Justice League: Gods & Monsters – Wonder Woman #1 – 3 Review

Justice League: Gods & Monsters – Wonder Woman #1 – 3 Review A warrior in a strange land who learns to turn from war to peace, but does it succeed?

Creative Staff:
Writers: J.M. DeMattis and Bruce Timm
Artwork: Rick Leonardi

What They Say:
Earth in the 1960s—where a woman-warrior from a faraway world finds herself among a group of young idealists, seeking peace and love in a time of turbulence and upheaval. But Bekka of the New Gods finds her Aquarian dream abruptly shattered when she encounters the monstrous genius of Doctor Psycho and the Shock Exchange!

Content (please note that portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Bekka of New Genesis, granddaughter to High Father, had fought in many strange lands but when the Boom Tube warped her to this world called Earth, she had no idea that it would be the beginning of a new journey. It was India, the year 1962 and she had no memories of how she got here or who she was. Although the inhabitants were strange to her and she did not understand the language, their actions and mannerisms proved that they were no threat. This place was calming and the simple life of these people was foreign to the constant warfare she had known all her life. But how could the essence of this clarity be so serene that she had never known of it before?

As her memories returned, the need to explore overtook her trepidations to see the outside world. Mother Box must have had a reason for bringing her to this primitive place, a planet beyond the conflict of Apokolips. Was this somewhere where she could find peace … a new home? If it was, then Bekka would need to find out as much as she could of this Earth as Mother Box could impart. The sentient computer showed her that this globe had much: majestic nature beauty, overwhelming savagery and wonders too numerous to count. How could this same world which had nursed her back to health, also have as many conflicts that the dead litter the wastes?

To settle her misgivings, there was no other choice, she would need to leave this quiet village and wander the lands beyond. She would need to see what as out there to settle her own mind. From the farthest of mountains, to the over packed cities, to desolate war torn wastelands and poverty stricken towns, Bekka saw it all, but never interfered. And yet as time passed, she saw petty skirmishes bring the world to the edge of war. Many noble men tried to bring an end to it, but most died in vain. If she was to live on this world, why couldn’t she do something about it? Why must she idly stand by and watch?

However, try as she might, no matter which country, culture or civilisation she tried to help, the futility of man overtook any good she might have try to engender; had the hypocrisy of her constant fighting forestall any peace she might have to create now? Apokolips was behind her – she needed to find her own tranquility before she had any hope of nurturing it in those around her. This new movement in America shared her hopes: it was one of spiritual transformation and open idealism. But the young peoples’ means of reaching this new enlightenment came from the use of chemical, which often had the harmful side effect of collapsing the mind.

When Bekka found such a lost soul in an alleyway, she called upon Mother Box to reach into the girl’s mind to chase the demons away. As she finished the process, her friends arrived explaining that she had taken some bad drugs. The strangers, Suzie Sunshine, Guitar Joe and Doctor Psycho then began explaining their plans where all races were equal, hearts and minds, all over the world would be one. But, the only way for her to understand was to come with them to visit the Farm.

The Farm was a commune some one hundred miles outside the city, shared by the twenty followers of Joe. They all shared the same ideals, but their naivety was a refreshing breeze to the overall cynicism that Bekka knew of the realities of the world. However, it held a secret that Doc didn’t want anyone to know about: his laboratory. It was there that he did his experiments to create pure chemicals that helped to alter the mind, not like that junk that the kids found on the streets. His chemicals would help them transform into what was needed for the coming revolution.

As time passed, some of the followers began to hear the wisdom in Bekka’s words, that their minds could be expanded without Doc’s drugs. They looked to her for guidance, and in turn, she looked to Mother Box for crystals which would help to them focus on what was outside the universe. But, as she helped those who would listen, the echoes of the Doctor’s philosophy haunted her consciousness. She did not like him nor trust him which was proven when she took a closer look at his secret: Doc’s drugs were not without their mutational side effects.

When Joe and Doc came to disturbance, the Doctor explained that his chemicals could not be created without testing on volunteers from the commune. He had worked with the C.I.A. on a project called MKUltra: they used psychotropics to control people, but his nobler cause was to create better psychedelics which would help to expand not only their minds, but their bodies too, to the next stage in evolution. Of course, there were some failures which he was, of course, trying to cure, but it takes time.

