Wonder Woman’s confrontation with the new Cheetah, Barbara Minerva, continues with this week’s issue of Wonder Woman ’77, but it’s a somewhat underwhelming outing. The story goes as we all expected it would after the first issue: the Cheetah attacks Wonder Woman, they fight, and then there’s a cliffhanger ending promising more fighting in the finale next week. The problem is, we’ve seen this before, and I’m not just talking about the formulaic three act structure.
This week’s issue ended with the Cheetah calling on her goddess Mafdet to create a cheetah army for her, and scores of attendees at the museum’s Wonder Woman exhibit got turned into angry cheetah creatures just like Barbara who came after Wonder Woman in the cliffhanger ending. It’s not a bad cliffhanger, really, except for the fact that this is exactly how the second issue of the FIRST arc of Wonder Woman ’77 ended. The Silver Swan mind-controlled the innocent civilians at the disco and sent them after Wonder Woman, just like the Cheetah’s army swarmed her here. The Silver Swan outing was only six issues ago, and it’s disappointing to see Andreyko repeating himself so soon. It all feels a little uninspired.
It’s a pity about the copycat ending, because the issue up until then had been decent enough. Wonder Woman’s speech at her exhibit wasn’t much of a stirring piece of writing, I suppose, but I liked a lot of the Cheetah fight. I particularly enjoyed the moment after Wonder Woman lassoed the Cheetah and she just ran around a pillar a few times, wrapping the lasso around it, and pulled it down, causing Wonder Woman to go stop the building from collapsing while the Cheetah bounded off. That was a nice use of the lasso and a good display of the Cheetah’s nefariousness. But then the ending ruined the whole book for me.
The art didn’t help a lot either. Richard Ortiz had some good moments in this issue, and his Cheetah was fairly decent, but for most of the issue his Wonder Woman didn’t look a whole lot like Lynda Carter. I really don’t understand how DC structures these arcs, because every first issue of a storyline in Wonder Woman ’77 has begun with beautiful, detailed art that allows for rich colours and an overall delightful reading experience. Then the next two have more basic linework, the colours are simpler, the characters look less like the actors, and the whole thing makes for a less enjoyable read. During the last arc a while back, I speculated that perhaps the original artist fell behind schedule and they had to replace him for the next two, but I heard from Jason Badower, the artist of Wonder Woman ’77 #4 who did a spectacular job with that first issue, and he told me that he had only been contracted for that one issue. Why isn’t DC hiring people to draw the full arc? Drew Johnson’s work last week was gorgeous, and this issue suffers by comparison. It seems like an absolutely bizarre way to run things to me.
Overall, this issue was a series of disappointments, really. The few strong moments were countered by a blatantly recycled plotline and a substantial drop off in the quality of the art. I was very excited for this week’s issue after the arc’s solid debut last week, and now after this I’m not particularly looking forward to next week’s conclusion at all. I feel like editorial should have been much sharper here, both in terms of catching the story duplicate and in ensuring consistent art through the arc. A lot of balls were dropped by everyone involved when it came to this issue, it seems. It’s a shame, because this should be such a fun comic book.