Let’s get this out of the way: I am done with this Wonder Woman series.
For every issue since James Robinson took over this series I’ve been writing almost the exact same review over and over again: Wonder Woman isn’t the main character, the story deliberately undoes the development of the Rebirth storyline, and James Robinson has been trying to write installments for other comics. I pointed out in my review of his very first issue that at a fundamental level, James Robinson was just writing a new tie-in to Darkseid War, and with the way this issue plays out I can’t even say that he’s bothering to pretend otherwise anymore.
In issue #37, despite the fact that she is present on the pages for a lot of the comic, Wonder Woman literally isn’t even a participant in the story.
Forgive me for being brief, but I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to go over this issue’s events in too great of detail.
It picks up where issue issue #36 left off, with Zeus and Darkseid fighting. They go back and forth a bit with each of them making boastful claims about how powerful they are, while Wonder Woman looks on and cries out for her father. She starts off looking very aged and decrepit, apparently a side effect of Darkseid sapping her life-force to empower himself, but she grows more youthful as the fight progresses. She deduces that this means that Darkseid is weakening in his fight and losing the power he stole from her. She tries to attack Darkseid but is sideswiped by Grail.
Jason has decided to fully commit to Wonder Woman’s side now, decrying that this wasn’t what he agreed to when he joined Grail and Darkseid. However, he claims he is too weak from his fight with Wonder Woman three issues ago to really help her. He settles for distracting Grail while Wonder Woman tries for Darkseid again.
Seeing her coming, Darkseid uses a boom tube to take himself and Zeus to Manila in the Philippines so that there will be massive destruction from their fight and Wonder Woman will be too busy saving innocents to get involved. It works to keep her distracted, and while this is happening Darkseid reveals that this was his plan all along—to lure Zeus in personally by killing his kids. Darkseid then drains Zeus’s power and emerges fully grown and powered again, with Zeus dying in the process.
Wonder Woman is grief-stricken at seeing her father die. As she lunges at Darkseid, he dismisses her ability to threaten him until he sees that the entire Justice League has arrived to support her. Unwilling to face them at this time, Darkseid and Grail flee in another boom tube while Diana and Jason cradle each other in sadness at the death of their father.
I don’t know how many different ways I can write “This isn’t Wonder Woman’s story”, but here I go again.
Darkseid War Redux
As I’ve said from the beginning, this entire arc has been about dealing with the fallout of the Darkseid War and—as is now apparent—setting up for its continuation presumably in the Justice League title. It is revealed in this issue that Darkseid never even cared about killing Wonder Woman or draining her power, it was all about gaining access to Zeus. She is literally a stepping stone. So, when I’ve been talking in previous issues about how the comic hasn’t been about her, it turns out that even the characters in the comic weren’t thinking about her. She’s the hostage, the leverage, not the end goal.
Wonder Woman spends the entire issue being literally ineffectual, always trying to attack Darkseid but never once able to actually do so. She has no impact on the outplay of events. Even at the end of the issue, Darkseid is driven off by the arrival of the Justice League with absolutely no involvement by Wonder Woman.
It is Darkseid that drives the plot, and Zeus who who dies in a fight-to-the-death, while Wonder Woman gets to look on and cry.
Remember when Diana didn’t even consider Zeus a parent?
One of the singular points of the entire Rebirth storyline was to establish that Diana does not regard Zeus as a father or even as family. He might have been her biological progenitor, but even that wasn’t definite. Even if he was, she viewed him as a sperm donor and nothing more. Issue #17 had Diana playing word-association where her instinctual response to the word “father” was to think of her mother instead. To Diana, she didn’t have a father, and there was absolutely zero lack in her life on account of that. She was much closer to the other gods and goddess who served as the Patrons of Themyscira.
Even just last issue, when we’re already into this present story arc, Diana pointed out to Jason that Zeus probably wouldn’t have been a good parent even if he was around. She didn’t feel any kind of sorrow that he hadn’t raised her.
Why then does she call him “father” now? Why is she desperate to fight by his side and wracked with heartache when he dies? Why do she and Jason hold each other tenderly in shared sorrow over losing their father? They didn’t even know the guy!
It’s just not a good issue even by itself
They managed to make a Fight To The Death between gods boring. How do you do that?
Since when has Darkseid become Rogue, draining people’s life at a touch? In the previous issues Grail was admittedly stealing the life essence of Zeus’s children to feed to Darkseid later, but not because either of them had energy-sucking powers. Grail had to kill them first (Or at least defeat them to the point where they could set up their doohickies) and there were technological/magical mother boxes involved. Here, though, it seems like Darkseid is just leeching off Zeus’s and Wonder Woman’s powers through proximity and some sort of life-force chain.
If that’s not what happened, then what did happen? How was seemingly-not-full-power Darkseid even able to kill King of the Gods Zeus?
Why is Jason so determinedly on Diana’s side now? It already didn’t make sense last issue when he was waffling back and forth, but now he’s just completely turning aside from his villainous ways? He was downright sadistic when he first turned on Diana, what changed?
The issue was apparently narrated in the past tense by Diana retelling what happened to Steve Trevor, but where/when/why is this taking place? None of the other issues in this arc have been narrated in this fashion, and the issue doesn’t end with Diana speaking to Steve to explain the narrative framing.
This whole issue, and by extension the entire arc, is nonsensical and built upon stories from other comics. It is all building to a payoff that will probably show up in a separate event title or crossover event, and which isn’t even about the supposed main character of this series. It’s just…bad.
If I wasn’t writing reviews here for the Fandomentals, by this point I would have stopped reading the series completely.