Thursday, January 31, 2013

JLA: A League of One Review

Sadly, Wonder Woman is not the Dragon Born

I'm back with from Christmas holiday with a review of an old favourite for a new year! And it's a Wonder Woman comic!

... Oh, come on, you should expect this by now...

Welcome back everyone! It’s a new year! Nanowrimo and my Monthly Art challenge is over, my christmas hiatus is over, and we're back on schedule!

Anywho, in celebration of surviving the predicted apocalypse, I am going to review a Wonder woman comic! A wonder woman comic I’ve wanted to review for a long time...

Ha ha ha ha ha---NO. Nice try.

Instead, I’m talking about one of my favourite Wonder Woman comics:

 (Yes, I know I made a mistake on the title card. It was too late to fix now and will be fixed later)

Written and drawn by Christopher Moeller, League of One is one of the earliest Wonder Woman comics I ever read. And to this day, it’s one of the best representations of her character, covering all aspects of Wonder Woman’s powers, personality and beliefs. Not only that, but those tired of continuity won’t need to worry here. Very little continuity comes into the book, other then: Aquaman has a beard, Batman is a little old fashion compared to what were use to today, and Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern. But these things don’t get in the way of the book. Nothing is tied into books in the rest of the DC universe, and you don’t even need to know much about Wondy to understand what’s going on.

I won’t be going in to the whole book, since I want you to read it. What I do want to get into is that it’s dang good story and a great example of a wonder woman book.

The setting is this:

 Wonder Woman is given a prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi, that the last dragon on earth will reawaken and wreak destruction on the world. The Justice league is destined to slay the dragon, but will be destroyed in the processed. Wonder Woman comes to a decision: In order to save her friends, she must fight the dragon alone. Even if it means fighting them herself.

So, ya. Wondy fights the justice league and then follows it up with fighting a giant dragon made of evil. And yes. The dragon is actually made of evil.

For the record, unlike Green Wake, I will NOT be going into the book in detail. I won't be going through the story step by step, nor am I even going to give away the ending. I want you guys to read this book and I doing want to give away something that will spoil the ending for you.

On to the book!

First up, I usually don’t like comics that have pointless fist fights between characters that have no reason to fight each other. You know, like the majority of the New 52 Justice League series. And I’m sure we’ve all seen the very pointless and stupid: “To save you from the enemy, I will defeat you first!” logic.

Luckily, this is not one of those stories.

Diana isn’t trying to kill the team. She’s just trying to keep them from fulfilling the prophecy of their destruction. And considering just how strong and determined the entire justice league is when it comes to protecting the Earth, the only way to do that in some cases, would be to incapacitate them, i.e....

... Kick them in the face.

This is a valid reason for the fight. And this isn’t something Wonder Woman decides instantly. You can tell there’s been a lot of painful contemplation put into this. She doesn’t WANT to fight the league, but finally decides she HAS to. And thank goodness— unlike most stories, it’s not just some straight up brawl with the characters beating the crud out of each other! Moeller remembers that there’s this thing called “strategy” and that fights don’t have to be purely physical to be interesting. Instead of threatening them, or attacking them all head on, Wonder Woman attacks each member one by one, planning out the best way to take them down. And it’s really clever just how she defeats and traps each member of the league. Especially Superman. We do still get several fights, but most are short lived. The only real brawls we get is versus Batman and versus superman.

Speaking of which, how are the fights

This amazon kicks ass and takes very few prisoners. And hurrah! We get to see the lasso of truth in all its glory!


Oh, just let me be bitter, okay?

Moeller writes a great wonder woman. She constantly comes off as smart, strong and independent, and someone who values truth and compassion and purity of spirit. In the first major scene with Diana, she’s actually using the lasso on herself, as a purifying ritual. See, most people forget that the lasso is more then a pretty lie detector—it is truth and purity in weaponized formed! A literal doorway to the soul, opening up any dark secrets we tell ourselves, as well as others.

However, it also makes her betrayals all the more gut-wrenching. Diana fights herself constantly as she forces herself to betray her friends, and fights her own beliefs as she questions the prophecy, and her fears about her own inevitable end at the hands of the dragon. She questions if she’s doing the right thing, but forces those feelings down, telling herself that it’s the only way.

What about the rest of the cast? Well, other then Batman and Superman, the league isn't’ aren’t really the main focus of the book, but that’s not a bad thing since this is a wonder woman story. Superman comes off kind and wishing to help everyone, but also a leader that can make hard choices. You really feel for the guy when Wondy betrays him. Batman on the other hand... uhhh... well, best thing to keep in mind is that this is an older version of batman, one that believes magic is either science or superstition and is still the dark brooding loner of the group. He comes off kinda a jerk during is battle with Wonder Woman buuuut, it could be because he’s trying to trick her into letting her guard down.

Besides the team, we also have two gnomes, who are decedents of the dragon’s original servants. They have lighthearted banter and supply exposition. And then there are the nymphs, Zoe and Althea, two childhood friends of Diana, who aid her against the league and tell her about the oracles prophesy. All four are pretty endearing characters and you generally feel bad when something bad happens to them.

And the main villian, Drakul Karfang? Well, she's about as “evil dragon” as you can get, with her love of gold, corruption. Not to mention sly, cunning, and the ability to corrupt and enslave those around her making her a very scary and compelling villain. Not to mention, she eats babies. Eep.

As for the book itself, the story comes off half like an old time fantasy story, and half like a theatrical play, with the way the story is narrated and staging of the characters. Inner thoughts of characters are either narrated to us or said out loud by the character. There is one beautiful scene where Wonder Woman, finding herself alone, finally breaks down and has a private monologue, admitting that she is unsure if she is doing the right thing, and that she is afraid to die.

Everything in this story ends up being a chekhov's gun, or foreshadowing. Everything that shows up early in the story, ends up being somehow important in the rest of the story. No plot holes, not dropped threads. And THAT is rare to see in writing these days.

The art work is gorgeously painted and panelled. You have NO idea how hard it was to NOT show you some of the best pages, purely due to spoilers. You instantly understand the body language and the expressions are stunning. Even if you don’t know some of the characters, you can tell that the league has been together for a long time by how they act around each other and the aged looks on their faces.

Beware me and my dental hygiene!

Look at that hair! Look at it!

So now that I’ve once again praised the book like it’s made of solid gold, is there anything I don’t like? Well, if I had one major criticism, it’s that Wonder Woman, after going to all the trouble of dispatching the league,  she's not very well prepared to fight the actual bad guy. Y'know, the dragon. You could argue that she was on a bit of a deadline, what with the dragon destroying Switzerland, buuuut you’d think the two nymphs with her would have at least dropped a “Oh, hey, maybe it might be a bad idea to tell a creature of magic your full name”. Just saying.

Overall, with the great art, unique story, and lack of continuity one needs to know in order to understand it, this is a great book. And you have no idea how refreshing this is to read after seeing all the crap DC’s been doing with Wondy lately.

If you're a Wonder Woman fan, or just won’t a good story to read, I’d say check this out!

Woot Woot!

Seeya, SlugLady28

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