately where my mind went once this story’s secret was revealed.
It’s an incredibly disappointing twist. With the whole world to play with, Johnson chooses to go down this path. I’ve no tolerance for this trope any longer.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.