Amazons Attack #1 and 2
March 9, 2009
So, according to this comic, I could successfully storm Washington, D.C. armed with nothing more than a fork.
Linkara: (seated on his Futon) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. All right, it's time to begin the review itself. But before we do, let's talk about some of the creative behind this.
(Cut to a shot of Greg Rucka, who first thought of this idea)
Linkara (v/o): The original idea for "Amazons Attack" came from Greg Rucka, a stupendously talented author of both spy fiction and comics.
(Cut to a montage of Wonder Woman comic artwork by Rucka)
Linkara (v/o): It was he who revamped the Greek gods into more modern equivalents, and he who had Wonder Woman write her book. The original idea was for it to be one of a miniseries that led up to "Infinite Crisis", but the story was actually that the U.S. military was trying to invade Themyscira. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Oh, it was gonna be some critique on the Iraq War or something," but trust me, there are much worse and much stupider comparisons to that coming up. Anyway, that plan was scrapped, and, as I mentioned in the prologue, "Infinite Crisis" resulted in the Amazon getting banished from this dimension for their own protection. When "Amazons Attack" itself was released, it was written by Will Pfeifer.
(Cut to a shot of a cover for a Catwoman comic by Pfeifer)
Linkara (v/o): Now, Will Pfeifer does have some good comics under his belt, including a spectacular run on Catwoman...
(Cut to the cover for "Captain Atom: Armageddon", also by Pfeifer)
Linkara (v/o): ...and the excellent "Captain Atom: Armageddon" miniseries. So, when "Amazons Attack" was getting hyped, there was some hope that this might actually be halfway decent.
Linkara: And that hope got stabbed right through the face as soon as the preview pages started getting out. What did people see? (holds up comic of review for today) Well, let's dig into "Amazons Attack #1 and #2" and find out.
Linkara (v/o): Now, since I'm reviewing from the hardcover collection of the book, there is really no point in trying to review the covers, but I've got a one-word review of them right here: awesome! Yeah, despite all the crap around this series, the artwork itself is great. But this is just a classic example good artwork not making a good comic. (the comic opens to the first page) We open in Washington, D.C.; more specifically, the Lincoln Monument. A father is telling his son all about Lincoln, and the kid asks what happened to him.
Father: Lincoln? Well, one night, he went to see a play, and... Eh?
Linkara: (confused) And... what? You're really gonna tell your son about how an actor shot him through the head? (as father) Yeah, son, and his brains splattered right all over the front row! (as son) Wow! Cool, Dad! Can you tell me about JFK's assassination next? (as father) Of course, son!
Linkara (v/o): However, they're interrupted by a bright flash of light in the courtyard, and all of a sudden, there are legions and legions of Amazons in full armor, all spread out along the Capitol. They've even got wooden catapults and one-eyed ogres along with them.
Linkara: No, no, no, the Lord of the Rings Reenactment Society meets in front of the Senate, not the Lincoln Memorial.
Linkara (v/o): So the father tells his son not to worry and that everything's gonna be okay. And then he gets his head chopped off. Oh, and to make it better, the unnamed woman kills the kid, too! With a bloody "thwack" sound effect, no less!
Linkara: You know, I don't know why, but I got a good feeling that this comic is going to be a fair and balanced portrayal of two nations at war.
Linkara (v/o): The two Amazons enter the Lincoln Memorial, and one asks the child murderer who Lincoln is.
Amazon: A man. Just another man. This city is full of them.
Linkara: Well, somebody's full of something, all right.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the White House, where the President, who is obviously supposed to be a George Bush analogue – don't ask me who he is; the DC universe changes its president every five minutes – asks if they're in the midst of a terrorist attack. The Secret Service informs him that it looks like the Amazons. So, naturally, the most heavily fortified and protected building in the world gets attacked by two women wielding bows and arrows.
Secret Service agent: Well, that's just... insane.
Linkara (v/o): You're telling me. And how the heck did that just explode?! Are the walls of the White House made of dynamite and gunpowder? The two women are armed with pointy sticks and bows and arrows. And the establishing shot of the White House shows the President was on the second floor! Do all Amazons have explosive teleportation? So, two Secret Service agents wielding, you know, GUNS are easily shot through the head by... Wait, where'd the bows and arrows go? Now these two are carrying swords and spears. Ah, screw it, let's just move on and get this over with. The Amazons declare that they want Not Bush's head on a stake, but before they can act on their threat, the President is saved by Black Lightning.
