([identity profile] wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2009-03-12 12:09 am

When Wondy was Awesome, part 7 (Tacos and Traitors)

Whatever else he may have gotten weird or wrong, I give WML this: he did truly understand at least two fundamental things about Diana. One, that for all that she's a princess, she doesn't have a haughty or judgemental bone in her body, and two, that she has a real talent for turning her enemies into allies and even friends (I especially like what he did with the Cheetah, making her a bit of a combo Magneto/Two-Face in her relationship to Diana - but not how he got there, so that one's definitely not in this series).

We see both of these character traits during the middle bulk of WML's tenure, a time I like to call "Wondy flips burgers." Admittedly she's actually working at a taco joint, but you can't tell me that makes a practical difference to the connotations.

It all starts when Diana gets back from outer space to discover that Julia Kapatelis has rented out her room to some random college dyke named Quinn. (We never actually see Quinn date anyone, but given she's a walking stereotype I think it's fair to call a spade a spade.)

Leaving aside such insignificant and minor details as that Julia wasn't renting the room before she met Diana, and wasn't renting the room to Diana, and is a tenured professor who owns her own home and has no need of the money, and isn't the kind of person who'd want a total stranger sleeping ten feet away from her teenage daughter at this point in their story, and loves the hell out of Diana and would always, always put her up for free and has plenty of space in her house to do so with, even if Diana weren't perfectly comfortable sleeping on the back lawn, and therefore this entire thing is really forced.... what this comes down to is that Diana needs a new place to live, which means she needs money.

Cue stupid hijinks where she tries to find work and somehow, in defiance of all reason and sanity, isn't qualified for anything (like, I dunno, translator/negotiator, or self-defense instructor, or frigging WayneCorp CEO), and eventually ends up at a Taco Whiz.

Now, the reasons why Wonder Woman should not be flipping burgers are legion. It's dumb on a story level, it's dumb on a meta level, it's dumb on a mythic level, it's dumb on whole new unnamed levels that sprang into existence at the first publishing of this story solely as nature's desperate attempt to accommodate the overwhelming magnitude of inanity here. But here's what I *like* about this plot:

Diana takes it seriously.

She doesn't find it demeaning, she doesn't think she's above it, and she believes that anything you take the time to do, you should do well. And when she gets sidetracked by a (not time-sensitive) hero thing and misses work, even her boss is more forgiving of her than she herself is. This is total idiocy, but WML does use it to say something that's totally insightful.

(Naturally she doesn't get fired here, and Hoppy gives her standing orders to shove off when the world needs her and make up the time on weekends.)

Meanwhile, as Diana is working at Taco Whiz and running around helping Etta buy wedding dresses and getting shot at by hemophiliac speedster assassins, we get an introduction to Donna Milton.

The guy she's talking to here is Ares Buchanan, who's a mortal who's let Ares possess him. Which is kind of annoying. At least when Byrne made Heracles revert to a bad guy again he attempted to justify the guy's sudden change in attitude. Anyway, Ares is trying to take Boston apart just for the hell of it, which involves getting rid of Diana. Donna is part of his master plan to do so.

A little background on Donna: she's not a nice person.

She becomes a corrupt DA, then ends up working for Ares after a failed shakedown. Her current assignment is to worm her way into Diana's life. She gets a room in the same complex where Diana is staying, and shows up at the hospital when Diana gets out (Diana got shot in the mastoid process while fighting the hemophiliac speedster assassin, so her balance is all thrown off and she can't fly).

Sometimes I love this art - it's clean and a cartoony and full of expressive, varied faces. And sometimes Etta stares down Diana and the look on Diana's face makes me wonder what in God's name I was thinking and who the hell hired this Moder clown in the first place.

I love this page in an MST3K way, just for its sheer absurdity. Donna lays it on so thick here and Diana just completely eats it up. This is, remember, the woman who took all of two seconds to figure out that Menalippe was acting strange under Eris' influence, and she's somehow buying a story so excessive a twelve-year-old wouldn't fall for it.

So Donna and Diana make friends, and Diana explains how she has no money because the JLA isn't paying her because she's still officially dead (all that time in space, y'see). Then they finally get to Taco Whiz.

