“Heart of the Amazon” continues this week with Shea Fontana still writing but a new artist on board. Mirka Andolfo did the first two, and it looks like the rest of the arc will be by David Messina. It’s an interesting switch; Andolfo and Messina’s styles aren’t exactly similar, but the swap may capture a change in tone, intentionally or inadvertently. Andolfo’s art is bright and exuberant, which fit well with the wedding fun of the first issue and the further establishment of Diana and Etta’s friendship. Messina’s art is more grounded and realistic to a degree, which pairs well as the story continues to take a darker turn with assassins targeting Diana. We’ll get into it all, but first:
If you haven’t read this issue yet, look away!
I am about to tell you most of what happens in it!
Let’s start with the cover again, because while the comics themselves have been quite enjoyable throughout this arc thus far, the covers have been uniformly bland. With the first two issues especially, the run of the mill covers failed to communicate the unique spark of the art inside in any real way. For this issue, the cover just feels paint by numbers. Wonder Woman deflecting bullets is always fun, but you could put this cover on any issue of Wonder Woman and it would be generally applicable. It’s a very generic image, and this isn’t a generic story. Nothing about Wonder Woman has been generic since the “Rebirth” relaunch, and the covers for the first 25 issues reflected that well. The covers since have failed to do so, and it just feels like poor advertising on the part of DC.
The story inside is fun, though. Etta’s recovered well from the bombing at the end of the first issue of the arc, and is able to go home from the hospital, whereupon she and Diana are again attacked by an assassin. These gals can’t catch a break! The action is nicely done, with a focus on Wonder Woman’s speed and reaction time throughout, even though it’s Etta who saves the day in the end. This is one of those big fight issues that can read a little quick because it’s got more punching than dialogue, but that’s what superhero comics are for. It can’t be all lengthy discussions and introspection and such. It’s good to have a full on brawl every now and again.
Beyond all of the action, though, Diana and Etta’s friendship shines through, and it seems to be the major focus of this arc. It was great to see Etta get to save the day, and have her military prowess highlighted throughout the issue. From a well timed and well aimed shot to Diana correcting a nurse to inform her that Etta should be addressed as “Commander” and not “Ms.,” Etta’s credentials are underscored and proven over the course of this outing.
The best moment comes near the beginning, though, when Diana signs Etta out of the hospital to be released into her care. Diana takes her signature very seriously, and is determined to care for Etta for the six weeks of her leave because she has signed an oath to do so. It’s all very cute and fun, and makes for an amusing scene with Diana doing the dishes because she is fully committed to taking care of Etta on every single level. Friendship plus Diana taking simple things very seriously is a delightful combination.
David Messina does a solid job with the art, especially once the fighting kicks off, and he draws a tough, powerful Wonder Woman. There’s a very cool quality to his work where he’s not super heavy on his inks that I quite enjoy. Rather than having his blacks be completely solid, he colors them in and the texture of whatever coloring method he’s using remains. It almost looks like markers or some such, and you can see gradients within his blacks in a lot of the panels. It’s a fun touch that captures how inked artwork actually looks rather than the processed sheen it tends to take on once it gets scanned, cleaned up, and published.
I did miss Mirka Andolfo a bit, though. This is no knock on Messina, who did nice work. I just really love the vitality that Andolfo brings to her characters. And the fashion! Diana and Etta were dressed okay in this issue, but Andolfo would have had them in something more rad. Also, Messina straightened Etta’s hair, and I missed the curly bounce that Andolfo gave her. I was glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. still in the mix, though! His coloring was strong as always, though I did notice a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes; elements of Wonder Woman’s belt were miscolored, while Etta was a few shades too light in one panel. Nonetheless, his work was excellent elsewhere and his rich, textured tones paired especially well with Messina’s inking style.
All together, things are ramping up with this assassination plot and I’m excited to see where it goes. Someone is after Wonder Woman and wants her body, presumably for some sort of bizarre experimentation, and given that last page reveal, things are going to be difficult in the next issue as well with even more folks after her. Kudos to Fontana for including so many female assassins in the mix, too. I’m guessing that we’ll find out who the big bad is by the end of the next outing, since we’ve only got two installments left. And Apollo’s intervention to warn her about the attack has me thinking it might be a villain with some mythological associations. I’m looking forward to learning more in two weeks’ time!