Wonder Woman: Hiketeia GN – Greg Rucka

2 out of 5

This is better than I’m rating it, but, excepting my first read of it way back when, it’s always left me questioning Greg’s mainstream comic abilities (until I reread his main Wonder Woman run or Gotham Central issues) and underwhelmed by J.G. Jones’ artwork (…opinion unchanged); all in all, it’s a well-written and technically well-arted story, but I just don’t feel it’s a proper match for WW or Batman.

The Hiketeia is, in the context of the story, a Greek ritual in which a supplicant offers themselves to someone as their servant; in exchange – if accepted – the supplicant is to be treated with kindness and caring.  And if you break that term, it’s akin to breaking the laws, as enforced by Erinyes, or the Furies.  So we pick up with a murderous young lass named Danny, being pursued by Batman for her crimes, and who skips to NY to supplicate herself to Diana.  Accepting the deal, that pits WW against Batman, as well as against the Erinyes who are poking around the whole ordeal.

Greg, especially in his earlier comic writing, has his overly indulgent melodramatic side, and it’s out and about here.  This works for Wonder Woman, but the crimes which Danny has committed reek of Greg’s short-sightedness at this stage of his career; setting that against the history of the Hiketeia makes the whole arrangement sort of stick out as silly – it’s heavy-handed drama atop heavy-handed drama, dressed in WW’s tighty-tights.  Jones would seem like a good match for this, draped in shadow and mood, but it’s just another juxtaposed overly-serious element that feels at odds with Diana as presented as cheesecake – in her skimpy outfit; in a nightgown.  Greg would amend this in his ongoing series, having the hero in regular clothes just as often as her red and blue duds, as well as successfully heightening the tone to something more blown out, but that was then, and this was before then.

This issue compounds with Greg’s take on Batman, who’s just used as a proxy to challenge Hiketeia and not actually as Batman.  He pursues Danny relentlessly, which seems to make sense, but she should be small potatoes for the king of Gotham, and he ends up coming across as ineffectual and rather dumb.  Which is why the rating slips: neither of these characters feel exactly like their comic counterparts; they are just images wrapped around a concept, wedged into the DC-verse.  When I first read this trade, I hadn’t read comics in years, so it’s literary qualities stuck out; I was surprised to see these characters acting this way.  But: that’s exactly it, and even returning to it a year after, with twelve months of catching up on some DC and Marvel, I could tell it just didn’t feel right.