Wonder Woman #51 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang


“Rebirth” is so close now. Today’s Wonder Woman #51 is the penultimate issue of the series. The Finches will wrap up their run next month, and then Greg Rucka’s coming in with Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott to relaunch the book and hopefully make it not terrible anymore. Yes, another relaunch is sort of ridiculous, but I’m very much looking forward to it because a) Rucka knows how to write comics, b) Sharp and Scott are great artists, and c) there’s no way that they could make a worse Wonder Woman than what we’ve been getting over the past year and a half.

Case in point, this month’s issue. It serves as both a tour through the unpleasant missteps DC’s made with Wonder Woman throughout the New 52 era and as just a bad comic that’s part of a dumb arc. Wonder Woman’s in Tartarus because Hecate sent her there through a variety of painfully obvious lies and manipulations that sailed right over Diana’s head, and so she’s stuck dealing with some troubling manifestations of her subconscious mind or whatever. It’s not great stuff. We’ll discuss it all for as long as I can handle it (you’ll notice I didn’t even review last month’s issue; I was out of town visiting family and just couldn’t muster the energy to engage with the fiftieth issue “special”), but first:


I am about to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS that happen in this issue!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Or don’t! Whatever! I don’t care anymore!

So Wonder Woman is in Tartarus because she’s an idiot, basically. Or rather, because she’s being written as such. Everything about Hecate screams “SHE’S A VILLAIN!”, from the spiky horns coming out of her head to her telling Diana that she needed to steal from her friends and not tell anyone what she was doing or who she was working with. I mean, come on now. Those are some red flags. This is the issue where Wonder Woman figures out that she’s been duped, but it’s several issues too late. She should have put the pieces together on this one as soon as she met Hecate, just like every reader did.

The attempted emotional reveal of Wonder Woman realizing the mistakes she’s made falls completely flat. Having Wonder Woman look stupid never makes for a fun read. Furthermore, this astoundingly poor characterization of Wonder Woman takes you right out of the story. Instead of engaging with what’s going on, the reader is left wondering why Diana is even in this situation in the first place, and why a writer would do this to the character, and how an editor could possibly let this story be published.

While in Tartarus, Wonder Woman has some visions related to her past. First, we get her Amazon foe Aleka making fun of a young Diana, a reminder of how the Amazons have been the worst in the New 52. It was really interesting to hear Greg Rucka talk about the Amazons on the Word Balloon podcast after his return to Wonder Woman was announced, because he made the point that the Amazons are all about love, support, and trust. Jealousy and bitterness just aren’t how the Amazons should roll, yet that’s been the core of the Amazons since the New 52 relaunch. Rucka didn’t call out any of the New 52 books specifically because he’s a classy dude, but you got the sense that he saw the current depiction of the Amazons as a big misstep by DC.

Wonder Woman also has a vision of Superman, another of the New 52’s poorest choices. Their relationship never made much sense, nor did they have a lick of chemistry. Several writers took a stab at it too, across a variety of books, but it never landed in any real way. In fact, most of the time it was poorly handled and offputting. So this conversation, in which Diana talks about how she thought about settling down and starting a family with Clark, is an unpleasant reminder of their ill-fated relationship as well as not particularly believable. Their entire relationship was DC telling us they love each other without ever showing it or selling it, and this was more of the same.

Then Hera shows up and she and Wonder Woman fight, and Wonder Woman realizes that she was dumb to trust Hecate. After making up, they escape Tartarus and head back to Olympus to check on Zola’s baby Zeke, whose illness was the genesis of all of this foolish subterfuge. We don’t learn what’s up with Zeke but, shocking twist, it looks like Zola is dead.

This had better be a fake out, because Zola has been a great character and one of the consistent bright spots in what’s been a very up and down five years for Wonder Woman. I like Zola a lot, even though the Finches never seemed to get her right at all; she was so much fun during Azzarello and Chiang’s tenure, and I like what she adds to the Wonder Woman mythos. She’s sort of a charming, redneck Etta Candy, and serves the important role of keeping Diana grounded with a human friend. So if she’s actually dead, I’m going to be pretty upset.

