|“They’ve given the dragon a name.”|
There is something lyrical and ancient about the “What You Do Not Know Yet” preludes at the beginning of each issue of “The Circle,” and part three, “The Wellspring of All Vengeance,” is no different.
The issue begins with Alkyone attempting to persuade Queen Hippolyta not to bring “evil,” a child, into their midst. Hippolyta insists that the child will be a blessing, their salvation (salvation from what exactly has yet to be revealed). When Hippolyta leaves to participate in the events we have come to know as Diana’s birth (events that Hippolyta believes might kill her), we discover Alkyone’s own “weakness” is her own desire for a child (she reveals a Whittle-Baby pendant around her neck, but crushes it when she deems her desires a disease). Alkyone again references this idea of the Amazons as “barren.”
Barren perhaps takes on a different meaning for the Amazons. It might not mean that they are incapable of having children as much as it indicates that they do not have the means; there are no men on Themyscira after all. One could imagine an Amazon offering herself up to Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, Hades or any number of the whorish gods of Olympus if she was so inclined—or even not-so-inclined; long-time WONDER WOMAN readers will remember that Zeus attempted to rape Diana when she refused his advances (WONDER WOMAN #10, volume 2). Though I imagine Athena and Artemis, in particular, were aware of just such possibilities and had a failsafe in effect to help the Olympian dogs keep it in their pants.
The Circle comments on the presence of both a Hunter’s Moon (Artemis’ sign?) and lightning (Zeus’ sign) in the sky at the time and interpret it as the gods’ fear of what is about to transpire. Whether The Circle are simply deluding themselves, misinterpreting the gifts given to Diana as she is born as ill portent, or if the gods truly fear Diana in some way (the Olympians are given to being fickle, devious, and ironic), I do not know. But Alkyone’s observation does not seem entirely untrue.
It was interesting to witness glimpses of Diana’s birth here, seemingly an amalgam of George Perez’s darker, more realistic vision and the whimsical silver-age retelling: Hippolyta’s hands are calloused, bloody, worn, tired, but active and precise; the figure of the infant is standing like in WONDER WOMAN #105, volume one, not prostrate in the sand like in the Perez version.
But the infant is unmoving, and when Hippolyta returns to the city, the other Amazons wonder if the child is still-born. When Hippolyta uncovers the bundle and touches its forehead, the child springs to life and wails. The Circle observes from the brush and bramble, preparing to take the life of the child before it has a chance to take root.
When we return to the present story, The Nazis are destroying Themyscira, taking special pleasure in eradicating Amazonian art and literature. Apparently, sculptures of warrior women and democratic, feminist essays and plays have no place in the “Fatherland.” One Nazi, a woman, questions the necessity for destroying the treasures, but the female opinion also has no place in the Fatherland.
Hippolyta, meanwhile, is making short work of a Nazi scout team and tells the survivors that they should deliver a message to their leader:
“Tell him that my daughter will come for me.”
It is chilling enough to give you Goosebumps.
And so her daughter comes—on a large, floating seashell no less—armed with sword, shield, bow and arrows, an axe, as well as her traditional, mystic weaponry. Ever the warrior, Diana gives the Nazis an opportunity to surrender. The Nazi woman tells her, “You can’t possibly be serious. We are ALL at your strength level, and we are an armed multitude.” The look on Diana’s face at this revelation is priceless. It says, “Sweetie, I will wear you and your Nazi brethren OUT. Try me if you want to.” And at that Diana, along with Tolifhar and his simian soldiers, begin their fight.
“And then the time for words was done.”
Diana destroys a tank with her axe. She cracks a helmeted Nazi skull with her foot. They launch a bomb/missile at her. She pulls out her bow and arrow, and not only shoots the bomb through its handle, but does so at just such an angle that it is returned from whence it came, and explodes when it reaches its destination. Diana is FIERCE! I am so glad that I get to see an intelligent, thinking, competent Diana in these pages; I do not get to see her anywhere else. In JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, she’s typically given the default “wrong answer” position:
WONDER WOMAN: Bruce, Kal, I think we should turn left.
BATMAN: You’re wrong, Diana. I think we should turn right.
SUPERMAN: I agree with Bruce.
*Yawn* I have no interest whatsoever in the character that appears in JLA. She looks like Wonder Woman, but to me, she is really just a cipher composed of someone’s insecurities about women—in Wonder Woman drag. Thank you, but no thank you. The character that appears in WONDER WOMAN comes across as a character that was given a serious amount of thought and respect and, in turn, I feel thought of and respected. It is as simple as that.
A sub-plot with Etta Candy introduces us to a new (?) villain, as Etta breaks into Diana Prince’s apartment and is greeted by a man who looks like the Angle Man (in plain clothing) but whose eyes glow red like Ares’. Could this be the new Duke of Deception?
When we return to Themyscira, Diana suggests a change in strategy, and she and her allies head for the jungle. We discover that Hippolyta has been wounded and her steed murdered. Two Nazi scouts talk about how they wish they had the opportunity to meet Diana because they’d “know how to make good use of her.” One of them says, “Exactly. I mean, I’d be all, ‘Oh great Princess Hardbody, won’t you please oh please tie me up with your golden bondage rope,’ and she’d be all…” He never got to finish his sentence because he received his wish. Diana leaps from the bushes and shows him The Truth. The Lasso is no joke. You should see the fear in that Nazi’s eyes once he sees it up close and personal. Suddenly, all traces of sexual desire vanish. Given how Wonder Woman has been depicted in other media, I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this scene.
Meanwhile, The Circle, in Nazi captivity, have broken free and killed their captors. They believe Hippolyta to be dead and blame Diana. Diana, meanwhile, is told by the Nazi sexist where Hippolyta is. Hippolyta, wounded but undaunted, collapses in Diana’s arms.
The Dodsons’ art, particularly in the final panel, is beautiful. They get an art assist by Ron Randall in this issue. And while stylistically different, Randall’s Diana is strong, capable, and confident as well.
I am eagerly awaiting the final chapter in this story which promises to be anything but pretty when Diana discovers the truth about her birth and finally confronts The Circle.
This was an entirely entertaining and energetic read.