Diana promises to track down Hoppy's hubby and Donna goes with her. They discover that he's a leg-breaker for the Sazia crime family, and so they go pay Sazia a visit, in what is probably the best scene WML ever wrote; Diana can't make the mook pay, not even legally with Sazia protecting him, but she can hang around Sazia's office until he does...

Sazia folds, and pays a massive child support check, including back pay, out of his own pocket.

Donna, apparently inspired by her little adventure with the mob, then proves herself awesome by shaking down Max.

Time passes and Donna plays her part to the hilt, worming her way ever deeper into Diana's confidence.

I'm a big fan of the colorist error here that makes it look like Diana has holes in her panties. Nice, guys. Nice.

... "enjoyable," Donna?

Eventually Donna is able to lure Diana into a trap, and Ares Buchanan chains her up (WondyBondage!) and gloats at her like any good megalomaniacal villain. And Donna discovers that she's not quite as indifferent as she thought she was.

I like the writing here, because the way Donna does this is very much appropriate to her characterization as a lawyer. She makes her decision in an instant and then immediately plows full speed ahead with a cogent, well-reasoned argument. I bet she does a killer cross.

... unfortunately for her, Ares has a *truly* killer rebuttal.

So Diana flips out at him and tries to kick his ass, and he goes on about how her chains were forged at STAR labs to hold Superman and she'll never break them, and he's going to flood Boston with drugs and weapons yadda yadda. But Donna's not quite done with him yet.

What she's holding there is a macguffin that creates a localized "black hole" which sucks everything in and then falls to the center of the earth. Ares used one to try to kill Diana a few issues back. So she pulls the trigger and chucks it at him, and he gets sucked in and dies, and Diana busts out of her chains, and the whole place comes down around them and they fall into the old smuggler caves under the building.

So Diana helps deliver the kid, and they get rescued by Etta and Hoppy, and Donna's like "I've killed people! I betrayed you! I'm a horrible person and I'm sorry!" and Diana's all "Dude, chill. You repented and saved my life. I am so not even mad." She even brings up Donna's selfishness and the fact that she duped Diana as reasons why she *can* stop whining and successfully deliver a baby underwater in the freezing cold and pitch black cave. Because Diana is not judgemental. (I'm not going to scan any of it, though, because the pacing is really slow and the art is hideous.)

Anyway, they're *actual* friends after that, and Diana swears she'll always protect the baby (which will become important when we get to Rucka's run), and you'd think that that would be the end of that. But no, Donna Milton's story isn't over quite yet.

I... I'm going to apologize, right now, for the scans I'm about to post. Because they're mid-90s Liefieldesque Deodato art, and while the particular pages I'm putting up are far from the worst of the lot, the obscene excess to which hips, boobs, butts, spines, muscles, articles of clothing, and women in general just don't work that way make me want to kill it with fire. Just sizing these scans it's all I can do not to burn them to a CD and chuck it in the microwave just for the ritualistic purging of the pain and blind white rage this stuff causes in my mind. And I regret inflicting that same pain on any of you.

Oh, and you know how I occasionally used to say that everything Diana's ever worn looks better than the bathing suit? That's because I apparently suppressed the memory of the Artemis!Wondy period so thoroughly that I'd completely forgotten the Bolland... thing. Seriously. Ew.

That said, they're still good story, so....

Diana has lost the mantle of Wonder Woman to Artemis, and Artemis has gone after Asquith aka the White Magician aka A Giant Demon Thing that's Going to Kill Her. Diana wants to help, but doesn't know how to find them, so she takes a moment to go visit Julia in the hospital. While she's there, Donna mentions that her scars from the Ares fight have almost faded, which causes Diana to make a weird face and start musing about Circe.

That's right, Donna is Circe. This is a total asspull and causes a bunch of plot holes but it's so BAD ASS that I don't even care.

So Diana has been teleported to where Artemis is getting her ass kicked by Asquith in his Giant Demon Thing that's Going to Kill Her form. Artemis and Diana duke it out with Asquith, but it doesn't go so well - they can't even deal with his feline minions (more on that in a different series). Diana's about to become kitty kibble to one of them, when suddenly her opponent gets blasted right off her by eldritch fire.

Thanks to Donna's help, the pressure is off a bit and Diana can worry about Asquith... and the dying Artemis.

