Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka (writer) and J.G. Jones (artist)
I’m a card-carrying geek if there ever was one, but there are a few areas where my fannish education has been a little spotty, one of them being superhero comics. It’s not for lack of enjoying them when I do read them; it’s more that the reams of backstory and frequent reboots feel a little daunting. Then, this past Christmas, I found a copy of The Hiketeia among the presents from my boyfriend, along with a Post-It note that read, ‘I’ll turn you into a comic book geek yet!”
The Hiketeia was, by all measures, a gateway drug that was right up my alley. Greek mythology, powerful female characters, cool art, and a plot centering on conflicting vows? Sign me up!
Writer Greg Rucka introduces the eponymous Hiketeia, a ritual by which a supplicant throws himself or herself on someone else’s mercy. The supplicant trades his or her freedom for the other person’s protection. The Greek gods take this ritual very seriously. If the vow to protect is broken, the Furies will descend upon the oathbreaker, and the results won’t be pretty.
Danielle Wellys is a young woman who has committed several murders, though for reasons that will inspire sympathy in the reader. She has done her homework on ancient Greek ritual and learned about the Hiketeia, which she invokes to bring herself under Wonder Woman’s protection. Wonder Woman quickly puts Danielle to work, and Danielle is surprised that her new mistress is more interested in making her useful than in humbling her.
Meanwhile, Batman is pursuing Danielle for her crimes. He’s as committed to his mission as Wonder Woman is committed to the Hiketeia vow. The Furies are lurking, too, just waiting for their chance to exact vengeance. The tale plays out like Greek tragedy, with the two superheroes’ conflicting duties bringing them into a conflict neither of them wants and no one can really win. The ending is a sad one, but probably the only way it could have ended.
The artwork by J.G. Jones is impressive as well. I particularly liked the Furies, who are a great mix of the archaic and the modern — think bag ladies with blood on their lips and snakes slithering out of their coats… The fight scenes are fantastic too.
I greatly enjoyed this dark, mythic graphic novel. It’s a standalone, and you don’t need a lot of background in comics to make sense of it. I highly recommend it.