It’s finally here, gang. A much needed new direction for Wonder Woman. The New 52 version of the book had its ups and downs, but it’s been mostly downs lately. And it looks like Greg Rucka knows this. His first issue back writing Diana, with artists Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp, serves as a definite turnaround from what’s been going on for the past few years. What exactly is going on is a bit murky right now; the issue is more a tease of what’s to come than a statement of a new status quo. But it’s certainly very intriguing, and suggests that a lot of the past might not be quite what we thought it was. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:
Look away if you don’t want to know what happens in this issue!
Wonder Woman is good again so go actually read it first before you read this review!
This “Rebirth” special presents two possible narratives for Wonder Woman’s history: The New 52 origin with a blonde Hippolyta hooking up with Zeus and terrible Amazons, and a brunette Hippolyta who crafted Diana out of clay and happy Amazons, which seems to be rooted in the pre-New 52 DC universe. DC’s big “Rebirth” introductory issue a couple of weeks back revealed that the New 52 universe isn’t actually a different world, but rather the previous universe with some tweaks and a lot of lost time. Wonder Woman seems to be realizing this here, and is confused by the dual memories she now has.
To sort out what’s really going on, Wonder Woman uses the lasso of truth to interrogate herself. It’s a clever move by Rucka, and a cool way to get at the heart of what’s happening. She doesn’t know exactly what’s up, but she does know that she’s been deceived, though she’s unsure who is behind it. When she smashes her mirror in frustration, we see a variety of scenes from her past, some of the New 52 and some of the previous universe, including the Medusa storyline from Rucka’s first run.
Wonder Woman then goes to Olympus for answers, but realizes it’s not the true Olympus. Hephaestus’ automatones attack her, and everything begins to break up in whirlpools of destruction around her. This might mark some massive changes for Wonder Woman moving forward. If Olympus, and thus perhaps the gods themselves, aren’t real, that’s a rather epic level of deception. And if the blonde Hippolyta and the New 52 Amazons aren’t her true family, where are her mother and the real Amazons? The creative team has certainly set themselves up with a lot to work through when the book officially launches in two weeks.
So right now, it looks like the entirety of her adventures in the New 52 Wonder Woman were with impostors and that something resembling the old DC universe is her true past. If this is how things play out, that’s a really smart way to bring back classic elements of the Wonder Woman mythos and return her to a more iconic depiction without invalidating the past five years. It seems that everything that happened to her has happened to her; they are events and people that she remembers. Wonder Woman lived it, but everything around her was a facade.
Presumably everything we saw outside of Wonder Woman took place as well, including her romantic relationship with Superman. He is, rather conveniently, dead now, allowing for a clean break from that part of her past. I’m curious to see how this might play out, whether Diana will grieve the loss or if uncovering the lies that surround her may lead her to reject the entirety of her recent years and start over fresh. Perhaps there’ll be a bit of both.
While this issue was mostly a tease for what’s to come, there was one moment that appeared to be a mission statement for this new run, a reassertion of who Wonder Woman really is. As Diana pondered over her true history, she picked up her God of War helmet and crushed it in her hands, almost absentmindedly. Of all of the elements of her New 52 origin to destroy, her status as the God of War is a telling, symbolic choice. It suggests a renunciation of the past few years, and all of the violence and darkness that’s come with it. Wonder Woman is a warrior, yes, but that’s just part of who she is. In his first comments on Wonder Woman after landing the gig, Rucka pointed out several times that his Wonder Woman will smile more, and undoing her role as the God of War further suggests that a more joyful path lies ahead.
Plus, it’s going to look great. Matthew Clark does a fine job on the bulk of the story, but Liam Sharp, who will be one of the regular artists on the book moving forward, takes over for the last few pages, and it’s lovely stuff. His Wonder Woman is powerful and regal, his linework is detailed and expressive, and he’s got some killer hair in the mix too. Laura Martin’s coloring is excellent as well, and I particularly loved the little sparkle that she put in Wonder Woman’s eyes on the final page. It’s little things like that that make me optimistic about this run.
So, things are in a state of flux right now. Wonder Woman’s New 52 life might’ve just been a series of lies, and the old Wonder Woman might be coming back. Or rather, her old world might be coming back, and it may be up to Wonder Woman herself to navigate what aspects of her new self to keep and what to leave behind should it return in full force. It’s a fascinating premise, and if it’s executed well it could be an interesting counterpart to the more typical cycle of full on reboots we’ve seen in superhero comics as of late.
I’m excited to find out what happens next, and luckily we won’t have to wait too long! Wonder Woman #1 comes out in two weeks with “The Lies”; drawn by Liam Sharp and set in the present, it examines the deceptions mentioned in this “Rebirth” special. Then on July 13 we’ve got Wonder Woman #2 and the start of “Year One”; drawn by Nicola Scott, it’s set in the past and digs into Wonder Woman’s early days and her true origins. The storylines will alternate from there. I’m really looking forward to it, and boy is it nice to be excited about Wonder Woman again!