Supercharged by the gauntlet, Diana lays the smackdown for several badly-drawn pages, and eventually takes him out, leaving only her replacement to deal with.

The next page is Artemis lying dead in Diana's arms, and it's very sad, but it's also a crime against all that is aesthetic and decent, so we'll end on that note as far as the immediate story goes. In terms of the wider arc of Circe, she herself isn't seen again in the Wondy title until nearly four years and forty issues later, when Bright and Priest bring her back to take revenge on Diana for the fact that she can't be Donna Milton *or* the original, blissfully-ignorant-of-true-friendship Circe again.

This is why I don't actually have any problem with the idea of Diana confiding in Circe during the recent Wondy annual (disregarding the content of the confession itself); WML made Circe and her relationship with Diana fantastically complex, and they do have a strange sort of mutual understanding. That's a big part of why I like Diana, I think - that when she doesn't vanquish her enemies, it's for reasons that make sense. Her recurring rogues are all that way because they're powerful enough that she has to reason or bargain (Ares, Circe, Darkseid) or because they're sort of *friends* and she wants to help them (Cheetah, Silver Swan). And therefore she's always on speaking terms with them, which leads to interactions far more interesting than straightforward white hat-black hat antagonism, and prevents the Joker Fallacy from sticking its head in.

Scans from v2 72-83 and 100, the very tail end of which is collected in Challenge of Artemis, which might be worth purchasing if you someday find yourself in a city that doesn't sell toilet paper.

Next time: Diana breaks atmosphere again to visit Thanagar and save the last Vuldarian in a Very 90s Crossover that somehow manages to be ridiculously fun regardless.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 03:36 am (UTC)(link)
(The "Where Circe Became Interesting" story. Very cool.)

Oh no! Diana killed Randolph Asquith, hero turned bad! She must now atone for that heinous sin and struggle to wash his blood off her hands and-- wait, what? She didn't have to do any of that shit? Oh. Well. Ahem. Move along, folks. There's nothing to see here.

Did she not snap his neck? Was that it?

(Although, the lack of THOU MUST REPENT! may have come from the fact that Superman and Batman were in the midst of their own issues at that point, ie. "dead" and "recovering from a damaged spine," respectively. That's if my recollection of the timeline is correct; I don't recall seeing Diana at Clark's funeral and Knightfall happened shortly after in-universe)

Yeah, Diana's "unofficial" costume was horrid. Who on Earth thought that it was okay for Wonder Woman to go around with a bare midriff? That might fly if she was bulletproof, but she isn't. One of her biggest shticks depends upon that very point. I mean, the jacket is a decent touch, and the shorts actually covered more of her than her normal costume does, but her top is basically a glorified sportsbra. What the fuck, Deodato?

It's too bad that the new scan rules prevent these posts from being as extensive as the originals. In this case, the scan I really miss is where Sazia assures Diana that his employee will pay him back for every. Single. Penny.

Speaking of that scene: I like how it shows Diana's mindset. In that same situation, Superman would present his "request" and then proceed outside (doubtlessly smashing something on the way), where he would then hover ominously (and very conspicously) until Sazia caved. Batman would sneak into Sazia's mansion, corner him while he was alone, and use intimidation like it was going out of style. Wonder Woman just casually walks in there, calls every single one of Sazia's bluffs, simply presents a possible situation, and very helpfully points out some of the possible consequences of his actions. At no time is either a demonstration of raw power or any (overt) threat employed. Diplomacy at its finest, particularly because it works.

Question: who are all of the women in the Surprise! panel for Donna's birthday? I recognize the Kapatelis', Hoppy, Etta, and Diana's landlord, but not the others.

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[identity profile] - 2009-03-13 15:37 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
that is indeed the best scene in this post. Please post it at your LJ, bluefall?

I can't help thinking it sucks that every companies posts are shrunk when only marvel bitched about it.

Maybe there should be a DC Daily or Non-Marvel Daily with the old rules.

(Anonymous) 2009-03-12 03:50 am (UTC)(link)
Circe has Punisher earings.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 07:48 am (UTC)(link)
I can't tell you how happy I am that you're reposted WWWA. Your posts are the reason I finally started reading WW monthly.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 08:27 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. In the last segment of this post, the artist is TOTALLY drawing Diana as Lucy Lawless. And that's just fun.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 09:30 am (UTC)(link)
Diana shook down Max for ten million dollars? That's even colder than snapping his neck.

