Wonder Woman #54 Review: A Cold Welcome in Qurac

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I’m a day late on this review because I’m off visiting my adorable niece and was busy having adventures yesterday. Amusingly, I was available and on the ball all the dang time with my reviews of that last, horrible run of Wonder Woman but now, when the book finally gets good again, I’m busy on half of the release days thus far! I can’t catch a break.

But happily, even though I’m a day late to this issue of Wonder Woman, it was an issue worth waiting for. Orlando just gets Wonder Woman, and it’s been a joy to read his take on her. A lot of folks have trouble with the character, but every time Wonder Woman does or says something in Orlando’s issues so far, it just feels right. I always find myself nodding along, like “Oh yeah, this is totally what Wonder Woman would do. This is awesome.” And this week it looks like Diana is fixing to take on two warring armies at once! Which, of course, is totally what Wonder Woman would do. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Read this book before you read this review!

I’m going to spoil all of the cool things that happened!

Treat yourself to this fine issue!

The issue begins with Diana, Artemis, and Atalanta flying to the Bana-Mighdall capitol in Qurac. It’s a simple beginning, but one laden with interesting tensions. Atalanta’s been away for centuries, and worries that her fellow Amazons in exile may have forgotten her. Artemis is a loyal warrior, but she’s bringing a Themysciran to the capitol and that could be a difficult situation. And Diana is that Themysciran, of course, there to extend a hand of friendship but unlikely to get one in return. All of this isn’t helped by the fact that the Bana-Mighdall appear to be mobilizing for war when they arrive, either.

Unsurprisingly, things go south pretty quickly. Queen Faruka II has teamed up with Rustam, a Quraci assassin, who has convinced the queen to go to war against Qurac. Before long, Wonder Woman is blasted out of the throne room, Atalanta is shot and locked up, and Artemis is sent to the front lines of the battle.

But you can only keep Wonder Woman down for so long, and the rest of the issue captures everything about why this run is so good. First, when she confronts the queen’s royal entourage, they meet her with guns. Diana’s response is perfection. She says, “Guns? Adapt the tools of patriarch’s world… and inherit their weaknesses.” She deflects all of the bullets, of course, and the entourage quickly surrenders. It’s a scene that gets to a major theme in this issue, namely how the Bana-Mighdall’s embracing of the tools and technologies of the world of men has taken them away from their Amazonian core. I mean, trying to stop Wonder Woman with bullets? That’s just foolishness.

Wonder Woman’s confrontation with Faruka is even more compelling. The fight itself is excellent, with lots of bobbing and weaving so that Diana can ensnare Faruka in the golden lasso. As she does so, she explains that the queen shouldn’t trust Rustam, and that she doesn’t need to fight the Quraci army. But here’s the kicker: Faruka knows this already. The lasso doesn’t lead to some startling revelation of a truth she’d hidden from herself. It reveals that she knows full well what she is doing, that this is some Machiavellian tactic to ensure that the Bana-Mighdall finally have a permanent, secure homeland. Faruka’s not being played. She’s embracing an opportunity, and using Rustam as much as he’s using her.

I love everything about how this throne room battle plays out. Wonder Woman’s trying to change hearts and minds, basically, aiming to show the queen the error of her ways and get Atalanta freed. But nope, Faruka knows exactly what she’s doing. I want to say something like, “This is how you write a villain,” but I’m not sure if I even think she’s a villain. She’s an adversary for Diana, sure, but she’s also a queen putting the security of her people above all else, if in ways Wonder Woman and I aren’t enthused about. I can definitely see her point of view, which is the best way to craft a villain, really.

And of course, we end with Wonder Woman standing between two armies. Because, heck yeah, that’s where she belongs. Diana is a peacemaker, but she’s also not afraid to jump into the fray and bust up some folks to get their attention first. De-escalate the fighting and THEN make peace. She’s totally got this. As does Orlando. It’s so much fun to read a Wonder Woman who does the most Wonder Woman thing she can at every single turn.

We’ve got some new artists in this issue, too, with Raul Allen and Patricia Martin drawing the book and Borja Pindado on colours. First things first, I really miss series MVP Romulo Fajardo Jr. here. Pindado does a decent job, but Fajardo can make a book sing and I don’t think that the colouring here is really showing the linework in the best light. As such, everything comes off just okay. There’s nothing bad about it, really, but nothing terribly exciting either. It’s fine, if a little flat, lacking the depth that great colouring can add to the mix.

I’m very excited to see how Orlando wraps things up in two weeks’ time. Diana is in a difficult spot on several fronts right now, with a queen against her and two angry armies on either side of her. It could all go very badly. But somehow, I think Wonder Woman will figure things out. There might be some fisticuffs in the process, maybe some more sniping with Artemis (which I am all for; their banter in this outing was so good), but it’ll all work out some way or another, I’m sure.

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