Finishing a tale that started in last week’s digital issue of Sensation Comics, this story certainly ended a lot better than it began. I was generally unimpressed with the first part; while it wasn’t egregiously bad by any means, it didn’t have a lot going for it either. This week’s second part was a more entertaining read that went in a couple of surprising directions.
What I enjoyed most about this issue was its choice of villains. After last week, I was anticipating some sort of showdown with the gods, whereby Wonder Woman proved herself to them or showed that she was just as strong without them. Instead, it turns out that the “gods forsaking her” angle last week was a nice bit of misdirection, and Dr. Psycho was behind everything. Before that reveal, Wonder Woman has an encounter with the Cheetah that was also unexpected and which made for a fun fight scene in a zoo. The shift from the gods to classic Wonder Woman villains was an enjoyable one, and was a twist that made clever use of the two-parter structure.
Along with this nice twist, Ivan Cohen’s writing was better all around this week. Wonder Woman fighting the Cheetah despite her lack of superpowers well captured the character’s determination and commitment, while using her brains instead of her brawn to ultimately defeat the Cheetah showcased Wonder Woman’s versatility. The takedown of Dr. Psycho at the end of the book was solidly executed as well, both with her fake out that lured Dr. Psycho to her and the subsequent page turn reveal of paramedics carting away Dr. Psycho on a stretcher in a neck brace. Both confrontations made for a good read.
I was less enthused about Wonder Woman’s talking to animals powers ultimately being what tipped her off. This is in part because I think it’s sort of a silly power; she’s not Animal Man, and while I can understand Wonder Woman having a connection to nature, when stories have her actually communicating with animals I tend to roll my eyes a little. I like the idea of Dr. Psycho forgetting to block out one of her minor abilities, but a comic whose resolution involves an explanation about how Wonder Woman can talk to animals just isn’t my jam. This plotline might have been aided by a little more subtlety at the end instead of such a straightforward run down.
Cohen very much stuck the landing with his final page, though. While talking with the talk show guy about the gods, Wonder Woman says, “It’s not my belief in them that’s important. It’s my belief in me.” It helps that she says this while flying off into the sky all cool-like. I love the sentiment that the gods, the very source of Wonder Woman’s powers in this particular incarnation of the character, aren’t as important as Wonder Woman believing in herself. She would still be a great hero without them, as we saw with the Cheetah fight. Her belief in herself is what matters most of all, and any Wonder Woman story that ends with a message like that is a good one in my books.
On the art side of things, Marcus To really picked up his game in this second issue. The Cheetah looked great, as did the snow leopard that ultimately did her in, and the fight scenes were much more kinetic than they were last week. There were some strong specific panels as well; I quite liked the bit where a dazed Wonder Woman is lying in the grass surrounded by chirping birds after the Cheetah threw her through a roof and into the bird sanctuary. It’s not an over the top panel, but there’s a slight comedic touch to it that I enjoyed.
I’m still not sure what was up with the poor “ugly” Wonder Woman reveal at the end of the last issue. When we learned this week that Dr. Psycho was behind Wonder Woman’s loss of abilities and that she still had them, she just didn’t think that she did, her continuing to look like herself made sense. Her beauty wasn’t gone, she just thought it was. But with the mirror panel at the end of the last issue, was Wonder Woman looking the same meant to communicate that her beauty wasn’t actually gone, as a sort of hint to the reader? Or did the slight bags under the eyes and such mean to illustrate how Wonder Woman saw herself, even though to me she looked about the same? If it was the former, that’s kind of clever, but the execution of it all left me confused. After a clever art move, the reader’s first thought shouldn’t be that the artist messed it up. Whatever was going on in last week’s final panel, it could have been done much clearer either way.
Overall, this was a decent issue. I liked the twist from what I was expecting, the art was better, and I got to read a story where Wonder Woman took down two classic villains in inventive ways. Even with the improvement shown in the finale, I’d still rank this story near the bottom of the list of what we’ve seen so far from Sensation Comics, but we’ve also only had four stories. That the bottom of the list is a fairly enjoyable tale speaks well for the series thus far.