Also, I said it once, and I'll say it again-- it's somewhat fitting that an Amazon winds up working at Taco Whiz. I have a feeling she wouldn't be as comfortable grilling up bratwurst at the Sausage Shack.

(no subject)

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[identity profile] 2009-03-12 02:28 pm (UTC)(link)
One has to wonder why Lord was being such a monumental dick about it all -- obviously he was clearly evil even back then.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 10:11 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, its so nice that they decided to get away from this and make Diana more down to earth and put her in touch with the common man by making her A FRELLING SECRET AGENT!

Bitterness. I haz it.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 10:42 am (UTC)(link)
I actually have a stupid fanwank for that, but it's, well, stupid.

So, Bruce Wayne made her new civilian ID. Taking a page from Superman's civilian ID, he makes it someone who has access to information about threats. Since it's Wonder Woman, he makes it someone with access to global scale threats. He makes her an intelligence analyst. However, this is Diana we're talking about, and even when she loses her powers half the time, she's still Diana. She wouldn't be sitting in an office waiting around while others do the day-saving. She applies for field duty, and because she'd effing WONDER WOMAN--even if only half the time--she makes it into the field. So Wonder Woman's own temperament causes her to become a secret agent.

Doesn't explain why Bruce wouldn't have thought of that. Maybe he was still stuck in his "Secret IDs are different from costumed IDs" mentality.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 10:24 am (UTC)(link)
Diana got shot in the mastoid process while fighting the hemophiliac speedster assassin, so her balance is all thrown off and she can't fly

But I thought Diana was bulletproof? I mean, she can take Superman in a brawl and hold him off for a reasonable amount of time, and I'm pretty sure I once saw a picture of WW getting covered with lava and shaking it off as if it were nothing. How is it possible that she can do all that, and then she can't take a bullet?

And speaking of Amazon powers, all all amazon superstrong and superfast, or only Diana, Donna and Cassie are?

Diana explains how she has no money because the JLA isn't paying her because she's still officially dead (all that time in space, y'see).

Among the things you pointed out, I find it absurd that Bruce wouldn't offer to give/lend her some grands, or make sure that Max paid her immediately.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 10:46 am (UTC)(link)
Her invulnerability is limited for some reason. Blunt trauma, extremes of temperature, undersea pressure, hard vacuum-- these don't seem to phase her. But bullets, knives and swords have all been shown to hurt her.

In D&D terms, she has DR 100/piercing.

And all Amazons have a measure of super-strength and durability, but Diana and Donna are much stronger than your average Amazon due to the gifts of the gods. Cassie is too, due to her status as a demigod.

In the same way, normal Atlanteans would be much stronger than the average human, but none of them could lift a city block over their head the way Aquaman can.

(no subject)

[identity profile] - 2009-03-13 04:58 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 10:53 am (UTC)(link)
Every major arc should end with Diana convincing either her enemy or an enemy's lacky/mook/partner to ally with her instead of her enemy. It may end with a redemptive death, but if you state it clearly like that, maybe people will start to GET IT.

And, sure, Diana would treat working fast food like that. But it's still immensely STUPID that she's working fast food. This would work as a Donna Troy plot, not a Diana, Princess of Themyscira plot. You'd think, as royalty, she'd have access to some resources. Sheesh. She can fly with super-speed, and walk through dimensions. WHY DOES SHE HAVE AN APARTMENT IN MAN'S WORLD WHEN SHE CAN FLIT BETWEEN HER HOME ISLAND AND THE REST OF THE WORLD?

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[identity profile] - 2009-03-20 05:06 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 12:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I think the problem was that Messner-Loebs was trying to write Wondy as an outgrowth of the JLI title (or at least as whacky fun, q.v. art) and Wonder Woman works best when her title is at least somewhat epic and mythological, just like Superman's title should be somewhat light and Batman's should be dark. Having Diana work at Taco Whiz is like, say... Bat-Mite showing up in Detective Comics as part of the supporting cast. For three years.

