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Amazons Attack Review
by Doom and Black Goliath
More like Amazons Flounder in Monthly Sales
Ahem. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Why the laughter? Well, Amazons Attack (the title the book gives is actually 'Amazons Attack!'. I think the exclamation point gives it a special sheen of shittiness.) is by far one of the least successful crossovers of the recent comics era, and one of the only I remember as bringing sales down rather than up. (And the tie-ins sell better than the miniseries itself! What comedy!) That in and of itself provides ample justification for a review - any fucking crossover in mainstream comics brings up sales. That's the entire economic model DC and Marvel subscribe to. Sales ebb on every title (with different rates, mind you), and this gets temporarily remedied by crossover events which compel idiots to buy low selling titles because they might have larger relevance to the crossover main event. So for the inverse to occur with Amazons Attack, well, it merits exploring why. After reading it, the reason becomes evidence: it sucks. It really, really fucking sucks.
First, a little history on the project. Amazons Attack was originally supposed to be released during the Countdown to Infinite Crisis era (alongside OMAC Project, Day of Vengeance, Villains United, etc.). For whatever reason, it got bumped off the schedule and remade to fit into the post-OYL era we currently find ourselves in. I can't say I follow Wonder Woman's goings on all that closely, but I do know as a result of Infinite Crisis Themyscira disappeared for a while. Now I guess it's back; supposedly it returned during Allan Heinberg's excessively delayed (it took 2 years!) and excessively shitty run. The original idea for the Countdown to Infinite Crisis incarnation (to be written and drawn by Greg Rucka and Ethan Van Reicher) had the US military invading Paradise Island. Who knows or cares why. Anyway, the idea was shelved and then changed to the idea of Amazons attacking the US. I must say this at least makes more sense for the title; the military going Operation Iraqi Freedom all over Paradise Island describes a mini called Amazons Attacked more so than Amazons Attack. Irrespective of the premise change, though, the miniseries still fucking blows.
OH SHIT ERIC BANA IS GOING TO DEVOUR US ALL
It's a bright sunny day in Washington D.C., as a father and son are walking down the mall to the Lincoln Memorial. It's a very touching bonding moment between two people who love each other. Sadly, this father/son scene is the only highlight of the damn mini. The Amazons show up from the sky, attack the tourists, kill daddy while protecting the kid, and little tyke follows his dad in death. The bloodletting goes on for the first few issues as they ransack Washington, burn down Kansas, try to nuke Star City and otherwise act like genocidal monsters. The JLA immediately shows up, but for some reason, they seem pretty ineffective. Perhaps it's because it's the Meltzer JLA, containing such sterling examples of heroism as Junkie Boy and Deadbeat Dad Lightning. Red Arrow, Red Tornado, Black Lightning and other useless people you can think of are forced to fight off an entire army of murderous women. Wonder Woman looks to end the war by killing her mom, but the war resolves itself in the form of the God Athena, who in fact was Granny Goodness, who was also manipulating Circe, even though she died not long ago in the first Wonder Woman story arc. The Amazons become regular woman who do not know of their heritage. I know one thing for sure: the WNBA will experience a surge in popularity. Oh, and Wisconsin makes an appearance. It sounds incoherent, and it is, but this was the best I could do. Anything else would elicit a response that would resemble the time I tried to explain to my ex-girlfriend about Infinite Crisis and SuperBitch-Prime's role in it ("Universe Punch?" Really?"). Just assume it had explosions and leave it at that.
Not only is the plot incoherent and terrible and stupid, the characters are badly characterized, boring and pointless. The crossover easily could've just taken place in the Wonder Woman book, as seen by reliance on story beats set up in that and characters from it (all the stupid Amazons, Nemesis, etc.). I'm not a fan of Wonder Woman (I own maybe 10 issues of her ongoing) and none of the supporting characters to her are very interesting. The mythology behind the book blows; Amazonians are basically this bizarre island race of characters too one dimensional for even softcore lesbian porn you see on Cinemax late at night. I mean, listen to this motivation behind the Amazons attacking. Hippolyta decides to go to war against the US government because they illegally detained Wonder Woman so they could torture info out of her on how to create a purple death ray. A purple death ray. No. Fuck no. Good comics don't have purple death rays in them. Infinite Crisis the original version (FUCK THE EDITS) had a purple death ray in it and it sucked. This has a purple death ray as a major plot point and it sucks too. I think if DC wants to actually publish good stories they should stop making something called "purple death ray" a pivotal aspect.
