Wonder Woman #52 Review: A Terrific Team Up to Take On Tezcatlipoca

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Wonder Woman teaming up with other women to have adventures and fight villains and whatnot is exactly what I want out of Wonder Woman, and with this week’s issue Steve Orlando, ACO, and David Lorenzo have delivered that in spades. What starts as a fun partnership turns into a trio and then ultimately a quartet as Diana and her friends, new and old, battle the evil plans of the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. It’s an enjoyable start to a new arc, as well as a modern update of some classic tales from across the DC universe. Orlando’s definitely done his research with this one, with very entertaining results. Let’s dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to discuss all of the things that happen in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And seriously, go read it! Wonder Woman is good again!

The book starts with something I always enjoy: Wonder Woman meeting someone new and immediately making a friend. In this case it’s Aztek, a new version of the 1990s hero that Orlando recently introduced in his Justice League of America run. Aztek is a woman named Nayeli Constant now, and she’s inherited her predecessor’s spiky costume and divine powers. When she gets a message that an Amazon is locked in battle with Tezcatlipoca, she immediately seeks out the world’s most famous Amazon, Wonder Woman. And Diana is on board straight away, of course. A new friend and an Amazon in need of help? Diana is up for that adventure any day of the week.

And she brings in a second friend, too. Well, sort of a friend. They tolerate each other. It’s Artemis, famed usurper of Wonder Woman’s mantle in the pre-New 52 days and a warrior of the Bana-Mighdall, a splinter Amazon group. To be honest with you, I have no idea what Artemis is like now. I’m familiar with the old version, but it’s a whole new universe now and I haven’t been keeping up with Red Hood and the Outlaws, Artemis’ primary series. Based on this issue, she does seem like her old self, aggressive and arrogant and generally disdainful of Diana. But Diana seems to respect her, and once she realizes that the trapped Amazon is Atalanta, hero of the Bana-Mighdall, she knows she should bring Artemis with them.

I really like the juxtaposition of the two relationships in this issue. Wonder Woman and Aztek don’t know each other well at all, but they find common ground early on through their similarly divine heritages and become friends almost immediately. Wonder Woman and Artemis do know each other, but their situation is much more fraught. Artemis sneers at Wonder Woman throughout the issue, and joins their group only for the sake of Atalanta. And not only does Wonder Woman invite Artemis along, knowing full well how she’ll behave, but she finds a way to make it all work. She’s able to balance establishing trust with a new friend and working productively with an old adversary, all while battling mythological hounds in an ominously elaborate labyrinth. The issue showcases Wonder Woman’s strengths in a multitude of ways.

The women ultimately find Atalanta, and the issue ends with the four of them as the last line of defense against an invading horde of evil beasts. It should make for another rad outing in two weeks time, but here’s the really fun thing: While this issue sets up Atalanta as Diana’s great-aunt, an earlier version of Wonder Woman already encountered Atalanta more than thirty years ago, and Tezcatlipoca was involved in that as well.

In Wonder Woman #316 from June 1984, written by Dan Mishkin with art by Don Heck, Wonder Woman defeated Tezcatlipoca and freed a group of Amazons the fiendish god had enslaved. In the following issue, they took Diana back to their home on the Amazon river, and introduced her to their queen, Atalanta:

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Much like the Bana-Mighdall a decade later, the Amazonian Amazons were a splinter group. After Hippolyta secluded the Amazons on Paradise Island, Atalanta and her followers grew tired of the isolation, and more specifically the lack of men, so they set out on their own and ended up in South America.

This new Atalanta has a different origin. Instead of being hot for dudes and frustrated at not having any nearby, she is now a travelling warrior who left her royal position millennia ago to impart truth, balance, and justice to the world. Which is a much awesomer origin, in my opinion. I love that Orlando’s dug into the archives and found a deep cut character to revitalize in such a cool way. Now that Wonder Woman’s found her, it will be interesting to see how the two get along in the issues to come, and whether any of the old Atalanta’s frustrations with Hippolyta carry on in this new incarnation of the character.

As much as I enjoyed this story and it’s fresh take on some classic yarns, I must admit that the art didn’t do a lot for me. It wasn’t bad in any way, but the style and layouts left me underwhelmed. ACO and Lorenzo seem better at designs than characters. Their labyrinth was gorgeous and complex, and they did some interesting things with Aztec designs in their page structures, but their depictions of the women fell flat. The characters lacked the details that were so well shown in the settings, and I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of life to them. This combined with their penchant for silhouettes made me think they were less interested in the women than in the fantastical scenes that surrounded them. And the simplicity of their characters didn’t give Romulo Fajardo Jr. a lot to work with when it came to colours. When the line art is this simple, coming in strong with texture and shading just looks weird and so he had to match their simplicity. Fajardo did hit it out of the park with the Aztec imagery and fancy backgrounds, though. Those really shone, for all of the artists involved.

Despite my art quibbles, this was a very fun issue with team ups on top of team ups on top of team ups. A bunch of warrior ladies working together to fight against the evil machinations of a nefarious god is always a good time, and I’m excited to see where this story goes in the weeks to come!

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2 Responses to “Wonder Woman #52 Review: A Terrific Team Up to Take On Tezcatlipoca”

  1. Jeppe Says:

    As a first issue to a new arc, this was pretty good. I do agree that the artwork on the characters is a little too simple though. I also think the framing distances us too much from the characters. After reading the issue I went back through it and counted all the panels of WW that is like a normal head and upper body, or full body shot, and there is only three in the whole issue. Characters are either framed extremely close, or so far away that they are just a tiny figure somewhere in the panel.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I liked the issue, art included. The most interesting thing to me, though, is that we JUST got through with a “dark gods” storyline right before this run began. And yet, I’m not frustrated by a similar plot happening currently. I’m just struck by how much better THIS telling is. It is just…better in every way. It’s respectful of the characters and their histories, it brings in past characters in ways that make sense for the story while still being interesting, and presents a new twist without completely tearing down what came before, Diana remains the focal character, despite sharing the spotlight with guest stars, the dialogue is to the point, but not overly expository or bland, the pacing is good, it’s structured well, it feels like the writer DOESN’T have contempt for the assignment…it’s really night and day, in terms of quality and professionalism. This is how you were supposed to do it, Robinson. It wasn’t the fans’ fault that your run wasn’t well received, it was yours.

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