Phil Hester Nears the End of WONDER WOMAN's 'Odyssey'
WONDER WOMAN Nears the End of ODYSSEY
The iconic DC heroine Wonder Woman is making a lot of headlines lately, but in the comics, she has the opposite problem — many people have forgotten who she is, and she's back to being 20 years old.
"Odyssey," the year-long storyline kicked off last summer by J. Michael Straczynski, puts Wonder Woman in a strange "time anomaly," altering her history and affecting her memory in the people around her. Writer Phil Hester has now taken over writing the "Odyssey" story, which finishes in June's Wonder Woman #612. And according to the writer, there will be lasting changes as the storyline heads into the time-themed "Flashpoint" event this summer.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is dominating news in the real world. The iconic hero is starring in a new Wonder Woman pilot for NBC TV that is currently under production, complete with a snazzy new costume that has people talking. And that costume comes on the heels of a redesign for the comics that made news last year because the scantily clad heroine put on some pants.
But within the world of DC comics, the now-younger Wonder Woman is still unknown, although her time problems apparently end with June's issue #612. (And interestingly, that comic's cover has her back in her skimpy bathing-suit-size costume, sans pants. When asked about what costume she's wearing inside the comic, Hester said she'll be seen in "every costume," keeping her uniform's eventual fate secret for now.)
To find out more about what's coming in Wonder Woman, Newsarama talked with Hester as his run heads toward its conclusion.
#610 cover.Newsarama: Phil, fans are aware you took over this storyline from J. Michael Straczynski when he left the book, but he's still listed as co-writer. How exactly is that divided? How much of this series is your writing?
Phil Hester: I'm pretty much the day-to-day writer on the book. The farther we get from 604, the more it's my work. That said, JMS left us the skeleton of a plot and I have certain goals I need to reach that he set out in his initial pitch. 604-610 were me reaching the climax that JMS envisioned for the story.
Nrama: I have been seeing a lot of people who believe the Wonder Woman title is set in an alternate universe. I have never seen that stated anywhere nor implied, so I'm not sure where that rumor came from, especially since other DC books are referencing her. So for the record, events in Wonder Woman are taking place in the actual DCU, right?
Hester: Yes. Everything happening to Diana is set in the DCU proper, but it should be obvious by the way, say, Superman reacts to her that something is wrong with her timeline across the entire DCU. I think I described it as an anomaly that is focused on her, like a bubble of weirdness that encases her and her history, but that leaves the larger DCU unperturbed... except when relating to Diana.
Nrama: The last issue of Wonder Woman found Diana almost losing a very difficult battle, both physically and psychologically. Is this an important part of her journey as she starts anew on her road toward becoming a hero?
Hester: Yeah, I'm tough on superheroes. I love to break them down and have them build themselves back up. It's almost an essential part of the hero quest to suffer a complete and total loss before coming back to triumph. In Diana's case, she's fettered by a lot of expectations. Her mother wanted her to be queen, her sisters want her to be their savior. She's basically just reacting to events up to this point. This test of her courage and fortitude is sort of the first step in her choosing to be the kind of hero she wants to be.
#611 cover.Nrama: This last issue also seemed to highlight a wide range of emotions for Diana. What is she going through mentally and emotionally right now?
Hester: It's sometimes hard to remember, since she's been around for decades, that in this pocket/parallel existence, she's only about 20. So, despite Amazon training and knowledge, she's still a kid. She hurts deeply, she angers quickly, she loves passionately. When events are as breakneck as they've been in her life lately, she hits this range of notes as quickly as a master pianist in concert.
Nrama: How has it been working with so many of Wonder Woman's rogues, and what challenges will we see coming up next for Diana?
Hester: It's been a blast. I love tweaking the origins of these classic villains to make their grudge against Diana even more intense in this alternate existence. Again, I say alternate because I don't know what else to call it. It's canon, it's in the DCU, but something is just a bit off about Diana's reality.
Nrama: Let's talk about Dr. Psycho. His presence brings up a lot of questions about Diana's mind. Has he been affecting things before these issues? Is he helping her or not? Is there anything you can tell us about his role in "Odyssey?"
Hester: Kind of spoilery, but I will say that after #609, I don't think any Wonder Woman fan will look at him the same way.
Nrama: Dr. Psycho seems like a bigger threat than many of Diana's other frequent foes, with the ability to control her mind. Would you agree? And what's it like writing the unusual character?
Hester: I'm almost afraid to admit how easy it is to let loose all the nutty thoughts in my own head that may mirror Dr. Psycho's. Yes, any time a villain can alter your perception of reality he vaults right to the top of the "too dangerous to live" list. Again, withhold judgment until #609. I'm very proud of the conflict between Diana and Psycho in that issue. It goes way beyond any sort of smash 'em up comic book fight.
cover.Nrama: As the storyline heads toward its conclusion, does your title directly tie into Flashpoint? Or is that completely separate and contained in the mini-series just announced, Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies?
Hester: My run has been extended two issues to make it dovetail into Flashpoint more seamlessly. I will say that when you finish page 20 of that issue you will have read a complete, self-contained story. Flashpoint will follow, but it won't impinge on anything we might accomplish with "Odyssey."
Nrama: Can you give us any hints on what we'll see as we head toward the conclusion? Will the The Morrigan showdown come soon?
Hester: The Morrigan get what's coming to them. We find out just where The Morrigan's power comes from. We see the final fate of Artemis, Giganta, and Cheetah. We go back to Hell. We meet someone with the odd name of Etta. We learn how Diana's history got so messed up. We see just where she lost her classic threads. And... well, we see Wonder Woman engage in the most epic struggle of her life (I hope.)
Hester: Oh, you caught that? I actually like where we're at now. Jim's design sans jacket and choker. I didn't want to force it, though, so any changes need to rise out of the story.
Nrama: Fans have noticed that the artist on the book has been inconsistent. Can you explain what the status is on who's drawing Wonder Woman? And have changes been related to the fact that the comic is shipping twice this month?
Hester: Don's the regular artist, but his schedule was delayed when the book changed writers. In an effort to catch up, Brian Cunningham has brought in a group of super talented artist to keep the trains running. So, while Don is working on one issue, Eduardo Pansica or Geraldo Borges may be working on another just to get us back on schedule. Both those guys are brilliant, but the idea is, once things are stable, that Don will be the regular guy again. His work is so gorgeous and labor intensive that it just cannot be rushed. None of these schedule issues are on him in any way. I'm embarrassed to have this abundance of mega-talent working on my meager scripts.
Nrama: In general, Phil, what has the experience been like as you've written Wonder Woman? How is the gig working out for you?
Hester: It's been great. I can't thank DC enough for giving me the shot, especially with such an important franchise. The fans have been warm, and editorial has reacted rather well to all the crazy ideas I've thrown at them. Look, any time I get paid to write comics I'm happy. It's practically stealing. Like getting paid to eat ice cream. If I could go back and tell the 12-year-old me that I'd be writing Wonder Woman someday, he wouldn't believe it. Well, believe it, punk!
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up in Wonder Woman?
Hester: I'm pulling out all the stops. You may not dig my style, but you are going to get the absolute best I can give you every time out. You may not like like the circumstances under which this roller coaster ride began, but I hope the way it ends thrills you like no other Wonder Woman run. Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times.