Stop talking to the unconscious, Batman.
Presumably you need to read the tie-ins to understand why certain things progress the way they do. For example, in the first issue, we see that faggot from Infinity Inc., the shapeshifter guy, replaced Sgt. Steel. During #1, the real Sgt. Steel is hogtied in a closet. The next scene of the character, #2, shows the real one beating down the fake one. Wait. What? When did anyone realize the replacement? Huh? Buh? What the...Christ. Fucking amateur hour. And then the Sgt. Steel who jammed a pen in Everyman's hand turns out to be Nemesis! I don't know what the fuck's going on. The reliance on tie-ins comes to the fore with the constant little boxes telling you to read other comics so you can truly understand what the fuck is happening in the main narrative. At the end of Donna Troy's scene in Amazons Attack #2, a shadowed man approaches her. The bottom of the panel advises the reader to refer to an issue of Countdown. I don't see why they couldn't have just shown Jason Todd. No one will fucking buy another comic to find out who Donna's been hanging with, DC. You need to realize that sooner rather than later. I would say there is an average of 5-6 little notes imploring you to read other shite per issue of Amazons Attack. But, you know, they don't do a good job because they tease with shit like the aforementioned shadowed Jason Todd and 'find out how Nemesis was poisoned!'. And yet important events also get relegated to tie-ins, like Hippolyta killing Circe.
Wonder Girl and Supergirl clearly issue no threats when asking Air Force One to land.
The choppiness of the main event book shows DC really wanted to push the ancillary titles on readers by making the miniseries indecipherable unless you bought all the tie-ins. I think this did not work the way DC intended it to work. I assume people who bought the singles saw all the condescending little notes and responded with "fuck it, I'm not reading anymore". Hence the disastrous sales and the amazingly bad downhill sales slide from month to month. In one issue Diana says she won't go get the antidote to save Nemesis' life. Then in a later issue? "Oh, where's Diana?" "She's off getting the antidote for Nemesis!" With no indication of why she changed her mind. None of it makes any fucking sense, and by the fifteenth time this happens you're ready to quit reading. An event miniseries needs to keep all pertinent happenings IN THE MINISERIES ITSELF. I'm reminded of several drinking expeditions in which 'scene missing' appeared many times in my recollections. At least I've got the excuse of drinking. What excuse can DC Comics offer?
The lesson to take away from Amazons Attack? Girls are silly, giggling, lolli sucking idiots whom you do not want involved in serious matters because they will screw everything up. The female heroes are stupid and the female villains crazy bitches. Supergirl and Wonder Girl decide the best way to bring together Hippolyta and the President is by landing on Air Force One, tearing a hole in it and forcing it to crash in Wisconsin. Grace proves utterly useless; a hostage for the black Amazons to use to escape Superman, even though the Bana could've just threatened to kill one of their own (Superman wouldn't let any hostage die). Wonder Woman vacillates between "I need to fight my mother!" and "I need to save the dreamy but useless boy!" with no characterization in any of that. As for the villains, like I said, crazy bitches. Circe wants to destroy shit because people took away her child. Remember Jodie Foster in Flightplan and put her in Amazonian magic bullshit garb and you got Circe. Only motivation a woman can have: THEY TOOK AWAY MAHHH BAHBEE! One would think for a miniseries about women triumphing over the war machines of man would paint women in a better light.
"Ah gotta make sure Whitey done got saved and preserved, ya see."
