Sometimes a comic book just feels right. It taps into what you love about a character and captures a sense of her and her world in a way that fits perfectly with your view of both. We’ve gotten lots of different versions of Wonder Woman over years in lots of different continuities and, like most fans, my vision of the character isn’t connected to any particular incarnation but is rather an amalgam of aspects of many of them; a little Marston, a little Perez, a hint of Simone and Jimenez. A bit of Lynda Carter and a bit of Susan Eisenberg. It all adds up in my mind to something that doesn’t exist in full form in the real world, yet is THE Wonder Woman in my head. Wonder Woman #2 captured a lot of that for me. This felt like Paradise Island, the women captured who I think the Amazons are, and Diana was who I always want her to be. It was a great start to this “Year One” story that I’ve been very much looking forward too, and we’ll discuss it all momentarily but first:
I am about to reveal many of the major plot elements in this comic book!
Look away if you haven’t read it yet!
And go buy it; it’s great!
This isn’t like the old days when Wonder Woman sucked and it was easier to just read a review than subject yourself to a crappy comic each month!
Go read it and enjoy it!
I liked Wonder Woman #1, but it was good not great for me. It got the ball rolling on a bunch of things, but it was a pretty laid back, spacious first issue. While Wonder Woman #2 isn’t particularly jam packed either, there’s a lot more going on even if it a lot of it might not be particularly plot based. What happened can be summed up pretty quickly: Diana’s a princess of the Amazons, she wants to see the outside world, and one night Steve Trevor crash lands on Paradise Island. It’s all fairly standard Wonder Woman origin stuff. But the world building and character building behind it all is what makes this comic great.
Let’s start with Steve Trevor, for a change. I always find it hard to give a hoot about Steve Trevor, but Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott make him an instantly likeable character with just a few pages that flash through moments in the years leading up to his arrival on Paradise Island. The scenes go through Steve’s military training and his friendship with a fellow soldier named Nick, who actually gets a fuller arc; we see him on his first date with his future wife, then his wedding, then the birth of his first child, then his tragic death in the plane crash that brings Steve to Diana. Through Nick’s story, we get a sense of the man Steve is, a good friend, a good soldier, and an all around good man. He’s still not the most exciting guy in the world; I don’t think he ever could be, really. The man is doomed to be overshadowed by Wonder Woman, after all. But the story establishes that Steve is a guy worth rooting for.
With Diana, Rucka and Scott establish several of the hallmarks of the character. She’s kind and funny, a great warrior, and a wonderful daughter. She also wants to get the hell out of paradise, though not in a petulant, brooding way. Her entire existence has been confined to this island, while all of her sisters have spent time in the outside world before the Amazons departed it. She’s curious, and while she clearly loves her home and her sisters, she wants more.
We also get canonical acknowledgement of same-sex relationships on Paradise Island, particularly some involving Diana herself. It seems that she’s had a variety of paramours over the years, and that many of her fellow Amazons are interested in her; she’s the cool girl that everyone has a crush on. We’ve seen same-sex relationships among the Amazons before, most recently in Wonder Woman: Earth One and The Legend of Wonder Woman, but it’s good to see Diana in the mix too. And in a way that comes off well. There’s not much in the way of jealousy and strife among her would-be suitors, just earnest longing. It stands in stark contrast to Wonder Woman: Earth One, in which her relationship with Mala was a rather toxic and uncaring.
The most intriguing part of the issue for me was the mysterious snake that bites Diana and renders her ill, seemingly for some time. The snake appears in a bizarre tree that Diana has never seen before, and has glowing red eyes. Its bite knocks Diana unconscious, and her recovery takes a while. The snake and the tree aren’t discussed much, but it’s clear that they’ll play a role moving forward. Perhaps this may be one of the connections to the story in the odd-numbered issues that Rucka has hinted at, some sort of link to the lies that plague Diana in the present day.
But back in the past, she’s just a curious gal who wants to see the world. It’s understandable, even though Scott has built a spectacularly gorgeous world around her. Her rendering of the island feels like the platonic ideal of Paradise Island to me; it’s classic but unique, with a beautiful city area and lush surroundings. It’s everything I think of when I imagine the home of the Amazons.
Scott also does a phenomenal job with the island’s residents. While Scott has drawn Wonder Woman before, and did an excellent job when she did, her work is even better now. She’s definitely grown as an artist over the years, and I think it shows most in the clear yet subtle emotion she brings to her characters. Diana’s interactions with her mother demonstrate this particularly well; even without the dialogue, you can see the warmth and love they have for each other as clear as day, and the characters are expressive but not overly so. It feels natural and real, something that’s tricky to achieve in artwork.
The colors enhance the beauty of the book as well, and I’m so glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. will be coloring this half of the series. His work on Wonder Woman ’77 was phenomenal, and often brought the book to live, even when he didn’t have the best art to work with. Paired with Scott’s fantastic linework, Fajardo’s colors make the book sing. It’s a gorgeous issue from start to finish, and while I very much wanted to devour it to see what happens next, the artwork drew my attention and kept me poring over each page.
All together, this first issue of “Year One” was a great start. It could perhaps be called slow or even “decompressed”, but it was so in a way that I think it needed to be to establish a new tone for Paradise Island and the Amazons. The New 52 run diminished both considerably, degrading them and turning this noble group of women into a bunch of hateful rapists and murderers. Rucka and Scott bring joy and peace and kindness back to the Amazons here, and establish a new status quo that overwrites the errors of the past. We still don’t have much insight into how Wonder Woman remembers two pasts or who is behind “The Lies” that are being pursued in the odd-numbered arc, but we do have the classic Amazons back and that’s what I was hoping for above all else in this run.