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Synopsis: Born of the fallout from mythic wars fought among
the Grecian gods and their mortal worshippers, Diana, warrior princess
of the Amazon island nation of Themyscira, bursts into the modern world
both as ambassador of her people and selfless protector of the innocent.
And in so doing, she collides with the ignorance and imbalances of the
twenty-first century, battling injustice as Wonder Woman.
But even with skills and abilities to rival those of her Olympian
namesake, Diana is put to the supreme test as the horrors of the ancient
past rise again to wreak havoc upon the world. Now her indomitable will
and astounding powers are pitted against the patient and
all-encompassing malice of the War God Ares, who feeds on the strife
created by humanity's propensity to turn against itself.
(by Andrew Laubacher)
Over the holidays, I finished S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison's
novelization of Warner Premiere's animated Wonder Woman movie, based on
the screenplay by Michael Jelenic (with uncredited story assistance from
DC's Gail Simone). I will attempt to form my thoughts and impressions
into a (hopefully) coherent review.
SPOILER WARNING: Here there be spoilers.
The first thing to note is Adam Hughes' cover for the paperback, which
you can view above. It is unusually subdued, yet--I think--effective.
The image is a profile view of Wonder Woman, almost in black-and-white
(previously used as the cover for Wonder Woman issue 188, March
2003) . It's as though publisher Pocket Star Books was afraid of making
the cover too gaudy. I don't think that I would want the piece as a
poster, but it makes for an interesting cover.
The novel, itself, begins in ancient Greece nearly five thousand years
ago. The Amazons are in rebellion against the forces of Ares, the Greek
god of war, who takes the place of Heracles/Hercules in this version of
the Amazons' history. Here, it was Ares who seduced the Amazon queen
Hippolyta and tricked the Amazons into slavery (forcing Hippolyta to
bear him a son, the monstrous Thrax, along the way). We meet many of the
key players in this chapter, especially the Amazons Artemis, her sister
Alexa, and Persephone (who is horribly wounded by Ares' son Phobos).
The story quickly moves from the Amazons' victory to present day
Themyscira, where we are introduced to the twenty-something Princess
Diana and (eventually) USAF Col. Steve Trevor, who crashes on the island
after an aerial dogfight with unnamed hostiles over the Aegean Sea.
Events soon spin out of control as Steve flees for his life from pursuit
from Amazon warriors, only to be brought to heel by Diana and brought
before the queen. The imprisoned Ares uses the distraction to put his
own plans into action; escaping with the help of a surprise ally. By the
time the Amazons are aware of Ares' escape, the Champion meant to return
Col. Trevor to Patriarch's World has already been chosen (Diana, of
course). Diana now has an additional mission--to track down Ares and put
a stop to his plans. The remainder of the book includes Diana's
encounters in, and impressions of, Man's World, her developing feelings
for Steve, and their attempts to find Ares while surviving the attacks
of his minions--all leading up to a final, grand battle that should
prove satisfying to most readers.
I enjoyed the novel immensely. Jelenic, Perry and Dennison borrow from
several versions of Wonder Woman's history (the book's authoresses opted
to make Hippolyta a blond in tribute to her golden-age appearance,
although she is raven-haired in the animated film), but manage to blend
them together into a satisfying whole. Most of the familiar elements are here:
The red, blue and gold costume, the Lasso of Truth, the invisible jet and, yes,
the tiara that Wonder Woman also uses as a weapon.Some of Steve Trevor's dialogue
is awkward (almost cringe-worthy), but he is depicted as a
slightly-flawed man who strives to be better. Diana is certainly much
more naive than her Amazon sisters, but she is not a complete innocent
and she handles herself surprisingly well in Man's World. The story
focuses on the most physical manifestations of Diana's powers. No, she
doesn't seem to possess the ability to fly (that we see), but she proves
to be an expert pilot for the invisible jet (a product of Lansanarian
technology, gifted to the Amazons). Her strength is equal to the
adversaries she encounters, but is not up to the Superman-like levels
that she displays in the comics. And, yes, she is fast enough to deflect
bullets with her Amazon bracelets. I'm not sure if the final passages of
the book are actually part of the movie, or something added by the
novel's authoresses. However, at least it finally gives someone in the
book the opportunity to actually call Diana by the name Wonder Woman.
I will admit to some quibbles. One of Steve Trevor's wing men is
described with the Air Force rank of staff sergeant--an easily corrected
factual error. U.S. military fighter pilots are all commissioned
officers; an NCO would not be flying a fighter jet or a bomber.
Similarly, "air force" should be capitalized when specifically writing
about the USAF. The abilities of the Amazons seem to be a bit uneven.
They all seem to be nearly as fast and as powerful as Diana, and hold
their own against a number of mythical monsters, yet they are often
felled by relatively ordinary men who happen to serve Ares. If Diana is
supposed to have any additional abilities that were granted to her by
the gods, it would be nice to show it; as it is, I have to assume that
what we see is what we get. None of this seriously hampered my enjoyment
of the book.
I give the Wonder Woman novelization an "A." Recommended.