Comic Review – Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

Surprise! A Wonder Woman comic review! Okay, so we’re a bunch of testosterone laden guys. That doesn’t mean someone like Wonder Woman can’t be the center of a completley engrossing story. Read the review, and then go buy this one. I mean it.

General Information

Title: Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia
Author: Greg Rucka
Illustrator(s): J.G. Jones, Wade Von Grawbadger with Dave Stewart, Todd Klein
Original Publication Date: 2002
ISBN: 1-56389-914-0
Cover Price: $17.95us/$29.95can
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Wonder Woman, Diana, Ambassador from Themyscira, is compelled to protect a supplicant – regardless of the consequences.

High Point

There are so many…it’s difficult to choose. Probably Batman’s attempt at twisting the ritual to his own benefit – it was so typical of him – and at the same time, the ritual itself was so atypical. Very well written.

Low Point

If I were forced to choose, I’d have to say the way the erinyes – something about the way they shrouded themselves in castoff clothes to make themselves inconspicuous – and at the same time were invisible to people who weren’t meant to see them. It struck me as awkward. (Also, Diana calling Batman “Bruce” in public. OUCH.)

The Review

I’m going to try something different. I’m going to write a “review” in and of itself, and then assign scores. Warning – there may be some minor spoilers included, but I tend to find a review without SOME spoilers helplessly obtuse. If you don’t like this, say so – or just scroll down until you see “the scores”.

I’ve been increasingly drawn to comic books recently – mostly due to Neil Gaiman’s work, but more and more due to my association with this site. As such, I was looking for some good graphic novels to read on a long weekend’s drive. Over time I’ve grown more and more interested in Wonder Woman – especially since Justice League began to air – but I’d never seen myself going specifically to get something featuring her. Picking this one up, however, I saw that it dealt a great deal with the Greek roots of her Amazon heritage. The story deals with an ancient ritual called “hiketeia”, which requires a supplicant to debase himself before someone who can protect them from whatever is a threat. To refuse is unthinkable – unless the ritual is abused. To fail to protect a supplicant is even worse. Into all of this come the erinyes – the furies – the kindly ones. They are one of the many forms the Three in One goddess appears throughout mythology, and are a very popular topic for comics (or, at least, the type of comics I’ve been reading recently). The usual result of one of these sets turning up is someone will learn something they have to know, but will have to do something that will hurt them greatly. Nothing here is different in that regard. One of my favorite parts of this graphic novel is the view into Diana’s day to day life. I must have missed the point where Wonder Woman became the ambassador to the U.S. from Themyscira, but seeing her in her ambassadorial mansion, dressed in casual, basic clothing, just being was interesting to watch. In fact, a good portion of the work involved the day to day routine of a superhero – and did an excellent job of making the whole thing seem…well, routine. The feel this leaves you with is that despite her power, Diana is still just a person, bound by obligations, and powerless against the rules she has to live by.

The Scores

I’m not sure about how original it is – I’m not an expert on past comic plots. In this case, it FEELS original. Many of the pieces are not new, but they were used in elegant ways. I give it a 5/6

The artwork is excellent, in my opinion. I like this style. In particular, there’s a panel where Batman has been hurled from a second story balcony by a single punch of Wonder Woman. The expression on Batman’s face is one of pain, exhaustion, and resignation. He looks like he’s been doing this forever, and expects to keep going forever. Capturing that in one image is very good – and it depends on the author as much as the artist, but I was very impressed. I was tempted to make it my high point. I give the artwork 6/6.

The story was excellent. It was clear where it needed to be, mysterious where it was supposed to be, and dragged you along by your nose. I’d say I read the whole thing in under ten minutes. Completely engrossing. Story gets a 5/6.

As I said, I know very little of Wonder Woman, but at the end of this I was tempted to go and get a few issues of her monthly title. I really felt attached to her, and she definitely grew over the course of the story. Batman’s character I’m more familiar with, but I’d say they captured him almost perfectly. Even though he didn’t have a great deal of dialogue or time, it’s very obvious that he’s on top of things. On the other hand, someone less familiar with his resources might feel that his knowledge of hiketeia was out of place – I felt it showed how much of a detective he is at heart. The other character of note was not badly done, and she grew a great deal over the story, but her characterization was deliberate, to exact an emotional response. In all, I give the characterization a 5/6

The emotional response was good as well. I liked this title, can you tell? I empathized a great deal with Diana – and wanted to kick Batman in the head a few times. He really can be a jerk, can’t he? Unfortunatly, I had trouble empathizing with the supplicant – possibly because I’m male, possibly because I don’t have any siblings. Possibly because they tried to make her look completely justified in her crimes – which took away from the story in some way I couldn’t put my finger on. I would have liked to see her slightly less the victim, the avenger. Instead, she was really no worse than Batman can be on a bad day. I give the emotional response 4/6.

The flow was excellent – as I said, I flew through this in 10 minutes the first time. I think that this title was written on its own, rather than being a collection of a comic book story arc, and that helped immensely. There was no need to bring things to an ending or cliffhanger every 24 pages or so. Flow gets a 6/6

Overall, I loved this comic. This was truly a serendipitous choice. (less so than the other title I picked up, with two characters I knew in advance that I like. That one gets reviewed next.) I say unto you – GO AND GET THIS COMIC. You’ll thank me later. Overall, it gets a 6/6.

In total, Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia gets a 37 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

Seriously. Buy this.