Black Lightning: I got here as quickly as I could. I was at the Hall of Justice just across the Mall.
Linkara: (as Black Lightning) You know, next to the Cost-Cutters and the Kinko's.
President: Frankly, this is more your line of work. You've dealt with this sort of thing before...
Linkara: (as President) I mean, I'm just the President of the United States in a world involving aliens, gods and monsters, plus international crises. I have no experience with this.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to "The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC". Oh, really? I thought they meant the Smithsonian in Hoboken. For some reason, Queen Hippolyta apparently decided to sit in a chair here and set up some bonfires. And yeah, Hippolyta is alive again, through some ritual that occurred in the Wonder Woman issues leading up to "Amazons Attack". Somehow, this also restores the monarchy, even though it was Hippolyta herself who abolished it. Yeah, comic books, ladies and gentlemen!
Narrator: In fact, it's the fate of her daughter that's led Hippolyta to declare war on America.
Linkara: (as Hippolyta) Nobody arrests my daughter for drunk driving and gets away with it!
Linkara (v/o): However, the architect of Hippolyta is also here, a longtime Wonder Woman enemy: "Circe. Sorceress."
Linkara: Circe the sorceress sells circular seashells by the seashore for sixty cents.
Linkara (v/o): She exposits that Wonder Woman was trapped by the U.S. government, and they want her to reveal the secrets of Amazon technology, none of which we actually see in the comic. And so, Circe is our Gríma Wormtongue to Hippolyta's King Théoden, more or less. More Amazons report to Hippolyta that Wonder Woman isn't in the cell she was supposed to be in, and the U.S. military is on its way.
Linkara: The military?! Damn, where's Neutro when you need him?
Hippolyta: The President's fate, the military's impending arrival--even the freedom of my daughter... none of it matters at this moment. What matters is that for the first time, the world of men is at our mercy...and we must make the most of it.
Linkara: (as Hippolyta) Yes, the entire reason we started this whole war thing no longer matters, so allow me to make up a new reason that makes no logical sense.
Hippolyta: Just as their enslavement of my daughter mocks our hard-fought freedom... so this city and its architecture mock the buildings of our beloved Themyscira. Let us tear this city to piece.
Linkara: Seriously, are any of the Amazons really taking this woman seriously when she talks like that? When's the last time you followed anybody who stood outside a building and yelled at it? (points to his right) Oh, my God! This rectangular building is flipping me the bird just by existing!
Linkara (v/o): And so Hippolyta leads the hordes of Amazons through the streets, Circe watching and of course smiling evilly. Okay, what the hell? She's clearly evil! She whispers in Hippolyta's ear like she's one of those devils on someone's shoulder. She has been your enemy for years! Why don't you just draw a twirly mustache on her and get it over with?! A remaining soldier mentioned Circe's own daughter, and she fries the unnamed Amazon for even mentioning her. By the way, this is supposed to be foreshadowing, but it ends up being inconsequential anyway.
Circe: This is the seat of their government. This is where they make their laws. Men's laws.
Linkara: (as Circe) Women don't have laws!
Linkara (v/o): Hippoly-nuts has the Lincoln Memorial destroyed, and a group of jets circles the Amazons, waiting for authorization to fire.
Colonel: Intel wants to be sure there aren't any survivors down there. Human survivors, I mean.
Linkara: (rolls eyes) Oh, what biting commentary on our military. Take that, Dr. Strangelove!
Pilot: Good God, Colonel... Isn't this all, you know... a little out of our league?
Linkara: (as pilot) I mean, we got jets and tanks and missiles and guns, and they've got swords and spears.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the Department of Metahuman Affairs, where, strangely, its director, Sarge Steel is talking to Batman! When did Batman become the Justice League's go-to guy for taking calls? Is he the receptionist?
Linkara: (as Batman, pretending to talk on phone) Corporate Accounts Payable, Batman speaking. Just a moment. Corporate Accounts Payable, Batman speaking. Just a moment.
Linkara (v/o): Sarge Steel wants to know when superheroes are going to start showing up to actually fight the Amazons, and Batman just tells him they're on their way and hangs up. Sarge Steel walks back to his office and opens up a hidden compartment, revealing that everything is going as planned – to another Sarge Steel, who's bound and gagged!
