I’m a day late with this Wonder Woman review; I was on the road all day yesterday and didn’t get a chance to read the book until today. I’ve been really looking forward to this issue, though. Last month’s Wonder Woman #10 finally took us to Themyscira and, shockingly, it was the brutal home of the New 52 Amazons rather than the utopian home of the current “Year One” arc. Clearly some shenanigans were afoot and it looked like the conclusion of “The Lies,” i.e. this week’s issue, would give us a few answers about what’s going on with Wonder Woman. As it turns out, we didn’t really get any answers. Yet, anyway. The next arc of the odd-numbered issues is called “The Truth,” and presumably we’ll find out what’s really going on there. But for right now, we’ve got confirmation that there was a very big lie going on in the “The Lies.” That’s cool and all, but dang this is a slow burn story. We’ll dig into it all momentarily, but first:
I am about to tell you everything that happened in this issue!
Go buy it for yourself and read it first!
Get it on Comixology if your shop is closed for Thanksgiving!
So here’s the big reveal: The New 52 Amazons are not the real Amazons. This has been pretty obvious since Rucka took over the book, between the arc being called “The Lies” and the completely different version of the Amazons we’ve been seeing in “Year One.” That it took six whole issues to confirm what has been rather clear for the past six months makes this a bit of an unexciting conclusion to the arc. When Wonder Woman tearfully realizes “This is not my home” on the issue’s last page, I’m sure most readers responded, “Yeah, we know. This is old news.”
Look, I absolutely LOVE what Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are doing in “Year One.” It’s amazing, and will definitely go down as one of the best Wonder Woman stories of all time. But “The Lies” is not as good. And having read the whole arc now, nor is it very good on its own merits. It’s not bad by any means. It’s just fine. Okay. Decent. There were some good moments, but it’s been SO SLOW. This issue is a perfect case in point. It was immediately clear that this Themyscira was not Wonder Woman’s real home. I mean, we’ve known that for months, but even within just this issue itself, we knew something was wrong straight away. And it took Wonder Woman the entire issue to put it together. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of explaining what we’d already seen and put together. Comics are supposed to be show and tell, but this issue was a whole lot of show and then tell. And tell and tell, until the last page sets up a new arc to give us the story that we all expected to get in this arc. It’s all so drawn out, and the arc as a whole has been kind of a frustrating read.
Luckily, the interminable Wonder Woman storyline was supplemented by Etta Candy being a super bad ass. When we saw Etta realize that Sasha Bordeaux was a spy in the preview released earlier in the week, I assumed that this, like everything else in the arc, would be a slow building side story. I was wrong, and happily so. Etta goes right after Sasha, tracking her to her drop off with Veronica Cale and confronting Cale and her evil hounds. It’s so much fun. Etta is resolute and fearless, taking on Cale directly. When Cale arrogantly thinks she’s played her ace in the hole by bringing in Sasha to attack Etta, Etta just shoots Sasha straight in her cybernetic head and forces Cale to move to Plan B. The side story ends with the dogs coming after Etta, and we don’t know how that confrontation ends. Given how tough she is, my money’s on Etta, but Etta going missing would probably make for better story fodder. It could go either way. Regardless, it was nice to have something actually happen and have part of this arc progress at a solid clip.
I really don’t have much else to say about this issue apart from that I was hoping for a lot more, and that’s how I’ve felt about this arc as a whole. It was an arc that tried to do several things; re-introduce Barbara Minerva, Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor, along with the organization they work for, as well as setting up the Big Bad and Wonder Woman’s false history. That’s a lot of balls to juggle, and it wasn’t handled with much finesse, particularly not with the skill I expect to see from veterans like Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp. Again, it’s not a bad arc. It just took its sweet time and didn’t really deliver the story it promised.
Hopefully “The Truth” will proceed with more focus and direction. There were lots of good bits in the “The Lies,” especially the characterizations. Rucka knows how to write Wonder Woman and her friends, and does so enjoyably. Just somewhat meanderingly in this run. And the art is pretty solid as well. It felt like Sharp got a bit bogged down midway through and the art suffered for it, but over the past couple of issues it’s felt like he’s found a good balance between his hyper-detailed style and the constrictions of hammering out 20 pages a month. Laura Martin’s colors are gorgeous as well. In this issue especially, she makes some dull, exposition-heavy pages visually striking with some cool color choices. All of the pieces are in place for the odd-numbered issues of Wonder Woman to be great and rival the heights of the even-numbered outings. The writing just needs a bit of urgency and excitement rather than a slow, wandering burn.