Wonder Woman #31 Review: It’s Going To Be A Long Six Months

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I just don’t understand why this is happening, gang. DC finally has Wonder Woman back on track after the New 52 reboot took her increasingly off course for five years, and her popularity is sky high following the massive success of the movie this summer. Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp re-established her beautifully with the first year of “Rebirth” and then Shea Fontana, Mirka Andolfo, David Messina, and Inaki Miranda made the most of the new status quo with their excellent, compelling “Heart of the Amazon” arc. And now we’ve got a story about Diana’s brother, tied to a pre-“Rebirth” event no one particularly cared about, with several elements that are technically no longer part of Wonder Woman’s continuity. It is the opposite of accessible, and it’s also the opposite of what anyone who’s loved the first thirty issues of the new Wonder Woman and/or the movie is looking for. I’m utterly flabbergasted that DC is dedicating six months and twelve whole issues to this story that next to no one is clamouring for.

Plus, most damningly, it’s just not good. This first issue is rough in a lot of ways, but here’s the big thing you need to know about it: It’s an issue of Wonder Woman in which Wonder Woman only appears on six pages. If Wonder Woman isn’t the star of your Wonder Woman, you’ve done screwed up. I was really hoping that, as much as I didn’t love the idea of this arc, it would turn out to be surprisingly good and interesting, but this first issue has squashed that hope considerably. It’s bad and dumb and seems destined to try my patience. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

It’s a first issue so I won’t be too spoilery moving forward!

However, a couple of plot points will be discussed!

Continue to read at your own discretion!

So let’s start with the elephant in the room that is James Robinson. Once a legend in the business because of Starman, his fame has dimmed in recent years after some gruesome and grotesque superhero outings and his transphobic indie book. His work over the past few years seems generally at odds with the message and tone of Wonder Woman, especially in her re-established “Rebirth” form. Furthermore, after Rucka’s fine work on the book, a lot of folks, myself included, were hoping that the writing reins would get passed on to one of the many amazing female writers working in the business today. Robinson taking over the book for an extended run is an all around bizarre choice by DC.

And one that has resulted in a very bad first issue. There’s the fact that Wonder Woman is barely in it, of course, but more than that it’s a clumsy, awkwardly expository outing. The book takes twelve pages to set up the villain, with more than half of the story dedicated to a character who’s quickly taken off the board. I don’t want to get too into the details for folks who haven’t read it, but essentially Grail is taking the power of gods to repower Darkseid, and a huge portion of the book is dedicated to setting that up. The execution of this both sidelines Wonder Woman and drags on with shrug-inducing reveals and painful dialogue.

The dialogue especially is a constant problem throughout the issue. Not only are characters over explaining everything, but there’s no natural flow to any of it. It’s stilted and drawn out, laden with rough transitions, and it all combines to take the reader out of the story again and again. It’s so clunky that I kept thinking, “Nobody talks like this. Why is this so awkward?” and it makes for an unpleasant read.

The art, however, was quite strong throughout. Penciller Carlo Pagulayan and his inkers Sean Parsons, Jason Paz, and Scott Hanna do a nice job with every aspect of the book, bringing some life to the weak script and saving the issue from being a complete disaster. Wonder Woman’s fight with Giganta is particularly well done, and they’ve got an excellent handle on Wonder Woman herself. I can see some of Nicola Scott’s take on the character, with a little bit of Gal Gadot mixed in too, all rendered in Pagulayan’s own style to add up to quite a good Wonder Woman. Their action scenes are enjoyable as well, and quite compelling if you ignore the dialogue and just focus on the visual storytelling. I’m curious to see more from them, and have my fingers crossed that they’ll end up with fun things to draw as the story progresses. Also, shout out to Romulo Fajardo Jr.! He’s back again colouring the book, and doing an amazing job as always. The man has an uncanny ability to pair seamlessly with any artist he works with in a complimentary way that elevates the art even higher, and he’s at it again with this issue. I’m so glad to see he’s sticking with the book.

So we’ve got good art and terrible writing, but the scales tip decidedly to the negative all together when we consider the ridiculous premise. The primary antagonist Grail is a product of the New 52 Amazons who have since been revealed as a fabrication by the gods, so basically she should not exist. But because of her prominent role in “The Darkseid War” event and the fact that she’s Darkseid’s daughter, she somehow carries on to plague Wonder Woman. And Wonder Woman’s brother, which is also a thing that is happening. He was teased in the “Rebirth” special, but seemingly forgotten for the next 15 months and never mentioned at all in the new Wonder Woman as much better stories were told instead. But here we are, picking up on some very dumb loose threads and tying it all together. At a time when everyone is in love with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and wants more Diana, more Amazons, more bad ass female characters generally, and more women in charge of these feminist icons, the comic’s got a male writer telling a story centered on Wonder Woman’s brother. And, if the first issue is any indication, a really bad story at that. I have no idea why DC is doing this. All I know is that it looks like it’s going to be a very long six month for Wonder Woman enthusiasts.

