The new Wonder Woman has officially begun! And good lord, was this overdue. I’m glad DC’s going with a linewide relaunch to try to address some of the New 52’s many deficiencies, but a new direction for Wonder Woman should have happened a couple of years ago, really. Instead, they just left the character in poor hands across multiple titles, leading to a rather unpleasant run for Diana. But she’s in steady hands now, and seems poised to be one of the breakout stars of the “Rebirth” initiative. So let’s dive into this first issue of her direction, written by Greg Rucka with art by Liam Sharp, right after this:
I am going to discuss ALL of the significant plot points in this issue!
If you haven’t read it yet, look away!
So how was it? It was good. A solid first issue, for sure. I wasn’t blown away by it, there were no real exciting reveals or shocking turns or the like, but I definitely enjoyed it. I particularly liked what it’s setting up; there are a lot of little things in the issue that I loved or found intriguing that have me looking forward to this run even more than I was already, even though this first issue as a whole was more “very good” than “OH DANG, IT’S GREAT!” for me. There’s always a lot of setting the table in a first issue, and I like what Rucka and Sharp have laid out.
The issue starts with Wonder Woman in the African jungles of Bwunda, searching for someone we eventually find out is the Cheetah. The art in the Wonder Woman section of the book is gorgeous. I love the lush jungles that Liam Sharp creates, as well as the locales and poses in which he places Wonder Woman. Visually, it’s very compelling, and Laura Martin’s colours highlight Sharp’s detailed linework beautifully. The chaos of the Cheetah’s attack at the end of the issue is particularly well done; the art gets more scratchy and blurred as the Cheetah assaults Wonder Woman, communicating the speed and ferocity of the attack.
However, the story we get out of the Wonder Woman pages is fairly minimal. She’s mostly walking through Sharp’s lovely scenery, looking for someone. She makes some bad ass declarations about warnings and how after the third warning, all bets are off, and that’s all pretty cool, but the dialogue is sparse and we don’t really learn much of anything until the final page, when Wonder Woman tells the Cheetah that she can’t find Themyscira and that she wants her to help her do so. It’s a big reveal that could set up a fun team-up moving forward, but getting there, while a visually striking, is a bit meandering.
The other half of the book is dedicated to Etta Candy and Steve Trevor, and it sure is nice to have them back in Wonder Woman after their complete absence from the book in the New 52 era. They are two of the most important characters in the Wonder Woman mythos, and leaving them out of the series for so long was a ridiculous decision all around. What’s more, Rucka and Sharp have corrected one of the New 52’s unfortunate trends of turning curvy women into thin supermodels; Etta was one of the many characters affected by this universal slimming, but here she’s more like her old, pre-New 52 self, sporting the curves she is known for. It’s a small change, but it indicates that Rucka and Sharp a) understand the character, and b) know where the New 52 went wrong.
The Etta/Steve section has a bit more going on, with Etta communicating with Steve from Langley while he’s also in Africa with a special forces group, tracking down a war lord named Cadulo. The scenes are very well written; Rucka is one of the best writers in comics for capturing military lingo and making everything both realistic and accessible for readers. We also get a bit of backstory, with Steve telling Etta that he hasn’t spoken to Wonder Woman in some time. Steve appears to be in Bwunda as well, and presumably their paths will cross soon, especially because of what Steve discovers there.
This is what intrigued me even more than the Themyscira reveal: Steve ends up in a village where all of the girls have been kidnapped by Cadulo, a clear reference to the horrific Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria from two years ago. For the past several years, Wonder Woman has stayed far away from current events, but this might signal a return to a more relevant Wonder Woman, which I would be glad to see. Plus, in Rucka’s hands, I think it could be a very compelling story. The obvious superhero solution is that Wonder Woman swoops in, defeats Cadulo, saves the girls, and rah rah Wonder Woman, but I imagine that Rucka will make things a little more complicated than that. I’m excited to see how he has Wonder Woman engage with this issue; it’s exactly the sort of thing that I think Wonder Woman should address.
All together, this was a strong first issue that sets up a lot of things I’m very interested to see play out. I love that Rucka and Sharp are doing both real world and mythical based stories from the get-go, with the twin reveals of a lost Themyscira and kidnapped African girls. The parallels of missing women in both spheres of Wonder Woman’s life can’t be a coincidence, and it’s a smart, compelling way to start the series. While the issue was perhaps a little light on story, the art was great throughout and the last few pages had me keen to find out what’s next. It will be a little while until we can do so, though; Nicola Scott joins the book with Wonder Woman #2 in three weeks for the first part of “Year One”, and then Liam Sharp is back in five weeks with the second part of this story. I’m looking forward to both!