Wonder Woman #21: Flesh and Stone
(Some minor spoilers for Wonder Woman #21 follow)
Wonder Woman leaps to the defense of her friends and family, and a villain defies the laws of science fiction physics in his relentless attack. The First One has caught up with Wonder Woman, and he wants to bring the world to an end. He needs Zola’s son Zeke – the last born. The battle between Zeus children accelerates.
Reading through the actions scenes is like being swept up in an orange and red-yellow lightening storm. The First One towers over the other cast, and he makes this fight terr0r-streaked with his brute force.
Orion swoops in to help out. He, Lennox (another of Zeus’ kids), and Wonder Woman try for an escape through a portal in space. The First one proves too powerful, however, as he grasps the closing portal, and holds it open – a feat that should be impossible.
Orion opens a portal called a “boom tube”. It’s technology from his home dimension – New Genesis. The artwork as the characters travel through the boom tube is incredible. Blurred red and blue lines create a visual effect inside the wormhole tunnel that vibrates – it’s like the older red and blue 3D effects. Lettering during the action scenes is powerful, and evokes a deeper sense of action, which is further enhanced by the expert colouring.
Wonder Woman defends Hera from The First One, who slaps Hera off panel. She responds to his violence: “judging by what I saw…you have this coming”. She then wastes no time in fighting The First One off. Her actions raise ideas about protecting elders, women, and children from violence.
Orion fights for different reasons. He has a mission and is ruthless. Wonder Woman states that he fights “like an animal”. This shows the difference between Wonder Woman and other brawlers in comic books. She fights to protect, and does not use excessive violence.
Ethics and Values
Wonder Woman’s actions prompt questions: is violence an acceptable response to protect those in danger? Or does more violence just extend a cycle of fighting?
Despite being an action fueled comic book, Wonder Woman #21 makes a statement about violence toward elders, woman, and children – under no circumstance should it be tolerated. Orion even states, when attacking The First One “you’ve made a huge mistake”.
The characters in the comic book certainly don’t fit with pure, non-violent philosophies, and are an example of the ongoing problem of using violence to stop violence – particularly Orion. But the comic itself stands up as critical of larger problems in our society.
Wonder Woman #21 could align with the third principal of non-violence written by Martin Luther King Jr in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: “attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil” is the third of six principals. The comic attacks tolerance of violence. The comic also judges the perpetrators of violence – they are as misguided as the villain, The First One, who lets his past trauma dictate his actions as an adult.
Cassandra, who allows The First One to strike Hera without comment, also lets her past influence her choices. Cassandra lets The First One threaten Hera – bystanders who let violence happen are therefore also making a mistake.
A bit more on Wonder Woman #21
Historically, Wonder Woman has had key moments of being a role model. I think that her defense of Zolo, Hera, and the Baby Zeke show courage that can be looked up to.