Unlike the previous World of Flashpoint titles, The World of Flashpoint: Featuring Wonder Woman includes two of the heavy hitters of the DC comics universe: Wonder Woman and Aquaman. By pairing these two characters, we get to see what the war between the Amazons and the Atlanteans is all about and learn how neither Diana nor Arthur actually wanted a war but were manipulated into it.
As with the Flashpoint installment featuring Batman, Corrina, cynical long-time comic reader, joins Dakster, a more enthused new reader, for a look at the story. This time, we’re mostly in agreement: the story followed paths that have become too well-worn and familiar instead of something more imaginative.
Dakster: At first glance the motivations of the two superheroes seem very different, with Wonder Woman actually appearing conflicted to the point of inaction. While mourning the death of her mother, Diana rebuffs her aunt Penthesileia’s demands for the Amazons to strike back against Atlantis in retribution for the Queen’s assassination. Aquaman, on the other hand, possesses a warrior’s spirit and does everything he can to bring down his enemy. The only trait the pair have in common at this point is that both are being duped by traitors in their ranks.
I’m not comfortable with this portrayal of the Amazons. Historically, the Amazons have been depicted as a peace-loving nation, while in this version of events, they’re bloodthirsty warriors who act before thinking. In this version of events, Diana is the only one with some degree of heart who doesn’t appear to have a taste for blood. She actually thinks about the repercussions of her actions, while her aunt seems more vested in defeating the enemy at all costs. I prefer the Amazons of my childhood memories, the proud warriors who held peace close to their hearts in Justice League the Animated Series, over this new Flashpoint variation.
Corrina: I’m even more disturbed about this because it’s not the first time in recent memory that the Amazons have been portrayed as bloodthirsty warriors. First, there was the widely panned Amazons Attack crossover which not only brought into use the “Bees, my God,” as a meme for the ridiculous but it featured Amazons slaughtering children. Apparently, because they were upset about the outside world putting Wonder Woman on trial. Okay, they were being manipulated but exactly how never made sense.
It’s also not the first time Diana’s mother has been killed to cause her angst. Hippolyta died in the Our Worlds At War crossover event in 2001. She didn’t return to life until 2007, when she was the bloodthirsty warrior of Amazons Attack. And, of course, there’s the portrayal of the Amazons as murderers and child slavers in the current Wonder Woman comic.
Taken separately, they’re annoying plot elements. Taken together, along with the continual destruction of Paradise Island and the Amazons, well, it’s an extremely troubling pattern and, intentional or not, points to a very odd stance toward women at DC Comics.
Dakster: The Atlanteans aren’t portrayed any differently. Aquaman appears to have no conscience and after his wife Mera dies he doesn’t care how many die…as long as Diana goes down with them. I wish the writers had avoided Mera’s gruesome death and tried something a little different for once. Killing the lover of the male hero is an old, overused cliché. It would have interested me more to see Aquaman die and Mera seek her revenge!
Corrina: Absolutely. As they say, bored now. We’ve seen Aquaman angsty over the seeming loss of Mera and the death of his toddler son before, in previous comic storylines. Here’s a change to really change things up, especially in an alternate world and instead, it’s not only a familiar twist but a predictable one.
Dakster: In a welcome surprise, Lois Lane gets a brief chance to shine in this title, too. Considering she’s DC Comics leading lady, I wish her role was a little more substantial, though. Most of her story is little more than fluff that revolves around the conditions she endures while passing information to Cyborg. Even her last-minute escape leaves her looking like a damsel in distress. She’s a strong character! Why couldn’t the writers have let her save herself and maybe take out one of her captors while doing it? She’s done that before in the comics. (On a positive note, Lois does handle her small bit of physical action quite ably!)
Corrina: Again, I could take Lois being in danger or getting killed off in a story if it wasn’t business as usual whenever there seems to be an alternate storyline, from video games to Earth-2, to this series, and even Kingdom Come. Lois spends more time in the fridge than fresh vegetables! It would have been nice to see her save herself this time.
Dakster: All of these events revert back once Flash does his “run through time,” but some plot points are revisited in the New 52 revamp. I can’t say that most of these changes have done the characters any favors. Wonder Woman’s people go from a peace-loving nation to a more bloodthirsty warrior nation.
A member of Aquaman’s council becomes Black Manta and tries to destroy the land world with the help of his brother, Orm (see Justice League – Throne of Atlantis crossover event). Mera and Aquaman are also separated as a result of him leaving the land life to resume his role as King of Atlantis (bummer…they looked good together).
Admittedly, the art for Wonder Woman and the Furies, as well as Emperor Aquaman has its moments. The artists for Wonder Woman and the Furies gets points for keeping the Amazons reasonably clothed (for the most part). Diana wears armor that looks suitable for battle and the artist for Emperor Aquaman drew the Atlantean women rather modestly (i.e., drew their boobs inside their clothes).
That being said, the cover art for a few of the issues reaches new lows. Emperor Aquaman # 2 (art by Ardian Syaf) shows Aquaman front and center holding Mera’s body, with her head conveniently out of frame (probably because it was off cut off by Wonder Woman). This is not my ideal image. I’m guessing that the artist went for shock value instead of giving the readers a taste of what the issue is all about.
Corrina: I’m guessing it was all about making sure the boobs were front and center, not for shock value. (In the artist’s defense, they’re at least well-drawn boobs.) DC seems to believe that’s what all its readers want from covers. Though evidence shows that Marvel has at least a portion of this belief as well.
Dakster: The variant cover with Wonder Woman holding Mera’s head isn’t so appealing either. Judging by the reactions on the internet, I’m not the only one who thought it was out of line.
The stories themselves were enjoyable to read, but as I’ve said before, these side stories will cost the reader $30 (Comixology pricing) for single issues. Personally, I think that’s a lot of money to spend just so I can understand what is going on in a five-part mini-series.
Corrina: I’d recommend finding a used trade paperback of Crisis on Infinite Earths which also has a cast of thousands, a prominent role for the Flash, and artwork that is sublime. It’s not only considerably cheaper but much better written.
Dakster: Come back next week when I look at Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint – Featuring Superman. We get to see a more of Lois and find out more about what Superman was up to when he left Flash and Batman in the lurch during Flashpoint.