Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AMAZON #1 – April 1996

Family History

Credits: John Byrne (writer/artist), Terry Austin (inker), Patricia Mulvihill (colorist), John Costanza (letterer)

Summary: Princess Ororo, Wonder Woman, is suddenly attacked by the sea god Poseidon. He washes her away to his throne room, where she discovers his massive treasure. Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, two of Ororo’s friends discover a battered Diana of Themyscira inside her apartment. Inside Poseidon’s throne room, Ororo picks up a small statue. Poseidon condemns her as a thief, claiming that his actions years ago were justified. Ororo flashes back to the day on Themyscira when she learned she was not an Amazon, but instead an orphan rescued from a shipwreck. Poseidon tells Ororo of the story behind the shipwreck. A professor named Malcolm discovered the statue’s mate while diving. Angered that he stole one of his treasures, Poseidon used his godly powers to ruin Malcolm’s life. Dejected, Malcolm traveled back to the Mediterranean to throw the statue back into the ocean. On the same boat were Ororo’s parents. Poseidon appears, telling Malcolm that now that he is in his domain, he can do more than merely “vex” him. He destroys the boat, killing everyone onboard, except for infant Ororo, who is rescued by the Amazons. Ororo chastises Poseidon, telling him that the world has moved on to other gods. Malcolm only sought to teach others about the legends of the gods, and Poseidon was so petty he only saw him as a thief. Poseidon realizes how foolish he has been and lets Ororo go.

Review: When Wizard did a rundown of the Amalgam event, I remember this is one of the issues they deemed lame. It has its faults, but I wouldn’t totally dismiss it. Most likely, I bought this issue to see John Byrne draw one of the X-Men again. Re-teaming with Terry Austin doesn’t recreate the look of their original Uncanny X-Men run, but the art is competent enough. It certainly looks better than how I remember Wonder Woman looking at this time. Byrne seems to be having fun with the Amalgam event, even throwing in a totally unrelated subplot scene with the real Wonder Woman that looks like something that might be in these pages if an Amazon series really did exist. The structure of the story is a little odd, as Byrne goes from present narrative, to flashback, to flashback within a flashback (which I thought was supposed to be a cardinal writing sin), briefly back to the present, to another flashback, then back to the present. The actual story he’s telling isn’t bad, and Byrne conveys the agony of a rational man tormented by a god pretty well, but the narrative structure is needlessly convoluted. The dialogue can also be a chore to get through, since large sections of it consist of godly characters speaking in stilted prose. Despite the flaws, though, I like the main idea of the story, and Ororo’s speech that humbles Poseidon is nicely written.

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