SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers!
Wonder Woman #01
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Cliff Chiang (interior art and cover), Matthew Wilson (colors), Jared K. Fletcher (letters)
Story Title: The Visitation
Release Date: September 21, 2011
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5
Dusk, on the rooftop terrace of a skyscraper in Singapore, Apollo and three young human women are talking. In Virginia, a humanoid (presumably female) draped in a cloak of peacock feathers in a horse stable takes a scythe and uses it to cut the heads off of two horse. Where their heads were arms and a head start to grow. In a nearby house, we see a young woman pointing a shotgun at a bird-footed, blue skinned humanoid. He is trying to protect her, but the young woman, Zola, doesn’t believe him. The horses have turned into centaurs and are attacking Zola’s home. The man takes an arrow for her and gives her a key. The key teleports her to London and the bedroom of Diana, the Wonder Woman. While Diana and Zola teleport back to Zola’s house to face the centaurs, Apollo is being told his fortune by the three women (who have become Oracles). The man from earlier is revealed to be Hermes, and he beckons Diana to take Zola and run “to the ends of the Earth. Protect her, or the Queen will see her dead.” Hermes reveals that Zola is pregnant with Zeus’ child. The prophecy of the Oracles reveals that one of Zeus’ children will murder another and take their place.
I’m very impressed with this issue. A lot of the DC New 52 stuff really suffered from premiere-itis. The stories fell a little short when weighed down with introducing a new origin, or they were confusing as to when they took place in relation to other appearances of the same character (I’m looking at you Superman). Wonder Woman did not have that problem. The world knows who Wonder Woman is (at the very least, Zola instantly recognized her). The Gods of Olympus are active and alive. There were no lingering continuity or origin related questions from this issue.
Brian Azzarello did a fantastic job of setting up the future of this new series without sacrificing telling a good story in this issue. That can be a very tough task for writers, but not Azzarello. Cliff Chiang’s art really shines here, with the help of very crisp and beautiful colors by Matthew Wilson. Everything really comes together to create what I feel is the strongest premiere issue of a run of Wonder Woman in a very long time. I can’t wait to read this book every month, and I hope Brian Azzarello sticks around for many years to tell some great stories.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to long-time Wonder Woman fans and new readers alike.
DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The 90s
Written by: William Messner-Loebs (credited as Bill Messner-Loebs)
Art by: Lee Moder (interior and cover), Daniel Green (ink), Chris Beckett (interior color), Wes Hartman (cover color), Dezi Sienty (letters)
August 17, 2011
Rating: 3.6 out of 5
Diana is put in charge of a girls club, five young girls who call themselves the Girl Blossoms. The girls normally just spend their time reading magazines, listening to music, and shopping. But Diana has different plans for them. In an attempt to show the girls what it was like for her growing up, Diana makes them run, swim, jump, and generally be a lot more active than they are accustomed. Later, when Etta Candy points out that Diana is sort of bullying the girls, Diana attempts to do what the girls want (play with dolls, read magazines). But the girls will have none of that!
When I first read this issue, I found it to be…very fluffy. It felt like 100% filler, with no real purpose. But upon reading it a second time, I realized that I really liked it. These young girls are pushed out of their comfort zone and find out of what they are truly capable. The writing was strong and the story taught a valuable lesson. My biggest complaint is that, at times, it felt very much like Wonder Woman’s After-School Special. Perhaps that was the message they were going for? The art in this issue was honestly some of the best work from the DC Retroactive run. Though I haven’t been exposed to any of Lee Moder’s previous work, I am now really interested. The fact that he has a run on Wonder Woman certainly helps.
I really loved Diana in this issue. There are rarely times that I don’t like her, but this issue featured some great moments (two of which I’ve included here). A lot of writers choose to make her very serious all time time. Some writers try to keep her solely as the Regal Princess and Warrior. Not a lot of writers are prepared to show her humorous side. But William Messner-Loebs isn’t afraid. I wish we could see more of Diana’s humor.
Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The 1980’s
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler, Tim Smith III and Carlos Rodriguez (pencils), Joe Rubinstein, Jack Purcell, Norman Lee, and Carlos Rodriguez (pencils), Kevin Colden (colors), Travis Lanham (letters), Rich Buckler, and Kevin Colden (cover)
Released August 03, 2011
Rating: 3.8 out of 5
I’m not very familiar with Roy Thomas’ work on Wonder Woman in the 1980s. In fact, when I heard that the Retroactive – 1980s issue of Wonder Woman was notGeorge Perez, I was a little hesitant. As it turns out, there was no reason to be.
A young girl is almost run over by a limo running a red light, but is saved by Wonder Woman. Or is it? The woman is especially violent and angry, and can *fly* (something Wonder Woman had never been able to do at that point). Diana Prince arrives at work at the Pentagon in time to see a news report that Wonder Woman was spotted moments ago hoisting a car above her head. Surprised that her alternate identity could be doing anything without her, Diana changes into Wonder Woman and searches for the culprit. Turns out Doctor Psycho and the Silver Swan are up to no good!