As the talks began to break down, Doctor Psycho didn’t want Bekka to reveal his secret and so dosed her with a sample of his chemical. She began to experience delusions of her past battles, seeing both friend and foe among the fallen. This impossibility began to fracture her mind where she saw her current comrades as the enemy. It was only through the words of Suzie that she was able settle down and see clearly. By the next morning, most of the people had decided to part ways with the main group and follow her. However, when she returned to Doc’s lab, everything gone, including the mutations. Psycho tried to explain that there was never any laboratory, that it was all a hallucination, but of course, she didn’t believe a word. As Bekka stormed off, the Doc found one of Mother Box’s crystals in the rubble and a new way to enhance his experiments.

While Bekka and her group established a new commune, the Doctor was finding better ways to use the crystal to transform his rejects into better test subjects. Joe thought that this procedure was going to reverse the side effects and paid for his gullibility by becoming the next experiment. As night fell, the encampment was attacked by wave after wave of Doc Psycho’s new bat creatures, controlled by a shining shard embedded in each chest. She knew that if the creatures weren’t defeated soon, everyone would be slaughtered. But, how could she do it without killing these innocents? While the insane monsters battered her helpless frame, her thoughts were in disarray until an instant of clarity focused on the crystalline fragment and one answer … hope. This pure feeling cleansed the gem as a whole and brought the insanity to an end.

After the chaos receded, Joe brought the group to the new lab and found that the Doctor had once again gone into hiding, leaving nothing but broken bodies. While they tried to assuage Bekka’s guilt that if she hadn’t interfered, there could have been more casualties, this did not comfort her pain. She knew that she had to leave the group, that hiding from her problems was not in her nature. As she said her good-byes, she knew that although they may have left them, the commune would always hold a warm place in her heart.

In Summary:
This final prequel of the Justice League: Gods & Monsters was, for lack of a better word, disappointing. I know that J.M. DeMattis and Bruce Timm wanted to set the mood of the Sixties, but to isolate the story by revolving around peace, love, drugs and crystals limited the fundamental plot. Although it is ironic that they chose to start Bekka’s journey in India after seeing a statue of Ganesha: he is known as the god of beginnings, remover of obstacles and patron of wisdom; all of these aspects were in some part involved in her trip.

For a warrior of New Genesis, known for their ongoing war with Darkseid and Apokolips, to be jolted into a relatively placid world like Earth would be a shock, but to be able to placate a lifetime of violence within the span of five years (or one issue) seems rather spurious. I know that they want to move the story along, but to spend the other two issues in a commune without any flashbacks to her previous life until something threatens her, even the attack of those mutants, was disappointing; she was more scared than in control, even with all of that psychic sewage, a soldier should have been more disciplined, for panic in the battlefield is deadly. Sorry, but I kept expecting Age of Aquarius to start playing in the background!

The bright point of the mini-series was Rick Leonardi’s artwork. The method by which he transitions from a calm Indian countryside, to the sombre tranquility of Kennedy’s funeral procession, to the racial struggles of the Sixties and into the LSD laced Summer of Love poignantly encompasses that era. Then by the time Bekka reaches the Farm, the whole mood of the drawings changes with the incorporation of the hippie lifestyle and the usage of psychedelic art in her crystal healing meetings. All of these divergent methods brings the story into one coherent mélange of the taste of that decade. Without Leonardi’s drawings, it wouldn’t have been possible.

Maybe I am too brainwashed by the modern depiction of Wonder Woman to give this version a favourable judgement, but I am used to seeing Diana charging in with bullets bouncing off her bracelets and a sword swinging; after all, in the current storyline, she is now the God of War! How would she be able to change so drastically after all that she has seen and done? This is the same logic I am using to dissect this representation. Someone so drenched with the blood of her enemies cannot leave all of that behind his easily. Perhaps we shall see how it develops in the movie, but for now, this tale falls flat for me.

Grade: B+

Rating: 12+
Released By: DC Comics
Release Date: July 7 – 9, 2015
MSRP: $0.99 each

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