Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman – A Star in the Heavens

The next story arc in Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run is “A Star in the Heavens,” with art by Bernard Chang and Brad Anderson.  Remember, I’m reading this all for the first time as I write this, so you’re getting my unfiltered, well maybe slightly filtered, thoughts as I experience them.

This story starts with Agent Tom Tresser  and Wonder Woman traveling via seashell, as one does.  The destination of their trip has Tom a bit antsy.  Wonder Woman tells him that even though he has to hide things in life, here, honesty is a bit best.  While she may be accepting of the deceptions in his life, her mom is not going to be.  That’s right, Wonder Woman is taking Tom to meet her mother, Queen Hippolyta.  But first, take a moment to appreciate the design work that you see below in Hippolyta’s and her horse’s armor.  It’s really quite spectacular.

Wonder Woman - A Star in the Heavens - meet hippolyta

Hippolyta greets Tom, and it’s just spectacularly awful.  She first greets him with his full name.  I don’t know about you, but it’s never good when a mother, anyone’s mother, uses your full name.  Then, Tom is hesitant to accept the invitation forward because he’s a afraid that he’ll blow up or something if he sets for on Paradise Island, being a man and all.  So, Hippolyta starts again, middle name and all.  This time, Tom comes forward, and tells her that it is a pleasure to be here.  To which, the Queen calls bs.  To this, he corrects himself and admits that it’s not a pleasure, but it is an honor.  See?  This is that honesty issue that Wonder Woman advised him about at the very beginning.  Hippolyta then invites Tom to join her in doing chores, telling Wonder Woman to wait behind.  Wonder Woman wishes him luck.  I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

The chore ends up being feeding rotting meet to a couple of griffins.  In her advice to Tom, Hippolyta tells him to not make any sudden movements, and that griffins mate for life, so don’t make any eye contact.  Hippolyta seamlessly then leads the conversation to asking Tom if him and Diana have had sex.  Of course this catches Tom off guard, and of course his reaction startles the griffins.  This leads to a wonderful moment of Hippolyta telling the griffins that Tom isn’t food.  The conversation continues into Tom’s past, but more importantly, will he protect Diana and does he love her.  He answers yes to both, and receives Hippolyta’s blessing.  And also a spear.  Hippolyta names him Sir Thomas of Cleveland (knew there was a reason I didn’t like him), and makes him an honorary Amazon.  As Wonder Woman and Tom start to leave, Hippolyta makes one final request.  Babies.  She wants lots of babies.  Ah, nothing like the mother putting on the pressure because she wants to become a grandmother.

As Wonder Woman and  Tom were leaving, Wonder Woman apologizes for if her mom scared him, and tells him to dip his right hand into the waters that he may one day rule, because it’s tradition to do this for luck.  He’s skeptical of the part about one day ruling this land, but dips his hand into the water anyways.  For tradition and luck.  And then suddenly a megalodon springs out of the water.  Wonder Woman tells him that he must be a true Amazon because the megalodon didn’t eat him.  Dating an Amazon is not for the weak of heart.  Before leaving this scene, do need to point out that someone that looks a lot like Alkyone was shown watching them fly off.

Wonder Woman leaves Tom to attend a meeting in Hollywood.  It’s humorous that in the narration, Wonder Woman is treating these negotiations with the same type of trepidation that she would treat a battle.  Maybe more so, being that she is really out of her element.  But, she doesn’t go to this meeting alone.  With her are two trusted advisors, Tolifhar and Rhanda.  Yes, she brought a couple gorilla warriors to a Hollywood meeting.  And there is a wonderful moment where the executive, Laney, holds out her hand, and one of them licks it, quietly commenting that it tasted unpleasant. 

Wonder Woman is in town for this meeting with Laney to discuss a movie that they are wanting to make about Wonder Woman.  They tell her that the movie is getting made regardless, but that they would love to have Wonder Woman speak well of the movie, and are willing to give her a consultant credit and make a donation to the Athenian Women’s Shelters. As the writer goes into the type of movie they want to make, it’s obvious that Allison Condero, the legal consultant, is not at all behind the movie or Wonder Woman for that matter.  While Laney tries to shut her up, Wonder Woman wants to hear what she has to say.  Allison’s views break down to not liking that everything Wonder Woman is involved with is solved with violence while she’s essentially dressed like stripper.  Ouch.  Wonder Woman asks for a private conversation with Allison.

Once Wonder Woman is alone with Allison, she punches her in the face, because everything is solved with violence.  Nah, just kidding.  Instead, Wonder woman hugs.  Like, a big hug.  Obviously, Allison is confused, and Wonder Woman assures her that it’ll be alright if she stops now.  Allison runs off, going you don’t know.  So, definitely a weird bit.  And at this moment, it seems where ever this leads could be very contrived, but let’s see where it goes before I comment any further about my worries.

While touring the back lot, they all come across this awful scene with “Wonder Woman” fighting “Hercules” because she cannot love a man unless he defeats her, which Hercules does.  It really is wonderful, intentionally bad writing.  And Bernard Change even manages to draw the absolutely horrible acting, so that everything comes together in this moment to really convey just how horrible this movie is shaping up being.  Wonder Woman questions this scene, and find out that it actually gets worse.  This is just a part of a love triangle that also includes “Queen Hippolyta.”  This sends Wonder Woman over the edge, and she wants this move shut down now.  How dare they do this to her mother, and make a mockery of what she went through.*  As Wonder Woman gets angry, Laney’s, “Wonder Woman’s,” and “Hercules'” eyes get all white.  Not a glazed over white.  More like a, oh crap, something is about to go down white.  And something does indeed go down.

