Wonder Woman Retrospective: Down to Earth (2003) - George Rucka
Wonder Woman is often portrayed as larger-than-life but in Greg Rucka's aptly named Down to Earth she is handling more worldly matters. Diana has written a book called Reflections: A Collection of Essays and Speeches, which outlines her thoughts philosophy about life in general. Of course, the media latches onto the more controversial aspects of the book, mostly to gain publicity, but a certain woman named Veronica Cale has more nefarious intentions.
To be honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of the direction this story took as it had a ham-fisted way of injecting politics into the Wonder Woman mythos. The idea that she would want to take an active role in the law of the land in Man's World isn't far fetched, but the way she goes about it seems out of character for her. Diana's feminist character is always making a statement, but Rucka sees fit to eschew any sort of subtlety with the narrative and insert obvious talking points awkwardly into the dialogue. Comic books are definitely the place to explore these kinds of issues, but it always seems to work better and feel more organic when it's in the undercurrent and not in the forefront. I do like the way Wonder Woman is presented though, as she is simultaneously powerful but human at the same time.
In stark contrast to George Perez's old-fashioned Themyscria, Rucka's version is modern and hip. Ares looks like he shops at Armani, and Aphrodite is lounging around nude by the pool wearing sunglasses. While updating the gods and goddesses seems like a good idea on paper, it comes off a bit cringe-inducing in practice. Ares is a lot more fleshed out now--he's more lawful evil instead of chaotic evil which gives him more nuance as a villain. Veronica Cale's motives for hating Wonder Woman are a bit more unclear--I suppose she is meant to represent the media trying to slander viewpoints they don't agree with.
As much as this story didn't work for me, some of the concepts put forth through Diana's book (via Rucka's writing) are interesting and thought-provoking. There are "excerpts" from Reflections scattered throughout the comic and I enjoyed how in-depth they went. It's too bad the social commentary overpowered the actual story. Drew Johnson's art is excellent, however, and I love how big and imposing he makes Wonder Woman look. There isn't a whole lot of action in this volume, but what little there is executed well. Overall, this is a fairly forgettable tale in Wonder Woman's history.