(Linkara looks up in shock, as a dramatic sting plays in the background)
Linkara (v/o): And so, issue 1 ends with Wonder Woman for some reason showing up to confront her mother. Ooookay, when did she get there? Ah, screw it, who cares? Okay, we turn the page and– Oh, you've gotta be kidding me! There's two large paragraphs of text explaining what happens between this issue and the next! But how could that be?! This was just one issue following into another!
Linkara: (holding up comic) Well, folks, this is as good a time as any to give you a little lesson in event comics. In an event comic, several ongoing several series in the main comic universe will have tie-in issues to the event, exploring in greater detail a particular plot point. Or, as we see here, (becomes frustrated) HAVING IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS FOR THE EVENT ITSELF!! (calms down again) Now, I love big crossover event comics, (gets frustrated again) but it's a little frustrating when you invest money in a miniseries, hoping to get a complete story, and you get JACKED by the publisher who says, "Oops, sorry, if you want to know why this happened, you have to pick up the comic you don't REGULARLY PICK UP!!"
(Cut to crossover versions of "Amazons Attack" featuring the Teen Titans and Supergirl, respectively)
Linkara (v/o): It's one of the most frustrating aspects of event comics. It gets worse when the stories are written by completely different writers who only peripherally know about what they're talking about when they're writing the plot point, so the events don't match up to what we see in the main comic!
(Cut to the aforementioned text that bothered Linkara so much)
Linkara (v/o): (sighs) Okay, rant over. Here's what they felt wasn't important enough to include in the hardcover release of "Amazons Attack": Wonder Woman and Hippolyta have their reunion, and she quickly realizes that Hippolyta is far too nutty to be acting like herself and that she's under mind control. Instead of using that magic lasso of hers that FREES PEOPLE FROM MIND CONTROL, she goes to confront Circe, who reveals her plans to nuke Themyscira, for some reason. Hippolyta, overhearing this, then stabs Circe with a sword, and she vanishes, but Hippolyta is still completely batty, so they go into battle. Meanwhile, it's revealed that Sarge Steel is being impersonated by the shapeshifter Everyman, a villain left over from the much-better-than-this series "52". The action spy Nemesis, who's known for his own mastery of disguises, then turns into Sarge Steel as well in the hopes of discrediting Everyman's... Oh, you know what, just screw it.
Linkara: I mean, seriously, who the hell enjoys having their comics narrated to?! (looks up) Wait...
Linkara (v/o): Okay, after that tedious exposition, we get on with issue 2. After a one-cap recap done with Lex News... Get it? It's like Fox News, but with Lex Luthor's company owning it, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... and we go back to our military jets. They get the okay to open fire on the Amazons, but then– Holy crap! An arrow pierces through the cockpit glass and stabs a female pilot in the neck! An arrow... made of WOOD and STONE... pierces the glass of a fighter jet's cockpit! The pilot ejects and she manages to land on the ground, where she's found by the Amazons. Instead of saying something like, "You fought with honor, sister," the Amazons just stab her through the heart.
Linkara: Oh, good, because it's been a whole issue since we got to see one brutally murdered!
Linkara (v/o): But then the cavalry arrives, with Black Canary and the Justice League arriving. By the way, at this point in the game, Black Canary is supposed to be leading the Justice League, but as we'll soon discover, that aspect of continuity is also completely thrown out. Even the heroes are completely baffled by the idea of an arrow taking down a jet, and they discuss what they need to do. They agree that rescue is their first priority – even though, logically, it makes more sense to have a few big guns attack and the rest work on rescue, thus thinning further violence – and they go off to do their thing. We have a completely pointless page of Green Lantern rescuing a woman who proclaims...
Woman: You're here. Finally. Thank God.
Linkara: (as woman) Thank God the men have finally arrived!
Linkara (v/o): Back with the two fake Sarge Steels, Nemesis stabs Everyman through the hand to show how his metal hand is fake. He takes charge while Everyman is taken to a cell.
Linkara: So the fake Sarge Steel plot point ended up being...
Linkara (v/o): Well, okay, we do learn that because of the impersonation, that's why military operations have been slow to make any difference on the Amazons, but even if they weren't, what do you expect? The Amazons have got, like, bows and arrows on their side! Something apparently attacked military bases outside of D.C., in California, no less, preventing more jets to come help. Batman, apparently taking charge... Good, because, of course, Black Canary is a woman, and knowing this comic, as a woman, she must be completely stupid or insane. Batman also comments that they're not sure what side Wonder Woman is on. Yes, way to trust your longtime friend and ally who'd never slaughter an entire population of civilians, Batsy-pantsy.