Wonder Woman - A Star in the Heavens - bad acting

“Wonder Woman” and “Hercules” attack her, more effective psychologically than physically.  Laney reveals herself to be…well, I don’t actually know who she claims to be.  An evil queen.  Probably a mistake to not name the villain immediately.  But, this evil queen reveals that Wonder Woman had been poisoned by fresh fruit that was a throwaway offer earlier in the meeting.  So much of a throwaway line, that I didn’t even think to add it to the write up until now.  Wonder if Tolifhar and Rhanda commenting about stuffing rotten fruit into a briefcase as they were leaving the meeting was a clue.  Oh well.  Laney comments that Wonder Woman, or she should say Snow White, owes her eons of torture, and this first issue ends with an interesting scene of different variations of Wonder Woman all binding her with the lasso.

Wonder Woman is able to fight off all of the other “Wonder Women,” while Laney’s film is filming the fight.  They hope to catch the death of Wonder Woman, but are sorely disappointed.  Wonder Woman’s narration boxes reveal that this evil queen is actually the Queen of Fables.  I had a hunch that this is who she was, but having only seen her on the Harley Quinn cartoon (watch it), I wasn’t entirely certain.  The Queen, no longer needing her assistant, Cheri, hurls her high into the sky.  But it’s okay, Wonder Woman is able to catch her.  And despite Wonder Woman’s denials, Cheri is convinced that she is an angel, because she prayed for help, and help came. 

Wonder Woman comes back to confront the Queen, and asks her why and what happened to the real Laney.  But she does this admittedly before binding her with the lasso.  Now, I’m no Amazonian warrior princess, but if I’m fighting a magic user, I’d like to think I’d be smart enough to put the lasso of truth around her first, and then doing the interrogation.  But maybe this is a subtle call back to the “Ends of the Earth” story, why the lasso quit responding to her, so Wonder Woman isn’t so quick to use it.  Either way, of course the lack of use backfires.  The Queen comments that of course she’d be drawn to this city where they tell tales, and then Wonder Woman is transported to a beach.

What follows are more, absolutely terrible movie scenes.  Movie scenes so utterly terrible that Wonder Woman facepalms.  The scenes include “Hippolyta” keeping secret who the real father is, a young Diana being taught that the worst enemy is man, what with their smells and leaving the toilet seat up.  Lastly, a scene when Steve Trevor crashes on the island, and Diana immediately falls in love with him.**  With this, Wonder Woman has had enough and interrupts things.  This has the Queen jump things ahead a bit, and Wonder Woman finds herself in a fight with a couple Centaurs.  Which may be the only accurate thing in this movie.  Apparently Wonder Woman never got along with the Centaurs.  I can see why if she always called them slurs, as she does here.  Doesn’t seem like a very Wonder Womanly thing to say.  We’ll just blame the remnants of The Black Horizon again.

Wonder Woman - A Star in the Heavens - face palm

After taking care of the Centaurs, Wonder Woman calls out the Queen, and they fight.  The Queen turns into a dragon, and I can’t blame her.  If I had the ability to turn into a dragon, I’d do it all the time.  However, even turning into a dragon doesn’t help the Queen, because Wonder Woman is still Wonder Woman, and when you allow her to be Wonder Woman, she has all of her abilities.  So, Wonder Woman beats the Queen as close to death as she can.  It’s fine, she knows that you can’t really kill the Queen.  She just wants to get her close to being dead.  Again, Black Horizon.  Eventually, the Queen disappears and Wonder Woman is transported back to the Hollywood back lot.  There, Wonder Woman decides that perhaps it’d be best to wait for a movie about her life until someone wants to make a good one.

A few days later, Wonder Woman visits Allison Condero, and we find out that the secret being kept was that Allison had a drinking problem.  Here, Wonder Woman has come by to check on her, and we also know that a bit of Allison’s judgemental outburst was that her two daughters idolize Wonder Woman.  But things are looking up now, like things will be alright.  Allison is also thankful that Wonder Woman didn’t share what had happened at the studio, because that would have been bad for a lot of people.  And this is where one of the most quoted lines I’ve seen about Wonder Woman comes in.  “Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify, and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.”  It is a really great quote, and something that defines Wonder Woman quite well.  Up to this point, we’ve seen Wonder Woman only use the amount of force necessary to get the job done.  If no force is necessary, then no force is used.  It speaks to the compassion that we often see in these stories.  And this story wraps up with Wonder Woman greeting and giving toy bracers to Allison’s daughters.

I enjoyed this little story.  You start it with Tom Tresser meeting Hippolyta, have some fun with some absolutely terrible acting, a bit of action, and end it by returning Wonder Woman to the base of compassion that was lost a bit due to The Black Horizon.  It was a fun break between serious stories, as I am assuming “Rise of the Olympian” is going to be fairly serious.  With it being 8 or 9 issues, it certainly seems like it is going to be.

Up next, “Rise of the Olympian.”

*As of this writing, I don’t actually know what Hercules did to Queen Hippolyta.  In what I’ve last read and covered in the Perez Wonder Woman stuff, things seemed to be good between Hippolyte and Hercules.  But, there’s plenty of time between the two for things to go south.

**Not sure what Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are doing at this point.  I know that post-Crisis, they are romantically linked, but uncertain if that’s still a thing this many years later.  Though it would explain why Wonder Woman is worried what they would think when seeing the scene of “Wonder Woman” kissing “Steve Trevor.”

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