Artemis: Requiem #1, June, 1996: "Into the Pit" William Messner-Loebs, writer; Ed Benes, penciller; Doug Selogy, inker; Paul Kupperberg, editor. This same team would handle all six issues.

#2, July, 1996. "Tribes"; #3, Aug, 1996:"A Thousand Shades of Gray"; #4, Sept., 1996: "Live in Color"; #5, Oct. 1996: untitled story; #6, Nov. 1996: "Go'ry Little Imp and Demon" (I think; I can never read gothic caps). Covers for #1 and #2 are signed "Ed Benes." Cover for #3 is "Benes De-[something]," which I think means Benes/Pimentel—or not; #4 is signed "Ed Benes/Joe Pimentel," while the last are "Benes/Pimentel."

The cover to Requiem 6 as Artemis sits upon a throne, surrounded by demons. A caption reads: "Queen of Hell?"As soon as Perez introduced the Bana-Mighdall, I said, "This is a mistake." The tribe, which was supposed to have been a kind of Bizarro Amazon concept, with a nation who CHOSE to be man-less (because they kept their males enslaved, raped, humilated and abused) and were also extremely violent by nature, was unneeded, imho. I also saw the potential for abuse of the concept. Sure enough, the Banas caused much harm to the WW mythos. Imho.

Even after the nation was supposedly destroyed in those early issues, they kept popping up. During the Messner-Loebs run (where this series falls), the Bana were even glorified as being picked-on victims who faced their humiliations with pride (and violence). By the Jimenez run things had gotten to the point where there was civil war on that place of idyllic peace, Paradise Island. By the Simone run, the Banas were convenient scapegoats. Amazons Attack!? Why, those were just a few Bana extremists, and not the entire Amazon nation gone wacko by the tens of thousands. Have some super-strong females, villains or no, in the DCU? Banas. Easy origin; doesn't require any thought.

I think that because they reappeared with such importance during the T&A part of the Messner-Loebs era, they became favorites of a few T&A-loving fans. The personification of the Bana was Artemis, your basic animalistic, sex-crazed, (extremely) long-haired female archetype of men's fiction. Comics have quite a few of them. DC's most prominent is probably Starfire of the Titans.

I think it's a degrading archetype, which is probably why I despise Artie. (And Starfire.) But lets get to this awful mini-series, shall we?

When we last left Artie (WW #100), she, as the new Wonder Woman, had been killed by the demon the White Magician had become. Now it is three weeks later, and Diana (who has regained the title of Wonder Woman) has horrible dreams about being tortured in a fiery Christian/Catholic Hell, though she calls it "Hades' realm." (Another pet peeve is Catholic references being made in non-Catholic venues.) People we'll know are the Hellenders monitor her for some reason that is never explained.

Diana uses her ability to astrally project herself but now her body as well travels quite conveniently to Hades/Hell, where she runs into Belyllioth, a general and favorite of the local king-demon, Dalkriig-Hath. Artemis saves her, continually calls her "little sister," and introduces her to the realm and her husband/owner, D-H. He's one of the thirteen princes of Hades, Artemis says. D-H (which doesn't quite stand for "dear husband," as it does in romance circles) elects to torture Belyllioth as punishment.

a T&A moment with Artemis, which also displays some awful anatomical drawing

Artemis shows Diana that she has pleasures here. There is a pool with nekkid chicks, and plenty of handsome, loinclothed men whom Artie touches and drools over. "If this is misery," Artemis says, "Well, let me be miserable!" She also tells Diana, "Dalkriig-Hath can be quite... SATISFYING, once you get to know him."

Can you hear Marston rolling over in his grave? Can you hear thousands of Wonder fans screaming that this is the very opposite of what the Wonder mythos is supposed to be about? Women are not supposed to be enslaved, much less loving their slavery, especially in slavery to an unworthy male.

And they certainly aren't to be presented in such a demeaning way.

