The Vanier Report: Week 18
“Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.”
The famous words of the Duke of Wellington echo loudly through Larry Hama’s concluding chapter of Convergence: Wonder Woman, even going so far as to paraphrase the quote at the story’s conclusion.
As Wonder Woman and the vampire Joker square off, Steve Trevor has to fight off a horde of newly turned vampires, as well as Red Rain’s Poison Ivy and Catwoman. The fights are gruesome and bloody, with Steve unloading magazine after magazine into the heads and bodies of his undead attackers while Wonder Woman is forced to unleash her most violent and aggressive self – breaking and smashing the bones and bodies of the vampires beyond their capacity to survive – in an attempt to even the playing field.
This is somewhat familiar territory for Wonder Woman; it calls back to the days of Infinite Crisis, specifically in the scene where Diana twists the Joker’s neck around to incapacitate him in order to help Steve. During Infinite Crisis, she did the same to Maxwell Lord, because it seemed to be the only way to save Superman from his control. It is a call-back to one of Wonder Woman’s more chilling comic book moments, but there is a key, humanizing difference this time around. It should be noted that this is pre-Crisis Diana, and therefore not the same Wonder Woman that killed Maxwell Lord. But what really separates the ferocity of this Wonder Woman from the one in Infinite Crisis is the emotional toll it takes on her.
Where the post-Crisis Diana grew increasingly warrior-like, the pre-Crisis Diana retains the full degree of compassion and empathy that defined the character since her beginnings. She does not shy away from the violence that she believes to be necessary, but neither does she ignore the weight of it. As she brutalizes the Joker and his hordes she questions who in the scenario is the true monster, and remarks to herself that her actions are more butchery than battle. And though the artwork is not especially gory, Aaron Lopresti’s pencils still manage to capture the horrific nature of the blows Diana strikes, leaving the reader to sympathize with Diana’s own thought: “Will I ever feel clean again?”
Diana’s emotional awareness of her actions even in the midst of battle makes the outcome all the more tragic. Though she eventually emerges victorious of the Joker, Hama once again deconstructs the victory. Diana failed to save Etta and Steve not only from becoming vampires, but also from being killed. She failed to save the cultists who were among the first to fall to the Joker. And though she ultimately saved the city, the thousands of erased lives from the now-annihilated Red Rain universe are on her hands.
Wonder Woman is at her best when she is written embracing her emotions rather than concealing them behind the warrior façade. Hama’s script absolutely triumphs in this regard, and each beat of the story resonates more strongly because of it. The emotional stakes of the narrative never dip, and though Diana’s hope and strength and compassion win the day, there is a complex, solemn reminder that Telos’ tournament is more than a mere fist fight. Countless lives hang in the balance, and all involved in the battle risk losing themselves, if not the fight.
Lopresti’s art keeps brilliant pace throughout the story, and the bleakness of Matt Banning’s inks and Tanya and Richard Horie’s colours evoke the darkness of the unworldly, as opposed to the more standard darkness of Gotham. But for all its strength, the issue’s artwork is a distant second to Larry Hama’s writing. This is a nuanced story that plays off the dualities of hope and despair, light and darkness, and courage and sacrifice. Next to the Azarrello run, this is one of the strongest Wonder Woman stories in a long time.
Feature Written By: Reid Vanier
“Reid is a comic book fan masquerading as a theatre artist. His love of comics (specifically DC) was inherited by his father’s collections of Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Justice League of America. Reid is now the Editor and Lead Writer of Modern Mythologies.”