Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods
Behold the mirror image of this tale taking place in the Dark Multiverse, with a Wonder Woman who is ready to destroy it all! Cursed by the evil goddess of magic, Hecate, our beloved Diana has become a weapon of vengeance ready to tear down any god or superhero that stands in her way. Will Earth and its heroes survive her might? Or are they doomed to worship the dark princess of the Amazons for the rest of eternity?!
Part of what has made Tales from the Dark Multiverse interesting is that, unlike its closest comparison “What If?”, the macro setting, being a dark and hopeless place, obviates the need for a happy ending. The formula is the same—take an event/storyline, change a single aspect of its execution, and let the story play out from that divergence. The requirement for things to go as sideways as possible allows writers to speculate wildly, and more often than not, the results are worth reading, weirder and darker than their gimmick would suggest.
This being an anthology series, the quality can vary wildly issue to issue, but here, Vita Ayala and Ariel Olivetti are more than up to the task, taking everything that makes Diana such a compelling character—her indomitable will, her sense of duty, her inability to fail—and making it a liability. This is a theme running through the series so far, taking one or two flaws or traits from their central characters, and using wild circumstances to magnify them into storms of tragedy. Diana’s unwillingness to back down does nothing against the will of Fate itself, as this story illustrates.
All of these stories are tragedies, resulting in cataclysmic consequences for their slight tilts to their realities. Diana’s refusal to back down, Wonder Woman’s greatest strength, simply results in Hecate fulfilling her plans in less direct, more painful ways—more death, more destruction, hitting ever closer to home. It gives Hecate the opening she needs, and takes over.
The fallout of that plot point are where the most interesting parts of the speculative elements take over. And it’s here, throughout this series, that the concept shines. Without the need for a happy—or even remotely optimistic—ending, writers are allowed to indulge in their grimmest fantasies. That key difference from other “What If?” or Elseworlds-style storytelling is what sets Tales apart.
Hecate takes control and gets the upper hand, moving Themiscyra to Washington, D.C. It leads to a confrontation with the heaviest hitters in the DC Universe, where the tragedy deepens: the heroes’ connection to Diana won’t allow them to commit the necessary act to stop this crisis. Several heroes are killed in the attempt to stop her, including Superman, his heart ripped from his chest, the most on-the-nose bit of subtext in the entire issue. In a slight break for the series, it ends on a slightly more upbeat note, after several powerful mystical heroes give their lives to chain Hecate, but the greatest tragedies have already happened. There’s little left to do but pick up the pieces and move on.
Tales from the Dark Multiverse has been a delight so far. Seeing how writers twist narratives from a single change has resulted in a lot of really interesting stories, often veering wildly away from expectations. This issue is no exception. Ayala and Olivetti, along with colorist Trish Mulvihill (who renders everything in a bright, blocky style that recalls the best of 80’s comics) and letters from the always-reliable Pat Brosseau, ask, “What If?”, and lets us follow that simple question to its thrilling conclusion, free from pesky things like “Superman lives” and “endings with even the slightest smidgen of hope”.
Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1 asks, "What If?" without constraint, and ends up with a compelling tragedy.
Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1: Logical Endpoints
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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