This week’s issue of Sensation Comics is a throwback to the late Bronze Age, a period for Wonder Woman that’s not as well known to many as the rest of her incarnations. The book has José Luis Garcia-López on art, an artist famed for iconic take on DC superheroes from this period. If you have any products with DC characters that are labelled “retro” in some way, Garcia-López probably drew them. He was DC’s main design guy during the Bronze Age. Also, the villain of the story is the Cheetah, but not the Cheetah that most Wonder Woman fans would expect. Most folks probably know Barbara Minerva, who’s been the Cheetah since the Wonder Woman relaunch in the late 1980s. Some might be familiar with Priscilla Rich, the Cheetah of the Golden and Silver Ages. But the Cheetah in this week’s Sensation Comics is Debbi Domaine, who took on the mantle in a handful of issues in the early 1980s. The story doesn’t really hinge on which Cheetah is in the villainous role; it could have been any of them and this issue would be largely the same. But I like that Beechen and Garcia-López went for something a bit more obscure.
The story reads like a sort of superhero Law & Order, beginning with Wonder Woman on the stand in a courtroom testifying about her recent battle with the Cheetah. The district attorney argues that the Cheetah should be placed in a high security prison, while the defense attorney argues that she needs to be cared for at a psychiatric facility. The defense attorney wins, and part one of “Our Little Dance” ends with a very expected twist while the Cheetah is being transferred.
I like the idea of the story a lot; seeing the more mundane side of superheroics and meeting the people who had to deal with what comes next can make for great comics. Plus we see this a lot with characters like Batman, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, but rarely for Wonder Woman, so it was interesting to get to see her in this environment. However, I found the execution good but a little bit dull at times. The comic was overly verbose, and I don’t think the book quite hit the tone that the creators were aiming for.
This was partly due to the art. Garcia-López is an absolute legend, and his art is strong here, but his iconic superhero style doesn’t quite mesh with the real world angle of the story. Part of it might be that I’m used to books like Gotham Central, where the street level stories are accompanied by grittier, more realistic art. But I think that’s a smart pairing that grounds that kind of book well. When I read a comic drawn by Garcia-López, I’m expecting a big superhero fight and cool action every time I turn the page, not deep backstory on the tragic past that motivated a man to become a lawyer. There was some action early in the issue, and it looks like that big superhero fight is probably coming next week, which should be a lot of fun. But with this first issue, while the art isn’t bad in the slightest, for me it’s so strongly reminiscent of a different kind of comic that it took me out of the story a bit.
Ultimately, this is a solid first issue with some interesting new characters and an angle on Wonder Woman we don’t get to see a lot. While I don’t think the art quite fit most of the issue, I anticipate that next week we’ll see something in a more classic superhero style that is well-suited to José Luis Garcia-López’s talents. Yet again, I have no idea when this story will be published in print. It’s not in any of the upcoming Sensation Comics solicits, so it’ll be October at the earliest. The digital books are currently pretty far ahead of what’s been printed, so not knowing the print date right away might be common from now on.