So. Let’s talk about my favorite solo DC character, shall we?
*reads the back of the book* Yeah… no.
Cliffnotes: Wonder Woman’s memory seems to be playing tricks on her. She can’t enter Olympus, can’t seem to return to Paradise Island, and in her own words, “The story keeps changing,” by that meaning her memories of her origin. So how does she decide to deal with this? By turning to an incredibly unlikely ally in both their times of need.
Short version: Read it. Right now. Go forth at once!
Long version: This is basically the book that sold me on Rebirth, and not just because Wonder Woman is my favorite solo character in the DCU. I’d already read the first couple issues, and just fell behind because… well… look around. This site doesn’t exactly manage itself. But I digress. The reason this book sold me on Rebirth was because it’s the book that proved, to me, that they weren’t just trying to sweep the New52 under the rug. For all its missteps, it still happened. And you only improve by acknowledging your history. If they had just folded to the people demanding they just “erase,” the New52, we very likely would’ve gotten something just as abysmal. It’d have been conveniently sweeping the New52 under the rug purely to calm people down without necessarily listening to concerns. But what does this book do? It takes everything the New52 did, and uses it. It doesn’t skirt around the fact that any of it happened. Because it did. But it makes the conflict between the New52 and PostCrisis universes (and presumably everything before then) and uses that conflict to tell a new story. That’s something I absolutely love in any comic – using elements of past continuity to bring about something new. Bonus points if it’s oft forgotten continuity, too. It’s one of the reasons that Kurt Busiek is among my favorite writers (but no, seriously, go read his Avengers run). So let’s crack into this thing, and see where we’re at.
Characters & Tone
One thing about Wonder Woman is that when they decide to really use her supporting casts, she has one of the best, most underrated ones in comics. Are they on Superman or Spider-Man levels? No, but in fairness, their supporting casts are usually pretty consistent at the end of the day. Wondie’s tends to be on some sort of rotary system where you’ll have some consistent mainstays for longer than others. But whatever the combination of people they decide to use, they’re pretty much always interesting in one way or another. And really that’s one of the reasons I’m leery about them making the movie a period piece. It’s something I’m not positive they even considered, but it robs her of major players in her supporting cast for future endeavors. Etta Candy? Well, she’s not gonna be around after this one (unless every subsequent Wondie movie is between the first one and Bull vs Sh- I mean Batman v. Superman). Steve Trevor? More than likely gone. So who do we have here? Pretty much all the most well known faces, save the Wonder Girls. Etta Candy and Steve Trevor are big players. And, of all people, Cheetah! Yeah! And not as the main villain, either! And then, obviously, there’s Diana, herself.
Diana, in this, is basically back to form. The chip on her shoulder’s gone, she isn’t so much of a blood knight and actively shows the depth of her compassion on numerous occasions. And, of course, there is the one thing that sets Diana apart from other heroes, perhaps more than any. The reason she was made a temporary Violet Lantern in Blackest Night. Diana. Loves. Everyone. That is her thing. More than any other hero, even Superman, Diana’s M.O. lies in trying to turn enemies to allies. And she will only raise her hand if given no other option, much less her blade (which, by the way, she never uses in the comic, even once). She’s humble, and wise, but also strong, and dignified. Wonder Woman is an ideal, and yet merely a facet of who Diana is. The reason Wonder Woman wears no mask is a different reason from why Superman doesn’t. It’s because there is no real secret identity. They are one in the same. But Wonder Woman is who she is to the people, and Diana is she is for herself and her people. A personal identity, as someone once described it. And I only wish I could find where I read that, because the analysis was fascinating. Alas, it’s been many years. My point, though, is that I think they really have nailed Wonder Woman, this time around. They remember to keep the two just separate enough that they never seem like the two are mutually exclusive, but not so close that the overlap is too painfully clear. It helps both personas shine, and really adds some weight to the confusion Diana is present facing, given the events of the arc.
