When it comes to the ancient mythologies, the major themes often reflect distinctly human traits. Gods, demigods, and everything in between tend to highlight extremes and embellishments of these traits. The modern superhero genre frequently utilizes the same approach, forging heroes that embody powerful traits that reflect the best and worst of humanity. In that context, Wonder Woman reflects the best of mortals and gods alike.
Unlike the traits embodied in Superman or Batman, Wonder Woman’s story is closely tied to that of the Olympian gods that she and her fellow Amazons worship. Much of her power, persona, and heritage stem from the stories of these gods that go back to ancient times. Sometimes, they empower Wonder Woman and drive her forward. Other times, they present her with adversaries and conflicts. In recent times, her struggles under James Robinson utilize a little of both.
There are a great many upheavals going on in Wonder Woman’s life, both as high profile hero in the DC Universe and on the personal front. After being reunited with her long-lost twin brother, Jason, she goes through a bit of an adjustment period, having lived much of her life under the assumptions her mother, the gods, and her Amazon sisters instilled. More and more of those assumptions are now coming into question. The events of Dark Nights: Metal and her recent dealings with Grail have Wonder Woman at another crossroads that may result in more than just shocking family revelations.
While secrets and lies are a frequent catalyst in mythology, ancient and contemporary alike, Wonder Woman #46 lays the groundwork with conflict more relevant to Wonder Woman’s recent personal struggles. Between discovering her long-lost brother and watching Barbara Minerva transform into Cheetah again, she’s already familiar with divine melodrama, albeit on a smaller scale. James Robinson keeps the scale small at first, but it steadily escalates.
It starts with Cheetah’s escape. It’s sudden, violent, and brings her face-to-face with Veronica Cale, the woman most responsible for Barbara Minerva becoming Cheetah again. On the surface, it presents itself as simple revenge scheme in the mold of John Wick. That’s how Wonder Woman approaches it when she enters the picture, but it gets distinctly less simple from there. That tends to happen whenever gods, new and old alike, get involved.
Parallel to Cheetah’s story, Diana’s twin brother, Jason, follows his own plot that reunites him with his adopted father, Glaucus. Like Cheetah’s blood-soaked revenge story, his starts out simple. Rescuing his adopted father from people intent on studying the biology of immortals doesn’t break much new ground. As with Diana, though, that changes once some divine details emerge.
Unlike Diana, though, Jason’s story is still new and has a few lingering plot holes. Robinson doesn’t overlook them, but doesn’t give a full answer either. Jason’s emergence within Wonder Woman is already heavily influenced by the Olympian gods. His connection with them is a bit less certain compared to his sister, if only because he’s shown a tendency to be far less responsible. The hints dropped by Glaucus also indicate that they’ve influenced Jason more than he thinks.
This provides an ominous backdrop once the impact of Dark Nights: Metal catches up to the story. It’s somewhat abrupt, hitting Diana both literally and figuratively as she tries to deal with Cheetah. Most stories involving gods and god-like beings tend to evoke powerful passions throughout the mortal masses, especially among those expected to provide worship. Anything that disrupts that worship is an attack on their very soul.
The passions, in this case, have little to do with piety. True to ancient mythologies that highlight the importance of the gods, their absence or lack of influence leaves the world a dangerous place and prone to chaos. This is where Dark Nights: Metal starts spreading its influence and Wonder Woman is on the front line. Being a demigoddess, herself, it’s fitting that she finds herself drawn into the chaos. An agent of that chaos even ends up being a familiar face who bears a familiar red cape and symbol on her chest, which further raises the stakes.
Wonder Woman #46 takes its time to set up a new plot involving the Old Gods, the emerging Dark Gods, and how it all effects Wonder Woman, someone’s whose story involves battling divine chaos every other week. The connections between Diana’s recent clashes and Dark Nights: Metal are subtle, but relevant. However, they’re too subtle to generate much impact, aside from the last couple of pages. While the story is full of bloody battles and divinely-fueled chaos, it still moves too slowly to really test Wonder Woman in a meaningful way.
It still makes the necessary connections and establishes a foundation for a divine conflict that will bring new, but familiar contributors to her struggle. Whether they’ll help or hinder her efforts remain to be seen. One of ancient mythology’s most common themes, aside from gods impregnating mortal women, involves how determined gods are at maintaining their godly status. Those who worship them can be just as determined and if Wonder Woman #46 is any indication, she may end up fighting both.