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8 Responses to “Wonder Woman #31 Review: It’s Going To Be A Long Six Months”

  1. Boston Says:

    I could not agree more. This story was so bad. The art is pretty, but the scripting is terrible. And the interaction between Steve and Diana is so incredibly off. I wish we could just kill this with fire and skip to the next story.

  2. ellieawilson Says:

    Argh, I haven’t read this yet and I was really hoping it would surprise me and be readable…but I guess not. The whole thing is bollocks (literally.) Thank god we have the very excellent Wonder Woman/Conan crossover to keep us going for a while.

  3. frasersherman Says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised that someone at DC thought “Yes, a male Amazon, that’s what this book needs!” But not pleased.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I’m pretty much in agreement with Tim on this one. While the issue actually seemed okay to me as I was reading through it, upon reflection I am really not happy with it. The pacing is indeed awful. At first I didn’t mind because I thought this was our introduction to Diana’s brother Jason, but when it is revealed to be Hercules, and Hercules is then immediately killed, it did feel like a whole lot of wasted pages that could have been used for something better. Also the dialog is absolutely an exposition nightmare. The old woman in the shop kept prattling on long after I had thought to myself “okay I get it, the guy is a hermit.” Diana and Steve have some pretty bad dialog too, but in my opinion things don’t get truly awful until Blake Hopper, probate lawyer and king of talking pointless bullshit, shows up. Everything about the scene involving this guy is just dreadful, except the little background story where the authorities use a crane to move the unconscious Giganta onto a huge truck, I really enjoyed that, but the scene itself. Terrible!
    The problem here isn’t actually clunky exposition, but rather that the guy just won’t get too the fucking point. After interrupting Steve and Diana’s little moment with his terrible icebreaker, and they subsequently pointing out that they don’t know him, he doesn’t then introduce himself but instead starts a pissing contest with Steve before going off on a weird tangent where he compares Diana and Steve’s relationship to that of a princess and a prince. And I assume he is talking about fairytales here and not the relationship between two married members of royalty. It is a stuffy and long-winded way of him basically telling Steve; “Hey thanks for the input Lancelot, but I think this woman can speak for herself.” Then when he has finally gotten around to introducing himself, he goes off on another two pointless tangents before finally revealing the only important piece of information he actually has. When first reading this scene I had the same reaction that Tim articulated in his review, “why is this dialog so verbose and awaked? People don’t talk like that.” It wasn’t good but thanks to me really enjoying the artwork I still had a pretty good time reading the comic. However on a second reading this scene becomes almost unbearably awful. Only the wonderful artwork saves this comic from being on par with the pre Rebirth work of the Finches.

    Ps. Tim have you considered reviewing the Wonder Woman/Conan miniseries that’s just started?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Absolutely. Compared to previous publications, this is quite poor.

  6. Ben Herman: In My Not So Humble Opinion Says:

    I haven’t read Wonder Woman in a while, so I haven’t seen this issue, but from everything you and others have observed about it, is sounds like DC really dropped the ball.

    The only thing that I can think of is that six months ago no one at DC thought the WW movie would actually be a gigantic success, so they didn’t plan to have a “new reader friendly” storyline prepared that would tap into the interest generated by it. I guess that’s sort of understandable, but nevertheless it seems to reveal an appalling lack of effort & enthusiasm by DC. Even if the WW movie becoming a hit seemed unlikely to DC editorial, they should have planned to run an accessible storyline in the comic book that was similar to the tone of the movie JUST IN CASE, because you never know, and nothing would have been lost by trying.

    Hearing about this, I am reminded of the time back in 2003 when the second X-Men movie came out, and to tie in with it, Marvel had a special 25 cent issue of X-Men that started a brand new storyline involving… a radical breakaway group of the Catholic Church trying to overthrow the Vatican by installing Nightcrawler as the Pope and killing all the faithful followers with communion wafers of death! Yes, really!

    At the time readers were left completely stunned that Marvel actually thought this was the best story to use to try to bring in brand new readers who were fans of the X-Men movies. It was a classic case of “What the f–k were they thinking?!?”

    https://comicdomwrecks.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/chuck-austens-x-men-holy-war/

    So, yeah, that’s what I also have to say to DC’s editorial team in 2017… “What the f–k were they thinking?!?” 😦

  7. Cow Commando Says:

    I would agree that the dialogue was clunky but that’s nothing new unfortunately with Wonder Woman, Rucka’s dialogue was stuffy, stilted, Wonder Woman almost never sounds like a normal person nowadays much to my chagrin. And Fontana’s arc was amateur hour, boring as well as hideous to look at, to me this issue feels like a huge step up from that

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