The other characters do their job. Diana and Steve haven’t spoken, by their own words, “In a long time.” But it’s clear the spark’s still there. Steve has a reputation for being boring, but I never really get that out of him. I think he’s every bit as “boring” as Lois. And, just to be clear, Lois… is awesome. I think part of it might just be the double standard of female-led titles. When the main character’s a dude, and the female character’s just a supporter, somehow that’s all right. But if the lead’s a woman and a dude’s the side character, he’d better be Mr. Awesome-rific, or he’s just meat. Part of it may, of course, be that factor of Wonder Woman’s rotary-supporting-cast-syndrome, always switching him out before he really gets a chance to shine. Meanwhile Lois has had years of continuous character development, and there have been so many explorations into her relationship to Superman. I think there’s just a stigma attached to Steve. But honestly… here he’s pretty great. He’s snarky and funny, and he’s actually plenty useful. If not for him and his team, things may have gone differently at the height of the first mini-arc’s climax.
Then there’s Cheetah. I’m just going to not talk a lot about the details of her involvement. Cheetah is perhaps simultaneously the most and least consistent member of Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery. Throughout the years, I think she’s changed more drastically from incarnation to incarnation than… well… pretty much all the others. Circe remains fairly consistent, there aren’t that many directions you can take Giganta, but Cheetah? Always a surprise. The latest version of Cheetah may actually be the most sympathetic I’ve seen. Clearly not as diabolical as she has been. And that’s honestly pretty welcome. Aside from maybe Silver Swan(?), and Giganta (towards the end of the PostCrisis reign, anyway) Wonder Woman has a surprisingly low amount of sympathetic rogues. So seeing Cheetah portrayed this way seemed refreshing.
Then there’s the villain that gets the most screen time and… well… he’s a tool, really. Not even sure he’s ever shown up in anything before. He’s pretty much one of the ‘stock’ Wonder Woman villains – self-important, chauvinistic megalomaniac with an interest in achieving godhood. In this particular case from the “god” who turned Cheetah into what she is in the first place. He really isn’t there to be a huge threat. He’s just there to get everyone in one place, so we can have our story. He does his job.
I think the tone is very nicely set. There’s a level of uncertainty to… well… everything. It’s very uneven. And it fits Diana’s current frame of mind. She’s obviously very confused, and unsure of herself and the world around her. The repetition at the beginning really hammers it in. “The story keeps changing.” It makes you question what’s going on as much she is. Because of that, you aren’t really sure what direction things will go, at times. Some cases are obvious, of course, if you have a writing degree or even just read enough comics, but the unsettling nature of it all can still leave some doubts.
As I said above, Diana’s memory is playing tricks on her. She’s remembering her history differently, and is very confused because of it. She can no longer return to Themyscira, and she can’t access Olympus so she turns to an unlikely ally for help – Cheetah. All the while, Steve Trevor and his squad are running a covert operation in… somewhere to rescue people from a terrorist who turns out to be delusions of grandeur, and a god complex to boot. Where things go from there is interesting. That arc technically resolves itself well before the book concludes. In actuality, even after the issue with Steve is dealt with and Diana secures Cheetah’s help, there’s the matter of finding Themyscira. And that opens a whole new can of worms. The plot, as I’ve said, serves its purpose. The thing with the terrorist pretty much only serves to get Steve and Diana in the same place, and to set up events that’ll transpire later with another classic Wonder Woman villain. Beyond that it’s fairly non-memorable and makes little impact. The plot revolving around Wonder Woman’s identity is more intriguing, and setting itself up to be a major part of the book, going forward, so I hope to soon see where that goes.
It’s… passable. There are some places where it’s better than others. Places where I have to stop and point out faults in consistency. Points where faces take on body-snatcher levels of “Nope,” with eyes being much too far apart on a person’s face, action scenes in which physics clearly played no part. But it was far from horrendous. And let me point out one other thing. I. Love. The Costume update. To date, this is perhaps my favorite of the many attempts to alter the Wonder Woman costume. The skirted look works nicely, she’s got the boots that look like Greco-Roman armor (but superhero-fied a little bit), the lines on the top aren’t as distractingly present as in the New52 design, and give more of a breastplate appeal, as opposed to just being lines because lines are cool… oh, and we’ve reintroduced gold to her getup! I’m sure they switched her over to silver in the New52 to separate her color scheme from Superman, but the gold just looks so much better for the costume. It’s way more aesthetically pleasing, and the more color, the better.
Like I said before, go forth at once and read it. This first volume, despite not being all that phenomenal as a standalone story, does a good enough job setting up the rest of the book, analyzing the character’s iconography, and addressing the character’s past that it warrants checking out. Here’s to volume 2, whenever I get around to that. As always, thanks for reading, ladies and gents.
Keep up the awesome, and take care