Diana goes to free Belyllioth, since she claims it was not Bely's fault she got through and thus to Diana falls the punishment. (??) Claiming that she is over her head in this place (!), Diana battles demons, getting her already miniscule costume shredded in the process. D-H gladly lets Diana take Bely's place on the torture stand.

Aided by Bely and Bely's demons, Artie rescues the unconscious Diana. She carries her far up a convenient mountain and after a point, breaks through into regular Earth—her gravesite in Boston. (I wonder why the Amazons didn't take their dead hero back and cremate her with Amazon honors?) (Don't think. Don't think!) Gee, that was easy enough to get out of Hell. Howcum she never tried that before? Why can't the others of the hellish dimension do the same thing, instead of resorting to the elaborate plot that we'll find out is in motion? (Don't think!)

Hellenders are there to capture Artie without explaining anything so they can have a comic book-type fight. A "rent-a-cop," Hank (Henrietta) Sojourner Jessup (I don't think she's a real cop yet, but wants to become one and is hired as night security for an industrial complex instead), comes to the cemetery near her workplace to investigate the ruckus, which we confusingly discover is not about the Hellenders but about a vicious, demon-worshipping cult, which takes the Hellenders as well.

Artemis goes up against them with her arrows. I'm not sure why the gang's guns didn't work. Diana shows up and everyone surrenders to the two Amazons.

At a hospital, where Diana is checked out before her costume can completely disintegrate, Artemis and the Hellenders officially meet. They offer her a job even as Hank is fired by phone from hers. The Hellenders (Sureshot and Deadfall) explain that they covertly battle supernatural threats. Artemis says she will bring her associate, Hank, with her and join them.

In Waverly, Pennsylvania we meet Nathaniel, wooden-legged (this might be a joke) leader of the Hellenders. He has worked for 20 yeas with the CIA and FBI on matters of the occult. Lately there has been a rise in activities, and he formed the Hellenders to answer it. He views this as a religious (Methodist) crusade. (He also hears voices in his head.)

Nathaniel's "most trusted adviser," bodyguard and "my pet," (rrrr) Shock Treatment, is introduced, but Artemis senses something and attacks her even as she turns into a demon. She defeats the magical menace and then chides Nathaniel about not accepting her due to his screening process.

The two are then accepted, trained and introduced to other members of the team, all of whom have powers. Sureshot is called the team captain, and it is said he was once known as "Mr. Weapon, the living arsenal." "But even he can be defeated by Deadfall, his best friend and rival. Deadfall is perhaps the most AGGRESSIVE MALE on Earth," we learn. The bespectacled Deadfall has two Y chromasomes, artificially induced. His "social graces" are few and he is ruthless.

Artemis tells Deadfall, "Let's make hot toad-wallow here on the floor." He stammers a refusal.The team comes up with codenames for Artie and Hank: Javelin and Cudgel. They reject these and go by Requiem and Sojourner. Later, Deadfall comes on to Artie and how he can make her a real woman, heh heh, unlike her vestal virgin Amazon galpals. Artie counters with this line (at left), notable for the use of the phrase "hot toad-wallow," but rather surprising with what we see Deadfall's reaction being. You'd think he'd have leapt at the chance, being without social graces and all. What a wuss.

Still, Artie gets to demonstrate her über-machismo. That's what also makes this archetype so appealing to guys, I think.

Artie and Hank go to Shock Treatment's home to see if there are any clues about her betrayal. There they find ST's family acting as if nothing's wrong. In the attic they discover a giant spider, and that the real family, ST included, have been cocooned while demons have impersonated the family members.

Blood, blood, knives, claws, gore, and a surprise appearance by Deadfall leave the family alive again and the demons dispatched.

I must have missed something, because previously the Hellenders and Nathaniel's activities had been called "covert," but now it seems the entire town's in on it, and now Artemis and Nathaniel are being publicized on TV in Los Angeles.

