I enjoyed the first part of “Echidna” last week, and the finale this week turned out to be even more fun. The grim, grittiness of the first installment did an excellent job establishing the setting and the tone of the story, and while this issue continued in that vein there was also some comic relief added to the mix. I like a good moody tale, but a little levity is always welcome. One-note comics get old after a while.
It feels like Caitlin Kittredge had an absolute blast writing this comic. Last week’s issue was creepy and cool, but this issue was fun and occasionally over the top, in good ways. Looking back, the two issues feel like night and day in a lot of respects, and yet they absolutely work together as a whole. It’s a very well constructed storyline.
I’m always a little wary of guest stars in Sensation Comics, because they tend to overshadow Wonder Woman and take away her page time, but Kittredge finds a good balance here. While she introduced Batgirl at the end of part one, she uses her only sparingly here, keeping the focus on Wonder Woman and her efforts to rescue the monstrous children. Kittredge also brings in some charismatic villains, Harley Quinn and Professor Pyg, but again they don’t take over the book. Wonder Woman punching out Professor Pyg because she’s sick of listening to his ridiculousness is a particularly nice moment.
Harley Quinn is inherently a scene stealer, and her pages shine. Kittredge does a fantastic job writing her, and I was glad to see that Scott Hampton went with the classic costume. I didn’t realized how much I missed that classic costume until I noticed how right it felt to read the jokes coming out of that costume. The New 52 Harley Quinn was a mess for a while, and Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner have done a solid job of bringing back more of her iconic characterization, but you can’t beat that classic costume. It’s just not Harley Quinn to me without out. Anyway, Harley steals the spotlight a little bit, I suppose, but that’s what Harley Quinn does. And Wonder Woman handles her with great aplomb.
Hampton set up the creepy vibe of Gotham’s monstrous underbelly beautifully last week, and he continues that tone with more brightness and fun here, matching the changes in the story well. His Harley Quinn is great, bouncy and amusing with just the right hint of darkness, and I really liked his Professor Pyg, particularly his use of shadows with the mask. Even his Wonder Woman is growing on me. I was a bit critical of her depiction last week, but Hampton makes her less flat and more dynamic here. I think my increased enjoyment of his Wonder Woman is partly just adjusting to Hampton’s style and partly a few smart tweaks he made with this issue.
All together, “Echidna” was a very good installment of Sensation Comics. It was nice to have something different, both in tone and style, and the story really took advantage of the series’ mandate to tell Wonder Woman stories in any sort of continuity and style. There aren’t a lot of other places you do this story except for Sensation Comics, and I continue to be glad that it’s providing us with new and different Wonder Woman content each week. I still don’t know when this story will be printed. I double checked all of the Sensation Comics listings and this isn’t in it any of them, so it looks like it will be September at the earliest. Keep your eyes peeled for it, though. It’s a great read.