Linkara: Speaking of, for a book that's purportedly about Wonder Woman's mythos, we are 44 pages into this story, and she's appeared in all of ONE. Oh, well, I suppose it could just be about the extended D.C. universe as a whole and not Wonder Woman herself... (suddenly becomes angry as he holds up comic) EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT HER NAME IS RIGHT ON THE COVER AT THE TOP!!!
Linkara (v/o): Our establishing shot is to a building called the National Museum of America, which I'm sure is supposed to be the Smithsonian, except it doesn't really match up to the pictures of the Smithsonian I've seen on Google. Anywho, Donna Troy, who you may remember from my "Titans #1" review, shows up and promptly beats up two Amazon guards. I'll save Donna's long and complicated history for my "Countdown" review, but to sum it up, she's Wonder Woman's actual sister. So right now, Donna Troy has had more panel time than Wonder Woman has. Huh. Anyway, she confronts Hippolyta. All right, here we go, this should be good: one of my favorite characters battling a monarch gone mad! Okay, blah, blah, Donna won't follow her, she can't talk peace... Yeah, I'm sure Hi-bonkers-la is really interested in peace at this point. ...and Hippolyta says that if Diana was there, they could all talk it– WHAT?! WHAT?!? WHAT?!?! DONNA SAYS SHE'LL BRING HER RIGHT AWAY?!? Yeah, see what I mean when I say all the women in this comic are stupid or crazy? Okay, Donna walks outside and is confronted by a silhouetted figure. You know who it is? Well, we never learn from the comic itself, because this is where Donna stuff spins off into D.C.'s weekly series "Countdown", meaning that this entire sequence has also been completely pointless!
(POINTLESS SCENE #35,451)
Linkara: You know, if the comic itself doesn't give a crap about its own story, why should I?
Linkara (v/o): Okay, now Hippolyta meets with Phillipus and Artemis, two longtime supporting characters in Wonder Woman and technically, the rightful leaders of the Amazons after Hippolyta gave up the throne! "Blah, blah, the attack on the West Coast was wrong, blah, blah, blah." Okay, here we go. Phillipus mentions that they've always fought with honor, and Cuckoo-For-Cocoa-Puffs responds...
Hippolyta: Yes. Yes we have. And what has that gained us? Years of living in hiding, in seclusion, in fear of the world of Man.
Linkara: Hmm, she makes a good point. I mean, it's not like the Amazons had open contact in communication with the rest of the world for years and openly exchanged diplomatic emissaries or anything. Oh, wait, yes, they did! I HATE THIS COMIC! I HATE IT!!!
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, these two are completely ineffectual, and the twisted clown that has replaced Hippolyta orders the battle to resume.
Artemis: This war makes increasingly less sense with each passing moment.
Linkara: Understatement of the century.
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, communications are being jammed or some stupid crap like that, and it prevents Nemesis from getting the troops to withdraw, since it's all a complicated trap – not that it matters much; we've seen the military is useless against such advanced weaponry as long swords and pointy sticks. And, oh, goodie, Wonder Woman finally arrives!
Batman: I was wondering when you'd finally show up.
Linkara: (as Batman) I mean, it's your crossover event; you'd think you'd actually be a part of it.
Wonder Woman: Is this the part where you question my loyalty to America and claim you're just being pragmatic?
Linkara: (smiling) Batman's a dick. And Wonder Woman's loyalty is to the world. Stupid comic.
Batman: Where do you stand?
Wonder Woman: Where I have always stood. On the side of justice.
Linkara (v/o): This is good enough for Batman, and then suddenly, for some reason, we cut away for one panel and then cut back, but Wonder Woman is gone, and suddenly Superman is standing there. Are we all sure Everyman is still under lock and key? Yeah, out of 54 pages, Wonder Woman appears in two so far! Remind again why I did that whole prologue explaining Wonder Woman if she's not even really in the comic?! Anywho, Superman suddenly hears something, and he flies off at top speed. Nemesis contacts Batman, and issue 2 ends with him informing that Kansas, all of Kansas, is on fire!
Linkara: Kansas is on fire, huh? Then they should fight fire with fire! (laughs uproariously, then angrily holds up comic) THIS COMIC SUCKS!! Oh, but we're not done yet, folks! Yeah, there are still FOUR MORE ISSUES TO GO! (suddenly starts sobbing) There's still four more issues to go! (hangs his head)
(TO BE CONTINUED)