Before we get into this week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, first we’ve got a programming note. While the first two issues came out on a Wednesday, it looks like the book has moved to Thursday now; I’m not sure if this is just for this week or for the foreseeable future, but what we do know is that it won’t necessarily come out at the same time each week. But when it does, I’ll be here with a review.
Today’s story, “Defender of Truth” by Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs, appeared in last week’s print issue of Sensation Comics, so this week’s digital release might feel a bit anticlimactic if you’ve already purchased the paper version. This will probably be the last time the paper book is ahead of the digital, though. With 4-5 weeks in a month and the print version collecting only 3 stories each month, before long there will be quite the backlog of digital stories waiting to see print.
Having the print version out first gives us an interesting comparison for this particular story. While I enjoyed it on paper, I found that the art was a little muddled and a lot of the subtler things Cat Staggs was doing seemed to get lost. The digital version was a lot crisper, and the bigger size and simpler page layout made the art look even better.
Staggs is no stranger to Wonder Woman, having illustrated the covers for Wonder Woman’s appearances in Smallville Season 11. She’s also done interior art for the series, but this is the first time she’s drawn a Wonder Woman story and she did a great job. Whereas the first two issues of Sensation Comics left me feeling like the artist didn’t bring his A-game, Staggs’ art in “Defender of Truth” is some of the best art I’ve seen from her. Her Wonder Woman is powerful and lovely without being sexualized, the costume looks like it’s made of real fabric and not painted on, and the action is well choreographed. While the story appears to be set in the New 52 universe, Staggs streamlines the costume somewhat and achieves a nice blend of her current incarnation and elements from her past costumes.
The story takes place in Washington, DC, where Circe is wreaking havoc, bringing gargoyles to life and turning mounted policemen into centaurs. Wonder Woman shows up to sort things out, and saves the day with aplomb. Amanda Deibert’s writing moved the story along and for the first few pages, as Wonder Woman takes down her foes, I thought that her work was fine if unremarkable. But then Deibert absolutely stuck the landing with a couple of great scenes to finish off the issue.
In the first, Wonder Woman has captured Circe and is playfully chiding her:
The bit about “getting tied up” is obviously a reference to the bondage imagery that pervaded the early years of Wonder Woman comics back in the 1940s, but the way this panel is presented says a lot of things. On one level it’s a simple chastisement, with the classic “pick on someone your own size” reprimand. But Wonder Woman’s smile, nicely drawn by Staggs, suggests that yeah, Wonder Woman might be up for some bondage games with Circe. There’s a hint of flirtation there that we don’t usually see in Wonder Woman comics but that is very fitting given Wonder Woman’s Amazon heritage.
In the issue’s final scene, some young boys tease their friend for being a fan of Wonder Woman. As a guy who spent his vacation wearing a blue bathing suit with white stars, I very much identified with the young boy wearing Wonder Woman-inspired bracelets. Wonder Woman showing up to tell the boy he can like whatever he wants and to be true to himself is a lovely ending to the issue, as is the rest of the boys immediately changing their tune once they meet Wonder Woman.
All together, this story is a very good example of what Sensation Comics can, and what I hope it will, be. These stories, while short, can nonetheless showcase different facets of Wonder Woman, pairing strong character moments with enjoyable action scenes. Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs each did great work, with the art and writing complimenting each other well. I’m glad this story got to be in the premiere print issue of the series, and I hope that Deibert and Staggs will get to do another Sensation Comics story in the future.