The description for this issue says that Wonder Woman is “going undercover as a pop-country starlet’s trainer”, so I thought that this might be a Wonder Woman meets Taylor Swift sort of thing, which would have been fun. I was expecting something light and breezy, but this issue went in the opposite direction in some very interesting ways. It’s a first issue that really drew me in and left me curious and excited to find out what happens next week.
The story centers on Esperanza, a young music star who is on tour and getting some creepy and dangerous threats. Her teacher/bodyguard has a past connection with Wonder Woman, and so she asks for Diana’s help in handling the situation. Wonder Woman decides to pitch in and help, joining Esperanza’s team as a “trainer” while she’s secretly there to protect the starlet. There’s also a sketchy record company executive in the mix, as well as a couple of teens who get upgraded to VIP status, though I fear that may have some ominous implications for them.
The plot doesn’t sound too complex on paper, but the structure of the story is very cool. It jumps around a lot, visiting several characters and going back in time to explain their relationships with each other and to tease their role in the situation with Esperanza. Unlike some past issues of Sensation Comics that you can fly through in a minute or so, this issue requires you to pay attention and keep track of who’s who, which is a nice change of pace. New scenes often start mid-conversation, without a lot of explanation. It is both sparse and detailed, and the non-linear structure isn’t confusing so much as it keeps you engaged as you start to put the pieces together. I really like how Sara Ryan constructed the story here.
I also love how Ryan set up Wonder Woman’s relationship with Esperanza’s teacher (who I don’t think is named in this issue?). They met ten years ago at a women’s shelter where Wonder Woman was teaching self defense, and it seems that they kept in touch over the years. The issue doesn’t go into the details of the teacher’s situation back then, nor does it have some sort of on the nose soliloquy about the importance of women’s shelters and such. Instead, through simply showing Wonder Woman’s relationship with the teacher and the changes in her life from where she was then to where she is now, it subtly demonstrates the importance of women’s shelters as well as her strength in overcoming whatever her situation may have been.
The relationship captures Wonder Woman beautifully as well. Of course she teaches self defense at a women’s shelter, and of course she stays in touch with her students and jumps to help them if they need it, even a decade later. That is exactly what Wonder Woman would do with her spare time, and exactly how she would react when a friend is in need.
The art is good, and does a nice job of communicating each new setting and time period. The jumping narrative could have gotten muddled with poor art, but Christian Duce keeps things focused and moving along well. Plus there are fun little moments interspersed through the story that he nails. In particular, a two page scene where Wonder Woman is on the phone with Esperanza’s teacher could have been dull, but instead Wonder Woman is fighting some bad guy while talking on the phone, nailing him with a sweet tiara boomerang shot. It’s a fun scene, and Duce does a great job capturing the bad assness of Wonder Woman.
The issue doesn’t end with a dramatic cliffhanger so much as it just stops and says “To Be Continued” but I was definitely intrigued by the story and am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. I don’t trust that executive guy, and I’m worried about the teens at the concert, though I also know that it’s a Wonder Woman comic and she’ll sort it out all out because that’s what she does. I’m excited to see how she does it, though. If it’s anywhere near as interesting and clever as this issue, it should be a very fun finale.
If you’re waiting to read this story on paper, the print issue will be out May 20. You should definitely pick this one up.