I suppose we’ll find out next month with the series finale. Given the entirety of what’s preceded it during the Finches’ run, I have no hope that it will be good, but it will be the end. And then “Rebirth”! One issue to go, gang. We can do it.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

11 thoughts on “Wonder Woman #51 Review: It’s Almost Over, Gang

  1. I know you’re upset over the prospect of Zola being dead, but.. for me, they can leave Zola dead and kill off all the unlikable stupid characters they’ve created for the new 52 run and.. start fresh with Rucka. Don’t load him up with all this terrible baggage and bad writing/bad ideas abound. Let him start new and give Diana a true rebirth, a refresh and hell, a reboot.

  2. Wonder Woman dreaming about marriage and babies with the one man in the world who matches her strength…..vomit vomit vomit. Blech. F you Meredith Finch. God I cannot get get how degrading this relationship continues to be for her. Even Lois would not have a dream like this. God the Finches are truly the worst. Save herrrrrrr Greg Rucka. God, please retcon this stuff out. I cannot with this Wonder Woman. She’s so awful.

    1. How degrading has the relationship been to her? If anything, it makes more sense than her with Steve. Falling in love with the first guy she sees, now that’s degrading.

      1. @Rob, Steve Trevor was created to me her love interest. Hers. Everything about him I structured to challenge and support the themes of HER story. The fact that Steve is a human man with no power of his own highlights the idea that Wonder Woman has the physical power and challenges the idea that men must always have a stereotypical macho role. It’s actually important that Steve is the first man she sees as he provides curiosity about the world of man. Wonder Woman longing for and loving Superman is degrading. It’s completely at odds with why we have Wonder Woman. Watching her long for the one guy in the world who can match her physical strength is DISGUSTING. Watching her long for an alien with so much physical privilege is DISGUSTING. The themes of “super powered people are better than average humans/too good for average humans” that comes about with the Superman romance is DISGUSTING. The relationship with Superman is sexier garbage that deserves to be wiped out of both character’s lexicons and buried. The fact that the romance also seems to cultivate the nastiest, most sexist, lowest common denominator group of fans who are truly abusive, terrible people is just the icing on the cake. The romance is trash and I am going to laugh openly as Greg Rucka buries it and retcons it into oblivion. Because that’s exactly what those fans deserve after how truly nasty they have been.

      2. And by the way: that should read “sexist garbage.” There is nothing sexy about Superman and Wonder Woman. They have the chemistry of a wet rag. Two beautiful people pushed together and shipped only bc they are both beautiful and powerful and DC and a certain segment of fans are just really that shallow.

      3. Wonder Woman was constantly playing second fiddle to Superman in their relationship. The comic revolved almost entirely around Superman, his stories, his personal crises, his dumb crossovers. Wonder Woman essentially became a supporting character for Superman. She was also written very badly in their comic. In order to draw a sharper contrast between the two, Wonder Woman was portrayed as being morally inferior–an overly violent loose cannon with little regard for humanity, who needed a firm hand to rein her in. Clark was sometimes forced to lecture or scold Diana for her backwards ways. The whole relationship was clearly designed to boost Superman’s status, to serve his purposes, to show him in the best light. Wonder Woman gained nothing from the romance, but she definitely lost quite a bit.

  3. Good review as always. I really appreciate that you’ve kept reviewing the series throughout the Finch’s run so that us Wonder Woman fans can keep updated on the main Wonder Woman book without having to pay for this garbage.
    Any chance we might get a Wonder Woman: Earth One review? I must admit I’m a little more curious to hear your thoughts on that book, than the latest issue of a series that has consistently sucked for a year and a half now.

  4. Despite all controversy regarding the Amazon society at Azzarello and Chiang run, I loved their work. It’s sad that the follow up by The Finches was so poorly conceived and executed.
    I am always inclined to think that chemistry between Clark and Diana will rely at the ability of the current writer. Certainly someone like, lets say, Kurt Busiek, could have made the relationship feel organic and believable.
    I am really curious about the return of Greg Rucka to the book. I have no doubt that Diana will be treat with much more talent and respect.
    About Wonder Woman, Earth One: I can imagine that this book will cause controversy. I liked a lot, but there are various aspects of it that can evoke a lot of criticism.

  5. Wonder Woman’s in Tartarus because Hecate sent her there through a variety of painfully obvious lies and manipulations that sailed right over Diana’s head

    Maybe Diana’s more familiar with the mythological Hecate than the pop-culture one? It says something that the New 52 has allowed Hades some sympathy and given him a pass on Persephone’s suffering (brought up and forgotten in a single panel!) but Hecate is “scary witch evil!”.

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