Hank has doubts about Nathaniel's legitimacy. The revived Shock Treatment says she owes her life to Artie, and Deadfall is now teased as having a real crush on Artie.

During her interview Artie exclaims, "I do not ENJOY the killing... I am NOT violent! And I will put an arrow through the brains of anyone who says I AM!"

The interviewer also chats with a demon, who says he forgives Artemis. But Artemis casts a spell (!) on the demon which reverts him to human form. He's not a demon, but rather a shape-shifting actor who plays the parts the TV station wants. It turns out that the set producer is the real demon. Luckily, the interviewer has a bazooka close at hand and blasts the demon to wherever demons go when they die.

(cough)

Artie has a long, naked dream about herself and Sureshot, during which Hank hears her moaning Sureshot's name.

Things are explained sparsely in this mini. I think the letter Artie gets from a teen mother who claims her baby is possessed, was the final letter written by the girl. Anyway, it's introduced on one page and then suddenly we switch scenes to Nathaniel getting a bag containing the skulls of three of his agents. (It's like we're missing a page. In this page we'd also find out that the agents were part of a team sent to New Orleans to investigate the mother, and found that she had killed herself and her baby.)

a comparison of two Benes covers, one showing Artemis, the other showing Donna Troy, both of whom have demon babies about to bite their necks.

Meanwhile, Hank is continuing her investigation of Nathaniel, and discovers that weird things were happening when he first came to town. Now more and more people are missing. Artie has to rescue Hank again from toughs. They meet back with the Hellenders and their new do-it-all plane, which all super-teams are required to have if they don't own teleporters.

They fly to a New Orleans cemetery, find some demons, fight fight blood blood, and some of the agents die, but not without one of them telling Artie how Nathaniel has been talking with fallen angels who want to return to Heaven. They've been performing rituals that, if Nathaniel helps them, will give Nathaniel enough power to destroy the underworld completely.

But... But... (Don't think!)

On the way back, Artie beats up a minister until he blesses some water, making Holy Water for her. She dips her arrows into this, and arrives back in some city (was Waverly a city instead of a town? This place has skyscrapers, whereas before it seemed pretty hick) just in time to find D-H, who chops off the Hellender Warhammer's head. He then puts it back on, making Warhammer a zombie warrior.

Nathaniel is now dead, and D-H reveals that the Hellenders were all pawns in his plot to break out of the underworld. He used the teen mother as bait, which might have worked better if the story had really told us that plainly as it was progressing.

Big fight, blood blood, Artie gets her costume shredded, D-H is so powerful he can mumble nonsense words to get his spells to work, Shock Treatment's costume is shredded, the teen mom's dress is shredded, and all the guys just have tiny rips in their coverup duds. Some of the team are turned into hellhounds. Artie draws a mystic design in the dirt, and they become human again.

Has Artie demonstrated magical abilities since this story? No. Not a one.

Sureshot freaks out. Apparently most of the team uses psychotropic drugs to stay sane in the midst of their demonic work. The pills don't work on Sureshot any more, and he goes off to cry. Of course, real men don't cry in such circumstances, and Artie sees that thus he can't be the man for her.

Another fight fight fight, Artie is down, D-H gets a mosquito in his eye, which distracts him from the final death stroke, and, with both arms broken, Artie pulls her arrow back with her teeth and impales her ex-hubby in the head. He explodes.

Belyllioth appears and says since D-H is now gone she's in Artie's debt. Artie tells her to return the souls of the people lost that day (including the teen mother), and she'll call it even. By "souls," we discover that it's the actual hale bodies (souls attached) that are returned, and we don't know how Bely has the power to do that. It's just one of those magic things. (Which pet peeve number are we up to by now?)

End, I guess.

The entire mini-series came across not only as the OPPOSITE of what a Wonder book should be, but thrown together. The narrative was jerky. Situations were never explained; characters were thrown at us pell-mell sometimes, and sometimes even in slower situations, we never knew exactly who it was on-panel. Hank and Artie were the only ones who got any characterization, and even that was one-dimensional.

