February 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #328: Veronica Cale

Wonder Woman has her own enemy in the corporate world.

Back in my more regular comic book collecting and reading days, there were characters I would follow more or less regardless of who was writing them, and there were others I read only if I liked the creative team.  Wonder Woman falls squarely in the latter camp, but between Gail Simone and Greg Rucka, there were plenty of great runs for the Amazing Amazon to follow over the years.

Rucka, in particular, had a fantastic run, and he introduced a villain in that run that probably should appear in a live action movie at some point.  Her name is Veronica Cale.

Veronica Cale, first appearing in Wonder Woman #196 in November of 2003, is a very smart and successful businesswoman.  A bioengineer and a genius in her own right, she clawed her way from nowhere to become the head of her own pharmaceutical company.  And, as first introduced, she really hated Wonder Woman.  But since she was a mere mortal and Wonder Woman is an on-again, off-again demigod, Cale’s way of trying to destroy Diana of Themyscira was not exactly going to be challenging Wonder Woman into a physical fight.  She’d have to do something else.  That involved creating new villains, resurrecting ancient evils from Greek mythology, and becoming an all-around behind-the-scenes mover and shaker to try to bring Wonder Woman down.

All things being equal, and this being Rucka’s work, and being he knows how to write powerful women, I was really digging Cale as a villain…until Rucka got around to writing her origin story.  It seems Cale hated Wonder Woman because, as a mere mortal who worked and pushed and prodded her way through the various barriers there are to women in society to become the rich and powerful woman she was, Cale was really, really mad that some other woman who didn’t have to work anywhere near as hard was being proclaimed “Wonder Woman” when, in Cale’s mind, she was the real “wonder woman” all along.

As motivations go, that’s fine.  The problem for me was that’s the same motivation that modern day Lex Luthor often has for why he hates Superman:  if anyone is going to be Superman/Wonder Woman, it will be someone with a lot of smarts and drive and success like Luthor/Cale, and not some alien/princess from a magical island like Clark/Diana.

Cale from there was among the various super-scientists kidnapped and taken to Oolong Island during the 52 mini-series.  She was the only woman there, and she actually rose to power and was running the place as a result.  The only real problem was when an experiment the scientists did sent Black Adam on a rampage, she went out to face him down and let him do to her what he wanted to do, oh, everyone there as a way of appeasing the antihero dictator.  And Black Adam…completely ignored her because apparently he’s a sexist jerk who never thought the woman would have been the source of his problems.

However, then we got DC Rebirth and things got a little more interesting.  While most of the various Rebirth titles were given to new creative teams, Wonder Woman ended up back in the hands of writer Greg Rucka, and not only did he bring Veronica Cale back, he improved on her origin story with something a lot more original, starting with what looked like Diana and Cale becoming friends.

There was, however, more to it that that.  Cale was the driving force behind Godwatch, an attempt to use advanced technology to find Themyscira.  Part of that attempt was actually befriending Diana to find the place, but there was a mystical barrier around Paradise Island that kept Diana from remembering it’s real location.  It was also a prison for the war god Ares.  Cale’s desire to find the place was not what it seemed as well.  Her daughter Isadore had had her face and soul taken by Ares’s two sons Phobos and Deimos.  That caused Cale to play every underhanded trick in the book and few she made up, allying herself with various Wonder Woman enemies, getting Circe to turn the two demigods into her own personal attack dogs, and finally going to rescue Isadore’s soul from Ares’s prison.

It didn’t quite work out.  Despite Diana’s help, the only way to restore Isadore to normal would be to take her to Themyscria, where the girl could never return from.  Cale got her daughter’s face and soul back, but she could never see her again.

And, since she is a supervillain, she blamed Diana’s feud with Ares for that, and so she decided to make Diana’s life as difficult as possible from then on.

So, here’s what I am wondering:  is there a reason she hasn’t been in the DCEU yet?  She might have made a better villain than Max Lord for Wonder Woman 1984, but maybe they’re saving her for the next one.  After all, Cale has appeared in other media.  She was the intended main villain in David E. Kelley’s disasterous TV version of Wonder Woman, to be played by Elizabeth Hurley, and she’s appeared in at least one of the straight-to-video animated movies, voiced by Constance Zimmer.

This would be her.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did pop up in a third Wonder Woman movie, but for now, she’s behind the scenes, dispatching attacks on someone who would probably prefer to be her friend.  Some people just can’t handle a little compassion.

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