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. It’s written by Greg Rucka with pencils by J.G. Jones and inks by Wade von Grawbadger.
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.