Maybe it would've worked better with an Excuse Plot (Diana wants to highlight Social Issue X or give Taco Whiz publicity because look over there a bunny!) and if it were only a single issue, so you can get all the jokes over with in one go and then she sorts through the thing with Max and things go back to normal.

And I do kinda see the point behind the Circe retcon, because at the very least it seems insensitive for Wonder Woman not to care that one of her pals killed an innocent woman in cold blood. Making her Circe allows the Donna Milton plot to go somewhere without working around a lengthy prison stay, which would have to be the end of any valid redemption arc.

Of course, it does make me wonder just how many of Wondy's rogues are in it for the hatesex. "Damn that Wonder Woman and her unbelievably soft skin! We'll have our revenge yet!"

(no subject)

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[identity profile] 2009-03-12 12:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Now I want Hoppy to come back as well.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 01:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I really liked this section, massive plot holes aside (Julia renting out Diana's room is so WTF) I love her complete seriousness over the Taco Whiz job. I'm so glad you're reposting these, I never got around to reading a few of them (including this one) in the original S_D.

Oh god, the 90's art burned though.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 02:26 pm (UTC)(link)
The taco-stuffing job can make a lot of sense, but needs to happen at the right time. Diana's mission is to evangelise for her gods, so the best way to do that is to gain an understanding of the people to whom she must preach. Take a 12 Tasks of Hercules approach to that, where she has to do things like work minimum wage in a fast food joint, take out the trash and the shit, and do all the other sorts of thing that as a Theymscrian princess were never in her life experience, and it makes a terriffic amount of mythic good sense.

NAturally it would never happen that way because it'd take away from bloody Clark's alleged Everymanness.

Also, I see Artemis has either a rather narrow landing strip or more likely a full Brazillian

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 03:11 pm (UTC)(link)
more likely a full Brazillian

What do you expect, she's an Amazon!

I'll show myself out, thank you.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 05:11 pm (UTC)(link)
should've made Quinn a member of the family to explain her.

[identity profile] 2009-03-12 06:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Whatever happened to Donna's baby?

(no subject)

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[identity profile] 2009-03-12 08:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Bluefall, I love you, my tastes love you, the Wondy fan in me loves you, but I can't ever forgive you for posting that ... stuff. Thanks for making sure we get in a sexy-ripped-panty shot as she bled to death, Deodato, I really needed that. I know we all make fun of Liefeld, but at least he has the courtesy nowadays to stay in his own books.

That Donna Milton ... that's weird. Is she even a real person? Does she have a soul or wahteverit'scalled in the DCU? Still, that's an incredibly good idea of WML's.

I love Di working at the 'Whiz and Hoppy, crater-sized plot holes or not.

[identity profile] (from 2009-03-12 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
You know what bugs me most about the art I see from that time period? Diana's hair! Seriously, it's like a male lion's mane during a bad hair day! I know she has big hair, but I'm sure somewhere Vidal Sassoon is turning over in his grave, and I'm not sure he's even dead yet! He's just getting his practice in.

[identity profile] 2009-03-13 01:16 am (UTC)(link)
Just kind of going down the line here...

I like the above commentor's Twelve Labors approach to Diana working at Taco Whiz. And was she really gone in space for two years? Man, that would really put a damper on her mission if she disappeared for that long.

As an aside, Donna being Circe would explain why Diana didn't immediately realize Donna's story was a load of bovine feces. She was unconsciously preventing Diana from seeing The Truth.

Diana's eagle shirts with the black pants or star-spangled shirt look very good. She could start her own clothing line with that stuff. Casual super-chic. And while the coconut-shell bra and biker shorts thing suck, I really like her jacket. It would work with a blouse and pants for a casual Wondy costume.

Confronting that crime boss: Damn, Diana's a badass even when she's not punching monsters or lifting buildings over her head. "Hey, you should do this thing for me." "Yeah, okay, sure." I've been reading some Discworld lately ("Men at Arms," if you're curious), so I bet she and Corporal Carrot would get along famously.

Asquith: "I'm a product of the 90s, my whole point is to look scary!" Someone needs to give his jaw an uppercut while he's got his tentacle-tongue hanging out. And how does he talk like that, with the giant tongue and saber-teeth and no lips?

[identity profile] 2009-03-20 04:51 am (UTC)(link)
Very long; did read; enjoyed the commentary thoroughly!