Ed Benes was and is a T&A artist. Nowadays he's a fairly polished T&A artist, if you don't mind all the men looking alike and all the women looking alike. But back in the days of this miniseries, Benes' skills just weren't there. His rushed anatomy leaves a lot to be desired, plus page compositions often left the reader trying to figure out how to read things: up and down, left to right, left to right and then down and then right, then over to the left? In some cases the look-alike nature of everyone hampered being able to tell what the heck was going on. Why was the reporter changing into a demon? Oh, that's not the reporter, that's someone else who was just clumsily introduced, who happens to look just like her.

I hear many WW fans who like this series and I just don't get it. To me the entire presentation is demeaning to women, in opposition to the positive WW mythos, and just plain badly done.

Counterpoint:

I asked the CBR and DC message boarders for opinions as to why they might have liked Requiem and got this:

coveredinbees: "It was hilarious!"

Fused: "The hyper-sexualized Diana isn't the only one I like, but it was the Messner-Loebs run that introduced me to the awesomeness that is Wonder Woman, Requiem did the same for Artemis. It also introduced me to Mike Deodato and Ed Benes.

"I was a 14 year old boy at its release so any Marston grave-rolling fell deaf on ears. It did make Wonder Woman accessible to me and turned me into 20 year fan of them both. That's got to count for something."

artemisboy: "'You inflame me. Let's make hot toad wallow here on the floor' HA! That line and Sojourner's line to Artemis about 'Ooo Sureshot...' always cracks me up. The thing I loved about the Artemis mini was that we finally got to see Artemis' funny side. We never get to see that anywhere else with her really."

brettc1: "You have to remember reading it now that at the time of the series [about 15 years ago] Diana was a lot less imposing physically. But for me still the best issue was by far the first, where Artemis is confronted with the choice of keeping her 'idyllic' lifestyle in hell or rescuing Diana from a gruesome fate. Well written and powerful."

requiem1963: "Ofcourse I am a big fan of 'Requeim' aka...Artemis! The art work was provocative, yet stunning. Superheroes in comic books are typically drawn in exaggerated proportions and exude sexuality/sensuality. Its not the real world of images and not supposed to be. Artemis was said to be a virgin but I dont think that was good writing. She was the bride of a demon and the depictions of her stint in hell reflected torture, extreme abuse and to read rape between the lines isnt far fetched. I liked her because she was different than Diana. Not a miss goodie to shoes if you will. She was in your face and ask questions later. If you were the bad guy...u go by any means necessary. She was the darker side of Wonder Woman and the fans loved it for the most part. Ofcourse she couldnt remain ambassador of peace with that style. I have to say that no artist or writer has captured her better than Loebs, Benes, Deodato but she has developed over the years. The series however, seemed a bit thrown together. This fan favorite deserved a more carefully written and in depth series. She went from fighting steriod freaks in WW, to steriod demons in her series. Not a big stretch! I could go on and on but this is enough for now."

stanlos: "The positives for this mini were the human interest and characterization skills of William Messner-Loebs. The optimism and loving nature with which he imbued Diana was always so very inspiring. She really beamed with compassion and humanity under his pen and felt like the most wonderful friend and ally a person could have. The latter was true of his writing of the character in the WONDER WOMAN monthly as well.

"Back to Artemis, I enjoyed the bad-ass-ery he depicted in Artemis. She was one 'tough' lady. Then there was the wry humour and her hilarious non sequitors with Sojourner (a character, by the way, who had very little panel time in WW history but somehow won me as a fave--I have never forgotten her).

"Of course, there were also some negatives like the 90s big guys with guns and leather jackets syndrome and the accompanying arch backed girls with 8' long legs syndrome. And the series seemed to lose focus mid-stride but I have fond memories of it. I can't read it again as I had to get rid of my comics during a hardship a while ago but I felt it had great revisitability."

 

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