When Meredith and David Finch took over the series with Wonder Woman #36 last fall, their first issue was an absolute mess. The writing was awkard, the art made Wonder Woman look like a sexy adolescent, and the whole book was just an extraordinarily unpleasant reading experience. I’ve read EVERY issue of Wonder Woman going back 75 years, and Wonder Woman #36 was easily one of the worst. So I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman #41 is better than that. Unfortunately, it’s still not very good. We’ll dig into why, but first:
I am about to reveal every shocking revelation in this issue!
Just kidding, there really aren’t any!
But still, if you don’t want to be spoiled, look away!
Wonder Woman #41 is a chance for Meredith and David Finch to reintroduce their book to potential new readers. With the #DCYou mini-relaunch garnering a lot of attention, sales are sure to go up for returning books across the line, which means a lot of new eyes on Wonder Woman. The issue seems to be trying to address that, but they go way too far in doing so. The first three quarters of the book are basically a recap of the forty issues that came before, with nothing particularly new added to the mix. Plus it’s written in a weirdly stilted, expository fashion, with long internal monologue introductions for each new scene. It’s a bland, clunky read.
We start on Mount Olympus, where Wonder Woman visits Donna Troy to recap her crimes and offer her clichéd platitudes about how she can change and take control of her life. Wonder Woman is stern but caring, Donna is angry and pouty. It really adds nothing new if you’ve read the six issues beforehand, and I can’t imagine that it’s terribly intriguing if you haven’t.
Then Wonder Woman stops into visit Zola and Zeke, who appear to be living on Mount Olympus with Hera. This harkens back to the Azzarello and Chiang era, and is one of the few references the Finches have made to this run thus far. The Azzarello and Chiang run had its ups and downs, but one of the highlights was definitely the brash, spunky Zola and the evolution of her relationship with Hera. None of that is showcased here. Zola’s dialogue lacks her former folksy snark, while there are just hints of Hera’s amusingly snooty condescension. Neither character feels right.
Nor do they look right. Zola looks like a generic blonde woman, or rather like a generic blonde model. She’s sitting most of the time, but her limbs are long and slim, and her hair is fashionably cut. Cliff Chiang’s Zola was short with shaggy hair, and a very specific style. Finch has her in non-descript clothing even though Chiang always had her in redneck couture, with a lot of plaids and decorative t-shirts. She had a look with a lot of personality, and none of that is present here. I suppose it’s not particularly fair to compare Finch to Chiang, since they have completely different strengths. Chiang’s character design as epic, while Finch’s is… well, you’ve seen the new Wonder Woman costume. But even when Finch is channeling Chiang’s design, the result isn’t great. Chiang always drew Hera’s peacock cloak as voluminous and imposing, with detail in the feathers so you knew exactly what it was. Finch turns into a regular old cloak that sort of has a peacock feather design on it. She cuts a far less striking figure.
After that visit, Wonder Woman stops by to see Hephaestus, first to remind us that the Amazons who sided with Donna and killed the Manazons are now working at his forge, and second to get her new outfit. The costume supposedly shows her evolution form girl to woman and is “a reflection of everything I am now”, but neither the writing nor art explains exactly how or why. Wonder Woman calls it a “symbol” but the book offers no meaning behind her weird shoulder pads, thigh high boots, pointy skirt, and black unitard. Probably because it’s a #DCYou twist, and something resembling the old costume will be back sooner or later anyway. Big changes to the Wonder Woman costume never last.
The book ends with something new, a teen with a bomb. The teen is threatening to blow himself up if he doesn’t get to meet Wonder Woman, so she stops by to try to talk some sense into him. But the teen is no ordinary teen, and wants to fight even though Wonder Woman is not keen to do so. Ultimately, he jumps off a bridge and retreats to a secret lair. It’s an odd reveal because while there is a magic pool and a plot to have the teen replace Wonder Woman as the god of war is made very clear, we have no idea who either participant is. Pegasus shows up at the end, which makes me think that the teen might be Perseus, but he could also just be any random dude with a dislike of Wonder Woman who craves power. Whoever’s in the pool is obviously mythologically based, but the details are few. I’m sure more will be revealed moving forward, but a little more information could have made this big reveal a lot more impactful. “Oh snap, it’s some random dude!” is far less compelling than “Oh snap, it’s Perseus!” or “Oh snap, it’s Icarus!” or whoever.
All together, it’s not a particularly well crafted issue, nor does it create a lot of excitement for the next issue. However, at least it’s just bland and not straight up awful. That’s a big step up from the Finches’ first issue back in November. It’s not an enjoyable issue. I wouldn’t say it’s in the ballpark of good yet. But it didn’t make me angry or sad, and I’m glad about that. I’ll take bored over furious any day of the week. While I hold little hope that Wonder Woman will ever be good again with the Finches at the helm, it’s always nice when an issue isn’t completely terrible. Well done, all involved, for clearing the lowest of bars.