Perhaps because I have less knowledge of this era of Wonder Woman than I do of the 1970s era, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I enjoyed Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The 1970s. The story was interesting and fun to read. The dialogue felt very much like the characters. The writing certainly reflected the 80s era. I did find the ending a little…shall we say, odd. It seems like Wonder Woman is uncharacteristically nonchalant about death. Perhaps that was how she was in the 80s? I guess we’ll see when I get that far into my reading. The important part is, unlike the Retroactive 1970s issue, this story is complete and actually has a conclusion!
The art…well, there were three different artists for this one issue. As such, the art tends to fluctuate. Rich Buckler’s pages were very detailed and action-packed. Though there were a couple of shots of Wonder Woman that bordered on terrible, the story manages to explain it. There were some panels that I absolutely loved. Buckler’s art was certainly the highlight of the issue (pages 1-14). Tim Smith III’s art (pages 15, 19-26) were a bit sillier. Though pretty, they tended to take a more anime inspired approach. At times, that can be a good thing. Here, it just falls incredibly short and took me a bit out of the experience. Carlos Rodriguez’s (pages 16-18) art really should have been used for the entire climax of the book, rather than just three pages. These three pages are some of the best looking in the book, and the action scenes really shine.
My comic shop owner kind of implied that he did not expect me to enjoy this issue, so I was a little surprised to find out I did. The issue was very enjoyable and certainly made me want to read more of the 1980s pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. The inclusion of a reprint of Roy Thomas’ first issue of Wonder Woman (1982’s issue 288 – “Swan Song,” featuring the origins of the first Silver Swan) was also an enjoyable read. It’s really a shame that DC doesn’t make it a point to have more Wonder Woman stories from pre-Crisis released in trade format.
Wonder Woman #613
Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester
Art by Don Kramer and Travis Moore (pencils), Wayne Faucher, Walden Wong, and Drew Geraci (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors), Travis Lanham (letters), Lee Garbett, Dave Meikis, and Paul Mounts (cover)
The Odyssey, Part Thirteen: Nemesis
Released July 27, 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
In this issue, we finally discover how this “new” Wonder Woman has come into existence and why some people seem to remember the original Wonder Woman. Nemesis (the Goddess of Revenge) wanted to destroy the world’s greatest warriors. She would have destroyed Wonder Woman, if only a portion of Diana’s soul had not been recast in a new life, in a new history in Man’s World. This was meant to leave Diana alone amongst the mortals, which would (in theory) turn her bitter and angry. It accomplished the opposite, and made her feel at home with the humans (a feeling that has long since eluded Diana, who never felt in the place in Man’s World). If there is one thing that I hope writers hold on to after this story arc is over (other than the pants), it’s this Diana’s closeness with the mortal world. Making her feel a part of “Man’s World” will go a long way to fixing some of the major problems that turn people away from Wonder Woman.
The penultimate issue of J. Michael Straczynski’s The Odyssey story-arc was certainly action packed, featuring Wonder Woman against, well, Wonder Woman. The writing for this story arc has gotten better as it has gone along, and this issue was no exception (which I feel is more a credit to Phil Hester becoming comfortable with the character than anything else). The explanations of what had happened were clear enough that I wasn’t left completely confused (though I don’t feel that everything has been completely explained) and the action didn’t feel drawn out or dull. The artwork for the battle scenes was pretty great. The area where the fight took place was dark, haunting and everything it should have been. The flashback scenes were not as great. I felt that there was too much focus on Wonder Woman’s ass in the flashback scenes. It was so often and so prominent that it frequently took me out of the experience of the story.
Overall, this was an interesting chapter in Diana’s life. I am looking forward to re-reading this entire story arc once it is complete.
Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The 1970’s
Written by Dennis O’Neil
Art by J. Bone (interior and cover pencils and inks), Kevin Colden and Matthew Petz (colors), Dezi Sienty (letters), Carrie Strachan (cover colors)
Released July 20th, 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
As a huge fan of the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman era of Wonder Woman comics, I had been anxiously awaiting this issue since it was announced at WonderCon ’11. For the most part, I feel like I am still waiting.
Wonder Woman comes to Paradise Island, only to find it sinking beneath the sea. She swims down to find out what happened and discovers an alien looking craft, beckoning her to enter. Inside, she discovers an object that claims to be The Voice of the Most High. Wonder Woman has sinned, gravely, by making herself less than she is (presumably by renouncing her powers during the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman years). She must redeem herself by completing three ordeals, lest Paradise Island be destroyed.
The writing is certainly evocative of the era it is styled after. It’s comedic and quick, yet very little is explained. Most of the adventure seems relatively arbitrary, and there is very little resolution to the story (much like the original Diana Prince: Wonder Woman run). I can understand why J. Bone was chosen for this issue. His style is a more modernized version of the art used in the 70s. Though, I did feel at times that it would have been more suited to a children’s line of comics, rather than this story. The issue was enjoyable if you can get past the rushed feeling of the ending and the fact that very little is explained.
This issue also reprints one of my favorite issues of Wonder Woman, volume 01 issue 201, The Fist of Flame. Diana and I-Ching are ambushed and are required to go to Tibet to seek out The Fist of Flame. There, Diana comes face to face with a master thief, The Catwoman! Written by Denny O’Neil with art by Dick Giordano and originally published in July 1972, this story is one of the highlights of the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman era.