Recovering Ideals (5)

The fourth story in DC Comics’ The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes by Alex Ross and Paul Dini is Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth. The plot follows the pattern of giving the backstory first. In this case it is the founding of Themyscira by the Amazons on Paradise Island followed by the creation of Diana from clay by her mother, Hippolyta, the Amazon queen who has been empowered by the goddess, Aphrodite. Continuing the pattern, the story moves on to the recurring theme of the series.

As is probably evident by now, the recurring theme in this collection is the difficulty that superheroes have in dealing with the attitudes of the people they are trying to serve. This goes beyond getting human beings to behave. It is impossible to over-ride free will and force people to receive the right help in the right way. Our species can be funny that way.

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Although there are plenty of instances where Wonder Woman can do her normal superhero thing, there are others in which her efforts are not well-received.

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Take, for instance, this sequence where she prevents a tank from crushing a girl. The recipient of her heroism runs away from her in fear.

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Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)

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As another example, a Muslim crowd takes offense at her appearance and looks upon her activity as meddling by a cultural outsider. Instead of a hero’s welcome, she is greeted by a hail of thrown rocks.

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Humbled and frustrated by these incidents, she (as Diana Prince) confers with Superman (as Clark Kent). I think their appearance here in their “secret identities” is effective because it reinforces the advice he gives her. Having been humbled himself in the first story, he mentions that it would be more effective to work beside people rather than above them. In other words, identification helps bridge the gap in perception between ordinary individuals and those who are extraordinary.

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There are some interesting portrayals of Wonder Woman trying to become more involved with humanity by working in war zones as an explosives remover and (as in the illustration below) a nurse.

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The following sequence in which she prevents the use of women as a human shield is perhaps one of the better known from this story.

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I really liked the approach of inserting this character into real world situations (of which I have shown only a few). I also liked the idea of a nearly perfect character of mythological origin concealing her supernatural ability in an effort to communicate more effectively with people.

Next week: the final story of this excellent graphic novel.

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9 thoughts on “Recovering Ideals (5)”

  1. The axiom that no good deed goes unpunished is also a conundrum.

    It is stupendous that, like the ancient Greeks, the Ross-Dini Wonder Woman stories explore the hinkiness in human nature.

    Some people are in such crying need of help and when someone tries to help them, behold! the makings of great tragedy and drama.

    Liked by 1 person

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