Unsurprisingly, “Year One” continues to be a joy to read. Between the four previous main issues and the special Barbara Ann Minerva outing, this storyline has resulted in one of the best Wonder Woman runs in recent memory, and perhaps of all time. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are in top form, and they’ve captured something in Diana that’s been missing for several years, even before the New 52 relaunch. While Wonder Woman #12 is perhaps the least exciting or interesting issue of “Year One” thus far, that’s only because it’s been preceded by such amazing issues; it’s still extremely good. Let’s dig into it, but first:
I am about to reveal all of the things that happened in this issue!
Go read it first!
You’ll like it!
Let’s start with how this issue didn’t work as well as past outings for me. It was chock full of discussions of the Sear Group, what their objective might be, and who is behind them. Like, in depth. It took up most of the issue. Wonder Woman even interrogated the terrorists with her lasso to find the real truth of what was going on. It was all fine, but it was also a lengthy, involved set up. Then the book ended with the reveal that Ares and his destructive ways were behind it all. The thing is, of course he was. Dudes are wantonly killing innocent people in a Wonder Woman origin comic book? It’s going to be Ares.
Also, and more annoyingly, he’s on the cover. That’s what you call a dead giveaway. I don’t mind the cover revealing who the issue’s villain is going to be; it’s nice to know who your hero will be facing off against. But when you’ve got 19 pages of your characters wringing their hands over who this villain could possibly be and then you set up you final page like it’s some kind of shocking reveal, maybe don’t put the bad guy on the cover. Because when you put him on the cover, the issue’s investigation becomes less of a compelling putting together of the puzzle pieces and more of a “Dang, when are these dopes going to figure this out. We already know it’s Ares.” Devoting an entire issue to characters figuring out something the reader already knows and making it seem like this is a rad cliffhanger is not the best storytelling.
But despite the anticlimactic conclusion, this was still a good, enjoyable issue. I mean, it’s as gorgeous as ever. Nicola Scott is doing the best work of her career, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s color work is just spectacular. I’ve enjoyed his work for years; he brings such texture and depth to the page. And with this detailed coloring on top of Scott’s fantastic, clean linework, the pages just sing. In particular, the double page spread of Wonder Woman flying, lifting tanks, and deflecting bullets is so joyous and lovely. It all looks amazing.
Scott excels at expression as well, especially in subtle moments. There’s a scene in which Barbara Minerva and Etta Candy discuss the poetry of Sappho, an ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos who is the root of the terms “sapphic” and “lesbian.” When Etta mentions that she’s “quite familiar” with this poetry, there’s a glance between the woman that is small but so telling. There’s a sense of a secret being communicated between them, along with a hint of flirtation. The text suggests it, but the looks we get from Etta really sell it.
Also, I think we’ve got a queer Etta Candy? How fantastic! And perhaps a queer Barbara Minerva, if her flustered response to Etta’s flirtation is any indication. But a queer Etta seems pretty clear here. Which is very cool, and fitting for the character. If you go way back to the Golden Age, Etta was the head of a bondage-heavy sorority that, given William Moulton Marston’s association of bondage with sexual pleasure, had queer implications between the lines. She was straigt throughout the Modern Age, and was with Steve Trevor for most of it, but the New 52 Etta is a completely different character and they seem to be taking her in a new direction.
We also get a confirmation of Wonder Woman’s queerness that was very good to see. Much has been made of the article in which Greg Rucka confirmed that his Wonder Woman was queer, but many fans, myself included, noted that while it’s great to publicly say so, it needs to be in the text as well. If it’s not canon, it can easily be ignored or undone. This issue gives us that canonical confirmation when Steve asks Diana if she left anyone “special” behind when she left her home, and Diana responded that she’d left someone named Kasia. It’s not the bold confirmation that some folks were hoping for, but the implication is pretty clear. Still, great as this is, I hope that Rucka continues to keep Wonder Woman’s queerness part of her story. Something a bit more direct wouldn’t hurt to help cement this aspect of her character.
Overall, this was an enjoyable outing that, while not perfectly executed, was still a delight to look at and a fun read despite its overly telegraphed conclusion. It also sets the arc up for what should be an exciting finale next month. Ares seems to be spoiling for a fight, and Wonder Woman’s been exploring her powers with Steve, so this could be quite a battle. I’m curious to see what form as takes. As much as the issue dug through the Sear Group and what they were up to, we still don’t know much about Ares other than that he doesn’t care for Amazons. Perhaps there’s something larger at play that will tie into “The Lies” and “The Truth” or perhaps the dude’s just a straight up hater and Wonder Woman will punch him out. Whatever the case, we’ll find out next month!