Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Raul Allen
Published by DC Comics
“Inherit the tools of Patriarch’s world…
… and you’ll inherit their weaknesses.”
The third issue of Steve Orlando’s unfortunately limited run on Wonder Woman drives down into the dynamic character tension that Orlando has been setting up since his first issue: the contrasts between Diana and Artemis. Two avatars of heroic battle.
Artemis is brash in a constant, aggressively over-compensating manner.
Diana by comparison, is consistently tactful, insightful and broad-minded.
But both are warriors, both were raised in warrior cultures, and both are heroes.
Orlando has done a good job so far of showing that however much they spar, both in their own particular and indomitable way – Artemis with regular provocation, Diana as equally determined to defuse every unnecessary hostility – each in fact do respect one another, and count on one another as allies.
That all changes in this issue, or at least it seems to, which is to say that circumstances force Artemis into a decision that puts her at odds with her sister. It is a decision born of her defining values and loyalties, values which at core are not so very different than Diana’s. Just different in important ways.
Artemis’ tribe of the Bana-Mighdall under the influence of their ‘strong-woman’, cult-of-personality leader Queen Faruka II, have redefined themselves about a sense of urgency to secure themselves in the world, provoking conflict with the native countrymen of Qurac, by imposing their decision to take what they wish, under a thinly disguised justification of might makes right. The parallels of this scenario to real-world politics is palpable, and Orlando heightens that by throwing the Quraci anti-‘hero’ Rustam into the mix, re-envisioning him here as an agent of chaos, opportunistically creating conflict simply to satiate his own traumatized desire for vengeance against a world that has wronged him.
To Orlando’s credit, while the broad strokes of that set-up are fairly straightforward, the details and the character motivations involved in setting up the inevitable conflict are in fact somewhat nuanced. And that too is reflective of real-world considerations.
At least they are if you are concerned merely with matters of position, politics, grievance, and power.
If you are Wonder Woman however, noble warrior of truth, those matters are all quite secondary to the principles of integrity and inclusion that dictate the worth of any cause and the very motivation to engage in any conflict.
The conflict she chooses to engage in here, is, not surprisingly, the choice to fight for what is just. Which is to say a cessation of all hostilities, in open opposition to the aggressions of those who would over-reach in their ambitions with no regard for those who will pay the price.
Artemis, like her warrior sisters, allows loyalty to her tribe to over-ride any objection to its leader. Her desire for validation in conflict, pits her squarely on one side of an unnecessary battle – one that she convinces herself will advantage her people. But a few deft applications of the lasso of truth serve to give us some insight into how deeply some of those convictions might in fact run. Brilliant.
This too, is evocative of much of our modern-day politics, and it is to Orlando’s credit that in a few short issues he has set up a character-driven plot that highlights so many of these dynamics in order to best highlight the gravity and nobility of Wonder Woman’s own heroic mission in Patriarch’s world.
How well he’s managed that will be demonstrated with the resolution of his story next issue, in which we are sure to come to a full appreciation of why the title of this 4-issue story arc holds the name, The Enemy of Both Sides.
I’m looking forward to it.
Next Issue: You’ve heard of Scylla and Charibdis, haven’t you?