Princess Maxima of Almerac crashes hard into Wonder Woman's kitchen, requesting assistance...
Maxima has an ascension problem. Specifically, a throne ascension problem...
Pulled by the thought of her own continual relationship misfires with Steve Trevor, Diana resolves to fly to Almerac with Maxima to right the situation.
Wonder Woman #754 is not a good comic. I’ll get that out of the way up front. As for why, first and foremost: the art, courtesy Gleb Melnikov (recently of Boom’s Angel, where he did a weak job there too, clearly not bothering to use any reference for any of the characters and appearing to have rushed as much as possible through each page) is what could charitably called amateurish at best. Everything is askew, faces look wrong and are inconsistently rendered throughout, and images in general simply don’t look finished for the most part. The inking is sloppy and while the coloring by Romulo Fajardo Jr. does its best to cover it up, there’s no getting around it: this is an unpleasant to look at, garish comic from start to finish. Wonder Woman and Maxima are supposed to look like strong women, but instead they look supine and gangly.
The story involves Maxima crash-landing into Wonder Woman’s kitchen to ask for her help in regaining the throne of Almerac. Why Wonder Woman? There’s no noteworthy history between these two characters; it appears as though writer Steve Orlando simply had an idea for a story and wedged both Maxima and Wonder Woman into without taking proper heed as to whether or not they actually fit. The story itself centers around Maxima being denied her throne because she loves a woman, not a man, and therefore cannot ascend. In her place is a mustache-twirler named Ultraa (no, not the multi-alien) who, of course, is the embodiment of cartoonishly toxic masculinity (not only does he have a harem attending to him, but he becomes offended when they.. gasp!… make eye contact with him). Maxima wants Wonder Woman’s help in overthrowing Ultraa and asserting her place on the throne, because she’s discovered that the tradition by which Almerac chooses its leaders is based on two women in love, not two men. That, therefore, gives her the in she needs to resume leadership. In theory this is good feminism, but in execution, it’s about as subtle as a baseball bat to the back of the head. It’s not the message that falters – love is love – but rather, the incredibly contrived and forced manner in which it’s presented.
All of this is well and good , but even considering how straightforward this one-and-done issue is, there’s a major plot hole: Wonder Woman doesn’t really do anything that Maxima couldn’t have accomplished on her own. There’s no major battle to be won (or at least not a skirmish that Maxima and her allies couldn’t have easily overcome), no real reason to be there, except for the forced parallel to Diana’s failed relationship with Steve Trevor, whose presence hasn’t really been invoked at all during Orlando’s tenure on the book. I assume this is a signal that Trevor is soon going to make a return to these pages, but just looking at it on the face of this issue alone, everything seems extremely out of left field.
Maxima, for her part, is extremely different from her traditional presentation. She originally debuted in the early ’90s, and her entire raison d’etre was, in a nutshell, to bang Superman so she could sire an heir with “the most worthy man.” In Maxima’s mind, “worthy” correlated to “strongest,” hence Superman. She was blunt and snobby and generally was a pain in the neck to be around (which somehow made her prime Justice League material, but that’s an aside for another time). The Maxima here bears zero resemblance to that original incarnation, to the point that she should really be called Maxima In Name Only. Visually, she’s more akin to Starfire (albeit with a bit less hair and, ah, more clothing), and in terms of personality, she’s absolutely nothing like the original. Granted, there’s something to be said about a female character in The Year of Our Lord 2020 whose only goal in life is to harass a man into sleeping with her being a bit out of step with the zeitgeist, but still, Orlando should have done something so that readers knew who this character was. If she’d gone unnamed throughout the issue, I would have assumed she was a brand-new character.
And then, in the end, the issue wraps up as predictably and anticlimactically as possible: Maxima presents the truth to her people, they accept her and her girlfriend/wife as their rulers with no skepticism, and Ultraa (still not the multi-alien) is hastily deposed. Fin. Again… any of this could have transpired without Wonder Woman being there (and just how long did it take her Invisible Jet to fly to Almerac, anyway?). Honestly, this issue was entirely skippable (and cunningly hidden beneath a beautiful Robson Rocha cover), the very definition of a filler issue.
Exceedingly poor art further hampers an ill-conceived filler issue in Wonder Woman #754. Suitable for completists only; all other comers would do well to save their money and time.
Wonder Woman #754: Sisters in Arms
Writing - 4/104/10
Storyline - 3/103/10
Art - 2/102/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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