Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jodi Picoult's Run on Wonder Woman: Where It Went Wrong

The Wonder Woman comic book is on a pretty even keel these days. Gail Simone is doing a fine job of writing, and Aaron Lopresti is coming on board to do the art. The last story arc introduced characters previously not known and redefined Diana for the upcoming run. Until the next crossover comes along and takes things in an entirely diferent direction, things are looking up.

The more I think about this, the more it disturbs me when I consider how best-selling author Jodi Picoult was utilized on the book. In different circumstances, it should have been a natural fit, and it should have been amazing. As Simone has been able to use her strengths to focus the story being told, it would have been only fair to do the same for Picoult, knowing her background.

Why wasn't it done that way? Why wasn't a different writer brought in to write the "Amazons Attack" storyline while Picoult was set to write a mini-series or been brought in to do a tale during a different period of the book's tenure?

Let's first discuss Picoult and her book writing success. Where Picoult has struck readers and been able to maintain a fanbase is in her ability to amaze while carrying a complex tale to it's finish. She is a master at bringing in strong emotion and sustaining it, whether it be heartbreak at a social injustice or the surge of pure love. Picoult delicately weaves a tale that is both compelling and touching. She has written books that deal with child abuse, sexual abuse, mistaken identity, and heartwrenching issues of the same ilk. Clearly her strength is in the storytelling and the power of justice.

Why then was this incredibly talented woman brought in to write a crossover of sorts about a character with whom she was previously pretty unfamiliar? Why was Picoult given a story she could not possibly please the readers with? What an incredible waste.

Having Picoult play dice with the DCU characters while interacting with "Amazons Attack" writer Will Pfeifer and the powers to be at DC editorial was a poor decision. Picoult should have been put on a much different tale. How much of this went wrong was affected by Allan Heinberg's inability to hit a deadline is beyond me, but it just makes absolutely no sense.

Done correctly, Picoult should have been brought in to do a stand-alone story arc that took Wonder Woman to a small town. Following up on a tip, DEO agent Prince heads to Smithtown looking to fnd a metahuman in hiding. Suspected person "John Doe" is hiding there to avoid facing rape/abuse charges and it is Diana's mission to track him down. While there, she encounters layers of mystery that lead her to reconsider the man's guilt. We could also throw in a bit of a love story angle and make it unrequited. I can picture the whole story in my mind, and Picoult would have knocked it out of the park.

So I sit here today wondering where the hell it all went so wrong. This would have been a great opportunity for an interlude, a smaller story if you will, after the events of Heinberg's arc. Picoult could have taken the opportunity to let Diana consider her new lot in life while still kicking butt. Then Pfeifer could have come in and written the "Amazons Attack" arc and it would have been much better.

To this day, I don't blame Picoult for the horror that happened. I point my finger towards DC editorial for misutilizing a phenomenol talent who will most likely not revisit the industry. Why should she? The readers weren't happy, and I would imagine it wasn't her cup of tea either.

This has really been on my mind lately. With Simone doing what needs to be done on the book and getting praise as a female writer, it really bothers me that Picoult didn't get the same courtesy.

What do you think?


Yedna said...

I started picking up WW recently with Simone's first story arc, 'The Circle'. I'll continue to read it because of Gail. It's a shame things didn't work out for Picoult. I've never read anything she's written, but I like the story proposed here. It sounds like a strong arc regardless of the author.

Lisa said...

I hadn't thought about the Picoult run that way, but you are right. She really wasn't given the chance to tell a good story, but instead was thrown into something largely already crafted and just was supposed to script it out.

Heidi Meeley said...

Yedna, Simone's run has really worked for me. As with her work on Birds of Prey, she isn't afraid to add her own touch to a character. I am glad to see that you felt the story worked on it's own merits as well.

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa, it has really been bothering me that things went south on what should have been an excellent read. After reading Picoult's books, I was stunned to see her take on Wonder Woman. It just didn't play to her strengths.

I would love to see her take another run at Diana with more carefully defined parameters.