Wonder Woman #4 Review: This Comic Is So Dang Good I Want To Hug It


Wonder Woman #4 is pretty much perfect. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott retell a key moment of Diana’s history, the tournament that leads to her becoming Wonder Woman, and it’s iconic while making a few key changes to the classic narrative that add a lot to the story. The issue is well written and gorgeous and captures the heart of who the Amazons are in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s just delightful from start to finish. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:


If you haven’t read the issue yet, do yourself a personal favour and go buy it!

Then read the review AFTER you’ve read the comic!

Almost every version of the contest component of Wonder Woman’s origin has included a degree of conflict. In the classic 1940s origin, Queen Hippolyte forbids her daughter from participating in the contest, and this has been a common occurrence in most of the versions of it that we’ve seen since. There’s also been a lot of jealousy and rivalry, Amazons who are envious of Diana’s strengths, irked about past conflicts, or mad at her for leaving them. For a supposedly utopian society, the selection of Wonder Woman often comes with some strife.

Rucka and Scott retell the story without conflict, but not without intrigue. Hippolyta and her council of advisors debate what the arrival of Steve Trevor means, and while there are differing opinions in the room, they are respectful and all ultimately yield to the queen’s wisdom. Philippus, ever the general, fears that he is the forerunner of a military strike. Castalia, more in tune with the gods, notes that Steve can only be on the island through the will of the gods and that there must be a bigger plan. The discussions are well-written and fascinating; it’s cool to see the Amazons debate what Steve’s uniform insignias and weaponry mean from the perspective of total outsiders. It’s also great to see a multi-racial group, with every woman a different hue, representing a variety of different ethnicities.

Ultimately, Hippolyta decides that Steve must be here for a reason and should be returned by an Amazon, and decides that this champion will be chosen through a tournament. In other versions, goddesses appear to Hippolyta to tell her what to do, but here she carefully examines the evidence and decides her own course. It’s a smart change that illustrates the self-sufficiency of the Amazons. They don’t need deities to tell them what to do. They can figure out what signs mean for themselves, especially when they work together.

Instead of forbidding Diana to enter the contest, Hippolyta suggests to her daughter that if she’s still not fully recovered from the snake bite she got in the last issue, no one would fault her for sitting out the tournament. It’s a caring plea, delivered with futile hope, that illustrates Hippolyta’s love for her daughter in hoping she’ll stay but her respect for her daughter in knowing that she likely won’t. Nicola Scott’s depiction of this scene, and all of the Hippolyta/Diana scenes thus far, captures the love between them so well. You don’t even need the text to understand the warmth and depth of their relationship.

They hold the tournament and of course Diana wins, and Rucka goes the classic bullets and bracelets route with a fun twist. Usually writers have to come up with some convoluted reason why the Amazons have a gun in the first place; the Perez relaunch was particularly over the top with this and had a lengthy backstory that unfolded several issues later. Here, Hippolyta simply decides that if an Amazon is to go out in the world of men, she should be able to defend against the weapons men carry, and brings out Steve’s gun. It’s an elegant solution that works flawlessly within the story. A couple of other Amazons get shot before Diana deflects the bullets to win the day.

Diana’s debut as Wonder Woman is spectacularly done. It’s a full page spread beautifully rendered by Nicola Scott, with Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colours really making it sing; I mean, his stonework alone is amazing. Scott draws a powerful, purposeful Diana, with maybe just the hint of something else in her eyes; sorrow, perhaps, or maybe a hint of trepidation before she leaves her home for good. She’s striding forward, embracing her destiny, but that note of something slightly melancholic on her face tells an interesting story that adds a lot of depth to the scene Scott has set. She draws the Amazons in celebration mode, raising their swords and throwing flowers, cheering on their champion. And the text is so good it made me tear up: Hippolyta declares, “Behold, our gift to the world!”

Alongside all of the fantastic Amazon stuff, Steve is well presented in this issue as well. His sorrow for his dead fallen soldiers says a lot about him, as does his appreciation to the Amazons at the end of the issue when they bring him their bodies so that he can take them home. It also makes an impression on Diana, who sees the same love in Steve’s sadness for his brothers that she feels for her Amazon sisters. Diana’s explanation of this to her mother is both touching and funny, because she can’t remember the word “brother” on account of the Amazons never having to use it. She calls it, “Like sisters but of men,” which cracked me up. Steve provides some comic relief through the issue as well. He has no clue what’s going on around him, but the tall women seem nice so he just rolls with it. The regular looks of bewilderment that Scott gives him are spot on.

I’ll say it again: this issue is pretty much perfect. It gets the Amazons so right, has Diana become Wonder Woman in a beautifully written and rendered manner, and showcases great character work for everyone involved. Rucka and Scott are doing an amazing job with “Year One,” and although I’m sad to leave the Amazons behind because they’ve been so well done, I’m excited to see what adventures Diana and Steve are about to get into in the world of men. My fingers are crossed for Etta Candy! For me, this storyline is the best of DC’s entire “Rebirth” line so far, and one of the best comic stories of the year, anywhere.