I normally like Will Pfeifer's work. I own the entire run of his H-E-R-O series, which really should've received more critical accolades than it did. But this...man oh man. Terrible. You cannot use a nicer word for description, since Pfeifer is and will forever be responsible for Batman saying "bees. My God". And when his scripts aren't cutting to and from incomprehensible scenes only comprehensible if given a context not of Amazons Attack, he reiterates the plot again and again and again. Endless scenes of exposition which add nothing new litter each fucking issue of this crap. The subplots he sets up throughout either barely get resolved or die off in confusing, unsatisfactory fashions. Of the subplots that do advance, they tread the same territory month after month. "I think Hippolyta is going too far." "Yes. I agree." Then those Amazons voice those concerns all the time but don't do anything. Pete Woods' art is the best thing about the miniseries, and even then a lot of misshapen faces crop up at times. I don't think all the characters are meant to be Plastic Man...
Yes, if only you had an arrow that made you useful for the first time ever.
You know, it's unheard of to have a big event miniseries fail in today's day and age. There's an audience for everything, and you know there's a lot of Wonder Woman fans out there, or else this wouldn't even be hyped or anxiously awaited. But while World War Hulk was delayed for a year and still succeeded financially, Amazons Attack was not just a creative failure (like damn near everything else at DC) but a financial one as well. When you're not getting good press from Wizard of all people, then you know you have a dud on your hands. It's even worse when you factor in all of the tie-ins (Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters are notable examples) which didn't benefit from the bump of a company crossover. Who the hell can imagine that? A mini like this should help sales, not fuck them up royally. Although, to be fair, the stories in the supplementary comics sucked a ton of ass. It didn't help matters when the series had it as required reading, and kept reminding readers of that very fact every single fucking time. Wondered how Batman got back from Gotham so soon? Read Catwoman #69 to find out! It comes off as begging, and with as shitty as DC is doing, it really says a lot about their current affairs. (Fun fact: Catwoman gets mentioned several times, yet Selina appears on a total of one page the entire series.)
The books it ties into are curious choices since all of them had been experiencing freefall sales before Amazons Attack. Now, you might say, "wouldn't this be better, since a little boost from a crossover could stem cancellation, allowing the book in question to find its feet?". And in other cases you'd be correct - I'm sure Irredeemable Ant-Man and Heroes for Hire received stays of execution due to their World War Hulk issues. But people had interest in WWH; not so for Amazons Attack. Tying low selling comics such as Supergirl, Teen Titans and Wonder Woman to the event did no favors to the event nor the books in question. Hence why they lost sales during their Amazons Attack tie-ins. Folks, let me again stress the rarity of this occurring in comics. Events always drive up sales. Even if they're shit. Retailers expect that when a company says a bunch of comics will have ramifications on the entire line they're being truthful, so they order a lot of copies irrespective of the ultimate quality. With Amazons Attack it seems retailers treated the thing as kryptonite, and everything around it got anchored to its lack of success.
The lesson to learn from Amazons Attack is it's absolutely a terrible idea to center a big crossover on women characters. I don't like saying something so blatantly sexist, but sales bear my conclusion out. Amazons Attack and World War Hulk both came out around the same time, and both had the same basic premise of a hero and their allies fucking shit up in United States cities (I suppose Wonder Woman wasn't attacking, but Wonder Woman, Amazons, same thing). World War Hulk and Amazons Attack both tied into low selling titles in a bid to raise flagging sales (Irredeemable Ant-Man, Heroes for Hire, Catwoman, Supergirl, Outsiders). Both had shitty copout endings which set the stage for shitty future stories (Red Hulk, Granny Goodness as Athena). So why did one succeed and one did not when Hulk and Wonder Woman share the same basic sales ceiling (50,000-75,000 which usually turns downward to a level of about 40,000)? No one gives a shit about Wonder Woman or Wonder Girl or Supergirl or Grace, clearly, whereas people fucking love the Hulk and Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four and even Iron Man. Although their books do not always sell great, people keep up with their status quos and those male heroes often are integral in crossovers and line-changing events. Wonder Woman, though? When was the last time anybody cared about Wonder Woman? When has an appearance by Diana brought a sales boost? Probably during the "Diana killed Max Lord" period, but that dissipated once Infinite Crisis made Wonder Woman become a wuss afraid of killing people (it certainly didn't help Manhunter's horrid sales). I've read that mini many times (unfortunately), but I cannot fucking tell you what role she played in the proceedings. No one cares about her, DC. Her greatest period of popularity was when that polygamist jerkoff creator of hers wrote page after page of bondage porn starring submissive Amazons.