Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

I hate to say it (because I abhor the cover), but this may very well be the best Wonder Woman story I’ve ever read. Diana is treated as a realistic person, not some symbol or image of all womanhood, and her unique abilities and heritage are an essential part of the tale.

The Hiketeia is a vow where one party takes responsibility for sheltering another. When a murderer hunted by Batman vows herself to Diana, conflict ensues — but this story involves much more than two JLA members on opposite sides. Themes of justice, honor, protection, and compulsion intertwine with changing ideas of civilization and acceptable behavior, all of it overseen by the Furies.

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia cover
Wonder Woman:
The Hiketeia
Buy this book

The art is lovely, as expected, although I found the scenes of violence hard to follow at times. That might be intentional, or it might be my dislike of placing myself too much into such encounters. On a lighter note, it was a pleasure to see Diana in real clothes. Too many artists have forgotten that her battle armor isn’t all she ever wears.

The most thought-provoking part of this story is the way fate and choice interact. What are we compelled to do? What do we choose to do? Why do we lie to ourselves about what we must do? Those questions make Batman the perfect antagonist. As a character often portrayed as driven, his compulsions set the events in motion. He denies that he has choice and causes death as a result.

The reliance on physical fighting was my primary disappointment. I know, they’re superheroes, they have to slug things out — but I expected better of both Diana and Batman. They never once seem to consider that perhaps there’s another way. Maybe that’s not their fault, but a reflection of the forces spurring them on. Still, I believe that there’s a better way then Diana winding up stepping on his head. (But without that, we couldn’t have a fetish cover!)

Rucka captures the Amazon’s voice well. It befits a foreign princess without being too removed or stilted. It demonstrates caring and thoughtfulness, reflection without self-absorption, even humor. Neither Batman nor readers give Diana the respect she deserves as a character; this book changes that.


10 Responses to “Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    Not having read it myself (my shops around here stock the hardcover, which I won’t pay for), how do you compare the non-respect of Batman in “Hiketeia” with the non-respect she is getting from Batman and Superman over killing Max? (Which seems only a step above “Her time of the month” jokes, and about as meaningful.)

    My take from the WW monthlies was that Rucka started out with a clear vision and a great deal of respect for the character, but then seemed to completely lose it in favor of overwrought soap opera dynamics and lots of puncheminaface. And all the comments I have heard on “Hiketeia” support the idea that he really understood the character. Once.

  2. Johanna Says:

    The difference between Wonder Woman then and now is that WW then was being judged on the values of her culture and now she’s being judged on the values of Batman’s culture.

    I find your take on Rucka fair. There was so much potential in his run that completely disappeared.

  3. David Oakes Says:

    Oh, certainly Diana looks better in an Amazonian context. I was wondering more about the quality of the “debate” between her and Batman. The post-“Sacrifice” fall-out seems to consist of him and Superman yelling “Murder is wrong!” and Wonder Woman yelling back “Yeah, so?” Makes the Internet seems almost erudite in comparisson.

    Bad enough that a writer immersed enough in Greek culture to use “Hiketeia” properly has resorted to blowing up Thymescria repeatedly until the Amazons take their marbles and go home. But to think that the same man that gave “Queen & Country” such subtlety is gone as well, that really hurts.

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] He also wrote Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra, the Queen & Country comic series, and co-wrote Gotham Central with Ed Brubaker. [...]

  5. Comics Should Be Good! » “Heading for the edge of time, heading for the thrills of the golden age” Says:

    [...] artists (Vertigo); Superman: It’s a Bird by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen (Vertigo); Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka, J. G. Jones, and Wade von [...]

  6. Stanley L. Walker Says:

    The dialogue after the events of Sacrifice was silenced and botched–but not by Rucka. Those following the book at that time might remember that there were a NUMBER of subplots going along with the main action. Suddenly the PTB were beset by the urge to flush the mature and complex work Rucka was doing for a Name Of The Week approach and everything was aborted, with the Max Lord story being turned on its head completely. I have linked above to Part III of the Word Balloon interview. You really want to listen to all of them as they are very enlightening on this matter.

  7. Classics and Comics « Executive Pagan Says:

    [...] can help to interpret red-figure vases, as well as Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze series and Wonder Woman: Hiketeia. At the APA, I discovered that one of the things people are working on is comics. There was an [...]

  8. Stuart Says:

    I found this track on myspace and it’s so obviously inspired by the 70s Wonder Woman TV show theme tune that I wondered if it’s going to be the theme to either the animated movie or some other project?

    It’s by Denise Pearson, who fronted 80s super-group Five Star.

    Check it out here http://www.myspace.com/denisepearsonofficial

  9. Bella Says:

    I absolutely LOVED this book. It was heartfelt. You never realize what it is that Wonder woman truly does in a day. You assume she sits enticing Batman and Superman into arm wrestling fights, or argues with J’onn in watchtower about his inabilitie to intermingle with the human species. It’s a different view, its a respectful one. It made me teary eyed, and the way it was written was magnificent. I enjoyed it immensly. And would recommend it too others.

  10. Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia | The Comic Book Canon Says:

    […] Review: http://comicsworthreading.com/2006/01/28/wonder-woman-the-hiketeia/ […]

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