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9 Responses to “Wonder Woman #4 Review: This Comic Is So Dang Good I Want To Hug It”

  1. George Says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who teared up at that scene! For me it was knowing that Diana and Hippolyta were seeing one another for possibly the last time. I agree entirely, this felt like a perfect retelling of a classic and somewhat overdone story.

  2. Woosiewhats Whoevencares Says:

    The artwork is stunning, loved the creative choices he made here, I couldn’t be happier, I’m so happy this is her origin story now. You put it perfectly, it’s faultless.

  3. Jeppe Dittmer Says:

    This series is just so good, and this was the best issue so far. I love this version of the contest that Rucka have gone with in this retelling of the origin, making it the Amazons decision to send a champion instead of the gods decree makes the Amazons seem heroic and noble and it makes Hippolyte seem like a great ruler that she would make this decision even though she knows Diana will win. And having Diana participate out of a sense of duty instead of in secret against her mothers will, makes the whole thing more about heroic self-sacrifice instead of rebelion, which I think is a much better choice.
    I also think this switching back and forth between storylines with each issue is having a cool effect on my enjoyment of the stories that I didn’t anticipate. When I read about Greg Rucka’s pitch for The Lies storyline, my primary interest in that story was just, “yeah retcon those horrible new52 Amazons out of existence.” But because Rucka Scott and Romulo have made the Amazons and Themyscira seem so awesome in these two issues I now really fell Diana’s loss and motivation to reconnect with her past in a way I didn’t before. It also gives certain moments from the previous issues more power then they had when I first read them. Like in the Rebirth 1 issue when Diana ditches her new52 costume in favor of the new movie inspired costume. That just felt like housecleaning to me when I originally read it, signifying that we were leaving the new52 behind and entering this Rebirth soft reboot. But now having read this issue where Diana first wears that costume and the ceremonial importance that the story creates around that moment when we first see her in it, it retroactively imbues that moment from Rebirth 1 with a diffrent meaning. It is no longer Diana putting on a new costume for no reason. It is instead Diana putting on her old costume, the original Wonder Woman costume she got when she first left home to go to man’s world, so it symbolically is like her reconnecting with her roots and her original mission. I think that is super awesome!
    Now The Lies just needs to start being about those lies and less about wandering around the jungle fighting hyena monsters 🙂

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      Great point about “Year One” selling Wonder Woman’s sense of loss and motivation in “Rebirth” and “The Lies.” I also agree about “The Lie” needing to pick things up and get out of the jungle. I’m enjoying it, but not early as much as “Year One.”

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    […] Wonder Woman #4 Review: This Comic Is So Dang Good I Want To Hug It – It also makes an impression on Diana, who sees the same love in Steve’s sadness for his brothers that she feels for her Amazon sisters. Diana’s explanation of this to her mother is both … […]

  5. carl Says:

    While I love the art in both on going books, the writing doesn’t do it for me.

    This issue had the amazons without hesitation agreeing to getting shot at. No questions asked, just a “Yes my queen.”.

    While I get the aim, I think Rucca wrote it in a way that makes Hippolyta seem like a crazy dictator and the amazons as a suicide cult. Not to mention the gun more or less being like a coke bottle to them, or the plane they say they’ll “teach to fly again”…

    I really hope Rucca gives some idea on how Hippolyta could’v inspired such blind followers.

    Least N52WW amazons had a quite relatable reason (things being traditions) and showing that not everyone was onboard with what was going on.

    They where also made closer myth and display gender roles being perhaps something more than in our genders, and then having Diana reforming her sisters out of it due to her being her queen and all. The core of Marston’s book, reformation. With a focus on nurture vs nature.

    Basically Diana reforming the amazons of the myth towards becoming those (uuurgh, hate that word but–) “perfect” of the comic.

    Regardless. I’ll read it till the first arc is finished. Interesting to see what story Rucca is trying to tell.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I thought that the gun worked well here. It’s a weapon from man’s world, and so the Amazon’s champion should be able to defend against it. I think the other Amazons recognized this logic, and are tough enough to take a bullet to win the honour of becoming the champion. And she clearly wasn’t shooting then anywhere that would kill them. They’ve got the purple healing ray after all 🙂

      • carl Says:

        I’m not in opposition of the idea how they link the gun to the world of man. It’s a neat idea.

        Also, besides the purple ray they’re also immortal on the island? If I remember correctly, they’re talking about the one who leaves it will become mortal as well.

        Regardless. I’d liked if it was written a bit differently. Came of as a bit mental. Almost a bit scary, given how “perfect” the island seems. “utopia”. Something must be wrong 😉

        I still enjoyed looking at it. Also that there’s been lots of good WW as of late, and to come. To me the (first) N52 run rivals DKR in how iconic it is, which now will get the absolute treatment. WW77 is great fun. Legend of Wonder Woman was nice. Morrison’s bonkers fun. Film looks really great 🙂

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